Here Are the Words...

I found this story linked to facebook today.  My loss of words are covered here.  I think this person summed up things pretty well:

“To the House of Jehovah Let Us Go”: 
Thousands Gather to Remember Whitney Heichel

“Blessed is the able-bodied man who puts his trust in Jehovah, and whose confidence Jehovah has become.”–Jeremiah 17:7.

On Friday, October 26, 2012, the Ritmiller and Heichel families hosted an open house event memorializing our dear sister, Whitney, who was tragically separated from her family by death just 10 days before. Some have asked what the event was like, so I thought I would share my observations and perspective (as one of Jehovah's Witnesses) for those who were unable to attend:

Thousands, not hundreds, gathered at the Salquist Kingdom Hall in Gresham, Oregon. Many of those in attendance were brothers and sisters from all over the Pacific Northwest, from California to the Canadian border. A line extends beyond the gates of the Hall, and down the sidewalk, out of view. Brothers and sisters with trays of refreshments, snacks, and hot coffee, walk up and down the lines of people, offering them to those waiting. There are very few handshakes exchanged, but this is because the brothers and sisters are busy embracing each other in warm, tender hugs. Although I know only a handful of the friends attending this heartwarming event, it seems like every face is somehow familiar, and every smile is a welcome home.

This is not a meet-and-greet or a funeral. This is a family reunion.

“Have love for the whole association of brothers.”–1 Peter 2:17.

Standing inside the Salquist Kingdom Hall, I try to keep an eye out for those who I know to be grieving family members. Suddenly, from nowhere, comes a big, tall, imposing man in a sharp suit. He gives me a bear hug, thanks me for being there, we chat for a couple minutes, and then he is gone.
We’ve never met, but this is Whitney’s father.

The same scene is replayed when speaking with Whitney’s mother, Lorilei, a tenderly compassionate woman who I am grateful to call my sister. Her hugs are the best: She brings you in close, hangs on tight, and lets the moment sink in without rush to let go. “We’re in this together,” she says. “All we have to do is hang on until this system ends. I think we can do that.” She presents a sincere, beaming smile that could only be found on the face of someone who’s God is Jehovah. When Jim Vaughn, an elder from Gresham who served as the family’s spokesman passes, I pull him aside and tell him how appreciative I am of his hard work in representing Jehovah and His people in the media, and in shepherding Jehovah’s wounded sheep. He thanks me and gives me a big hug. Truly, such “gifts in men” have proven to be like “like a hiding place from the wind and a place of concealment from the rainstorm…”—Eph. 4:8; Isa. 32:3.

Exiting the Kingdom Hall, we are directed into a large, heated tent that has been set up in the parking lot. Several businesses, including Wal-Mart and Starbucks, have graciously donated thousands of dollars’ worth of food and drink to the event.

I suppose in the final analysis, I could say with absolute confidence that this was the most profoundly impactful experience of my life – one that stands alone in the influence it has had on the minds and hearts of Jehovah’s people. I can think of no other time where the life of just one of our dear brothers or sisters has had such a galvanizing effect on the whole of Jehovah’s organization. One brother, who was with me, commented: “I’ve been in the truth for almost 30 years. I’ve served as a regular pioneer, ministerial servant, and an elder. Only now, after this, am I beginning to understand just what being one of Jehovah’s Witnesses is all about.” Standing amidst the “congregated throngs” of fellow worshippers, I quietly observe as my brothers and sisters talk, smile, and laugh. I watch as they embrace one another with joy and tenderness. I listen as they share encouraging experiences, and discuss what their dear sister, Whitney, meant to them. In all of this, I bathe myself in a single, solitary thought: This is the truth. I recall Jehovah’s heartening promise for tomorrow: “Just a little while longer…And they will indeed find their exquisite delight in the abundance of peace.” Standing there with my brothers and sisters, it is as though we somehow skipped Armageddon and are already in the new world.—Ps. 26:12; 37:10, 11.

For a moment, just a moment, we were home.

What Do I Say?

There are so many directions to go to write about this memorial that 2 of my daughters-in-law and I attended last week, I just don't know how to approach it.

It was astounding.

