Amish Romance: Let Go and Let God, p.1
Copyright 2015 Sandra Becker
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
UNANNOUNCED READER BONUS
Thank you for purchasing this book. As a measure of my gratitude, I am providing you with a short free report:
The Amish Insider: 10 Wonderful Facts about the Amish
This report is exclusively for my readers and is only available through this book. You won’t find this on any book retailer site.
It is my way of saying Thank You!
You can download the report from here.
Lead lady: Ruth Byler
Sister: Mary Byler
Brother: Abram Byler
Father: Samuel Byler
Mother: Emma Byler
Boy: James Townsend
Neighbor: Mrs. Schrock
Schweschder – Sister
Bruder – Brother
Mudder – Mother
Rumspringa – Running around years. A time when Amish teenagers make a decision to become a member of the church.
Gott – God
Gut – Good
Wunderbaar – Wonderful
Ordnung – Church Order
Ant – Aunt
Ach – Oh
Englischer – Non-Amish person
Kapp - Cap
“I am so excited!” Ruth exclaimed.
“I know. I am happy for you, dear Schweschder,” Mary replied.
Ruth looked at her sister Mary and smiled. It was a beautiful morning in Lancaster County. The family had just finished breakfast, and Ruth and Mary were in the kitchen cleaning the dishes. The biggest part of their morning routine was already done. Ruth had woken up at dawn, collected the eggs, milked the cow, and then turned it out to pasture. While Ruth cared for the animals, Mary had gathered vegetables and helped her mother with the breakfast.
“You will follow me soon enough,” Ruth said.
Mary was a year younger than Ruth, and the two of them were very close. A few days before, Ruth had celebrated her fifteenth birthday, and she knew that it meant the advent of rumspringa. Most of her friends had looked forward to this as a time to be more social with boys of their age, but Ruth was more excited about the fact that it was also an opportunity to finally become a member of the church.
Rumspringa was a time when teenage boys and girls were allowed a bit more freedom as they began to court and made a formal decision about whether to join the church and agree to live their lives in accordance with the rules of the Ordnung, the Amish community order. Ruth had seen some of her friends spend rumspringa at home, while others had gone to stay with relatives while they pondered their decision. In most cases, her friends had already made their decision, and they therefore used most of their time during rumspringa observing adults, learning from them, and emulating their behavior and values.
Ruth was already learning from her mother the habits and work ethic of a respectable Amish lady. She had a deep faith in God and she knew that this would be her chance to prove her devotion to God.
The dishes were soon done, and Ruth wiped her hands with a cloth.
Mary had a dreamy look in her eyes. “Mudder told me that next year it will be my turn for rumspringa. I would love to go to the singings and spend more time with the boys.”
Ruth smiled. She had felt the same way. She had watched from the aisles as her friends had become church members and started participating in the choir.
She patted her sister on the cheek and said, “Sure. We will have a lot of fun together once you complete your rumspringa. Mudder will also give you a new dress next year.”
“That would be wunderbaar. Will you be going to Ant Sadie’s haus?”
“Yes. Father sent her a letter. She said that she would be delighted to see me again. It’s been quite a while since we visited her, not since Mr. Schwartz’s wedding.”
Just then, their youngest sibling, ten-year-old Abram, rushed in. “Look what I found Schweschder.” He held a frog in his hand.
“Oh! Be careful, you could hurt the tiny animal.” She took the frog gently from Abram’s hands and released it on the floor. The frog gave a croak and hopped away.
“Ach! Mr. Frog is running away.” Abram’s face fell.
“Don’t worry, little bruder. Mr. Frog will be around the neighborhood. He knows that we are really nice people. He will come back when he needs our help. Now cheer up. I have a secret to share.”
The boy’s curiosity was piqued. “A secret?”
“Yes. A secret.”
“What is it?”
“I start my rumspringa in a few days.”
“Oh!” Abram’s voice dropped a notch further. “It's not fair. Everyone else gets to see the outside world, but I have to stay at home.”
Mary smiled and hugged her brother. “There is so much love here. Why do you want to go anywhere else?”
* * * *
The marketplace was less crowded than usual. It was mid-morning and Ruth had come to the marketplace for two things. One was to trade eggs and milk for some firewood. The other was to meet her friend Sarah. Sarah hadn’t arrived yet, so she met the tradesman and traded her eggs and milk for a small pile of firewood. Then she watched the other sellers ply their wares. Neighbors greeted each other and made small talk. It was Sunday, but still a typical day at the market.
Suddenly a young man across the way caught her eye. It was his mustache that got her attention. It was unusual to see anyone in their community with a mustache. Married men wore a beard without a mustache. But this person wore no beard, only a mustache. And the face behind the mustache was handsome.
