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

In Comment, Human Interest, Non-fiction on October 29, 2012 at 2:49 am


Written by Alex Ashley

“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, gather at the Salquist Kingdom Hall in Gresham, Oregon.  Many of those in attendance are 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 here, 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, Lorelei, 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 setup 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.

For more information about Whitney, see
See also, the open letter from Whitney’s mother, Lorelei:

  1. So encouraging and beautiful, it brought tears to my eyes.

  2. What a wonderful description of our brotherhood and the genuine love of Jehovah’s people.

    • Oh, yes! What a dearly beloved brotherhood we are privileged to belong to! Those who have God’s spirit upon them are unique. I am also truly grateful for all of the dear ones, who are not Jehovah’s Witnesses, who showed such love and compassion at this time. Thank-you so very much for your beautiful expressions of kindness! May Jehovah bless your hearts!

  3. From those of us who longed to be there in person but because if the distance could not, we appreciate this account. You helped us yto feel a part of this occasion. We have been praying every day for the family and congregation. It can truly be said that this is God’s earthly organization and that we are all a united family, no matter where we live. Agape, The Johnson Family from the Hohenwald Tennessee congregation

  4. Thank you for a beautifully written first person description of your experience. I too have been following this heart-breaking story and keep the family and friends of Whitney in my prayers. I thank Jehovah our loving father everyday for this loving world-wide brotherhood. I look so forward to the new world where I hope to meet not only my dear sister Whitney, but so many more of my brothers and sisters. Greetings and love from the Pebble Creek Congregation in Mechanicsville, VA.

  5. This brought tears to my eyes, so beautifully written. I am so happy to be part of a loving worldwide brotherhood. No where else can we find this type of love only in our father Jehovah organization.
    I hope will be that I the paradise to meet and welcome Whitney back.

    Lei Stewart (Lightfoot)
    Vallejo Ca

  6. We serve an awesome God!

  7. Beautifully said. The more I read about the outpouring of love and support from the brotherhood, the closer to the brotherhood I feel. I always felt like they were family and this was the truth but this just really drives it home all the more so. I’m also really touched by the families and Clint’s strong faith during their difficult trial. Their faith is building up and comforting ME!

  8. Sister, I sit here in tears, warmed by the fact I am part of such an amazingly beautiful family, thanks to the love of Jehovah. After reading your description of the day, I am thankful to you that your words help those of us who couldn’t be present, feel all the love expressed that day. May we all keep reminding ourselves that one day soon we will all be together as a worldwide family in paradise. You gave us a little taste of what that will feel like.
    Thank you,
    Your sister, Kelly

  9. Just beautiful. Such winsome words, we surely do have the truth, Jehovah is an awesome God. This brought tears to my eyes, again, but this time tears of joy that I am blessed to belong to such a lovely family.

  10. Thank you so very much for taking the time to blog this for those of us that weren’t able to be in attendance. My love, thoughts, prayers and hugs were with you all that day.
    Taryn Edson ~ Hot Sulphur Springs Congregation, Colorado

  11. In my thoughts and prayers. This has been such a touching story and it sounds like the brothers and sisters there are a real blessing. May Jehovah bring you peace and comfort. Isaiah 41:10,13

  12. Simply beautiful….

  13. Beautifully encouraging. So sorry for her husband and family and all who.knew her. We will see her again soon 🙂

  14. All I can say is DITTO to what has already been said. How can anyone NOT see this is true christianity…TRUE brotherhood ……….ONLY Jehovah’s truth and his organization can unite people of differnt races/backgrounds/nations together to truely love each other like this.

  15. Thank you so much for posting this. Jehovah is such a compassionate FATHER and I am so grateful to be a part of his organization. I long for the day when we are home for good! Whitney will be so happy to hear about the love that her family received in this time of sorrow.

  16. Except for the miles in between I was as good as in attendance after reading this blog. My friend you are a wonderful writer. Every little detail painted the picture of what I saw in my mind and felt in my heart. Thank you for this opportunity to share in the special , yet very heart breaking occasion. And, you were right. As i read this blog I, too was home just for that moment. Sending my agape’ love to our entire Christian brotherhood until Jehovah REALLY does take us home. Phil. 1:3, “I thank my God always, upon every remembrance of you” Joylee Zemanek Fairhope Ala. Cong.

