I was in Sugarcreek last weekend. My Amish friends invited me over for dinner. Now that I’ve stopped asking so many questions, I think they enjoy my company more.
There were three families, about thirty people. Everyone had pitched in to bring food–I stopped on the way there and got a giant pail of ice cream, which was pretty much empty by the end of the meal. I watched fifteen children go through the food line and not one appeared to be a picky eater. They simply filled their plates and enjoyed their food.
We had hamburgers grilled over coals in a pit dug in the yard. Homemade bread from whole wheat that had been freshly ground before baking. Baked beans, which the grandma brought over from the daadi haus. Homemade noodles. Hand squeezed lemonade–about four gallons of it in a huge glass jar with a dipper–which the children loved. Some vegetables. Chocolate sheet cake.
The adults sat at a huge oak table, and the conversation ranged over various wild animals that used to be nearly extinct around Sugarcreek and are now making a come back. Animals like wild turkey and deer. The new groom–the one I wrote about in a previous post–was seated beside me and he told me that wild boar are coming back into Ohio.
After the meal, the men went into the living room to visit, and after the women finished clearing up the dinner dishes, they told me about how hard it is to take care of waist-long hair. We discussed reflexology, the study of foot massage and how the grandfather had used it to keep all his children well, and how all of them were fairly proficient in it. The hostess showed me her baking center with the flour grinder. Another woman told me about how she makes Teddy Bears for people out of keepsake materials–like wedding dresses or grandfather’s old hunting jacket. We discussed the homeschooling they are providing for their children. They teased me about needing to learn Dutch because “all the really good stories have to be told in Dutch.”
It was comfortable in that kitchen, just like so many tables I’ve sat around after the dishes are done. Conversations about things important to women. Food. Health. Grooming. Home businesses. I was dressed in jeans and a sweater. They were dressed in prayer kapps and dresses. Our light was kerosene lamps. When I went out to my car, my way was thoughtfully lit by tiki lamps–put there by the grandmother who knew I wouldn’t think to bring a flashlight.
I came to them, a stranger with a list of questions–which they politely answered–even though I now realize that some of those questions were rude. I wrote a book that they feared would make them look–as one of them said–“weird.” When they saw that I had treated them and their culture with respect–they relaxed.
Being welcomed into their home now as a friend is an honor. I am in awe of the unexpected and undeserved gifts that God puts into my life. I am in awe of the blessing of friendship.