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I haven’t updated this blog very much lately because I’ve been busy with the other blog for Susan’s case, plus all the regular efforts to find her.  Also, I’ve found myself in a sad and strange situation. 

When Susan disappeared nearly 4 months ago, mine and my family’s life got put on hold.  Every thought, word, effort, and breath was all about Susan.  I spent all my time doing everything I could to keep her in the news, help the police in any way possible, and do all I could to find my friend.

My family suffered, of course, both my husband and kids and my extended family.  I kept them fed and clothed but everything else was a bare minimum. 

On Tuesday it will be exactly 4 months since Susan disappeared.  Nothing has changed for me—I still think of her with every thought and am still doing all I can to find her.  But I’ve had to return to “normal” life in some ways, for the sake of my children, who need me, and my husband and other family members. 

I’ve hesitated to post anything on my blog since Susan disappeared that wasn’t about her.  But the whole reason I started a blog was so our relatives and friends who live farther away and can’t be with our family as often as they’d like to could be a little more in touch with our lives.  So I guess now the blog will need to also struggle to find a balance between Susan-postings and bits from our lives, much as I am now struggling to do myself every day. 

It’s very hard to cook a nice dinner for my family and fold laundry when my mind and heart are so grief-stricken that my friend is still gone.  As much as I love my kids, it’s hard to give them undivided attention for hours when all I can think about is Susan.

But the last thing she would want is for my family or anyone else to suffer on her behalf, so we do what we can to continue our efforts to find her and still take care of our responsibilities and priorities. 

I update the Service for Susan blog regularly on the latest news and activities surrounding Susan’s case and disappearance, so check there often if you’re not on the Friends and Family of Susan Powell Facebook group

I hope everyone has enjoyed a sweet and peaceful Easter, surrounded by loved ones, and remembering the Savior…He who makes it possible for all of us to live again.

Art by the ultra-talented Simon Dewey; picture from Bev’s Country Cottage, a great charity website full of knitting and crochet patterns and other cool stuff.

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I’ve been trying to decide for a couple of days whether I should post on this topic or not.  More than likely it’ll bring even more “haters” down on my head.  But this is my blog and I have just as much freedom of speech as anyone else, so I decided to do it.

First, I want to give a little background to both myself and the Facebook group I started.  I’ve told the Facebook group beginning to numerous media sources but the general public hasn’t yet heard it. 

About me: I’m 34 years old, originally from northern Wisconsin, a beautiful land covered in deep green forests and thousands of lakes and rivers. 

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County J, a beautiful road near Eagle River, Wisconsin

I’m the oldest of 7 kids.  I was homeschooled (except for one semester of high school when I attended full-time so I could take driver’s training) until college, which I attended in Utah.  I graduated from LDS Business College (LDSBC) with an Associate of Science degree, transferred to BYU, and graduated with honors with a Bachelor of Arts in English. 

I met my husband John at LDSBC in 1995.  We are both members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS church) and both of us served as volunteer missionaries from 1996-1998.  We got married in May of 1998 a few months after coming home from our missions.  We now have three children, which I homeschool.  My husband works as a computer programmer.  I fill my spare time with writing, reading, knitting/crochet, music, and time with family and friends. 

applied i-cord edging

Detail from one of my knitting projects

John and I moved into our current home in West Valley in 2003.  Since we had both recently finished college and had 3 small kids, we were excited to make new friends and meet people.  But most young people in our area were still in school and working and too busy to have time for friends.  In the spring of 2004, Josh and Susan Powell bought a house in our neighborhood and came to church.  Their first Sunday at church we introduced ourselves and told them we’d love to have them over sometime to get to know them.  They said “Sure, that sounds great!”

We thought that was the end of that, assuming they were as busy as everyone else and wouldn’t have time.  But we were proved wrong the next Sunday when they asked, “Is today good for getting together?”

Since that time, we’ve been very, very close friends.  The Powells came over to our house at least once a week, many times more often.  We went on picnics together, babysat each other’s kids, went to parades and movies and other activities.  We stayed home and played games, watched movies, went on walks and bike rides. 

