Tuesday, August 16, 2011

My Dad's Farewell

I always used to wonder what would happen to me and how I would face the reality when someone close to me dies. In fact, I used to shudder at the very thought that one day I would have to face with the death of either of my parents for the first time in life. After all every things happen to us for the first time and as such there’s always the first experience of things that surrounds and affects our lives.

On the 1st of May, 2011, I experienced the death of someone very close to me and my heart – my Dad. My father had been battling with deranged kidneys caused by diabetes for about a couple of years until his death. The weakness and the pain and the strict renal diet became his daily cross. Saints, both at home and abroad prayed for his healing. At times he showed signs of improvement and gave us hope that his life on earth would be prolonged but the Maker had a better plan.

On the date mentioned above I received a phone call from my elder brother, David asking us to pray for Dad as he had been rushed to the ICU. I informed John, the youngest amongst us who lives with his family in Pokhara – a six hours drive from Kathmandu. That morning my wife had already left for women’s meeting out of the town and I also informed her about the news. We however, expected everything to turn out fine as we had grown accustom to Dad’s sudden critical condition from time to time which later would turn normal. But after about an hour or so David called again stating that now it’s entirely up to God whether to keep our Dad or take him away, and that we should make preparation to travel back home to Shillong (Meghalaya, India). Things were serious this time. Again, I conveyed the message to John who said that we should pack our luggage and move immediately. In fact, I couldn’t speak to John anymore. I knew what was coming and so I started crying over the phone. I called up Anu who by now had almost reached the meeting place and narrated the event and asked her to return home immediately. In the meantime, I gathered the kids and started praying but couldn’t pray for any miracle to happen now. All I prayed was for God to give Dad the glorious moment of his life on earth – that he would see Jesus and His angels surrounding him to take him to the eternal home. As I prayed this prayer, I picked up the photo frame which had the picture of my parents and I kissed my Dad as I wept. Amazingly, the moment I did that a peace which is not of this world filled my entire beings. I got up to my feet and felt no remorse or sadness anymore. I knew for sure that the Lord was going to receive my father unto Himself and I was filled with heavenly peace at the thought of it. It was the peace that Jesus promised in John 14:27 and I tangibly sensed it.

In the meantime I had informed some people from the church we attend here in Kathmandu about the matter. My wife arrived home and so did some believers from the church. We didn’t have enough money with us and so the church was very generous to provide for our traveling.Within an hour we packed our luggage and soon boarded the bus. It was about half-an-hour later after boarding the bus that we receive the news that my father had gone to be with the Lord. The news didn’t jolt me anymore for I had already been prepared with His divine peace but my wife and the girls began to cry in the bus. I had to hush them up. I called up John who had also boarded their bus in Pokhara and passed the news. It was a difficult moment for both the two brothers and their families. The next morning we met at the Nepal-India border. John came rushing toward me and hugging me began to weep. Strangely, I didn’t. In fact, I felt as normal as I would be anytime. I had never realized the power that comes from the peace that Jesus gives, “My peace I give unto you...peace that surpasses all understanding”. From the Nepal border we then hired a jeep to travel right up to our hometown, Shillong. We were however, oblivious to the fact that actually the highway leading to Shillong from Guwahati was undergoing expansion i.e. they were widening it into four lanes or so. As such, there were frequent traffic jams all along the highway. After traveling for approximately 17 hours we arrived at the Guwahati (Assam) and Meghalaya border.

It was around midnight and it was pouring incessantly. You could hardly see the road through the thick droplets of rain. Halfway along the highway, the rain stopped and the driver halted at a roadside food stall. The driving seemed to have aroused quite an appetite on him who began to gobble up his midnight dinner. It was around 3 in the morning, 3rd May when we finally reached home. Parents’ house was packed with people – believers and relatives. They had been eagerly waiting for our arrival. Most of them were sleeping, spread all over the floor of the two rooms my parents occupied. It was a great relief to see my mother but in the corner of the room laid the coffin box where they had already kept the body of my father. I had pleaded with the Lord a couple of days ago that He would keep him alive for just some moments more enough for us to meet him alive but it pleased the Lord not to do so. I cannot explain why but I’m sure He did it so for the good of both my Dad and us.

