How does anyone put into words the events of the last 2 weeks? The week of Feb. 21 was a week of driving to zone conferences and making presentations. Elder Merrill did car checks and made sure the cars were being cared for and I was assigned to give a presentation to all of the young missionaries on budgeting. Each day we returned to Mendon tired, but happy. The conferences were good and our President and his wife did a great job with the talks they gave. They really focused on obedience and following the commandments and mission rules (as we have had a few that are trying to push the envelope). He said that he wouldn’t turn the mission over to a new president in July without obedient missionaries. He asked everyone to prepare for their personal interview and plan to talk about their weapons of rebellion. We all have them (weapons of rebellion); it takes real strength and courage to bring them to the surface and admit that they are real and holding us back.
We were completely worn out when we arrived home from work on Friday evening and were going to play a game with the Spencer’s. We got a call from Annette. We could hardly understand what she was saying, but understood that it was urgent that we should immediately pray for help. We said good night to the Spencer’s (after a prayer) and then began to pray. We learned that Tessa, Ava, and Halle were under several feet of snow and ice that had slid off the roof of a cabin in Island Park. Chris had been grilling steaks outside when he heard the snow come off the roof and he knew something was wrong. He ran to the far side of the cabin and Joslynn told him that the kids were under the snow. She and Tate had been with them, but had escaped the slide. He began digging and then asked Joslynn where the kids were buried and she told him they were on the other end from where he was digging. Annette and Cindy began helping; and called for help. Chris was able to find a boot and then dig Ava out. He and others were able to get Tessa out next and they had to perform CPR on her. Our dear, precious little Halle Ann was buried longer and was injured with the crush of the ice and snow. They were able to finally get a weak heartbeat from her and she was life-flighted to Idaho Falls. The other girls were sent in another helicopter. We prayed for a miracle—and we were blessed with the lives of Tessa, Ava, Joslynn, and Tate. We lost our little Halle in the accident. Our friends, the Spencer’s, came over after midnight (because they saw our lights still on). They cried with us and comforted us for over an hour. They had lost a 2 year old son over 20+ years ago and talked about their sweet little Kevin. We have been so blessed to have such good friends here in the mission; many of the missionaries, young and old, sent cards, called or texts.
Prior to our flight our President Francis gave us both a blessing. They were so wonderful and strong. I know that really helped us. He mentioned that he was there to do it in the place of the Savior—what a great thing to know that we have the Priesthood of our Father in Heaven on the earth to help us. We flew into Salt Lake City the next day. Many people in the airports asked us where we were going and why. So many people cried with us that were total strangers. Everyone had such tender hearts for Halle’s family. Blake Ellsworth picked us up at the airport after midnight. We drove to Grant and stayed with Annette. We went to the hospital to see the girls as soon as we were ready in the morning. Tessa and Ava were both doing much better and were released after noon. We had family time in the children’s play center of the hospital. Blessings were given to Grandma and Grandpa Mueller and many talked of gratitude for what had been done for the girls and for the great plan of salvation. It was a sad, but spiritual experience.
We stayed with Chris and Cindy and were amazed at the love and caring shown to them by family, ward members and friends. There was never a lack of food, flowers, or someone to visit with. We spent the next days getting prepared for the services and contemplating Halle’s short life. She was always such a happy, fun child. We took over 25 pictures of Halle’s life and had them made into large wall hangings. They turned out so nice and we put them all over the gym of the Lewisville Church for the viewing and funeral. They reminded us to be happy too. Her services were held on March 4th in Lewisville and Elder Merrill was one of the speakers. He did a good job and was able to control his emotions for the service. Annette gave the life sketch and did a great job of it too. Cindy’s dad also gave a talk and did a good job. The service was beautiful and perfect for Halle. After the dedicatory prayer 6 planes came over the hill and did a fly by. It was so moving. We had 80 white helium balloons and 1 pink balloon that we had people hold on to and let go at the same time. It was beautiful! The day was nice and they floated in the air like they were dancing a special dance for us. We all watched until they were out of sight.
- Joslyn and Tate were not buried—she told her mother that someone had pushed her out of the way. She was able to tell Chris where to dig
- QRU was able to come to help
- Family members are there to help us—they reached out in love and compassion
- Chris has been on the Lewisville Cemetery Board for several years and has helped beautify it.
- The day of the funeral was beautiful, peaceful, and calm
- People from everywhere sent condolences and love—everyone tried to take a small amount of grief home with them. Many people knew the heartache death causes and knew what to say and do. Everyone suffers grief at some point of their lives and compassion is a wonderful thing for healing.
- People opened up their hearts and helped supply things that were needed; food, flowers, money or other blessings
- The plan of salvation helps us because we know where Halle is and what we need to do to be with her again
- Christ suffered the atonement for us and knows of our grief and pain and is here to help us.
- The scriptures teach us of a loving Heavenly Father that wants us to return to Him. They teach us about what happens after our death and where we go and what we do.
On March 9th my mom and dad took us to Salt Lake City. We were able to meet up with the Longhurst family at the State Capital. She is a 2nd or 3rd cousin to Cindy and their 11 year old boy, Eric, had been hit in an intersection in Orem, Utah and had passed away a few days after Halle’s accident. Their son, Elder Brian Longhurst, is serving in the New York Rochester mission. We were able to take a candy basket from the Caramel Tree to them and pick up some things they wanted Elder Longhurst to have. They were at the Capital to hear a concert put on by their son’s school and dedicated to him. We shared many hugs and sent our love; they are amazing people.
|The Longhursts and Merrills|
- We accidentally got tickets to fly into Salt Lake City and not Idaho Falls. We feel it was this way so we could visit with the Longhurst’s for a few minutes.
- We parked at the back of the capital and Elder Merrill called the Longhurst’s and they said that they were just coming around to the back of the capital also. We met them in about 20 seconds. Amazing that we both parked behind the capital.
We are now back in Rochester trying to do mission work again. It seems all different to me. I want to continue our mission, but right now I feel a little less-enthused. It’s hard being away from our loved ones and I miss my kids and grandkids. I guess time will help with the feelings I’m having. We are praying continually for Chris, Cindy, and Tessa. We love them so much! They are amazing parents and have such great love.
When we arrived at our home in Mendon there was a little potted plant on our table. It is a hydrangea; the very flower we wanted for Halle. The Spencer’s didn’t know that (and I haven’t told them yet), but there are so many things are not coincidence.
|Where can we turn? To Christ and Heavenly Father|