Howdy y’all! Well, Calli and I are about halfway through our Kansas trip so I thought I would give an update!
We started our travels Sunday morning when we drove about 10 hours to to St. Louis, Missouri. We stayed with some family friends of Calli’s for the night! The next morning we got up and drove about 9 hours to Quinter, Kansas! I was a bit shocked when we actually arrived in Quinter because of how unbelievably small it is. I have never once thought that I grew up in the city, but compared to Quinter, Rochester is like NYC! To give you an idea of how small Quinter is, in their high school, which is 7th through 12th grade, there are about 90 students. For the 10th grade, there are only 13 students. Quinter is made up of roughly 900 people, which is not even half my high school, so that’s just kind of hard to take in. Quinter also only has two restaurants, the main one being Dairy Queen which is really the hot spot of the town. While at first I was completely taken back, I’ve really grown to love Quinter and all that is has to offer! The people here are so, so friendly and everyone knows everyone! Quinter is also incredibly peaceful, you walk outside and it’s so quiet and when I look around I just see cows and horses grazing in these huge pastures and it’s really just so beautiful! People in Quinter are a very close-knit community so that’s really cool because they will all go to the high school football games and most the kids work with their parents on their farm, so it’s not like the people are just sitting around, there is actually quite a lot to do! Also, I have yet to meet one person who says they don’t like Quinter. While many say they think they will leave for a little while, they all say how they know one day they will end up back here because they love it so much and it will always be their home!
Calli and I arrived to the Mann’s home Monday evening! They live on a beautiful crop farm with tons of animals including bulls, horses and cats! They have been so great about welcoming us into their home and making us feel so comfortable; I feel very blessed! Tuesday was our first full day with Mr. and Mrs. Mann so we got a full tour of their farm and watched bulls getting their hooves trimmed (quite the experience). We learned so much about crop harvesting and a lot more about the farming community, which was the whole point of this trip so that was really great! We also had lunch at Dairy Queen where the whole town kind of comes together so that was cool! We also discovered that quilting is a HUGE part of this farming community, so Calli and I helped some of the women quilt blankets for an auction that is coming up. I’m pretty sure they will have to take out my stitches and completely redo them because I am terrible and I wasn’t even sure if I was quilting a girl or bear by the end. But hey, I guess it’s the thought that counts!
Something else we found out about farming communities is that religion is at the center. While the whole community is very close, there are many different denominations of churches, especially for such a small town. One of the main denominations is called Old German Baptist Brethren. I knew nothing about this church coming in so I was a bit surprised to see that the woman wear a bonnet (or what they call a prayer covering), dresses that include an apron and cape. The men have beards, no mustaches, and pretty much dress identical (overalls and boots). The members of this church also don’t wear jewelry, they have no tv, no radio, no movies, no music and no smart phones (but phones strictly for calling are okay). The women marry very young (about 16 and up) and are expected to marry within the church. The women are also not encouraged to pursue a secondary education and the men aren’t really either. Initially when I heard all this, I was taken back. Anyone who knows me knows my belief in women’s rights and my belief that people should have the freedom to choose how they want to live. This religion prohibits both of these beliefs which was/is hard for me to understand.
The Manns set up a day for Calli and me to spend with one of the most conservative families of this church. I was initially very nervous because I was scared I would say something wrong or my clothing wouldn’t be appropriate or that they would judge me. But after spending the day with the amazing Jamison family, I am so grateful because they are truly remarkable people!! They were SO, SO unbelievably sweet to us and they answered all our questions (do you vote? No, why are you so against the internet? We admit it is good, but there is so much evil too, why is it important to dress the way you do, we want to differentiate ourselves as Christians, what do you miss about “the world?” country music). I’m not saying I agree with any of their beliefs, because truthfully, most things we disagree on. However, I now have a great understanding and respect for the people of this brethren! They are so family centered and are really hard workers! On top of this, I didn’t feel judged in the slightest by them! They wanted to know about what college I wanted to go to and what I wanted to study. When I told them I wanted to pursue sociology (a clearly more liberal path) all they did was smile and tell me how good I would do! They asked about our families and what we believed (they also tried to understand why I was vegetarian). While my life is clearly very different than theirs, they weren’t concerned with that and genuinely kind people! They clearly are passionate about their beliefs (which is very admirable) yet they don’t expect everyone to understand or agree.
By the end of the night we were all playing cards after dinner and laughing together, specifically about Calli and I trying to explain what Netflix was. Despite our considerable differences, I think we both came to understand one another better and gain a greater respect for each other! The Jamison family lives on a cow farm so I was able to feed a baby calf and watch cows getting milked! I truly feel so lucky to have been able to go and spend a day with this family, the experience made me realize how I am so quick to judge others based on appearance without taking any time to talk to them and get to understand their beliefs! Also, My sister shared this quote with me, and it meant so much and really encouraged me before going to meet the Jamisons so I have to share!
It would be a terrible mistake to go through life thinking that people are the sum total of what you see.
On Wednesday Calli and I also got to visit a farm where there were lots of cats, pigs, sheep, ducks and bunnies, so pretty much I was in animal heaven! We also went to a horse farm and I got to pet all those beauties and even walk some of them to a new pasture. I’m really looking forward to Saturday because we are going back to this farm to learn how to horse back ride (let’s hope I suddenly become very coordinated).
On Thursday Calli and I went to the Quinter High School and that was really crazy! The lockers don’t have locks on them and the students aren’t required to take the ACT, so everything was just different than what I’m used to! One class I sat in on only had 4 students! It was really cool to talk to the students and hear more about Quinter from a younger generation’s perspective! They talked about how while there is drama, everyone is pretty much forced into reconciling because sooner or later you will have to work pretty closely with this person.
On Thursday afternoon Calli and I met up with a woman named Donna. She told us how she was previously part of the Old German Baptist Brothren but decided to leave within the past 2 years. She talked about why she decided to leave this church and the double standards that she felt were unfair and hypocritical. I understood what she was saying because one thing that really stuck out to me while talking to the Jamison family is how literal they take certain passages from the Bible. However, they do believe communion is only symbolic of Jesus’s body and blood. It seems like if you were to take anything literally, it would be this. But I still know very little and this is just my initial thought!
We also met a one-armed pilot named Dick who offered to take us up in his very, very tiny little plane. I was pretty terrified to be honest but figured if I died at least I would be happy! I ended up living, so that is good, plus it was a beautiful plane ride! We were swooping which made Calli and me feel nauseated but it was definitely worth it!
I’m uploading some pictures from the trip thus far as well! Love you all and thanks for reading!
Quinter High School