To meet family members of a horrendous crime such as happened to our dear sister Whitney Heichel down in Oregon and have them actually consoling US was a shock, to say the least.  So many people would want to simply crawl into a hole and ask to be left alone and no one would blame them.

Chelsea had determined that she wasn't going to say anything because she didn't know what to say.  Does anyone?  What do you say to someone who's lost their daughter/wife/sister to a creep who kidnapped, raped and murdered her?  Someone who, no doubt, spent their last hours with their heart racing in terror?  We all hope that the agony ended quickly.  But that's not what you say.  We're grateful there was a quick answer to what happened to Whitney.  But you don't say that. 

I do wonder if there was a discussion of how the family should act or if their positive, downright happy appearance was genuine.  I just can't fathom being able to be so cheerful after such an awful event.

After driving 3+ hours, then waiting an hour in a line that snaked it's way through the one side of the double kingdom hall before meeting the family in the opposite end we were - - - surprised? to see the family greet us with hugs and smiles!  There were about 20 family members and not one of them had tears.  But there were lots of smiles.  When I thanked them for allowing the public (including my group) to participate they gave me wide eyes and told me how great it is for THEM to have such enormous support from so many people, at this open house there were as many as 3000 according to one source. 

It was like meeting celebrities.  But they're not, they're people just like the rest of us and they never thought anything like this would ever happen to them, the same like as we all think.

Seeing them in person and realizing that they were all normal people, living in normal places, working normal jobs definitely makes one realize how easily it could happen to any of us.  And, yes, we hear that all the time too.  But this made even that saying more real.  IT CAN HAPPEN TO ANY OF US...

One thing that Chelsea particularly was distraught about was seeing the area that Whitney was in when she was first abducted.  It was filled with businesses, cars and people.  And it would have been so at 7 in the morning, when she first "went missing".  She kept saying "Why didn't she do anything?"  There was so much she could have done.  So, to turn this tragedy into something more positive, we should all take note of what we can do if anything remotely like this happens to us:

If we're driving the car - wreck it, in town preferably.  Even if we have a gun on us.  Wreck it and jump out and run.  Screaming.

If we're not driving the car - jump out.  The minute there is any opportunity, a slow down for a turn or a light, open the door and fall or get out.  Then run.  Screaming.

If someone points a gun at us and we're on foot, run.  Screaming.  In a zig-zag path.

First and foremost - don't let the abductor get you to his/her destination.  Take control away from him/her.  Before they get to a remote place.

I got a wonderful email from a very deep-thinking sister and she made this interesting observation.  We should all be looking forward to being in the new system and welcoming back those deserving a resurrection. Imagine being able to tell Whitney that she helped you to resolve what to do in a bad situation...

Driving Home

OK, so Rick wants me to stop playing games on his iPad cuz it eats up the batteries. He suggested I write a blog. I guess that works. We're on I-5 driving home from another adventure, one I've been trying to get timed right and it finally happened.

I've been wanting to see the autumn colors in all their glory on the North Cascades Highway, specifically in the Winthrop area, in the Methow Valley (pronounced met-how).

We'll go back a bit first. Rick had been unemployed for about 6 weeks now and I've been wanting to do this trip but you gotta time it right. Well, for the last cuppla weeks I've been working at the Auburn School District transportation department, subbing in the office. So we couldn't go during the week. Then we had family functions on the weekends. This Friday was a non-school day so they told me I didn't have to work, unless I wanted to. Rick got his starting date for working at Boeing so I don't feel the pressure to work so I opted to stay home. When I got home Thursday I informed Rick that we were leaving on an overnight trip to eastern Washington the following morning. The weather was still pretty good, rain was moving in but it wasn't hitting the east until later on Saturday.

We threw our tenting stuff in the trunk (not camping, just sleeping stuff) grabbed some snacks and took off about 9:00 Friday AM.

I had done a little research to find side trips to enjoy out-of-the-way scenery and our first stop was at Lake Kachess just over Snoqualmie Pass. We were already finding lots of beautiful color there. We helped ourselves to the insecurely (kinda) gated campground on the lake and saw some gorgeous colors.

We made a quick stop at Safeway in Cle Elum, then continued on through Blewett Pass. I suggested we swing over to little gold mining town of Liberty but the road was being monitored by a fire volunteer, the wild fires are still burning. After turning around we noticed more closed roads, smoke rising from the woods and plenty of charred forest. It's obvious why they had to close the pass a while back due to the wildfires.

