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Amish and Mennonites...


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Do you occasionally find yourself fascinated by a group of people who live such a life of simplicity and peace in the midst of our society where we run, strive and compete every waking moment - or so it seems?

 

This past week, I looked a little deeper into Amish & Mennonite customs and am wondering now if I could live like that. Would it be a relief to not have the constant onslaught of news and drama? Could I truly get to a point of "Gelassenheit" which evidently means for them a "letting go and let God" attitude.

 

I think I envy them their peace, their sense of community and their orderly lives...

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There is a lot of good in that community but not all is quite as good as it seems. There can be a lot of strife in some families and communities.

 

:iagree: We live in an area with a fairly large Amish community. People are surprised to hear they carry cell phones now. They don't have phone or electric lines to their house, but cells are OK. That's how I knew my canning pickles were ready for pick up:001_smile:.

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There is much about the Amish and Mennonite that I agree with; and there is much that I don't. I think they have too many 'rules', instead of letting the Lord lead their lives.

 

But I can certainly understand the draw of leading a more simple life. It's something dh and I discuss a lot, and try to implement in our family.

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Yes, but there is a book about living the simple life in that way without becomining Amish or Mennonite. Just utilizing their techniques. It was a better book than a "simple living" book.

 

I have it and it was a fantastic read....but I can't find it, because it spoke to me more than any other clutter book.

 

Hopefully someone can tell you or I can find it before then and let you know what it is.

 

Not helpful, am I?

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There is much to be said for simplicity, the community aspect, and the self/community sufficiency too. There is a lot of wisdom that could be useful for the broader society actually.

 

The problem I've seen is the dangers inherent in conformity to the particular communities version of nonconformity. It adds complication and has spiritual implications that bother me a lot.

 

Basically I'd say there is good and there is negative as in any movement or group.

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I feel that way about Hutterites. I have a very good friend who is Hutterite and lives on the colony near me. I love the ideal of their communal lifestyle, but as it revolves 24/7 around their religious life, it's obviously not something I could ever do. My friend once said, by way of explaining how she copes with the plainness of living, "we may not have everything we want, but we always know we'll never want for anything we need." I know that, right now, there are millions of Canadians who cannot say that with any certainty. Hutterites NEVER have to wonder if there'll be clothes for the kids, food for the family and a solid, warm roof over their heads. There is no 'paycheque-to-paycheque' for them. There are no money worries at all. The Bosses take care of that and the whole colony works to make the whole colony support itself. It's a beautiful realization of "from each according to his ability, to each according to his need." It's not about what you want. It's about what everyone needs. People work at what they're good at. People take turns doing the chores. People who are really, really good at something might become the Boss of that job one day. Or not, but it doesn't matter to them as long as everyone is taken care of well.

 

I don't feel that way about Mennonites, though. The area around where I live has tons of Mennonites. Mennonites come in a huge variety of conservatism and progressivism. Most Mennonites I encounter don't look any different from anyone else. Then there are the "conservative" ones who all wear the exact same dress pattern and head covering (seriously, I swear they're all making their dresses from the same Butterick pattern they've probably passed around for 50 years). Then, very, very, very rarely you might see a Plain Mennonite family, but that would be maybe once in a blue moon.

Edited by Audrey
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:iagree: We live in an area with a fairly large Amish community. People are surprised to hear they carry cell phones now. They don't have phone or electric lines to their house, but cells are OK. That's how I knew my canning pickles were ready for pick up:001_smile:.

 

There is a lot of good in that community but not all is quite as good as it seems. There can be a lot of strife in some families and communities.

 

 

Yes. I've seen a lot of romanticism about the "plain people" but they are people like everyone else. Plenty of them are wonderful, but they aren't exactly what most "English" think. My husband teases me that I'm more of a Luddite than most of the Amish and Mennonites. :glare: I think there are still a few sects that have me beat though.

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I think a lot of what we strive for is obviously less "stuff", but "good" neighbors. I really mean good, caring neighbors who are like-minded.

