Monday, December 20, 2010

it's not about the stuff...

As we get closer to Christmas and we still don't have a tree, we have no idea if our boxes will actually arrive from Russia or not and all of the furniture we currently have in our rented home is borrowed.

Seems kinda whiney to say all of that.  Especially in light of where we went Sunday morning.  Our normal habit is to attend church.  But on Saturday we got a call saying that the church service had been canceled due to the death of the Youth pastor's grandmother.  We were given an invitation to attend the funeral and though we never met Granny Choc we decided we should go to support her grandson.

Mrs. Choc was born in September of 1918 and died on Saturday, December 18, 2010 at noon. Within 24 hours she was laid to rest in a cemetery not more than a half mile from the house we are renting.

We were picked up by Pastor Jose and his wife Carla.  The van made the rounds to pick up a few other church members before arriving at the house where the service was held.

The house was very plain.  Just a simple cement shell... not even painted.  The only color that contrasted with the grey cement was the large black bow hanging on the front door.  A tent in the yard covered the seating area of metal folding chairs.  I was grateful to the chivalrous young man who gave up his seat for me.  And someone else went to grab a chair for Tom, Pastor Jose and Carla.

The service was simple but powerful.  And dare I say almost joyful.  You see Granny was a believer.  She gave her life to Christ 25 years ago and today at her funeral the eulogy was delivered by one of her grandsons, Jonathan, a youth pastor, scriptures were read by her granddaughter, a worship leader, and several other family members were listed as to how they each serve in the local churches.  Granny was a tiny little woman; her casket reminded me of the size they use for children in the states...and yet she had a major impact on her family. 

Pink carnations made from plastic were fashioned into a wreath laid at her feet in the casket.  She was covered with a beige blanket and only her face was visible.  The coffin looked to be made of wood but was covered in a majestic purple material.  With a gold plated sign on one end that read: AT REST.  A fan was placed in front of the open casket to keep the body cool before the burial.

The pastor presiding over the funeral opened with prayer then we sang a hymn followed by the reading Psalm 90.  After another hymn and scripture reading Jonathan came up to do the eulogy. He described his grandmother as 'the rock that all the waves shattered upon.'  He implored everyone to follow Grandma's example and seek God.  Even up to the age of 92 she still knelt in prayer everyday for two hours.  She was frail in body but strong in spirit. Jonathan called on us to celebrate her life because she was finally out of pain and was entering into the Kingdom of God.

Much like in the small church I grew up in we sang a few traditional funeral hymns.  When the Roll is Called up Yonder and When we All Get to Heaven.  I remember singing them at my grandfather's funeral over 30 years ago.  The theme for the pastor's sermon was 'God speaks. Listen and respond.'  Using Psalm 19 he imparted that God speaks to us in two different ways;  through creation and through His word. After the final hymn was sung Pastor Jose was asked to pray the closing prayer.  We were allowed a short time to view the body and then the casket was loaded onto the back of a small truck.

Surrounding the coffin were Granny's grandchildren and great grandchildren.

We walked behind the truck about 3/4 of a mile to the cemetery

The casket was then placed down into the grave

 Following another hymn and more words from the pastor
some of the family members put handfuls of gravel into the grave
while others prepared the cement to seal it.
  As one group of men mixed cement another group prepared the grave
placing boards and a metal grate over the coffin.  
Wetting down the area was the final step before pouring the cement.

After the funeral Tom and I walked home.  We were grateful that we were able to be there for Jonathan and his family.  Grateful that we are alive, healthy and that we have each other to share life with. 

As we count down the days to Christmas we cannot help but ponder the real reason for this season.  And we both know for sure it is not about the stuff.  


  1. What a lovely story. I especially like the touching picture of the children in the back of the truck with her casket. On her knees praying for two hours every day! Wow. I think I'm doing great if I manange to meditate/pray for 20 minutes every morning. She is an inspiration to all of us. Thanks for sharing this beautiful story.

  2. I am at a loss for words... You are so right, I wish I could get through to my kids it is not about the stuff... Thank you for your post. I found you blog through the blog hop...

    Anna, The Pilot's Wife
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  3. wow such an insightful story.. I really enjoy the way you write and the way you seem to speak to my soul. Thanks for that

  4. This is a touching post!

  5. Thank you for your lovely post and for visiting my blog! What a great reminder of what is really important!

    Merry Christmas to you and yours!

    your Innkeeper
    Applesauce Inn Bed & Breakfast

  6. Thanks following. I am now following back.

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    The Disconnected Writer

  8. O, Alida. Such a poignant tale of a faithful woman of God.

    And another wonderful glimpse into the culture there.

  9. Hi,
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  10. What a beautiful testimony to a seemingly remarkable woman. I much prefer a simple, humble funeral service to the pomp and circumstance we often see in the states.

    This story puts everything back into proper perspective. Thanks.

  11. Hi
    thanks for visiting my blog. I'm now following you.