Shopping with Sunshine in Comfortable Silence
8/21/2013

I'm sure you all know what I'm talking about when I say "comfortable silence". We all have those people in our lives that we can just be with, and not feel pressured to create small talk and idle conversation. 

Comfortable silence is another way my shopping trips with Sunshine differ from typical female shopping trips. With Sunshine, we could be driving in the car and not feel obligated to talk the entire time. At first I thought she was shy or uncomfortable even though we had written numerous letters back and forth and I had visited her many times. It was quite opposite actually. The Amish are simply quiet people and comfortable with silence. There is no elaborate story telling, gossip, or drama which most women do just by nature. There was no need to fill the conversation gaps. However, there was definitely meaningful conversation. It made me realize how easy it is to forget what was talked about with my English friends, yet with Sunshine, I can remember every detail.

During our time spent together, religion came up a few times. But these were very generic questions from her such as "What religion are you?" and "Do you pray before meals?"  Her response after my answers were simply "ok". Why just an "ok"? Because the Amish do not judge and live according to the Bible, "Do not judge, or you too will be judged" (Matthew 7:1).

Most people are under the impression that just because the Amish are a religious group, they are evangelist. That couldn't be further from the truth. This reason, along with many others is why I am so drawn to the Amish. They only speak of religion among each other and even then, it's left to the ministers and bishops of the community. Quoting scripture is reserved for those who have a deep understanding, or who are chosen. In the modern world, we experience scripture quoting on billboards, from your friends on social networking sites, and late at night when those televangelist are asking you to call in and make a donation. Amish bishops and ministers are unpaid, and it's a lifelong position. 

I mentioned in my first post of Shopping with Sunshine how we go to the same stores on each shopping outing; Aldi, Walmart, The Dollar Tree, and thrift stores.

It's a common misconception that because a large percentage of the Amish are farmers, and refuse modern convenience, they only eat homemade food. While they are known for cooking and baking, they do still purchase prepackaged foods. Crackers, cream cheese, and white bread was purchased in mass quantity at Aldi. There is a very conservative group of Amish, called the Swartzentruber Amish, who may not purchase items like this. 

Every time we stopped at Walmart and the Dollar Tree, we made a stop in the personal care aisle, the cleaning solution aisle, and crafting supplies.

Thrift shops are one of her favorite places to shop. At every thrift store we stopped at we looked through the men's shirts for her brothers. They had to be plain, button down, and solid colors. It was very exciting for both of us when we found a shirt in the size we were looking for that met the Amish "dress code". While the women's clothing is almost always handmade, men's shirts (in this particular district), can be store bought as long as it conforms to their distinctive plain dress. I do believe these shirts would only be used for work or chores, and not church, weddings, or other social gatherings. 

Faux flowers, coffee mugs, and stuffed animals (for friends) were also common purchases. I knew she was a fan of Janette Oke books and while in the book section, found an entire set of Janette Oke books for less than $6! There was no shouting of thanks or high fives. I didn't need any of that for her to show her gratitude. Her bright eyes and demure smile said it all. I wondered how much extra kerosene would be used while she read by lantern light after the chores were done and the day was over. 

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