"It's over!" Don said, "it's over!" "We're alive!" I said, "we're alive!" He grabbed me and hugged me and we danced in circles at the same time. Don was one of our older elders. "I've never felt so alive" he said. Everybody was doing the same thing, hugging and dancing in circles. "Did you ever think Armageddon was going to be like that?" my good friend, Tanny, said with tears streaming down her face. "Awesome" I tried to say, choking on the lump in my throat, "Just awesome". "Just look at that sun", she said, looking up and shielding her eyes somewhat with her palm. "It's back to normal. Isn't it wonderful?" she added.
There were now about 35 from our congregation there in the Kingdom Hall parking lot. Every one was running around grabbing each other and hugging and jumping and laughing and crying and shouting. Some would throw their hands up in the air and look up and say, "Oh thank you, Jehovah, thank you, thank you". Others would drop on their knees, clasp their hands in front of their face and sit there on the hard ground with their eyes tightly squeezed shut, in heart-felt prayer. Some were squeezing their children again and
again. The brothers from the Spanish congregation were there too. I couldn't understand what they were saying, but it was evident that this day for them was everything that it was for us.
We had been doing this for hours. "Look, another car!" someone said. We all stopped and stared in silence like we did every time. I couldn't hear anything but my heart pounding. We watched. It was a late model Ford. It looked in pretty good shape compared to a lot of them. Everybody had parked in the street this way and that way. Some left the doors open and just ran. "Who is it?" Tammy, my wife, said, as she tugged on my arm. "Jerry and Kay", all of us shouted at once. "It's Jerry and Kay". They came running into the parking lot with this whole crowd of people running at them. And the hugging and dancing and laughing and crying started all over again.
This same thing happened over and over. All day long. But, those who came that day were the ones who always came. We kept looking in anticipation as to who we would see next. But they were the ones we would always see at every meeting. "Isn't this something?", One sister, Cindy, said to me. "Is that all you can say?" I quipped back at her, "Well, isn't it?" she said as she grabbed both of my arms just above the elbows and stared into my eyes with a pristine expression. "Yes it is, it sure is something", I said with a loud laugh. "And those birds", I added, "Just listen to those birds! Have you ever seen so many birds?" We all hugged again.
Jerry was a soft spoken brother who was always thinking ahead. He came up to me and said with sparkling eyes, "What does the inside of the Hall look like? It is sure nice to see it not boarded up any more. Do you think we should start cleaning it?". We thought we would get inside eventually and sit down. We thought maybe we would have some kind of meeting and talk about what we were going to do next. But we didn't. Not that day we didn't.
About noon we realized that we were getting hungry. The elders appointed groups to go out and find supplies. The sisters thought it would be real fun to go shopping, but it was mostly brothers who went. After a while they started coming back. Two brothers returned with huge motor homes and one with a big travel trailer and a generator. One group brought china and silverware. A lot of it was real fine china, and even some real silver. One group brought tables, and the rest brought food and drink. We had lots of food, all kinds of stuff. One brother, Patrick, came driving in the parking lot in a police car with the lights and siren going. He had it stuffed with cases of wine and coffee. And in the trunk was a large espresso coffee machine.
Every one pitched in with food preparation and soon dinner was ready. Carl, our presiding overseer led us in a long prayer and we began to eat. We thought we could maybe start to settle down a little, but we weren't
prepared for what happened next.
"I think I'm too excited to eat" I said to Bob, one of our elders, as we stood looking at each other with our plates in our hands. "I know what you mean," he said, looking down at his food and licking his lips, "I am never 'too anything' to eat, but I'm real close". I had my back to the street. Bob was looking over my shoulder. I saw his mouth drop open. His eyes popped out and he dropped his plate and just stood there. I turned around and there, coming into the lot, was Brother Brody, the brother that had helped more people into the truth than anyone I know, and from his wheelchair at that.
Now, he didn't drive to the Kingdom Hall. He didn't walk. He didn't run either. He was skipping! Like a little kid, he was skipping and chuckling. He had a smile so big I thought the corners of his mouth were going to get caught on his ears. The sisters shrieked and shrieked with excitement. The brothers mostly stood there laughing and wagging their heads, and pointing. I think a lot of tears were dripping into a lot of food about then.
Towards the end of the day a brother came from the next congregation to ours. He brought a 2-way radio and we talked to four different congregations that first day and we made plans to meet the next day at the Assembly Hall. We heard that one brother had contacted Patterson by ham radio but nobody knew any more than that.
That night we built a campfire right there in the parking lot. I was standing there by the crackling fire watching the shadows and the fire light dancing on all the smiling faces. Jerry turned to me and said
thoughtfully, "What are you thinking about, my brother?". "Life" I said, "Life just seems so delicious!". We played kingdom songs on the stereos in the motor homes with speakers outside and we all sang song after song and each stood up and told his story of how Jehovah had saved them. That is when it happened ... what everyone alive on earth that day will remember forever and ever.
There was a swirling warm breeze that seemed to engulf us. And who could ever forget that enormous pillar of fire up in the sky slowly spinning around. Tongues of fire kept departing from it in a circular motion as it
turned and showered down in all directions. We all sat there transfixed in amazement as some of those tongues of fire came right toward us and were distributed around to each one of us. Then there was that thundering, resonant voice from the heavens. You could feel it reverberating right through you, but we weren't afraid. There was a calm that settled down over all of us. The voice said, "YOU ARE MY FAITHFUL WITNESSES AND I AM JEHOVAH. I WILL POUR OUT MY BLESSINGS UPON YOU BEYOND WHAT YOU CAN DREAM."
Carlos, a brother from the Spanish congregation, stood up and raised his palms as high as he could and said, "Praise be to Jehovah, we will serve him forever". And he began relating prophecies that we had all just seen fulfilled. I ran over to him and said, "Carlos, Carlos my brother, how is it that I can understand what you are saying?" "I don't know" he said, "How is it that I can understand you?" Then all the brothers and sisters from the Spanish congregation came running over and started hugging all of us and we all were hugging each one of them. And we, all at once, were talking and talking and talking. And many were praising Jehovah for his wonderful unifying gift.
We had gone to neighboring houses to find stuff to burn in our fire. It seemed funny going up to those vacant houses. We didn't knock. We would just open the door and say "Oh, 'I'm not interested', You say? You have
your own religion? Too bad, too bad, you great city, for in one hour your judgment came." We even brought back a couple of signs for the fire. One said, "No peddlers or agents". And one said "Beware of dog." We laughed long and hard as we pitched them into the fire.
We kept celebrating into the wee hours of the night. Nobody wanted to go home even if they had one. This seemed more like our home, and more like our family, than ever before. Finally, towards morning many of the friends started falling asleep.
I walked over to Don who was still wide awake. I said, "Don, do you think the Israelites were this happy after they crossed the Red Sea?" He looked at me thoughtfully as he ran his hand through his silver hair. But his hair didn't look so silver to me. I thought maybe it was the golden light from the fire. He said, "Happy? I'm sure they were. But I don't think any human ever felt like every one of Jehovah's people do this day. You know", he said, "I will always remember this as "Day One" of forever!"
By Mark Tjernell
Of course, Mark may not be aware that things would "probably not" work out in such an idealistic way! Perhaps more likely is the following scenario, presented by a former JW who is very familiar with the day-to-day peculiarities of life in the already existing New World Society!
go to the Day After (alternate version)
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