Episode Five – Amish in Public
Episode Five recap:
In the month of September 2011, I took one month vacation from my job selling cars and traveled to a handful of midwestern states, visiting some Amish communities. The camera guy and I slept in hotels and motels all across Ohio, Pennsylvania, Indiana, and Wisconsin. We met a lot of great people, ate a lot of new, and great food, and filmed a lot of scenes. Some of the footage was used, a lot wasn’t. I always feel bad for the people who dressed up, cleaned their houses and yards, figuring it needs to look good for TV, then for various reasons, it doesn’t quite fit into the narrative.
Take, for example, my trip to Wisconsin, (a flash forward to Episode Six). Much of Wisconsin, my native state, was spent filming with a biker organization called the Christian Motorcycle Association. The group went out of their way to welcome us, to give me the warm welcome I should’ve received from my Amish family, who lived only six miles away. But the narrative simply didn’t work. The story in Wisconsin was for me to try and get back a long-lost relationship with my mother, and when the footage of the motorcycle group reached the editing office, it was simply too far of a stretch to try and tie it into my mother. To the members of the Christian Motorcycle Association, God Bless you guys! I will never forget your hospitality.
In Wisconsin I tracked down one of my old scholars that I taught in school while Amish. We spent a Sunday afternoon at the school grounds talking about old times, why we chose to leave the Amish, and how my leaving first may have influenced him to follow later. There was only one problem with the footage. During much of the meat and bones of our conversation, we sat on opposite ends of a teeter-totter board, and yes, we were going up and down. Looking at the footage later, there really wasn’t a way to make this scene work, where two grown men are playing together on a children’s’ school playground. In short, we looked like we could’ve been lovers, or creepers waiting to hand out candy to children.
Allen, an old student of mine when I taught Amish school
I was certainly impressed by the differences in culture and religion in the Amish communities across the Midwest. Mose’s Observation: The longer a community has been established, the more liberal it becomes. To have someone like Elsie, who works in the Kettle Village and gives horse and buggy rides to tourists, and she, baptized in the Amish church, why, some of the bishop’s back in my area would’ve pulled their beards out. In my area of the world, where the Amish are much more strict, they coincidentally are not as loved, or accepted, by the outside world. Could it be that, if outsiders became better acquainted with the Amish and what turns their gears, everyone could live among each other in peace and harmony?
Side Note: I maintained my job as a car salesman during this trip. The balancing act was unreal. On any given day I was visiting a new church, had anointing oil running down my shirt, or was burning some sad letter in a cemetery (therapy for some past trauma), or riding motorcycles or teeter-totters, all the while taking sales calls on my cell and putting out fires with old customers. In fact, in the month of September, although my GM gave me the entire month off, I was in the top five in sales, out of a sales team of sixteen. Would I choose that life every month? Absolutely not. I was a walking scarecrow of nerves and stress by the time the month ended.
Esther M decided to follow the message she was receiving from above. While she had wanted a career in filming, there were conflicting voices and she finally chose to call it quits with her acting career.
I made a trip to Indiana University to speak in front of a classroom of college students. As if I wasn’t already scared enough (I had never spoken in front of a group of strangers before) the night before the event I became sick. Not puking sick, but 100 plus temperatures sick. After battling numerous demons through the night, no sleep, and no food for the last twenty-four hours, I decided to do the talk anyway. I weird thing happens to an amateur, like me, in a moment like this. (Or maybe I’m going to broad in assuming it happens to a lot of people, but it did for me) I assumed most great speakers just… wing it. They stand up in front of a crowd and inspiration hits them between the eyes, and they rock the audience. So… I tried that. Well, I am not a great speaker. And I learned most prepare speeches and read off transcripts, teleprompters, and have practiced many, many times. The phonies! How dare they! Well, from now on, so will I. While my talk wasn’t horrible, I learned a valuable lesson—prepare. Don’t think you are all that, then fall flat on your face when you run into a hiccup. I spoke for forty-five minutes, then took Q&A's for another fifteen, then we wrapped it up. All in all, it was a blast, and quoting the words of a my very worried field producer/cameraman, I knocked it out of the ballpark. He, like usual, was being way too generous…
Episode Six preview:
Episode six will, hands down, be the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It is the most ‘out of control’ I have ever allowed myself to… shall we say… be led. By now some of you may have gathered that I have struggled with a traumatic childhood, and that I have struggled with my spirituality, and whether there is hope for my salvation after leaving the Amish faith. Because of doctrine that was pounded into my head from a time when I was too young to understand it, I was told that hellfire awaits those who leave the Amish. A thousand well-meaning pastors, rabbis, or regular folk have tried to change those indoctrinations, some using the scripture, others simply using common sense, or stats. Bottom line, one can’t possibly know what I am struggling with, unless one has walked my walk. The journey to visit other Amish communities emphasizes that struggle, and I would give almost anything to not share this personal struggle with the world, but, I suppose if it can inspire, or help others who are struggling with similar pasts, then I will need to suck up my feelings on the matter.
