Sunday, August 24, 2008

Goodbye Dear Friends

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

63 comments:

Cheryl said...

My family spent our 2005 Christmas vacation with CHOICE, Javier and his whole family in Sajonte, Guatemala. We had a wonderful time and look back with fond memories. It is a great loss to all of those that will never have Javier and Walfred touch their lives.

David G. Woolley said...

Hi Cheryl:

Thanks for your comments. It is comforting to know there were so many people whose lives were touched by Javier and Walfred. What a wonderful way to spend your Christmas vacation. Did you go to Sajonte village or were you in another area?

Let me know if you find anything more about the Rabanales family, the funeral plans, etc.

All the best,

David Woolley

Suz said...

What a loss to us on earth!! What a beautiful tribute you wrote in their behalf.

David G. Woolley said...

Thanks Suzette:

It is a terrible loss for so many reasons and to so many people. The villagers in the highlands depended on Javier and Walfred. They were a link to a better life, more education, and the outside world. Its a loss to their family and all of us who were touched by their wonderful lives.

Thanks,

Dave Woolley

Sandra said...

It is times like these that I am so thankful for the gospel. Mere words can never express the sorrow that is left behind, nor can they convey the empathy that others feel for those that personally grieve the loss. But we try anyway.

I am sorry for this loss. I am sorry that I never knew your friends nor the good that they did in this life. You, their other friends and their family will be in my prayers. May you feel the comfort that your soul longs for at this time.

Cheryl said...

There were actually two groups that went together to Sajonte at that time so we had mutiple projects. We started a medical clinic, dug trenches for a water system, we had a dentist that did dental work and my son collected toothbrushes for his Eagle project and he helped teach the villagers about dental care.
http://choiceguatemala.blogspot.com/2005_12_01_archive.html

David G. Woolley said...

I think I was the one who broke the line in your "water system". We were replacing the line, increasing the capacity of the water flow and I hacked right through the existing line with my pick axe. You should have seen Javier's face. Of course Santiago, in his jungle saavy manner started a little fire, melted the ends of the PVC pipe and put it back together again. They still speak of the dental work, though many of the villagers still get those silver dentures. It makes my teeth hurt just to think about it.

The L*Team said...

I also spent Christmas vacation 2005 with Javier, Walfred and their children.
My favorite memory of that trip was Walfred reading the Book of Mormon by flashlight trying to complete the challenge by President Hinkley to finish by the end of the year.
Javier and Walfred were such loving, kind, happy people. I am so lucky to have met them.

My prayers are with their children at this time. What can we do for them? I know that Walfred and Javier are just fine.

David G. Woolley said...

Hi "I Team" Person:

You must know cheryl then? Right? I know that Javier's brother was with the children last night. Walfred's sister and brother in law live in California. I didn't know that until I got a note from them yesterday. I don't have any word on the funeral except that it is likely Tuesday or Wednesday.

Daniel was working with me to establish a scripture cover business to help raise money for his mission. If you find out anything about the family, any needs, how they're doing, etc. please let me know.

David Woolley

Cheryl said...

l*team is my sister and she is the one that started our adventure. She had been to Bolivia and Mexico with CHOICE and she was going to take my son Christopher when the scout leaders decided that it needed to be an Eagle project. So to offer support my daughter, husband and I tagged along. I am glad that I did because it is a memory that I will never forget.

Anonymous said...

What a heartfelt tribute to such wonderful people. Thank you for posting such a wonderful dedication to two wonderful people. My parents and sister have traveled often on medical missions with Walfred and Javier. Thank you for posting.

Karin Estrada said...

My husband is javiers best friend from childhood. He is on his way to guatemala with my daughter after we received a text and a phone call from Daniel, Their middle son, yesterday afternoon. We are all in shock! This tragic event affects the lives of so many people. A more perfect companionship does not exist. I will miss them greatly. Their presence in my life, my husbands life and the lives of my children can not be replaced. Javier and Walfred, I will miss you horribly.

David G. Woolley said...

Karin:

I'm so sad for you loss. I knew Javier had a childhood friend...his very best friend...who lived in Sandy. Do you think we should do something in honor of Javier and Walfred? Will Josue and Daniel and their daughter be all right? I know they have lots of family around them as well as an aunt and uncle in California.

Please let me know how they are doing, about the funeral and anything we can do to help.

David Woolley

Sam Lungren said...

I was part of the 2008 Beneficial Financial Group service expedition with Choice led by Javier and Walfred to the village of Chimaxyat in Guatemala. Being with them and watching them do what they did was amazing. They put their whole soul into their work and truly lost themselves in it. What special, special people they were and how dearly they will be missed. Please keep me informed on any needs that arise with their children as many of our group are interested in knowing how we can help.

David G. Woolley said...

