South Dakota No.5

Although the title says South Dakota, these last two days were actually in Minnesota at ex-hutterite colonies, or as some call them, Christian communities. It proved to be a most interesting, stretching, and enjoyable experience for our group!

This is a photo of a photo of Elmendorf Community in Mountain Lake, Minnesota. They raise hogs and turkeys, hence the large barns. There is a common dining hall/kitchen/meetinghouse and multiple homes. I didn't get to see much but it was intriguing to tour a bit of the property!

I think a number of us, perhaps a fairly large number at that, had a knot of nerves in our stomachs as we drove in the long lane. But there was no need for it, the people were so friendly and welcoming, we relaxed and got to know each other over the next few hours!

I loved the well-maintained lawns and beautiful flowers!

We had lunch together then prepared for our afternoon service.

A few of us got to take a tour of the canning rooms. The huge number of jars and over-size operating equipment boggle the mind! The kettle (to the left of the jars below) can handle 130 of these 1/2 gallon jars at a time! It's run by steam, using the boiler (red tank behind the jars in that other room). There are 170 people living in this colony right now, so it takes lots of food.

The darling little children...

We got our youth girls to sing for us!

I think this is all except one or two of our group.

Jolissa was snapping photos and I borrowed this one from her! Hopesong in action!

Our time here was short but sweet! We were so blessed to get to know Joel and Louise Waldner (posing here with us). Sorry, I am unable to name the two girls!

Quickly snapping a few photos before our bus leaves for Altona!

Our next destination was in Henderson, MN, at the Altona Colony. I am guessing they are less than two hours apart, and we arrived around 6:30 or 7:00 that evening. 

I was getting rather exhausted and unsure if I could handle much besides a bed, but God had other plans! We thought we were eating supper with them and going to bed soon after, as they had asked us to spend the night with them. But I found out we were to sing that very night! Thanks to the grace of God and the prayers of a few girls, we were able to sing and I was not overly tired! Oh, and the service did not start until nearly 9 p.m., just a tad out of the ordinary, at least for this Schmucker family!

More well-kept properties and large equipment!

Gleaming laundry facilities...and I decided those carts are a pretty smart invention! They can be used for hauling all sorts of things across the expansive settlement. I hauled my suitcase in one at the other colony. I saw a lady carting her son in another one.

The bakery!

I love the rolls they make...

The meals were all so delicious! These people know how to make really good food!

Here again we are surrounded by cute little children!

Kristi is entertaining them!

We sang Saturday evening...

...then there was a song service Sunday after lunch. For that, they have a choir who sang for us. Let's just say, they really know how to sing well!

Though slightly intimidated, our girls sang right after the choir, as did the trio of girls, and the group of youth and leaders. But you know, it is not at all about competition, it is about worship and praise to God, so we sang our hearts out! We also had a short time of testimonies, and thanks from our group to these people who welcomed us into their homes.

This brother and sister sang a few songs for us Sat. evening. It was lovely as well!

We have been blessed by the hospitality of these people and their desire to serve the Lord. May God continue to lead them into His plan for them!

There was one more stop for the group before heading to our hotel. Mall of America was too close and had to be incorporated into our visit to Minnesota! 

Meanwhile, my Aunt Susan and I had been texting and messaging, trying to work out a way to meet each other. She lives just a few hours away but it seemed it wasn't working. All at once, it all fell into place and we met at a park where my cousins were going to play baseball! We both arrived at the park within a few minutes of each other! God gave me the desire of my heart!

It was a very special gift from my Father to me. I haven't seen some of them for 8 - 10 years, so I cried tears of joy when I found I could spend a bit of time with them. 

My uncle Ray and aunt Deb, aunt Susan, me, my cousin Rosalie, and my daughter Jacquelyn

I also got to see my uncle and aunt, Steve and Mary Beth, and their daughter Courtney! Happiness! 

Susan took Jacki and me to the mall to meet the others, and we made our way to the last hotel in Mankato, MN, before starting our long drive back home to Ohio.

Things to do on the bus...

Take lots of photos!

Eat this case, delectable chocolates that a few of the guys bought for all the girls! 



It has been an amazingly wonderful trip. Despite all my apprehensions, I really did enjoy it...chaos and uncertainties notwithstanding!

From the testimonies of the young people, I believe their lives were challenged and inspired by this trip as well. May God be highly magnified and draw men unto Himself. He alone is worthy!

Most of the photo credits go to Jason Miller. Thanks to Jolissa Eicher for sharing her photo.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. Thanks :) I wish I could remember all the names, but alas, it's impossible! We sure enjoyed our short stay with the people of Elmendorf!

    2. Could you describe a litle of your time there . You stated that you lived there. how long and what initiated a move. I have visited time at both Elmendorf and Altona and I am trying to learn more about them.

    3. We did not live there, just visited with our youth group, so you probably know more than I do!

    4. It looks like the comment from Naomi was removed but she was the one who stated that she had lived there.


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