Friday, December 9, 2011

A Funeral in the Shadow of Mount Cyclops

At the end of September I wrote about the death of Paul Westlund, a missionary pilot. He died in a plane crash on the island I grew up in. The photos of the funeral, taken by another pilot (Clive Gray), are stunning. They were a balm to those of us from over there who couldn't be there to mourn with the community. It also reflects the amazing ministry of a missions pilot, intersecting with the missionaries who fly to remote villages and the Papuan villagers in those villages.

This picture is stunning. Look at the flood of people coming down the hill. That is the road up to my school where the funeral was held, and they are taking the casket down to the cemetery below the school. I love the crowd of faces of many colors and beautiful Sentani and Mount Cyclops in the background.

The casket was carried in stages, with great symbolism. It was carried by the Papuan and Indonesian maintenance guys that worked on the airplanes Paul flew. It was carried by his fellow pilots, the men he flew and worked with for years, men who have lost a brother and are sobered by the risk of the job they do daily. And then it's carried by the men below, the translators who have been working in remote villagers, enabled only by the pilots that fly them.

The old lady below was at the funeral and was the mother of a Papuan church planter who also died in the crash.

I wept I looked through these and other photos. I saw my friend watching her father be buried. Her brother, wearing one of his Dad's trademark floppy hats. The community gathering of missionaries, Papuans, Indonesians, honoring a man loved by many whose quiet example seems to have gone much further than anyone knew. The evidence of the church as it's grown, from early evangelism to indigenous churches and church planters and multi-generation believers. It's the Church global - missionaries from Ireland, Japan, Korea, Canada, the USA, Germany, New Zealand... etc.

There is deep sadness and yet also peace and joy. I wish I could have been there.

1 comment:

Bimla said...

how it is Jan,2012 ...while today is the day 13 of December 2011.