I’m having a difficult time writing this blog. I really want to share about a hope I have in my heart, but I feel inadequate to do so today.
I don’t have experience in this subject, but I’m not apologetic about that. And in the spirit of full disclosure, I will admit this subject is one of my biggest nightmares and prayers that I will never have to experience first hand. I want my experience thus far to be about as close as I come to an understanding. That’s where my inadequacies come in.
Think about the person in your life who makes you smile most. You hear their name and you just light up. They’ve really impacted your life. Now think about what your life would be like if one day that person was just plucked from the earth. Never to be seen or heard from again. This is exactly what happened in 1996 to the family of an 11 year old Moline girl, Trudy Appleby. She was seen leaving her driveway in a stranger’s car to never again be seen or heard from.
Trudy must be the person who filled this “lightbulb” role for her best friend. She has spent many years keeping Trudy’s name in the public through a Facebook page in Trudy’s honor, never giving up hope that one day Trudy will be found. I wonder what she felt when the three Ohio girls who had been missing for years were found, locked up as prisoners in someone’s house. I wonder it if gave her hope that Trudy is still out there somewhere.
If you are from the Quad City area and have been anywhere remotely close to the news in the past few days, you are aware of another Quad City Area family experiencing this horrible situation. 28 year old Rock Island man David Harker was last seen in the early morning hours of September 29, 2013 leaving a bar on foot in Moline, Illinois. He is married with two children.
(Photo: David Harker)
A Facebook page was set up and has spread like wildfire, prompting hundreds of Quad Citians to rally together in search of clues to David’s whereabouts. They’ve combed parks, ravines and the river, twice and three times over, still with no answer. I’ve searched with them.
This is my experience.
On Monday afternoon, I stopped by the Moline Police Department, as directed, for directions of where help was needed. I was given a map and some fliers and told the dead ends were especially needing attention in a certain area of town. I set off on my own to do that.
What you don’t know about me is how much my mind can run away with me. And as I drove to the dead ends, getting out of my car and entering into the yards of strangers to search ravines, peek inside the back of pickup trucks and comb between the houses, just about every possible scenario lingered on the surface of my overworked mind. I can easily creep myself out in the right situations.
Which led me to pray with each step I took. Regardless of the outcome, this family has a long road ahead of them. If prayers are answered as we hope and David is found alive somewhere, the healing process will be much different than if the outcome is not the same. Either way, this family’s whole life has forever been changed.
Today I hadn’t planned on going back to the search site. I had some medical tests this morning and didn’t have time designated, but when I had an hour free up my car just drove to the search site. I wasn’t sure why I was going – as I knew there was no way I was walking down into the ravine. I had seen how steep it was and know how clumsy I am – often being told I can’t walk and chew gum at the same time – I’d end up in the hospital before the search started. So I stayed at the top of the ravine.
(Photo: A detective briefing the volunteers on where to search)
(Photo: A team of people ready to search the ravine)
(Photo: The ravine is very steep)
With a background in law enforcement, I’ve always been interested in investigations. Leaving that career several years ago and walking a path of failures and redemption, I am now more interested in other people’s stories. How does each person know the Harker family? Why did they decide to come out?
I learned that many people searching were co-workers. Some were family, a former teacher, childhood friends…and then there were the rest of us – people who don’t know him personally but would hope if we were in the same situation, people would show up to help us.
This is the Quad Cities. We are a very racially and economically diverse population, but we all have one thing in common – compassion. When one of our own is hurting, we step up and help where we can. On any given weekend, there’s multiple benefits being held for those hurting in our area. People in this community always band together in the hard times.
When the majority of the searchers headed down into the ravine with the detectives, the rest that were left at the top of the ravine circled up and prayed. We held hands while we prayed for David to be found alive, we prayed for him to be found (period), we prayed for the safety of the searchers, for peace for the family, for the children wanting to know where their daddy is.
“For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.“ Matthew 18:20
God was in our midst.
After our prayer time, I wanted to learn more about David so I started talking to the people around me. His longtime friend, Miguel Rosas shared about the good personality David has. He is always smiling and never mad. He adores his children, in fact how they knew David really was missing was because he has never missed a single one of his kid’s soccer games and he didn’t show up for the 4pm game the day he was reported missing. He is very devoted to his children.
A server of an establishment David frequented added to Miguel’s sentiments. She said he is a sweet guy and down to earth, very calm. When I asked her why she came to help, she said she “was able to find a sitter for a couple of hours so I just thought I should do something”.
Person after person – weather they personally knew David or not – wanted to just do “something”. What an incredible community we live in!
Everyone of us has stories. Each of us has hardships. It’s how we overcome them that defines us.
My story includes abandonment, emotional abuse and sexual assault. God has been with me in the midst of my storms, and He is with you. His word in Isaiah 41:10 promises “Do not fear, for I am with you. Do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will give you strength, and for sure I will help you. Yes, I will hold you up with My right hand that is right and good.”
In the midst of our storms we have One that is with us. We can find peace in Him; we can find comfort in Him; we can find life in Him.
Perhaps you pray regularly. Perhaps you never have. Today I encourage you, wherever you are in your story, cry out to God. Regardless if your hardship is something very small, or perhaps it’s so big that you don’t feel you even have enough strength to take your next breath, He’s there waiting for you. Invite him in. He’s wants to give you the strength you need to make it through this.
Please keep praying for this situation and David’s family. There are two funds set up – one at DHCU in David Harker’s name that I believe will go directly to helping the family, the other at this website http://www.gofundme.com/4l5fu0 which will be allocated as a reward fund for anyone with information on David’s disappearance.
“So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever.“ 2 Corinthians 4:16-18
**UPDATE 10/2/13 AT 10:36AM – The body of David Harker was found today in the Mississippi River near Buffalo, Iowa. Please be in prayer for his family**