Our last tour on the agenda was Wallkill, and it turned out to be one of the most special days. I’ll explain why.
Our tour wasn’t scheduled to begin until 1pm, however we had lunch plans at the Wallkill lunch room with a brother that we were introduced to. After lunch this same brother gave us a 3 hour+ private tour of every part of Wallkill he could get us into. As we would approach new areas he would call people he knew to get us in and take a peek behind the curtain.
The brother made the tour so fun for the boys, even buying them a giant bag of the Bethelites favorite popcorn. What was also very touching was the fact that the brother was scheduled to work an evening shift later that day, (the nature of the task they had) yet he gave up his free time to take us on a very special tour. It was an incredible afternoon.
One really cool thing we got to see was the Bethel fire truck. I was gonna say how much the boys loved it, but I thought it was awesome too! We got to meet a former bethelite fireman that was there with his family showing them around. He talked about the training they do (intensive) and the first call he had to take.
He was in another part of the facility when his pager went off. He was shocked/surprised when it first went off in disbelief but started to head toward the firehouse. Then he begin thinking, “I guess I should be running!” As he was running through bethel, (in his suit) he felt like he was doing something wrong. 😜 Well— it ended being only a false alarm after all that.
Part of the fireman training includes a friendly competition with how fast they can get the hoses ready or pull them a certain distance, things like that. Also, all of the equipment has to be regularly checked to make sure it’s in good condition. The boys even helped inspect some the “equipment,” actually they just got to try on some helmets, boots and coats. They loved it. Wish they had my size😪
As you know, while Warwick was under construction, Wallkill too was being worked on. Many buildings were remodeled and some were expanded. We were able to take a look at the areas that I was able to work on in 2015. Another area we toured that received a remodel was the Wallkill assembly hall. It’s where the bethelites have their Family Watchtower study, bethel lectures and other meetings. It looks really modern. One accent wall (not shown in picture) is decorated with wood that was harvested at Warwick.
Here’s us goofing around in the cabinetry shop.
And touring the printery.
One of the nice features of touring Wallkill is looking at all the artwork in the hallways. I really like the one of Babylon the night it was invaded shown earlier and this next one might be my favorite.
There was a bunch of other cool areas we got to see, and more friends that we got to meet and see how they carry out their assignments. We absolutely had a blast on our “popcorn tour,” and couldn’t have been more impressed by the self-sacrificing brother that worked so hard to make our tour special and memorable.
One last tour we got to take was to see the actual farm at Wallkill. Another brother met up with us to take us. This brother works outside all year round doing all different kinds of stuff. He hopped in our rental van and directed us around. The first area he took us was the apple orchard.
It was early evening by this point but we ran into a couple brothers still working there. They were harvesting the last of the apples for the year. It was neat to hear about all the different crops, mostly fruit, that is grown there. We even got to sample some of the “last fruits.” You may know that Wes’ favorite fruit is apples, I lost track how many he ate.
One funny note was that the brothers working outside had a wild pet or mascot, a Hawk. He would hang around them and fly around or sit on a fence post nearby. They named him Copernicus.
We also got to see Bethel’s cattle. We started off by petting a small calf and concluding with observing the huge bulls.
We had a great time checking out the farm and the boys quickly developed a friendship with the fun brother giving us the tour. The common thread for everyone we met, especially the young brothers that gave us tours, was the loved they showed. They made a real effort to show us as much as they could and make it fun for the whole family. We hope to stay in contact with them all!
Bethel tours summary:
The week we spent at bethel was memorable, exciting, and awe inspiring. Jehovah’s organization is truly beautiful and it all brings so much praise to Him. It’s truly like a bright light in this world, the people, the work, and the facilities. It was a gift beyond compare to be there and to behold with our eyes the wonderful things Jehovah’s spirit can accomplish and the love that His people have for Him. We truly belong to something special, and we hope to hold on to that feeling for as long as possible.
We also felt motivated to be as whole souled in our service to Jehovah as those hard working Bethelites, whose happiness was obvious, their smiles were so precious, you could tell that Bethel is the happiest place on earth. We can’t wait to go back, and can understand why so many friends move near there and commute or volunteer— every minute there is special!