 

I can't tell you how often I'd like to go to some small Christian town (that doesn't exist), where my kids can play safely, run over to the neighbors without mom, bike around the neighborhood, but yet don't blast their stereos, dirt bike circles for hours on end, can borrow that cup of sugar, don't swear, love God, are homeschooled and we can count on.

 

But then that would be perfection and it doesn't exist. People buy stuff now, they don't actually talk to people and make friends or even know what real respectable friendship is.

 

A lot of it is what we think we see in Amish or Mennonites. Their own cozy, tight-knit community. So ... we buy stuff.

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Yes, but there is a book about living the simple life in that way without becomining Amish or Mennonite. Just utilizing their techniques. It was a better book than a "simple living" book.

 

I have it and it was a fantastic read....but I can't find it, because it spoke to me more than any other clutter book.

 

Hopefully someone can tell you or I can find it before then and let you know what it is.

 

Not helpful, am I?

 

I think one of the difficulties with this is that it can actually be very hard to live that way as a single family. Many of the things those communities do they manage because they are a community and help each other out. A good example is that they do not get bank loans, they get loans from the community to build a home and start a business, or they have neighbours who will look after the kids while you get your crop in, or whatever.

 

But that is a two edged thing. It means the whole community has a hand in deciding if your business plan is a good one, and in raising your kids, for example. I think often people really want that kind of life but in fact are not willing to put themselves under the group in the way they'd have to for it to work.

 

Even in successful communes and co-op communities, that kind of thing is what causes the most conflict and why people sometimes find they are not what they expected or hoped for.

 

I think many of us living in the modern West yearn for real community while also sabotaging it to some extent.

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I think a lot of what we strive for is obviously less "stuff", but "good" neighbors. I really mean good, caring neighbors who are like-minded.

 

I can't tell you how often I'd like to go to some small Christian town (that doesn't exist), where my kids can play safely, run over to the neighbors without mom, bike around the neighborhood, but yet don't blast their stereos, dirt bike circles for hours on end, can borrow that cup of sugar, don't swear, love God, are homeschooled and we can count on.

 

But then that would be perfection and it doesn't exist. People buy stuff now, they don't actually talk to people and make friends or even know what real respectable friendship is.

 

A lot of it is what we think we see in Amish or Mennonites. Their own cozy, tight-knit community. So ... we buy stuff.

 

A few people at my church have been talking about a community like this - buying some land and sub-dividing, or even just all moving to an area close to each other where we can be somewhat self-sufficient.

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The Amish and Mennonite community do not address abuse very well. It is all handled in the church where the man is usually "embarrassed" and the woman is told to be a better wife/child.

 

I also know a family that was shunned in the 1930's and to this day the descendants are still not even acknowledged with a hello in the grocery store. It was not the descendants actions that caused the shunning but they are still "punished".

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Yes, but there is a book about living the simple life in that way without becomining Amish or Mennonite. Just utilizing their techniques. It was a better book than a "simple living" book.

 

I have it and it was a fantastic read....but I can't find it, because it spoke to me more than any other clutter book.

 

Hopefully someone can tell you or I can find it before then and let you know what it is.

 

Not helpful, am I?

 

If you find the title of the book you referenced I would really be interested.:)

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I think that often their life is white-washed by media and outsiders. Not so much by them, because they aren't really the ones speaking about it. Yes, on one hand, it seems idealistic, simple yet beautiful. On the other hand,

there's alot that we don't see, or hear about, or comes out in trickles mostly from those that have been "kicked out". I guess it's a good lifestyle for those that want to conform and not think much for themselves.......probably not the best route for us homeschoolers, though :D.

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I had the unbelievable privilege as an "Englisch" little girl to attend and then teach Amish school. There are many days when I yearn for that simple type of lifestyle, the nonresistance and self-deprecating humor and consideration for others in particular (from the True Believers). I agree with previous posters who point out that the Amish/Mennonites are simply human beings living a different lifestyle, though. The same problems and disagreements, competitiveness and cliquishness that reign everywhere in humanity rear their ugly heads in those communities as well.

