This was the statement of a 12-year old boy whose father died last January.  I did not know his Dad and his Mom very well because I only met them once at a Couples’ Dinner  hosted by a local church.

This pastor and his wife were the hosts for the whole evening and they entertained the couples by singing some very romantic Filipino love songs.

When I visited our congregation in Antipolo last sunday, I was informed that this pastor had passed recently.

At the funeral, his eldest child, uttered the statement that I quoted above. “Please pray for me – so that I can be a pastor someday like my dad…”

I drove home thinking about that grieving family.  They lost their father at a very young age.  And the grieving wife will still go through the grief work in the coming months.

Everything after his death will be processed primitively according to this:

1. When he was still alive

2. After his death.

Please pray for this very young family who just lost a husband, a father and a pastor.

May God tenderly wrap them in His embrace when the tears come and the sadness surround them.

Thank you Lord for the beautiful life and what this pastor shared with the flock.  Please take care of his loved ones.  They are very special in your sight. She is now a widow and the children are now father-less.

Not even death could separate us from your love.

Please surround them with your loving grace.

I surrender them in your hands, where they are most loved and most taken care of.

Amen

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See you Lolo Eli…

February 17, 2009

Last Sunday at 11AM, my wife’s grandpa was cremated at Loyola Guadalupe.  His children and grandchildren were all there – except for those who did not make it from overseas.  Mama, Wifey’s mom was the eldest among the siblings.  I could still remember some of the Lolo Eli anecdotes she shared with us when she was still alive.

The cremation took close to two hours and we whiled away the time talking to the younger cousins from the second family Lolo had during his younger days.

It was my second time to be inside a crematorium.  The first one was wayback when I was a ministerial trainee for a church in Manila.  The lady who died was the secretary of our small group for the elderly.  When she was cremated, I was requested to help put her inside the machine.  It was something I was not totally prepared to do, and the image of which, stayed with me for a long time.

When the cremains were presented to all of us, many were surprised that the cremains were white in color.  People naturally assumed that the cremains would have a black color – but the body being cremated is not exposed to the flames but to the intense heat, approx 1600 degrees that easily reduce the body to the bones.

There was something strangely comforting when I saw Lolo’s cremains.  I told my wifey at breakfast that it was more positive for me rather than seeing a casket being hoisted down the hole.  While funeral gives the whole experience a sense of finality, I sensed a stronger sense of acceptance and finality when I saw Lolo’s cremains.

We proceeeded to the old Makati Cemetery, where we learned that body funerals were no longer being done there.  But his cremains were allowed to be buried because it would only occupy a box measuring 14 X 14 inches on top of his older relative’s grave.

While seeing the cremains made it strangely comfortable, the sight, smell of the old Makati Cemetery was downright depressing.  Bordered by the International School on one side and a new set of condos being built on the other, the MAKATI cemetery looked very forgotten.  There was even a growing community of people who made permanent residence of the graves and other small mausoleums of the deceased.

I did not even wait for the whole cementing of the box to be finished. I made my way back to the car where wifey, Lola and Tito Al were waiting. I earlier discouraged them to go inside the cemetery for hygiene and sanitary reasons.  I slowly felt my spirit getting overwhelmed by the sadness of the place where Lolo’s cremains were placed. I am not at any liberty to explain but it was not the intended place to become Lolo’s final resting place.

Here in the Philippines, they have started discouraging the spreading of the cremains.  Unlike in the US where designated spots have been allowed for cremains to be spread.  That would have been ideal for Lolo Eli.

It would have been better if we were allowed to spread his cremains at some poignant spot, where the serenity of the place, could magnify the beauty of the life of the dearly departed.

Lolo Eli, we will be seeing you.

Now you know, as you have always been,  loved and known by Christ

Exactly a week ago, several bank employees of RCBC in Cabuyao, Laguna were killed – execution style as the bank was being robbed prior to its operating hours.  The staff would walk in and the evildoers were already inside the bank’s premises ready to grab them as they come in.

Now pictures of this tragic event are beginning to be circulated.  This happened while we were away at camp and when I heard about this news, all i could say was “Deliver us from evil…”
The country is still trying to recover from this massacre.  It tells us that nothing is sacred anymore.  That the greed for money is more than sufficient to kill, not once, but many times. And the manner how they were killed (bullets in their heads… ) reveal the dastardly acts that only the most cruel of hearts could imagine.

I was looking at the young people having an awesome time at camp – and these people who were mercilessly killed could be their brother, father, sister, friend and neighbor.

Lord, protect us from evil.  Deliver us from the bloodthirsty evil doers.  Protect your little ones Lord and let them enjoy their youth.  Do not let the evil doers snap away fathers and mothers away from their little ones.

O Lord God…. the whole earth is groaning in agony.

Please come soon.

AMEN