  17. I have been serving Jehovah for 40 yrs never have I experianced the love of our world wide brotherhood on such a large scale.It is wonderful feeling, look forward to meeting Whitney in the Paradise send you all my love. Joyce

  18. Thank you for sharing this! I feel the same way as you: This is the truth! There is no other organization quite like ours. If I lived closer, I would have loved to be there.

  19. As I read thus story I cried for both families not only for their lose, but for the joy that will be brought to them as that one day Jehovah has promised through his son and our king Jesus’ ransome sacrifice Whitney will be back with them. This story has reminded me full force as to why I found my way back to Jehovah I want to thank Whitney for reminding me why I made that choice. My heart goes out to all the families and friends.

  20. Thank you so much for the beautiful and heart-warming words. Those who could not be there, including myself, really appreciate them. We all were deeply saddened by what happened to our sister Whitney; seeing how her husband, parents, family and congregation has handled it is so faith-strengthening. Our God is truly extraordinary and only he can be behind such a wonderful organization. We are truly blessed to be able to be his witnesses and bear his great and holy name. Agape my dear sister!

  21. I’m so proud to be part of this wonderful organization. This whole experience goes to show how united we really are. 1 Peter 2:17 is one of my favorite scriptures and it was truly shown there when hundreds of brothers n sisters came to support.
    Lots of love from Hollywood West,Fla congregation.

  22. Dear Sister, thank you for another beautiful account of the amazing experience that has come out of this tragedy. Even living over here in Maryland I have shared in this through all the many posts and messages and comments of thousands of our brothers and sisters. How Jehovah blesses our loving brotherhood! I have been a Witness all my life, well over 50 years, and I too have never seen our love and unity and the abundant outpouring of Jehovah’s spirit shown as outstandingly. It has strengthened so many of us immeasurably! Whitney’s Mom in particular is such a wonderful example for all of us. But all the praise and glory goes to the only living and true God Jehovah who cares so much for His people.

  23. Your account brings tears to my eyes as I feel that I have just caught up to where my heart has been since I heard of the sad event that took this beloved sister and daughter from her family and friends and the congregation of Jehovah,s people, all who loved her so much. Thankyou for letting me in to feel the hugs of her parents and the joy of the brotherhood as we wait for Jehovah,s great day and the triumphant return of our dear sister.

  24. Very touching, yes. And my heart goes out to Whitney and her family. I was raised in The truth, and I actually find it quite ignorant of many to think this is the only organization that unites nations, backgrounds and races. Yes, its very nice that Jehovah’s people come together in such tragedy, much thanks to Facebook, but other Christians do so as well…the Christian organization down the road from my home had a similar situation, is which one of their followers was murdered by a stalker. The entire world came together for that poor girl, just as they did for Whitney. So believe what you want to, but its not just “Jehovah’s” people that come together in times of tragedy. I feel this is the first example for the witnesses to hear of, but it happens every day..along w/ the unity and brotherhood of different religions. Sad, but It’s more common than not.

    • Thank you for your comment. To clarify: This article is by no means an attack on other religious groups or the merits of their efforts in times of tragedy. What I will say is that, in this particular case, we have seen the fulfillment of the words of Psalms 9:9, 10: “And Jehovah will become a secure height for anyone crushed, A secure height in times of distress. And those knowing your name will trust in you, For you will certainly not leave those looking for you, O Jehovah.”

      Too, the result of such a terrible, tragic event has been, not only the outpouring of love and affection from our worldwide brotherhood, but also a profound response from the community while engaging in the work Jesus instructed all true Christians to participate in: the preaching of the “good news of God’s Kingdom” throughout the Earth. Such an increase of activity, even in times of trial, is a testament to the operation of God’s holy spirit upon the Christian Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses–Matt. 28:19, 20; Acts 1:8.

