|Jean is old order Mennonite from New York State.Jean and her husband David and family live on a dairy farm, and travel their community using horse and buggy. She tells her story exclusively on Amish Stories.|
First, I would like to thank everyone for their donations to the Amish regarding the tractor van accident. All of the money donated is going to the medical bills and funeral bills of those that were injured or went (passed away). After one of the funerals Jean and I went to, some of the Amish were saying how they couldn't believe that all the people they didn't know would contribute. Some of the people they may see to thank in person-some they may never see or even know who they are and still they send. So I want you to know it is appreciated and will be put to good use. Thank you also, for your prayers. Prayers are always needed but especially at this sad time. We believe this is God's will, but even though we shouldn't, we wonder why. This also makes you realize that the time for you to leave this earth is God's time-not your time. You never know when that will be, so we must forgive. We must be ready.
When you get a call two counties away wanting your Fire Department and Ambulance Corp you know it has to be bad. I will not go into details of the accident because I believe the papers and TV have taken care of that. It was a shock when we go there. Hearing that five people had went, it brought back to mind when I heard of the school shooting in Pennsylvania. But you can't think of those that went you have to care for those that are living. What was a real shock to everyone is that when the original Fire Department got there one of the passengers in the van had gotten out of the van with minor bruises. When you look back at all that went on and they had to lift the tractor off the van to get the people out and here this man had gotten out by himself before they got there. He was in shock he didn't know I guess how he got out although he did remember and gave a statement to the police later. But that was God's will also. It took over two hours to get all the people out of the van. Also there was a lot of TV people, newspaper people, and nosey people in addition to people who didn't know about the accident and had to be re-directed. I was sent with one of the ambulance's to Strong Memorial Hospital as one of the accident people was speaking Deitsch and the medic could not understand or get him to speak English. As I am also a medic and speak Deitsch I got to go. Several people told me that one of the news stations had a picture of our ambulance pulling into the emergency entrance to Strong. After I got home that evening I couldn't talk about the accident. I know Jean wanted me too, but I couldn't or the next day either. Right now I can, but there are some things that are still hard. I do want to advise all people to please have some form of identification on you at all times. Please advise your friends and relatives. It was so hard to identify those that were in the helicopters and ambulances plus those that had went. If someone can not speak you have no idea who they are.
This accident was really upsetting as it was the second one there in two days. We first heard the people in the accident were Mennonite. David was still up at Strong Memorial Hospital when the young Amish couple we sold the property to came to our door and said that one of their cousin's was in that accident. At that point we did not know if they had went (died) or were alive. They wanted to use our telephone to call a driver to get to the hospital-but I did it for them as they were so upset. The driver came to our house so they left their buggy and horse here. We did find that they were badly injured, but they believe they will recover in time.
By the next morning all the Amish and Mennonites knew what happened. One of the Amish started collecting money and food at their house but they had to move it to the Fire House as so much was coming in and they didn't have a place to put it. People started coming Amish, Mennonite, outsiders kept coming bringing food and money. Some bought toys, little gifts, books, etc. for the children. You can't believe all that came in. Our bake sale driver was the first van to load and we thought she would be the only one down-little did know what was coming in. All the home made food is down there plus the money so far, but there are still some canned goods that are going to be taken down this week. Also, all the meetings (churches) will probably be having donations this week so that will go down to the bank when the goods go on Monday.
All the firemen and ambulance people were invited to the funerals. I believe our view and the Amish view on death is different than some others. First it was considered a honor that the people who had lost members of their family at this time thought to invite firemen and ambulance people. We look at death as a time on earth is done and they are with the God. It is a time of sadness because we miss them and will always miss them, but its also a time of joy because their job on this earth is done. The fire department tried to spare enough people so that they could have one person at each funeral. David and I went to Melvin Hershberger Jr.'s funeral on Friday and Sarah Miller's on Saturday. David was greeted and thanked for what he had done when we entered the buildings. When David said he wished he could have done more-he was hugged and told he had done God's will-he couldn't have done more. After the funeral, we went to the cemetery and then back for a dinner. There were lots of people at the funeral, cemetery and dinner. When you are invited to a funeral it is proper to bring a dish of food so I brought a cake to each of the funerals we attended. We met people at both funerals that we hadn't seen in years. David also met many people that were fireman from other states that had come to a relatives funeral. At the dinner people try to remember the good times and not the sad. The village of Jasper had been very nice and turned part of their school into a place to stay. Some of the Amish were discussing how they enjoyed sleeping there and the meals they received. It was like camping out without the cooking.
It will be a hard time on those that have lost a family member and those that have family members in the hospital and recovering. This is not a time the Amish and Mennonites stop helping or giving. After the dinner some of the men were figuring who could come when to help on the farms. In the kitchen the ladies were deciding who would come and when to help in the home, cook meals, etc. Those that can't go down and help will send food, gifts, etc. David and I will be going to the Miller farm as he is still recovering from the accident and Sarah went. Also, David and I were told to bring our children when we come. We kind of laughed as the Miller's have 14 children-most of them still live at home. As David said when you have that many in a household-what's two more. When we married David and I had hoped to have a big family of children-but it was not God's will. David always adds-yet.
What has been so hard on this accident is that we knew some of the people. Maybe not personally, but had been to Farmers Markets, auctions, weddings, funerals, and more together. One Amish couple came up and asked us if we remembered them. When we were getting married David and I had gone down to look at some property they owned-thinking we might buy it. They recognized us after all those years. We had bought and sold animals from some of these people. David had worked on a construction job with one of the men. There had been farm meetings and more. These were not strangers. To have one leave is bad but five at one time is really hard. Even today the fire department and ambulance crew have wondered what they could have done different or better. But we must remember that it was God's will that this accident should happen.
I have not answered the questions you have asked of me and I will next time, but David and I felt you would want to know our views on the accident. I will try to get my mind back to regular thinking to answer your questions in my next post.
God is with you,
David and Jean. To make a financial contribution to the Amish farmers in Jasper and Woodhull, please send donations to Amish Relief Fund, P.O. Box 123, Woodhull NY 14898.