About a week and a half ago Alice, Nathan, Stephen and I drove down to Holmes County, Ohio – still, I believe, home to the largest Amish population anywhere on Earth.
And I forgot my camera. We looked through the MCC ( Mennonite Central Committee) Connections thrift store and found some treasures, and wandered a while lost through enormous and a bit too expensive but always fascinating Lehman’s Hardware, and then headed along Route 241 to Mount Hope to Mrs. Yoder’s Kitchen where we always have lunch…We would have made one more stop in Kidron except for the fact that my dear grandson Nathan proclaimed his near starvation and we took pity upon him. We were pretty hungry too! After Mrs. Yoder’s wonderful buffet and salad bar we returned to look for gifts in the Fair Trade store, sort of a Thousand Villages gift shop that is called World Crafts, run by the Mennonites there. As we came in the grandmotherly woman at the checkout asked if I knew about the store and I said, “thank you, I do”. But the words were hardly out of my mouth when six year old Nathan said firmly, “Well, I don’t.”
Another kind lady came out and explained it all to him: that the store sold things they bought from poor people, often from third world countries and paid fair prices for them so those people could earn a wage. She showed Nathan some unusual things they had made, including some charming small ornaments (figures, even a bicyclist) in which some of the main parts were made from dried orange peels and very thin rope. I’d never seen these before either. I found several things to buy for little gifts to take to relatives and friends I’d be visiting in Hungary in early May.
Alice’s husband is on the board of the American Red Cross for Northeast Ohio, and because of this I learned, to my surprise, that the Amish are one of the largest donors of blood to the Red Cross in this part of the state. In fact, the Red Cross Board and the Amish Bishops from Holmes County had a special meal together at Mrs. Yoder’s Restaurant last year and Alice and Mike were there, though a little disappointed that they were seated separately from the Amish and had little chance to speak to individuals and express their gratitude for all the Amish blood donations. The Red Cross board paid for this dinner as a thank you, and there were several speeches.
Another fact which fascinated and delighted me is that sometimes the Northeast Ohio Red Cross has a contest you can be entered in when you donate blood and the prize is either a new car or a newly made Amish buggy which the winner can customize when he orders it. The last winner I heard of was a young Amish man, newly married, who was very happy with his winnings!
A sadder bit of information is that the strike against the Red Cross here, which I don’t entirely understand but it seems to have to do with the health contract and the Union wanting to be able to sell their own health insurance to the workers, is still going on. It began February 13th and there seems to be a media blackout about it………You can read a little bit here:
The Cleveland Clinic here is the single largest buyer of blood in the country and Red Cross groups from other areas are sending blood here, and many workers really want the strike to be over as their homes approach or go into foreclosure and nothing is being accomplished as far as I can see.
It is Teamsters Local 507 that seems to have initiated the strike, but I can’t grasp really why they want it, or what they hope to achieve and there is no news about it which seems quite surprising.
Perhaps those who pray could pray for this to be resolved. It’s so unfair and so uncaring of human beings.
Well, have we wandered a long way from Earth Day? I wanted to mention that the way the Amish farm with their traditional crop rotations and using animals for labor and transportation are very Earth friendly, and we might do well to think about their way of life and find some inspiration to do likewise in whatever small way we are able.
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