Monday, December 22, 2014

Learning through friends and the Internet

From page OSF2 | February 14, 2013 |

Old as dirt but I’m still learning.

Here’s another “The Other Side of 50″ story.

This time it’s about Nadine Evan’s two-week visit to her son, David, daughter-in-law, Lisa, and grandsons, Jacob, Jason and Jeffery. The trip took place about 10 years ago when Nadine was almost 65. She sent me a very personal and very detailed story of her visit with the family who were living in an Amish community in Maine.

While I expected to learn something more about the Amish, I did not from Nadine’s description. It was not what I expected but it was interesting, nonetheless. The story was more about her personal relationship with God and something about the Amish lifestyle, more like life on a 19th century farm: woman-powered washing machines, harvesting the root vegetables in the fall, carriages, horse-drawn wagons and farm animals.

I did do a little research on the Amish on the Internet. I learned something. The Amish are Christian Fellowship communities that are offshoots of the Mennonite churches. The group was formed by Joseph Ammann in 1683 and named after him. Ammann felt that Mennonites were not strict enough. The Amish have community groups in 24 states, Canada and South America. Typically, they reject modern conveniences such as anything electric-powered, telephones and automobiles. Some communities still speak German (sometimes called Pennsylvania Dutch).

The community where Nadine’s family lived speaks English. I learned some things about Amish lifestyle from Nadine’s account of her visit. For one, practical accommodations are made. While they don’t own cars, they will ride in them when horse-drawn vehicles don’t serve the needed purpose. They will use a telephone if it is a public phone and it is absolutely necessary. I learned about Amish religious practices from the Internet. If you have ever wondered about the Amish, there are several Internet sources, including Wikipedia, that can give you a good knowledge base on the subject.

As I said, Nadine’s story was very personal. She wrote about what she did and how she felt about it, especially how she believes God intervened for her and helped her make important decisions on what to do and how to act on the trip. I want to thank Nadine for sharing a part of her life with me – with us.

In the intervening years since her visit, all but one of her family have left the Amish community. Jason remains. He married an Amish girl and has four children with her. Jeffery and Jacob joined the Air Force. David is working for the Federal Aviation Administration.

We have had a brief glimpse into one family’s experience with living the Amish lifestyle and a mother-grandmother’s recollections of it. Now that you have read this column, do you know a little more than you did before? I hope so. I, for one, know a lot more than when I set out to write it. I learned a lot. I hope you look at it the same way. It’s great to be able to discover new things through the eyes of someone else. Just keep learning.

Murray Bass can be reached at 427-0744 or


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