My Time in a Mennonite Community
I only have one picture—more of a snapshot, really—from the summers I spent visiting my friends in the Old Order Mennonite community in Kentucky. Now, at twenty-seven, I cherish the image and the memories it evokes far more than I ever thought I would when it was taken sixteen years ago.
You see, I often dreaded our trips to the community.
Though my heritage was Mennonite, our family lived an Englischer lifestyle. Therefore, I was always slightly nervous as our station wagon crackled down the community’s long flat lane.
I would smooth my jean skirt and Little House on the Prairie braids before getting out of the vehicle with my brother, watching the children playing kick ball in the front yard beneath the sprawling oak trees.
In the community, my brother and I were the oddities. We garnered the stares and the whispers, the giggles behind cupped hands, where—anywhere else—the Mennonites in their plain garb would have been the ones filling the sting of being singled out.
But children are children, regardless if they come from two different backgrounds or not.
Within thirty minutes, I was running barefoot in the dirt, my braids flying out behind me just like my Mennonite girlfriends’. We played Hide ‘n’ Seek in the milk barn, the motley crew of tom cats eating table scraps on the cement floor as hay twisted down from the loft above.
We took walks in the strawflower field beside the house. We rode the buggy around the pond with the dock and the water that reflected the cerulean sky.
Toward evening, the girls and I helped set the table. It was usually a simple meal: hamburger noddle soup with applesauce, butter bread, cheese, and crisp garden veggies arranged on a tray.
As the darkness grew, the hostess lit the kerosene lamp that hung over our heads. My eyes widened as the netted bulb popped and the room swelled with light.
It was a magical experience, but I still did not accept their offer to stay in the community over summer.
I didn’t want to wear skirts for three straight months and braid my hair. I wanted to swim at the YMCA in my pink Wal-Mart bathing suit and read books until my eyes rolled out of my head. The Mennonites almost always spoke English around me, but what if they lapsed into Pennsylvania Dutch?
What if I became homesick?
Not accepting that offer has been one of my biggest regrets. I could have learned so much about my heritage . . . about gardening, canning, sewing, and every other detail composing the truly simple life.
However, the time I did spend in the community impacted me far more greatly than I could have ever known back then. Now I let my toddler daughter run barefoot across our yard. I let her play in the dirt and the sand and pick weeds along with starflowers.
I am keeping a small garden, and my goal one day is to learn how to can and sew and do all of the things that compose the simple life.
But for now, I have a picture to remind me of that time in the community, along with a magical summer’s worth of memories.
Thank you so much for sharing such a wonderful blog post with us, Jolina! I especially loved the part about playing Hide ‘n’ Seek. With two kiddos and summer approaching, we will be playing that game quite a lot. Such fun!
Readers would you like the chance to win Jolina’s new book The Midwife? Well, you are in luck…Tyndale House Publishers is giving TWO lucky readers the chance to win a copy!
To enter leave a comment below. If you would like an Extra chance share this link on Facebook or Twitter. Remember to leave another comment if you did.
**Contest starts today Tuesday, May 27th and ends on Tuesday, June 3rd.**
Jolina Petersheim is the award-winning author of The Midwife and The Outcast, which Library Journal gave a starred review and named one of the best books of 2013. The Outcast also became an ECPA, CBA, and Amazon bestseller, and was featured in Huffington Post’s Fall Picks, World Magazine’s Notable Books, USA Today, Publishers Weekly, and The Tennessean. Jolina and her husband’s unique Amish and Mennonite heritage originated in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. They now live in the mountains of Tennessee with their young daughter. Whenever she’s not busy chasing this adorable toddler, Jolina is hard at work on her next novel.
Visit Jolina at: jolinapetersheim.com, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads
The memories you hold will always be a guide for you. You are blessed to have had the experience, one I would love to have one day. Thanks for the share of your life.
I would be honored to win I love your books.
excellent. memories of the past of good experiences are always a pleasure in your life. glad you are letting your toddler run barefoot and you are doing some of the things you mentioned you wish you had learned. to bad we all can’t live the simple life.just think how great a world it would be!
I think I understand. I grew up in the country and as children we ran barefooted all summer. We always said the snakes were afraid of us. I now live just outside the city and I love thinking back to drinking from the garden hose, helping shuck corn for canning, running outdoors until it got too dark to see, and my favorite day was Bookmobile day. I later landed a job working on it! Would love to have your book!