      • Well said, we as Jehovah’s Witness care deeply for people of every nation and religion, that is outwardly showed by Jehovah’s Witness’s as a worldwide organization tirelessly going out freely to help others gain an accurate understanding of the bible so they can make an educated decision for their life free of corruption of false religion. Every loss of human life is also of deep concern of our father, Jehovah God and he promises an opportunity of Resurrection to all peoples not matter what religion, nation, race. A Resurrection of life and of judgement so we all can have a chance to serve God they way He desires us to serve him.

    • ummm i dont see anyone else but Jehovah’s people helping each other and volunteering in times of disasters. For example..the earthquakes and hurricanes. The brothers get organized to help the brothers in those lands and then some. People that arent witnesses ask us as volunteers that they wish their churches would help them. We know its the truth though.

    • If this is my dear Sue, formerly of Quesnel, B.C. I want you to know that I love you and have missed you all these years. Laurie Corbeil . Find me at

  25. We are told in a divinely inspired psalm: “The righteous themselves will possess the earth, and they will reside forever upon it.” … This promise was echoed by the apostle John when he said: “He that does the will of God remains forever.” (Psalm 37:29; 1 John 2:17)

    The wait is almost over.

    All my love to the Rittmiller and Heichel family.

    Tressia J. Amacher
    Riverdale Congregation

  26. Reading this made me cry. It was a cry of relief- that Jehovah truly cares for not only this family but, everyone. I do not know this family personally but have followed this story everyday. I was married the same month and year as Whitney and her husband and everyday think how could you handle this?? Where do you begin? To know Jehovah has truly taken their burden and has truly comforted this family makes me so grateful for this family and Whitney. She will wake up in a beautiful world and the former things will not be called to mind. All we have in this wicked world is Jehovah and he truly is the God of comfort. May we always take advantage of the gift of prayer he has provided thru his son Jesus and keep praying for our dear brothers everyday.

  27. I couldn’t agree more! Just saying the outpouring of brotherhood also happens in other religions that spread their word and also worship their God Jehovah. I didn’t take it as an attack against other faiths, just want witnesses to know that this brotherhood, embracement of the community and world and unity happens in tragic times in other Christian religions as well, not just Jehovah’s Witnesses. It comes down to what you believe the “truth” to be.

  28. Thank you for the eye witness account to help us appreciate how many lives this one event touched. Can’t wait to fully experience our true brotherhood in the new system & meet Whitney among others. I am in awe of the spiritual strength of Whitney’s mother. May she serve as an example for all of us to follow. Green Bay West Cong, WI

  29. Thank you so much for your post Alex! What a heartwarming way you described our beautiful brotherhood! I hope you don’t mind I had to highlight your post on my blog.

    And what a beautiful answer you gave above! Truly a mark of True Christianity is that fact that the increase in the work is a testament to Jehovah! That is the difference that shines the world over! Thank you again…

    Our dear friends in Kingston, Ontario Canada have been deeply moved by this tragedy.

  30. I am from Rhode Island and I am so incredibly moved by this! What a brotherhood we have!! What love on Jehovah’s part to send so many with so much love to strengthen these dear sheep! Does he know what he is doing?? Yes, he does! The community must be amazed. I have heard of the many bible studies being started and the interest shown because of this. Whitney would be overwhelmed with joy at the good coming out of this misery. Praise Jah, you people! My love to all in the family and congregation.

  31. As a sister from Canada, I wish I could be there. You guys are giving a great shout of praise to Jehovah! (John 13:34,35) Agape.

  32. You are not crying alone, your grief and sorrow is shared with the whole association of your brothers!
    Deep love and full heartfelt affection,
    Charles willis, Logan Cong. Philadelphia PA

  33. What a profound and well-written letter! Whitney’s story has touched my heart more than words can tell. Her story strengthened my faith in Jehovah. This whole story is so tragic and many have cried many tears for Whitney’s family, but the way her family showed true reliance on Jehovah turned this horrible happening into a battle won by Jehovah God! Take that, Satan!

    We are all so saddened and touched by all the events that have taken place recently. Many have been following this everyday. First, Whitney’s mother’s beautiful letter inspired and encouraged many. The faith she showed compelled me to put my complete trust on Jehovah. The timetable of the accounts written by one of the elders, is a genuine proof that we belong to the true religion, that was a true faith in action! This too, made me proud to belong to a brotherhood who has genuine love to one another!

