The Amish Nurse Series #4

The Pearl of Great Price


by Stephanie Schwartz

Playing On The Outhouse Roof by Strphanie Schwartz

Phoebe is overwhelmed with infant twins, while Faith cannot yet contemplate the idea of re-marrying after being widowed. Leah longs to have children but it doesn't seem likely; even adoption is a remote possibility. Susanna travels throughout the Midwest, offering her nursing skills, but Hilda is sent much, much further away on a mission with her new husband.

Join each of these courageous women as they are engaged in the chores that make up their days, from cooking on wood stoves, sewing, baking, canning, and caring for others. And always praying for guidance. Readers who are curious about people who live without "modern conveniences" will learn that their lives are rich and full, not lacking for love or community.


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Release Date: October 3, 2023
Genre: Amish Romance

~ A White Satin Romance ~


Excerpt

Chapter One

The four Plain girls in the program, who called themselves The Four Musketeers, really had their nursing licenses and those much-coveted LPN lapel pins. College was really over. The ministers in their communities had asked each girl to consider going to college to become a nurse and hopefully turn the tide as far as being medically underserved in their rural colonies and settlements. They were now the link with the wider medical communities where they lived, bridging a gap that had been woefully overlooked for decades. Rural health care in the Midwestern U.S. was in dire straits already. One county hospital was closing every day in the early 1980s. This bold, unprecedented step would enable a huge improvement in health care for all those involved.

Leah and Hilda were from a Mennonite community. Phoebe was Amish and Susanna was Hutterite. The Plain communities in the Midwestern U.S. had more in common than they had differences, though all were practically self-sufficient and autonomous, with traditions, dress and language that were unique to each one. All these Anabaptist communities were thriving while attempting to live holy lives separate from the world, “Being in the world but not of the world.” (John 17:14-15) Thus the Plain churches have attempted to live for hundreds of years.

 

* * *

 

Phoebe had finally gotten the twins settled and sleeping. They had just about outgrown their cradles that their dat had made for them and been replaced by cribs. The ztzvilling were almost seven months now. They were both what their midwife Roberta called, ‘juicy babies’—plump, happy and pinchable, basically. Born at term, each weighing over seven and a half pounds, they’d had a great start.

“If only I could sleep just one night,” Phoebe complained to Mamm. “I would give up anything to get a decent night’s sleep,” she moaned while she sat at the kitchen table in Mamm’s side of the farmhouse, her elbow on the table, her hand holding up her chin while slowly flattening out tiny wrinkles in the tablecloth with her finger. It was late in the afternoon. The blue curtains were pinned back, and the sun cast a beautiful ray across the table. The blue checkered tablecloth was laid for the next meal with a basket of freshly sliced whole wheat bread under a tea towel and a bowl of that morning’s butter next to it. Utensils were lined up at each place next to a plate, and coffee mugs were gathered at the end of the table for after the meal next to a pitcher of cream. Soup bowls teetered in a stack on the cooler right side of the wood stove top. A sideboard in the kitchen held a small stack of pie plates and a fresh Shoo-fly pie and pie server. A hanging mantle lamp that had been cleaned, polished and filled that morning hung from a chain above the table waiting to be lit later in the evening after dusk, its amber globe sparkling with the sunray. A small basket was set in the center of the table filled with an odd assortment of unmatched, though carefully folded, clean linen table napkins. The only sound in the kitchen was the almost imperceptible crackle from the wood box below the stovetop on the left side of the old cookstove as Mamm stirred the soup in the big kettle above.

“Do you nap when they do during the day?” her mother asked.

“But that’s the only time I can clean the house or catch up on laundry or start supper,” Phoebe complained.

“Well, look,” Mamm began while directing the ladle at Phoebe to emphasize her point.

“You’re dripping, Mamm,” Phoebe frowned. Mamm glared back and then, ignoring the comment, continued.

