Thursday, July 3, 2014

The Amish man who reads 200 books a year and runs an antique mall

My jaw dropped when I met Leander Yoder yesterday. More like scraping it off the floor. This middle-aged Amish man, Old Order Amish man, has a thing for Apple. Not an apple from a bushel, but the Apple phone. My daughter, Karamarie, started to agree with how awesome the company Apple is and Leander said he knows all about the marketing, reads marketing books all the time. (I kept staring at his cell phone) “Oh, I love Dale Carnegie’s book, How to Win Friends and Influence People. I read it 16 times last year. I love John Maxwell, too.”

 I seriously could not keep up mentally with this man as he went on and on about things I didn’t think Old Order Amish people had or did. “Leander, can we back up to the Apple phone?”

 “Oh, I have two.” He grabbed one out of his pocket. “He tapped the yellow gadget on his belt. “This is my walkie-talkie. Use it when off work. I can only use a cell phone during business hours.”

 I’d heard this from other Old Order Amish, but never had an Amish man so open and animated. He told us how his large “Antique Mall” was run. He rents out spaces to vendors. His family orders merchandise that you can actually see clearly. Why? He has electricity in the store run off of solar panels and a generator.

“I have a passion for running a business,” he said. “It’s my gift. I can’t get enough of it.” Actually, I travel and teach the English how to run businesses. (Now I’m fainting) How does he do this? I understand why he does, as the Amish are super entrepreneurs, but how does he get contacts? On the internet. You can put me on your blog. I advertise to the Englishers?” He whips out his business card.  It reads, Life Leadership. He wanted me to put his contact info up on my blog so people could contact him.

 “Wait, Leander,” I said, “you’re Amish and can’t fly in a plane, right? What is someone in California wants you to come teach a seminar?”

 “We can’t fly? Oh, I didn’t know that.”

 Okay, now I’m laughing hysterically, emotions all over the place. “Leander, are you Older Order Amish? I know enough Amish in Smicksburg, not too far away, and they can’t fly.”

 He paused. He did have the Amish pause, as they measure their words carefully. “Every church district is different, you know. And things are changing. I can ask permission to fly. I doubt I’ll be allowed, but they’re so no one size fits all.”  He kind of changed the subject by saying, “I usually do local, Greater Pittsburgh Area and Western PA. How about you come to my house for dinner sometime and I can explain it all. Answer all your questions.”

 “Yes, Leander, I’ll take you up on that because I have so many!”

 What impressed me so much about Leander and his whole family was the service, friendliness, (I could take pictures in the store and it was hard not to get an Amish face) and his love for books. He ran over to the store book section and gave me two. “You need to read these. Best books around.”

He said that in his family at night, you can hear a pin drop. They’re all reading. “When you come to my house, I’ll show you all my books. It’s ridiculous how many I have, but I love to read. We only go to the 8th grade you know, and after that, you learn anything you want on your own.”

“Yes!” I exclaimed. “As a former teacher, I agree wholeheartedly. It’s one of the reasons I homeschooled my kids.” (That’s for another blog)

Here are some pictures of Yoder Antique Mall located at 14342 Pennsylvania 36, Punxsutawney, PA 15767. (He’s on Google Plus for more info) If you’re taking a road trip this July 4th weekend, stop in. They have a restaurant that has the best ice-cream and their food portions are double the norm. My daughter and I plan drive the hour long haul to get groceries once a month. Their prices are at least half the cost of other stores.


A book Leander gave me to read.

Leander's walkie-talkie

Daughter Karamarie, at 7 months pregnant enjoying ice cream from the snack bar.

Handmade purses


Amish ring up customer at the check out line.

Spin and span clean. Notice the electric lighting!



Suzanne Woods Fisher's books in the store. Had to take this pic for my friend.

Big sign that you can't miss!

Old fashioned toys Amish children can play with since no electronic gadgets allowed

Of course, herbs, vitamin and minerals the Amish are so big on


Life with Lily books by friends Maryann Kinsinger and Suzanne Woods Fisher. Fine reading for Amish children.

The corner cabinet I gawked at! Cherry wood! Love the Amish rag rugs, too

Friday, May 30, 2014

Do the Amish go to the doctors or depend only on herbal medicine and natural remedies?