    Your account gave us a vivid picture of how life in the cleansed earth would look like! Your letter inspired us to be more determined to push through all the trials we may encounter so that we could receive our reward in a beautiful paradise here on earth and to witness the love and unity among our fellow believers! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

    This tragic event gave us so much hope! Perhaps many people will come to learn the truth because their heart was touched and opened. It also gave us a reassurance: We fear not him who destroys our body, because Jehovah’s memory is the safest place to be. Our sister Whitney is now resting. May we all keep pushing on through this system of things in order to meet her and all our dead loved ones soon!

    Much agape to all!

    Loida Ragland
    Emmaboda Congregation

  34. Beautifully written! May Jehovah continue to be with Whitney’s family and friends, yes, “the entire association of brothers” in these “last days.”


  35. Wow, it truly felt like when I read this, I was there to among my brothers and sisters. I have been doing what I can to keep up to date on Whitney’s family and friends from the beginning. At first it was such an unbelievable shock, then, a happiness and a comfort because even though she’s gone in such a cruel manner, she is not GONE. She is in our hearts and minds and even better than that…she will be resurrected back to life on earth to wonderful conditions!! She will be back with her family who remain strong in Jehovah’s love and her friends who do the same! Reading that letter felt like I was there, standing in line and taking in the sights, the scents, the conversations…everything so arranged, so orderly and so lovingly thought out and prepared. No where in ANY religion on earth will a person EVER see this kind of WORLDWIDE support and organized arrangement and such a loving brotherhood as we have with Jehovah. How can anyone not see that this is the truth?? Thank you Jehovah God for seeing my heart condition and for drawing me into your loving organization!!! The comments made are right, it’s just like somehow we skipped the great tribulation and Armageddon and the new system is here and all around us! Even though I couldn’t be there in Oregon, reading this put me right there with all of my brothers and sisters. I am from Wyoming, but, I live way out here in Ireland. Thank goodness for the ‘healthful’ benefits of the internet for those of us SO far away! My love is with both families of |Whitney and ALL of my brothers and my sisters there. You are all standing SO strong! Jehovah is certainly with his people! My agape love to all!

  36. Encouraging&uplifting!! May we all soldier on arm in arm as this system ends!!! For we are a Blessed People! Love to ALL!!!

  37. As I’m reading this blog post right now I can’t even thank you enough that I will see out dear sister Whitney Heicheal in the new system forever & ever.

  38. Beautiful post! Thanks for sharing some of the details for those of us who don’t personally know the Heichel’s or Ritmiller’s, even though we feel like we do.
    Hunter Lake Cong., Reno, NV

  39. What a touching and beautiful brotherhood we belong! We are so fortunate to part of such a worldwide and truly unified Organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses!! Truly we are living up to what Jesus said “you will know my people because of the love they have among themselves” No other religion on earth can make that claim! My we all remain united and continue to loyally serve Jehovah!

  40. So beautifully written. Even though we couldn’t be there, we almost felt as though we were and could feel the love through your words. Thank you!


    Cobb Family
    West Huntersville Congregation
    North Carolina

  41. that was well written i could not believe how many people came wish i could have been there myself what a true witness that really is how Jehovah people work together

  42. Simply beautiful. Especially the part where you quoted that “Only now, after this, am I beginning to understand just what being one of Jehovah’s Witnesses is all about.”, and how you know that this is the truth. I feel the same way.

  43. Thousands attended and millions were with you all in prayer, as we know we always pray for our whole association of brothers to be given holy spirit to help them endure and bring them comfort. I know of a few who would have loved to attend from New Zealand as Whitney’s loss has touched our brotherhood here too. Thank you so much for your description of Whitney’s day, looking forward to the privilege welcoming all of our lost ones back and getting to meet every brother, sister, child in Jehovah’s organization. Much Christian love, Renee Bonds, Papamoa Congregation, New Zealand.