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Thanksgiving a few years ago with Josh, Susan, and my family

When Susan went missing three weeks ago, I was besieged with phone calls all day from members of my local congregation (called a “ward,” for those unfamiliar with LDS terms).  They knew I was in close contact with both Josh and Susan’s family and they wanted to stay in touch constantly.  I tried sending out mass update messages to my ward friends on Facebook but it just got too overwhelming to try to update everyone that way.

When Kayla Reed (ward member and friend) suggested that I start a Facebook group so we could all stay in touch easier, I thought it was a terrific idea.  I’d never started one before and didn’t know anything about it but the process was easy enough and took less than 5 minutes.  I started it at 6pm on Tuesday, December 8.  The purpose of this group was to give the ward members a chance to easily interact/comfort/share news with each other about Susan’s disappearance. 

I had no idea it would expand so quickly.  No idea that Susan’s family and Josh’s family would visit the page to update us all on the search for Susan AND to receive much-needed comfort and support.  No idea that it would become “Search Central” with a wealth of information on donations to Susan’s family, lists of people with specialized volunteer help, people willing to do a physical search, and many other topics.  No idea that thousands upon thousands of people from all over the world would join to get news, updates, and express their prayers and support for Susan’s family.  No idea that this little group would become such an invaluable tool for finding Susan.  Within days we were over several thousand members and now, less than three weeks later, the group membership is over 10,000.  The purpose of the group has changed a little, and I’ve had to “hire” additional administrators (these other admins are volunteers and doing hundreds of hours of behind-the-scenes work on YouTube channels, social media, and other things to help find Susan…and all of this in addition to their regular full-time jobs, families, and normal busy lives). 

Like anything in life, with growth comes problems.  We’ve asked—as have Susan’s and Josh’s families—over and over that no one posts anything negative, hurtful, speculative, or accusatory on this Facebook group.  99% of the group members have honored this request.  But some have not, and they’ve had their posts deleted and if they’re repeat offenders, we’ve had to ban them from posting to the group.  Also, I have found myself, to my surprise and disgust, bearing the brunt of many online attacks from anything from my physical appearance to accusations of “wanting fame” and “trying to get rich” from Susan’s story. 

These accusations are very hurtful.  They cause tons of additional pain to myself and those of us who are already hurting so much that it seems impossible we can feel any more pain.  People want to know, Why are you still friends with Josh?  Why aren’t you physically searching all day long?  Why don’t you ask Josh, if he’s still your friend, all the questions people want to know?

When I tell people the answers to these questions, they either 1) don’t believe me or 2) dismiss my answer as something they don’t want to hear and would rather belittle, criticize, and make fun of. 

Here, once and for all is the short answer to those questions: You don’t know all the details here.  There are many, many details of Susan’s background/relationship with Josh/etc. that have NOT been made public.  And you WILL NOT hear them from me, either.  My whole goal, focus and priority here is to find Susan.  This includes not telling the world things the police want kept inside the investigation

There are things the general public has never even thought of, about this investigation.  And it’s going to stay that way.  I’m not going to explain my reasons for remaining Josh’s friend or what I have or haven’t asked him.  What I will do (and have done) is tell the police any and all information I have that will help them find Susan. 

And as for physically searching?  Yes, I’ve seen the comments out there.  Some people think they can use the internet to spew poison and vitriol on anything and anyone they want to because they’re “safely anonymous.”  So they can say anything they want about anyone, no matter if it’s slander or libel or defaming someone’s character and reputation.  Not to mention, cruel, hurtful, and tearing someone’s soul to shreds.

Here’s the lowdown on the physical search: Chuck Cox, Susan’s father, has said that if anyone wants to do their own search, you must contact the West Valley PD.  Get their permission and register a record of where in the wilderness you want to search and then report back to them after you’re done.

As for me?  People are always asking me what I believe happened to Susan.  I’ve imagined many horrible scenarios but the one I believe most likely (for reasons I won’t share, but I will say they’re good reasons) is that Susan has been taken against her will and is most likely not in the state of Utah.  This is why I personally am not out searching the desert or mountains with my three little kids.  I won’t waste my time or resources fruitlessly looking for someone who may not even be in the state.  Instead, what I believe to be the greatest help here is the vast power of the internet. 

