Authors: Sarah Price
Tags: #Christian Books & Bibles, #Christian Denominations & Sects, #Amish, #Literature & Fiction, #Amish & Mennonite, #Religion & Spirituality, #Christian Fiction
Amish Circle Letters II:
The Second Circle of Letters
By Sarah Price
With Recipes, Hymns,
and an Excerpt from Plain Fame
and Divine Secrets of the Whoopie Pie Sisters
Price Publishing LLC.
The Pennsylvania Dutch used in this manuscript is taken from the Pennsylvania Dutch Revised Dictionary (1991) by C. Richard Beam, Brookshire Publications, Inc. in Lancaster, PA.
Copyright © 2014 by Price Publishing, LLC.
All Rights Reserved
No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems without permission in writing from the author, except by a reviewer who may quote brief passages in a review.
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Price Publishing, LLC.
Other Books by Sarah Price
The Amish of Lancaster Series
The Amish of Ephrata Series
The Plain Fame Trilogy
Other Amish Christian Romances
Amish Circle Letters: The Complete Series
Amish Circle Letters II: The Second Circle of Letters
A Gift of Faith: An Amish Christmas Story
An Amish Christmas Carol: Amish Christian Classic Series
A Christmas Gift for Rebecca: An Amish Christmas Story
Divine Secrets of the Whoopie Pie Sisters (with Pam Jarrell)
The Adventures of a Family Dog Series
#1: A Small Dog Named Peek-a-boo
#2: Peek-a-boo Runs Away
#3: Peek-a-boo’s New Friends
#4: Peek-a-boo and Daisy Doodle
Other Books, Novellas and Short Stories
Gypsy in Black
Postcards from Abby
(with Ella Stewart)
Meet Me in Heaven
(with Ella Stewart)
The Prayer Chain Series
(with Ella Stewart)
Pink Umbrellas: The 12 Days of Devotion (with Lisa Bull)
About Amish Circle Letters
When I first heard the term “circle letters”, I was immediately enthralled. As a woman of the 21
Century, I grew up with technology and social media, both of which have become engrained in my life. It’s how I communicate with my children, my family, my friends, and my readers.
Unlike the Englische, Amish do not use technology. Typically, several families will share a telephone that is always located outside of the home. A message left on a communal voice message system might take a few days to be retrieved and even longer to be returned.
So how do the Amish communicate?
Often, groups of Amish will write letters and send them with a list of addresses of people that they would like to include in the correspondence. Since they do not have access to photocopiers, the first person on the list will receive the letter, read it, and respond. That person sends both the first letter and their response to the second name on the list. This continues until the entire package of letters goes full-circle, returning to the original sender.
At this point, the original sender begins a second circle and starts the process of over again. It
’s a wonderful way to stay in touch and something that the families look forward to receiving.
This series of books follows one family, Miriam Fisher and her seven children. You will read their letters as they travel throughout the circle. I hope you enjoy the series as much as I have enjoyed researching and writing it.
Finally, you should know that all of the stories that you are going to read are based on true stories, stories that happened within the very Amish community where I share a home with an Amish woman. However, names and locations have been changed and I have taken the liberty of greatly embellishing the facts, something all good stories need.
Enjoy and blessings,
Table of Contents
Chapter 1: Miriam’s Letter
Chapter 2: Rachel’s Letter
Chapter 3: Leah’s Letter
Chapter 4: The Budget Letter
Chapter 5: Anna’s Letter
Chapter 6: Lizzie’s Letter
Chapter 7: Sylvia’s Letter
Chapter 8: Lovina’s Letter
Chapter 9: Ella’s Letter
Chapter 10: Mary Ruth’s Letter
Glossary of Pennsylvania Dutch
Book Excerpt #1
Book Excerpt #2
One More Thing…
About Sarah Price
Now that the first round of our letters has returned to my care, I felt the need to continue the circle. Reading all that you wrote touched my heart, especially when I see how much has happened in our lives in such a short period of time.
