Over the years, it has been our opportunity in Florida, but mostly in Virginia, to get to know some extraordinary people. Because their culture and religious beliefs are different from the average American citizen, it is not always easy to get to know them personally. I am speaking of the Mennonites or Amish Americans.
There is a community of Mennonites in Virginia that were especially welcoming as we attended some of their church services, visited their small businesses and showed that as Christians we cared about them and wanted to get to know them better. We were invited into their homes and fed delicious meals since most Mennonite women are excellent cooks. The women also make all of their own clothes, so it was likely that we would run into them buying colorful or patterned fabrics at the stores.
The children, who attend their own schools, are filled with friendly smiles and laughter…even to people they know to be outsiders. We were very impressed with the joyful energy of the small children. Respect for the older person is one of their virtues. Part of their excellent behavior may come from the fact that the Mennonite homes do not have TV. There is much of the world that the parents believe are harmful to children and people in general. Mostly because of business, they use cell phones and drive trucks. The Mennonites are different from the Amish in the use of transportation. The Amish will ride in a bus or car if someone outside the Amish community drives it.
We didn’t get to know the Amish that come to Florida when we lived in Venice, Florida. They have a community in Pinecraft, FL, within Sarasota area, that is specifically theirs. People come in buses from up North, USA, mainly Ohio and Pennsylvania, to enjoy the warm climate of our Florida winters. In some ways, they also have a lifestyle that is similar to the Mennonites. The father is definitely head of the home. Mothers are homemakers and often have a number of children. The women cover their heads with a special type of bonnet and wear their hair neatly tucked under it.
Almost all Mennonite young men learn a skill from their fathers in the area of building and craftsmanship. After attending school for a few years, they are free to join the community men to learn a trade. As we renovated some properties, we found them to be the best in their particular area of expertise. Both the Mennonites and Amish have beautiful farms.
Coming to Florida, for both Amish and Mennonites, makes a way of bringing various groups from around the country together. It is a time that some younger people find a mate for life who shares their beliefs. This is important to continue the future of their special communities.
Recently, I found a video of Dina Litovsky, who visited the Florida Amish to photograph their lifestyle. It was not her purpose to challenge any of their beliefs but to see them having an enjoyment of life around their community activities and on the beaches. The Mennonites are not as concerned about being photographed as the Amish, who do not want to pose for anyone. They will usually turn away unless they have confidence in the photographer.
Here is what Dina found in the little town close to Sarasota, FL…and at the beautiful beaches of Florida. (It is probable that after viewing this video, people from the frozen, snowy northern part of the U.S. will come our way. We call them “Snow birds.”)
(Video credit Alba Jaramillo BBC) Turn up sound. Then click on the small video to get the full-screen block on the right, which you will click on to have a large picture…much better for viewing.
Click on this link: https://www.bbc.com/reel/embed/p08p2rws