Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Kayaks and Dungeons

We had a lot of fun showing Abe and Max Kennedy (Bethany and Rachel's' Boyfriends) around our island. It wasn't all just vacation, we did manage to get some work out of them! Both preached in our church and did lots of painting.

After all that hard work we took them to the phosphorescent bay and joined a kayak night time tour of this unusual part of God's creation. We paddled up some dark mangrove lined channels and could see our paddle blades glow where they entered the water. There is a kind of small sea creature that lights up when the water is disturbed. Some folks on the tour jumped in and swam around and we could see a green glow all around them.

We later went to a beach near the town of "Cabo Rojo" and took along our old dried up Christmas tree. We burned it and had "S'mores" (roasted marsh mellows and chocolate between Graham crackers). We rented some kayaks and went picnicking on a small off-shore park called "Gilligans Island."

It was fun to relax. Besides the beach, we took them all to see some old Spanish forts, and even shut them up in the dungeon. They broke out though and are now all back in Florida and their college studies.

Being a missionary often means being separated from family for long periods of time. It was sure good to have a few weeks with everyone here.

For more vacation pictures visit our Flickr albums:



Monday, January 08, 2007

Surprised but Prepared

I was enjoying some time with my kids Saturday morning when somebody called, “Dad, someone outside wants you.” It was a nurse. The nurse pulled in front of our driveway and I saw that she was crying. She said, “Don Steven, Your church member William Baez is in the hospital. I am his daughter. Please come.”

I ran and changed my clothes and drove the 40 min. up to the Mennonite hospital to see him. He was full of tubes, wires, but most ominously, made a loud gurgling sound whenever he breathed. He was alert and conscious and I saw him mouth the word “Thank-you” through his oxygen mask.

I stayed in the room for about five hours and read to him from the bible, prayed with him and spoke to the family as they came and went. I asked the nurses about his status and a few said he could last for a couple of days like that, but one thought he might die the next day. He became unconscious and I could no longer communicate with him. After a while, I left for home and spent what remained of the evening preparing for our Sunday services.

Sunday morning, on the way to church, a neighbor stopped me and said, “Pastor, William Baez died last night at 2 in the morning. Can you do his funeral today at Noon?” Of course I said yes.

Before we left the church for the funeral, I had the privilege of translating a sermon given by a young ministerial student named Max Kennedy. He is the boyfriend of my daughter Rachel. He did a fine job and our people were blessed. His brother Abe carried some hymn books over to the funeral home right after the service and I got ready to preach. There were only a few people so we came back at seven that night and had a preaching service then. Today, I preached again at noon and gave another sermon at the grave-side at 1:30.

I met William Baez during my visits to town and invited him to church every time I saw him. He started coming after about a year of invitations and attended for over a year. He was friendly, positive and had a great sense of humor. I will miss him. One of the last things he said to me was, “I prayed that I would not return to my house. I want to leave the world from the hospital. I want to go and see my precious Saviors’ face.

I went to church yesterday expecting to translate a message so I did not write one. Since then I have preached three funeral sermons. Fortunately I have kept some of my old funeral sermons and was able to reuse some of them. Preparation and planning for the future helped me in this situation. Brother William Baez also made his preparations beforehand, preparations of a more important kind.

I hope you, dear reader, will make what preparations you need before that expected, but somehow surprising time comes, that day when it is your turn to leave this world.