“All death can do to the believer is deliver him to Jesus. It brings us into the eternal presence of our Savior.”
A few weeks ago I experienced a great loss. My friend Karina, 31, was taken unexpectedly to be with our Heavenly Father.
I have not experienced a lot of deaths of loved ones in my 26 years of life. I’ve lost grandparents who I loved very much. These deaths were not surprises, and they were well along in years. I lost a teammate to suicide in high school. One of my students lost his dad in a car crash. These were difficult to deal with. But nothing in comparison to Karina.
Making friends in Mexico has been hard, especially female friends. I had a rock solid support system of girlfriends in the States, and it took me a really long time to find some here.
Lucia so graciously adopted me into her real family during Christmas 2009 when I was not able to go to Minnesota. She then introduced me to her group of “Fab 5” a little after and they as well adopted me into their group. Let me tell you, as a female, letting other females into your group is not an easy thing. Karina was part of this group of Lucia’s. And they made me feel so loved. They are truly a huge blessing in my life. Here’s a little picture summary of my friendship with them.
Chivo’s Birthday: The first night I met them Jan 2009
Phoenix concert: RAINY RAINY RAINY but oh so much fun.
Beach trip to Sayulita: Chivo turns into a superhero
My Small Group (minus Lucia’s mom who’s taking the pic) on my birthday
Celebrating Christy’s engagement
Posada de la Vecindad 😉
Runway Show for Christy and Karina’s clothing line: Farala
Girls Crepe Night: the last night I saw her
These pictures and events are treasured memories to me: a huge example of God’s love towards me.
Karis passed away on Sunday night. I found out on Monday morning, when I got to school. I was shocked. So shocked I didn’t exactly know how to react. “Is this for real?” i kept thinking. I had no idea what funerals or the mourning process are like in the US, let alone in Mexico.
Immediately after school I headed to the funeral home or panteon as they call it (like a US funeral home/hotel mix). The whole afternoon people would come pay their respects to the family. The room was the size of a small conference room filled with lots of pleather couches, end tables, flowers and lamps. Towards the back of the room was a mini alter/ banister about knee-high and behind it was the coffin. There was space for you to pass and look in if you chose to do so. I did. She looked so peaceful. Before I went before the casket, I greeted Karina’s mom. It’s a tough thing to do, because what do you say? I don’t know her mom super-well because I’m not a childhood friend like many of the rest, but I was touched by her when I greeted her. She hugged me so tight. She knew my name. She introduced me to the lady she was with. And she didn’t force me to say anything. We said and exchanged all we needed to in the heartfelt embrace we had. My heart was breaking for her, not because we don’t know where Karina is, but because she out-lived her daughter. No parent wants to do that.
Outside of the room in the lobby there was also quite a bit of space filled with the pleather sofas, etc. plus a soda fountain and coffee area. People would come and sit, then leave. Or come, stay and talk. At 8pm many people arrived for the little message a pastor was going to give. He started with a prayer:
“Dios, tu eres Soberano….”
“God, you are Sovereign…” He talked about the fact that we are at a loss as to why Karina was taken so soon, but we know that God is in control. And He makes no mistakes. At this point, I could not hold back the tears. I wept because that is exactly what my heart was feeling. Why Karis, Lord? Why now? Why like this? This beautiful creature who wanted so much to get married and have babies just like I do. This motivated and talented young woman who works so hard at what she does and invests in her friendships just like I do. This seeker of you Heart and your Kingdom, just like I am. Why?
I looked around to see a fascinating group of people, who had all come together to mourn and celebrate Karina. Faces I recognized from my church, the pastor of my old church (but not Karis’ church), different groups of friends who I had spent time with at various concerts, bar, restaurants, etc., even places I was not at with Karina, cousins and aunts of Christy, Lucia’s parents, the Bravos, all joined together because Karina’s heart shined bright.
The Sunday after this happened, my friend Toño got to preach at church. It’s always a blessing to hear Toño preach because for being so young, he is very gifted in this area. He’s good at putting the thoughts and questions that are running through all of our heads into words, and sets out to answer them WITH us.
The past few messages in church had been about grace. Now, I cannot tell you the main hook he make about grace exactly in this sermon…but I got a lot of other stuff out of it. He took a twist this week as we looked at Romans 6:3-4,11, 8:4-19, 1 Cor. 2:14-16, Col. 3:5-17.
He started off the preach asking the question, “How many of you have ever dealt with the death of a loved one?” What do we associate with death? We see in some of these verses that each time the body is mentioned it is mentioned regarding death. But each time the spirit is mentioned its is mentioned regarding life. “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? We can forget about this body/life now, because we have life in Him, regardless of what happens to our body. The confession was given that we have a problem with this because we have a hard time dealing with the things we can’t see.
What is death for us? It opens our eyes to the spiritual life, it makes us understand the value of things. That money, clothes, work doesn’t REALLY matter. So with all these considered, do you think it is a coincidence that Christ keeps telling us to die to ourselves? Good point.
Now, I confess my thoughts and notes and ramblings are all over the place. At the time, I wasn’t taking notes knowing that I would be blogging about them later…
Romans 8:9-11 is the one that really hit me:
“You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.”
These bodies God so graciously blessed us with are temporary. In the end, they don’t matter. Karina just got to go enjoy the streets of gold a little earlier than the rest of us.
I miss her.
But God’s purpose is in it. He is Sovereign.
He is Holy.
He knows best.
Pics from Christy and Che’s Civil and Church Wedding: April 12 and April 14, 2012. Karis, we missed you this day especially, but we did you proud on the dance floor.
I miss you deeply, Karis, but I WILL see you again someday!