I tried to get some shots of the colorful foliage by a creek and ended up wading in the creek, barefooted!

When we got to the town of Cashmere we took a detour toward a vineyard, I was hoping they were changing colors also or had grapes left on them. Neither. In reality all the grapevines were encased in bird-proof netting, really ugly. But we did see the old town of Cashmere which is now on a back road. There was a house with a collection of antique farm and forest implements. There was an old rusty snowmobile (didn't know they made them that long ago!) and a BIG chainsaw that had a handle on the far end, it musta been about 4' long!

We got to the town of Twisp right around dinner time and was hoping to find fast food with a dollar menu - not in Twisp! So we looked around and ended up choosing a bar and grill - Mick and Miki's Red Cedar Bar for a burger. Prices were average, the food was good but the place needed some serious upgrades to remove the smell. I say it was old frying oil smell and Rick says old cigarettes, probably was a combination of the two.

After dinner we looked at the map to find a forest service road to set our tent up on. We found it and by the time we were setting things up it was twilight. It wasn't too late so once our accommodations were ready for us we sat in the car and occupied ourselves on the iPad. First we looked at the pictures we took that day, then we played monopoly until it was obvious that Rick was gonna win, then we retired to our tent and watched a movie - "It Happens Every Spring". An OLD 1949 black and white, cute movie.

When we were trying to get to sleep we heard cars driving by on the road not too far from our parking spot. One we eventually called the "Yee-hawers". They were tearing all over the place. Rick said it sounded like they were trying to climb hills in their truck, slipping tires and flying rocks. We were cracking jokes on the way out, where it looked like they may have gone.

Our drive out that road looked very different from when we drove in. It was a beautiful valley! Then the town of Twisp was also very friendly, a busy Saturday market was going on by the library and senior center. We needed coffee so headed to Hank's Market and found the deli had seating and some quick, cheap breakfast. Rick had ham scramble for $2.75 and I got biscuits and gravy for $3. The food and coffee was good, the restroom was clean, it was a great start to the day.

We found the "Old Twisp Highway" and the scenery was amazing. Beautiful trees, rivers and the homesteads were well manicured.

After stopping every half mile or so we finally made it to Winthrop. It's an old-west style tourist town but in a very pretty part of the state, the Methow Valley.

Proudly we drove right out of town (no getting sucked into the whole tourist thing) and headed out to the woods to look for more scenery. We found a beautiful, small but powerful waterfall, the Falls Creek Falls. Then we took a side trip to Perrygin Lake, then to the Silverlilne Resort on the lake. A very pretty resort with a campground, boat rentals, etc.

We opted to try out a side road rather than take the main highway to start our trip home. It started out a nice gravel road but eventually turned into a very rocky single lane goat trail! Not literally, of course, but we did wonder numerous times if we were on the right road. We did and were glad to finally get back on smooth road.

The rain started soon after we got back to the highway. Then Rick started sweating about gas, we were on E and weren't finding a gas station. We got to Newhalem and - NO GAS!!! The next town was 13 l o n g miles down the road but we made it.

We saw turkeys, quail, a great blue heron, a bald eagle and heard an owl and a pileated woodpecker.  Saw about 5 dead deer but never once did we see a live one.  Oh, and we saw lots of hunters!

We were invited to Rick's parents' place for dinner so we had to call and let them know that we'd be late. We were only about a half an hour late. It was another really fun adventure!

About Me

My photo
After 2 unsuccessful marriages I spent 12 years as a divorcee, only to fall prey to another man's wiles. We had a fun 5 years together and then he decided he wanted more freedom so once again I'm single.

So I'm freshly divorced at 57 and have 5 great kids and now 7 grandkids. My kids are still a major part of my life but I'm busy helping my aging parents on Kauai.

I've lived in California, Hawaii and Oklahoma before finally settling here in Washington. I love Washington and come back to visit family, friends and take care of my garden often but will be temporarily a resident of Kauai.

I've moved 30 times in my life (no, my parents weren't in the service, at least not since I was about 2) and finally planted roots when I got my little house that I've owned since '91.

My family are Jehovah's Witnesses, I've been one since '72.