Esther, 21, of Lancaster, PA, is a member of one of the Plain people groups and had never been to Stone Mountain before. “I’m not Mennonite, I’m not Amish; I’m Brethren,” she clearly stated in several different ways throughout our interview. And yet, I kept referring to her as Amish, because I didn’t really understand that there were so many groups similar to the Amish (it’s almost painful listening to myself stumbling and fumbling). That Esther didn’t abruptly or defensively correct me there on the spot, as many people reflexively do with mispronunciations and wrong names, was really quite gracious. I went home and dropped Brethren into Google and Wikipedia but settled on “Who’s Amish & Who’s Not” as most helpful (next time, I’m prepared!).
Esther recently returned from teaching English in Taiwan, and now plans to continue teaching back in Lancaster, where she is not required to have a teaching degree. Before then, though, she hopes to meet up with her sister currently working at an orphanage in Malawi. Besides learning about the Brethren order for the first time (which does allow electricity and cars), I took to heart a powerful lesson about the ways we correct one another and a reminder that listening doesn’t actually occur if one’s mind is already made up. At the conclusion of our chat, I told Esther she was my star of the day, at which point she proudly said, “Well, that’s funny, because my name means “star!”
P.S. In case you’re wondering, those are her Georgia friends taking the selfie in the video.