After watching these events, if you haven’t totally disowned me for my messy life, please contact me through the ‘contact’ form on my website. Tell me if you have had similar experiences. I promise I will not share your story with the world.
Until next time… Peace and Love to all…
17 thoughts on “Episode Five – Amish in Public”
(Warning…lengthy post…I’m a chatty person! Hee hee!)
Mose, I am glad you were able to visit Lancaster Co. and participate in the barn raising. A few years ago here in Western Maryland a (non-Amish) farmer’s barn burned down. I don’t know the details but it was the Amish that came in a rebuilt it. In the English world we often think of the Amish as being fine craftsmen and I hope that is something from your Amish years you and the others can hang on to.
In the show it was mentioned that the Lancaster Amish are a little more open those some of those in other areas, correct? Before moving here to Western MD my only contact with the Amish was in the Lancaster area where sadly, they are a “tourist attraction” and too me seemed a bit standoffish but I just chalked that up to them trying to stay separate from “the English”. Once we moved out here, I was surprised one Sunday as we drove through a rural area when a buggy would pass on the way home from church and the family would smile and wave. I loved it but it amazed me that they were so friendly! Then, this past Christmas I was in Lowes buying a carpenter’s tool. There was a younger Amish man looking at some tools next to where I was. When I picked up my item and turned to walk away, he said “Oh, somebody is getting a nice gift for Christmas!” I smiled, hid my surprise that HE had spoken up like that and sayd “Yeah! ME!!” We stood there and talked a few minutes about woodworking and I found out he and some others were in the area from Missouri installing cabinets they’d made in a kitchen in the area. His friendly attitude made me smile for several days. Why? I don’t know, just the fact that the invisible barrier between the two lifestyles had been opened.
As for the personal moments in the episode, no, there wasn’t too much Mose. I know it is difficult to watch oneself but I found it very touching and informative. I think it is important for us to see that leaving the Amish doesn’t mean you don’t miss the lifestyle and people at times and even after you’ve established yourself in you new life that there is some sadness when remembering the past.
Sorry for rambling here…each week I watch the show I wish that I could watch it almost in a class setting where we could pause here and there and discuss right then what we’ve seen. Can’t wait to see the next episode!
Just left you this note on Facebook too, Mose…
I just wanted to say what a blessing your show, your story, you work has been to me. I grew up in a Bible-based fundamentalist cult, a very high demand group with strict rules about EVERYthing, and women were definitely to be submissive homemakers. It was all I knew my whole life, and I left at the age of 30, just two and a half years ago. While we didn’t look Amish, it is amazing the similarities. I was shunned – my family, my friends, my whole community can have no contact with me whatsoever. They think I am going to the lake of fire unless I go back. No matter what I do, how devoted of a Christian I am, they think they are the only way I will get to Paradise. When you opened your box of letters, I was touched. I have my last letters that I received after I left. We have a network of a few ex-members, but it’s a hard road. I have suffered from PTSD and anxiety, and am constantly dealing with the judgment I was raised with and the pain of losing all my loved ones and sense of community. I am married now, and my husband was never in this group, and still after walking this hard journey with me, it’s hard for him to understand. Watching your show- well the parallels are amazing. (It’s still hard not to look at every little thing as a “sign from God”) Your show helps me to know that while our groups may be different, I’m not alone in my journey, and it helps my husband understand a little more about exiting a group like this. Just wanted to say thank you, and keep up the great work.
