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A chat with the Amish in Shipshewana

Chuck Lofton has been to a lot of places, but in Indiana he said Shipshewana is one of his favorite towns.
(Steve Rhodes, WTHR)

SHIPSHEWANA, Ind. (WTHR) — I have to admit, Shipshewana is one of my favorite towns in Indiana. I love it all: the food, the crafts, the buggy rides and the Amish heritage.

I wanted to take Sunrise viewers here because it is so much fun. Fun for families with kids activities and a family atmosphere. Fun for adults with music, great food and theatre.

The lure of the town, though, is it's Amish/Mennonite heritage.

One afternoon, while photographer Steve Rhodes and I were shooting footage around town, I struck up a conversation with an Amish man who was driving a buggy for tourists.

John Gingerich is a fascinating man, he also gave me and Sunrise viewers a rare opportunity. In our conversation I told John why we came to town. Because it's my job and knowing the answer before I even asked it, I queried whether I could interview him on WTHR. To my absolute shock he said, yes.

(Steve Rhodes, WTHR)

Because the Amish look at photographs as graven images, they don't , as a rule like to have their picture taken. But because the moving pictures of video would not be a photo that would be held or placed on a wall, John agreed to be interviewed by me as we rode in his buggy. Our conversation ranged from his life, to the town, to the misunderstanding he feels the English (non-Amish) have about the Amish.

Here is a portion of that interview where John talked about what people think about his culture.

Chuck: When you meet people that don’t know much about the Amish way of life, is there something that they are completely misunderstanding? “YES” what is that?

John: – Well as part of our faith, we are Christians, and we try to live a Christian life. There’s lots of books about us Amish and reality shows. I don’t see them of course because I don’t have TV. They ask me things and one things is about the RUMSPRINGA. And in our language that means, our running around with the young folks.

Myth has that when our kids become teenagers, 15 or 16, whenever we tell them now it's ok to go out in the world and experience whatever you want to do and see if that is what you want to be for the rest of your life. That’s a complete falsehood. Why would we do that? We try to teach our children our way so they will follow our ways. Why would we do that? It would be like putting the fox in charge of guarding the hen house. Not at all. And I tell people that because a lot of people are under that impression. I tell them spread the word for me.

A lot of them think that we are very backwards; you might think we are. But actually, without electricity, without cars, we still live very well. We still have indoor plumbing, hot and cold water in the house and bathrooms. Another thing is if you never had something, I don’t miss it. People think, well you are kind of backwards. But I love this and wouldn’t have it any other way. A lot of our children, once in a while there is someone that leaves, and they will either come back or they won’t. They get stuck out in the big world.

Look John up if you are in Shipshewana; he's a great guy with a great love for people. I truly appreciated his insight and hope you will see it here at WTHR.com or on Sunrise.