“You and Stephen are still living in the dawdi haus, which cuts down on cleaning ’cause it’s so little. I can keep doing the cooking here next door for a bit like I did all during your college years. I don’t mind at all. You’ll be eating gut then and have one less thing to think about. You can put the kinner in the play pen in the kitchen say, an hour or two before dinnertime, and I’ll watch them while you do laundry or tidy the house up. Then you nap when they do. That won’t take you long, eh? Gut thing Stephen built two cribs, ya think?”

“You sure you won’t mind?” Phoebe asked, hopeful that this might be the answer to her endless exhaustion.

Ya, sure I’m sure,” Mamm said, turning back to the wood cookstove to finish making supper.

“You are the best, Mamm. What would I do without you, huh?” Phoebe said as she got up and hugged her mamm. “Can I go now for a bit? Maybe rinse out those diapers before they start walking out on their own?"

“Certainly,” Mamm said from the stove where she was still stirring the butternut squash soup to prevent it from scorching. The herby croutons that would accompany the soup were slowly toasting on a tray in the oven of the wood stove.

Ya, go. Dat and Stephen will be home at six I figure. See you then... shoo!” Mamm waved her off with her hand that was still holding the dripping spoon.

 

* * *

 

Sarabeth had been sent from her home in Ohio to her cousin’s farm in the Midwest to help Faith as a live-in maud after the horrific buggy accident that claimed the lives of her young husband and two small children. It had been a monumental task for the entire Amish community to rally around Faith and help her through those first fragile months after such trauma. Faith was ready to despair at many points along the way, questioning her faith, questioning Gott, not sure she could find a purpose or reason to move on at all. Now that she seemed to have weathered those first few months, some hinted that it might be time to consider marrying again. They pointed out she was young, she had a thriving farm that needed help and her youngest daughter, Patience, who was home with her at the time of the train accident, could use a father. These suggestions put a new wrench in the works, threatening to send her back into the crippling depression of those first days and weeks that could have utterly destroyed her had it not been for the unending, unconditional love that surrounded her from her Amische brothers and sisters.

 

* * *

 

Phoebe Schwartz had been particularly helpful during the crisis after the accident. Her newly acquired LPN license was a godsend for times like this. Faith’s depression had spiraled into a dark vortex so black she virtually lost her will to live. Her grossmammi had found the pill bottle and with Phoebe’s help got the doctor involved soon enough to start treating her depression appropriately and put a plan in place to support Faith better. Her grandmother had prayed for a miracle when she couldn’t rouse Faith that morning and it had been given.

Sarabeth was another story. She had been the bane of her parents’ existence. Willful, belligerent, contrary, basically impossible, they had tried everything to mold her into a submissive young Amische woman that might even attract a husband someday. The move to Faith’s farm had given her a new sense of trust and freedom. She still had a long way to go, but there was hope that Sarabeth would outgrow whatever wayward attitude had consumed her till now, causing her family to throw up their hands in exasperation.

Incorrigible, willful, rebellious, and disrespectful only touched the tip of the iceberg describing Sarabeth when she had first come to Faith’s house. Her parents were hoping that this new job away from home might just be the ticket to turning their delinquent daughter around. She was just seventeen. She was a beauty and knew it. Tall, thin, with dark hair and thick eyelashes that she put to use often when flirting, she had no other interest in life than to snag a boyfriend and hopefully soon after, a husband. She was enjoying being out from under her parents’ constant surveillance. Faith was younger than her mamm, so laid back, happy for her company. It had been a very long time since anyone had been happy for Sarabeth’s company. She didn’t mean it, but frequently came across as belligerent, and downright snotty. Her mother had tried her best to shape her into a model Amish youngie, but the harder she tried, the more Sarabeth dug in her heels to be contrary. No one would want to marry the obnoxious, self-willed tyrant. Her mother’s words fell on deaf ears.

