October 27 – Last weekend was both a very sad time, and a very happy time. That sounds like I don’t know much about anything, but there’s a reason for those two adjectives: sad and happy. Years ago, while giving English tests, I surely would not have given credit to a student, who when asked to give similar adjectives, wrote SAD and HAPPY! But, as you read on through this blog, if you haven’t given up on the writer already, you will see what I have in mind.
About two years ago, our new pastor, Daniel, came out from California to work with us in the church. In April his parents from Florida helped with the renovation of their new house. In the months to follow we were so glad to have this smiling man with us. How we did love his family!
I checked out my journal here and there, and found these words about them. “His wife Marilyn is pretty and unassuming. She taught the Sabbath School lesson, not only bringing good information but her big smiles told of her happiness.” One of the best sermons preached by Daniel was at the Communion Service in May. He told of the “three V’s of the cross: Violence, Vicarious, and Victory.”
How I loved the Suarez children! On the first day they arrived at the church, all five of them were standing quietly along a wall when I walked in the door. “I give hugs,” I said to them,” and I’ll start with you because you seem to be the oldest.” Right down the line I went, enjoying those kids and their hugs! They were so polite and friendly, and I am sure they always will be as they are the children of Daniel and Marilyn!
About the end of September last year, Daniel was diagnosed with stage 4 colon and liver cancer. Though he tried very hard to recover from the problem, he was in the church hardly at all after that because of the pain and other problems cancer brings. He would go bravely for a number of treatments, and was in great pain most of the time.
Doctors and specialists were amazed at his courage as he tried to keep the pain from getting him down. Every time he would go for a test or treatment, he would be comforting the medical folks instead of the other way around. His weight continued to go down, and his taste for food diminished. Marilyn stayed by his side from day to day, trying to comfort him and take his mind off the real pain. How kind and loving and brave she was, ever loving him deeply.We in the church prayed earnestly for the family every day. Before he became so tired and in pain, he always had folks to come and wish him well and pray for him. However, as the cancer continued to grow, his family finally came to the place where they suggested there should be only a few visitors, or none at all.
Marilyn and the five children stood strong during the entire sad days, trying to keep their lives moving along day by day as they continued to work hard in school, right up until the last couple weeks when they were called to come home to spend the last days with him.
Moving on to those sad times, we remember his death on October 15, 2017, just about a month before his fiftieth birthday on November 15.
Last weekend, Dale and I, along with so many other folks who knew and loved Daniel, joined the family at the Lee’s Summit Seventh-day Adventist church of which he was the pastor, to take part in the Celebration of Life. So many came that there were very few spaces left unoccupied.
Men, women, and children from the area near the church, to those of other states, and Cuba where Daniel grew up, were listening closely to get the message this tragedy gave. The message? Live every day the way you would like others to remember your life! Do what you can to help in any way possible, and be thankful for life. Pastors from a number of states and countries spoke of Daniel’s abilities and his love for all, young and old. He might have chosen to work in “higher” positions, but, instead he wanted to do the work he always loved. He chose to “be there” for all.His five children, all in their teens, took part in the services by reading Bible quotations, singing special music, and delivering the Eulogy. They were so proud to be known as the children of Pastor Daniel and Marilyn Suarez. Daniel David, Adrian, Yonathan, Daslyn, and Kevin loved their father so much and always prayed that he would live a happy life when the sickness was overcome. But, that’s not the way it all turned out.
But one day soon, when Jesus returns to take His children back to heaven with Him, all of this sadness will be forgotten and turn into such great happiness as cannot even be measured! That’s why those children and their mother will continue to carry on, while their lives will tell of their love for the Savior, overcoming those initial sounds of sadness and moving on to delight in being with Pastor Daniel again.
As Job wrote, “I know that my Redeemer liveth and that He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth. And though after my skin, worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God.” Then Paul, in the book of 1 Thessalonians said, “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God, and the dead in Christ shall rise first.”
All through the services, beautiful and touching music was sung or played, giving us hope and thankfulness, choosing once again a time when the sadness turned to happiness.
Several hours later when the Memorial Service was over, many of the people joined in a long line to tell the family our thoughts of love for them and to hug them tightly. Yes, deaths always bring unhappiness and sadness, but these feelings can be overcome, as we found through the family of Daniel! – CHRIS