What started out as an ordinary day turned out to be the beginning of an extraordinary adventure. I was sitting in my sewing room when my husband, Steve, came in and announced that we were going on a trip. He told me to quickly pack a bag and to be ready to get on the road right away. The Bible tells us to be ready in season, so I hurried and packed a couple of changes of clothes, our pillows and a blanket. I never know what to expect with Steve, so I wanted to be prepared. Within 15 minutes we were on the road and the adventure began.
After we were on the road, he told me we were going to Amish Country in Ohio. I love reading stories about the Amish and the slow pace of their life, and I have always wanted to meet an Amish family. I was also excited about going there because I needed some new material for quilting. We had visited the area several times, but this was the first time that Steve and I had gone alone. It was mid-afternoon when we arrived and we ate at the Der Dutchman in Walnut Creek. After lunch, Steve went next door to the Carlisle Inn to get us a room. However, there was no room at the inn. The people at the inn checked to see about a room at their Sugar Creek location, but it was the same story – no room at the inn.
We decided to go to Berlin to see if we could find something. I wanted to look around in the Helping Hand Quilt Shop, so Steve said he would go look around in some of the other shops and come back. After I finished my shopping and bought some new material, I waited for Steve. After some time when he didn’t return, I went looking for him. I found him in the shop next door talking with a young lady at the counter. She was on her computer trying to find hotel room for us. We weren’t having much luck, and as we were discussing the situation, she spoke up and said we could stay in her cabin. I was very surprised by her offer and said, “Oh, you have a cabin?” She said that it actually belonged to her mom and dad, but the people who were living there had moved and it was empty. She said there wasn’t any furniture, but they could put a box spring and mattress on the floor and we could stay there if we like.
I couldn’t believe that this young girl was inviting us to stay at her cabin. She called her mom, who said it would be fine for us to stay in the cabin. We thanked her and asked how much she would charge. She told us that there was no charge – we could stay for free! I couldn’t believe it. She told us that when she got off work, we could follow her home. When the time came, we met her outside the shop. But when she got in her truck, it wouldn’t go into gear for some reason. She called her dad and told him we were going to bring her home. As we were driving, she told me her name was Heidi and she was 23 years old. I asked her if she was Amish. She said that she was Mennonite like her mom’s family, but her dad and his family were Amish. I could tell by talking to her that she was a good-hearted young woman. I asked if her mom might not like her inviting us since she really didn’t know us. She said that we were welcome to come. She told us about the three ponds behind their house and that we could go fishing. She said her grandfather would gladly fix a pole for us. If we wanted, she could take us on a buggy ride the next day. And, she invited us to attend church with them on Sunday.
As all this was happening, I thought about this scripture – my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. I am thinking to myself that God is looking into my heart and seeing my heart’s desires. I have always wanted to meet someone like this but I really never believed that it would happen. When we got to her house, her mom and dad greeted us. You would have thought we were old friends. Steve offered to drive her dad, Henry, back to town to get Heidi’s truck. We drove back to Berlin and as soon as Henry started the truck it shifted into gear! After we returned home, Steve and Henry went fishing and I spent some time with Heidi’s mother, Brenda. She told me about their family. Heidi was the oldest daughter, followed by Heather, Hannah, Harmony, Josh and a foster child named Steven who was only two. As I listened to her talk, I thought to myself that I had never met a more loving and giving family. For example, Brenda said that one year, Henry bought bicycles for the children. When he gave them the bikes, he told them that they could ride them as much as they liked as long as they remembered that they belonged to God. When other children came around, they were to remember that the bikes belonged to God and they should share with them. He told them that everything belonged to God and we were just taking care of it for Him.
But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
Brenda and Henry invited us to stay for dinner. We thanked them but said we had planned to eat in Berlin that evening. They told us to stop back by later for a snack – maybe some fried pies – and we took them up on that offer. We met their son Josh, who works at a local auction, and they invited us to attend an auction the next morning. Anyone who knows Steve knows that he loves to shop and go to auctions, so we said we would love to go. The conversation then turned to playing music and Steven mentioned that he plays guitar. Josh also plays guitar and they invited us to come the next evening and have a singing. I remarked that I didn’t know they had music, but they said that they sing without music in church but they have no objection to playing instruments at home.
