What do you do when you can no longer live under the wire? You write to the Council.
| Bishop Righteous and Council Members.
Let me introduce myself. I'm, as you know, Isaac Yoder. I'm of the Amish religion. I've been Isaac Yoder for the last thirty two years. Yes, I know you know I'm older then that. Actually I'm fifty years old. You say, how can that be? Let me start from the beginning.
I was born in Massillon Ohio by English people. That, as you know is what we call English speaking people. My name was Daniel Rogers, and by the time I was seventeen I had rebelled against my folks, thinking I could do whatever I wanted and I knew everything. Of course my Dad said,[ If you will not listen to me, get a job and move out.] And I did, although mom insisted I come home at least once a week for a meal and act civil, and find something to talk about.
The only job I could find back then was at a plastics factory making water pipes. I had found a small apartment above a hardware store that was within walking distance to work, since I wasn't making enough money to buy a car.
One Monday morning my supervisor came up to me and asked me how I'd changed my clothes so fast? I asked him what he was talking about and he said he just saw me down at the loading dock wrapping pipe, in Amish clothes. I just laughed and said he was seeing things. He said no, he'd show me, and down to the dock we went. That's when I met my other self. Isaac Yoder could have been my twin and I told him I had to take him home with me. That night when I walked into the house with Isaac, mom took one look at him and nearly fell over.
When she started quizzing him the truth came out. It seemed Grandma Waltner had been a Yoder and had left the Amish after they had shunned her, meaning they wouldn't talk to her or acknowledge her in any way, because of something wrong she'd done. She had married Grandpa Waltner and had mom and became a Mennonite and Isaac was my second cousin. Dad said he had known people who had looked like people he once knew but this was uncanny.
Isaac was staying with a cousin and I told him he could stay with me and share expenses. And that's when it all started. Isaacs first language was low german, and when we got to talking I realized I could understand him since I had spent time with Grandma and Grandpa Waltner and after a couple of months, could talk it with Isaac.
And that's when the fun began. Isaac came from the Swartzentruber Order. Their is also the Old Order, the New Order, the Dan Order, and even a Peach Order, as you know, and they don't talk to each other much. So we'd dress up alike and go to youth activities called Rumspringa. Of course we were hardly ever seen together and we were both Isaac.
When we first met I had asked Isaac about his folks and he said they and his brother and three sisters had been killed by a Semi, [18 wheeler,over the road tractor trailer, etc. ] when they were traveling in their buggy. It seems their Order didn't believe in slow moving signs,[It infringed on their rights.] and it was getting dark and the Semi driver didn't see them.
Isaacs Uncle was farming his Dads land for Isaac then, while Isaac was deciding what to do with his life.
I had asked Isaac if he had been in the accident and he'd said he'd been cleaning the chicken house as punishment for not governing his tongue, which now was kind of ironic since it saved his life.
Anyway, back to my story. Isaac and I pooled some money together and bought a horse and buggy and kept the horse in a stable in town. It would not have looked good for an Amish to drive a car, and this was cheaper.
Besides, Amish girls could ride with us in a buggy.
It got to be six or seven months after we had moved in together that we started liking one girl in particular. Esther Hoffer was a dark haired, fun loving, buxom beauty, that seemed to take to us. We talked about things and Isaac pointed out that she was thinking she was dating an Amish boy, and I had to agree with him. So it was no surprise when he asked me one evening to catch a ride to Dalton and he'd pick me up on Main Street. This continued two to three times a month for the next three months. He then told me it was not all good in paradise. Esther was a month pregnant and he was going to be baptized and would be getting married.
The next Friday night he was later then ever getting back to Dalton and it was pitch black going to Massillon. I was telling him, let's just spend the night along the road; and while I was talking we were hit from behind. The driver of the car must have tried to swerve because he drove over half of the buggy; Isaacs side. And in that instant I made a decision. Being run over with a car is not good and Isaac didn't have a chance.
When the ambulance came, I identified the body as Daniel Rogers. As quickly as I could I went to see my folks. It took a lot of convincing, for them not to think I was crazy, and that I knew what I was doing, and this was the best thing, but I did it.
The next day I rented a horse and buggy and went to see Esther. She was laughing and hugging until I opened my mouth and then the tears ran. She told me later that Isaac spoke English with an Amish accent. I spoke German with an English accent. When I told her I wanted to marry her and I would be her Isaac, she cried some more. She thought it was sacrilegious for anyone to love her that much.
She helped me not to make too many mistakes during baptism and coached me with my German. Then she gave me the finer points on farming with horses, milking cows, grinding flour, and all those other things you do without electricity. AND she married me. At first we just laid in bed and talked. But within the month we were touching and holding each other. AND I think I made her happy. As happy as she could be that is. I found she had a side to her that could get depressed. I felt anyone that didn't have an Electric Oven to bake with would be depressed since one of our ways as Amish to raise money was to sell baked goods.