  44. I know those of us who are Jehovah’s Witnesses feel that we are probably not expected to sound surprised when we ourselves see tremendous love and unity shown towards one another (such as in this letter) although we’re not surprised but we ARE moved beyond tears and that will never stop. It’s how Jehovah expects his followers to be. Just like with humans. A son’s behavior reflects on his father. It shows what the father has taught his children by his actions – it’s going to show (whether good or bad). The same is for Jehovah and how he insists his quality of love and unity are showed. I love worshiping a God that insists on such love and unity from his people and being a part of a Christian brotherhood knowing that if anything were to happen to our family, that Jehovah would take care of us through his holy spirit and my Christian brothers and sister. I love you ALL!!!

    This letter is absolutely AMAZING and yes – it brought me to tears – (ok I bawled).

  45. Soooo very encouraging…thank u for sharing this with your brothers and sisters around the world. I’m from Virginia and this has truly impacted all of us…I pray for both families affected and as well our Christian brotherhood. May Jehovah continue to comfort us!!!

  46. Dear BROTHER…so sorry I thought you were a sister in my previous post.
    I just wanted to add that the peace and unity found among Jehovah’s people is found NOWHERE else on earth. It is this peace and unity along with love and all the fruitage of Jehovah’s holy spirit that is so overwhelmingly evident in this initially sad situation that has become a huge blessing for all. Nowhere else will anyone find this. It has to be experienced to be appreciated. I think many of the police officials noticed how extraordinary this was among us. “The fruitage of the spirit is love, joy, peace, long‐suffering, kindness, goodness, faith,mildness, self‐control. Against such things there is no law.” Gal.5:22,23
    This is due to the blessing of Jehovah on those who whole-heartedly love and obey Him in all things. Acts 5:32

  47. That was so beautifully written! For those of us who just could not be there due to living far away, we were at least able to feel like we were there. It must have been awesome to feel the love and genuine warmth of Whitney’s mother and family as well as all the brothers and sister from all over who came to give support and love. In reference to that comment that we are not the only organization that rallies together in tragedy: It may be true that they rally together and show support, have a candlelight vigil, etc, but would they lovingly embrace strangers from all over as brothers and sisters, people they never met, but can instantly feel a bond. And they don’t have the hope we all share. We truly have the truth that sets us free! Yes we grieve, but we have the knowledge of why these horrendous things happen, that Jehovah is taking account of it all, that soon he will bring an end to all evil, and that death is just sleeping until the resurrection. Following Whitney’s story, all the love poured out to her family, and the strength, faith, and love of her mother shown to all just proves even more to me I am in the true religion and Jehovah is truly with his people in times of distress. Your vivid description of your experience was almost like being there or watching a movie. Did you know Whitney, Alex? I would have loved hearing people who knew and loved Whitney share experiences of her and what she was like, and why they loved her so. I hope to meet her when she wakes up in paradise! How wonderful it will be to meet all those who died and also all our brothers and sisters worldwide we have never had the opportunity or means to meet, after all we’ll have forever!!
    Christian Love,
    Kathy Macready
    West Green Lane Congregation

  48. Thank you so much Brother. May Jehovah keep giving them Strength and Peace of Mind.
    From Melissa Martinez, North Laurel Congregation, Maryland.

  49. I wish I could have been there. Your letters an emails have been passed to so many that it has brought tears to our eyes and brought our brothers and sisters closer together in these last days. When Whitney wakes up she will be surrounded by so many that she does not know and hear their stories about how she helped them find Jehovah. All our love to you all from Toronto Canada Harwood congregation.