 

* * *

 

Faith’s bobbel was a sweet, happy baby. No trouble there, and Faith not only let Sarabeth go to the young people’s weekend singing gatherings, she actually encouraged her. Her parents had forbidden her participating in any gatherings until her attitude changed, so what happened last Sunday was definitely a first. When Amish youth reach their magical sixteenth birthday, they enter into that rite of passage called rumschpringe. It literally means ‘running around.’ The wisdom behind it, originally at least, was that before they join church with a vow of life-long membership, teenagers be given time to see what their other more worldly options in life might be. This running around usually consists of the young people gathering in a barn on a Saturday or Sunday evening for singing, snacks, board games and such. It gives them the opportunity to meet young people from other districts. Of course, like everything else, some have abused the privilege and drinking parties, and even experimenting with drugs and driving cars (that are hidden later under haystacks or in abandoned barns) do occur. Most parents hope, at least, that they’ve instilled good values into their children and can trust them not to throw caution to the wind and end up regretting their choices during rumschpringe.

 

* * *

 

Samschdaag had rolled around again. Faith came in from hanging the wet wash on the lines, carrying Patience on her hip. She put her down in the cradle in the corner of the kitchen. Patience hadn’t figured out yet how to escape her confines there, though she was crawling when let loose on the floor whenever she found herself liberated there.

“That smells gut,” Faith said to Sarabeth who was sliding a cake pan into the oven of the wood stove. “What are you making?”

“Well,” Sarabeth began, straightening up. “Tomorrow is another singing, and I am making a Blueberry Boy Bait for William. I hope he will be there, though he did say something about going away to a job in Montana. I don’t know how long he’ll be gone, but I’ll have it there if he is.”

“He’s the one that drove you home last time, isn’t he?” Faith gently queried.

“Yes, and he is wunderbar. I think I am in love,” Sarabeth announced dramatically, lifting her chin, her eyelids fluttering.

“It’s pretty quick to be in love already, don’t ya think?” Faith asked, becoming alarmed.

“When you’ve found ‘the one’ you know it, don’t ya?” Sarabeth said with a sweet smile, again batting her eyelids.

Oh dear, Faith thought to herself. I wonder what William’s thoughts on the matter are. He better be on his guard. I hope he is more responsible and mature than she is. I’m gonna have to pray harder this time, I see. I didn’t see that one kumming. Maybe he’ll meet someone and stay in Montana... Please Gott.

“What would your mamm say about him, I wonder?” Faith added, hoping to find out a bit more about this mysterious suitor.

“Oh, she never let me go to singings at all, and I’m seventeen already. She just thinks I’m too young and flighty. I’m old enough, ya know. Plenty old enough to marry. I know some wait a few years, but I don’t see why they want to waste all that time,” she answered defensively.

Faith chose her words carefully. She didn’t want to put Sarabeth off and not keep the lines of communication open. It wasn’t that long ago that she had been her age.

“Well, you want to be sure. Married until death is an awful long time if you are unhappy. You need time to be sure, get to know each other. If he is too hasty and tires of you later along the way, he could end up being tempted to stray and be unfaithful, or you could end up with someone who doesn’t think he needs to help at home at all with the work and the kinner, and you end up being the workhorse in the end. If it is meant to be, he’ll wait until you are both sure. I hope that makes sense,” Faith asked.

“Oh, I’m sure,” Sarabeth tried to reassure her, having already obviously convinced herself. “You’ll see,” she said as she opened the fire box on the stove and taking a small log from the wood box on the floor wiggled it into place on top of the coals, then slammed shut the fire box door.

Faith knew she couldn’t push Sarabeth further without alienating her but told herself this wasn’t the end of this discussion. No way. Then Faith thought to herself as Sarabeth scooped up Patience and danced into the living room with the baby, here I was thinking that Sarabeth was sent here to help me, but I am starting to wonder if perhaps Gott brought her here for me to help her. She is in for a rude awakening if she continues to travel down this road. Girls are so impressionable at her age, so very na├»ve. They really don’t have a clue. Dear Gott, she prayed silently as she checked the cake in the oven. Give me wisdom here and protect her, please. She is playing with fire and doesn’t even know it. No wonder her parents had practically given up on her. She is a hard nut to crack. I don’t know what to say that would break through. Please Gott, I need the right words here... please.

 

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