My favorite place to visit is a rural Amish community in Pennsylvania, outside of Shippensburg. I have close Amish friends there whom I stay with, and it’s a wonderful setting for novels. Not only is this a lovely way to verify specifics for my books concerning lingo, traditions, and challenges of the Amish in that area, but going there is wonderfully refreshing and it recharges my creativity.
So how does that help you find a good place to visit? Bear with me. I’ll get there…
When I began going to this community fourteen years ago, it was very secluded from visitors. With its dairy farms, a blacksmith, and a dry goods store, it had an Amish down-home feel to it. But few English (non-Amish folk) knew it existed.
Each year, English neighbors attend the Amish auction held in this community. It’s hosted on the farm of my Old Order Amish co-author for Plain Wisdom: An Invitation into an Amish Home and the Hearts of Two Women, which is a nonfiction devotional we wrote a few years ago. The proceeds of the auction go toward funding the supplies and salaries of the teachers for the local Amish schools.
If you can time your visit to coincide with the Amish auction, you’ll enjoy a wonderful day of eating amazing food, bidding on unique items, and watching the Amish work together for the benefit of their community. For yearly updates on this event, you can sign up for my newsletter, Plain News, or e-mail me at any time.
Though I adore this quaint Amish community, the rolling hills and lush farmland surrounding it have even more to offer—dinners and conversations with an Old Order Amish family.
A few years ago, my good friend and coauthor of Plain Wisdom introduced me to Rachel Esh, the owner of Rachel’s Country Store, which is a dry goods store outside Shippensburg. It carries items for the Amish in the area as well as goods for English tourists who find their way that far off the beaten path.
If you’ve read my novella The Sound of Sleigh Bells, you’ve been introduced to the character Lizzy Hertzler, a single businesswoman with a huge heart and a very busy life. That describes Rachel in a nutshell. When I asked Rachel questions about the traditional Amish wedding meal, she prepared one for me. When some of my readers wanted a chance to stay in an Amish home, Rachel and her parents hosted an overnight stay, including an Amish meal and a buggy ride, and she made sure her guests were comfortable sleeping in a bedroom without electricity.
Starting this month, Rachel Esh will open her home for English guests to have Amish-made dinners. She’ll even prepare an Amish wedding feast if you’d like! You will eat at her or her parents’ table (their homes are conjoined). You can ask questions of her or her parents. And if you’re interested, you can go on a buggy ride. If the timing works out for Rachel (she is a busy woman!), you may even arrange to stay the night in her Amish home!
To find out more about this exciting opportunity, visit her website.
Cindy Woodsmall is a New York Times, CBA, ECPA, and USA Today best-selling author who has written fifteen works of fiction and one of nonfiction book. Her connection with the Amish community has been widely featured in national media outlets. She’s been a finalist for the prestigious Christy, Rita, and Carol Awards, Christian Book of the Year, and Christian Retailers Choice Awards. Cindy and her husband reside near the foothills of the North Georgia Mountains.
Her latest book is A Love Undone, which was released on September 9, 2014.
Purchase Cindy’s books here.
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