Tuesday, December 15, 2009

I feel like I'm in the all too familiar state of being entirely overwhelmed. Check out a piece of this email....

Our lives are brightened by the memory of Ramona, her beautiful smile and her huge heart for Jesus and the poor.
May her compassion and joy, triumphant even in the face of terminal illness, be multiplied to many precious souls among the desperately needy children of Africa.
Here in Pemba we are naming a baby house after her and know that Jesus will honor Ramona with His rich presence among all the children who will feel the love of God in this very special and anointed house.

Much love in Jesus,

Heidi and Rolland
and all of Iris Ministries

Wow! When Trev first read this to me, the first reaction in my mind is that I couldn't wait to tell Ramona that Heidi had named a baby house after her.........

I know Ramona would be incredibly excited.

I want to throw out an encouragement to our blogging community. This is an awesome time to pray into some of the dreams/visions/ideas that Ramona had. God obviously has something amazing in store...

I'm not exactly sure how frequently I'll be posting but this story is definitely not over yet....

- Earl

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The day after the funeral was our anniversary. Among other things that day, Jake and I went to the forks to see what Ramona and I had carved on the bridge. We actually carved something like this on our first date...but I think someone painted over it and Ramona and I couldn't find our original scratches...so this one was carved sometime within the last year and a half......

Mony I miss you so much...

I just got through my giant stack of cards from the funeral. Thanks for all the love that's been sent my way in the last while...


Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Hello... this is Jill again. I am posting the full obituary which was printed in the bulletin at the services. Hopefully it works! :)
As well, Earl has asked me to post the tribute that I gave at the Wednesday evening service in Winnipeg. May the Lord bless you where you are at!

My tribute:
When thinking about where to start in giving honour to a woman who managed to become one of my best friends, I can’t help but feel at a loss for words. How do I possibly put into words what this last year has meant to me.
It was about a year ago at this time, when I first heard about Ramona and her journey. I was instantly burdened to pray for her... this woman who I hadn’t even met. Little had I known that it was the beginning of a God planned friendship.
I always joked when meeting Ramona’s family and friends that I was her stalker... I prayed for her before she even knew me! Finally I thought enough with this, I need to connect with this girl. So off the Facebook message went and as I sat and read back to that first message the other day, I kinda laughed how it was sent as though I already knew her, except for the “hi my name is Jill” introduction!
It was shortly after that when I first connected with Ramona and Earl here at Calvary Temple at the beyond service.

Ramona immediately left an impact on me. In the months that followed, as our friendship began to take shape, I was unaware of the way her life, passion and faith would have such an impact on me - how I would be challenged to that same level of faith that she stood on.

As Ramona and I grew our friendship and shared our life stories with eachother, God was at work. And when God is at the center, you know it’s going to be great!
I remember so many times being so humbled when she would faithfully pray for me and my needs and desires of my heart, especially when the battle she was facing seemed so much more important.
I would tell her that it didn’t matter what time of day or night that if there was a need to tell me and I would pray... and eventually she took me up on it! I loved praying for her and praying with her! Wow, did we have some good times praying for eachother. Even just a few weeks ago, the week before she was admitted to the hospital, we were to pray for eachother at beyond and she was so tired but wanted to pray for me, and again I was just so blessed and humbled and thankful for what are now precious memories.

My friendship with Ramona was in many ways that of a spiritual one. Our connection began with God and the burden that He had placed on my heart to pray for her. Often during our times together we would talk about the things that God was doing in our lives or showing us.
However we did share some great times laughing! Nothing beats a girls night searching on Facebook for the perfect husband... for me of course! She had hers! Such good fun times!
So many good times... visiting Africa during Folklorama, Canada Day fun, numerous encouraging text messages, plans for me to come visit the “bush”, chats over coffee, well I mean passion tea with light ice... and endless hours praying...

These last 2 weeks at the hospital, I watched as Ramona never gave up. I watched as she fought and as she continually kept her eyes fixed on Jesus. I witnessed even then lives being changed and challenged. I experienced peace, and joy and love. I saw a wife, a sister, a daughter and a friend. I saw compassion. Last Wednesday, I was blessed to have been given about an hour to spend praying over her. I will never forget that, as she just asked me to keep speaking out loud and as I watched her agree and pray with me, as she smiled at our own little inside thoughts, and as she simply just soaked up everything and continued to trust her Lord.

Ramona was a woman who was loving, compassionate, caring, faithful, genuine and real. She was who she said she was. She was a friend in every way. She was the real deal. In facing the battle that was so real in front of her, she was still a young woman who wanted to live life fully, a friend who wanted to hang out and talk... and cared so much about the needs of others.

Why did God allow me to have such a role in her last chapter of life? Why did Ramona feel as though she could let me in? I don’t know.... I’m humbled to be standing here. I’m humbled that God allowed me to be a friend to her during this last year. I’m thankful for every moment invested, every conversation, every encouraging word.

Ramona, you have changed my life. You have impacted me in a way no one else has. I already miss you like crazy, but I know you are free - I know you are home. Dancing, singing, resting, and enjoying the fields of blue gerbera daisies that Jesus has prepared for you! Thank you for being an amazing friend, a best friend and for bringing so much joy to my life. I love you so much...

