Local media is all fired up about Hutterites: Our Story To Freedom, a collectively penned memoir by a group of young former Hutterites known as The Nine. It’s the story of how they left Hillside Colony in Manitoba and Forest River Colony in North Dakota after becoming born-again Christians in 2006.
The authors will be in Fargo, Brandon and Winnipeg for book signings before Christmas (see dates and details at the end of the post), giving fans a chance to pick up one of the most talked about books of the season.
Hutterites: Our Story To Freedom has opened up an unprecedented dialogue between the usually quiet practicing Hutterites, the nine former members and the outside world that generally knows next to nothing about life inside the colony.
That’s because the Hutterites largely keep to themselves, living and working on communal farms and practicing a traditional lifestyle. They’re spiritual cousins to the Amish, pacifists who speak an old dialect of German.
If you’re from the Upper Midwest or the prairie provinces of Canada, you’ve probably Hutterite colony members out shopping, the women in their blouses and long, handmade dresses, their hair modestly covered by scarfs or caps as they stroll through the aisles. Maybe you’ve visited a Hutterite colony to purchase the quality meat, eggs and other products the working farms produce.
No matter what your experience is with the Hutterite faith and lifestyle, the authors have an interesting perspective.
Authors Glenda Maendel and Jason Waldner talked with Prairie Style File about their book, their past and what life is like for them now.
Why did you decide to write this story?
Glenda Maendel: We found freedom and help through Jesus Christ and we believe our story can help others, both Hutterites and non-Hutterites. We felt depressed and hopeless and we realize many others are struggling with similar feelings and the message in the book offers hope and healing. We are willing to do whatever it takes to help others by speaking the truth with love.
How have people responded?
Jason Waldner: The response has been overwhelmingly positive, with people encouraging us to keep on sharing our story and not give up even though there is opposition from some Hutterites and ex-Hutterites. We have spoken to many Hutterites since the book came out, and even those that at first appear negative once we share our intent and motive, they walk away satisfied and realize we wrote our true accounts with love to help people everywhere.
What’s the biggest change you’ve experienced in your everyday lives since you left the community?
Glenda Maendel: Having freedom to interact with the outside world and verbalize our desires and dreams and our innermost feelings. As a Hutterite we spoke a dialect called Hutterish, which could not be read or written, because of that language barrier it caused us to communicate with the outside world as little as possible. Since we left we’ve learned the English language to a greater degree and it is so much better to express and communicate with the outside world.
For the girls, getting a drivers license was a big challenge, and taking off our headcoverings and starting to wear pants instead of only the Hutterite dress. It was a struggle wearing pants at first because we were taught they were not modest. We enjoy wearing our pants now.
What feedback have you gotten from the public?
Glenda Maendel: Meeting the many people that have come to our book signings and sent us letters and emails has been very encouraging and uplifting. People keep telling us to keep on going and that we are not allowed to go back into the colony. We also hear it all the time that we need to write another book. We have a lot of support from people that truly show care and concern in helping us get our story out.
What is day to day life like for you now?
Jason Waldner: Life is now more joyous and peaceful, and we have the freedom to do what the Lord calls us to do. We have very successful businesses: two cleaning businesses and two construction businesses and now the book keeps us very busy. We enjoy our life to the fullest and are excited with every new day to see what God has in store for us.
Sunday, December 15th
Barnes & Noble Booksellers (Fargo)
1201 42nd St S
Friday, December 20th
6 p.m. – 8 p.m.
Coles (Shoppers Mall Brandon)
1570 – 18th St. Unit 69D
Saturday, December 21st
11 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Indigo (Kenaston Common)
1590 Kenaston Blvd.
Saturday, December 21st
2 p.m. – 4 p.m.
Coles (Kildonan Place)
1555 Regent Ave. W
And don’t forget to register to win a $25 Gift Certificate from Unglued: Market! Click here to enter — the contest ends tonight at 11:59 p.m.
All photos in this post are provided by The Nine.