Saturday, October 17, 2015

My Dear Amish Friend, Lovina

In 1988 I first met my Amish friend, Lovina. After stopping at Jake Stutzman's Amish farm to order a cherry rocking chair, my friend Lil and I found our way to Lovina's general store where we inquired about buying a jar of jam. That was the start of an unusual friendship.

Jake Stutzman's farm house. Jake made my cherry rocking chair and all of my dining room chairs.

The Amish one room schoolhouse across the road from Jake's farm

An Amish buggy heading into town

Such a sweet Amish bull

In the late 80's - early 90's, my sister, her husband and I sat on the lawn of this farm to watch this barn being raised by about 50 Amish men and boys. It was a day to remember.

A Minnesota Amish buggy – not fancy like those in Pennsylvania 
Initially Lovina's little store was in the back porch of the house she shared with her Old Order Amish father. Lovina never married, and was a thin, soft spoken, kind woman. I and several of my friends and family members would stop to buy things at Lovina's over the years.

One time, Peder and Heidi went with me for the sole purpose of purchasing Fireballs (hot, cinnamon jaw breakers) to put in the birthday box we were shipping to Hans who was on a 6 month tour around the continent of South America. On our way to Lovina's – about 40 miles from our home – it began to rain. The closer we got to her house, the rain got heavier and there was thunder and lightning. We knocked on her back door and she let us in. Her father came to see who was there. He couldn't believe we had driven so far in such stormy weather and invited us to spend the night in their home. Did we? Sadly, we did not. My kids had pulled me aside and Heidi said, "Mom, we are not staying here. They have an outdoor toilet." Peder joined in and stated, "And they have no TV." I was always disappointed we didn't have this experience.

Occasionally Lovina and I would write to one another.One year she even sent me a Christmas card. I still have one of her letters on the desk in my office.

Over time, a separate building was constructed for her little store. Even though it was still small, it gave her at least three times more space. Most of her customers were Old Order Amish, but there were "Englishers" who stopped by, too. Every time I came to the store, Lovina and I would hug each other.

About three years ago I was surprised to learn Lovina had suffered a stroke. I hadn't heard from her for quite awhile, and when I stopped in her store, I noticed she had trouble holding a pen and was writing with her left hand. She told me about her event and I of course added her to my prayer list. A year after that, Lizzie, her niece who also lives on the same farm, but in her own house, met us in the driveway and told us Lovina was no longer operating her store and she invited us to go to Lovina's house to visit her. That was a very nice time. Lizze told us that she and her husband were selling honey in Lovina's former store building.

Today my sister and I drove down to see her and to take in the fall color. We first stopped at Lizzie's store to ask how Lovina was and to see if we could visit her. She informed us Lovina had passed away in January. She had suffered a heart attack in December and didn't improve. She died in her home, which was her wish. Sadly, over all the years of going to see her, I never took a photo of her farm house or of her store. And due to the Amish not wishing to be photographed, I have no photo of her. I'm feeling sad about her being gone.

While driving around the area to relive some of our memories, we spotted a young Amish man tying these corn stalks. We stopped to watch him for a little bit.

Even Main Street in Harmony was in the fall spirit.

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