We took one of the most amazing journeys through Amish country this past weekend. I did not mean to book our hotel so far from the area where we were to spend our day, but it turned out to be a blessing in disguise. One of my missions to accomplish while in Pennsylvania was to find a store that sold wheat berries so I could take them home and grind my own flour. The 50lb bags can get quite pricey to ship so I needed to find a lot so we could stock up for a long, long time. I entered the address to a store I had found online and we set out to find the bags of gold.
It was extremely beautiful farmland, with farm after farm of cows, horses, and large fields just waiting to be tilled or seeded. The further we drove into the countryside, the more excited I became as we passed small schoolhouses with Amish children, girls in their black dresses, caps, or two braids, and boys in their black outfits and hats, milling around on the swingsets for their lunch break. There were farmers plowing their fields behind teams of four mules pulling metal tills across large acreages of land. We passed a few community gatherings with loads of people in black sitting around, eating, and enjoying each other's company. Children in bare feet rode scooters (which had two wheels like a bike, but no seat, and a flat bottom where they stood while pushing themselves along with the other foot) up and down the road, while teenage girls mowed the lawns with hand push mowers. There were even a couple of them weedwacking the grass, if they were from the Mennonite groups, and could use electricity. We had fun trying to identify which groups the families were from by the colors of the clothing that hung on the lines outside the farmhouses, by the color of the wagons they drove (Amish drive a gray carriage and Old Order Mennonite drive the black....or is it the other way around?) or by the type of covering they wore on their head. Were they Amish, Old Order Mennonite, Mennonite (the ones who use electricity and cars), or were they from the Charity groups? It was amazing to see them all in action, almost as if the books I had read were coming to life in front of me.
We finally found the country store after driving around the mazes of roads and dodging horse and buggies that trotted down all the back streets. It was a small store, but it had exactly what I needed and we happily left with four 50lb bags of wheat berries that we stowed in the back of the car. Praise the Lord for helping us get what we needed without any trouble!
If you are ever in the Lancaster area, I highly recommend going to the Good and Plenty restaurant for dinner. The name speaks for itself, and my children's eyes bugged out at the amounts of food the waitress brought to our table. We ordered the family style dining, something we had done years ago while visiting my friend in Indianna, and something I really wanted to do again while in the Amish area. They seat you at a large table already set with bowls of food, such as applesauce, chicken salad, bean salad, and condiments such as butter, cottage cheese, and apple butter. Three large pitchers are already set, one with ice tea, one with water, and the other with lemonade. There are other options for drinks, but this was plenty for our family, unless your name is Joe and you need your coffee. :)
The waitress then brings out a huge plate of sliced homemade bread, which is the softest, and tastiest bread you'll ever eat. Next comes platters of fried chicken, ham loaf, and the most tenderest roast, with mashed potatoes, noodles, peas, and corn. The food keeps coming and you can eat all you want and the waitress will continue filling up the platters until you push it away and say, "Enough!" I never saw Benny eat so many mashed potatoes before, but he finished up the entire bowl! We were quite full after all that, but soon found it was not over yet. Next came dessert....shoo fly pie, cheesecakes, blueberry pie, and homemade ice cream were all on the menu that night. The thing is they do not just bring out simply one piece that you request, but they bring it ALL out and set everything before you. Needless to say, we left that place very satisfied and full. We really, really need to bring one of those places to Connecticut!
The highlight of our day though was going to Sight and Sound that evening. I had no idea how the children were going to react, especially my oldest, since he is a teen and it is hard to surprise him. Yet, when we walked into the theater and they looked around, I had to smile at the looks on their faces. Mission accomplished! Even JJ was awestruck by the huge room and curtains in front of us. The entire show was simply amazing, and kept their attention the whole time. They did not want it to end, and they decided that we need to make it a family tradition to go every year and see the latest production. I must agree it is an excellent idea.
My favorite parts of the show, without giving away too much of it for those who have not seen it and want to, was the loading of the animals, the revealing of the ark when the curtain rose after intermission (I heard gasps of awe as it took our breath away!), and then at the end where they compared the ark to the cross and the door (Jesus Christ) that is open once again for all to enter. One day that door is going to be slammed shut and there will be no more chances to enter into the kingdom of God.
I found it interesting how much we could compare the Amish way of life, simple and different then the world, to the life of Noah. People did not understand him. They laughed at him, mocked him, even tried to persaude him to change his ways, but he lived what he believed, and it did not stop him from doing right. Though we may not agree with the entire beliefs of the Amish, I admire them for doing what they believe and sticking to it. They live what they believe. They do not let the ways of the people around them sway them in any way, nor do they compromise half way in order to please both sides. I want to be like that!
Another thing that made me think was how the people helped Noah build the ark, yet they did not believe him or even believe in the God Who had commanded the work to be done. It made me wonder just how many people today are doing the work of the Lord, in His house, or place where He is, but do not really believe in Him? How many go through the motions to get the rewards and applause from those around, but in reality, the truth of why they are doing it has not hit their heart. And, if we lived back then, could God have looked at my family and chosen us to do the same thing He commanded Noah to do, or would we have been counted as all the rest of the world around Noah? I sure pray that we would be counted for righteousness. May the Lord continue to work on my family's heart and draw us closer to Him, knit our hearts as one to His, so we can live a life different and separate from the world.