Almost two weeks have passed since friends and family have heard from Sierra Shields, and although there have been tough moments filled with a wide range of emotions, there is one thing keeping them going — faith.
Shields was last seen on Jan. 14 leaving her job at LaGuardia Airport on foot after reportedly quitting out of the blue.
Although the reason for the 30-year-old’s disappearance and the details that led to her walking out are still a mystery, members of her local church have worked tirelessly with Shields’ family to get the word out and help find her.
Larry Mayberry, pastor of the Connection Church in Astoria — where Shields has been a member since 2014 — says parishioners have come together in hopes of finding Shields, who was like a member of their family.
“A lot of people that are part of our church family love her a lot,” Mayberry said.
Mayberry said Shields had a personality that always wanted to help and serve. She was one of the teachers who would teach ESL for free on Sundays and was always offering to do jobs no one else would do.
Shields was also known for giving “the best hugs,” Mayberry added, because she would squeeze tight and everybody loved it.
“She was always serving in some way,” Mayberry said. “ She was very, very compassionate. Rarely thinking of herself and always thinking of others.”
Since day one, members of the church have passed out fliers with photos and information of the missing Astoria resident, with teams of people going out four to five times in a row to hang fliers.
Volunteers have hit every subway line and most of the major subway stations trying to spread the word. They have also checked hospitals and shelters, and have reached out to local elected officials.
Members of the church have also been hosting Shields’ family — who traveled to New York City from Chicago — and have been providing them with cooked meals and keeping them company.
Four members of her family are currently still in the city helping with efforts to look for Shields. Three of her siblings were also able to attend a vigil of hope in New York on Jan. 22 thanks to the airline Shields worked for flying them over.
“[We’re] just trying to make sure the family doesn’t have to worry about anything other than finding Sierra,” Mayberry said. “Sierra was our family too so of course we would do this.”
And although at times her family has been overcome with emotion, Mayberry said that through it all they have remained strong and keep their faith strong — something that has helped everyone see a bright future.
“The family has an incredible amount of faith in God and the fact that Sierra will be found and that has been inspiring for all the people in our church,” Mayberry said.
A Facebook page called “Find Sierra Shields” was also created days following the young woman’s disappearance and has since garnered over 9,000 likes and receives constant comments of support and love from all over the country.
Through this campaign — which uses the hashtags #FindSierraNYC and #616Sierra — participants are asked to spend 16 minutes a day, for the next six days, sharing the information.
“We don’t belie that God has forsaken or forgotten Sierra and we don’t believe He has forgotten us in our search for her,” Mayberry said.
Shields is described as 5 feet 7 inches tall and weighing 160 pounds, with a medium build, medium complexion, black hair and brown eyes.
Anyone with information on Shields is asked to call the NYPD's Crime Stoppers Hotline at 800-577-TIPS.
The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers Website or texting their tips to 274637(CRIMES) then enter TIP577.