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There is much about the Amish and Mennonite that I agree with; and there is much that I don't. I think they have too many 'rules', instead of letting the Lord lead their lives.

 

 

:iagree: I think I could live the simple lifestyle although it would be a process to get there, I'm sure even though we live rather simply compared to most modern Americans, but all the rules would not suit me well.

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I think its a yearning for what *seems* to be a more idyllic time...but reality is a different thing.

 

No society is perfect.

 

However, in comparison to the general Western society we're living in, I can absolutely understand the draw/facination with what looks to be a purer way of life. A strong sense of community.

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I think its a yearning for what *seems* to be a more idyllic time...but reality is a different thing.

 

No society is perfect.

 

However, in comparison to the general Western society we're living in, I can absolutely understand the draw/facination with what looks to be a purer way of life. A strong sense of community.

 

The grass is always greener. :001_smile:

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:iagree: We live in an area with a fairly large Amish community. People are surprised to hear they carry cell phones now. They don't have phone or electric lines to their house, but cells are OK. That's how I knew my canning pickles were ready for pick up:001_smile:.

 

I didn't know this. Funny! There does seem to be a lot idiosyncracies if I can call them that. Also there are many sub-groups, some are way more conservative than others, some use only horses in the field, some use tractors and combines. It is still fascinating to me...perhaps only because it's so different!

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I think its a yearning for what *seems* to be a more idyllic time...but reality is a different thing.

 

[/b]

 

This is exactly right! When things get hectic here, I just want to teleport myself into a "slower" way of life. And it's nice - now and then - to pretend goodness, honest friendliness and compassion still exist.

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Yes, Meidung or shunning seems to reflect "no grace", or is it only done when someone does not repent? And who decides what is an offense worthy of shunning? I can see lots of issues there but the plain people themselves just accept the established order. It would be difficult. Eventually I would want to talk to someone again...because we have all sinned and fall short.

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I use the Pathway readers and Climbing to Good English with dd. I can't say that those kids are all that kind, caring or thoughtful. They do always learn their lesson, but they're just as immature as kids with a modern lifestyle at the beginning of the stories. Dd calls the readers "goodness lessons" and has been known to recommend specific ones to correct her brother's bad behavior. :lol:

 

I have no idea if they reflect actual Amish life, but they are written for Amish schools.

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Culturally, which is what I think you're speaking about, I do not think of the Mennonites and the Amish as the same group at all. They do share the anabaptist similarities. The Amish are much more segregated from the rest of us; the Mennonites who I know are integrated with the rest of us.

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Culturally, which is what I think you're speaking about, I do not think of the Mennonites and the Amish as the same group at all. They do share the anabaptist similarities. The Amish are much more segregated from the rest of us; the Mennonites who I know are integrated with the rest of us.

 

The Amish broke off from the Mennonites. They are related both genetically and culturally. The majority of my 1st cousins are Mennonites, but my 2nd are more evenly divided between the two.

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Finding this thread piqued my interest today because I've been thinking about the Amish and Mennonites a lot lately. This all because this week I started the "Abram's Daughters" series by Beverly Lewis, and have been researching the lifestyle online because I've been fascinated with their culture off and on for many years.

 

I visited an Amish community a number of years ago when I was in Indiana on vacation and found them to be quite interesting, but it was a news headline and numerous articles from more recent times that touched me the most. Do you remember the story I'm referring to, the one about the man who walked into the West Nickel Mines School in Lancaster County, PA in 2006 and shot 10 girls then shot himself? The situation received a great deal of national attention, especially since the community responded immediately with amazing grace and forgiveness. This gave me reason to completely respect the Amish. They, like everyone else, are not perfect. I know that when it comes to their own, forgiveness is not as easily given. We're all aware of the practice of shunning, I'm sure. But if the majority of them hold the same standard of love and forgiveness as the Old Order Amish demonstrated at that time, then I'd say they have us all beat in having a Christ-like attitude.

