Afternoon with a young Mennonite man
One rainy day a few weeks ago, I drove a young Mennonite fellow to town. James told me all about himself as we traveled along. He has just turned 20 years old. In his family, he's the oldest child of nine.
James grew up in Pennsylvania, but he's come out to Kentucky to work. He likes Kentucky and he's planning to stay here. For now, he's boarding with our neighbors.
James has been working for a Mennonite carpenter who does a lot of construction around here. They've been able to work most of the winter, except the days when it was too wet on the job site. James commented on the difficulty of working in heavy mud with his feet wet all day. Then he quickly added that he was thankful he had a job and he didn't mean to complain.
Our first stop was the Social Security office where James needed to straighten out something. Old Order Mennonites don't pay into Social Security or accept any benefits from it. However, they still must have Social Security numbers for income tax and other obligations.
Next we went to WalMart. James said it wouldn't take him long, so I hurried around the store and got a few things I needed. Then I went to the car to wait.
An hour later, James came back out, overwhelmed with WalMart's size and range. However, he had managed to find the things he needed. He had even taken a look at the work boots in the shoe department and decided he wasn't impressed.
I suggested another store that carries work boots, but my passenger was ready to head back to the country. We drove home with less talking than when we came, and after agreeing on the price of the drive to town, James thanked me and bid me good-by. He stepped back into his world, and I returned to mine.
I came home wondering about my glimpse into the life of a young man in the Mennonite community, and I suspect James also marvelled about his afternoon with the English.