Episode Six recap:
A Camry Hybrid running out of gas? Right… So, in my Camry's defense, there was a little more to the story than just running out of gas. My trusted GPS was the bigger culprit. When I got into the car to go to the baptism, I plugged in the address, and it said 26 miles to destination, 28 miles to empty. Never one to back down from a challenge, I went for it. In hindsight, I should’ve been better prepared. Are we seeing a pattern yet? And didn’t I, just last week, warn you that my life was messy? Long story short, I got to where the GPS took me, circled the one-mile square about three times, and nothing looked like the description I had been given. I parked and tried to call the people, but not only couldn't I get ahold of anyone, because they were all at the baptism, waiting for me, their phones presumably shut off, but I was now out in the middle of nowhere Ohio, miles from the nearest gas station and no one else left to call. I suppose it only makes sense that the film crew and I narrowed the whole confusion down to me just running out of gas.
In Ohio I stumbled across Joe Keim and MAP (Mission to Amish People) Ministries. I have rarely, if ever, met anyone who has given his whole life and trust so completely to God. Yes, like Danny Gingerich said, Joe has caught his share of criticism, mostly from the Amish, but I truly don't think he could quit doing what he is called to do even if he tried. The world, the Amish, the Ex-Amish, and even God, need him right where he is.
Joe Keim and I
Episode five, as anticipated, was the most difficult thing I’ve ever watched on TV, myself included or discluded. I fought tooth and nail against doing the part where I try to reconnect with my mom. The main reason being that I knew she would be devastated when she found out the film crew was hovering, and that our interaction would make it onto TV, albeit she would not make it on TV herself.
Many of you have questioned whether I have found my salvation in Christ the Savior, or whether I am still searching. I am very happy to say that my faith in God is as strong as it has ever been. I still have some battles, who doesn’t, but every time I talk to God, it becomes easier, and the chains of my past are being lifted, albeit slowly.
One of the hardest battles—and one I faced daily, was making myself out to be a leader, or mentor, of the Ex-Amish in Columbia, Missouri. First things first, I don’t accept credit, or compliments, easily, even if they are well-intended. Secondly, there are so many other Ex-Amish in Columbia who do at least as much as I do to help those who are leaving the community. Some do even more than I do, and they deserve recognition a lot more than do I. The one difference is, I’m the one who chose to tell my story… to the world. If you, the viewer of the show Amish: out of Order, or the reader of this blog, are reading anything between the lines, I will clarify why I wrote the above statement. Yes, I catch, and am catching, daily, a lot of criticism, for my role in doing this TV show, and particularly for my role as mentor and leader of the Ex-Amish. The criticism comes almost exclusively from the Amish and Ex-Amish. The rest of you have been great. As for me, I’ll be okay. I knew what I was getting into when I agreed to film this show. I have done what I started out to do, and my story, and the stories from the cast of Amish: out of Order, have inspired millions. For that, I have no regrets.
You met three of my Ex-Amish brothers. (I have seven in all. I know, right?) But it is always good to catch up with family, and they truly make life easier for me on the outside, simply by easing the pain of the family I lost by leaving.
If you, the reader and viewer, were confused about why I was reading letters from the Amish that were sixteen years old, but I’ve only been out of the Amish for nine years, allow me to explain. I had left the Amish multiple times in the past, several times for only a day, before running back home, and once, at sixteen years old, for six months. The letters I was reading were from those days. After six months out, I went back, taught school for four years in the Amish communities, before finally leaving the Amish for good. It felt good to find, and read, letters from those days. Also, it was great finding songs and poems I wrote back then. It’s strange how one forgets details about one’s past, but a song, a smell, or in this case, a country song I had written, instantly took me back fifteen years. I remembered how much value I had put into those songs and poems, and I also knew that if I took them home with me when I went back to the Amish at seventeen, they would be burned, so I hid them at the English man’s house, vowing to return one day and pick them up. As it happened, the film crew was there when I returned.
Curtis, the Mennonite… Yes, there have been many who have come to me trying to somehow inject themselves into the Ex-Amish. Curtis never had a chance to reach them. Later, after being rejected by me, Curtis went to local newspapers and TV, claiming that he was born Amish and converted to Mennonite, and really, trying to achieve fame for that fake story, when in all actuality, he was a troubled teen born and raised in the outside world, had some problems in high school, and somehow, as unlikely as it may seem, the film crew found him and believed his story. Until I told them the truth.
Episode Seven preview:
If you think episode six was a tear-jerker, brace yourself. I am not kidding. Seven will tear you apart. It did me, and still does every time I see it.
In episode seven my road trip continues. I retrace my steps back to Pennsylvania, where I meet some really interesting Ex-Amish men. The experience I had with them was over the top, or in my case, unrememberable. What you will see is me under hypnosis, and according to my camera guy, for almost six hours. So, I, along with you, will be watching myself in this episode for the first time, since I don’t remember the actual scene. That being said, I have been made aware that I said some things while under hypnosis that are truly cringe-worthy. My apologies in advance, and just know that I would not have uttered those things had I been in my right frame of mind. That is saying, if I had been awake.
As I sit here in my safe, cozy, office at the car dealership, waiting for a walk-in customer who wants to take advantage of our Memorial Day savings—a customer who has no idea that I blog, am currently on a TV series, or even that I am formerly Amish, I, on this holiday, send out my respect to our troops. Thank you for what you do!