We were exhausted after almost 20 hours of traveling by jeep and feeling very sleepy we crept wherever we found any empty spaces in the room and went to sleep.

The 3rd of May, 2011 was the day of my father’s funeral. The whole activities that involved the event, right from the beginning to the end was simply perfect and yes, very peaceful. That’s not my comment alone. Church leaders who had made it for the funeral were simply amazed and testified to the peace they experienced throughout the funeral service. Some commented that they didn’t at all felt they had come to a funeral but a farewell party while others said that they had never experienced such a funeral before. In the morning the sky showed signs of heavy downpour and it rained just a little in the morning. Many believers had prayed and asked God for a clement weather. Truly indeed, after the little shower in the morning the whole day witnessed a very pleasant weather. Had it rained that day it would have been quite a problem to have a smooth funeral service. Digging the grave would have been obstructed not to mention of other hurdles. And rain it did. It was almost a thunderstorm. But praise God that took place only after 10 at night when we had finished with all the tasks and people had returned to their respective abode. That night a young girl from the church returned home with her family, very tired from helping at the funeral. She scurried off to bed as soon as she reached home and was fast asleep immediately. Her family members had not gone to sleep yet. After awhile they heard this young girl murmuring to herself. Thinking that she wasn’t asleep but was trying to talk to them one of her siblings inquired to repeat what she wanted to say. What she said next in her sound sleep was astonishing. “Uncle Deep (Dad) says ‘thank you’ to aunty (Mom), and also thanks the church”, she repeated clearly. When they tried to wake her up they realized she was too fast asleep to wake up. She remembers nothing the next day. While boarding the bus from Kathmandu to the Indian border I had whispered a prayer asking God to reveal my father to at least one person in his or her dream. Of course, this wasn’t at all because of any doubts on my part that my Dad would make it to heaven but just a curiosity of his state of being in the other world. Later my Mom told me that she too had made the same prayer. Little did I know that in the days to follow not only one but that there would be several people to share about their dream and vision of my father.

That same week on Sunday, a nine years old girl stood up and shared with the church her dream where she saw my father dressed in white and being welcomed by Jesus Himself although she could only see His feet. Two days later her mother saw Jesus hugging my father in her dream. A couple of other believers shared similar dreams they had of my father.

The whole experience brought Heaven so close to me. Heaven is indeed so real. Through my father’s demise the Holy Spirit taught me to long for the eternal and that everything I do here in this world should have eternity as its objective. And oh! What a strength and fortitude my mother exhibited throughout the whole event. Our parents had been married for almost 45 years and loved and cared for each other so much that one would expect to see my mother mourning and lamenting the death of her husband. But what amazed all of us was the reflection on her face, of confidence, peace and faith in the Lord. The elderly pastor who preached on the funeral later confided the same with me. A couple of days later we met at a pastors’ prayer meet where he kept repeating the same thing again wondering how my mother could be so calm and peaceful. Indeed, glorious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His beloved.

By the way, some believers who had come all the way from Tura (another district in the state) and were returning back home after the funeral were stuck for almost 15 hours due to a traffic jam on the same highway we traveled by just the previous night. Usually, it’s a 3 hours ride from Shillong to Guwahati from where you proceed on to Tura. Imagine being stranded on the highway for 15 hours! It was the headline in most of the dailies the next day. One patient who was being rushed to the hospital in Guwahati couldn’t make it and died on the way while some people missed their flights. Had we been caught in a similar traffic snarl the previous day then we could have never made it to our Dad’s funeral. What an agony that would have been. But then what an amazing God we serve, don’t we?

Indeed, we cannot but thank and praise God for proving Himself so faithful time and again. And we’re so grateful for you who supported us with your prayers (some financially) during those difficult moments. We give God all the glory for your love and support. We praised God for relationship and friendship.

May He fill your heart and home with God’s own peace that surpasses all understanding. God bless you.

We love you,

Reuben

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