If, like me, you find other people’s diaries hard to resist, you’ll be happy to hear a brand new book released this week called Hutterite Diaries: Wisdom from My Prairie Community.
Author Linda Maendel lives on the Elm River Colony west of Oakville where she is an educational assistant at the colony’s school and spends her free time writing. Her articles have appeared in The Daily Graphic, The Central Plains Herald Leader, The Manitoba Cooperator, the Winnipeg Free Press, and Our Canada. This is not Linda’s first book, but it is the first I am able to read since the others are in German or Hutterisch—the language Linda speaks at home but which had never been used in written form until she tackled it for one of her children’s books.
Linda wrote Hutterite Diaries in English, and it’s so engaging, I finished it in two sittings. If you enjoy my blog posts, you will love Linda’s book. Her stories are more interesting than mine and she includes more photos! Linda knows how to combine ordinary slice-of-life events with bits of Hutterite history in a fascinating way. I found myself laughing in parts, crying in others, and definitely learning things I never knew. I could almost hear the beautiful harmonies of their German hymn-singing, smell the fresh bread baking, and see the colorful gardens Linda describes.
“I’m journaling about living on a Hutterite colony; each story or article is a glimpse of my communal life. Creating word pictures is like collecting treasures; it makes me take a closer look at things,” Linda said when given the opportunity to publish this book. The poignant story she tells in Chapter 4, A Circle Not Broken, is worth the price of the book all by itself for those who love incredible, goosebump-inducing “coincidences.”
Published by Herald Press, the book is part of the “Plainspoken” series, which gives voice to Anabaptist writers in a world where novels, tourist sites, and TV shows offer second-hand accounts of Amish, Mennonite, and Hutterite life—some of which are flat-out wrong.
You may also want to check out Linda’s blog at www.hutt-writevoice.blogspot.ca. Really? A Hutterite woman who blogs? As Linda says, “While other Hutterite women love to sew, I would rather write. It’s not something I have in common with many of my fellow Hutterites, but I’m fine with that. We have so many things in common that it’s okay to differ in some areas.”
Linda’s engaging style and skillful telling of these heartwarming stories will help you enter into life on a modern Hutterite colony while giving you glimpses into their rich and tumultuous history and their unwavering faith. Reading it gave me a deeper appreciation for and understanding of my Hutterite neighbours, and any time you can accomplish that, you assist in the work of God himself.
“We aren’t perfect,” Linda says, “but we have figured out a few things about how to live together in community and about what works and what doesn’t. Many experiments in Christian community have not lasted, and we are humbly grateful that our communities, with all their ongoing struggles, have remained strong and viable through all these centuries.”
The best way to own an autographed copy of this lovely book? Come to Linda’s book launch at the Portage Regional Library on Saturday, May 23, between 2:00 and 3:30 p.m. If you miss that event, “Hutterite Diaries” is available from Amazon.com or you can ask for it in bookstores.