I never knew anything about the Amish. I had no idea it was such a strict religion. I grew up Catholic and thought that the rules and guilt were pretty bad. I think the Amish are stricter and create more issues. It appears that there isn’t a moment you don’t think about where you have been and how it will affect you now. That girl you are helping to become Amish…I think she just wants to belong to someone and feel a part of a family. I don’t think she needs to go into that life. She will rebel at some point and prove the elders right. I think it is foolish of her mother to allow her to go. She is accustomed to cell phones and freedom and loose clothes. She won’t be able to hack it. Right now she has lots of attention. When she is by herself shucking corn or picking weeds out of the garden, she will regret her decision and the attention and cameras are gone. She needs to grow up a little, find a good man and have a family. There is where she will feel like she belongs. Time alone will take care of her problem. I would back out of the process if it were me. Your family is very nice and I will continue to watch. You seem like a very nice person…you worry too much though. God takes care of things, you don’t need to worry so much.
Mose, enjoy the show very much. I liked the episode where you visited Berlin Ohio. I live about a half hour south of there. I worked for an Amishman from Berlin for a few years until I retired. I had been friends with him for about 15 yrs before I started working for him. He’s old order Amish, but very English at the same time. There’s a small Amish community about 15 minutes south of where I live. Their not as out going( or as english as I like to call them) as the Holmes County Amish, but they are very friendly with everyone in the area.
The best thing I learned from working for the gentleman I worked for was to never judge anyone. Heard him tell others that many times. “You shouldn’t judge others” and he lives by that daily. Hope someday your family excepts what you’ve done as I think it’s a great thing you’re doing with the shows.
Shalom Mose, as my profile states I am Jewish convert to the catholic faith. but more and more I find myself speaking up and for muslims and Islam. Even though I have lost friends for doing this and have a received death threats I continue. Peace has to start somewhere, let it start with me.
Sorry everyone after reading that seemed a little egotistical.
I really enjoyed the show with your visit to Berlin, Ohio. That is very close to where I live and I agree, it is very commercialized. But, there are plenty of Amish who sell to these stores and shops who have little to do with the everyday running of them. As you saw yourself, most are owned by English and most of the goods are made in China. A lot of people are just enthralled with the Amish way of life, my mother included. My mother wouldn’t survive for 5 minutes on an Amish farm. I deal a lot with the Amish community in Medina County, Ohio. Most live in Homerville Township and into Ashland County. I am a supervisor at the Medina County Health Department in charge of the Sewage, Water, Plumbing and Mosquito Abatement programs. We do require the Amish to get permits for their outhouses and they have no problem with it. Also, I am a Registered Consulting Forester in Ohio and sell timber to many Amish companies. Interesting enough, they don’t log with horses. Almost all of them have cousins or friends who are either Mennonite or English and they own the equipment (skidders, semi’s, trailers) and cell phones. I really enjoy working with them, they are honest men.
I also broke away from a Religion that I was part of for 40 years. Mine wasn’t so much a break to get more out of life, it was a break to become closer to my Lord Jesus. I now have a faith based in love and friendship. I now know what it is like to have a personal relationship with Jesus and not a life dictated by rules or by fear. No one who comes to the Lord because of fear will ever know Him fully. Who do you know that has a best friend that they are terribly afraid of? God wants us to be one with Him. I want to live my faith life just like the first Christians did, trusting Him for each day and knowing He loves me just the way I am, exactly where I am. I change because I love Him and want to change to be more like Him, not because I fear Him but because He loves me and I love Him. Just as Jesus saw what His Father did and did the same, I now do just as Jesus did to reflect who the Father really is in my life. Surrender is the key. Surrender of one’s will to Jesus and the Father. IT has nothing to do with Religion, where men heap rules on men as they see fit. Religion can make men do crazy things that God never intended. Jesus gave of God’s Freedom, God’s idea of freedom. This freedom is not given to me by men, but by God. I am FREE!! And so are you Mose.
I just caught several episodes of Out of Order. I remember seeing Amish in the City and had wondered what became of you. It is good to hear you are finding your way and still hanging on to the positive aspects of your upbringing. Your sense of community, and wanting to help others comes through so clearly. It makes so little sense to me that the community that taught you this could snub you so thoroughly and judge you as damned. I think they are incredibly blind in this respect. I hope that someday sense will creep in and ways will start to change so that future generations won’t ostracize those who choose to leave.
