Friday, May 1, 2009

"In life they were not divided, in death they were not separated." D&C 135:3

Amanda Johnson
Alexis Johnson
So many different things happened this past weekend that it’s hard to remember them all. Many different amazing experiences and miracles happened over and over in the previous two weeks that we can actually recognize. It makes me wonder how many hundreds of miracles happened in all that we don’t see yet. I don’t really know how to go about writing this post, so I guess I will go through day by day.

Not the whole week and a half, but the weekend while we were in Utah with the family. Steve, Jamie, Paul and I flew in Saturday morning before the funeral for Alexis and Amanda Johnson. Marc, Liz, and Jordan arrived an hour later and we all stayed at the same, beautiful house.

First of all, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is so amazing. This ward that Joel’s family is in is where I want to be when any tragedy or hard trial strikes me. The members were so accommodating and kind. When we arrived at the house we were staying, we all had our own rooms, and the kitchen was stocked with food and goodies from people in the ward: fresh, homemade bread, breakfast foods, and sandwich supplies, plenty of snacks, drinks, and water. Then, the owner, Brother Keats, handed Steve the keys to their van and said we could take it anywhere we needed to. Amazing!

After we settled in and changed for the funeral, we headed to the stake center for the family visitation (the caskets were closed. No one saw Amanda and Alexis but Joel, Evelyn, and Andy) and funeral. The visitation was really amazing. When we walked into the room, there were so many family members there to support one another. My favorite part of the visitation were these pictures. They are hand drawings made by a 16 year old young woman in the ward. She contacted Joel while they were still in Vegas after the accident and asked if she could draw Amanda and Alexis. Joel said sure thinking they would be something adolescent looking and he could just stick them in the back of a memory book. He told us that he thought they would be a Napoleon Dynamite type of picture. When Joel and Nikki first saw the pictures, they were awe struck. These pictures, to Joel and Nikki depicted exactly how Amanda and Alexis look now in heaven. They are beautiful girls.

The funeral was amazing. There were many beautiful talks and two amazing eulogies. I had two favorite parts. They were both musical, but my very favorite was when the youth of the Joel and Nikki’s ward sang the EFY melody. They started singing the part where the girls and boys sing together and the director turned and asked all the youth to stand. Nikki was sitting in a recliner this whole time because two vertebras’ in her back are injured and very painful, and she has a severely sprained ankle from being thrown from the RV in the accident. When she can get the opportunity to stand, she needs to because she’s constantly uncomfortable, so when the youth were asked to stand and sing a long, Joel helped Nikki stand and they both turned around with the biggest smiles on their faces. As Beth Johnson said, it was the ministering of angels when that happened. Seeing them smile let everyone, all 1000+ people there, know that everything was okay and they would get through this. This gospel is amazing.

At the gravesite, Steve said a dedicatory prayer then the cousins and friends and family all put flowers on Alexis and Amanda’s casket. After, the ward provided a dinner for the family. All 100+ of us. We watched a slideshow of the girls and visited. The whole day was beautiful. It was cold and sometimes rainy outside, but it was very spiritual and helped us all strengthen our testimonies of the gospel. More specifically the plan of salvation.

Sunday, we all went to church then to another luncheon provided by an old family friend. This was my favorite day. We ate then went up to the theater room where Andy, Evelyn, and Joel recapped the previous week from when the accident happened to the funeral. Some things they said were obvious miracles. One example: Nikki was thrown from the RV when it hit the semi. She was thrown/slid the length of a football field and was in the middle of the road. Just for a visual, when Andy (about 6’0, probably a little taller) holds his hands above his head, that’s still not as far up as where Nikki was thrown from. Even a straight fall down would cause potentially serious injuries. The fact that she was thrown the length of a football field is just crazy! The miracle is, she had no scrapes/bruises. How? Her injuries were two injured vertebras and a sprained ankle. That is still a lot, but when you realize what happened… It could have been a ton worse. As they went over the week, we sang hymns, laughed, cried, saw pictures of the RV, the injuries sustained by the 3 youngest kids and Nikki… it was my favorite part. The miracles shined through.

That night we went to the Gibson’s house and hung out for a while playing pool and air hockey. It was fun because I got to meet Jamie’s sisters and one of her brothers, along with some of Paul’s cousins that he talks about. I’m so glad we were able to go up there. The weekend was a great bonding experience for me with the Johnson family. I really, truly enjoyed it.


(This post was mostly written right after we got back.. but we just got internet again.. so better late then never, right?)

1 comment:

Joel said...

Marlee,

Nikky and I just saw this today. Thank you, Thank you. Beautifully written and thoughtful. It was a bitter sweet weekend full of many miracles for our families. Thank you for remembering Amanda and Alexis. This means so much to our family.

Love,
Uncle Joel