Dear friends and prayer partners: It has been quite some time since I have written to you. Summer camp articles were sent to the newspaper but I rarely had time to get out a newsletter or even forward the articles to you. Came home from camp and began to prepare for a two week trip to Singapore to be with my friends, Rick and Lori Funderburk. Managed to get a few things done during that time but no prayer letters. Thanks to all of you who have written to say, “Where’s the little brown light?” I felt your prayers in those comments. Just didn’t know how much we would be needing them during these days.
Long story short (who in the world invented that phrase anyhow?) I left for Singapore on Sunday September 6th at 6AM from Jackson, Mississippi. Made it to Memphis for the first layover about 7:30AM. Called Elsie at Snow Lake for her birthday. Talked to my sister Wera from there to check on her and see how she was feeling. She had been sick for a couple of weeks with fever and bronchitis. Tested for flu, but all swabs were negative for that. She also had called Elsie to wish her a happy birthday. We always sing that little silly song on our birthdays. I sang it Elvis style since I happened to be in Memphis. Elsie would tell me later that Wera said happy birthday but did not sing it. Wera told me her fever was down and that she was feeling better and probably would not even need the thermometer.
Relieved, I flew on from Memphis to Minneapolis and had a long layover there. My last phone call was to talk to my sister. She told me that her fever had come back up after lunch and that they were at a clinic near their home in Shreveport. She was going to go to the emergency room and be checked in for fluids and IV antibiotics. I told her that I was about to board the plane for the point-of-no-return leg to Japan (12 hours)and then on to Singapore(8 more hours) and that if I needed to come home, just tell me. She said, “Shut-up girl and get on that plane. I am going in for some meds and fluids and I will be home long before you land in Singapore.” So, I got on the plane.
When I landed in Singapore, my heart friends Rick and Lori met me. We shared hugs while my wobbly legs were doing their jetlag thang. It was now Tuesday morning at 1AM in Singapore. I had lost a whole day enroute. Moments later, I heard them saying that we needed to call home and that Wera had taken a “turn for the worse.” Seconds later, I was on the phone with Elsie as she and Dad were driving to Shreveport. She was saying things like Wera was not going to make it unless the Lord did a miracle. That she might not even make it until they got to the hospital. Ironically, they were in Jackson, MS, which is three hours from Shreveport. Eight hours after I talked to her in Minneapolis, Wera was fine. Her husband, John, went home to feed the cats and get some sleep. He said she was sitting up in bed sending text messages from her cell phone. About midnight they called John to come back to the hospital. Her right lung had collapsed. She was in ICU on the ventilator. She had two spells of cardiac arrest. Basically, she was almost looking at Jesus. By 3:30AM, John was calling my Dad and Elsie to tell them that she would not make it. She lingered until 4:30PM Labor Day September 7th. The choir from her church SANG HER HOME!
The first plane reservation I could secure to return home was Wednesday 09-09-09. I had wondered what I would be doing on nine-nine-oh-nine. Flying right back to the states to celebrate my sister’s homegoing with my family and loved ones was certainly not on anyone’s itinerary…except the agenda of Wera’s Lord. Rick managed somehow to get me a first class ticket on the two long legs of the flight home. I am so glad and grateful for that blessing. I would have literally been sleeping on the floor of the plane had it not been for those good seats. God was going before all of us, preparing the way. I gained a whole day on the trip home.
I was able to get to Shreveport about lunchtime on Thursday. Our time of visitation was that evening and the celebration of her life (such an awesome worship service!!!) was Friday morning, September the 11th, 2009. Nine Eleven will always have deeper meaning for us. Her husband John is a veteran. He was able to bury her in the veteran section of the cemetery. The American flag flies right over her grave. She would be really pleased with that. The article below will tell most of the rest of the story. We still need your prayers. Our tears are still flowing at the strangest times. Her life was a shining witness to the glory of the Lord. Elsie and I got to hear Dad preach yesterday morning at First Baptist Church Holly Springs. He was led to preach on the glory of Jesus. God was all over that man. We have not missed one moment of feeling the strength and comfort and very presence of the Lord. Here is the article…
LITTLE BROWN LIGHT
BRIEF ILLNESS…ETERNAL LIFE
On Nine Eleven O Nine, we buried my sister. I am still trying to get my head around it, but my heart will not cooperate at all. She and I were planning special birthday celebrations for our folks next year…dad’s 80th and mom’s 70th. She surely must have suspected that I was scheming and planning a big one for her 50th. I always introduced her as my “older” sister just so I could see her roll those eyes and say, “Yeah, right.” She was born when I was five so I can’t REALLY remember my life without her in it. She was my other half. We talked every day, either by text message, email, facebook or phone. Ten days later, I keep waiting for some gadget to beep or buzz or ring or say, “You’ve got mail.” Silence is brass. She would call when I was travelling and say, “If you get sleepy, call me and I’ll talk you home.”
On the night before her celebration service, we had a time of visitation at Grawood Baptist Church in Shreveport. We stood in our numbness and listened with comfort and joy as person after person related to us exactly how tenderly she had touched their lives. Immediate family members, childhood friends, high school buddies, college roommates and current sojourners came in droves. Fifth graders who sat in her Sunday School class looked up at me and said, “We loved Miss Wera. You look just like her.” One of those students sang “Revelation Song” at her funeral and at her bedside in ICU. Senior adults filed by and said she was their ride to church. Others said, “She sat with my loved one in the hospital so I could go to work.” One young lady told Dad, “Wera shared Jesus with me and now I am saved.” Louisiana Baptist Disaster relief team members told us how she went to Hurricane Katrina feeding sites and served many, many plates to hurting folks. She chaperoned youth trips and went on mission trips. The choir members say her chair will be WAY too empty to suit them. She would have taken a bullet for her pastor and his wife. In good times and in bad, she stayed right there
and sang and prayed and worshiped and served faithfully.
My sister loved Jesus and lived for His glory.
She leaves a husband, a son in the Air Force in the Middle East, a step-daughter and two grandsons. I have been in full time ministry since the year 2000. My Dad and Elsie have served the Lord full time for over one hundred years combined. Our sweetest blessing was to see the eternal weight and value of the life of my sister. She stayed right there at her church, in her community and served her Lord in as many ways as she could. We figure she touched more lives than anyone could count. God counted every one of them. A committed life is invaluable to God. Her Grawood choir stood in ICU and sang her right up to Heaven. She did not respond, but they said her vital signs improved in time to their music. The day before she died, I flew to Singapore. She said she would be in and out of that hospital with fluids and home before I landed. She was. For the rest of my days, I will be SinginPoor without her…
Wera Gayle Brown Daniel
January 12, 1960-September 7, 2009
I had the privilege of being HER sister.
Wera, saddle me a horse to ride and pick us out a trail into the sun…rise!
Jesus, I know it’s a big order, but try and make her behave till I get there.