You have managed something unusual for a person raised Amish. You wound up in the spotlight. I see no reason God couldn’t use that to bring good to lots of people through you. The episodes I watched didn’t go much into your past faith or current faith. (besides the hellfire imagery) I’d be really interested in hearing how it has changed and what stayed the same. I wish you luck in your journey, because I think faith is a journey for all of us. Mine has certainly become very interesting lately.
hi Mose, I just wanted to tell you that I really enjoyed watching you back in 04 on Amish in the City, and didn’t realize until you mentioned it that you were on that show as well. I appreciate that you take such consideration and look back onto your upbringing and take such time to ponder others reactions to your concern on “commercializing” the Amish heritage. I grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio and Holmes County isn’t far away.. as a matter of fact my mother’s cousin married a Mennonite out there.. and they stay pretty plain. They have a wonderful home and yes.. my cousin Eli left the Mennonites as well to start a construction company. I know this can’t be compared to ex-Amish, but the transition was still hard for him. He confessed to me that the true reason he left is because he is gay. He has always felt that way and since myself am gay, he looked to me for guidance on how we are supposed to explain to God one day for our actions. I believe God made all of us perfect.. I explained to Eli that your choices in this life are considered and just be a good person. Help others.. Don’t lie, steal or murder. He is a good boy.. Just confused. On that note, I know it might be rare that you encounter ex-Amish who have these feelings.. and just curious on how the other ex-Amish or yourself or even Hoss and Peggy would deal with such a sensitive issue.. to not only leave the Amish, but have such a secretive life that surely would be HIGHLY disapproved of… let alone leave their families and friends back home, but to have such an impact on them.. I don’t wish to offend you, but this is a matter that many young people face. Not all are straight. I know you don’t ask for any honor or commendation for what you do, but to me you are a great guy and no you don’t speak to slow. That is you. I think you are well spoken, considerate and make sure that people understand where you are coming from. It’s taken an incredible amount of courage for you to educate us English about what Amish society is like.. You are not a spectacle for us to mock or there for our entertainment.. sorry for the long comment, but I am glad I have this forum to communicate with you. Others comments are appreciated. Thanks.. und machts gut.. mein Opa immer mit mir hatt deutsch gesprochen.. tschusssssss
I’m very glad to see you back on TV. I’ll admit that the first time I saw you was on “Amish in the City,” and I found you to be refreshingly inquisitive about, well, everything.
In PA, we “English” are used to interacting with Amish and Mennonites, on a business level, of course. Sell me some goods, and I’ll readily pay for them, on the spot, with cash. Same deal in Arthur, IL.
That said, what I still don’t understand is what Amish, or Mennonites for that matter, really think of us “English.” Sure, we’re all going to hell, etc.
Or maybe not. If we’re kind, help our neighbors, and believe in God’s power (but not those of mortals who claim to channel it, or speak for Him), don’t we have as much of a chance of getting to heaven as anyone else who isn’t Anabaptist?
Mose, I watched Amish in the City on MTV and knew right away the first time I saw Amish: Out of Order, it was you! I was SO GLAD to see you again for I have often wondered whatever happened to you. I have to say here (and sorry… my post might be lengthy) that my heart broke for you in Amish in the City. When you cried, I cried. I could feel your pain and since watching Amish Out of Order, I’ve felt I have to tell you, I can TOTALLY relate to the rejection you’re going through. My mother never missed a chance to tell me for 50+ years that I was a mistake and was never wanted. Try growing up under THAT umbrella of rejection. It has hurt for years. But… I wanted to share this b/c I can relate to how you feel. Rejection is one of the most cruel emotions. My heart goes out to you. I am a Christian (nondenominational-Spirit filled-charismatic) mother of 3 and grandmother of 2. My heart breaks because of the mental and emotional struggle you’re going through. I know your heart is broken. The most important thing I have to say here and that I want you to REMEMBER is that you have been brainwashed to the ways of the Amish. FOR YEARS. I have NOTHING against the Amish… I am completely interested in everything Amish but, it will take a long time for you to be able to break out of that mold and to overcome the rejection. It seriously would not hurt if you were to go to a Deprogrammer. (From Dictionary.com: Deprogrammer – 1. “to free (a convert) from the influence of a religious cult, political indoctrination, etc., by intensive persuasion or reeducation. 2. to retrain, as for the purpose of eliminating or replacing a learned or acquired behavior pattern or habit that is undesirable or unsuitable.”) I’m as serious as I can be in suggesting that. It’s not like your brain would be changed or stripped of what you learned while growing up Amish. It would only help you see a different view b/c your brain was Amish-wired for 20+ years. That’s a long time, Mose. After only a few MONTHS some people need a deprogrammer. I can’t imagine after 20+ years that it will be easy for you do this yourself. Deprogrammers can only help. They can’t hurt. Please give this some thought. I wish you would talk to someone.