’s hard for me to believe that, in just another few short weeks, all of my kinner will be married. Even though Mary Ruth was not here for so long, there is an emptiness in the house just knowing that she will not be returning. This week, our Steve will marry Mimi Hostetler and, soon, they will move to the farm across the street. It will be nice to get to know Mimi better. And, of course, John David will marry his Ella, and that will complete the weddings for this season.
We pray each morning and each night for Rachel
’s Elijah. We are ever so grateful to have learned that he will take the treatment. God must have touched his heart. Please keep him in your daily prayers, too.
With the winter season upon us, we will begin quilting again at the house to make Mary Ruth a proper wedding quilt. I invite all of you to come to the quilting bees, which will begin in December on off-Saturdays. It has been quite a long time, I reckon, since we were all together quilting as a group of family and friends. You know how important that is; there is a part of all of us going into these quilts. They become cherished memories kept together by the threads of our lives.
I look forward to receiving all of your letters when the complete circle returns to me. In the meantime, I will pray for each and every one of you. May God keep and protect you and your families.
Mary Ruth stared out the kitchen window, watching the horizon. The sky was gray and it looked like snow was about to make its first appearance of the season. The trees had lost their leaves several weeks ago and stretched their branches to the sky as if crying out to the heavens, a feeling that she was becoming all too familiar with these past few days.
The clock on the wall behind her chimed and she knew that it was six-thirty. Only another hour or so until they needed to leave to travel to the Hostetler home for her older brother Steve’s wedding to Mimi. She turned her gaze back to the window, her mind whirling as she realized that Steve was finally getting married.
For so many years, Steve had shown no interest in courting anyone. Long after his friends married and started their own families, Steve lived his life at his parents’ home, helping his father with the dairy farm and then his tending to his own dairy across the street. With so much work and all of his friends building their own lives, that hadn’t left much time or opportunity for Steve to court. When asked if he ever had any intention of getting married, Steve always replied the same way, shrugging his shoulders and looking up to the sky: “This, as everything else, is really up to Him. If and when the time comes, He will let me know.” The entire family had considered and accepted the fact that Steve was
, a bachelor with little or no hope of ever getting married.
That was until Mimi Hostetler called him to pick up a piece of replacement glass from her
Every marriage comes with a unique story,
A story of how fate brings the couple together. One moment frozen in time, a decision, a choice, a look, that changes the course of the future.
Yet, the thought didn’t make her smile. At least not in the way it should have. Instead, she wondered about what had been that particular moment in her own relationship. What was it that had changed everything?
Mary Ruth sighed, a moment of melancholy showing on her face. Then, with a heavy heart, she averted her eyes from the window. It had been over a week since she had married Menno Yoder. One very long and confusing week. And Mary Ruth was not above admitting that she was tired of walking on pins and needles. It was a feeling she had never felt before and she certainly didn’t like it one bit.
Startled from her thoughts, Mary Ruth turned around to see young Emma padding across the floor, still in her cotton nightgown. Her brown hair was tousled and loose, hanging over her shoulders. The little girl clutched a stuffed bear in one hand and her thumb was plopped in her mouth. There were tears falling from her cheeks as she flung herself into Mary Ruth
’s arms, sobbing against her shoulder.
, Emma?” Mary Ruth asked gently, trying to coax an explanation out of her youngest stepdaughter. Holding the upset child, Mary Ruth rubbed her back and kissed the top of the little girl’s head. “What’s all this fuss about, now?”
“I dreamt you were killed,” Emma cried, her arms clinging to Mary Ruth
’s neck. “That you went away like my mamm!”
Mary Ruth thought.
No graceful way out of this one.
“Now, now, hush little one. You know your
and I are married. This is my home…here with him,” she reassured Emma. Holding her at arms’ length, Mary Ruth wiped at her tears and smiled into the little girl’s face. She was such a petite little girl with such a big heart. Mary Ruth wanted to hug her and reassure her that she would never die, not like her mother had. But she couldn’t say something that she didn’t know to be true. False promises were as bad as lies.
