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Examiner
  • Mack: From the Amish, a lesson in forgiveness

  • I loved the Amish people. My grandfather’s farm was located in the center of a large Amish community. Horse and buggies, barn raisings, black aprons and bonnets were part of my childhood.

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  • My mother recently sent me a newspaper picture in the mail.
    When I opened the envelope, I had to think for a few minutes. The newspaper photo was an Amish schoolhouse.
    I immediately recognized the Amish school because it was a mile from my grandfather’s farm. I was puzzled, at first, and wondered why my mother sent the picture to me
    Then, it hit me. It was the Amish school where I spent half of my junior year.
    When I was a junior in high school, I had the opportunity to participate in a semester long sociology project. My assignment was to select an “on location half day study.” I chose to be a teacher’s assistant at an Amish school.
    I loved the Amish people. My grandfather’s farm was located in the center of a large Amish community. Horse and buggies, barn raisings, black aprons and bonnets were part of my childhood.
    From a young age, I learned about the Amish, their beliefs and traditions.
    I remember every day of that four month school project. Teaching those respectful Amish children was a life changing experience.
    Then, in an instant, my thoughts raced to the Amish school in Nickel Mines, where on Oct. 2, 2006, a troubled truck driver, Charlie Roberts, shot 10 Amish girls, killing five and wounding five others before turning the gun on himself.
    I went from happiness to sadness, in one second.
    I phoned my sister to ask how the Amish were healing. She referred me to several newspaper articles dated Oct. 2, 2011, the fifth anniversary of the tragic event.
    The tragedy affected seven families. Two families had children who were injured and who died.
    The five girls who were buried were Naomi, 7; Lena, 7; Mary, 8; Anna Mae, 12; and Marian, 13.
    The survivors are healing, guided by their Amish faith.
    Sarah Ann Stoltzfus, now 13, was shot in the back of the head. The bullet exited her right temple. She is an A student at New Hope, the school that was built after the tragedy.
    Rachel Stoltzfus, also 13, was shot in the arm and the jaw. She had bone grafting done and only has a small scar.
    Esther King, now 18, was shot in the back, recovered and is an aid at the New Hope School.
    Barbie Fisher, who is 16, has had several surgeries and ongoing problems with her shoulder. She works as a hired girl.
    The most severely injured girl is the youngest survivor, Rosanna King. Rosanna, who is 11, is in a wheelchair and does not walk or talk.
    She attends a special-needs school for Amish children and uses a specialized computer mounted on the front of her wheelchair.
    Page 2 of 2 - I’d like to focus on beautiful young Rosanna. I will quote from the Lancaster New Era Newspaper.
    “One very strong friendship rose from the horrible tragedy. The Amish community developed a close bond with Chuck and Terri Roberts, the parents of Charlie Roberts.
    “Every week, Mrs. Roberts travels to Rosanna King’s home, to help care for the little girl for several hours, singing to her and reading Bible stories and books such as ‘Anne of Green Gables.’
    “‘Her and Rosanna have a pretty good relationship,’ Rosanna’s father says, chuckling at how Mrs. Roberts uses a ton of expression and enthusiasm when she reads.”
    Forgiveness is the key. I will conclude with a quote by Gordon B. Hinckley.
    “Somehow forgiveness, with love and tolerance, accomplishes miracles that can happen in no other way.”

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