Monday, January 14, 2013

Nov 26, 1964-January 7, 2013

If you are a follower of this blog on a regular basis, you will recognize the name Mina. She was an amazing person and is the second friend I have loved and lost here in the Philippines. Death here comes creeping up often and to many who are way too young to meet it. When Imelda died in June and now Mina in January, it gave me a time to reflect on the blessings of my life. Since arriving here, I have thanked my Heavenly Father EVERY day for my good health. I am ashamed to say that this experience and time frame is the only time in my life I have thanked Him for my health or probably even recognized the blessing that it is to me. I will never, ever again neglect to thank Him for it-we have many friends back home who are our age or close who, and because of health issues, would never be able to manage the experiences we have had this past 18 months. How lucky we are!!!

Mina was a great friend. Our first week here in the Philippines, we were assigned to the Roxas District and within a few days, attended our first funeral. It was the funeral of Mina's husband. That was the first time I met her and at that time, I had NO idea how our friendship would change my life.

Now I have mentioned before how different the funerals are here-the funerals are held in the homes and the person lies 'in state' for normally 9 days. There is no embalming here so they are preserved as best they can be and the casket is sealed with a transparent dome. [with this heat, all who come to pay their respects are grateful for that dome!] People will come to the home of the person and there will be a 'setup' by a local funeral home. Lights, candles, pictures, flowers, a carpet, etc. will occupy a part of one room. A tent outside will hold the overflow visitors. People come to pay their respects but to also help pay for the cost to the family by gambling in the yard-they have tables set up and many poker games are being played with the winnings going to the family. 

Funeral services are held each night-our church had two services for Mina while the other nights were attended by the Catholics, the Methodists, etc. The day of the burial, all of the family and friends will walk to the cemetery and show their respect by bringing flowers to put in the 'crypt' with the casket. It is very different but then, this culture is different. 

Mina was the one who was injured in a typhoon in the 90's and had been in a wheelchair or bedridden for 14 years. She was a young mom when the accident occurred and she raised four sons with the help of her husband, being paralyzed from her ribcage down, from the storm. She was in the CR and it caved in on her, trapping her and crushing her vertebra.

Once Mina and I connected over a year ago, we became good friends. I brought her Tagalog copies of the Liahona [our church magazine], brought my computer and we watched conference sessions that I had downloaded in Tagalog while Randy met with his District Presidency for training. We spent the better part of each Friday afternoon talking, watching the computer, building a friendship. Sometime that winter, I became close friends with Sister Russell, another senior sister here in our mission. Now Sister Russell was and still is one of the craftiest people I know-she decided she was going to recycle the plastic grocery bags and found patterns to turn the bags into 'plarn' by cutting the bags and joining the loops. Plarn is plastic yarn and it is really a word-google it if you doubt me. Anyway, she started teaching the ladies in her district and being one who like crafts and crocheting, I thought I would give it a try. I enjoyed teaching and creating the purses but was not nearly as crazy as Sister Russell-while she was here, she created over 75 purses!

I thought about my friend Mina and asked her if she knew how to crochet. She did not. When I approached her with the idea of teaching her, she was willing. For the first month, she would crochet and I would visit every couple of days, telling her to rip it out and do it again-I know she got so frustrated with me but in her quiet, shy temperment, never let on that she was 'ticked'...she only told me that later. We laughed about it but by forcing her to focus on her technique, she became a star student for me. I brought her purses for her to see, taught her the different stitches and she took off! At her funeral, her son Bryan shared with me:

'Thank you Sister so much for teaching my mom how to crochet. It gave her a purpose and a project. It gave her a reason to get up in the morning. It gave her pride'

Never did I think that she would die. She was a healthy person who just caught a bum wrap! I was devastated when I heard she was in the hospital last Sunday night and on Monday afternoon, when we completed our moving task for a set of missionaries, we stopped at the hospital for me to visit her-it was too late. She had died that afternoon.

Her legacy will live on however. She had created about 15 purses that will now go to her cousin who she had also taught to crochet. 

Sister Russell teaching Mina to make embellishments in June
before she went home to Oregon.

Sister Russell is an amazing teacher-very patient and extremely
creative-just the perfect one for Mina.
After the funeral on Friday evening, Vickie, her sister-in-law and caregiver for the past years, took me aside and asked me if I wanted to see the purses. I had not seen Mina for some time and had NO idea she had accomplished so much. I was SO pleased. Her cousins and sister-in-laws modeled them for me. They will be lined and become treasures of a legacy of a wonderful woman who is now dancing with her husband on the other side of the veil.

The legacy of an amazing woman!!
The moral of the story is this: we never know when our Father in Heaven will call us home. His time is not always our time but when that time comes, will we be ready? Probably not. Nobody ever is but MY wish is that I can live my life, however many weeks, months or years He has yet for me to experience in preparation for meeting Him. My goal is to have him tell me 'well done, my good and faithful servant...enter into My rest.'  And for my friend Mina, thank you for showing me true love my friend...we will meet again.


  1. I am so sorry to hear of the passing of your dear friend. I am sure Mina loves and appreciates your kindness and friendship. I loved seeing her awesome purses! Thanks for sharing the good times as well as the sad. I hope you have a very happy day! Grace Nay

  2. I'm so sorry that you lost such a wonderful friend. I feel like I know her from all of your posts about her. :(