I wanted to write some things here before I forget them (because I am away from home and can not write them in my journal) and I want to share my thoughts.
I am almost 26 years old and up until today I have never grieved for anyone. I have been blessed to never have any relatives pass away unexpectedly or while I was old enough to understand. My father made me aware of this fact not too long ago. And so I knew there would be times ahead (sooner than later) where I would lose a loved one.
This morning I am grieving the loss of John Jones. Someone who I knew for only a couple of hours, but who is someone I feel very close to now. Even after his passing I have talked to him in case he can hear me.
I was part of 11 people who went to the Nutty Putty Cave
on November 24th, 2009, just two days ago. I was invited by a great friend and old roommate, Josh Jones, to come along with he and a few family members. I have gone on several caving expeditions with Josh and thought it would be an enjoyable new cave to visit.
When we entered the cave Josh, John, Jessica (friend of Josh), and I went first, while two other adults and four teenagers followed behind. The cave is a geothermal hotspot and so it is very warm and moist in there. Because of this it was a little more difficult to breath, but also nice because it was around 30 degree Fahrenheit above ground.
The rest is hard to explain unless I can use my hands, but for simplicities sake: We had a map of the cave
and got to a part where we couldn't find where it continued, so we each took a route that looked like it could be the right way. It is this part of the story that I keep recalling over and over in my head, because at this point I asked John if he wanted to explore the spot, which we later would learn is called the "Ed's Push" area. He went in to the spot face first because he was climbing up, but then it curved and started heading downwards, then it got too small for him to push himself backwards up against gravity, so he slid down further and became wedged. We didn't know he was stuck for several minutes. Jessica and I waited for Josh to get out of the hole he was exploring. When he did we told him (without much thought) to go in and see if John needed help, meanwhile Jessica and I explored two other spots where the cave could have continued. The rest of the group joined us at this point. We could not find where it continued, so sat waiting near the area. After about 15 minutes I hollered to Josh if things were okay. He came out in a mix of calm and panic and said he was going to go up and call for help and asked that I go in a comfort John and maybe try to help, because I was the only adult that would fit. So I crawled in above John (it was a very tight spot and I often would panic because it was difficult to move) and John and I tried several things to move him up. I did the best I could to keep him in good spirits by giving him little goals to reach. Mike, John's brother, was outside of the tight spot talking to me, which I much appreciated because it helped keep my spirits up. But after an hour I was becoming tired and scraped up and started to get psychologically messed up. I crawled out and Josh crawled in to see what he could do.
I crawled out of the cave and joined everyone else outside of the cave. They had all been gathered around the entrance praying and singing church hymns. The search and rescue vehicles started to show up and we decided we needed to get the teenagers home. And we felt there was nothing we could do but get in the way, so a group of us left, leaving Josh and Mike and another brother-in-law with John.
For the next 27 hours I followed the news closely and waited...
Then at 2:36 a.m. I received a text from my friend Josh with the unexpected news that John had passed away.
Since then my thoughts have not turned from his family and the way they must be feeling.
I know that God knows best. I know that his family will be reunited with John. The passing of loved ones is part of Gods plan.
Thank you to all those who have been praying for the Jones' and for me.
I want to say one more thank you to one of the teenagers that came on the trip (I don't know which one). As I was leaving the site Tuesday night, before we knew what would ultimately happen, one of the teenagers in the van remarked "Well, we will have something to talk about on fast & testimony Sunday."
My testimony is more real then ever before. God lives and loves us. Thank you.