We are so grateful to Jehovah for the experience and for our dear friends that arranged private tours and lunches for us. We cherish the special new friendships we made, and for all the Bethelites that took an interest in us and especially in the boys by encouraging them to pursue the finer things in life- of serving Jehovah full time to the best of our abilities.
In addition to it being spiritually encouraging staying at the NCB hotel, it is also centrally located between all the bethel facilities. A 30 - 40 minute drive gets you to any of the facilities, and this day we went to Patterson.
The Patterson tour is a classic walk through the facility with a tour guide in a group. Although some modern features have been added.
Here was our group and guide.
We hit all the “touristy” spots. :)
After our tour we got to enjoy lunch at Patterson with some friends of our friends that became friends of ours😜. The married couple were relatively newly married, although the brother had been serving at bethel for many years. They met while the brother participated in a special ministry campaign in a foreign county. The campaign was designed to reach Iranians that were visiting a neighboring country since preaching is extremely limited in Iran. Their story is very cute and the sister’s faith and trust in Jehovah as she moved away from family to a foreign place was very encouraging.
I must mention the food for this day! It was Cuban and so delicious. The brother said Bethel in the past hadn’t served many dishes that offered a spicy option but recently had started to include it more often. This lunch was chicken with a dry rub but had a spicy sauce you could put on top. Makes my mouth water just recalling it! The side dishes were equally tasty, even included a cabbage dish that really surprised me how flavorful it was. Cabbage! Crazy right!? I never thought I’d make such an unusual claim, but it was amazing.
While visiting with the brother and sister we were very impressed how they had carefully made decisions in the past. Each relying on Jehovah for guidance and direction. Being patient to see Jehovah answer their prayers and not to rush into anything. Such a good example for us. A lovely lunch all around.
Another special treat came after lunch when some friends hooked us up with a brother that was willing to give us a tour of Mt. Ebo. Are you wondering what Mt. Ebo is? Well, I certainly was. This is Mt. Ebo.
Mt. Ebo is a purchased building a few minutes from Patterson to help with the Audio Video department at Patterson. If you’re wondering if the name means anything (like I was), it does not. Like the name Tuxedo, Mt. Ebo is just the name of the area, the location.
There are large sound proof sets for filming and a massive prop warehouse. They also build sets and stages, costumes, beards and whatever else is needed for a video. We even saw a boat that was mainly made out of styrofoam but even up close it looked like real wood- the real deal. During filming the boat could even rock and simulate wave movements. Here’s two costumes they had on display.
We weren’t allowed to take pictures inside the filming area where the stages were located, sorry. It was very interesting to hear what it takes to make a video, gave us a whole new appreciation for the videos and films we have. They go to great lengths to make sure everything looks right. Even the modern stitching on the above costumes had to be hidden so as not to be seen on film and the old style of sticthing is added to make it look authentic.
The brother giving us the tour told us how they create the beards. For smaller background parts, a pre-made beard could be put on. These are a lower quality but look real good from a distance. For a main character a lot more work is required. Take for example Hezekiah in the film ‘Oh Jehovah I Trust in You’. The brother playing the part has a mold of his face made. Using that mold, real hair is painstakingly stitched to it. Each and every hair is added one at a time. Some sister or brother must know exactly how many hairs are on Hezekiah’s chin. Then the beard is trimmed to the correct style and shape. For filming, the mold with the beard is glued on to the brother. Truly impressive.
We really appreciated the brother giving us this tour and explaining some of the details of how much work our friends do to prepare the videos for us!
Our last tour is tomorrow, Wallkill.
After a wonderful breakfast at the NCB hotel, we headed out to our first tour to start at 8:30am at the World Headquarters in Warwick. As we drove away from Newburgh where the hotel is located and got closer to the branch, we drove away from a busy city into the beautiful countryside. Buildings and telephone poles were replaced with hills and trees. The sound of honking cars and the buzz of too much traffic faded away to the peaceful and calming music of wind and nature.
