Kindness to Strangers
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By Cynthia Haggitt
The Amish lifestyle is family centric with many rules on everything from clothes, hair style, work and even technology. The religious and cultural traditions of The Amish people have long since fascinated outsiders and last week Calhoun County citizens were visited by two Amish gentlemen travelers, Toby and William.
By now, the story about Toby and William has been posted on Quarantined Calhoun’s Facebook page. The two Amish gentlemen are from Ohio and are traveling to Missouri on foot to visit with family. Facebook followers have been posting and inquiring about where they are headed next on their journey.
It was said among some postings that kindness to these strangers were coming as blessings from God. People were very helpful. The postings were remarkable and made me think about this verse in the Bible: In Hebrews 13:16 ‘And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.’
The commitment and wholeheartedness by the Amish have inspired not only adults but also Calhoun County Elementary third graders. It was Mrs. Andrea Pohlman’s and Mrs. Sarah Brunagh’s students decided to make signs and post them in front of the high school. The students had learned that both of the Amish travlers were walking this way because it was part of their planned trip enroute to Missouri and wanted to wish them well on their journey.
“We hope they saw it as they walked by. We wish them luck and safe travels!” Pohlman said.
As Toby and William have made their way through Calhoun, people have been very kind to the travelers.
According to Ann Kuehnel, “Alot of people Calhoun County have been devoted to these two and have offered food, water, and places for these two to stay. “
Kuehnel is one of many who have helped Toby and William. She helped the two out on Aug 31 and said the two men were very gracious and polite. Kuehnel said she put the Amish up in her basement that night and learned a little more about where they were from, why they were traveling on foot and where they were headed.
“William is older than Toby. William began walking on June 7th from his home in Ohio. He got to Toby’s home on June 10th, and stayed there till June the 30th.,” Kuehnel said. “On June the 30th, they both began their journey on foot.”
Kuehnel learned from speaking to them that it was just something they wanted to do. She also learned that public transportation was an option and in fact, they can take buses and trains but we wanted to acomphlish this visit to their sister’s home in Missouri.
“ They didn’t even want to take the ferry. They’ve been able to stay under a roof every night since starting out but didn’t really say if that was indoors or outdoors. So. we drove up to, building to talk to them because we knew they were on the road and told them they could stay at our house, “ Kuehnel said.
Toby and William replied they were gonna probably move on a little further down the road and that would be too soon to stop when they got by our house. She said she and her husband described their house and offered them a place for the night in their basement.
“If you change your mind, just go sit under our gazebo because we might not be home because we were going out to dinner. When we get home, we’ll see, and we’ll talk. So we got home, they were still coming down this hill and they weren’t here yet,” Kuehnel said.
She said they got to the driveway, and it was about 6. 45 and told us they had decided they’d stay because they knew they had a place for sure to stay the night. Both of them replied in unison that they didn’t want to go knocking on doors at night and scare someone. They knew from experience that many people were going to be reluctant after dark to let them stay at their home for the night.
“I let the two in and we told them to help themselves to the refrigerator in our basement. William said no thank you but Toby did have a drink and by the time Toby finished his drink, William was asleep already,”
Kuehnel asked Toby if he needed anything else, he started to say no but she asked if she needed his clothes laundered. He said sure.
“I asked if his clothes were able to go in the wash. Tim, my husband, was worried the clothes would shrink. Toby’s clothes were made out of duck cloth which is very strong and durable,” Kuehnel said. “ He had some extra clothes which was a blue shirt with long sleeves with buttons all the way up and it had a matching navy vest and pants. Toby asked me how to use the washer and dryer. I explained to him that it would only take about 50 minutes from start to finish, but I would check on his clothes anyways just to make sure they finished, lay them out for him before I went to bed.
When I woke up the next morning to check on them they were already gone. Blankets were folded and the room was cleaned like they were never even there.”
Kuehnel said they left by 6am but the night before she had her husband plan out the rest of their route for them because he knew the area and since Calhoun’s terriagn is so hilly he wanted to make sure they were safe.
“The planned route is 16 west, across the bridge, turn right on Godar Hollow (has a new name on the map), heading to Hamburg, then on 550N and on to visit Toby’s sister Iday in Missouri. They average about 16 miles per day.” Kuehnel said.
Along the way people offered to help them out. Kuehnel mentioned on her Facebook post that William was having foot trouble and soaked his feet in Epsom salts last weekend in Shipman.
“If anyone wants to help them, foot soaking, bandages, ointment or socks may be helpful.” she said.
Other people posted about where they were for the night as they traveled through Calhoun and Jerseyville. People posted about how food, drinks or money were offered to them. Most of the time the two Amish gentlemen kindly refused the offerings but Toby would say yes on some occasions for the basic necessities that they were given. One of the last postings was on Sept.2 from Kelley Sievers saying that both men made it to Pleasant Hill.
Don and Lisa Hannel( Pastor and wife) got them a place to stay and a meal at the Stagecoach Inn and Restaurant. In the morning they began walking again,Toby and William passed Wild Cat Hollow which is between Pleasant Hill and Moizer then they took the bridge north of Pleasant Hill that takes you into Missouri. Your turn left at Atlas. The bridge takes you into Louisiana Missouri and they were on their way to their family’s home.
Tim Kuehnel said,”They were so grateful and gracious when they stayed here the other night with us. They asked for nothing. Such a pleasure to accommodate them. It was a truly humbling experience. God Bless their travels.”