Instead, Mary Ruth merely said, “
I don’t know what God has in store for me but I can assure you that I have no personal intention of going away. You must know that my home is with you and your brother and your sisters now.”
And then she heard him.
When he cleared his throat, Mary Ruth glanced over Emma’s shoulder to see Menno standing in the doorway. He had just walked inside from having milked the cows and had overheard Mary Ruth talking with his daughter. Yet, there was a scowl on his face. He looked none too pleased. Mary Ruth couldn’t imagine why. If anything, she thought bitterly,
should be the one looking none too pleased.
’ll have breakfast ready in ten minutes,” she heard herself say, not recognizing her own voice. She averted her eyes from Menno’s so that he couldn’t see the tears that threatened to fall. It was bad enough that her voice sounded strained. “Would you like some coffee while you wait?”
He stared at her for a moment. She could feel his eyes watching her. But he didn
’t respond. Instead, he merely shook his head and left the room, heading toward the bedroom. Still holding Emma, Mary Ruth stared after him, her heart breaking for having held out such high hopes for their marriage, which now felt like it was turning into the biggest mistake of her life. After all that had been so good, she now realized that Menno did not return the love that she felt for him.
They arrived at the Hostetler
’s home by eight-thirty. The
were excited, for this was the second wedding that they were attending this year. Weddings meant no school and lots of delicious desserts such as Sorghum Molasses Pie and Sweet Potato Snowballs
. It also meant that there would be plenty of time to play outside while the adults talked and sang.
Melvin was excited because he would see his Katie. Indeed, this was how he was increasingly thinking of her: Melvin
’t seen her since his
had married Katie’s aunt the previous week. With the weather changing and the days becoming shorter, Katie wasn’t able to come visit her pony, Butterscotch. In fact, there was talk that Butterscotch was going to be moved to her own farm for the winter. That meant that he wouldn’t see her as much unless he could convince Mary Ruth to go visiting on the weekends.
The ride from the Yoder farm to the Hostetler
’s house only took about fifteen minutes. Yet, Melvin was aware that there was tension in the buggy. His
and Mary Ruth didn’t talk. In fact, Melvin was increasingly aware that they weren’t talking at all, not since the wedding. He wondered about that, curious as to what could have happened between the two of them that had created a rift, which was definitely causing stress in the household.
He wished that he could ask his
or even Mary Ruth about it. But Melvin knew that this would be inappropriate. Adult situations were not shared with
. Still, he was curious. He thought he might mention it to Katie. Mayhaps she would know what had happened between his parents.
Steve was nervous. He stood with his brothers as they waited for the service to begin. In just a few hours, he would have a wife. A wonderful, lively, and godly wife. He couldn’t believe that he was getting married; and to Mimi Hostetler of all people. His eyes traveled across the room, trying to seek her out among the women. It wasn’t easy to do as the women were surrounding her, admiring her new blue dress and wishing her well. When his eyes did find her and she lifted her own to meet his, he felt his heart flutter with delight. Mimi Hostetler…Steve’s Mimi. That would be how she would be known from this day forward. And he was ever so glad.
“Menno,” he said, greeting his brother-in-law. “Good to see you.”
Menno nodded but didn’t speak. His expression was blank and emotionless, a far cry from the Menno of last week who stood before the congregation as he wed Mary Ruth, Steve’s youngest sister.
’t seem to notice as he clapped Menno on the back. “How’s married life treating you? My sister taking good care of you?” he teased.
Menno exhaled sharply and looked away.
James and Steve exchanged a look but nothing further was said. Clearly Menno didn’t wish to speak about whatever was weighing so heavy on his mind. And Steve had enough on his own that he couldn’t focus on anyone else’s problems. Not today.
