My Thoughts About One of My Favorite Places--Northeastern Indiana's Amish Country

Friday, January 10, 2014

Olivia Meets the Amish

Last year I brought my boss and his wife to Amish Indiana, to help my boss cross something off his bucket list.  (I wrote about that subject previously.)  Accompanying us for this three-day trip was Olivia.

Olivia was not the typical visitor to Amish country.  She has lived her whole life in Costa Rica, where she is a language teacher—that’s how my boss and his wife had met her.  She had been one of their teachers and friends during the year they spent in Costa Rica a few years ago, and ever since, she had come to Illinois to visit them on a regular basis.  Our trip to Amish Country coincided with her month-long visit to Illinois, so we brought her along.

This photo shows a smiling Olivia getting ready for a ride in the buggy.  She thoroughly enjoyed every aspect of the three-day trip—the animals, the food, staying in an Amish home (she had her own room there), riding in the buggy, meeting the children, helping in the kitchen, shopping at the local stores, and visiting Menno-Hof, the local Amish Mennonite cultural center.  At Menno-Hof they brought in a special guide—a former missionary to Latin America—to give her a tour of the center in Spanish.

Olivia’s English is what I would call “very spotty.”  But she did her best to communicate with my Amish friends, with my boss sometimes interpreting for her in a Spanish-English-“Dutch” language triangle.  We managed, though, and Olivia made herself useful around the house while we were there, and even taught the Amish some Spanish phrases.  She developed a particularly close bond with one of the daughters of the house who was in her early twenties.

The last day we were there, this same daughter brought out a gift for Olivia.  Inside a large plastic ice cream container was a white Amish prayer cap, the type that Amish girls and women wear every day, which she had made by hand.  (The ice cream container was to protect the fragile cap on the plane ride back to Costa Rica.)  This gift brought tears to Olivia’s eyes—or, truth be told, to more eyes than just hers!  It was a fitting end to Olivia’s Amish Adventure.

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