formerly "The View From Up Here"

Formerly titled "The View From Up Here" this column began in the Liberty Gazette June 26, 2007.

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November 15, 2011 Amish Country

The Liberty Gazette
November 15, 2011
Ely Air Lines
By Mike Ely and Linda Street-Ely

Linda: In most places it would seem out of place, a novelty, to see a black horse-drawn buggy at a traffic light with a line of cars behind it. But there it is an everyday occurrence. My daughter posted a mobile upload picture on Facebook of horses crossing FM 1960 with the caption “Only in Texas.” I had to counter that with a picture of the buggy and a statement of my own, “It’s pretty common in Amish country, too.” She came back with “but this is on a busy street,” and I replied, “this is too.”
Amish horse-drawn buggy, Holmes County, Ohio

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.

Mike: Georgie took us to see the town, still dressed in Autumn colors, and to learn more about the Amish and the Mennonite communities there; the Anabaptists. They are Protestant Christians whose beginnings are rooted in the Radical Reformation of 16th-century Europe. The Roman Catholic Church had become unspeakably corrupt and a
fellowship of believers was formed to give men and women the opportunity to follow the Lord Jesus Christ according to the whole Word of God, the Bible. The group was hunted and savagely persecuted around the world for centuries.

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.

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.

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