 

Blessings,

Lucinda

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I may look for this book. Sounds too interesting to pass up.

 

I had that on my wishlist after getting the Amish Peace book, but deleted it because I couldn't be sure if it was a book bashing the Amish.

 

I don't know if that's the case with this book at all, but I'm saying just be careful what you buy if you're looking for something about them. Find something that could give both points of view, not a book that would be written by someone with selfish intent or an axe to grind. Sometimes that's hard to find.

 

If it's a good book in this way, I'd love to know.

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There is a lot of good in that community but not all is quite as good as it seems. There can be a lot of strife in some families and communities.

 

And animal abuse. We just rescued an old carriage horse from one of the "better" communities, and he was a far cry from well-kept. Their horses are their lifeblood, and they treat them horribly, selling them to kill buyers when they can no longer perform their duties (instead of rehoming them).

 

Of course there are exceptions to this, but they are few and far between. There are also instances of child abuse and molestation that are not reported because the community is so isolated from others. Abuse is reported at an even lower rate than in mainstream society.

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And animal abuse. We just rescued an old carriage horse from one of the "better" communities, and he was a far cry from well-kept. Their horses are their lifeblood, and they treat them horribly, selling them to kill buyers when they can no longer perform their duties (instead of rehoming them).

 

Of course there are exceptions to this, but they are few and far between. There are also instances of child abuse and molestation that are not reported because the community is so isolated from others. Abuse is reported at an even lower rate than in mainstream society.

 

That's right. I remember hearing about the Amish puppy mills :(.

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My mom lives in PA, Lancaster County, near many Amish communities (there is buggy parking at her grocery store); it is one of the worst areas in the country for puppy mills in the country.

 

We have buggy parking at the bank and Wal-Mart, of all places. Thankfully, our Amish community seems to focus on baked goods and produce, not puppy mills.

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Finding this thread piqued my interest today because I've been thinking about the Amish and Mennonites a lot lately. This all because this week I started the "Abram's Daughters" series by Beverly Lewis, and have been researching the lifestyle online because I've been fascinated with their culture off and on for many years.

 

I visited an Amish community a number of years ago when I was in Indiana on vacation and found them to be quite interesting, but it was a news headline and numerous articles from more recent times that touched me the most. Do you remember the story I'm referring to, the one about the man who walked into the West Nickel Mines School in Lancaster County, PA in 2006 and shot 10 girls then shot himself? The situation received a great deal of national attention, especially since the community responded immediately with amazing grace and forgiveness. This gave me reason to completely respect the Amish. They, like everyone else, are not perfect. I know that when it comes to their own, forgiveness is not as easily given. We're all aware of the practice of shunning, I'm sure. But if the majority of them hold the same standard of love and forgiveness as the Old Order Amish demonstrated at that time, then I'd say they have us all beat in having a Christ-like attitude.

 

Blessings,

Lucinda

 

I grew up 4 miles from where the shooting took place (my parents still live there)....they since took down the school house where the shooting occurred and planted trees. I agree, the Amish response to that horrific experience was incredibly moving.

 

Yet, I've been pondering how to respond to this thread, as I was raised Mennonite. All that glitters isn't gold..... :) I don't feel like I have a major axe to grind- I've examined the life and chosen very differently for my faith expression. I can see the good (many things that pp have mentioned) but I've also seen some bad.

 

I attended Mennonite schools and have VERY conservative grandparents/extended family and treasure many memories of this unique upbringing. But with all things, there are 2 sides...the peaceful pacifist also presents as unhealthy passivity, the rules don't often allow for redemption, there is much pride in simplicity, and the entire lifestyle that is framed around spiritual beliefs that are more cultural than personal. There is a lot of in-fighting, cliques, judgemental attitudes, superiority etc....flawed people just like all of us. :)

 

But they are also generous, compassionate, hard-working, dedicated and kind to outsiders. They love to sing, cook, be a community and so on. Yes, a beautiful people.