The other thing I want to say more than all of the above… God says in His Word in Acts 16:31 “And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.” and in John 5:24 “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, AND BELIEVETH ON HIM THAT SENT ME, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.” God doesn’t follow those sentences up with “but not if you leave the Amish” or “but not if you don’t belong to a denomination” or “but not if you are a sinner.” We are ALL sinners b/c we are born under the “Adamic” nature. “We all sin and fall short of the glory of God.” BUT: “Believe in me and you shall have everlasting life” doesn’t have an underlying motive. It’s as simple as the sentence itself. “Believe in me and you shall have everlasting life.” “The only way to the Father is through me.” Well, if you believe in Jesus Christ you are saved and will have eternal life. Can you lose your salvation for leaving the Amish? NO. Can you lose it if you’re a sinner? NO. If that were so, we would ALL be going to Hell. Jesus came so we would ALL have life. The only ones who need to worry about their salvation are the NON BELIEVERS. Jesus knows you love Him. God knows you love Him. WE all know you believe in Jesus and love Him. What a testament you have! ON NATIONAL TV! “But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.” Mose, you’ve done the OPPOSITE! You’ve confessed before MILLIONS your love of Jesus and your beliefs. You are saved so YOU WILL NOT GO TO HELL! You’ve just been brainwashed to believe you will. It is NOT TRUE! Also, please please PLEASE remember this: and I KNOW you know the scriptures… God says “satan is the father of lies and there is no truth in him.” Does God say there is a LITTLE truth in satan? or that satan speaks the truth SOMETIMES? NO!! God says there is NO truth in him. SO… remember this: Every time satan throws a lie (“fiery dart”) your way, PLEASE KNOW IT IS THE OPPOSITE OF THE TRUTH. If satan says to you Mose, you are going to Hell, YOU AREN’T! If satan says something’s black, it’s white! You have to begin to think in those terms. NOTHING OUT OF HIS MOUTH IS THE TRUTH, ONLY THE OPPOSITE OF IT. So, you must begin to try and discern the opposite of what satan tells you. ONLY JESUS SAVES. NOT THE AMISH OR THEIR BIBLE OR THEIR WAYS OR THEIR BELIEFS. ONLY JESUS. And it’s as simple as that. If you believe in Him, you are saved. I can not BELIEVE the Bishop you spoke of didn’t bring you a King James Bible and speak TRUTH to you. I was appalled. As a mother I just want to give you the biggest hug and tell you everything is going to be ok and not to believe that you are going to Hell. You aren’t. Straight from Jesus’s mouth. He loves you Mose and you might feel right now that you’re going through trial by fire but, in the end you’ll be as fine as polished brass :) I love your show and don’t miss an episode! (sorry this is so long but it’s been on my mind since I first saw you again on Amish: Out of Order. I’m SO hoping you get to read this.)
Oh… and by the way… I’m not suggesting the Amish are a cult… I just copied and pasted the definition straight from Dictionary.com. Wanted to clear that up in case you or anyone else misunderstood my statement above.
Howdy Mose :) Thank you for your insight and leadership. Your story and the stories of those around you enrich our lives. We don’t have any Amish at all that I know of here (a small town in Washington) but your struggles are like those in other areas/cultures and your wisdom is valuable. Thanks
Mose, I grew up in a military family so my life has been spent between Virginia and Tennessee. Our farm is surrounded by Mennonites and we have interacted with them for as long as I can remember. My Dad still buys the kids junk food and takes it to them and the Families bring their kids to my parents to see the miniature horses, Donkeys and goats. I love your show and I love what I feel you stand for. Individualism, freedom and the right to practice religion while maintaining relationships. People need to be fulfilled in life. all people are not fulfilled by the same things. I praise you for your strength, your moral compass and your support for those who need your help. That is a good life, one that will be praised by God.
I watched your programs on Sunday evening with great interest. It was great to learn more about the Amish culture and beliefs. I admire the work that you are doing for others. I can only imagine how difficult it must be for you to be shunned by your family. But sometimes we all have difficult choices to make. We just have to have faith in God that he will lead us down the right paths as we go through life. Keep up the good work and I’ll continue to watch and learn.
I watched you in ‘Amish in the City’ and I am so glad you are doing well. I did wonder what happened to you and the others when the show ended. Do you keep in touch with any of the others that were on the show with you?
I am enjoying watching your new show. It is very moving how you are helping these Ex-amish young people.
God is giving you your path; never doubt that. I will be praying for you & the others struggling to find their way.
Bless you Mose, Virginia