Monday, September 17, 2018

"Ordnungs" Church

Two weeks after baptismal services the second annual special preparatory services were held. I had wondered what goes on at those services as far back as I could remember, but now that I was to be a part of it I viewed it with mixed emotions.

Several days earlier Mom had given me a short piece to memorize saying that I agreed with and supported all the doctrines of faith they shared with us and also all the rules that they (The bishop and ministers) decided to make and enforce. That I confessed I was weak and unworthy to partake of communion and if anyone sees something in my life that they are concerned about that they would tell me and I would, with God's help improve my walk in life.

I asked Mom what I should do if I don't agree with all the new rules they want to make and she informed me that a woman can never do anything except agree with what ever the ministers say. Men had the option to disagree but the only thing a woman could do in order not to lie and say they agree is to say that they will be satisfied however the church decides.

I found this to be a little disturbing and wondered why we were supposed to vote on issues if the bishop already controlled how all the women voted.

We packed our lunch to take along and eat at noon since church would last all day. 

Once church services were over all the members were asked to remain seated while everyone else was dismissed. Once all the children were outside and the doors to the main church room was closed the bishop rose and started talking. He again shared all the important points from the garden of Eden to when the Israelites finally entered Canaan. It took a long time for him to get through everything and I wondered why it was necessary especially since we had heard all of it earlier that day.

Once he got done with that he said it is now time to work with the church since they have quite a few things that need to be taken care of. To start off his list of things there were some changes made to what would no longer be accepted among farmers and then he said they realize that there are several people who don't have a farm and they want to strongly encourage everyone to not try to have something else as a main source of income. My stomach knotted up a little as I wondered what we were supposed to do with our woodworking shop. I glanced over at Daddy but his face was expressionless as he sat there listening. There were a lot of other things that they had decided would no longer be permitted and then it was time to address the things that concerned the womenfolk. There was something wrong with a few of the coverings that they didn't fit properly, they noticed that there were a few apron belts that were more than an inch wide, and they decided to no longer allow shoes with moc toes. I quickly tucked my feet under the bench where no one could see I was wearing those shoes, and had for every Sunday since I had been old enough to wear slippers.

By the time he got to the end of his long row of don'ts I felt hopelessly frustrated and irritated and I wondered what on earth I had gotten myself into when I had made all those baptismal vows a few weeks earlier. The bishop continued and said that they expect all these things to be taken care of before communion in two weeks.

It was finally time to vote on the changes and the two ministers got up while the bishop sat down. The one minister went to the men's side of the church while the other one went to the women's side where he bent down so they could whisper their little memorized piece into his ear. It took quite a long time as they made their way to each person and everything in the church house was quiet except for the sound of low whispers and the ministers moving quietly along the rows of people.

As I waited for my turn I tried to decide which was worse. Leaving part of the piece out about how I agreed with everything or lying and saying I agreed. I decided I would not lie and by the time he got to me I hurried and whispered my piece omitting the part where I agreed with all the changes. 

On the way home I asked Daddy what we were going to do since we could no longer have a woodworking shop. I was relieved to hear that we would continue woodworking and that even Jesus had been a carpenters son.

I was glad ordnungs church was over and already dreaded the one that would come the next spring.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Reader's Hodgepodge

1. Where is the most beautiful place you have been?

It's hard answering questions like this because as soon as I write an answer some other answer pops in my head, so I'll be sharing several different ones.

-Niagara Fall is beautiful, Growing up we used to visit it every summer. I've never grown tired of it.
-Bandelier National Park, New Mexico, as well as other spots in the state.
-Watkins Glen State Park in New York is beautiful in its own way. I've been there numerous times, and I look forward to experiencing it again with our children.
- Our bedroom in our house in Missouri. It's the spot where LV and I "met" Jesus and He became our Saviour. There's nothing I can think of that is more beautiful than that.

2. Which do you prefer? Books or movies?

Books, books, books!

- Movies leave out so many good things from books, and add other things that always makes me feel sad when I watch a movie based on a book.
- When I read a book I can get totally immersed in the story and I become the main character. Seeing, feeling, and experiencing everything. When I watch a movie I only get to see someone else experience, see, and feel things.

Books all the way!

3. What was the last song you listened to?

The last song I listened to was Everything by TobyMac

4. When you are old, what do you think children will ask you to tell stories about?

They will probably ask me to tell them stories from my childhood as a little Amish girl.

5. What did you Google last?

The last thing I did a Google search for, was a recipe for a new marinade for steak. I don't eat steak, ever, but I enjoy cooking them for those in my family who do like them.

6. Random bit.

My power is back! This morning there was a deafening crackling boom that scared me worse than I've been startled in a while. Immediately the power went off. It's such a helpless feeling not being able to carry on in normal fashion when that happens. Thankfully it came back on sooner than I was thinking it might.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018


Yesterday morning when Steven woke up he tiptoed down the stairs with one of his stuffed animals. He set it on the stairs and walked into the school room where the girls and I had already started our school day.

"It's R's birthday today," he announced in a loud whisper. (He loves the alphabet and has named his stuffed animals with his favorite letters.)