In the south we go barefoot quite a lot 🙂
Love The Outcast, would love to read this one, as well 🙂
I would love to win your book. I love reading about the Amish. Thanks for this contest and the chance to enter to win. May God bless.
Thank you for sharing your wonderful memories. Living a more simple life is truly a blessing. I love having a garden and canning the fruits of my labor.I am always barefoot every chance I get.One of favorite family games was flashlight hide and seek where we played hide and seek at night time and the seeker had to find the hiders with a flash light. I would love a chance to win your book The Midwife. ~ Blessings to you ~
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You have a very interesting life and I think it would have been wonderful living that lifestyle.
Sounds like a great book, can’t wait to read it.
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Memories sometimes keep me going!! Thanks for the opportunity!
I used to run around without shoes when I was little, adn my mum made preserves from all the berries in the garden and in the woods just on the other side of the fence.
Would love to read your book. Shared on Facebook.
What wonderful memories!
Thank you so much for letting me visit, Destination Amish; it’s an honor to visit here with you and your dear readers. I hope you all have a wonderful summer, everyone! 🙂
Very interesting article — memories are so important to us. Please accept my entry in this wonderful giveaway. Thank you.
Shared on facebook for an additional entry.
I would be honored If I was chosen to get one of these books. I have fallen in love with Amish books. Bless You, Thanks.
I shared on facebook
I would love to win your book, I’m definitely going to be a new follower of your fiction. Memories are wonderful as they can never be taken from us.
Thank you so much for sharing your story with all of us. I’s nice thatyou have the photo to cherish that time in your life, wondering if you stayed in contact? You have to be the one second from the right! I would love the chance to be entered to win your book. Blessings!
Thanks for this chance to win one of your books!!
While we have a small farm of sorts – 1 dog, 2 sheep, 26 chickens, our 40lb tortoise and a weed choked garden I long for the simple life devoid of distractions. In our house we catch a glimpse of it when the power goes out. Without the distraction of electronics the kids and I get our flashlights and play in the living room building forts or exploring make believe worlds. We pass the time reading or playing board games too.
That need for community is lost these days. When we moved to our 10 acre plot we sent invitations to our neighbors by mail introducing ourselves and inviting them to come and visit. We dared not trespass the gated driveways and beware of dog signs that permeate our rural Arkansas town.
You are fortunate for the experiences that you had in your youth. I’m sure it adds a richness to your writing.
Thank you for offering the book as a giveaway.
I’ve added the book to my Goodreads “want to read” shelf: http://www.goodreads.com/iStudyScripture
Sounds like good childhood memories!
I would love to win a copy of this book!
I read THE OUTCAST and it was EXCELLENT!! I am looking forward to reading THE MIDWIFE …thank you for offering
a chance to win this!
i would love to be given that same chance. i am so intrigued by their way of life
I would love to win and read the Midwife.This book sounds great.I enjoyed reading this post.Thanks for sharing.
I think we all passed on opportunities in our youth, that as adults we wish we had taken advantage of!! Thanks for sharing your memories & your book!!
i really enjoy reading Amish Books. They bring me back to earth and back to nature. They are very humble people to live off the earth. hard workers, very family oriented. Thanks for a chance to win a book Midwife.
What a blessing that those memories will always be part of your heart and have inspired you to live more of the simple life. I love Amish fiction and would love to read this book.
Love the memories we carry with us as we mature, and I always wonder why some are so detailed, and others are barely discernible. How does the choice as t what we retain work?
Thanks for the interesting interview, and for the opportunity to win your new book!!
I do not know if you are familiar with Call the Midwife on ETV 3 seasons so far. I have not red the book, but this is my favorite TV series ever. based on World Ware II in England. I have not read your books, but to win one. I will read both books this summer. I always share new authors with my sister in West Monroe, LA.
I recently read The Outcast and would be thrilled to win The Midwife.
Thank you for sharing. I did learn so basics of canning from mom mom and grandma’s. I don’t sew in fact my husband does the mending. I loved your book the Outcast. Keep up the wonderful writing!
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I’m a huge fan of Jolina’s, and I would have loved the opportunity to spend time in an Old Order Mennonite or Amish community. It is such a treat when I get to go back home to Indiana and go to Shipshewana with my family and see the Amish. I really hope I can win this book! Thank you for the giveaway, and God bless!
