Sunday, July 5, 2015

Two Days as an Amishman

I recently spent two days at the annual Horse Progress Days, an event that rotates locations. This was my first experience with Horse Progress Days, but certainly not my last, Lord willing. ("Lord willing" is a common Amish statement made after declaring the intention to do something. This is taken from a Scripture verse. Jame 4:13-15)

I would like to have captured every moment for you in pictures, but I know that is not what Amish want. Much like everything about the Amish lifestyle, there are Biblical principals that are the basis for what they do, and don't do. If I were a photographer by trade, I would have had a major struggle at this event, because there were a million photo opportunities. As an author, I took it all home in my heart, soon to be shared with any who desire to read about this blessed lifestyle.

I lived without electricity for several days and my phone went dead. That kept me from being tempted to take pictures the first day. I found a place to charge my phone before the second day and took some pictures that I hope are respectful of my Amish friend's values. 

        Not only did I live without electricity, but also had no phone, computer, TV, air-conditioning or other modern conveniences for a few days. This was only part of my two-day experience. I also found myself surrounded by a crowd of people that left an indelible impression on my heart. When have you ever been in a group of thousands and heard no sharp words, foul language or lewd comments. For two days I was in the midst of large families, and yet, I cannot remember hearing one child throw a tantrum or pout because they couldn't have what they wanted. Yes, I did hear infants cry. However, I witnessed their parents gently rock, coo, and comfort them. I did not witness one child being spanked or scolded loudly. The children were very meek and polite, yet emanated a confidence in who they were. This was very evident in their handling of horses and ponies.

        How do they do it? I'm really not sure.

         I sold copies of my Amish novels at this booth. If you notice, the sign says, "City boy spends a summer on an Amish farm, he learns to farm with draft horses." My goal was to give folks a quick burb that would let them know what my books were about. I was surprised and pleased at how well I was received, though I was a minority (non-Amish) at this event, for sure!
         I can't tell you how many Amish folks asked me if I was that city boy, and if my books were based on a true story. The first day I told them that the experiences were mine, however the book is a novel and about a fictitious character. By the second day, I was telling them that the difference between my fiction character and me, is that he has an Amish grandpa... and that, "I wish I had an Amish grandpa." They seemed to enjoy my honesty and many bought my books.

        My grandpa was born in 1909 and raised on a farm, living almost the exact lifestyle these Amish live. However, if my grandpa had been Amish, I might be living the lifestyle I witnessed this past weekend. I have to tell you, my Amish hosts warmed my heart by their words, actions and kindness. After the second day, I still looked like an "English" outsider, with my goatee and modern clothes. Yet, inside, I myself felt so submerged in my surroundings that I left the event feeling as if I had literally become Amish for a few days. I will always treasure that experience.

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