Edited by LarlaB
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Do you occasionally find yourself fascinated by a group of people who live such a life of simplicity and peace in the midst of our society where we run, strive and compete every waking moment - or so it seems?

 

This past week, I looked a little deeper into Amish & Mennonite customs and am wondering now if I could live like that. Would it be a relief to not have the constant onslaught of news and drama? Could I truly get to a point of "Gelassenheit" which evidently means for them a "letting go and let God" attitude.

 

I think I envy them their peace, their sense of community and their orderly lives...

Don't envy them. Pass those rose coloured glasses to me. I've broken several of my friends' pairs. I know one community where nearly all the women were on anti-depressants and when they were suggested to me to "help you conform", I high-tailed it out of there! Many of the sex offenders on the list around here are Amish. I've seen families split and split again based on minor garbage and who cares if you go to another church, but the family will disown you if you change the style of your covering.

 

On the other hand, I've known some very funny Amishmen and some very sweet Jo Wengers. My view is, enjoy them from the outside, but don't try to join them and don't envy them!

 

Said from one that lives in the middle of Amish Country, where the rapping buggies with runner lights pass by...

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Don't envy them. Pass those rose coloured glasses to me. I've broken several of my friends' pairs. I know one community where nearly all the women were on anti-depressants and when they were suggested to me to "help you conform", I high-tailed it out of there! Many of the sex offenders on the list around here are Amish. I've seen families split and split again based on minor garbage and who cares if you go to another church, but the family will disown you if you change the style of your covering.

 

On the other hand, I've known some very funny Amishmen and some very sweet Jo Wengers. My view is, enjoy them from the outside, but don't try to join them and don't envy them!

 

Said from one that lives in the middle of Amish Country, where the rapping buggies with runner lights pass by...

 

Well said! :) I've seen too much to recommend that someone become a part of Amish/Mennonite community...choose the good parts that you admire and find a way to incorporate it into your life and leave it at that.

 

And I've seen/heard those rapping buggies...:001_smile:

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Well said! :) I've seen too much to recommend that someone become a part of Amish/Mennonite community...choose the good parts that you admire and find a way to incorporate it into your life and leave it at that.

 

And I've seen/heard those rapping buggies...:001_smile:

Exactly, and much more nicely said :)

 

The difference between a car with loud music and a rapping buggy (loud secular music to those that don't know the youth thing):

A car with be gone in five seconds. A buggy will go on and on for five minutes or more (boom, boom, clop, clop, boom, clop, boom, boom, clop, clop, clop :lol: ).

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The Amish broke off from the Mennonites. They are related both genetically and culturally. The majority of my 1st cousins are Mennonites, but my 2nd are more evenly divided between the two.

 

And do your Mennonite cousins live without electricity, ride in buggies, wear long dresses, have certain facial hair, not wear buttons, etc?

 

None of the Mennonites I know do any of the above. Where I used to live in PA, that was all standard for Amish.

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And do your Mennonite cousins live without electricity, ride in buggies, wear long dresses, have certain facial hair, not wear buttons, etc?

 

None of the Mennonites I know do any of the above. Where I used to live in PA, that was all standard for Amish.

Depends upon the Mennonite group. Some are like you and me; others are old order and drive buggies (black not gray...gray is for Amish), wear long dresses with aprons, kapps, are not allowed facial hair (one of the differences from the Amish), but are allowed zippers and buttons (as are New Order Amish, I believe). They use limited electricity, like the Amish ;)

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And do your Mennonite cousins live without electricity, ride in buggies, wear long dresses, have certain facial hair, not wear buttons, etc?

 

None of the Mennonites I know do any of the above. Where I used to live in PA, that was all standard for Amish.

 

There is overlap among the stricter Mennonite and some Amish groups. I could go into almost any Mennonite/Amish church between Pennsylvania and Colorado and find someone I am related to. My kids have 3,000 3rd cousins in my paternal great-grandfathers' line alone. I attended a plain Mennonite service once with my MIL one time in a state where none of my immediate family had ever lived. They asked me who my family was. I said my grandfather was the youngest son of Moses T_______. Their reply? Oh, you must be Bill and Rosie's granddaughter! Now, which one of their sons is your dad? At my grandfather's funeral, about half the relatives were Amish and most of the balance were Mennonite.