Although we had previously seen pictures of the headquarters in its setting, it was still a shock of how stunning the property and buildings were.
After checking in and receiving our self-guided tour audio equipment we began our tour. You are allowed 3 hours for your tour, which won’t give you enough time to see everything. Someone told us that there is about 14 hours of recorded audio, we couldn’t verify that but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was true.
I don’t want to spoil the surprise for when you are able to visit and take the tours so I’m gonna leave much of those pictures and information out, I’ll just share some of our unique experiences. I greatly encourage all to start making plans to visit as soon as you can. The 3 days we spent touring each facility were by far the best vacation we have ever taken. The museum exhibits are so well put together, their fascinating, encouraging, sometimes funny and sometimes heart-breaking. There is something for everyone to enjoy and the exhibits are displayed so creatively. Warwick is a high quality museum!
Many exhibits have interactive touch screens, like this one.
Probably the largest exhibit was, ‘A People for Jehovah’s Name.’ Many “artifacts” are on display with audio clips you listen to as it describes the item or an experience associated with it. We spent a hour in there but had to fly past much of it so that we would have time for the other exhibits.
This exhibit covers all of Jehovah’s modern-day people’s history, from the beginning to current times. Items that we have only ever seen in pictures or heard about in magazines were on display. One such exhibit was the Photo Drama of Creation. Checking out the slides from that was so cool.
Here’s Wesley standing inside a prison cell that some witnesses were locked in. I forget the county, but as you can see there isn’t enough room to lay down, possibly not even sit.
We quickly ran out of time! But one “must see” is a new Russian Exhibit. It is a temporary exhibit, I’m not sure how long it will be open. This tear jerking exhibit shows what our brothers and sisters have had to endure in Russia over the many decades of persecution. Be warned, take some Kleenex.
One part of this small exhibit is a recreated room that was used by a brother for many years to secretly make copies of the magazines for the friends. The room was underground and was smaller than many people’s closets. He would stay in the tiny space for up to two weeks at time to decrease the chances of being discovered. It’s hard to imagine what that would have been like. For around 7 years this brother spent much of his life in voluntary solitary confinement because he loved his brothers so much.
After our allotted time ran out, we were able to have lunch with some friends that we were introduced to. The lunch room at Warwick was full so we got to have lunch in the Tuxedo lunch room. The Tuxedo complex is a short 5 min drive from Warwick. It was originally purchased to room volunteers working on Warwick. It is now residence for Bethelites and houses the computer department and is where the Broadcasting studio is located.
The procedure for Bethel lunch has been simplified. Eating in the dinning room is now optional. If you desire you can go through a “buffet” line and take your food somewhere else to eat. Only if you are eating in the lunch room do you need to be dressed in meeting clothes. We had a great time with our new friends. We got to learn about their experiences and their assignments. They are now dear friends.
After lunch, we got to tour the Tuxedo complex by another brother that we were introduced to. This brother works with a small group of brothers that overseers the networking connections between branches, remote Bethelites and RTOs- FOR THE WHOLE WORLD!
Okay, they are not connected to the whole world yet, but they are working on it. He showed us on a monitor of all the places they are already tied into and it was mind blowing. This brother has been in bethel for only 2 years and is helping carry out such an important function. He jokingly said it must be a mistake he was working there.
The brother took us all over the complex (except the studio) including what they call the “space ship.” Notice in the picture below the part of the building that is raised and sticks in front of the main part of the building? That is the “space ship.”
What must every spaceship have in it? A helm or bridge, and yes he took us inside to see. It’s really a conference room for their meetings. He tried prank calling someone in his department while we in there together, my kind of brother!
Part of what they do at Tuxedo is pre-building servers, routers, and other necessary electronics needed around the world. They even maintain and repair the video “walls” that are used at conventions. In fact, our organization owns the most videos “walls” in the world. After the equipment is built or repaired, it is tested then shipped to where it will be used.
Here’s Wes getting ready to help.
Well, as you can see we had an amazing time at Warwick and Tuxedo. The brothers and sisters that gave us tours or had us for lunch showed such warm hospitality. Each of them went well above and beyond what we expected. I know that you’ll have a similar experience!
