Hundreds of mourners lit candles at the Arizona courthouse in Prescott on Wednesday to honor the life of Kayla Mueller, the Christian aid worker who was killed at the hands of ISIS earlier this month. Her brother, Eric Mueller, read out a letter and said that his sister is "in God's hands" now and that sometimes God "takes his angels home early."
"I love you. You can rest in peace knowing that you changed this world. I miss you so much and I'm lost without your smile," Mueller addressed his sister in his speech, according to The Arizona Republic.
He continued: "We will make it, knowing you are still here in spirit. I still feel your touch. I still feel your hugs. I know you are protecting us. God works in mysterious ways — ways we don't agree with, ways we don't understand — but sometimes he takes his angels home early. I'll never stop loving you. I love you, Kayla."
The 26-year-old American aid worker, who had been held captive by ISIS since 2013 after being captured in Syria, was confirmed dead by American officials last week. ISIS, which sent her parents in Arizona pictures of her body, claimed that she died during a Jordanian airstrike, but the U.S. has been unable to determine the cause of death.
Mueller's parents, Carl and Marsha Mueller, said that their daughter's Christian faith had given her comfort during her time in captivity. They shared a letter they received from the aid worker, which read:
"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 literally there was no else ... + by God + by your prayers I have felt tenderly cradled in freefall."
At the vigil on Wednesday, speakers reflected on Mueller's life and work, while strangers and friends put together a scrapbook and left cards, The Associated Press noted.
Eric Mueller was the only family member to speak publicly at the memorial.
"May God keep you from any more harm, any more hurt," he said. "You are in his hands now. You do not have to suffer anymore. Only now will you be able to see how much you really did and truly did for this world by looking down on it from above."
He encouraged the audience to "let Kayla's heart live on through all of us and the people that she has touched in her life."
Mueller continued: "If you see somebody struggling, (if) you see somebody upset, go give them a hug. Do what Kayla what do. Make the community even stronger. That's all it's going to do."
Other friends also reflected on the good Mueller brought out in the community.
"She was a saint," said Rebecca Dunn, who attended high school with the aid worker in Prescott. "I'm hoping someone can take on her legacy. There was nothing she couldn't do."