ON MARCH 6, 1992, the Wood family learned that their youngest member, seven-year-old Joshua, had an acute form of leukemia, a life-threatening disease. Joshua’s oldest brother, age 16, and his sister, age 19, are full-time ministers (pioneers) of Jehovah’s Witnesses, as is his father. Joshua’s other brother is ten.
To treat Joshua’s disease, aggressive chemotherapy was immediately begun. One side effect was loss of appetite, so it was a constant struggle to get Joshua to eat. In July the entire family decided to attend together the district convention of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Lafayette, Louisiana, U.S.A., which is not far from their home in Winnfield. While he was there, Joshua’s condition deteriorated, and on Saturday morning he was taken to a hospital emergency room. After the convention his parents took him to the hospital in New Orleans, where he regularly receives treatment.
While the family was in New Orleans, a social worker told Joshua’s mother, April, about a program that fulfills the wishes of seriously ill children. An application for the program was left with April, and she and her husband, Paul, filled it out. When Joshua was brought back to New Orleans at the end of August for his regular monthly check-up, Jim, a man who represents the program, came by to talk with Joshua about his wish.
“I want to go to New York,” Joshua said.
Since children often wish to go to some type of amusement park, Jim wondered why Joshua wanted to go to New York. “I want to see the Watchtower Society,” Joshua replied.
“What is that?” Jim asked.
“You know, that’s where they make the magazines, Bibles, books, and tracts.”
April explained further to Jim about the headquarters of Jehovah’s Witnesses and the publishing work that goes on there. “My brother is visiting there right now,” Joshua said, “and I would like to go with my whole family.”
After learning that there were six in the family, Jim asked Joshua whether he might not instead like to go to Disney World in Florida. Joshua was sure about wanting to go to New York. Jim explained that he didn’t know whether the request could be fulfilled but that he would check into it. Jim asked Joshua for his second choice.
“An IBM computer,” Joshua replied.
“Why IBM?” Jim wanted to know.
Joshua said it was so that he could get the Bible on diskette from the Watch Tower Society. (Joshua knew that the Bible diskette is for IBM-compatible computers.) Jim then asked again: “Are you sure you don’t want to go to Disney World?”
“I’m sure,” Joshua said.
A few days later, Jim came back to tell Joshua that his wish to go to New York with his family had been granted. “Josh is the type of child who stays pretty calm about things that excite most people,” his mother explained, “but I was ecstatic!”
On September 30 the Wood family flew from New Orleans to New York City. None had previously visited the Watchtower facilities except Buddy, the oldest boy, who had been there only a few weeks before. All six were accommodated at the Ramada Inn motel in Manhattan, New York, and were provided limousine service to the Witnesses’ shipping, printing, office, and residence complexes across the East River in Brooklyn.
During two days they were there, the family received guided tours of the headquarters facilities. One day they toured the office buildings and the five-building factory complex. On the next day, they visited the million-square-foot [90,000 sq m] building that houses shipping, tape duplicating, and other operations, as well as toured some of the 21 residence buildings that accommodate the more than three thousand volunteers. During the family’s stay, special arrangements were made for them to enjoy three meals with the headquarters staff, to eat in one of the ten dining rooms.
On October 3 the family rented a car and drove about a hundred miles [160 km] north to visit Watchtower Farms. They toured the large printing complex there and also saw where much of the food for the headquarters staff is grown. In the afternoon, the family visited the still-under-construction Watchtower Educational Center, located near Patterson, New York, about an hour’s drive from Watchtower Farms, and then made it back to New York after nightfall.
The following day a limousine took them to New York’s Kennedy Airport for their return flight to New Orleans. Joshua’s wish to see “where they make the magazines, Bibles, books, and tracts” had been fulfilled. The Wood family is deeply grateful to the wish program for their all-expense-paid, spiritually strengthening trip.
A few weeks later, in mid-November, while at the hospital in New Orleans for his monthly treatment, Joshua was invited to be a guest of the popular country-and-western singer Garth Brooks at one of his performances in Monroe, Louisiana. Afterward, when Joshua and his father were invited backstage by Mr. Brooks, Joshua presented him with a copy of the Bible study aid You Can Live Forever in Paradise on Earth. When Joshua asked Mr. Brooks how his child was doing (he has a young daughter), he was visibly moved by Joshua’s interest.
Surely it is refreshing when a child is concerned about the interests of others, especially when his choices reflect an interest in spiritual things! If you could receive a wish, would you choose that which would benefit yourself and others spiritually?
[Pictures on page 16, 17]
Where Joshua and his family visited
Right: Watchtower Educational Center
Below: Watchtower office complex
Left: 360 Furman building, which houses Shipping Department
Below: Factory complex
Left: Watchtower Farms and printing complex