"How old is he?" Rosie Mae whispered back.

"He's eight!" Steven said. "I'm going to have a party for him, and you're all invited."

The girls played along, "I'll bake a cake for him," Rosie Mae offered. "I'll help you make a card and a gift," Sharon offered. Just like that there was an air of secrecy and celebration in the house.

Steven hurried through his school and was ready to help Rosie Mae by the time she was ready to start the cake. He set his bear by Sharon so she could keep an eye on him, and he wouldn't noticed the cake baking happening in the next room.

Once the cake was done he led the singing of the Happy Birthday song and then decided his bear would like to play a board game or two.

This was the first time we ever "celebrated" a stuffed animal's birthday. And very likely the last time.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Ready for Baptism ~ Part Two

Sunday morning dawned and we prepared to go to church. Before we left Mom and Daddy told me how glad they were to be celebrating this great occasion in my life when I would start becoming part of the family of God. And how fresh, clean, and forgiven I would feel right after being baptized. I would not be considered a full part of the church family until I partook of communion several weeks later.

I really looked forward to experience that, not that I thought of myself as a sinner. I knew I wasn't perfect, but considered myself to be a good person.

After everyone was seated in the church house and the singing started we joined the ministers in their little conference room for the last time where they talked to us about the sacred importance of the vows we would be making later that day. 

When we were dismissed we went back into the church house but this time instead of sitting at our usual places we sat on the front bench that had been reserved for us. Church continued much the same as any other service and then it was time to be baptized. The bishop addressed us and said if we were still willing to forsake all the world has to offer and our own desires and come to God and the church we can kneel down.

As we knelt he asked if we believe that Jesus Christ is the son of God. We took turns answering "Yes, I believe Jesus Christ is the son of God.  He then asked if we can promise to stay with the church until we die. Again we answered "yes."  The next question was if we promised to help keep the church the way it is supposed to be by helping vote, work, and discipline. Again we each answered with a yes.  

He then asked the rest of the church to stand while he read a long prayer from the little black prayer book. My legs were beginning to fall asleep from kneeling so long and my knees were creaking. Finally he got to the end of his prayer and everyone sat down. The bishop's wife came and removed my covering while the bishop cupped his hands above my head and one of the ministers brought a cup of water and poured three small trickles of water into his hand as the bishop said I now baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit and smoothed his hands over my head. I waited expectantly for this great feeling of cleansing that Mom and Daddy and the preachers had talked about but other than my slightly damp hair I felt exactly as I had before.

I felt disappointed and wondered what was wrong with me that I didn't feel anything different as the bishops wife replaced my covering, gave me a holy kiss and presented me to the rest of the church as a new member. As I sat down the bishop said that he always has to think. What nicer time to die than right now when all your sins are forgiven."  I squirmed uncomfortably in my seat knowing that I didn't feel a bit more ready to die than I ever had.

After church was over all my uncles and aunts gathered for dinner in honor of the important milestone in my life. Most of them gave words of encouragement about the important journey I embarked on as a child of God. A few added that it was very comforting to know that even if I happen to do something I shouldn't after I'm baptized that communion is a sort of renewing. I was so relieved to hear that and hoped that sometime I would start feeling as if I truly was a child of God because though I knew I was considered to be one now I still didn't feel different.

Friday, September 7, 2018

Ready for Baptism ~ Part One

Every church Sunday that summer Simon, Nancy, and I joined the ministers in their little conference room while the rest of the congregation was singing. They would explain to us the eighteen doctrines of our faith. I tried hard to listen because I really did want to be a good person, but as they droned on and on in their boring fashion I always gave up and let my mind wander to things much more interesting than their boring  German recitation.

The third Sunday they told us they would be having a special meeting with all the members after church to tell them to watch us carefully to make sure we lived a life worthy of being baptized by fall. I wasn't thrilled about that and the rest of the summer was spent trying extra hard to make sure I didn't do or say anything that might be held against me when ever they voted whether or not to baptize me.

The Sunday before baptismal services they again had a special members meeting where they asked everyone individually whether or not they had noticed anything in our conduct that summer that would warrant being excluded from becoming a member of the church. There were a few small complaints, someone had seen one of us with a piece of gum on a Sunday evening before the singing. The bishop decided it wasn't important enough to put off baptismal services if the parents would talk to the guilty one and let him know gum was forbidden on Sundays.

On Saturday afternoon before Sunday services we had to meet with the ministers again. This time Daddy went along and we sat in the church house where the bishop got the Martyrs Mirror and started reading the first article of faith. Once he got done with it he tried to explain it a little more plainly and then passed the book to the minister sitting next to him. And so it continued all afternoon and into the evening until they had read all eighteen articles of faith. By the time they were done I was more bored than I had ever been in my life. And so very tired of sitting unmoving on the bench in front of them.  Just as we were ready to be dismissed they asked Simon if he can promise to be willing to be a preacher if the time should ever come that the church would vote for him. He answered with a yes. I was so happy that I was a girl and didn't have to make a promise like that.