I definitely voiced my feelings to Esther. If God was love, and he had a hand in creating all things, as well as procreating with human beings, any rejection of using what he had created, was a question of a religion that was not excepting his love by not excepting his created things. With this argument I said we were going to the Old Order, even if our closest neighbors of that Order were ten miles away. We knew the Old Order could have limited electricity, could have a generator and could ride in a car. And they did accept converts from outside the Amish. Of course that was radical and Esther pointed out to me that we might be shunned by her family and the neighbors and that would not help us, since Amish help each other. I told her I wouldn't have a buggy that didn't have a slow moving sign on it and also a battery and signal blinkers and lights. She and the children were too important to me. We did get a gas oven and gas refrigerator, and her folks did not shun her, and we did have to go to the Old Order Amish.
Every Sunday we met in someone's home and listened to what the good book said and discussed it. Sometimes there was some lively discussions, and I came to understand the fear they had of losing their identity, and with their identity, their way and their faith. And their sense of family, which I pointed out nobody in the world wanted to lose.
Oh, did I mention children? We had Sara right away and then two years later Debra, and then Daniel and then Judith and then disaster.
Esther was seven months along and wasn't feeling good one Sunday morning and elected to stay home from Bible study. Sara was eight and Judith was three, so I packed everyone up and left by seven a.m. We had pot luck there, and on the way home, stopped at the in-laws and they said they'd take the kids for the afternoon and to come around later after chores.
When I got home Esther was in bed and it was covered in blood and Esther was not coherent. I put her in the buggy and headed back to the in-laws. Their neighbors had a phone at the end of the driveway and the ambulance came in about an hour, during which time she died and my Esther was gone.
I went home by myself and did the chores, washed bedding with my diesel driven washing machine and hung the bedding on the line, and went and got the children. My mother-in-law wanted me to stay, but I told her I had to be home and have my children around me.
I got permission from the order to have some of the field work done by English with their tractors, and I took care of the children and visited my mother and father quite often.
Sara was a big help and by the time she was twelve could do almost anything in the kitchen and with Debra helping had taken over the cooking. They all did excellent in school and Daniel especially, excelling in history and geography. When he graduated from the eighth grade, he wanted to go to high school, which to the Amish is a no-no. They feel you start thinking too highly of yourself.
After much soul searching and talking to Daniel about what it meant to go against a ruling by the elders, he decided to turn his back on the Amish and go it alone.
I had a phone at the end of the driveway now, so I called my dad and they were overjoyed to take him in.
By the time Judith reached the eighth grade, Sara and Debra had been going to youth functions and had been meeting Amish boys.
Sara had an admirer by the name of Jacob Mills that was pursuing her, but she thought he wasn't for her. She said she had told him if he bought the old Laman place a half mile from us, she might be interested. And then his folks bought it. Of course, they only paid half of the purchase and Jacob would have to pay the rest over the next ten years, but that put Sara in a quandary and when I asked what was wrong with him, she proceeded to say he was too nice. I asked to meet him and I felt he was deliberate and thought things through before doing anything. When I asked why he would want to marry my daughter, he said she would complete him since he was too somber and reserved. I told Sara I thought he would be good for her but it was her decision and what she decided, she would have to live with.
For nigh unto a year, Jacob would come over twice a week. Once in the middle of the week to visit, and once on the weekend to go to some function or activity.
Debra had caught the eye of Levi Asher in Holmes County and he would come up to see her once a week to. Debra informed me there wasn't anything about him that was annoying and thought he was just perfect.
By spring, Sara was able to say, "I'm really fond of Jacob, and I think I want him in my life."
That fall we had a double wedding and Debra moved to Walnut Creek and Sara moved down the road as our closest neighbor. The next spring Sara announced she was with child and I could tell Debra was jealous, so I comforted her with, "Things take time, don't worry." That summer, Sara was having a hard time of carrying the child and wished she wasn't pregnant. When Sara was seven months along, one morning Jacob came to see me saying, "The baby isn't moving" I went over and probed her tummy. I couldn't feel movement either. So we all got into the buggy and went to the Health and Wellness Center and a midwife listened for a heartbeat and then Sara was taken by ambulance to a hospital in Massillon. It was an induced labor and when the baby was born, the doctor could see why the baby had not lived. It was deformed, so they took a sample for DNA testing.
When the results came back they wanted samples from Jacob and Sara and then they wanted samples from the rest of the family. Debra was really worried since she was also pregnant. Then the doctor called us in with the results. We had a hard time understanding what they told us. It seemed there was a recessive mutation that both Jacob and Sara carried that none of the rest of us did. On Jacob's side his mother was a carrier and also a sister. It was recommended that Jacob and Sara never have children, and if so, not with each other. Nobody said anything when we got home. It would take months to understand how this would affect us.
Six months later Debra had a little girl that was perfect in every way and I could tell it bothered Sara. Jacob came to talk to me about a month later and said Sara hadn't let him touch her since the baby she had carried had died. He couldn't live this way and was sending her home and getting a divorce if the Amish Council would allow it.
Sara was subdued and said she never felt they were right for each other. You know, in the Amish world it is hard for a divorced girl to find a husband, and she never really ventured out to find one, so I and the two girls played a lot of rummy in the evenings.
