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News and views from the German-language region of Europe

September 23, 2007

A long distance funeral

Filed under UCG-Germany

The result of an unexpected email last week was an unusual but positive funeral for all involved.

Last Wednesday I received an email from Houston pastor Jim Servidio telling me about Tony Sarin and his wife. They are UCG members and live part of the year in Croatia, since that is their original home. Jim informed me that Tony was near death and would likely die very soon. Tony’s daughter Sandy had traveled to Croatia to be with her parents. I don’t think I have ever met her, but she said she knows our son Ted. Thursday evening Sandy called and left a message on our office answering machine. I called her back and learned that her dad had died earlier that day. She wanted to know if I could help with the funeral, which was already scheduled for Friday afternoon. Since the nearest airport was Zadar – in southern Croatia – I told her I would call back in ten minutes. I checked flights, and there was no way for me to get there by Friday afternoon. So I called her back and offered to send her a funeral text in German that I often use for funerals here. She said that her mom and dad had some Croatian friends who spoke German and who would be able to translate it into Croatian for the funeral. So I sent emailed her the file.

I got an email from Sandy on Sunday telling me that the funeral went well. The area where her parents live in Croatia is predominantly Catholic. It turns out that I know her parents’ German-speaking friends, Ivo and Mandica Ivin, formerly members of the WCG. Monica and I visited them over 30 years ago when they lived in Cologne. They translated my funeral sermon into Croatian, and Mandica read it at the service (Ivo was sick on Friday). I use a text that refers to creation and evolution, since many people in Europe don’t believe that God exists. Sandy wrote: "People are still talking about it [the funeral] and how wonderful it was." There were 400 people in attendance. Sandy and her mom will be keeping the Feast of Tabernacles alone in Croatia and will return to the United States right after the Feast.

Paul Kieffer's blog with personal insights and news from the German-language region in Europe.


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