The Liberty Gazette
November 15, 2011Ely Air Lines
By Mike Ely and Linda Street-Ely
We were in Berlin, in the rolling hills of eastern Ohio for the weekend for a speaking engagement. Our hosts for the weekend, Bob and Georgie live less than a mile from the Holmes County airport.
Pennsylvania is usually thought of as Amish country, but in this area of Ohio is the largest concentration of Amish in the United States. We visited the Amish and Mennonite Heritage Center with its Behalt Cyclorama, a 10 foot tall by 265 foot long mural-in-the-round. Behalt means “to keep" or "to remember.” The presentation was so interesting that I was surprised when we got to the end, which was actually the beginning: Jesus, the Alpha and Omega. http://behalt.com/
Linda: An old one-room school house on the Heritage Center property once served grades one through eight and was warmed by a simple coal furnace. A barn was built (without nails) next to the school to house a Conestoga wagon and a “modern” Amish buggy made by local craftsmen. Our guide explained that their buggies are built with an automatic breakaway system, to provide protection in the event of a crash – technology I had previously been led to believe was brought to the Indy racing scene from helicopters. Turns out it had been around a lot longer than that! The Amish do not judge others’ way of life, but feel that if they keep their life and work simple there is less to interfere with their relationships with family and their worship of God.
Mike: They do not have electricity in their homes and the horse-drawn buggies are a constant reminder of their simple life. Ironically, during the ice storm six years ago in which many people lost electricity, nobody mentioned the 45,000 Amish who never even noticed there was none.
Linda: Our weekend was a quick introduction to the Amish and this area with its picturesque rolling fields tended by people in simple clothes using simple machines. We also learned from the son of our hosts about a missionary aircraft maintenance school just a thirty minute drive to the south, so I don’t think it will be our last trip to the Amish country of Ohio.