Monday, April 14, 2014
ELMER'S JOURNEY TO THE LORD - ANNA'S HAM AND APPLE CHERRY SAUCE
First, you must understand that we Amish, and I know the Old Order Mennonite, believe that our children are a gift from God. So, when I was born, even thought I am a dwarf, I was considered a gift from God. I was considered, as many special children are, a special gift from God. As my parents had already had a dwarf child pass on, I guess I was really special, to them. As I said in a post a while back, my Mother treated me easier than my other brothers and sisters because she did not think I would be on this earth long. On the other hand, after the doctors great bill of health, my Father said I should be treated like all their other sons.
From the minute you are born, Amish religion ways are present. My Mother sang religious songs when rocking me, prayed while holding me, and as I got older read Bible stories to me. I can remember her reading the story of how Joseph's brothers sold him to the Ishmeelitesin in Genesis. My older brothers found that it scared me, so whenever I didn't do what they wanted, they threatened to sell me to the Ishmeelites and I thought they would. Years later when my Mother was going to read that story to one of my children, I didn't let her. When she asked why, I told of what happened when she read it to me. She nor my Father knew that had happened, until that day.
We start attending church with our parents as soon as we can after we are born. It is our way that we should try to live as close as we could to the way the Lord would want us to. We believe that this is our way to heaven. The Bible, the ordnung and The Martyrs Mirror are our way of life. The Martyrs Mirror is a book in most Amish homes that tells of the persecution that our forefathers suffered.
I was a very good child, believed as my parents, did of their ways until my rumspringa. When I became a teenager, I questioned if this was what life was all about. Was farming, raising cows, getting married, having children all that life was? Being a dwarf was I any different from others? Is there really a God? If there is a God, would all this get me to heaven?
I didn't give up on religion. What I wanted to know was - was it real? Are the Bible, the ordnung true? Did our Martyrs suffer for a real, true religion or were we going to burn in hell, at the end? I wasn't wondering alone. My best friend Eli, was wondering the same.
People would call Eli and I the double E as we were usually together a lot. If you saw one, the other was near by. We went to school together, chores together, spent our spare time together and got into trouble together. Also, we wondered about our religion together, although Eli accepted that there was a God, but were we following as we should.
Through this time, we went to some other churches: Mennonite, Protestant, Catholic and others. It seems like we were going to a different one every week. Of course, we were also going to movies, watching television at our new Englisher friends home, doing things and going places in the English world. That was also when my Father took me in the barn and turned me over his knee as I mentioned in a previous post.
About this time one of our new Englisher friends started talking about being "born again". We were against that. How can you be born again? One evening, when Eli wasn't there, this friend took me through the bible showing me where Jesus died for our sins. That farming, milking cows, getting married or staying single, what clothes I wore, with electric or without and more - made no difference. He also explained that the Lord created us and then sent his son, Jesus, to die for us. I remember the quote: "No greater love, than a man who would lay down his for His friend," Still I didn't go along with this. I was afraid that if I took this new religious way, I would have to leave the Amish, leave my family and friends - and I couldn't do that.
Finally, I got Eli and took him to hear this friend. I can still see Eli sitting there listening to this religious way. He didn't say a word. When our friend got done and asked Eli, if he would say a prayer to the Lord giving his life to the Jesus - Eli did. I still didn't.
But I noticed the change in Eli. Things that use to bother him, didn't both him as much anymore. He gave up our rumspringa ways. His life seemed to change and I wanted this, too. So one night, I told Eli, I want what you have. So we sat down together and Eli went through the Bible quotes to me. The way Jesus died for our sins. This time I understood. When Eli came to ask me to give my life to Jesus, I couldn't wait and did. Things didn't change over night, but it started with my having a clearer understanding of my reading of the Bible. What before sounded like a story, came true to me. Slowly my life changed. I left my rumspringa ways. Did all my problems end? Of course not. Are there things in the Bible, I still don't understand? Of course. But, I slowly went from the sorry for me dwarf to the man I am today. My outlook on life is different. I read other things throughout the year, but the Bible is my most important and I read it several times a year. Yes, I comply with the ordnung - but the Bible is my most important.
But one thing came up. How do I explain this all to Anna? We were courting at the time. I asked Eli to pray for me, the night I was taking Anna out and going to try to explain my new religious ways. Would this end our relationship? I picked Anna up and we went for a ride. I was afraid and she knew something was wrong. When she asked what was wrong, I started in on how to be born again-when she stopped me. I thought this was the end. She then told me she already knew as she had accepted Jesus as her Lord and Savior.
Today, of course, Anna and I are married. Eli is married, has a family and is the Bishop of our church. The Englisher that first introduced me to the Lord and led Eli to the Lord is now married, has a family and is a minister.
We all learned that farming, milking cows, the ladies washing clothes, cooking, cleaning, etc. is not going to get us to heaven. Only accepting Jesus as my our personal Savior is going to get us there. Should we stop farming, washing clothes, cooking, etc. Of course not, but they aren't going to get us into heaven.
Some of you may not approve of what I said, but I was asked and am telling. This is the way Anna, Eli, and most of family live by. Do all the Amish? No, most believe that they must earn their way to heaven.
I know someone asked me more questions about my way with the Lord, but I will leave that for my next post. Please remember that like Christmas, Easter is the same: "Jesus is the reason for the season." Anna, myself and our family wish you a very Happy and Religious Easter.
I just noticed that at the top, right next to my Journey to the Lord is Anna's Ham. Is Anna trying to tell me, I am a ham? Well, I guess I am.
Trust God's Wisdom,
ANNA'S HAM WITH APPLE CHERRY SAUCE
1 3 pound ham
3/4 cup apple juice, divided
2 Tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup chopped apples
1/2 cup cherry or currant jelly
Bake ham. Combine 1/4 cup apple juice and cornstarch in a small bowl; stir until smooth. Set aside. Place apples, jelly and remaining 1/2 cup apple juice in a large saucepan. Heat over medium-high heat. Cook 5 minutes. Add cornstarch mixture; cook and stir for 1 minute until thickened. Serve over sliced ham.
The little things we sometimes do,
For others day by day;
Return quite unexpectedly,
In some peculiar way.