Each year, tens of thousands of people tour the buildings of the United States branch office and the world headquarters of Jehovah’s Witnesses in New York State. These locations are called Bethel, which is a Hebrew name meaning “House of God.” Visitors travel from near and far to see literature being produced, learn how our work is organized, and visit their friends who serve there. One recent visitor was particularly determined to make the trip.
Marcellus, one of Jehovah’s Witnesses who lives in Anchorage, Alaska, U.S.A., can speak only a few words since suffering a stroke some years ago. * He is confined to a wheelchair and needs assistance with daily tasks. In spite of these challenges, he had a burning desire to visit Bethel. Recently, he realized his dream.
“He was persistent,” says Corey, a friend who helped Marcellus plan his trip. “He would call me regularly for updates. Since Marcellus’ vocabulary is limited mainly to ‘Yes’ and ‘No,’ I had to ask a series of questions when he called.” Their conversations went something like this:
“Do you need me to come over?”
“Do you need me to call the doctor?”
“Is this about your Bethel trip?”
“Then I’d have to explain my progress in planning the trip. I was very happy to see him reach that goal.”
Marcellus overcame several obstacles in order to make his trip. Since his income is limited, he saved for two years to pay for the 5,400-kilometer (3,400 mi) journey to New York. On account of his physical limitations, he had to find a capable traveling companion. Finally, he needed his doctor’s permission to take the trip, and he received this just a few days before his flight was scheduled to leave.
When Marcellus arrived in New York, he took guided tours of the facilities in Brooklyn, Patterson, and Wallkill. He saw huge printing presses producing books and Bibles and learned much about how our work is organized. He also saw exhibits entitled “The Bible and the Divine Name” and “A People for Jehovah’s Name.” Along the way, he made many new friends. It really was the trip of a lifetime!
Many say that words fail them when asked to describe a trip to Bethel. But when Marcellus was asked if his visit to Bethel was worth the effort, he replied, in the only way that he could: “Yes. Yes. Yes!”
A trip to Bethel can be an encouraging experience for you and your family, just as it was for Marcellus. Visitors are welcome at our branch offices around the world. Why not come visit us?
^ par. 3 Marcellus died on May 19, 2014, as this article was being finalized for publication.