Her heart stopped. The young man was next to a car, and it looked as if he was asking for directions from one of the vendors.
It’s an Englischer.
Her heart spiked as she looked at him. She felt an unusual but irresistible attraction to the stranger.
“Well, well, well.” Ruth turned at the sound of the familiar voice and saw Sarah at her side. Sarah glanced at the Englischer and then back at Ruth.
“He is handsome, isn’t he?” Sarah giggled.
“Yes. He is strikingly attractive,” Ruth admitted.
Suddenly, the young man turned toward them, as if he had heard their conversation. His eyes met Ruth's, and for a fleeting moment she felt as if he were reading her thoughts. Then he got into the car and guided it out of the market.
Ruth watched him until he was out of sight. “I wonder what he is doing here?” she said.
Sarah shrugged. “He's probably here to have fun or to make fun of us. Not that I would mind. I am starved for strangers. All we have here are plain-clothed people.”
“Hush, you mustn’t speak so," Ruth scolded her. "It is God’s will that we should dress simply and not be ostentatious. We are the people of the Ordnung. We are the ladies of the community. We must do what is right.”
Sarah sighed. “I guess you are right." Then her face brightened as she asked, "How are the preparations for your rumspringa going?”
“They are going well. I have thought a lot about my future. I have learned so many things rec
Sarah nodded. “I won’t tell anyone. I know how it goes. I was scared, too, when I had to leave my family. But I got to live with my Ant and I prayed to God to give me strength. I will now pray to God to guide you.”
“We have church services at Mrs. Bayer’s house today. Do you want to come along with me?” Sarah asked. Church services were held every other Sunday and rotated from home to home throughout the year.
“Sure," Ruth agreed. We will have to stop over at my house first and drop off the wood.”
By the time they reached Ruth’s home, her family had already left for the services. Ruth put the firewood in the kitchen and she and Sarah headed out. They reached Mrs. Bayer’s house a few minutes later.
Most of the community had already gathered for the service. Ruth joined her family, as Sarah made her way over to the choir. The first prayer began in a slow, melancholic tone, praising God’s kindness, and everyone joined in.
O Gott, Vater, wir loben dich und deine Güte preisen wir…
Ruth joined in with the others. She silently expressed her gratitude and asked for the Lord’s blessings. She thanked God for the wonderful family she had and prayed to God to make her a member of the church very soon.
Suddenly, however, the image of the young stranger flashed through her mind. She shook her head, and redirected her thoughts, a trifle concerned.
This had never happened to her before.
* * * *
The young stranger thought again of the lady at the market. Real pretty face. I would like to see her again; he thought and then shook his head. He knew better.
He went over the events of the past few days that had led him to Lancaster County. Last month, he had been working for a prestigious medical research center in Philadelphia. He wouldn’t have imagined in his wildest dreams that he would be in Amish territory only a few weeks later.
It had started with his boss Dr. Jones finding out that he was drinking while on the job. Dr. Jones had confronted him and accused him of being an alcoholic. He had tried to talk his way around it, but it hadn’t worked. His boss had only become angrier. A couple of days later, he was given a new assignment. He was to study the genetic effects of intermarriage among the Amish. This would require him to do an onsite evaluation of an Amish community.
He knew the reason why he was selected for this assignment. And it was not for his genetic knowledge. They wanted me to stay away.
He thought of the girl and of others like her in the Amish community. This is an orthodox society. The people won't want to be around someone who binges on alcohol.
As a doctor, he knew the terrible effects of alcoholism, but its grip on him was beyond scientific reason. He had taken up the bottle after a painful breakup with his girlfriend. The pain of the loss had subsided, but the craving for the bottle hadn’t.
So what if I do need a little sip now and then? What right did Dr. Jones have to judge me?
He saw a farm in front of him. It had a quaint cottage with lush green fields spread out around it in every direction. Near the house he saw a tall oak tree next to a shed. It was the landmark he had been told to look out for. This must be the place, he thought.
He parked the car a little further from the cottage, walked up to the door, and knocked. An elderly lady opened the door and peered out at him.
“Good morning, ma’am. My name is James Townsend.”
* * * *
Emma Byler looked at her children and smiled. They have grown up so quickly, she thought.
It was evening, and the sun was nearing the horizon after completing its work of nourishing the farm throughout the day. She watched her eldest daughter, Ruth, playing with Abram and Mary. Their squeals of laughter could be heard from afar. Ruth guided them to the barn and the younger ones sped away, apparently playing a game of hide-and-seek.
“The kids seem to be enjoying themselves, Emma.” her husband, Samuel said, coming to stand at her side.
Emma adjusted her prayer kapp. “Yes. They are so carefree. It’s wonderful to watch them grow up.”