A year later Judith was attending youth functions and was going completely Rumspringa. One day at dinner, she started talking about a man she wanted to marry, but she wanted our consent before she would ask him. When asked who it was she said Jacob. Sara said, "You don't want to do that. He's boring, doesn't talk and he snores."
Judith replied that she loved him and everything about him. Sara just said, "You haven't lived with him."
By this time the divorce had been finalized, and in six months Judith would be old enough to do what she wanted. So I talked to Sara, about if she was serious about Judith not being able to live with Jacob. When she asked why, I said we'd bundle them for a night like the Old Order used to do to a couple who was thinking about marriage. She laughed and said Judith would never last a night and said let's see if she's serious and tell her this is our stipulation. Judith said, "I will." and peddled on her bike over to Jacob's place.
That Saturday night we bundled them at Jacob's place and kept vigil in the living room. When Sara got pensive and called herself an old maid, I finally told her I wasn't her biological father. Then she wanted to know everything. And then she wanted to know why I hadn't told her sooner and how she always felt close to me.
At this point I have to confess we sinned against the church and man, but we became husband and wife in the sight of God and us. And then I knew I had to do whatever was necessary for my family not to be shunned. I talked to Jacob and told him what we needed to do, and then I talked to Levi and discovered he was dissatisfied with his lot of working for his dad and would leave with us. My dad had found on the internet land in South Dakota along the Missouri River that was for sale, so we had a farm sale.
Jacob and Judith are married and so are Sara and I. So my question of you, oh Bishop and Council, is, are we going to South Dakota as Amish first and Americans second, or are we going as Americans first and good people second? If we are no longer Amish we will decide how much technology we will use and we will no longer speak German or marry with the Amish people. Our fate is in your hands.
Pertaining to the letter from Mr. Rogers:
I have taken the liberty of contacting the Ohio state officials and they have revoked the sale of Isaac Yoders land and it has been put into probate. As far as shunning is concerned, it is for a sin that the person is not contrite for. And you sir, seem not to be sorry for anything. Marrying the mother, and then the child, is forbidden in the Bible, and even you, a non-believer, should know that. You are the worst kind of sinner in that you are dragging others into perversion and hell.
I know my Bible too, and if the mother was alive, it would be wrong. Does not the Bible say nothing should be added or taken away? If that is the case, the elders have been adding to the Word for the last two hundred years. It has been disregarding the safety of the Amish people by divulging into rules on technology with having buggies on highways and saying it infringes on your personal rights to be made to put reflector signs on them.
The Amish people double in size every twenty-two years and have six to eight children per couple and have conscientious objector status in the military. What will happen when there is no one left to fight for our freedoms? The Amish have the right to not contribute to the Social Security System since they take care of their own at home. You will not let young people progress past the mandatory eighth grade because they might become too full of themselves. Is the Council here failing, not only to look to their own interest, but also their interests as American's? If the Amish were allowed to drive cars, maybe Isaac and his family would still be alive and Sara would have been my first marriage.
You preach moderation and conformity and would be shocked if artificial insemination was used from a donor to rid this genetic disorder from my family or even use genetic manipulation. It seems like every other household has some child that will never be right or grow up to know God. Is this His punishment to the people for not embracing modern technology?
Everything good we try to do is imperfect in God's sight and it is only through Jesus' sacrifice and death on the cross that we are covered with righteousness and are brought to the realization of our sins, by the Holy Spirit working in us, that we are saved from our imperfections and sins and brought to God. Do you realize you too are a sinner and have God's grace in you, or are you one of those that will feel the damnation in hell?
Yours truly, a fellow sinner,
P.S. I sinned against man when my marriage to Sara was not made public. The Bible says the two shall become one before God and man which is public acknowledgement of the marriage. In ancient Egyptian times a smashed bowl was set at the door, symbolizing what would happen to another's head if any made inappropriate advancements to the married couple. In a secret marriage, no one can be held accountable for advancements to a partner and is the couple's sin of omission. And of that, I was guilty.
or is it?
Epitaph: Here we are nailing the lid to the coffin,[figuratively speaking] and we find more questions then answers.
Maybe the Author is guilty of omission, and would like the reader to draw his own conclusions.
Is Daniel Rogers alias Isaac Yoder the devil incarnate, or a saint, or some where in between.
Is Daniel Rogers religion his family, and was the Amish religion a catalyst for him?
Did Daniel Rogers develop a vendetta against the Amish ways when he was friends with Isaac or when he was judged and felt it in the pocket book?
Did Sara, being the oldest, develop a working relationship with her father much like a partnership in a marriage?
Did this affect her relationship with her first husband, and did she marry Jakob as a friend? Could it be that's why the marriage wasn't strong enough to stand, with the loss of a child.
Is the youngest girl going to be happy with Jakob?
The Bible says a man should not marry two sisters. Is marrying one at a time splitting hairs?
Jesus said in the Bible, the meek shall inherit the Earth. Was it the non violent pas'sivist people he was referring to?
A good story should always have something for the audience to think about and in that I hope I've been successful.