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This morning, I got a call from an old friend, Nelia, that her nephew, Ira Farinas, passed away Wed and they were going to have a memorial service this afternoon. I knew him fairly well since we all used to go to the same church (Maranatha Christian Church) and met every week at the International Student Bible Study. He was only 35 years old when he died. I never knew this, but apparently he'd been battling with pneumonia over the years, and it got him this time.

The memorial service was held at his church, Filipino-American Christian Church. It was a small church, but the place was packed. There was well over 100 people there. And there were several that I haven't seen ever since the Maranatha days.

I'd never been to a Filipino memorial service before, but it was definitely different than the ones I'm used to going to. The worship time was no different than what you'd experience in a charismatic worship service. Apparantly, Ira loved to sing and dance, so they played his favorite music during the worship time. The atmosphere was more hopeful than sorrowful. Though of course some people were sad, I saw more smiles though than sorrow. When I approached Ira's sister, I was going to say some sympathetic line, but she greeted me with a smile and I didn't know what then to say.

One thing great about the church is special times like this. The community rallies around the family members and we all come to hear about a message of hope that this life is not all there is. Death comes to all, but as Christians, we have a hope that transcends death. And we are reminded of what is really important and that all of our lives are fleeting.

If there's one thing I've learned about Filipinos, it's that they like to joke. And that was the main thing that everyone mentioned about Ira was that he was good natured and liked to laugh. And that was how I remember him as well. Even the pastor at the service had a good one. Apparantly, Ira had never been water baptized before and just the week before he went to the hospital, he wanted to get water baptized. But, they never got around to it. The pastor said that God probably set it up that way so that the pastor won't be accussed of giving Ira pneumonia during the baptism.

Posted: 2005-07-02 22:31:57

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