The campfire crackled cozily as we sat in a circle chatting and enjoying the last bite of the birthday supper.
Earlier that day Julia and Austin has been delighted when we received an invitation to join their cousin Japheth, who had just turned 6, at his birthday party. When we arrived at their house his dad was busy at the grill, grilling the most scrumptious chicken. Somehow they always seem to have the best chicken in the neighborhood. Their chicken is not marinated beforehand instead they always slowly grill it over coals, frequently basting with equal parts of vinegar and butter and sprinkling it with seasoning salt and lemon pepper.
Japheth’s mother Regina had baked a chocolate cake, then cut into various sized pieces, stacking them in their designated spot to form a tractor. Using icing and marshmallows to give it some finishing touches, it turned out to be a beautiful John Deere tractor to be eaten with ice cream.
We were enjoying the last bites of dessert when a frantic cry was sounded on the opposite side of the fire ring from where I was seated. One look told me the dreaded news. My eyes could hardly believe what they were seeing: our dear little Austin, 2, was falling into the edge of the fire pit. My brother, Jeriah, 21, who was sitting closest to Austin leapt from his chair, grabbed Austin, and headed for the house. I sprung from my chair and dashed for the house, and ran up the stairs three or four steps at a time. Jeriah came in the house right behind me with Austin in his arms. Jeriah shoved Austin under the running water handing him to me all in one motion. My husband Daniel had followed in right behind us.
He was exactly what I needed, calm and steady as ever. “We need to stay calm, for Austin’s sake,” Daniel gently reminded me. My anxious mother heart did not know what to expect. Really, how badly is our precious son burnt? A quick look revealed his burns to not be as bad as I thought they may be, but bad enough for the dear little lad to be crying desperately.
The back of his left hand revealed some first-degree burns with the right hand being a bit worse with first and second degree burns. My heart broke for our dear, sunny boy. I would do absolutely anything for him, if only it could be me instead of him. Cool water seemed to take off the edge of his pain.
A couple in our church was contacted, who had taken training on how to care for burn victims using B&W salve and burdock leaves.
We were advised to keep Austin’s hands in cool water, adding colder water according to his tolerance level. The whole ordeal was exhausting for me. Family and friends were a tremendous support through it all. It was touching to see how everyone did all they could for Austin. One person brought books for him to look at, while someone else thought of a sippy cup of juice that proved to be refreshing for him. Another brought a piece of candy and still another brought a little kitten for him to look at. At one point they formed a circle around Daniel, Austin, and myself as they prayed for us.
Austin nestled up to me the best he could as he kept his hands in water. I began singing some of his favorite songs. As I did so, others joined in. In the midst of these traumatic moments, I felt myself encouraged as we sang of God’s love, power and holiness. The support we felt all around was incredible.
A while later, the Lehmans, a couple in our church who had taken training on actually caring for burns, arrived with the needed supplies. By that time Austin had fallen asleep in my arms which I was incredibly thankful for. Swiftly and skillfully the Lehmans wrapped Austin’s hand which actually seemed to suit him. This way of treating burns is a virtually pain-free process once the initial heat has been removed from the burn by soaking it in cool water. This procedure was designed by an Amish man years ago and it’s been a blessing for hundreds of burn victims since then. Periodically, classes on how to use these products are held in various places in Amish communities throughout the states, educating people in case of emergencies. (Editor’s Note: The use of B&W in lieu of a hospital burn unit is not without critics. B&W salve is a common first defense against burns among the Amish, and even some hospitals are taking a closer look at it, but in case of severe burns, contacting emergency authorities is recommended.)
Later, after the initial shock of everything I wanted to know really what actually happened. From anothers report I found out that our active little 2-year-old had run past the fire ring when he made a sharp turn to the right. As he did so he discovered that he’s heading directly towards the fire but it was too late. As he fell, his forehead landed on a log that was charred black, but not very hot. What a miracle. Had this log not been there to protect his sweet little face, it too, would have had burns had he have fallen face-first into the hot embers instead.
Now over a week later his hands are healing nicely. We feel incredibly blessed by all the love and support we’ve had from people in church. The day after it happened, mom brought a casserole for supper. It was a dish that was a childhood favorite when I was a little girl. Now I haven’t had it for years, so it was a double treat straight from mom’s kitchen.
8 ounces (2 cans) buttermilk biscuits
1 pound sausage or hamburger, browned and seasoned
1 quart pizza sauce
1 cup Mozzarella cheese
1 cup Cheddar cheese, shredded
Cut biscuits into four pieces and toss into a 9 by 13 inch cake pan. Add remaining ingredients and mix together. Bake 1 hour at 275 degrees.
Readers with culinary or cultural questions or stories can write Gloria directly at Gloria Yoder, 10568 E. 350th Ave., Flat Rock, IL 62427-2019. To see more on the Amish go to www.amish365.com.