Last weekend, my friendship family decided to take me and two other exchange students to a town nearby called Shipshewana. This town is in the south of Indiana. It is a very green town and has a lot of farms. The southern part of the state is well-known for being home to Amish people. I luckily had the opportunity to visit an Amish farm and spend the day with the sweetest 80-year-old Amish couple, Howard and Lillian.
When we arrived at the farm, they were so happy to have us and welcomed us with great hospitality. Howard, the “man of the house,” could not wait to show us all of his inventions he had done for his grandchildren’s entertainment. He immediately opened the gate to a garage full of bicycles and other wheeled toys which he had made for his grandchildren. With excitement, he told us the background story of the creative process of making them. He also offered me to try one of the more complex wheeled toys, and I assure you it was nothing like the wheeled toys I had when I was a kid. It had a specific technique and ways of functioning, which Howard had to explain to me in order for me to be able to ride it. He said that Amish people are very creative and innovative because they have the opportunity to make good use of their 24 hours in a sustainable way, as they do not believe in technology or cell phones, which is proven to be very time consuming and tends to decrease our creativity and innovative skills.
Howard and Lillian then continued to show us their self-sustained farm, in which they had horses, cows, sheep, chickens, dogs, cats, you name it! They explained to us the process of producing their own organic milk and dairy, and also showed us what they mainly ate. Lilian was very excited to show us her beautiful flower garden, which was her main hobby, and also showed us some of clothes she makes. Lilian and her daughters hand-make all of the clothes for themselves, their partners, and their children! It was interesting to see that they do not have zippers on their clothing, as they consider that to be too advanced for their traditional way of living.
After showing us around their farm, they kindly welcomed us into their home for some fresh tea and homemade peanut butter cookies. They were so excited to tell us about their family, and emphasized that God and family are their most important things in life. They told us about their big family tree, and talked about the way they try to stick together and all meet up every month despite them being a total of roughly 70 people! Lillian and Howard have 8 children, 38 grandchildren and 27 great-grandchildren. Life goals, or what?
This sweet couple has been welcoming people that are curious about the Amish to their house for almost a decade now. They said that it is a pleasure to give people the opportunity to see what an Amish farm looks like and they are happy to be able to communicate the Amish values and beliefs to others. This entire experience was very humbling, and I am very thankful for it. It definitely changed my perspective of the Amish. They have a set of right priorities, live a very peaceful and organized life, and act as a good example to our society.
Written by Dina Hasanovikj, 2018-2019 Global UGRAD student from Macedonia at Valparaiso University