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[dc]"H[/dc]er heart, her mind, her guitar, her pen, her computer," are what her family says they will remember, together with her empathy.

Kayla Mueller

Her best friend quoted Kayla Mueller's words to her: "Peace is not something you wish for. It's something you do, something you work for, something you live, something you are."

She went to Turkey, then Syria, as an aid worker, to help refugees from the Syrian Civil War. She was abducted by terrorists in August, 2013. She was killed while imprisoned by those terrorists.

While there, this remarkable young woman taught songs and origami to her captor's guards. She taught them to fold paper cranes, the symbol of peace in Japan, where origami originated. And, in secret, she wrote an incredible letter.

Yesterday morning, portions of the letter from Kayla Mueller to her family, smuggled out last fall by two French women hostages as they were being released, were read on tv.

You do not need to share Kayla Mueller's religious beliefs. You share her humanity.

Immediately I thought of other powerful letters from others facing the threat of death:

I thought of the Civil War letter from Sullivan Ballou to his wife, penned on the eve of battle. I thought of the letter from William Barrett Travis from the Alamo, facing impossible odds. I thought of the famous "Letter from a Birmingham Jail," since Kayla was a peace activist, as was the author of that 1963 letter. (Links to each letter are at the bottom.)

Most of those letters spoke for many. Only one of those letters from another time spoke for just one individual. But each of the people who wrote those letters still speaks to each of us. They will speak to people not yet born. Kayla Mueller's letter belongs among those.

Here's the full text of her letter, with paragraph breaks added for readability.


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If you are receiving this letter it means I am still detained but my cell mates (starting from 11/2/2014) have been released. I have asked them to contact you + send this letter. It's hard to know what to say. Please know I am in a safe location, completely unharmed + healthy (put on weight in fact); I have been treated w/ the utmost respect + kindness.

I wanted to write you all a well thought out letter (but I didn't know if my cell mates would be leaving in the coming days or the coming months restricting my time but primarily) I could only but write the letter a paragraph at a time, just the thought of you sends me into a fit of tears.

If you could say I have "suffered" at all throughout this whole experience it is only in knowing how much suffering I have put you all through; I will never ask you to forgive me as I do not deserve forgiveness.

I remember mom always telling me that all in all in the end the only one you really have is God. I have come to a place in experience where, in every sense of the word, I have surrendered myself to our creator b/c there was literally no one else... + by God + by your prayers I have felt tenderly cradled in freefall.

I have been shown in darkness, light + have learned that, even in prison, one can be free. I am grateful. I have come to see there is good in every situation, sometimes we just have to look for it. I pray each day that if nothing else you have felt a certain closeness + surrender to God as well + have formed a bond of love + support amongst one another... I miss you all as if it has been a decade of forced separation.

I have had many a long hour to think, to think of all the things I will do w/ Lex, our first family camping trip, the first meeting @ the airport. I have had many hours to think how only in your absence have I finally @ 25 years old come to realize your place in my life. The gift that is each one of you + the person I could + could not be if you were not a part of my life, my fmaily, my support. I DO NOT want the negotiations for my release to be your duty, if there is any other option take it, even if it takes more time.

This should never have become your burden.

I have asked these women to support you; please seek their advice. If you have not done so already, [REDACTED] can contact [REDACTED] who may have a certain level of experience with these people. None of us could have known it would be this long but I know I am also fighting from my side in the ways that I am able + I have a lot of fight left in me. I am not breaking down + I will not give in no matter how long it takes.

I wrote a song some months ago that says,"The part of me that pains the most also gets me out of bed, w/out your hope there would be nothing left..." aka —The thought of your pain is the source of my own, simultaneously the hope of our reunion is the source of my strength.

Please be patient, give your pain to God. I know you would want me to remain strong. That is exactly what I am doing. Do not fear for me, continue to pray as will I + by God's will we will be together soon.

All my everything,


Larry Wines