I’ve seen how fast something can spread across the internet.  It’s a very powerful tool.  I know the “haters” will keep laughing at me for doing this, saying I’m wasting my time and it won’t do a bit of good because they believe Josh has done the unthinkable and that Susan’s body is dumped somewhere close by.  So, according to them, I’m dumb and naive (and worse) for believing anything else. 

Well, guess what…as I said above, I have my reasons for believing what I believe and I’m not going to share them with anyone but the police.  So here’s a suggestion to all the “armchair detectives” and “amateur gumshoes” and all the rest who want to spend their day criticizing, defaming, and hurting others with their cruel words: why don’t you start using your energy to HELP find Susan instead of HURT? 

But I suppose I’m wasting my breath.  If you really cared, you’d be either joining our effort to post fliers in every state and city or spread the word online or else coming up with your own effort.  You see, unlike you, I believe and hope that Susan is still alive.  And even if she isn’t, I also believe that someone, somewhere, knows or has seen something that will help us find her.  So yes, I believe I am not wasting my time by doing everything I can do—especially online—to spread her name and picture to the far corners of the globe. 

I want my friend back.  More than anything else in the world.  If you want to find her, please help in a constructive way…not by tearing down and hurting others.

One last thing.  As to accusations of wanting fame and money from this?  Wow.  That is the most hurtful of all.  I would not take one penny from ANYONE in the media or anywhere else in this effort to find Susan.  And I know very well that I’m no model—I do not like being on camera and I hate the sound of my recorded voice.  Please believe me when I say that appearing on local and national TV are the last things I want to be doing with my time.  I would not do any of the media interviews if I didn’t believe it helps get her name and story out to the world.  And I can promise you that I have never, EVER contacted a single media outlet, asking them to come interview me.  They all call me…e-mail me…show up at my house unannounced. 

But I know you probably won’t believe that, either.  So go ahead with your time-wasting hatred that doesn’t do anyone one bit of good (especially yourselves).  As for me and my friends and the thousands of people that truly care about Susan, we’re going to spend all of our time and energy on helping any way we can to find our Susan and get her back to her family.

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Today in church the missionaries in our stake talked.  One of them is from Germany.   The other is new and has only been out of the MTC a couple of weeks, I believe.

The German elder talked first and he gave a great talk.   He was so confident and spiritual and shared such a nice testimony.   Then he ended his talk by telling us about how, as a youth, he was hurt and confused and in a lot of pain (spiritually, I’m guessing).   One day he went into an Orthodox church and said "God, if you’re real, please take this pain from me" and within a few minutes the pain was gone.   That was the beginning of his faith in God.

He didn’t tell us how he found the LDS church, but he did say that before his mission call, he was his parents’ only support.   He worked hard at his job and was able to provide for himself and for them…keep them stocked with firewood against the cold winter, buy food for them, and pay their bills.   When he got his mission call it was hard for him to go, because he knew his parents couldn’t get along without him.   He didn’t know what to do and was so worried about them starving or freezing to death.

But he quit his job and went on his mission, on total faith that if he did his best to take care of the Lord’s people, the Lord would take care of his.  

Well, a few months into his mission, he got an e-mail from a friend of his in Germany telling him that his parents had been without electricity, etc. for three months.   He was so worried and almost overcome by this news, knowing that if things were so bad that they had no electricity, they were probably starving, also, and that winter was coming and they’d freeze.   He prayed and prayed, asking the Lord to help them, and it was really hard for him to continue his missionary work when he wanted to rush home and save them.   But he kept working hard and trusting in his faith.

Soon after that there was a mission conference and he was in an interview with the mission president.   He said the president was inspired to ask, "How’s your family doing?" and when he did, this elder couldn’t keep his worry and emotions inside and poured it all out to him.  

The mission president contacted some people and now the church members in Germany are taking care of his parents…they got together and raised enough money somehow to pay for things until this elder comes home.   He ended by bearing his testimony that when we obey, do what’s right, have faith, and trust in the Lord, that the Lord will bless us.   He said he knows now that the Lord has a purpose in what happened…that because of the circumstances with his parents, being in such trouble and having the church members help them, that now his parents are being prepared to accept the gospel.

I thought it was a really wonderful story and wanted to share.

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