Introduction to the Amish

Halloween today!

For some reason, I don’t feel like going out tonight. Don’t feel like dressing up, too lazy to think of a costume. Someone suggested I dress up as an Amish for the party; that is so not right! I feel like the people we met back in Indiana would be extremely disappointed if they see me wearing their dresses as a costume for Halloween.

I feel so uninspired la today. No mood to do anything.

So I shall stay in bed and write about my Amish fall break!

* * * * *

We left on Saturday morning, around 8 a.m. There were 10 of us, so the college loaned us 2 really nice MPVs to drive. Thank goodness they were comfortable cars, ’cause the drive to Wolcottville, Indiana was 8 hours long.

Got lost once by taking the wrong exit. We ended up at a factory-like area, and since it was lunch time, we figured we’d just make sandwiches and have lunch there.

Awkward lunch place

People were joking that this was a perfect start to our trip — lunch in a picturesque area.

After lunch, continued driving, driving, drivinggggg.

At one point, when we were close to Wolcotteville, we saw a Pizza Hut with three buggies parked outside. It was so funny! We still didn’t know much about the Amish then, obviously, so we thought it was hilarious that they would drive their buggies to eat out at Pizza Hut!

And then, somewhere along the way, we saw…… a horse and buggy on the road! Hahah everyone in our car (who happened to all be girls) started screaming excitedly! I know la, that is a sign of ultimate city-girl noobness, but still! But then again, by the end of the trip, everyone was SO used to seeing buggies on the road. The drivers in our group could overtake buggies like professionals — several at one go! (Overtaking buggies is dangerous business, because you have to switch to the lane with oncoming traffic, and at the same time you have to be careful not to startle the horse, because many accidents have happened due to startled horses.)

Buggy!

By the time we got to our host’s house, it was already 6:00 p.m.

Our hosts are Orva and Naomi Yoder. They are in their early 30’s, and don’t have any children. Naomi pronounces her name nee-OH-mah, which is sort of hard to get used to at first. One of the girls in my group, the organizer of our trip, let’s call her Red, had met the Yoders on a train ride to Mexico, and they had invited her over to visit them sometime. A running joke amongst the Amish whenever we first meet anyone new and they ask who is “the girl whom Orva and Naomi met on a train”, is that Orva and Naomi invited one girl, but 10 people came over.

Yoders' house

They greeted us, and led us into their house. All Amish houses look very alike — all white, have a “buggy park”, or whatever you call the wooden structure that you tie your horses and buggy to.

The Yoders also have a barn, with horses and cows and a litter of cats.

It was really surprising to see that they use machines to milk their cows. They also have this huuuge machine, about a story high, that grinds their corn to make animal feed. We were constantly surprised by how much “modern things” they use. Farm machinery is an example. Also another example, when they asked if we wanted hot chocolate for breakfast, they gave us packets of instant hot chocolate that I always get from Wal-Mart!

So anyway. They showed us the rooms that we were going to sleep in. Us girls (and there were 7 of us) got 3 rooms on the second floor, while the guys got a huge shed.

Shed

This shed is used for many purposes. They have two long tables in there, so that was where we had meals whenever we weren’t eating out.

Mostly though, the shed is used for church services. The Amish do not have a building specifically designated for church, so all the families take turns hosting church service at their homes. There would be a church wagon that keeps all the tables and benches, and every week this wagon would go to whichever family is hosting the service and people will come to help set up. Isn’t that so cool?

Anyway. We rested for a bit, then we went out to play volleyball with the Amish!

Hohoho before we left for Indiana, when we heard that the Amish wants to play volleyball with us, we thought that was very amusing. I thought it was so random! Like, why would they suddenly ask to play volleyball with us?!

But ohmygosh. In fact, the Amish in the community we were at play A LOT of volleyball! I was told that it is also how young people meet. Some girl once told me that she met her husband at a volleyball game. I say “girl” because she is only 21 years old.

