Monday, October 18, 2010

Passing of Juani - I Dedicated the Gravesite

Well, it was an interesting week last week.  There is this less active lady in our branch named Juani.  She 3 of her kids are members too, but they´re all inactive.  She had lung cancer and was battling it for 2 months.  We had started teaching her daughter Leti who came from Spain to take care of her, and also her sister Mirta who lives close and was taking care of her as well.  She had been taking chimotherapy every 2 weeks, and it wasn´t a strong treatment and she wasn´t losing her hair, but it was strong enough to affect her mobility and keep her in her bed most days.  We started visiting them about a month ago, maybe less.  Last Sunday, we visited them all like normal and shared something and Juani was still tired but was sitting up and talking and eating normally.  Tuesday we didn´t visit her, but the family said she stayed in bed all day, though able to eat and function somewhat normally.  Wednesday we went over there, and she just looked awful.  One side of her face couldn´t move, she was bed-ridden, and when she spoke it was all mumbled and we couldn´t understand her.  We taught her kids and family, and at the end we gave her a blessing.  A strange thing happened in that blessing.  Usually in blessing the sick I tell them that they will be healed according to the faith because that´s what I feel.  That blessing, I felt specifically not to bless her to be healed, but instead to bless her with spiritual strength and comfort to get through her trials and to know that Heavenly Father is very aware of her and has
her in His hands.  That was Wednesday night.  Because she looked so bad that night, we went back Thursday night to see how she was, and one of her nieces answered the door and said they had taken her to the hospital and would be staying there for the night.  She couldn´t speak at all, nor sit up, nor do anything.  To see if she was even conscious, they would take her hand and tell her that if she understood to squeeze her hand and she did.  She heard and understood things, but she couldn´t speak.  The next morning we heard that she passed away Thursday night in the hospital.  It happened really really fast, and the family was just devastated.  They had the open casket showing on Friday, which we went to (and I found out that it´s not something within my comfort zone), and on Friday they had the burial services which we also went to.  The daughter Leti asked us to sing a hymn, so my companion and I sang "Oh My Father".

Later that night, we went to their house to see how they were holding up.  Juani and 3 of her 4 children were the only members of the church in the family, and so Leti had decided to do half of the funeral service in the Catholic church for her Catholic family members, and the other half was going to be done by us to honor her mom´s religion.  Well, we weren´t told any of that, and so we didn´t do anything at the burial services.  She hadn´t asked us to speak or dedicate the grave or anything, but she was surprised when we didn´t.  Well we felt horrible for that, so we told her that Sunday after church (which was yesterday), we could go back to the cemetary with all her family and all the ward and can dedicate the gravesite.  So my companion and I prepared talks and asked 2 of the young women to sing a hymn for the services.  After church (during which I also gave a talk), we all walked down with Juani´s family to the cemetary.  We started with the song and a prayer, and then my companion gave his talk and then I talked.  When it was time to dedicate the gravesite (which is actually a priesthood ordinance that can be done, I didn´t know that), I asked Leti who she would like to dedicate it and she asked if I would do it.  So I looked really quick in my Missionary Handbook on how to do it and I dedicated the gravesite.  That´s something you never really expect to do on you mission, or really in your life I guess.  But I did, and the family was very grateful.  We´ve been visiting them daily to keep their spirits up and see how they´re doing.

The biggest problem is that Juani had 4 younger kids - ages 15, 13, 11, and 9.  Their dad died 8 years ago, so they are left as orphans.  They have a lot of family members nearby that they can live with, a lot of aunts and uncles that are willing to take them in, but they don´t have their parents anymore.  The 3 youngest are adjusting well, but Fernando the 15 year old is just torn apart.  He is in tears continually and he won´t talk to anybody.  He came to see the open casket showing for just 5 minutes and that´s because his aunt Mirta asked him to.  At the gravesite when they were going to put the coffin in it´s place, Leti asked Fernando to take one last look at his mom and say goodbye and he just couldn´t bring himself to do it.  Poor kid.  We talked to him on Friday and just gave him some advice and comfort and told him that we were there for anything that he needed.  He didn´t talk to us, he just sat there with his head down crying, but when we asked if it was ok that we pass by every few days to see if he needed anything, he shook his head yes.  We´re keeping an eye on him, I´m pretty worried about the kid.  So yeah, it´s been a pretty rough week.  We really came to love that family, and it´s tough to see them in such pain, but we´re doing all we can for them.  Just keep Juani´s family in your prayers, if you could.  We´re asked as missionaries not to ask people at home to participate in fasts or put names on the temple list, but if you could keep them in your prayers, that would be great.

Alright, on a different note.  Today we´ll finish up the last Article of Faith in the series.  Kinda sad, I liked doing them haha.  I learned a lot as well.  Here is Article of Faith number 13:
"We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul- We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things.  If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things."

I like this AoF because it is different from the others.  It is not some deep doctrine or even a statement of "belief", persay.  It is a statement that we, as Latter-day Saints, strive to be good people.  Instead of a statement of what we believe, it is a declaration of who we are.  As members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we follow the Master and try to be good people.  Being His church, we must strive to do as He did, to be as He was, to serve as He served.  We believe in old-fashioned common courtesy.  We believe in being solid, good people of integrity, and that these values and attributes are not washed-up or out-of-date.  These are attributes of Christ, and if we do not develop them, we cannot follow Him because we cannot be like Him.

Be honest - with yourself, with your fellow man, and with God.  Lying damages your credibility and diminishes your character.
Be true.  True to your faith, true to your family, true to yourself, true to your beliefs, true to all that you know to be good and wholesome.  Be true to God.
Be chaste.  "For I the Lord delighteth in the chastity of women" - and of all His children.  Be chaste in thought, in word, in desire, and in deed.
Be benevolent.  Have humility.  Stay meek, and carry a grace about you.  Benevolence is a powerful, but often quiet and unnoticed characteristic of godliness.
Be virtuous.  Integrity is doing the right thing in all in all things, and in all places - moreso when you think that nobody is watching.  Let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly.
Do good to all men.  Love those that hate you; if a man smiteth you on your cheek, turn and give him the other.  If a man asketh you a mile, go with him twain.  Love thy neighbor.  Just be like Christ.
Be quick to believe the word of Christ.  Cynics and skeptics will be some of the most repentant in the next life, I believe.  Take the time to find out the truth, being open minded.
Hope is a principle that, when put into action, can carry you through the dread of the dark night and the fury of the raging storm.  If you´re going through hell - keep going.
Endure all things.  Be thankful for the trials you have.  Look for the silver lining in everything, because those who can´t find it don´t want to look for it.
Seek the best things of the world.  Knowledge, love, trust, friendship, service, purity, and virtue.

If you think this sounds like a fairy tale or a fantasy or what have you, or that this all sounds quite stupid and childish, I say to you that you don´t know Jesus Christ.  Would he advise against any such things?  Can you see him saying that developing any of these characteristics would make you a bad person and drive His spirit away from you?  The trends of the world are against such things.  The world tells us that people like this are week and to be made fun of and mocked.  But remember - when the world feels like it has overcome you, remember that Christ overcame the world.  We must become like him.  The Young Womens general president of the Church called for a return to virtue, and I believe it´s due time.  The world would solve a lot of its problems if we would just be good people.  Living this Article of Faith and becoming like our Savior Jesus Christ is the way to do it.  Let´s all be just a little bit better.

Love and miss everyone.

-Elder Moore

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