P.S. I also shared this giveaway on Facebook!
Jolina, I loved “The Outcast” and I can’t wait to read “The Midwife”.
I too have fond memories of summertime on a farm (at my godparent’s). Also in the summertime we would take a sunday and travel with my Mennonite great-grandparents to see their son and family who lived in VA.
There was only one photo taken all those many times that we would travel to VA.
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Can’t wait to read “The Midwife”. Thank you for an awesome giveaway.
Loved your first book. Can’t wait to read this one, would love to win a copy.
Would love to win this book!! Awesome giveaway!!
Loved the outcast, can’t wait to read this one
Loved The Outcast. Looking forward to a the Midwife. I love reading the plain books that are written by those who have lived that life.
Winning this book would be awesome.
I enjoy reading stories about the Amish. I lived in central Illinois for several years and loved going to their stores. Thank you for offering this giveaway!
What a fabulous picture and awesome memory. Thanks so much for sharing.
I really want to read this! Thanks for the chance!!
I really enjoyed your post Jolina. Isn’t it wonderful to have sweet memories of our childhood?
I would love to win a copy of The Midwife.
I shared on FB!
Great post! Read The Outcast and would love a chance to win The Midwife. Thank you.
Looking forward to reading this awesome amish book………..The Midwife”
Would love to win The Midwife. The book sounds so good.
Precious post. Enjoyed it!
I would love to win the books. Have not read the previous one. Thank you.
Would love to win the book have not read the first one yet. Thank you
I would love to win one of your books. I have not had the chance to read the first one yet.
I posted on my FB.
I really enjoy reading Amish/ Mennonite stories and would beabsolutely DELIGHTED to win one of your books!
Gail Knowell Davis
I really enjoy reading about the Amish/Mennonites.
It would be a special treat to win one of your books!
I love to ready about the Amish Life style
I hope I win I love to read about the Amish and there lifestyle
I would really love to win this contest. Thanks for the opportunity. Reading is a favorite pastime for my husband and I. We especially love the Amish fiction.
I can’t wait to get my hands on this book! Thank you!
Would love to win the books. Shared on Facebook
I just read Outcast. That was so so good. It was so hard to put down. I want this next book your showing. I would love to get it. If i don’t i will wait until i get money to buy it. It sounds like it is a good book to buy. Thank you. I have been telling people i know in groups about The Book Outcast.
I would love to win
When we are children we certainly don’t always want to do the things that will be a great benefit. But by remembering those missed opportunities, I believe we can be good parents.
And it’s so nice you can bring those memories to your writing.
I would love to win your book. Thank you for your contest and the opportunity to win.
i shared on facebook.
I am an aviid reader of the Amish books and I know I would love to read the Midwife.
These sound like tremendously wonderful books. Thank you for the chance to win!
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I shared this on Facebook.
Sharing in the birth of a child is a real blessing. Would love to read about your experiences with this community. Ronnalord(at)msn(dot)com
Shared on Facebook–gladly!!
I love Amish books! and “The Midwife” sounds awesome! You are a new author to me so I thoroughly enjoyed the interview with you. I would be delighted to be among your winners and look forward to other works by you. I have LIKED you on FB as well as sharing this giveaway, plus I follow you on Twitter and Pinterest. I also post to Goodreads on everything that I read or want to read! Thank you for this opportunity to enter your giveway and for sharing your wonderful God given talent with all us readers loving good Christian romance/suspense novels. God bless you.
I would love to win your book. I enjoyed reading the blog above. Your visit did have a lasting impact.
Would love to win
Hello My name is Annette I am English (UK) and I first came across the Amish in the late 1980s after reading “The Midwife’s Story” by Penny Armstrong (pub 1986). I picked the book up because I was interested in childbirth and Midwifery but I was soon really blown away by the beauty of the Amish family life and Penny’s wonderful writing style. That book made a big impression on me. Years later and the internet with the ability to download “Amish” books allowed me to explore their beliefs and lifestyle a lot more. I have enjoyed the books by Sarah Price and Beverley Lewis most but recently I came across Jolina’s “The Outcast” and I really loved the story and the comparison to the “The Scarlet Letter”, well done Jolina. I would really love to have a copy of your new book The Midwife and hope you have enjoyed my blog. Best wishes Annette
I love Jolina’s books and would love to win this one!