There’s a misconception that the Amish shy away from medical treatment by a real medical doctor. I’ve heard people cluck their tongues and say the Amish don’t get their kids vaccinated. They are shocked to see Amish in hospitals.
I believe the view that the Amish erect a wall away from Outsiders is the cause of this misunderstanding. The “Little House on the Prairie” syndrome, as I call it, that the Amish live like pioneers is another view that fuels such notions.
The Amish do get their children vaccinated. The study done concerning vaccinations causing autism was blown away because there isn’t a case of autism among the Amish (as of this date). When it was discovered that the Amish do get childhood vaccinations, the fear of vaccinations seemed to decrease. But how could a study be done on an assumption? Why didn’t scientist just ask Amish settlements if their children were vaccinated? Again, that invisible wall people erect that the Amish don’t speak to Outsiders hinders us from getting to know them. Seriously, many love to chat with people not of their faith.
Herbal medicine seems to be something they do try first though. I believe they can teach us a lot. Amish herbalists are always reading, going to seminars if they can, and like everything back to nature. Jethro Kloss’ book written in the late 1800’s, Back to Eden, is found in many Amish homes. A People who are tied to the earth seem to go their first for medicine. Information is handed down from generation to generations. If some tincture or supplement doesn’t work, they don’t run to the doctor. Most likely it’s something simple like…chicken soup and staying in bed.
I have a friend, Mike Yee, who I call Mike Lee in my books. He’s a real EMT who flies out in a helicopter to Amish in Western Pennsylvania. They do call for an emergency ride to Pittsburgh…in cash. I couldn’t believe it. It’s 2K for a flight. The community pays for it, not individual families. This impressed me.
Most Amish ask an English (non-Amish) driver to take them to the doctors. They accept any medical treatments, including blood transfusions and organ transplants. I remember when an Amish crew was working on our house and a call came in for Mose. (Not Moses, just Mose). His father had a stroke and was called into the Indiana Memorial Hospital. I drove him out and family was there to meet him. They had decisions to make, papers to sign, etc. just like any other patient.
I have to say that I’m an avid believer in herbal medicine. It saved my life when I had Lyme Disease. There’s a doctor in Smicksburg, PA who was so knowledgeable on herbs and minerals, it was fun just to watch him. I took many up to ask “Dr. Dan” for help after modern medicine gave them no cure. I went up one time, my wrist and arms in pain. With a skip in his step and a grin, he ran from around the counter, grabbed a bottle and handed it to me. “You’ll be pain free in a few days,” Dan said. And I was.
Herbal doctors can be male or female. A female herbalist gave me a recipe for “brain food.” It’s for teenagers to “feed their brains.” I’m laughing as I write this because how many teens do you know that need something to stabilize hormones or whatnot. ;)
I’m writing a series showing herbal medicine among the Amish to educate and to shed light on misconceptions concerning herbalists. They are not pow-wow doctors. Actually, this insults them. They don’t use voodoo or any such nonsense. They go purely by medicine, are self educated but many do attend medical seminars, and when someone puts their lives in their hands, confident. A woman went to Dr. Dan with incurable cancer and through his many cleanses and regiment of herbs, minerals and vitamins, she was cured.
If you’d like to “see” the inside of an Amish herb shop and how they interact with medical doctors and naturopaths, grab a copy of my new Amish Herb Shop Series. Each 120 some pages book will inform you greatly. I don’t push my writing on people, but I do want to educate people about how intelligent and open to change the Amish really are.
Blessings ;)

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Do the Amish go on strike? Walk off the job?

Today I saw Amish friends who are construction workers. They’re excited about their new business making tiny houses. The Tiny House Movement is sweeping the USA as a sort of protest against McMansions; it’s a counter-cultural shift. The 1980’s was the decade of “BIGness” and now the paradigm shift is
towards “smallness.”

My daughter and I told the Amish how much a typical tiny house completely finished would cost: $40,000.00. They felt that they could beat the cost by using their own sawmills and wood. We ordered them a book on tiny house construction and floor plans, which includes sources to buy all necessary appliances. My daughter joked with them that they should get old-fashioned Ben Franklin pot belly stoves and make the interior look like an Amish house. At first we all laughed and then…light bulb. What a great idea.

But this business is being started due to Amish crews walking off their construction jobs since they were being paid substantially lower than non-Amish, what they call “the English” or “Yankees.” The Amish turn the other cheek, but they’re not pushovers. They believe in justice, fair pay for their hard work.

In starting their own business building tiny houses, Joe quit his job that took him away from his home and he started a sawmill on his land. Along with his dad and a brother-in-law they’ll make tiny houses. When they found out that their competition was selling these little 300 square feet houses for 40K they gawked. I thought they were mentally counting money, but they weren’t. They simply said, “We’ll sell them at a fair price, not that high.”

So, fair pay and fair prices are at the core of an Amish word ethic.

