Thursday, November 1, 2012

PART 2: A first hand account from a minister who was in Pennsylvania hours after the West Nickel Mines School shooting, he tells his story for the very first time only on Amish Stories.

Bob is a minister who lives with his wife in New York State, I thank him very much for sharing his story with me and I know that re-living all of this was extremely painful for him. I'm not sure why some people do the things that they do, and in this very tragic case any chance for those answers died on October 2, 2006 when Charles Roberts shot himself. This school shooting changed the way that the Amish view the world, and tested one of the principle's that the Amish try to live by, forgiveness. Richard

The next morning we ate breakfast and offered to help the people on their farm, but they told us to go on as they could handle it.  At the end of the driveway was the press yelling questions and taking pictures of my car as we moved out.  I have a tint on my windows which ruined all their pictures and we didn’t put the windows down.  I won’t go into day to day, I will just tell what we did.  Being a Baptist Minister, I usually just wear a suit when I go to the hospital, visiting, etc.  Before we left Eli had asked me to bring my black slacks, shirt and white collar.  So I dressed in it this day and I believe it  helped people feel more at ease with me.

We went to Eric’s to pick him up and made the rounds of the hospital,  every child and parents had been found.  The results of the passing's had gotten around,  we then went to the Amish homes to visit some of the families and pray with them.  The Bishops did most of the praying out loud.  Sometimes we all held hands, sometimes we just sat in prayer.  Some of homes we went to arrange the funeral with Eric. 

A few days later, after the police released it, we did get inside of the school. It was a very sad site.  There was blood everywhere, books, desks, all sorts of school items all over.  There were peaceful signs on the walls and violence all over.  I can’t really describe the inside – you had to see it.  To think this school had taught children-Amish children for many years and it’s end was like this. Such a  violent way.  At the time, the Amish were having a meeting to decide what to do  with the school.  

It was still guarded by police and not everyone was let in.
It was days before one of the girls could tell the police what had happened.  They kind of knew, but wanted to hear it from one of the victims.  Her parents and Eric were with her when she told what had happened.  Eric told us what she said which isn’t much different than what the police already knew.
What was almost hard to believe were cards, money, gifts and more were coming in.  At the time of the shooting no one was thinking of money-but the world was.  Amish had to set up a bank account.  Also people were set up to read the mail, and give the gifts sent. 

One family I was called to speak to, and  It was several days after the shooting.  Eli and I had gone home for Sunday services and come back.  One of the Amish children had been on life support and the doctors told them it was time to take her off.  The Bishops had spoken to them,  seeing I was there they wanted me to come and tell them what my beliefs were.  

Some of the Amish didn’t know if I should be allowed.  Having been with Eric for days, he knew me pretty well and let me talk to them privately.  I told them as I told the people from my church.  The life support machine is human made and man is making the decision.  Shut it down and it is God’s decision.  

If she lives or passes it is God’s will.  They asked if I knew of people living after the machine was shut off and I told them yes, but I did want them to realize that mostly they did not. When we came out they turned to Eric and told him I said the same thing he did.  They agreed to have it shut down if the child was taken home, first.  So an ambulance was hired and the child was taken home, put in her own bed.  

The machine was shut off.  Why am I telling you this?  That was six years ago and the girl is still alive.  She is a special child.  Whenever we visit her-she smiles.  I don’t know if she knows who we are as she smiles at everyone.  She’s in a wheel chair and attends school with the other children but has a special teacher.  

Although she doesn’t talk she hugs and smiles, As Eric held funerals, we went to several. One of them we went to was Charles Roberts funeral-the man who had done this violence.  There were more Amish there than Englishers.  Some of the Amish there had lost their daughters attended Roberts funeral not in violence but in peace and comfort to the Roberts family.  

Once the old school was taken down the children went to school in someone’s barn until the new school was built.  Eli and I went to see the new school  Again I wore my black and collar.  

Our car was stopped as we went into the driveway.  What got me was the change in the new school.  No more chalk boards-now the boards you can write on it in black like ink and erase it.  No more coal or wood furnace-gas.  The roof had a heavy glass so you could see if someone was on it and it brought in lots of sun.  

The driveway was paved not stone. There were more doors in this one.  It was a new, happy school.   Prayers were said for the dedication of the school.  I am sure the children will a little nervous going in. 

This is only some of things we did.  It would take pages to on and tell all.  What did I learn? The Amish believe in Christ from the day they are born until they die. They are human and sometimes doubt-but turn to prayer and the Bible.  They accept, good times and bad that it is God’s will.  They forgive as the bible says.  No, they couldn’t forgive in two minutes, but they do forgive.  

They do not seek revenge.  Also they are concerned about others like the Roberts family.  They saw that the Roberts got some of the money they got for the children. As a minister, this made me seek more in prayer and the Bible.  

They are not perfect people, but neither are we. It really gives real meaning to the words that Jean closes her posts with.
                        Be With God. Bob


I've created this website out of my own interest in the Amish/Mennonite culture and of living in the country. Its a place for people who are interested in the Amish like myself, and its also a place to share Images of the beautiful country side that is all around me. my name is Richard, and I live very close to an Amish settlement here in Pennsylvania. This site is dedicated to my mother, who had started all of this by taking me as a child to Lancaster,pa from our apartment in the Bronx projects..........THANK YOU MOM............... Richard