Thank you for sharing a special time in your life and you have a photo that captures that time and every time you see it, the memories will come. Thank you also for the opportunity to win a copy of your book
Wow! Those are great memories you shared. I can’t wait to read your book. I have family & friends that can’t wait to read it too. Thank you for the giveaway & I hope I am the real winner. Keep up the good work.
Thank you so much for sharing, everyone; I am blown away by your precious support!
Shared your link on my Facebook wall for all my family & friends to see & share also.
Tweeted on Twitter as well
Thank you so much for this chance.
I thoroughly enjoyed your guest post. Although I haven’t read anything you’ve written, I am going to look for The Outcast now, and would really like to win a copy of your latest book, The Midwife.
I would love to win a copy of “The Midwife”, I read “The Outcast” and loved it!
I shared on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/wendy.newcomb.92
The book sounds, wonderful. Your memories of summer in a plain community are priceless. Wish I was a kid again! 😉
Thank you for sharing your memories. We raised our 5 boys out in a country setting and I never regretted it. It created some of the best times we had.
this was before we had the technology of today and we enjoyed the same simple games you mentioned.
I miss it now since our boys are adults with their own children but most of them still live in the country and limit the time they let their children stay on line so they to go out and enjoy nature.
your books look wonderful and it would be a blessing to read them. Thank you
Thank you for sharing your memories with us. Growing up in the country was something i loved. I now live in the suburbs and long to move to Lancaster for retirement . I would love to read your books. Reading them takes me away to where I long to be, until the time I can get there permanently.
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Now don’t you think there should be book prizes in two categories: men and women? It looks like I’d have very little much competition.
Ok, bad idea. Particularly because I would prefer to cooperate rather than compete.
I’m holding off buying your book just knowing I will win but … books about healing are a particular pleasure. My vision of midwives has them delivery hearts as well as babies. Thanks for your writing; I look forward to reading it whether free or purchased. Jon
Thanks for sharing you memories, and the opportunity to win a great book!
My husband grew up next to a Mennonite family in
Maryland. One of the young boy’s gave him his hat
and we still have it hanging on our coat rack…
Many thanks for this wonderful book giveaway
Again, many thanks!
I loved The Outcast. Would love to win
this book sounds like a very good read. i always wonder how the amish and mennonites balance living a simple life and all the temptations the world has to offer. thank you for a great giveaway
This book sounds very interesting. I also enjoyed the post.
I posted on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/angela.holland.359/posts/894322947264014
I also shared on Twitter – https://twitter.com/griperang/status/471784709580537856
I would love to win this. I love reading about the Amish. God Bless.
Loved Outcast. I am looking forward to reading The Midwife
I would love to win a copy!
Shared on Twitter @asimplelifereal
Loved the memories! Always great to revisit past times that you enjoyed. I usually always find, when revisiting those memories, that they taught me something.
I am reading The Outcast now for a book discussion I am heading and thoroughly enjoying it. I can’t wait to read this next installment.
i would love to win this. thanks for the chance
Shared on face book.
I am looking forward to reading The Midwife.Thank you for the opportunity to win.
How fun that would have been, to dress up in braids and try to meld in with the Little House life, if only for a few days! Would have loved to have gone with you! One time my husband and i were out in the booneys looking for a little country church we knew of and we came upon what we thought was the right place. We got out of our van and quickly felt very…very…conspicuous. Our brightly colored clothes glowed garishly as we suddenly found ourselves surrounded by black pants and white head coverings. The men, all lined up next to the church, stopped their conversations and tried hard not to stare. The women, flocked together, also tried unsuccessfully to not obviously notice us. The children didn’t try to hide their amazement. The only thing brighter than my yellow dress surely must’ve been my beet red face! But the sweet Amish people were SO kind. One of the men came up and made conversation with my husband, and a lady came up and began talking to me. They redirected us to the church we had been seeking, right around the bend, but the kind lady begged us to stay and worship with them and then come and have lunch with them. Amazing how kindness transcends cultures and ages, huh?!
Wow…what a great response to this contest! Thank you readers and thank you Jolina for sharing your wonderful memories with us:)The winners of The Midwife are Harold Cheetham and Ruth Smith. Congratulations!
Thanks so much Michelle and Jolina!!! and congratulations Harold…Anxious to be introduced to Jolina’s work! The reviews have been awesome!