Look for Amish built tiny houses at a fair price soon
I’m thrilled that they walked off their jobs because fair pay wasn't given. It turned out for the best. They have a skip in their steps about being able to stay home and start this fascinating new business. And our family owns Thrifty Christian Shopper, an online store, and we’ll be able to use the internet to take orders. Our payment? A tiny house! I want one so badly. But I don’t want an Amish style one, but Victorian with gingerbread trim ;) 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Franklin Regional strong in community; a school that brings hope

This blog is about Amish life, but it also underscores the fact that you don’t have to be Amish to have community and hope.

My fifteen year old nephew was absent from high school the day of the stabbing assault at Franklin Regional. He said he’s angry that his school will be viewed in a negative light. On the contrary; reports coming in have shown students who care, laying down their lives if necessary, and there is no grater love or sacrifice. Students shielded friends, or stayed in the path of danger to apply pressure to stop bleeding goes against the grain to “RUN!” But these students, when in danger, did what they’d be taught by parents and teachers, lessons not learned overnight.

Another compassionate response was from the father of the assailant. Stopped by reporters in front yard, you could see the man was distraught, but he turned and said how sorry he was and that his prayers are with the victims.

Stories coming out of Franklin Regional are more like Nickel Mines Amish school shootings. An Amish reaction is to pause and then act. Some call it the “Amish pause.” Think before you act. But it’s a Biblical response:

Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. (James 1:19 NLT)

Churches in Murrysville responded, ministers there to provide pastoral counseling, candlelight services, prayers…yes, these students had the spiritual help that made them strong before the day of tragedy and now support to recover.

My nephew was in a Franklin play recently: Guys and Dolls. The students were so polite, the acting, dancing, singing so incredible, community involvement unmatched, my husband said afterwards: “Franklin students give me hope for the future of this country.” I agreed. Hard workings, team players are what I saw at the play. Caring teachers, parent involvement from selling Candy Grams to helping with props. It all shouted out COMMUNITY!

A tragedy like this can happen in any community. We can learn a lot from the students, teachers, parents, and local churches at Franklin Regional.

I sang this song proudly in high school in the 70’s. Franklin Regional’s Alma Mater is being sung now with greater pride in their community.

Alma Mater, true and glorious, let thy flag of wisdom fly.

Billow forth thy pride victorious, dear old Franklin High.

We will vow our service to thee, and the strength to reach our goals.

We will honor and defend thee Franklin High School Blue and Gold.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Do the Amish use cell phones?

“Text you? Are you serious?” I asked an Amish woman in Ohio. I want to interview her since she’s an Amish convert, an interesting read for this blog. But, she hit a nerve. Why? Because the whole issue of using cell phones is dividing, literally, the Amish in Smicksburg and Amish I know in New York.

You see, technology seems to have no boundaries; even toy cell phones for babies are sold. So I suppose from birth, we’re to know about cell phones. Gag! I went up to Smicksburg this past week and somehow I feel cleansed inside, a baptism into a simpler time, my child-like faith and wonder renewed.
What’s happening in this precious small town in Western Pennsylvania, sixty miles NE of Pittsburgh, is the need to have jobs run by Englishers, non-Amish. They have to carry a cell phone as a job requirement. Well, many are moving up to Punxsutawney, some fifteen miles north, where a more liberal stance is being held on cell phone use. They can use their cell phones on business hours, but have to turn them off afterwards. Right…I know through the grapevine some are reading my eBooks on Smartphones. Although I’m honored, somehow I wish they’d just buy a paperback and be…old-fashioned? I can’t even describe what I’m trying to say, but cell phones have invaded the Amish in a way that shocks me.

When Noah, Joe and Melvin practically lived at our house while putting on the addition five years ago, they wouldn't use a phone unless it was attached to a wall. Not even my cordless. So I asked why? (Inside I’m thinking…”What’s the difference?”) Well, Noah told me privately, due to its sensitive nature that some Amish were using phones with pictures and looking at “girly pics” passed around by co-workers on construction jobs. (I wrote about this issue in my book, Amish Knitting Circle)

Now, the Amish are watching those totally fake shows about them and are very hurt. Some say they have a hard time holding their heads up in public due to things said on those shows. But their minds wouldn't even be filled with such pollution if it weren't for cell phones. Their long held view of persecution, that it’s part of being a “peculiar people” is now being replaced with shame? How sad.

The Amish had many decisions to make around the 1920’s concerning the automobile. They’re at a similar crossroads now with all the new technology. I hope they take a stand and keep the outside world at bay, like they did with television. When I go to Smicksburg, I don’t want conversations interrupted by a text message. 
The most viewed picture on Amish Crossings blog. Readers say they love the simplicity and peace in my Amish friend's home. Lydia's place will never be disturbed by a cell phone, a constant in life I value.