I received several letters from readers with questions that got my mind spinning. Let’s each grab a cup of tea (okay, you can have your coffee if you wish) and chat over steaming mugs.
One inquiry was saddening, yet I couldn’t help but smile all the same. Thanks, Rita, for your courage to ask; it meant a lot to me. If you don’t mind, I’ll just repeat your question; that way, we all know where we’re headed with our conversation. “Why do the Amish look at us Englishers like we have feathers growing out of us?” Rita went on to explain how it just seems like plain folks whom she has met don’t seem to want to engage in conversation at all. How saddening, there are plain folks who honestly get too far out of their comfort zones when asked simple questions about their way of life. It hit my funny bone because I’ve already felt like I was the odd one and have made the remark, “The way they looked at us, I felt like we were some sort of monkeys from the zoo!” Seriously now, I don’t blame anyone who takes a second, third or even fourth glance at us. I know we Amish people do look different, and I’m perfectly fine with that. But please come up to me and ask if you have any questions about our faith or way of life. There have been times I went to town, and I was just bursting on the inside. I so wanted to share with someone about Jesus, but then I don’t want to impose on anyone either.
This fits in perfectly with another friend and reader, Betsy, from Lebanon, Ohio, who wondered if there are different levels of Amish and how we believe about our relationship with Jesus, which is so very sweet and important. Thanks for asking, Betsy, your question blessed my heart. Yes, our relationship with Jesus is far more important to us than that of driving a horse and buggy and wearing plain dresses or not having the latest technology. I do appreciate our simple way of life, which allows us more time together as families and, in our way of thinking, is also compatible with Scripture. I do not believe for one moment that being Amish is enough to get you to heaven. Once I see my Jesus’ face, I’ll know it was all be because of what he has done for me, not because I was good enough or did all the right things.
Now, as Betsy inquired, there are “different levels” of Amish. Some are Amish because that’s what they have been taught, and they never really read the Bible a lot, therefore they believe that living a “backward” life, as some may call it, will get them to heaven. I’m not here to judge others; may we all seek the Savior’s face wherever we may be at, at this very moment. I love the countless promises sprinkled throughout the Bible — that promise that if we seek, we will find and that when we meet him, it’ll have been worth it all.
Talking about various cultures, when Rayni came to our home two and a half years ago, she rapidly picked up on our Dutch language. People have made the remark that it’s so neat to see a little lass who is biracial, talking Dutch. As languages can blend in any races, so I have found friendships blending in various denominations. Recently, as I was chatting with my non-Amish, or “English” friend, as Rita termed it, I told her I have come to see I do need my friends from all sorts of denominations and backgrounds. You all have a special place in my heart. I’m fine if we don’t dress exactly the same; in heaven, all who have served the Lord with their whole heart will be robed in white.
Now while realistically, there is no such thing as an “Amish dish” (can’t any dishes be Amish or English?), I do have an old faithful potato salad recipe that many Amish folks have used for decades and know it does not at all taste like the store boughten kind.
GLORIA’S POTATO SALAD
6 medium potatoes, cooked and diced
6 eggs hard boiled and diced
3 /4 cup celery, chopped
1 /4 medium onion, chopped
11/2 cup salad dressing (Miracle Whip)
3 tablespoons prepared mustard
2 tablespoons vinegar
1 1 /4 cup sugar
1 3/ 4 teaspoons salt
1 /4 cup milk
In a large bowl mix together cooked and diced potatoes, eggs, onion, and celery.
Mix together dressing ingredients then mix with first mixture.
Grandma always said if it seems a bit too thick just add more milk. It’s best when made the day before you plan to serve it. Note: it will thicken a bit as if it sets a day or two.
Makes 2 quarts and serves 16.
Gloria Yoder is an Amish mom, writer, and homemaker in rural Illinois. The Yoders travel primarily by horse-drawn buggy and live next to the settlement’s one-room school-house. Readers can write to Gloria at 10510 E. 350th Ave., Flat Rock, IL 62427