  50. Glorious Jehovah Almighty in Power, You are our Hiding Place, You are our Tower !

  51. This whole tragic and horrible crime recalled to mind the murder of our dear sister Thersa from Ohio whose baby was taken from her while still pregnant, thus killing her for her child. Her father was on our district convention discussing how he dealt with his feelings and how it with time ultimately brought him closer to Jehovah, because Jehovah is always there when you need him, and although he does not put a hedge around us as persons, bad things happen, he is there in a large way when it does happen to us. The lesson is to stay close to him and rely on his wisdom and go to him for comfort and strength and he will provide.
    There is so much we don’t know and can not see, myriads of angels working and helping the righteous and whose hearts are good to ring their way to Jehovah’s blessings. As a writer, I found comfort from the Psalms and from the book of Job. They are so well written about the human experience under Satan’s attacks and what we can do to withstand them. In a word, faithfulness. By stay close to him and being faithful, even if that is in a jail cell like Nancy Yuen and Paul, or in a concentration camp or even housebound or in a nursing home or an iron lung, we are all able to do that one thing, stay faithful under trial, no matter what, even when all seems lost, that’s when Jehovah steps in. As we get deeper into these last days, we have our King Christ Jesus to follow as an example as to how we should conduct ourselves. as we have all watched these painful events unfold, we have seen just that, mere mortals, flawed, yet blamelss, being Christ-like towards each other in mass. This is why “God loved the world so much that sent his Son so that everyone exercising faith in him might not be destroyed, but have everlasting life” And so we preach. And so we will continue to do so until God says, the work is done. Clearly, we have much to do in the days ahead.
    As a sister with a traumatic brain injury, I have found these past ten days too much to bear. This account as eased my burden and allowed me to feel the peace I prayed for to finally put our dear sister and the families at rest in my heart. Thank you.

    • Thank-you for all of these beautiful words! Everyone is being comforted by Jehovah’s spirit both directly and indirectly here at this site. Dear sister with the brain injury, I totally relate to everything you have said. All the accounts you mentioned have come to my mind, too, when I need it most. Now, this beautiful expression of love by our world-wide brotherhood, when our dear sister has been cruelly taken, is another account we can turn to and recall just how Jehovah strengthens his precious ones through terrible tragedy. Every time I looked at videos and picures of Lorilei and Clint I could see Jehovah with them. All of us who have experienced deep sadness and loss know what it is like to experience our Father lift the pain out of our hearts. I have asked more than once for Him to completely remove emotional pain and not let it return. It has happened in an instant. From the depths of anguish to a calm state. Such proof of our Father’s love and what is observed now in this instance, is a great source of strength as we contemplate the tests ahead. Perfect love throws fear outside. May we all continue to love our dear brothers and sisters and see the good in them all. Clint said: “Love each other”. He is so right. And may everyone who has begun to toy with bad things in this world, choose the peace and serenity of Jehovah’s clean standards and get themselves spiritual help from the congregation. It is so heart-rending to see those with Bible knowledge start to drift away from what is right and repel God’s spirit by choosing to access porn, violence and spiritism, thus permitting evil to take root, with unspeakable results. May many learn from what has happened and be determined to seek first God’s righteousness. Be wise and make God’s heart rejoice! I love you all! Thank-you Jehovah for all these dear, dear brothers and sisters! My 80 year old mom, Rona sends her love, and so do I and all the dear ones from Nanaimo, British Colombia, Canada.

  52. All i can say is wow!..i grew up in the truth and left at 18. Came back in Aug 01′ and was baptized in 2002. I also thought the same when i first heard about our dear sister Whitney. About how we all really love and care for each other when one of us is hurt. In this case I know Whitney’s family and her husband are hurting…so i hurt too. Nowhere else but only in Jehovah’s organization can we come together and feel for each other without hypocricy like the rest of the world. Thank you for your article. 🙂

  53. Wow such an awesome article. Just knowing that we are in an organization that can come together in true unity and brotherly love for one person shows we truly are the true religion. You can just feel the warmth.

  54. Not very good with words, but I just want to express my thanks for the eye-witness account Bro Ashley. Living as we are on other side of the world, an occasional contact with the “family” is greatly appreciated. A tragedy it was,yes, but not unexpected.
    Praises to Jehovah God, our refuge in this times of distress.
    Charisse of Admiralty Cong. HK

  55. Thank you ever so much as we were unable to attend! How fortunate are we that we have friends who are EXPERTS in the vital art called communication. May Jehovah bless us all and continue to give us strength in the hope that Jehovah is a God of the living and the meek shall inheret the earth. SOON! THERE MAY BE MANY HEARTS BUT ALL UNITED IN THAT HOPE.