Tribute from Ang:
I first met my cousin Ramona when we were only babies. As little girls, Ramona & I spent a lot of time at each others places playing dolls, having sleepovers, and being together at Grandpa & Grandma’s for family gatherings. We would pretend and imagine what we would do or be when we grew up. As we grew up we began to dream and pray about our passions and dreams. In December, 2004 Ramona and I headed out to the mountains of Haiti for 3 months to be used by God in an orphanage.
In Mark 9: 37 (The Message) it says “Then cradling the little one in his arms, he said, “Whoever embraces one of these children as I do embraces me, and far more than me- God who sent me.”
Ramona, I feel that verse speaks of you. Your heart of love and compassion shone through as you interacted and cared for the children at God’s Littlest Angels orphanage. You didn’t just love the most lovable kids but especially the ones that were neglected.
You spent time with Josianne, a little girl who had cerebral palsy and was partially blind just showing her love and interacting with her. You were her therapist! Without loving volunteers like you, she may have been left in her crib for a lot of the day.
Remember, the transformation you saw in little Claudy from looks of rejection to actually giggles and smiles by playing with him and showing God’s love.
Your heart also fell in love with a 4 year old girl with HIV and you exemplified Christ’s compassion whether teaching her, taking her to the bathroom or playing with her.
Then, there was this precious baby, Midlove who you “adopted” as your little girl while out in Haiti. She craved love and attention and you gave her just that. You would make sure Midlove was clean and dressed everyday. You loved her like your own child. You were happy to be with her to celebrate her 1st birthday. You gave this child the security she needed. You met her adoptive Mom on your honeymoon and were confident she was going to a good home. Her adoptive mom named her Lilou and you continued to keep in touch!
One of your biggest passions at the orphanage was the education of the older children (ages 2-15). You were determined to teach these children so they would learn and get a fair chance at education. Even when you went through huge frustrations over the Haitian system or language barriers you persevered. All the kids absolutely loved you and would call your name when you entered the gate.
You had a desire to help the poorest of poor. On Saturdays you loved going on feedings with another orphanage in the neighbourhood. It was a day of traveling for hours on bumpy roads on the back of a crowded truck in the heat and dust to even poorer areas of Haiti to hand out bags of rice to people who practically had nothing. I know it broke your heart to see hundreds of people line up, some who could hardly walk due to illness or little children who were poorly dressed or dirty, all fighting for their small bag of rice.
You always had a sense of adventure whether it was loving kids, serving the poor or just experiencing the culture. You loved our trips to the nearest town by their poorly run taxi system, the crazy busy and smelly market and trying out your French Creole. Thanks for protecting me from all those stupid live chickens at the market; you knew they were my greatest fear. Other memories include: visiting a nanny’s house on Easter Sunday and being amazed at how little she had and yet so hospitable, hours of walking in the mountains, and experiencing all those Haitian foods, corn mush, rice, & labouyi. Your favourite was a cold Tampico fruit drink from a house store in the neighbourhood.
Haitian church was an experience of its own. You may think a bench would sit about 8 people but they would manage to fit 12. It seemed there was always room for one more!! In spite of crowded conditions they worshiped God with such sincerity and passion!
Ramona, in our time there we became closer than just cousins, we became the best of friends and we would often share our hearts with each other. I admired your deep passion for God. You would get up super early every morning and sit on the roof or balcony and read your Bible and spend time with God. Thanks for being an amazing spiritual friend and mentor there and in the years that followed. Thanks for the heart to heart chat just over a month ago encouraging me to be more passionate and to go deeper with my Saviour!!
Haiti, a very poor third world country was not the safest or most comfortable place to be. There was political unrest and we would hear gunshots in the evenings, needing to be inside the gate by 8 PM. We noticed spiritual darkness, hearing Voodoo worship just down in the valley as we would fall asleep at night. The shortage of water meant cold and fewer showers and shortage of electricity meant evenings spent by candlelight. Rats shared the same home and the children of the orphanage would laugh at us for being scared of them. You never complained in these circumstances but rather you wanted to experience just a little of what the people of the country had to go through. Ramona you served God with all your heart and you did it well. With humility, peace and compassion you let God use you. This was just a taste of what you wanted to do for a lifetime. This created in you a greater desire and passion to serve the lonely, poor, and orphans. I am convinced the love you gave is continuing to influence children even to this day and it will continue into the future. More will be touched because of you and your willingness to serve your God.
Ramona, I will treasure all our very lengthy chats & phone calls. (it seemed we never ran out of things to talk about!) So many times you demonstrated such unselfish friendship! Even as you were facing cancer you were still genuinely excited about the birth of our daughter, Alyviah, and after she was born, in spite of you not feeling well, you brought us a home cooked meal. You also thought of me and my upcoming birthday when you were in the hospital over Thanksgiving and bought me a gift at the hospital gift shop. I’m so happy for the prayer times and moments we could share in the past few weeks!
Thanks for your amazing friendship and all these wonderful memories and more! I love you and miss you so much, but I am so happy that you are now experiencing a perfectly healthy body in heaven, the beautiful place God prepared for you. I can imagine you dancing and singing in heaven with Jesus and all the precious little children!
Can’t wait to have another good Ramona chat!! See you soon!! Ang

Tribute from Becki:
To my dear sister,
I can’t believe you’re gone. Our time together was so short. But in that small amount of time you have taught me many things that will stay with me forever. I have always looked up to you and wanted to be just like you. The example that you set for me is incredible. Your strong relationship with God and passion to live for him has inspired me more than you’ll ever know. God shone through you. Everyone who saw you could see it. You would glow because you were full of, and overflowing with, the Holy Spirit. You changed lives because of this, I know mine will never be the same.
Thank you so much for all the amazing talks we’ve had, especially over the last year. You were my number one person to go to for advice. You always seemed to have the right things to say. You were an encourager. Spending time with you would build me up and challenge me to strive to become more like Jesus. When I had questions about faith and Christianity you would tell me stories of your personal experiences and explain things to me as best as you could. You always wanted the absolute best for me. Ramona, you have seriously opened my eyes to the meaning of life. I miss you like crazy already but I’m so happy for you that you are spending time with your best friend Jesus. You are in Heaven- totally and completely cancer free! I love you so much Ramona, my hero.
Forever and always,