Sorry I'm on a day early but I have to speak at the Kalookan Stake conference this weekend so we don't really get much of a pday this week to email. Apparently all the UH ward knows that I'm speaking so it will be a lot of fun to see all of them again! The down side is I have to speak for like 30 minutes though so I hope people don't like fall asleep or anything haha I've got a couple of jokes up my sleeve though to hopefully keep it interesting.
This was easily the hardest week of my mission, the best investigator I have ever had passed away unexpectedly last Monday morning. He died just 1 month before his 46th birthday and left a widowed wife with 3 kids. I think I actually wrote you guys about Brother Deraper just a couple of weeks ago. He was a seaman who worked abroad for most of his life, and as a result never took interest to the missionaries. In fact he would get angry when he first heard the missionaries were coming over to teach his family. For one reason or another however his wife had softened his heart over the years, at least enough to the point where he let us start teaching him. I've never seen the Gospel make such a drastic change in someone's life before. Within the last 3 months he overcame a cigarette addiction, several person repentance process ordeals, was reading the Book of Mormon everyday, and had come the last 6 straight weeks to church. In fact he spent the last day of his life here on Earth at the Fairview Stake Conference last Sunday. Unfortunately the Deraper Family snuck in after the opening hymn and left immediately after so we never got to see them. I called them on the phone later Sunday night though to check in on Brother and everything seemed fantastic. Within 24 hours, we were the ones getting a call that Brother Luciano Deraper had passed away that morning.
It's literally impossible to describe the emotions that I felt, and am still feeling. Particularly in grief for those in his family he left behind. When we showed up to the house, I still couldn't believe it was Brother in the casket, it didn't look like him to me. I couldn't really think of many encouraging words to say to a now widowed woman swallowed in tears. The plan of salvation brought initial hope, but brother had just begun to embrace the gospel and change, it seemed so unfair to have him taken at this time. It was the lowest point in my life sitting there knowing I'm suppose to be the one comforting this family, and yet balling in tears as I listened to a 4 year old boy hanging on the side of the casket saying, "Patay na ba si papa?" (is daddy dead) and "Kailan siya gigising?" (When will he wake up). We did the only thing we knew how to do. I ask if we could kneel in prayer and
poured out my heart for the welfare of Brother and his now lonely family.
It's the first time in my life someone close to me has ever died. I realize now how truly blessed my life has been. With heavy hearts we have visited the Deraper Family ever night this week, bringing articles, sharing scriptures, praying with them, and just trying to help ease the burden in any small way we can. Most times we have just been there to sit in silence while they grieve. The family is doing better, though despite the glorious knowledge of the plan of Happiness, no immediate cure can be administered. I read a talk by Elder Russell M. Nelson titled the Doors of Death. In it he poetically says, "we can’t fully appreciate joyful reunions later without tearful separations now. The only way to take sorrow out of death is to take love out of life". A death without mourning is a life without loving.
However I do know through special experience and beyond the shadow of a doubt that I will see Brother Luciano Deraper again. I know that the Spirit world exists and that he will receive every opportunity to accept the fullness of the Gospel that he was denied here on Earth. 7 days before he passed away, he told me that I would baptize him. One year from now I fully intend on fulfilling his wish in the Holy Temple. I love Brother Deraper, though I mourn for his lose and on behalf of those he left behind, I know where he rests and I find solace in some future day when I shall see him again.
Elder Krueger T
Photos from Speaking at the Kalookan Stake Conference.