What happens now? Where do we go from here? What is the proper thing to do for people who look very Amish, and yet aren’t? Where will we worship this Sunday? So many questions: So many new ideas: So many things to learn and consider.


Chris “C J” Staley lived up on Route M, toward Curryville. He spoke German, and for some reason seemed to know just about every Amish person we had ever met and quite few more that we hadn’t. C J was one of many kindly souls that were brought into our lives. Somehow he became aware of our plight and came to our aid. He would come by next Sunday morning, he said, and pick up the whole family, and take us to the Mennonite Mission fifty miles away in Hannibal. What excitement! Sunday School: Flannel graphs and Bible stories: Songs like “I Will Make You Fishers Of Men” and “Building Up The Temple:” Best of all; our family discovered that there were other people in the world that loved Jesus, read their Bibles and were committed to serving God.


Being “received into membership” somewhere, was a matter of high priority for my parents. They had acquaintances that belonged to the Amish Conservative Mennonite “Beachy” Church at Kalona, Iowa, two hundred miles from us. Mom and Dad asked for membership there, and were accepted with the stipulation that our place in Missouri would be listed for sale and we would move to the area when it was sold. His Kalona buddies also helped Dad get a drivers license and buy his first motor vehicle; a forty-eight Ford truck from Winebrenners in Iowa City.


Dad, bitterly hated Iowa winters and having no real intention of ever moving north again; listed the farm for sale for more than he figured it would bring, and settled down to building our new life as non-Amish in Pike County Missouri.


We attended church somewhere almost every Sunday and frequently during the week too. We went to Baptist revival services: When the Presbyterians tried out for a new minister; we went to hear the candidates speak: We went to big tent revivals led by Mennonite evangelists Myron Augsburger and Howard Hammer, and to little house meetings led by the Jehovah’s Witnesses: During the next several years, we worshipped with Methodists, Lutherans, Church of the Nazarene, Hard Shell Baptists, and Old Time Holiness: And yes; we also swatted mosquitoes and shouted “Hallelujah” with the ‘Holy Rollers’ in a store front building across the train tracks from the Mississippi river down in Clarksville, Missouri.


During that interim period, we piled in, and on the back of, the truck, or, in later years, one of our old Nashes, and several times a year made the trip north so that Mom and Dad could take communion and keep their “membership” active. Over the years, our un-routine religious activities began to take on a routine ness of their own; and, while I certainly do not recommend it as a way to raise a family; I must say that I definitely learned a lot about the practices and belief systems in the Christian community at large during this time of my life.