Tomorrow we tour Patterson and Mt Ebo!
Have you ever had a dream where you are in paradise? Everything around you is beautiful and you’re surrounded only by Jehovah’s people. This dream was a reality for us the morning we woke up in one of Bethel’s new hotels, the NCB.
The NCB is a hotel the branch purchased to house volunteer workers during the construction of the new world headquarters. Now that the project is complete, visitors touring Bethel can apply to stay at the hotel. It is a beautiful hotel staffed only by fellow Witnesses. Some of those working there are permanent Bethelites, commuters or local congregation volunteers.
When we first arrived at the hotel, we were greeted by Caleb and Sophia in the gorgeous lobby.
Each morning we would wake up in a clean, lovely decorated hotel room and then get prepared for the day. As we walked out of our room into the hallway, original songs were playing softly overhead. After a brief elevator ride down to the lobby we were greeted by warm smiles and friendly faces- Paradise.
By far the best part of staying at the NCB was visiting with the brothers and sisters. One Bethelite working there was a brother from Rwanda. (I’m withholding Bethelite’s names for their privacy) He was the only person in his family in the truth. We saw him most days working so hard maintaining and cleaning the hotel, often with beads of sweat on his forehead and a giant smile across his face.
One commuter we met was a sister that lived nearby. She has a daughter serving at Fishkill and a son serving in the Dominican Republic. She volunteers a couple days each week and was working at the reception desk at the NCB along with other brothers and sisters. Both the NCB and NCA hotels are overseen by Fishkill, so some of the Bethelites and volunteers may end up serving at different Fishkill properties. It was so encouraging visiting with friends like these each morning.
Our very first morning there, we met an elderly couple that had lived and served in Brooklyn for many decades. They are now living in the Rivercrest Apartments at Fishkill, the property that cares for the elderly. The apartment complex is located about a 15 min drive from the hotel and is right on the Hudson River. As with all other Bethel properties, the grounds are landscaped beautifully and the apartments are magnificently cared for.
Some older Bethelites from Fishkill would come to the hotel during breakfast and visit and encourage those touring Bethel. A wonderful provision from Jehovah that adds to the beauty of this paradise. Not only does it show respect for long time servants by giving them a valuable assignment, but it is also a source of great encouragement for those visiting. The couple brought with them a special souvenir for the young ones. Many of the brothers and sisters at Fishkill are limited due to age and health but some enjoy making souvenirs for the kids. Here’s the one Wesley got.
After visiting with the couple for a few minutes they invited us to their apartment. We had no tours that day so we were able to go. Unlike the Bethel rooms back in Brooklyn, the Rivercrest apartment rooms are spacious. Along with the bedroom and living room, they had a small kitchen, an office space and a spare room for quests.
The brother served in the writing department for many years, and his library was very impressive with notes sticking out of them everywhere. The sister worked in the sewing department and loved her assignment. We were greatly encouraged by their experiences and loved spending time with them.
It was so wonderful to meet many different brothers and sisters that were either serving at the hotel or staying there. Just to mention one more and I’ll give you his name cause he freely gave it out and his life story is in the Watchtower and is a ‘Must-Read’, his name is Brother Eric Beveridge.
Bro Beveridge also lives at Fishkill and came to offer some encouragement and gave another souvenir to Wesley. He was so happy to be there and he made sure to get around to everyone. I wish I had thought to record visiting with him cause you would probably recognize his voice. He is the narrator for the movies, Noah Walked with God and David Trusted in God. He literally spoke those words in his “movie voice” to all those in the lobby. I jokingly asked him to say, “Kevin walked with God,” he did not. He was a real hoot. Bro Beveridge speaks Spanish fluently because he served in Spain for many years. When he heard we were going to Ecuador he had the boys practice their Spanish with him. He is also the new reader for the Bible book Nahum. He is such a good example of those that joyously serve Jehovah to the best they can, and as you can tell by his smile, he still is happily doing so.