  56. That was so beautiful and encouraging to read and I thank you for sharing it! We get so caught up in our own day to day struggles and the tiny little things of life and we begin to feel the weight of this system pushing down on us. Then we see a tragic act happen and what good Jehovahs people can make of it. This was so well written and really helps you to see what a wonderful worldwide brother hood we belong too. My heart has bled for my brothers and sisters during this horrible time. With that being said I have been tromendously encouraged by the wonderful faith and love that the Ritmillers and Heichles have displayed. I wish that I could have been there to embrace my fellow brothers and sisters but my love was there. Lorilees letter was so wonderful and it made me determined to do all that I can to raise my children to have a firm hold on their faith and to make it till the end. I have lost many loved ones in death and I can not wait to sit in line with you to welcome our loved ones back into Jehovahs promised new world where we never have to part from or lose our loved ones ever again. Won’t that be so wonderful! So much love from your sister Christa Dreamer North Harrisonburg Cong.

  57. Though my eyes are full of tears. My heart is full of Love for my dear brothers and sisters. This is such an unfortunate turn of events, but Jehovah’s people always display such a fine witness. May Jehovah continue to give strength to Whitney’s husband and her Family. Even though I’m miles away in Arizona I feel your pain and send my Love.
    We will see her again. Agape

  58. What a wonderful sweet loving tightknit brotherhood we have among Jehovahs’ people. Our “spuritual paradise” us amazing and only Jehovah our God can give that to those loving him. Thank You Jehovah. And seeing how the community around Whitneys tragedy cared for and helped there are still many more honezt hearted people out there

  59. Thank you, Brother Alex Ashley for this beautiful word picture of your visit to the open house for Whitney Heichel at the KH in Oregon. It was very encouraging and faith strengthening and it made me feel like I was there. Jehovah has given you a gift and you have used it well. I would have liked to go myself, but as with so many others, circumstances would not permit. However, I too, like many others look forward to the Kingdom where very soon I hope to meet all my spiritual brothers and sisters including the Heichel and Ritmiller families. How wonderful it will be when we will actually be living the REAL life that Jehovah, Our Loving Heavenly Father, originally intended for us. May we all stick like ‘little burrs’ to Jehovah and His universal organization. And may Jehovah bless all our efforts with His holy spirit that we might have courage, endurance, and the ‘peace of God that excels all thought’. Agape & Philia, your sister, Ruth Ann 🙂 ❤

  60. I can’t help but to cry reading this. It is truly a privilege to be part of such a wonderful organization! My heart goes out to the Heichel family because I have recently lost loved ones and I can only imagine what they are going through! But we have the marvelous promise that soon we will be with our loved ones again and better than ever before. Let us keep our eyes focused on the important things so we can be there! Much love from Miami!

  61. I am really touch while reading this Open-House post, i know how much pain to lose someone we love dearly,i experienced it when my childhood bestfriend and my partner in pioneering died last January this year,reading this gave me strenght and hold on to the faith i have now,to remain in Jehovah’s love,i feel guilt in my heart because im not beside here in her critical condition,but im thankful to my fellow sisters in my congregation for their help.I keep holding in my heart the promise resurrection where i will see them again including you my dear sister Whitney your life have a lasting effect to me specially.

  62. This brought tears to my eyes and I had to keep re-reading your loving words as it was difficult to see. You so beautifully captured the feeling of the occasion of remembering Whitney and the love and joy, even in such tragic times, that we feel knowing we will be with our loved ones before too long. My youngest son was killed 5 years ago and hearing your account brought to mind that sad but love-filled day when we remembered him and it made me so VERY thankful to be part of our worldwide brotherhood! Thank you for your wonderful words…

    Warm Christian love from the East Altamonte Springs Congregation in Orlando, FL

    • Simply put…you have a beautiful heart Alex. This composition took the pain out of my heart. I feel so comforted by your words. May you continue to use such well-selected words to comfort many in the future. It is a gift.

    • Hi Sister Cox. Here is a hug for you even thought I do not know you! Thank-you for staying close to Jehovah even though such a tragedy visited you. I also know what terrible loss is. I also know what it is like to be held safely in Jehovah’s arms, experiencing his reassuring love. May all who are knocked down by Satan reach out to grab a hold of Jehovah’s hand, which he is extending to them, and be lifted up high upon his shoulders, safe and assured of his strength in their behalf. Power beyond what is normal is never in short supply.

