by David G. Woolley
Editor's Note: The Deseret News posted this article on the tragic accident, this eyewitness account by suvivor Dan Liljenquist and this article about the funeral services. Details on a memorial assistance fund to help the Rabanales children Josue, Daniel & Lara can be found here.
For over ten years Javier and his wife Walfred Rabanales welcomed American volunteers to Guatemala City before accompanying them by small prop plane to the remote eastern mountain highland villages near El Estor Guatemala. Clean water projects. Tangerine crop production. Agriculture improvements. Home building projects. Medical missions. School construction. Education. They did it all and they loved it.
Most villagers speak some Spanish, but since the native tongue in these remote mountains is one of the ancient Mayan dialects of K'iche', Javier and Walfred took courses at a local Guatemala City College to learn the language of the people they loved. They also took courses in social work, leadership training and humanitarian assistance. At the heart of their work was a bright Christ-centered love for their fellow man.
On Sundays Javier served as a High Counselor, Stake President, and Bishop among some of the Latter Day Saint congregations in Guatemala City. Walfred taught in the Relief Society woman's organization. Their selfless service wasn't reserved for Sundays. Walfred followed Javier on his adventures, preparing food for the American volunteers. She achieved culinary artistry in a jungle that wasn't kind to civilized eating. Javier possessed a jungle-sized sense of humor, but he never joked about his wife's cooking. Her tortillas were mana from heaven. She had a keen intellect, a kind heart and the sound of her voice was angelic. They were both angels.
In a late breaking news release the Deseret News, Fox News and later the Washington Times reported Sunday, August 24th, that Javier and Walfred were flying a group of volunteers to the remote eastern jungle mountains when their plane experienced engine trouble. The pilot radioed he was attempting a crash landing before the signal went silent. Of the ten passengers, two survived. Javier and Walfred were not among them.
So many future plans ended. So many lives altered. So many hearts saddened. There's an email from me in their inbox they will never answer. Their cell phone didn't take calls today. I'm not sure what to do with the number. It was a link to dear friends that links us no more. Its a terrible loss with so many uncertain consequences.
What is certain is Javier and Walfred's love for each other and their three teen aged children, Josue, Daniel and Lara. Thankfully the same sociality which exists among us here will exist among us there...coupled with eternal glory (Doctrine & Covenants 130:2). Javier and Walfred were inseparable in their life's work and they will not be separated by death. Of that no one should be in doubt.
Javier and Walfred. Goodbye for now dear friends. May God bless you and your sweet family.
Join author David G. Woolley at his Promised Land Website. He is also a weekly contributor to the Latter Day Authors blog and he writes commentary and opinion at the Utah Ranger's Far Post blog