Sorry, Friends. This is long. Can't shorten it; wish I could. Hope hearts will be touched.
Life changes... sometimes is lost. And hearts are broken.
On May 14, the news said a woman had been found under a creek bridge by one of our main roads. The next day she was identified publicly as Melanie. Melanie, not a "woman", was 16 years old. She had attended the high school two blocks from me.
A few days later I heard that my twin granddaughters were going to a funeral. I had no idea what it was about and then was told it was Melanie's funeral; they had gone to grade school together.
That evening there was a large bunch of teens a couple houses away from me having a party in their front yard. Not uncommon, believe me. What was? They went inside by 10:30. I was pretty surprised.
The next morning God "pushed me" to get to my yard and do some work. I was in the front yard hanging out with my flowers and a few of the kids went to a car parked by my house. I told them how much I appreciated them keeping it quiet enough for workers to sleep.
One of my neighbor girls thanked me. The kids all said they were there to celebrate a party for their friend, Melanie, whose funeral that had been that afternoon.
With more details, I suddenly realized I knew the girl. She had come by my house many times, had smiled, we had talked briefly. I knew she knew my g-girls. I was suddenly horrified.
I went to the neighbor's home to talk to Mom. For the 3 years since Rhonda and her teens had moved into the house, we had rarely talked much, but now I needed to intrude into her life. Then it became even more serious. Rhonda and her daughter I had just spoken to, Mariah, had found Melanie's body. Rhonda said the kids hung out at the creek often [Melanie lived not far from there], so, as she had been missing since the previous day, they went to that area to search and found her face-down under the bridge.
Nothing was said by the police after that. They were checking everything, but that was it. Rhonda felt there was a real possibility of her being murdered, but no proof.
Life changed. Last Thursday Melanie's ex-boyfriend was arrested for murder. According to the record, he strangled her. He is 16, also, and will be on trial as an adult. He had been at the funeral and had been at Rhonda's house a couple nights before the arrest.
Can you even imagine how the parents of both those kids are facing life today?
NOW... in spite of everything else, yesterday we were flooded with blessings.
When our First Responders leader decided the prayer time at the murder site would be at 2:30 on Sunday afternoon, I went to the neighbor's house on Saturday and said I would be happy to take Mariah with me. Rhonda said that she would drive her daughter and bring some other kids. To be honest, I wasn't certain sure it would come to pass, but said I'd check in at 2:00 on Sunday and make sure things were OK before I headed to the creek.
I picked up my granddaughters who wanted to go there and came back to my house... went to Rhonda's and a couple girls who were in the yard said that they had two cars that would be filled and there were already some kids over at the creek. Mariah had FB'd it the day before. I could never have imagined this.
I headed out with my g-girls, Kayla and Randa, and when I
pulled into the apartment complex parking lot next to the bridge, I didn't see any other F.R., yet. I was a few minutes early. But a dad and his daughter, and a several kids were already there.
When our leader and about 10 Responders arrived we began to draw the kids together.
Then life changed again. They shared about what she meant to them, how wonderful, how much they loved her.
My heart was buried in a young man. His tears were flowing. He was quiet, his body was trembling. I sat on the parking lot next to him and put my arm on his shoulder. When I touched his hands I was shocked... they were very cold. Our weather was in the 90s outside, but he was frozen inside.
A while later, I walked to a few of the girls and we stood together by the cross, sharing a bit, holding and hugging. [My granddaughter took a picture. I'm in purple -- no surprise to anyone who knows me.]
Later, after the prayer time and the holding and hugging time, they decided to have a picture taken. They were so touched. I believe the Lord's seed has been planted in their hearts; something we could never have anticipated.
After I came home, I walked to their yard where some of the kids were hanging out. I said, "Thanks for coming." And one of the rough-looking guys said, "Thank YOU for having this."
I have told the kids they are free to come and talk to me any time. Maybe that door will open, because there might be an opportunity to tell the reality of how the Love of Jesus can change our lives. Hope, hope, hope...
Peter Pollock Word Carnival: Justice. God put this story in my heart as this event occurred.