Amidst The Amish Among Us

Our day began as any good Amish morning, at the Rise‘n Roll Bakery which is – disappointingly – not owned by the Amish foundersanymore. Curious folks entered the store and scoured through the endless aisles of Amish goods in the market. Through the graciousness of GC, we were able to indulge in a Shipshewana staple, sweet and supple donuts, better known as Amish crack.  With this soft introduction to the Amish lifestyle, we were ready to take on the countryside.


Then, a short buggy ride away was Menno-Hof, a local Anabaptist cultural center. Here we learned about the faith and lifestyle of the Amish, Mennonites, and Hutterites. We began learning about the Anabaptist experience and the persecution they faced in Europe before they immigrated to the United States. Afterwards, we saw the distinctions between different Anabaptist lifestyles today in a series of exhibits showing various scenes from church and home life. We were taken into a typical Mennonite church scene as well as an Amish home with teeny little baby clothes! We also enjoyed our time in the children’s exhibit, which was both fun and informative for the large children we are. We then got to experience a real tornado. The entire room was shaking, the pitchforks were falling off the wall, and maintaining one’s balance was an impossible feat. Luckily, while in this hellbox, we were supplied with benches to offer us relief from the harsh conditions. Through all of these exhibits and experiences, we were able to see the great diversity within different communities of Anabaptist faith.



For the next leg of our perilous journey, we split up and explored local lunch options in Shipshewana. Some of us humored Rise’n Roll again, and a few less adventurous types wound up at a local Ben’s Soft Pretzels. While some satisfied themselves at Ben’s, the rest of us tried various homestyle Amish sandwiches with quality bread. We also saw Amish tourism in full swing when a large Windy City charter bus parked in an entire row of cars to allow around 30 people to come see the famed Rise’n Roll. We hope it was worth their effort.


Local entrepreneur, Norman Yoder, welcomed us into his base of operations. At Wellspring Components, Norman builds leaf springs for carriages and has recently branched out to building and installing solar panels. In the conference room, the students were given the opportunity to ask Norman questions as they pertained to living an Amish lifestyle whilst managing a business. Here, we learned about how the Amish cheat on their no-technology diet to run a successful modern-day business. Norman expressed that while his religion does hinder his business opportunities, his community is always adapting to contemporary society, and this makes it possible for Amish businesses to succeed. Some modern Amish businesses even permit the use of computers and cell phones.


It is a common misconception that the Amish are some sort of time travelers stuck in the wrong part of history. While they choose to live a simpler life than you and I, they are constantly adapting to modern technological advancements, within reason, to run their businesses and contact one another. If you ever find yourself in Shipshewana, pay attention to the Amish among us. Perhaps leave your phone at home.


Jason DuBois, Emily Strzelecki, Kendrick Aragorn, Jennifer Rodriguez