It was getting on in the evening, so they took us to the cabin. It was very nice and clean, but there truly was no furniture. They brought in a box springs and mattress and gave us some clean sheets and towels. I had our pillows and quilt – like I said, being instant in season and prepared for anything. Steve asked me if I was sure that I wanted to stay there. I told him I didn’t care if I had to sleep on the floor, I wouldn’t miss this adventure for anything! Brenda pointed out that technically we were sleeping on the floor and we all had a laugh. We said goodnight and got ready for bed. I like to never got to sleep. I hurt all over, but I loved every moment of it.
The next morning we got up early and went to town for breakfast at Boyd’s Restaurant. The food was plentiful and the prices were good. We ate and visited some shops before time to go to the auction. We tried to follow the directions they had given us, but we went a little too far and made a wrong turn. When we realized we were lost, we backtracked and found the right way to the auction. It turned out to be an estate auction, which was not as exciting as I thought but I did bid on and won some dishes. If you know me, you know I love dishes. When you go on an adventure, you never know where you’ll end up! On the way back, we stopped at yard sales and then had lunch in Berlin. After some more shopping, we returned to the cabin for a rest.
That afternoon we went to the little pond behind the house where the children were fishing. Grandpa was in the garden. At 87, he still had a lot of life in him. He was sitting on a stool using a little rake that he had made. It was small and had little teeth on it. I told him that he should patent it! We talked with him awhile and then headed back to Boyd’s for dinner. A friend had recommended their banana split, so we ordered one. It was the biggest banana split I had every seen. Steve and I shared it, but we still couldn’t eat it all. It was delicious! We then drove to Sugar Creek because Steve wanted to visit the World’s Largest Cuckoo Clock. While we were walking down the street, a horse-drawn trolley pulled along side and the Amish driver asked if we wanted a ride. He took us on a tour of the town and stopped at a vegetable and fruit stand to shop. Steve bought me some strawberries and they were delicious as well.
It was nearly dark when we returned home. Josh was playing the guitar and everyone was singing. Imagine my surprise when I heard them sing the same spiritual songs that we sing – “Amazing Grace” and all the old red hymnal songs. They had such beautiful voices and we sang for a long time. They asked if we would like to go to church with them the next morning. A part of me wanted to say no because I didn’t know what to expect. But I knew that if I didn’t experience this now, I never would. We agreed to follow them to church the next morning.
The next morning, we met their daughter Heather. She rode to church with us and I learned that she is a teacher at the Mennonite school and had eight students. She was a delightful young lady and we talked about school, church and missions. I found that this family was mission-oriented and had been on mission trips before. When we got to the church, I was very surprised at how modern it was. It was a new building with padded pews and very nice restrooms. The people greeted us just like they do at our own church.
The service began with a welcome and singing. Then the teacher taught a lesson, and we sang again, without instruments. They sang as one voice and it was beautiful. Next came Sunday School for the children. They had all the children come forward on the front row and the teacher taught a lesson on how a soft answer turneth away wrath (Proverbs 15:1). He gave an example of a young girl who was building a block tower when her brother turned around and knocked it over. She got angry and her brother told her that he was sorry and that it was accident. He said he would help her build a new one and build it higher. This made the girl happy. A soft answer turneth away wrath. It was so nice to be a part of the children’s class. We had more singing and then the message, which was very good. There were a few more songs and announcements were made. A final song was sung and we were dismissed.
After the service, the Adult Group invited Steve and me to have lunch with them. It is their custom that when they have visitors, they invite them to eat with them. However, the family we were staying with had already invited us to join them for a lunch they were hosting for young people at their house. There were about 20 young adults there, and they were all very nice. When lunch was ready, they said the blessing and asked me and Steve to be served first. The food was very good and the fellowship was wonderful. They invited us to stay and play volleyball, but it was getting late and we needed to get going. As we were getting ready to leave, Brenda gave us a CD of songs. Grandpa and Grandma gave us a book that he had written. We thanked them and said our goodbyes.
Delight thyself also in the LORD: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.
Wow – what an adventure! God will take you on adventures. He will give you the desire of your heart . . . even if you don’t realize that it is what you wanted! As I said, I always loved learning about the Amish and always wanted to meet someone who was Amish. I never dreamed I would have an adventure like this. Each week at our church, we recite a pledge asking God to bless us. He certainly gave us gifts and surprises on this adventure. And what better gift than new friend!
Ella Hoffman is an Associate Pastor and a member of the Praise & Worship Team at Spirit Life Fellowship Church.