Samuel looked out at the fields. “God has been good to us. We have been blessed with wunderbaar children.”
“Yes, we have.” Emma remembered when each of her children was born. There had been no complications during their births and each time the labor had been relatively pain free. She had seen plenty of other mothers who had to deal with intense labor pain or worse, miscarriages and stillborn infants. She mouthed a silent prayer expressing her gratitude.
A piercing squeal came from the barn. Ruth had just caught Abram. Emma and Samuel laughed.
“Will this happiness last?” Samuel asked, becoming serious.
Emma was surprised. “Why do you say that?”
“It's probably nothing,” he said with a shrug.
“No. Do tell me. You can share your feelings with me,” Emma told him.
“Well. It’s about Ruth’s rumspringa.”
“What about it?”
“Do you think she will decide to stay in the community?”
Emma smiled. She understood why Samuel was concerned. Some of the younger generation had not become members of the church. They had decided to move out of the community. Some of the community elders had been concerned. There had been some talk about how the children were being influenced by the Englischers. But Emma’s trust in the Amish way of life was strong. Even stronger was her trust in God. This gave her confidence that Ruth would do the right thing at the right time.
She said, “I trust she will stay in the community.”
Samuel breathed heavily. “I am glad you feel that way. Sometimes I worry about her. We have protected our community from outside influence for a long time. However, my greatest fear is that she will one day meet an Englischer and leave us.”
Emma put her hand on his shoulder. “Samuel, you must not worry so. We have brought up Ruth in a loving and caring way. She has imbibed our values and beliefs. She is no longer a child, dear.”
“I know, but I can’t shake off a nagging feeling of doubt,” Samuel said.
“I have spoken with her about rumspringa and she is already committed to joining the church," Emma told him. "I don’t think that's the problem. I think I know what you are really worried about, though.”
“You are worried about the time when she will get married and leave us. Isn’t that it?”
Samuel sighed. “I guess you are right. I can’t bear to see her leave us. The five of us together are a family. I cannot imagine how it will feel when Ruth will no longer be among us.”
Emma wiped a tear from her eye. “She is a woman, Samuel. It is the destiny of a woman to leave one house for another. She must leave the loving care of her parents so that she can shower her affection on a new family. She will discover the hidden love of a caring husband and the joy of motherhood. The joys of marriage are many. Watching your child’s first smile and knowing that it was conceived from your womb. Growing up along with your child and teaching her and learning as well. She must leave us in order to experience all of this.”
“I know Emma, but still … we bring her up, teach her values, shelter her, and then she leaves. Why?”
Emma rested her head on Samuel’s shoulder. “If my father had thought the same way, I wouldn’t have become your wife.”
Samuel didn’t say anything more for a few moments, but he squeezed her hand. Emma knew that her logic was right. He finally nodded. “You are right, Emma, as always, but it is so tough.”
“We lose what we cling tightly to. Let go and let God.”
* * * *
Let go and let God.
Samuel thought about Emma’s words. He was full of gratitude toward her
Let God decide what is best for Ruth.
Samuel immediately felt more relaxed. He turned to Emma and smiled. He saw a look of understanding in her eyes as she smiled back.
The children’s voices were closer now. Samuel looked toward the barn and saw that they were returning to the house. He observed Ruth, seeing her now in the light of her status as a young lady, instead of the child he had always thought her to be. Yes, she had turned into a fine young woman. Responsible, caring, and intelligent, just like her mother.
He called out to her. “Ruth, my dear, come here.”
“Coming, Father” she replied. He watched her stop to instruct her siblings. “Wash your hands and feet. They should be clean.”
Then she approached him. “Yes, Father? Do you need dinner?”
Samuel smiled on realizing that Ruth’s first concern was about his dinner. Emma had always put family before self, and now Ruth was following in her footsteps. He hugged her. “No, no. I just realized how much you mean to me.”
Ruth smiled and hugged her father even more tightly. “When you hug me, I realize how much you mean to me.”
Emma spoke then. “Ruth, your father has something important to discuss with you.”
Samuel cleared his throat. “Your mother has informed me that you are aware of your upcoming rumspringa. I want to know if you have any questions."
“No, Father. I have no questions. In fact, I am excited to have the opportunity to become a member of the church.”
“And you understand that eventually you will marry one of the young men of our community?”
Ruth lowered her eyes. “Yes, Father, I know.”
Samuel saw Ruth’s eyes moisten. He understood that, like him, she wanted to remain with her family. It’s tougher for her than it is for me, he thought. I will lose only Ruth in marriage, but she will be leaving her entire family behind and will be living among new people. What is a father’s worry compared to a daughter’s?