From my letter to the reader:
“Back in the 1940s my ‘daddy’ (grandpa) was among the many young Amish men drafted to fight in World War II. Since he was a conscientious objector, however, he was sent to work at the Civilian Public Service labor camps and mental hospital units with over twelve thousand others. Through this unique service is braided together with the history and politics of our country, it has largely been overlooked.
From my earliest memories of our horse and buggy and kerosene lamp-lit home, to our braided and pulled back hair and the best baking in the world, my whole life has been enmeshed with the Amish, and this story comes from the front lines of my heart. From my very family roots comes the story of Eli Brenneman and Christine Freeman.”
Promise to Cherish Summary
As World War II draws to a close, nurse Christine falls in love with roguish Amish boy Eli and must choose between a new, uncertain life in the Amish faith or face the judgment of a conservative postwar American society for her past mistakes.
It’s 1945, and Christine Freeman is a nurse at Hudson River State Hospital, where she works alongside members of a Civilian Public Service unit. Eli is one of the conscies—conscientious objectors to the war—and he is doing his best to become a man of character instead of the immature heartbreaker he used to be back home in his Amish community.
Christine and Eli are friendly, but when an old acquaintance, Jack, returns home from the war, Christine’s world is violently turned upside down. Eli, heartbroken to see his friend so hurt, offers her an escape within his Amish community. Despite her misgivings, Christine is fully embraced by Eli’s community. She slowly begins to feel valued and loved as she learns the Amish way of life.
Christine finds herself falling for Eli. But soon, the abusive Jack discovers Christine in her Amish hideaway and starts causing trouble for the quiet community. Christine can’t see herself becoming Amish, and she knows that if Eli leaves the church to be with her, he will be shunned. Will she escape Jack and possibly have to give up the one thing she holds most dear, or will she follow her heart and promise to cherish the Amish man who loves her?
My prayer is that this story will not just share with you some little known history, but that you will see the love that God has for all mankind, no matter your past or your present circumstances.
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Promise to Return