With the help of my computer guru son, Jacob, I’ve become fairly proficient in this brave new world of e-mail, blogs, and Facebook. It is all so fascinating–especially as I connect with friends I haven’t seen in years. In fact, I have to discipline myself not to become addicted to all the information and chatter that is available at my fingertips. I’ve found, to my dismay, that an entire day can evaporate if I’m not consciously frugal (I set a timer) with my on-line time.

The last time I wrote an actual pen-on-paper, lick the stamp, and address the envelope kind of letter was a few weeks ago when I penned a thank-you note to an Amish family with whom we’d had dinner up in Sugarcreek, Ohio.

I had been there on a research trip for my first contracted book. Since the book has an Amish theme, my bed and breakfast hostess used her connections to get me an invitation to an Old Order Amish family’s home–where I could ask questions.

It was, for me, a magical evening filled with the sight of beautiful Amish children playing on the lawn while we enjoyed a delicious meal served picnic style outside around a campfire. The Amish father politely and formally answered all my questions about the nuts and bolts of the running of an Amish church, etc, and then the conversation fell into a more natural rhythm as twilight fell and we began to share our hearts.

I asked my hostess what, if anything, she would change about her church if she could. I was astonished at her reply. She said that she wished that her church was “more spiritual and less bound by man-made tradition.” She then asked me the same question–what would I change about MY church if I could. I had to honestly reply that the one thing I would change was that my church become “more spiritual and less bound by man-made tradition.”

At this, the father rushed to the house and brought out his Bible, surprisingly an English translation (instead of German) and he and my preacher-husband began to share their faith and their concerns about their churches. The woman confided her concern that her husband might some day be chosen by their church to be a minister. She said that she feared for her children if that came about because, she said, other children are sometimes hard on preacher’s kids. It seemed to comfort her to hear that my three sons had somehow managed to wade through the rough waters of being preacher’s children, with their faith still intact.

I was honored to be invited to their home. Even more honored to be allowed an in-depth conversation. I had assumed that in living near Sugarcreek, they would be so inundated with tourists that they would be sick of all of us. But the Amish are a friendly people.

Today, to my great surprise, my gentle Amish hostess wrote me a letter. She told me all about how their garden was doing, and mentioned that she keeps thinking about our conversation around the campfire. She addressed the letter “Dear Friend” and ended it by saying she would like for our friendship to grow.

This morning, I have already checked and responded to my e-mail, written a couple comments on Facebook, and am writing this now for my blog. But the thing I’m truly looking forward to doing, later on when I’ve succeeded in accomplishing the daily word count on my book–is sitting down with a good pen and some nice stationery and writing my Amish friend a nice, long letter. I’ll tell her about our blueberry crop, and how many pints of jam I put up. I’ll tell her how my husband’s shoulder surgery went. I’ll send her that recipe for homemade cake we’d discussed.

It has surprised me how much I’m looking forward to this.