The experience of staying at the NCB hotel gave us a taste of what paradise will be like- when everyone around you loves Jehovah, loves you and wants to encourage you. We got so built up, but that wasn’t all that Jehovah had in store for us. As you continue to read, you’ll see a glimpse of the floodgates He poured out on us as we toured The Houses of God.
First tour, Warwick.
En-route to Ecuador we stopped to visit family and friends in Michigan. We visited for nearly a month and stayed in my sisters basement for most of the time, send your expressions of sympathy to her in the comments. 😜
We also quickly got to know my sister’s new congregation- Grand Ledge. They were very loving, fun and supportive. 1 Brother even gave the boys some toy cars and other gifts. Some of the friends we knew from when we used to live in Michigan, back when I still had hair. We had a great time catching up and making new friends too.
Possibly the best part of our time in Michigan was doing Family Worship together. It’s a real blessing to have family members that serve and worship Jehovah, and doing so together brings great joy!
Towards the end of the trip, we went North to where my parents live. While my sister does live “out in the country,” you could say my parents live “out in the middle of nowhere.”
We also went to a water park for 2 days. BOY! It was a lot of work having fun! Took us a day to recover afterward, haha. The kids hit the slides hard, over and over again. I won’t burn scary images into your brain of me in my suit, but one fun activity most of us did was the body surfing. Here’s the bloopers, I mean the highlights.
We had many other ‘Good Times!’ together that time doesn’t permit me to mention.
Goodbyes are always sour. Time is such a limited resource and spending it with those we love is so precious. It will be one of the many great gifts Jehovah will soon give us all, Limitless time. But until then it’s a challenge to know you won’t see your loved ones for awhile.
Next Stop: Bethel
While the beginning of our adventure to move where the need is greater began many years ago and there have been many steps leading to this point, we are now preparing to take the challenging step of leaving home and crossing over into “Macedonia,” aka: Ecuador.
Here is a brief review of some of the steps we’ve recently taken.
In June we put our house up for sale and we recieved 2 offers within 3 days. The offer we accepted even let us stay in our house for FREE till the end of September, just 4 days before we had scheduled to leave. All throughout the process of preparing to move, we saw Jehovah’s hand in many ways, helping us to make wise decisions, having the strength to make difficult changes, receiving encouragement just at the right moment and so many more ways.
The day we signed the documents to sell our house, our home that we had lived in for more than 10 years, we experienced a sense of calm that only Jehovah could have provided.
At the end of September, as we were nearing the move and in the process of emptying our house, we got to enjoy a wonderful spiritual boost, our Circuit Assembly.
The highlight of the assembly for our family was the baptism. Our 11 year old son, Connor, was baptized and I was blessed with the privilege of baptizing him.
The day after our assembly, our friends and family had a going away party for us. We can’t express how loved everyone made us feel. Saying goodbye to everyone is proving to be the most difficult part of preparing to move! But the hope we all have, to enjoy spending endless time together in the near future, brings us great comfort. Thank you everyone for your love and generosity.
One thing in particular that I will miss at Fisher’s Landing is the elder body. We weren’t just a group of brothers serving together, we are close friends! One tradition we had as a body was to go out for snacks after every quarterly. This strengthened our bonds of friendship and I have terrific memories from those nights. Like my final quarterly, which was on the day before we moved out of our house. Jetsun couldn’t make it so we called in a substitute, Casey Pine! Love you Brothers!
Our last night in our empty house. While it was sad and hard to leave, we are excited for what lays ahead.
While staying with Mom and Dad (Tom and Carmen) the last couple days, Logan worked on his basketball game and made a lot of improvement. See video below.
There was so much more that could be said. The challenges, the help from Jehovah, the genoristy from our friends, but time marches on. The day for boarding the plane came fast. Although we had been planning this for many years, it’s hard to believe the day had arrived.
Our first stop is Michigan, to visit our family, from there Bethel for the tours, followed by a short stop in Florida, then Ecuador. Thanks for following us on this amazing adventure!
For more information on the steps that helped us prepare for moving where the need is greater, check out the TIPS page. Thank you everyone!