Obviously, they were really, really good at volleyball. But the interesting thing is, they were REALLY NICE and really encouraging towards us. We played volleyball many times throughout our stay there, and it kind of became a running joke amongst ourselves that the Amish kids would always exclaim, “good try!” when we completely missed a shot or were doing really terribly.

After that, DINNER!

We had potato salad, meatloaf with cheese sauce, chicken and noodles, and for dessert, there was pumpkin pie and chocolate pie (I will just say now that I had more pie in that one week than I have in an entire semester here!)

Orva and Naomi had invited a lot of other people over to meet us for our first ever dinner with them. We met Naomi’s mom and dad, Dorothy and Jake. They actually live next door to Naomi, and both their houses are linked to each other by the shed. We also met a bunch of other neighbors.

Jake is SUCH a jolly guy!

One conversation during dinner was particularly interesting.

A girl came in to join us halfway through dinner. Levi, one of the neighbors, introduced her to us as a teacher in one of the Amish schools.

Levi: “She’s a teacher. You don’t have to be scared of her though, she’s not much older than you.”

Kudi (guy from my group): “Are you saying we should be scared of you then?”

Jake: “… OH Levi, you’ve been burned!”

It was so funny! We (my group) were all looking at each other, super amused. Amish people using contemporary slang! Ya bin BURNED!

I also sort of committed a faux pas during dinner. Jake was telling me how the Amish speak in Pennsylvanian Dutch, for which they don’t have a written script. It’s their first language, they speak it at home with their families, and English, which they learn in school, is their second language.

Jake: “We speak Pennsylvanian Dutch, which is similar to German. We have to learn German in school, but not Pennsylvanian Dutch. It’s just something we learn to speak while growing up. We don’t write in it.”

Me: “So do you use German when you write, then?”

Jake: “……… No, we use English.”

Oh man! I was a little embarrassed.

After dinner was over and we had talked for a bit more, the Amish suggested that we played games. I tell you, the Amish LOVE games!

First, we played a pillow game where we all stand in a circle and each alternate person is in your team. There are two pillows being passed along the same direction, and you have to hurry and pass it to your teammate next to you to avoid being caught up by the other team’s pillow. After this, we played “Ships Ahoy”. It was an exciting game, a little similar to Uno but entails a lot more physical movement, and got everyone really heated up.

By the time we were done with games, it was past 9 p.m., which is considered late for the Amish. Many of them go to bed around 9:30 p.m. and wake up at 3:30 a.m. to start work. And work could mean house chores, or factory work, or farm work.

We were all tired from our long day, so we were like, OHHHH tired wanna go to bed sleep sleep sleep, mana tahu 3 of the girls we met during dinner came into our rooms to talk, then asked if they could do our hair up the Amish way. Before we knew what was happening, we were all excited about dressing up in Amish clothes, so the girls went scrounging for dresses for all of us girls to wear!

So all of us went down to the kitchen, where the Amish girls helped us put our hair in a bun and secured them with hair nets and LOTS of pins. Then we put on the dresses, and they helped us pin on our aprons.

Dressing up Amish

Two girls in this photo, 4th and 6th from the left, are wearing white capes. These are only worn for church events. All of us are wearing aprons, which are the things that look like belts around our waists, and goes down all the way till our feet. The aprons are held on by pins! So whenever we take off our dresses, we have to remove 5 pins or so. The Amish women wear the aprons only when they’re going out; if they’re in the house, they wear their dresses without aprons.

We learned that during church events, wearing a white cape and a white apron meant you’re married, unless you wear a black cap to “cancel it out”. So none of us in the photo are married.

Took many photos that night! I felt really special to be an Asian Amish, if just for a night 🙂 ASIAN AMISH!

It was really, really late then, like 11 p.m., but we didn’t want to take off the dresses because we felt like we would never get to wear them again. And then, someone came up with the brilliant idea that we could wear them for church the next day! So yay, that’s what we did 🙂

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