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.

1 cats hacked up hairballs:

Shirley October 31, 2012 at 9:44 PM  

Wow, I loved the final paragraph!

About Me

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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.