Friday, 6 July 2018

Photo Essay of my Three-Day Trip to Pennsylvania

Yes, I really did go to Amish country, but unfortunately had little time for sight-seeing. I did see one Amish horse and buggy, though, as we drove to our hotel from Elizabethtown College. However, since my phone was tucked away, I didn't have time to dig it out to take any pictures. There's an Amish farm very close to the campus actually, almost right beside it. As noted in a previous post, my friend, Dora and I flew to PA to attend the Peace Churches Conference.

Leaving Winnipeg...

...and shortly thereafter, above the clouds.
The plane that took us from Toronto to Harrisburg, PA could seat about twenty people, but for this flight there were only four of us and the two pilots. You don't see this much anymore, but the door to the cockpit was left open, "In case we need anything." There were no stewardesses. Quite an adventure, starting from being walked outside where the plane was parked. (Apparently it's not only the Prime Minister that boards this way.) An airport attendant took us to one of the planes waiting for passengers. We boarded and the pilot asked,  "Where are you going?"

"Harrisburg." I answered with a smile, which was wiped off when he informed us,
"This plane is going to Houston."

Good thing he asked! Houston would have to wait for another day.  So we deboarded. (Yes, that really is a word.)  Going down (or up, for that matter) the steep, narrow stairs with two pieces of luggage is not exactly easy, but we managed. Oh, and it happened to be a windy day, and my hands already busy with my luggage, had to find a way to hang on to my skirt as well.

The lady did apologize for taking us to the wrong plane. There were three small planes parked there, and she must have gotten mixed up....or was new on the job. We finally boarded the correct plane. Our fellow-passengers were already there. When we were all settled the co-pilot manually pulled up the stairs; it seemed to be quite a chore. During the co-pilot's safety spiel he stated, "If for any reason you want to leave during our flight, the exit is right behind." We all dutifully looked back. Then he quickly added, "Just kidding," and went on to explain the correct in-case-of-emergency procedure, and we were off. With our ears still feeling like they're full of cotton from the previous flight, coupled with the roar of the motors, carrying on a conversation was difficult, so we stayed quiet.

Elizabethtown College is a gorgeous campus, with over thirty brick buildings on extremely well-kept grounds. With huge trees, shrubs, sidewalks, a pond, and places to sit, it feels like a park. Walking around that campus made me think of Germany - the place has a very German look to it. Later when we talked to one of the people who works there, he told us that look was probably intentional as the College was founded by the Church of the Brethren, an Anabaptist group hailing from Germany.

James B. Hoover Center, where most sessions took place. 

                                                                                Dora and I walked around the campus one afternoon and were impressed how neat and lush everything looked. I took lots of pictures, but they're only a glimpse of this beautiful place and don't do it justice. My favourite building is the High Library, where one of the sessions took place. On one of our walks, we also went inside Leffler Chapel. (it was open and nobody was there, which I found a bit strange.) It was set up for a wedding that weekend and looked very nice.

High Library

 Leffler Chapel

One of the more then thirty buildings on this campus, housed a cafeteria. It was actually more like smorgasbord-style restaurant, and it served a wide variety of scrumptious food, including pizza, perogies, pasta, salads, soups, sandwiches, roasts and a good selection of desserts. We shared one meal with our new friends, Barbara Royer and her sister-in-law, Lou Royer. Barbara published a book, A First-Class Fighting Man. It's a compilation of letters exchanged between her grandparents, (noted as the authors of the book)Vern and Estella Kessler, diary entries  and related documents. Vern  was imprisoned as a conscientious objector during WWI. They were members of the Old German Baptist Brethren.

Later that same day, during a session, Barbara was interviewed by Jeff Bach, director of the Young Center and one of the conference organizers. I was intrigued by this book before I arrived in PA, after reading about it online. And hearing Barbara share how it came about that she decided to write the book, was fascinating and a great introduction to it! I bought it, and found it most interesting. What a beautiful way to preserve and share this chapter of her grandparents lives!

After the interview, I felt honoured to share a table with Barbara, as we both signed copies of our books for the attendees. I'm grateful to the organizers for arranging this event where I had the opportunity to share Hutterite Diaries with people. They had ordered copies of my book beforehand, after learning about it and that I would attend.

One of the highlights of this trip for me was that I got to meet Valerie Weaver-Zercher. She was my editor when I was working on Hutterite Diaries. When I heard that I'd be going to PA, I contacted Valeria, for I knew she lived in that area. she was as excited as I was to finally meet face-to-face. She graciously offered to drive forty minutes to come meet us. She picked us up at our hotel and treated us to breakfast Ella Place. They serve the best waffles I've ever had! My Belgian Waffles came with generous mounds of whipped cream, strawberries, blueberries and bananas. What a rich and delicious way to start the day. It was equally special to visit with Valerie - a rather short and sweet visit. But, I'm very thankful we had this time together!

Each session at this conference we listened to a different speaker present a paper on the topic of The Peace Churches and the Great War. Some were professors and students at Elizabethtown College, others were from different areas of the United States. All of the speakers had interesting and thought-provoking presentations. Many times, I found myself wondering how I'd respond today, should I ever be faced with the same challenges and choices many Christians had to deal with during WWI. From all accounts presented, it was never easy to stand up for their faith, especially knowing that could mean torture or death.

I'll leave this lengthy post with a few more shots of the campus:


The Young Centre for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies


  1. It must have been very exciting and interesting. I'm glad you had a good trip.

  2. Wow Linda, thank-you for sharing, I almost felt like I was there!
    Your plane ride sounded like fun, I didn't think boarding the wrong flight could happen! 😁
    I'm wondering who all the other speakers were, is there anywhere where one could find out?

  3. You are quite the globe trotter! Looks like you had an awesome experience.


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