08/16/17 Wednesday in Spokane Valley, WA (HOME)
We enjoyed a lovely tour with Inland Empire Tours today. On our way to see the Hutterites, we watched DVD’s about the Anabaptists, also known as the Plain People, religious groups formed in Switzerland/Germany (later Austria, Netherlands, and Czecoslovakia) during the Reformation. “Anabaptist” means another/later baptism. These people rejected the idea of infant baptism, believing that only a believer can truly be baptized into their faith. Over time and great persecutions 3 separate groups emerged: The Amish are the most conservative, the Mennonites the most progressive and the Hutterites are the smallest and most moderate group. Under intense persecution, they escaped to the United States between 1874 and 1879.
Basically they strive to live as the original church began; in community where all possessions were shared, to live in harmony. That only in true resignation and sharing can the path of discipleship be pursued, thus can love become a concrete reality. They wear the same dress to show to the world their common beliefs. They believe in Baptism, Communion and Marriage. They don’t believe in war and are conscientious objectors. For their church government each community/colony elects a Board of Directors (5-6 elders) which include the ministers (who read the sermons from a book, then they can give additional commentary), the financial manager, the field boss, the German school teacher (that is their first language) who is also the gardener, and others such as the Carpenter, Electrician, Plumber, Blacksmith, Shoe-repairman, Bookbinder or Livestock managers. People’s talents are taken into account but the needs of the community are considered paramount.
The individual works for the good of all. Members receive a monthly allowance for personal desires, needs are supplied from a common storehouse. Early on they developed superior schools. In fact, they were the first to devise the kindergarten in Europe. Besides public school the children attend kindergarten, the German school and the Sunday school. They complete High School, then continue with vocational training – girls for baking, cooking, sewing and boys for field work and skills like electrician, plumber, and carpenter.
On the average they live in groups of 90 people per colony. Large groups can have problems of unemployment so when a commune reaches about 100-115 it seeks a second location to form a daughter colony. The colony is named after the city is resides near. This group is at 130 people now.
Baptism (adults) is performed after 7 weeks of special training. Marriage never precedes Baptism. The boy asks the girl’s father for consideration, her family lets her know his interest and generally lets him know their marriage is accepted. There is an engagement period. Divorce is forbidden. Weddings are celebrated for 3 days with homemade gifts given to the couple. First cousin marriages are forbidden. Normally the boys and girls meet when marriages and funerals are celebrated among different colonies. The girl lives with the boy at his colony. As you’ll see in the photos, nothing in their religion that forbids technological efficiency. They’re also fine with us taking pictures as long as we didn’t ask anyone to pose.
The women put their hair into braids, twisting those braids into a bun near the top of their head. They wear a scarf or cap that sits upon that bun. Their homes are built with 3 together, sort of like triplexes. Our guide invited us into her home, where we saw more of their carpenter’s work. The guy with the beret is our tour guide and owner of Inland Empire Tours. I really liked the back massager, that you can slide up or down according to your massage desires. Notice the saying next to it? Basic Instruction Before Leaving Earth.
One of the many large buildings for their farming enterprises.
Inside their mechanic’s building. Note the parts cabinets.
One of their trucks bringing potatoes (?) to the colony.
Inside their carpenter and leather working building.
On to the women’s pursuits. This is a very organized group, so once a girl turns 17 she has her name added to the list of workers. Her name will come off when she is 50. They spend a week at the bakery, at cooking meals, rotating with other responsibilities. They process their own chickens, ducks and geese, as well as their garden produce but those activities aren’t as constant as those they rotate.
Laundromat where each couple has their own slotted day and time to use it.
They make their own bars of soap from old soap slivers, lard and lye. The large steel tub has soap bars and water to make a liquid soap for use in the machines.
Outside the laundromat is a cart. Each couple receives this cart from the community for a wedding present. They use it for moving any heavy items.
This is inside the canning kitchen. Every time our guide mentioned the canning kitchen I was sure she was saying candy kitchen, so this was sort of a disappointment. What they preserve, naturally, is from their own gardens.
They are proud of this machine that takes produce, especially tomatoes, and quickly chops them into very small pieces.
Here is the bakery. Those rolling pins are just beautiful. When marrying, the woman gets to choose which wood she wants her furniture made from: cherry, walnut, or hickory (not oak)
Their new dish washing machine that she was very proud of.
Their kitchen with ovens at the back. These have settings to automatically cook certain items.
The children’s dining area, which looks a lot like the adult area which is in another part of the building. The German teacher is in charge of the children’s morning school in German and guides their eating experience. They have private school in the afternoon as well as time with their folks, working.
Their chapel. Note the lack of any pictures or statues. They celebrate baptisms, weddings, communion, and funerals, but not birthdays or holidays.
These little birds seemed to enjoy watching our group parade from one building to another. They’re sitting on outdoor clothes dryers.
I had never seen this before: its a hummingbird moth. Very aptly named, because when you first spot it you think it’s a hummingbird until you look more closely and see it’s coloring and wings.
We were treated to a scrumptious lunch at their dining room, just before the rest of the community sat down for their noon meal. All home grown and so delicious: borscht (cabbage soup), mashed potatoes with gravy, meatloaf, green beans, cucumber pieces, corn on the cob and bread and butter. At another point Teresa (our guide) explained more about the Hutterites, giving us a slide show of activities they do in this colony. Later we could purchase small bags of information (including a cook book!) and a photo as well as loaves of bread and preserves.
I think it was about 2pm when we headed off to Harrington where we got to experience their Opera House. For a small farming community, this was impressive. The first image is of the ticket counter from the bank that occupied this building around a hundred years ago. We even got to listen to a lady playing the piano as we walked around.
Next up: Gardens in a couple Harrington yards.
That was a long but thoroughly enjoyable day. We watched some more DVD’s and Dick shared more information as we traveled back to Spokane. Big day, and SO much fun!!