Part 2: Where will they go

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girl and mother in field at sunset

Here are my feelings on the Mennonite Identity, (continued)

I think there's a lot of sadness, inherent to a lot of people in the faith and in the families. But there is so much love. That's what I hope my family is remembered for, because that's how I remember them. 

Mennonites are complicated, their descendants are complicated. But my family was pretty amazing. They weren't all the stereotypes people might think about them. 

 

The thing is a part of me has known that it is more than possible there will be no more Mennonites in America in the next few centuries. I am not personally of the faith by choice, I care about it because I care about my family. 

Much of my maternal family is dead or in situations that from my view don't allow them to live their lives as freely as I have been able to. Most all of us are not/were no longer Mennonite anyways, by choice, for valid reasons. I don't feel shunned or like I left my people. Because I have never abandoned my mom, no matter what, and she's my people. 

But there is this history of us that most others don't know. It's traditions, its prayers, its our stories, that wove in and out of my family for hundreds of years. 

It's the reason they were able to come to America and not be in the Soviet Union or the Holocaust. 

So of course I will always be eternally grateful. Mennonites are just one part of my family. But it is a certain feeling of loss to know that there are so little of you left. 

There are two things that I think hold people like my family together, Mennonite or not; land, and church. 

It should be no secret that farm land in the U.S. is declining at an alarming rate. For a community that is rural based this is a threat. My family was not Old Order, meaning they did have cars, then technological devices, and even motorcycles and rock music in our more recent generation. We all still used the land. It is a part of us, Mennonite or not. 

I understand people leaving the church. I also understand wanting to preserve it. 

I think everyone deserves to have their home. 

Mennonite and just rural women have a special place in my heart, so their stories and health will always matter to me. I try every day to be a good continuation of my mom, to take advantage of the opportunities she never had.

So I feel a lot of responsibility to carry us on, for so many reasons. 

---see part 3 soon 

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