I was a bit thrown off by the watch out for horse and buggy road signs posted in PA. I had never seen these(or Amish people for that matter) in South Carolina. Several of the homes surronding the farmhouse where we stayed were Amish families. Their homes were beautifully manicured and there was always someone working outside. I was excited about the opportunity to possibly find out more information about the Amish lifestyle from actual Amish people. I knew many of the basic tenets of the Amish people with their Swiss roots..and their refusal to move forward with modern technology and no electricity..but I wanted to know who these people were really. As we drove the golf car through the lush farmland a couple of Amish kids came to the edge of the road to say hello—their names were Barbie and Samuel. They lived in Centre Hall with their father Eli, mother Verna, and brothers Matthew , John David, and a baby brother whose name I forget. Over the next couple of days I would spend some time with the Fisher family..learning about the things they hold dear. From the children I learned that they knew all about cell phones–even though they didnt own any–and contrary to popular belief they do get to go to town and see everyone with these devices. Their family goes to WalMart to buy groceries–while they do grow a lot of their own foods. I even caught them drinking a can of sweet tea:) Can you blame em?
The children work from as young as 6 years old–helping out in the house and in the fields. I got to see Barbie and Samuel cutting the grass with motorless push lawn mowers. I loved how they did their work with so much gusto and pride–I would proably be complaining! They were such well mannered and sweet young people–they gave us a tour of their property including the stables where animals and the buggies were kept. I got to see equipment used to bale the hay–I was intrigued by most of the equipment because it was battery or manually powered—falling in line with their beliefs. Their home was lit by propane. The father, Eli, is actually a contractor and says that when he moved to the area the only thing there was trees. He and His men built the house that his family lives in now(very beautiful) and he travels all over building–he even has a phone in the woods (away from the home) for his buisiness…and a copier powered by 9 Volt. Eli explained to me that early on ‘his people’ and ‘our people’ were very similar in the fact that they were focused on living simply..but of course the Amish decided that they would not move on with modern day luxuries.
Which they feel is the right way for a family to live. One day Eli invited me to ride the horse and buggy along with his family up to the one room school house to weed-eat the grass.
While we were there Eli did most of the work, he occasionally pulled the children away to help. During that time the children played on the playground taking breaks to peek with excitment into the school house to see if they could see their desks. The Amish only attend school up to 8th grade. I have never seen kids so excited about school they kept looking through the windows.
I also got to talk to the children about Christmas and gifts they had recieved—The oldest boy John David was excited that last year he got a book — a hockey stick and puck. He seemed perfectly happy with this–It was good to see that he never complained about wanting more. I realized during my talks with the family that while I may not agree entirely with their beliefs on technology or education or whatever else..there are some things that I do highly respect…things that should be universal in today’s world: family is paramount, working together is the best lesson you can teach, and kindness is irreplaceable. The Fishers truly operate as a family unit from the break of dawn to the sun bidding adieu to the mountains they rely on each other. They also value other people–taking the time to get to know someone different from themselves. They taught me a lesson too: Simplify. I feel like I over complicate a lot of things in my life. I actually bought a sign in PA before I left that says “Simply”–its now in my kitchen and reminds of the couple of days with my Amish family in PA. Thanks Fishers!
***Note: The Fishers allowed me to take candid photos of them–but they were not allowed to pose for photographs due to their beliefs***