John David joined them, his own eyes sparkling. In just another week, he, too, would wed his girl, Ella. And with that wedding, all of the Fisher children would now be married. The next round of weddings would come when the grandchildren took their kneeling vows and then settled down with their life mates.
“When are your tenants moving out?” John David asked.
was the problem weighing heavily on Steve’s mind. They weren’t moving out until later in the spring. During that time, Mimi would have to continue to live with her parents. On the weekends, she would come to stay with him at his parents’ house, a situation that bothered Steve. Under normal circumstances, he would stay with her parents on the weekends until their house could be established. But, since he had his own dairy herd to tend, he couldn’t be away from the farm.
He considered fixing up the
at his farm so that Mimi could move there until the main house was vacated. However, it hadn’t been occupied in years. It was dilapidated and run down. Fixing it would require time and money, two things he didn’t have excess of at the current moment. He worked two farms which took care of extra time and he was saving money to expand the dairy herd in the spring when the tenant left, taking his own herd with him.
“Spring time,” Steve said.
John David shook his head. “Long time to wait, ja?”
Steve nodded but didn
’t respond. There was nothing he could add to what his youngest brother said. The Amish custom of the bride and groom living apart during the first months of their marriage was hard for some to understand. In Steve’s case, he wished he had planned better and could bring his bride home to her own farm like many of the older couples were able to do right after their wedding. Like Menno and Mary Ruth, he thought. He glanced over at his sister. She didn’t look too happy, however. And, judging from Menno’s reaction, there seemed to be a tension between them. Perhaps, Steve thought, it
better to follow tradition in order to ease into the marriage.
It was just after eleven when the bishop stood before the congregation. For the past two hours, the congregation had sung hymns from the Ausbund and listened to the ministers preach. The bishop had not given a sermon. Instead, he would offer the marriage vows.
As he slowly looked around at the faces of the guests in attendance at the wedding service, the bishop slowly asked Steve and Mimi to rise and join him at the front of the room. The room was quiet as they did so. Unlike Menno and Mary Ruth’s wedding, there were close to four hundred people in the room, friends and family as well as members of their
. These were the people that would be part of their extended family for the rest of their lives.
The bishop cleared his throat and leveled his gaze at Steve as he began to enunciate the wedding vows. “Brother, do you confess that you wish to take this our fellow sister as your wedded wife, and not to part from her until death separates you, and that you believe this is from the Lord and that through your faith and prayers you have been able to come this far?”
Steve replied with a loud and firm, “Yes.” His voice was strong and resonated throughout the room. There was no doubting his conviction in this decision.
The bishop turned his gaze onto Mimi. “Sister, do you confess that you wish to take this, our fellow brother, as your wedded husband, and not to part from him until death separates you, and that you believe this is from the Lord and that through your faith and prayers you have been able to come this far?”
She lowered her eyes demurely but, deep down, was fighting a smile. “Ja,” she said, hoping that her eagerness was not too apparent.
“Since you, Steve Fisher, have confessed that you wish to take our fellow sister to be your wedded wife, do you promise to be faithful to her and to care for her, even though she may suffer affliction, trouble, sickness, weakness, despair, as is so common among us poor humans, in a manner that befits a Christian and God-fearing husband?”
Steve did not hesitate to respond, “Yes.”
Once again, the bishop returned his attention to Mimi. “And you, Miriam Hostetler,” he said, using her full name. “You have also confessed that you wish to take our fellow brother to be your wedded husband. Do you promise to be faithful to him and to care for him, even though he may suffer affliction, trouble, sickness, weakness, despair, as is so common among us poor humans, in a manner that befits a Christian and God-fearing wife?”
She glanced at Steve and when she saw that he was watching her, she couldn’t hide her smile any longer. “Oh ja,” she said softly.
The bishop took one step back and said, “Extend your right hand to each other.” When they did so, he covered their hands with his and said, “The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob be with you and help you come together and shed His blessing richly upon you. You may go forth as a married couple. Fear God and keep His commandments.”