Above are photos of the land on which the thirty-year-old West Nickel Mines School once stood in Nickel Mines, Bart Township, PA.
The Amish would have been entirely capable of demolishing the building themselves, but the elders made the decision to enlist the aid of demolition contractors so as to have the building razed and removed as quickly as possible. They chose the pre-dawn hours of Thursday morning in order to create as little inconvenience as possible for local neighbors.
At approximately 4:00 AM on Thursday, a demolition crew appeared on the site and about three dozen Amish men arrived in order to offer their assistance. Approximately fifty contractor/Amish workers assisted in the demolition. The site was transformed into a barren, but soon-to-be-grass-covered, field by 8 AM.
Saturday afternoon former co-workers of Christ Stoltzfus, father of two daughters who attended the school, one of whom, Anna Mae, was killed in the shootings, held a chicken barbecue and benefit auction for Stoltzfus’ family, raising more than $10,000.
On Sunday afternoon nearly three thousand Harley Davidson bikers, from all over the country, rode from Chester County to Lancaster County to present a check in the amount of $30,000 for the Nickel Mines Fund. Once they reached Route 30 in Lancaster, they were given a police escort.
As the bikers progressed down Route 30, in some areas Amish families could be seen standing alongside the road, the men with their hats over their hearts, indicating their thankfulness for what the bikers had done in their behalf.
In less symbolic, more meaningful, news, the conditions of the five remaining victims of the schoolhouse shootings are remaining more or less a private matter, with respect being shown to the wishes of the families.
Barbie Fisher, the eleven-year-old sister of Marian Fisher who was the little girl who asked the gunman to shoot her first, was reportedly released from Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia on Friday. I hope we can assume this means that she has improved significantly, but the family has requested privacy regarding her condition, and, fortunately, that request has been honored.
The four other surviving victims of the shootings remain in critical or satisfactory condition. Two of them are being cared for at Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia, and two remain at Hershey Medical Center. They are apparently strong and determined little girls who want very much to remain with us despite the life-threatening injuries they received two weeks ago.
Heavenly Father, we do not always know or understand your reasons for allowing tragedies to befall good people.
The families whose children were killed or injured in the shootings at the Nickel Mines schoolhouse are living through a trial the likes of which most of us can only reluctantly imagine. Yet their response to that tragedy has set a Christ-like example for us all.
They have blessed you in their trial. They have extended the hand of forgiveness to the man who took their children from them in the blink of an eye, and they have offered constant kindness, support and consolation to his grieving family. They have continued to extol your goodness and grace even amid their own profound grief.
We pray that you would continue to strengthen, comfort and uphold them, for they have shown a steadfastness that those of us who have been watching them from afar can only hope to someday be capable of demonstrating.
We know that you hold five of their children in your loving arms as we speak. We thank you for the comfort provided by that blessed knowledge. And we pray that the little girls who are still fighting for their lives, no matter their current state of mind, would ever feel your nearness. Whisper to them with the divinely gentle and comforting words that only you can provide.
If it not be praying contrary to your will, we pray that you would spare them additional pain, and lay your healing hand upon their broken little bodies. But if your will is to end their earthly suffering by taking them home to glory, we thank you for the knowledge that they will rest in the shadow of your loving hand until they are once again united with their loving families.
All of this we bring to you in the name of Him who died that we too might know life eternal.