I have visited Amish communities several times over the years. Although I’ve chatted with the folks in shops and restaurants, I’ve never had an opportunity to really get to know them. However, on our recent trip to Elkhart County, Indiana, my husband and I were invited to have dinner with an Amish family. This wasn’t one of the commercial, large group events that you see advertised in Amish areas. This was just my husband, me, and another man who was a guest of the Murphy Guest House where we were staying.
When Keith and Rhoda graciously invited us to dinner in their home, I had no idea what to expect. I thought I knew basic facts about the Amish: No electricity, no cars, and education only through the eighth grade. Although these facts are generally correct, I found out there are exceptions. I also discovered that the Amish are no different in most aspects of life than the English. (The Amish refer to any non-Amish as English.)
Amish family’s home
My first surprise was at how large the family’s home is, with plenty of space for Keith, Rhoda and their seven children. Except for the gas-powered chandelier that hangs over the kitchen table, it looks no different than any other home. Appliances run on propane gas rather than electricity, but we discovered they do use electricity on occasion, just not from the grid. They use a generator to power things like portable fans since they don’t have air conditioning.
The meatloaf, mashed potatoes, corn, and salad that Rhoda made were a welcome and delicious change of pace from restaurant food. She also served Amish noodles, one of my favorites, as well as fresh-baked bread with homemade strawberry jam. And then she served dessert: yummy hot blackberry cobbler with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream.
We chatted about cooking for a bit. One tip that Rhoda shared with me is her method of freezing corn. She freezes the fresh kernels after cooking it with butter, salt and a little water. I’ve since looked up a recipe for that and discovered it’s the best way to freeze corn to keep the fresh taste and texture.
We enjoyed great conversation throughout our meal and for a couple of hours afterwards. Keith and Rhoda were anxious to learn about our lives, and we learned much about their family’s lives. We chatted about business, taxes and family and were surprised to find out the two eldest children had gone to high school. One was about to start teaching in the local Amish school.
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Another topic of conversation was transportation. We wondered what transportation Keith used for work, since he isn’t allowed to drive a motor vehicle, a necessity for his roofing business. Keith told us he hires a driver to take him to his jobs. The family also hired a driver to take them on an extended family road trip vacation to the western United States a few years ago. Around town they use their horses and buggy for transportation, and they treated us to a buggy ride after dinner.
The two oldest boys weren’t home for dinner. They were out playing basketball. When they came home later in the evening, I noticed they weren’t dressed traditional Amish dress. Had we not known, we would never have recognized them as Amish.
To end the evening, the family brought out their hymnals and entertained us with their beautiful harmonic singing voices.
We were blessed to experience the evening with this Amish family. We learned so much about the Amish, but my biggest takeaway is that except for a few cultural differences, their lives are no different than ours. After all, people are people.
Accommodations: We stayed at the Murphy Guest House in Bristol, Indiana, during our visit to Elkhart County. Find the best deal, compare prices, and read what other travelers have to say at TripAdvisor
Disclosures: Thank you to Ann from the Murphy Guest House for coordinating the dinner with Keith and Rhoda, and to the Elkhart County Convention and Visitors Bureau, who hosted our visit to the area.
This article contains an affiliate link, which means that if you book a hotel room through the TripAdvisor link above, I will receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you.
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