Monday, July 6, 2015


Someone asked if is getting harder and harder to keep the "modern" or Englisher world from making its way into our daily life?  That depends on who you ask.  Also remember that what we do other Amish groups don't do and somethings they do, we don't.  So I am talking about our Old Order Amish.

If you ask the young people like John, he says we aren't getting enough changes, although now that he is married, he has mellowed a lot.  You ask me, we have had a lot of changes.  I don't know if the changes are really do to the Englishers or we have changed and the world around us has changed do to time.

Also, maybe, it is from our moving so many times.  Most Amish groups are different from other Amish groups, as I have said before.  Like certain things we didn't do in Pennsylvania , we do in New York and was still different in Ohio.  Now that I have you completely confused, let me explain that better.

Like when I grew up, we didn't have indoor plumbing.  We had running water when you ran out to the well, pumped the water in the bucket and ran it into the house. You wanted hot water, you but water in a pot and heated it on the stove.   If you had to go potty, you went to the outhouse no matter if it was 80 degrees or 10 degrees or anything in between.  To take a bath, you filled the big black tub with heated water in the middle of the kitchen.  Me and all my brothers and sisters took a bath in the same water.  We never thought of indoor plumbing or toilets.

The next thing I remember is they allowed you to put a pump in the house at the kitchen sink.  You would pump the water there and didn't have to run outside to get it.  Still had to heat the water on the stove if you needed hot water.  Still used the big tub to take a bath in and still used the outhouse.

If my memory services, the next thing that was allowed was plumbing in the house.  You could have running water and a hot water heater to heat it, but we still had to go outside to do potty.  Anna and I moved around for a while, having children along the way.  When we moved back to Pennsylvania, they had indoor bathrooms - with toilets in them so you could potty inside the house.  Again, not all Amish groups have indoor plumbing or water pumps and many still use outhouses.  I am talking about our group.

When I grew up, we milked all the cows by hand.  Some Amish groups still do.  It seemed like you just got finished milking the cows and it was time to start again.  Really wasn't the truth, but it seemed like that.  Today, we use automatic milkers powered by generators.

I could go on and on about changes made.  To the many of the Englishers we appear backward in our ways, but if you take a close look, we aren't really.

How is it decided which "modern" things you are allowed to adopt?  It is a long slow process.  There has to be a need for thing - not just for one person, but all the people in our group. Is it really necessary?  What does the Bible say?  What are our beliefs in the Ordung?  Just going into that is a long process by the Bishop and deacons.  They ask prayer and ask for the Lord's wisdom in this decision.  If it is considered, we discussed among the members of our church.  Usually, a meeting is held after church to discuss this - all the time asking for prayer and wisdom.  If everyone's thoughts are heard, depending on what it is, it might be tried by one or two families, to see what will happen or what doesn't happen.  It the need necessary?  Does it take from their time at church or with family?  Does it keep them from their work time?

It takes a long time before a decision is made.  I mean we maybe talking years.  No decision for something new is made fast.  At any time along the way, the decision "no" can be decided by the Bishop and that's the end of it.  Once the final decision is made by Bishop for this thing, some people may not adopt it.  Don't do what ever it is.  If the don't agree, they may just ignore it or move to another Amish group that doesn't allow it.

Which leads to another question is Bishop.  What our Bishop Eli  might allow, another Bishop wouldn't.  Or what another Bishop would allow, Bishop Eli wouldn't.  Each group has their own Bishop.  The Bishop tries to help the people in God's will and way.  Yet, the Bishops are human.  They pray for God's will, understanding, knowledge and direction.  Adopting something new is a hard decision to make, especially for the Bishop.

Trust God's Wisdom,


Anonymous said...

G'morning all, Yes, it is quite a process to make a decision that would affect the group. First of all, we need to be honest about the true meaning of a necessity and a want. Prayer and seeking God's wisdom is a must.; not just for Amish and Mennonites, but for everyone. Thanks Elmer for your interesting post. Blessings to you and Anna, Carol

Anonymous said...

Elmer, thank you so much for explaining this. Loved the sentence about having running water! I have learned so much from you, Anna, Jean and her grandparents. Many thanks
also to Marilyn for making this all possible.

Countryside Reflections said...

Thank you for explaining the reason for some of your ways. It really helps us to understand why you have certain practices.


Angela Tucker said...

Good morning, Marilyn. A very interesting post. My father was raised on a dairy farm in the 1930's. With a herd of about 50, all the milking was done by hand. As times changed, the barn got electricity, so in went the automatic milkers along with a milk house to quick-cool the milk for shipping. Our little town had it's own creamery.

Fast forward to the 1970's. Our family still had a milk cow. And, Dad milked by hand! LOL Why? No electricity at the barn! Eventually we picked up another milk cow and Dad put power to the barn. I still have the milker that we used in my barn! We don't have a milk cow, but it is a piece of our life.

Thank you to Elmer for reminding me of my own family history. I so enjoy these posts.

Vickie said...

What a great post Elmer. Very informative. Loved learning more. ha! Running water.

New York State Of Mind said...

Good Morning Everyone,

Enjoyed putting this post on from Elmer. It is interesting how changes have been with the Amish over the years. Also, I thought it was interesting how long it took to get something approved. Even when the police asked them to put the orange stickers on the back of the buggies so people can see the buggies at night took a long time to get passed. Even today some orders of Amish won't do it, Elmer said.


dynnamae n said...

Good Morning Marilyn,
I am getting caught up from the past couple days. Loved the story about your friend from yesterday. God is good and He is great! What a blessing for your friend when the lady ahead of her hadn't left and felt moved to give. And as you said, we don't hear enough uplifting stories in the news, by paper or tv. It is encouraging to hear these stories and I think we all need to hear them. Always enjoy Elmer's posts and it took me back to childhood too. We didn't have inside bathroom until around 1959. So, we did the washtub baths, outhouse runs etc. We had running water in the house, but an addition brought much needed bedrooms and a bathroom. My grandpa did all his milking by hand all his life. A small group of cows, maybe 10, but still alot of work. I hope everyone had a great weekend.

Willow's Quiet Corner said...

Thank you for this post, Elmer. It was very enlightening and I really appreciated hearing how the decisions are made.

New York State Of Mind said...

Hi Dynnamae,

It was nice what that lady for my friend. We always read about the bad stuff in the paper. We should have more good things. We always had indoor plumbing when I grew up in our house, but I know some others didn't.


New York State Of Mind said...

Hi Willow's Quiet Corner,

I will see that Elmer gets your message. It is interesting how their decisions are made.


Ingrid said...

I agree with everyone, very interesting post Elmer and as always fun to read. Brings back memories of staying at my grandmothers house when I was little. They only had water pump in kitchen and hot water had to be boiled on wood burning stove. Also remember some cold trips to the outhouse.

New York State Of Mind said...

Hi Ingrid,

I remember one of my aunt and uncles had water pump in kitchen and outhouse. I did not like outhouses. Will see that Elmer gets your message.