  63. it fills ones heart with tears of joy to see how our brothers and sisters respon d when love and comfort are needed………

  64. I used to go to Gresham East about 5 years ago before I returned to my home state of Illinois and am now relocated to Arizona. Although I was not able to be physically available to do anything for the family and friends, my thoughts and prayers have been on all those who were most closely effected by these events, to comfort them and give them the courage to press on. What a loving brotherhood we have and how much we truly appreciate the close, familial relationships we share in times like these. While tragedies are never something we desire, having the blessing of our brothers and being able to enjoy true peace during a time of sorrow is something I hope I never take for granted.

    Warm brotherly love from your brothers and sisters in Tempe East Congregation, Tempe AZ

  65. This was beautiful! Wish I could have been there. Cant wait to meet beautiful Whitney in the paradise! We send our love and prayers from Monticello Illinois

  66. How very beautiful and touching. Through great suffering can come great joy. Im a bible student at the hall in Estacada. Im touched by the love of all the brothers and sisters. I beleive Whitney would be pleased by how people put aside differences to come together for the common good. See u in paradise.

  67. Thankyou! I felt like I was there…. Makes me feel the warmth of Jah’s arms wrapped around us at these times.

  68. So beautifully expressed and written.. That’s when u know u are truly in the truth among the midst of our entire brotherhoods love…

  69. Thank you brother, with your account of this occasion its like I was there too. Like so many I have become so emotionally involved I feel like these brothers and sisters are blood relatives, that’s how it is with Gods people. Once again thank you

  70. I am an Australian sister, and I didn’t even know about Whitney until this afternoon. I’m so tremendously saddened to hear of her loss and sadder to hear that perhaps it was someone involved with the congregation that perhaps was responsible. Enough of that here though.

    I’m grateful that the congregation, and brothers and sisters from all over are there to wrap Whitney and Clint especially in their arms and hearts. I know that the promise of Jehovah’s paradise reuniting Whitney with those who love her is a beacon in this terrible time, but of course cannot fail to be acutely aware of the horror those left behind face while they wait for Jehovah’s day.

    My love to you all.

    Melissa Mitchell
    Burpengary North Congregation
    Brisbane, Queensland

  71. Thank you for a beautifully written account of Whitney’s memorial.

    Our best wishes to Clint and families.

    Tony & Theresa
    Brisbane, Australia

  72. So beautifully written!

  73. Thanks for such a detailed way of telling us what you felt in that important event. I felt as if I was there!!! And is encouraging to read The words from a mature spiritual brother. Thanks a lot!!!! Your Sister

  74. Thankyou for such a heartwarming article, especially as the circumstances are so sad for all concerned. Only Jahs people could ever find any good in such a tragedy. Being taught by Jehovah gives us a hope for the future so many more could benefit from, making it vital to carry on with the preaching and teaching work set before us. Much christian love to Whitneys family and friends from the King whanau, Huntly congregation, New Zealand

  75. Is truly one of the most encouraging description to me, being able to see how Jehovah’s organization works and being able to know that he will soon bring an end to this horrible system we are living in. Just being able to know that this isn’t the end, or that there isn’t hope in life, but that we will soon be able to see our loved ones again is what gives us that great motivation in life to proceed forward in Jehovah’s teachings. Like Revelations 21:4 says “And he will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore. The former things have passed away.” We all are just waiting for this old system to end so the new one can start!

  76. Thank you for taking time to share with us in such an intimate way the details surrounding
    Whitney & family, Never have I felt the love of Jehovah in such a profound way. We are truly a Blessed people as we are being directed to the waters of life. Jehovah again stretched out His Mighty hand and showered us with His many blessings. So many were privileged to see Him take action in biblical times through His miracles – & in recent years He is manifesting himself in the most beautiful ways so that we too can see His Powers. We Thank You Jehovah again & again.

    Jo Burkett – Adamsville, Al. Congregation

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