Last week I attended three funerals. Each was sad in its own way. Lismene died after a long illness that was, in the end, untreatable. Manè fatally neglected a serious wound and leaves behind 6 sons and a daughter all of whom I’ve worked with on one level or another over the years. Four were students at our school. One taught at the school. One was my right hand man at the school for a couple of years. Another cooked and cleaned for me at my house for a couple of years. It was while I was in the church for Manè‘s funeral service that we received word Michel Williere had died.
Longtime members of Christ Lutheran Church may remember that back in 1994 we raised money to help purchase a motorcycle for a man who lived out of town but taught at our school. He had been pedaling his bike to come to work for several years. That man was Michel Williere. He was the picture of joviality. Even the grueling ride into our town through muddy roads could not wipe the smile from his face…or his heart. He eventually became unqualified to remain in a teaching position and maturely made that adjustment. Since then he had made money as a fisherman, farmer, taxi driver or whatever else could bring in money. He lost his oldest son in the earthquake of 2010. He had been taking care of his mom, paralyzed a few years ago after a stroke. Through all of those trials, he never lost his smile. Last Friday he died from an attack of high blood pressure.
That funeral was hard for those of us who gathered to bury him. He was only 49. Speakers at the funeral described him as a ‘mother’ to many, a faithful friend, a generous man, and a positive moral example. One speaker actually mentioned the motorcycle that CLC members helped him to purchase. He described that motorcycle as a pillar of the community at that time. Williere had freely shared it with all those in need of transportation for health or other reasons. Those two wheels and a motor lifted them out of some problems that they confronted.
I had forgotten about that motorcycle, but I think you never really know all of the long-term effects that come out of the good you do. That is ministry. You give, you help, you serve, and you keep moving. When God does decide to show you what you’ve done, it can be humbling. If He did it more often, we’d probably find a way to become full of pride about it.
The Pastor at the third service reminded us that we can no longer tell the man in the coffin that we love him. The time for that is past. Let’s use today to tell (and show) people we love them…all of those living people we’ll meet as we move along our way.
The pens that recorded the life accounts of the three folks who died this week are now capped. But the pen that writes the effects of the way they lived will continue to write on…through their families and their friends. Funerals are great opportunities to rethink about how we are living.
Missionary in Haiti.