Monday, April 28, 2008

Amos and Dave (The Writer’s Shed Project, part 6)

As we move forward with the building of the Writer’s Shed, Ed and I are still discussing who to hire for help with construction. Last week, we drove an hour south of Madison to meet with Dave, the fallen away lawyer who, with his wife and fifteen children, has embraced the simple, peaceful life of a Mennonite and taken on shed building as a livelihood.

Building sheds is something I can do with my older children – he said to us, as we presented our thoughts on the project.

This afternoon, we drive to western Wisconsin. The gentle greens of late April are lovely, even as the dark clouds of a late winter storm roll in.

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And it turns cold.

We are getting almost close to the Mississippi by the time we reach the homestead of Amos and Mary. We’re here to talk to Amos – the fallen away Amish, now somewhere between the Born Again Christian and the Mennonite faith (though I read that not all in his family agree with this religious reclassification) who, along with his wife and ten children, builds barns and sheds for a living.

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You may ask why I mention religion in a post about shed building. If you visited either Dave or Amos, you would understand that it is a significant part of the story.

Building barns and sheds. Raising children who then help with construction. Dressing simply. Modestly. Posting uplifting slogans on walls and down driveways. Frugal lifestyles. Quiet temperaments.

You’re selling the business? Ed noticed the real estate sign by the road.
Yes, we’re moving to Ghana. I’m curious about this and he seems willing to explain.
We’ll be running an orphanage there. We’ll be working with the adolescents. Helping them to transition to adult life.
You’ll take your whole family?

Yes, of course.

So I’m thinking we should work with Amos. It’s like handing money to support a good cause. Or maybe it should be Dave? He and his wife have adopted six kids over and beyond their biological nine. Maybe they’ll adopt more.

It really is more than just paying someone to help put up your shed.

The winter weather catches us on the drive back. Wet flakes and gray colors take away any ideas about spring. We pass one sad looking town, then another. Lifeless main streets. Thrift shops, empty storefronts.

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And in spite of this, I think to myself – what a beautiful venture that was! And what gorgeous countryside, just west of Madison!

And it is. Weather and other life’s challenges notwithstanding.

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