 

My Mennonite first cousins look just like you and I. Some of my second cousins...not so much. You may take my statement at face value. The Amish and Mennonites are the same "people". They share DNA. They share a common heritage. The Amish and Mennonite churches are closer to siblings than cousins. In the Mennonite church I attended until I was almost ten, some women wore plain clothes. Many either wore headcoverings growing up or still wore them.

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That's right. I remember hearing about the Amish puppy mills :(.

 

I was just in Holmes County last month and there were towns people picketing about this. (This is the largest amish community in the world).

 

That said, no one group of people are perfect since we are all sinners. Amish, Mennonite are no exception. They have flaws but there are also some amazing people living this way.

 

I also don't think MOST people could live this way unless raised in it. There is just too much we don't know how to do. So much of what they do is also community and culture based.

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There is a lot of good in that community but not all is quite as good as it seems. There can be a lot of strife in some families and communities.

We live around Amish communties as well and all isn't what it seems to be. I will admit I love the idea of their simplicity. But they certainly aren't as simple as they once were.

 

Many have cell phones, I've even heard music coming out of their buggies. Having the fuzzy dice in the window and even bumper stickers. LOL

Even today I was flabbergasted to see an Amish girl with a couple of English friends at Peebles helping them pick out very risque underwear. At least I think they were English. They were dressed like us, but were very much speaking Pennsylvania Dutch to each other so I have been racking my brain all evening about that one. I know at somepoint they are let go during their teens to blend in to see if they want to continue being Amish or not. anyways,,,

 

We see the teenagers at the fair ,and many of the boys on the weekend drop their Amish hats and put on sweatshirts to try to blend in with the English.

 

We have both orders of Amish,, Old Order and New Order.

We see some with puppy mills, some have really nice stores though, many make breads and such. Not as much as they used to though.

 

My mother in law has two sets of families. One at the bottom of the hill and one at the top. The bottom hill Amish family has like 11 kids. They are NOT a nice family. They like to race their horses up the hill, unshoed and try to race with the cars ( very dangerous). I've seen the younger ones walk down the road and throw rocks at other kids. I was told they were a family that was shunned from another community though. Then the other family whom we've known for years, and years. They are very nice... BUT they use my mother in law's phone all of the time. Coming at all hours. They won't get a cell phone but they like to use other people's phone. Which is a huge issue because then other people begin to call my in laws. They for a long time would ask them for rides and never once offer to pay for gas money.

 

So in honesty , I'm sure there are some great families out there who do what they are supposed to do. But they are few and far between where we live. We must see the ' other' side of the Amish.

I'm not sure if its where we are at but they are very cruel to their animals. The Amish here sadly, abuse their animals. Many have been known to have animal cruelty called on them and they get fined. Again, not all families but many here.

 

So like all have said here. All that glitters isn't all gold. Its not like on tv or what you read in books.

I will say though there are some things I do like, for instance they go to each other's homes for Sunday church. I wish I had that. I love to visit, and have people come and visit (something we don't have). They are very family oriented though. That I do admire.

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There seems to be a lot of misinformation. I'm under no illusions about the Amish/Mennonite. I've shared here before some of the negative aspects. I could tell you story after story. There are a few things the Amish/Mennonites do very well, though.

 

This is just one of them:

 

http://mds.mennonite.net/home/

 

 

It is very common for people in my extended family to participate in things like this. When I was back for Christmas last year, my uncles were discussing a bad situation a second cousin was in. The family was going to donate money and the men were going to get her house fixed up. They do pro bono work in the community. They go to disaster areas. My aunt, a nurse, works in a practice where the doctors cover for each other so that they can each spend time overseas doing medical work. The practice donates the medicine.

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