Thanks Sam:

I think some sort of help for their family (Josue, Daniel and their daughter) and/or some sort of contribution to the Choice efforts in Guatemala to help continue the work Javier and Walfred loved would be in order. I'll find out more details and post something here.

Sound okay?

All the best,

David Woolley

David G. Woolley said...

Sam:

If you went with the Beneficial Life group last April, then you would know the infamous Kimber. I still haven't forgiven her for taking you to Guatemala without me. Some day I may speak to her again. She just flits off to Guatemala without asking permission and without an invitation to join them on another humanitarian project. Sheesh...

David Woolley

Karin Estrada said...

We have been in contact with Claudia, Javiers sister in California. I would love to do something to honor them. Their kids are pretty distraught. I will let you know everything that I know as soon as I know it. My husbands plane lands at 1:20. He was a point of contact with the funeral home, choice, etc. I would love to contact you or you can contact me. My cell phone is 706-0112. Your blog is wonderful. It is a great loss for many people.. my husband lost a brother...

David G. Woolley said...

Karin:

I'm so sorry. Was your brother-in-law on the same flight with Javier and Walred? Wow.

I know that Daneil was concerned about earning money for an LDS mission. He and I were working on finding a way to expand his leather scripture cover business to earn enough to serve a mission. I know that will be a concern for him going forward now that Javier and Walfred are gone.

I am heading to soccer training in a few minutes and will be there until later this evening. I will give you a call and we can begin making some plans.

I know the Beneficial Life group from last April would be interested in doing something. As would a lot of other friends and associates. We should put our heads together and begin making some plans. Find out from your husband what sort of assistance would be best to persue. Family help. Choice contributions. Etc...

Thanks,

Dave Woolley

David G. Woolley said...

Karin:

My cell phone number is 801-367-1020. My email address is davidgrantwoolley at yahoo dot com.

David Woolley

Carlos said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Carlos said...

David, though I don´t personally know you, since you knew my brother Javier and my sister-in-law, Walfred, I feel that I do.
I thank you for your kind words towards my brother. He always used to say that I was the famous in the family because I am a pianist and choir director. Little I knew that he and his dear wife were indeed not the famous, but the kind of people who made a deep impact in the lives of many. Looking at all the friends and relatives who have shared their appreciation at the funeral, I now understand how spread their love and influence was for many.

David G. Woolley said...

Carlos:

Thank you for posting. I'm so happy to meet, at least online, Javier's brother. Was the funeral today? Was it held at the LDS chapel where Javier and Walred attended church?

What can I do to help. I noticed you removed your post. If you would prefer to contact my email please do at davidgrantwoolley at yahoo dot com.

You're a pianist? That's terrific. Me too. But likely not in the same league as you. And when I sing I scare people. Do you direct choirs professionally or is it a hobby?

Thanks again for your post. You are in our prayers.

David Ries said...

Like Sam, my wife CIndy and I were part of the 2008 Beneficial Sedrvice Expedition. We had a wonderful experience, and Javier and Walfred were a key part of making it wonderful. Javier taught us much about the culture of the village. Walfred's fine cooking kept us well-fed, happy, and energetic for each day's work. We could sense their love for their work, for each other, and their family. Ever since I returned from Guatemala, I have used a picture of the village, with Javier in it, as the desktop for my computer. Their passing creates an enormous loss.

We were fortunate to meet their children, and especially fortunate to hear Daniel's amazing singing voice. We will be part of whatever Beneficial puts together to help the family.

Jennie said...

David, I'm sorry for the loss of your friends. Your blog is a beautiful tribute to them.

Noelle Platt said...

Dave,

Thanks for using this blog as a way to link those of us who loved Javier and Walfred.

My heart has a hole that may never be filled.

To the Rabanales family, my most heartfelt prayers are with you at this time.

And to those of you I know who have left messages on this blog, you are all in my prayers as well.

Noelle Platt

Karin Estrada said...

The funeral for Javier and Walfred will be tomorrow morning, August 26 at 8:00 in the Atlantida Ward Meeting House. The burial will take place immediatley following. They are having the viewing all day today and all night. There was an issue with the airline insurance, but they (they airline insurance) is covering the burial plots so Javier and Walfred can be buried side by side. Many, Many people are paying their respects to them. The children are surviving. ps.. Javier was like a brother to my husband.. not literally that my husband lost his brother.. he lost Javier....

a good friend said...

dear walfred and javier you were such nice people. you provided so much for us in guatemala. thank you. you are in good hands now. you are still loved.

Brittany Estrada said...

We only met you once. On a trip of a life time. :'( "You are not alone, i am still with you.. so you're far away, i am here to say: you are not alone i am still with you so you're far away i am here to stay" sang there middle child Daniel Rabenales on a that same trip. Javier and Walfred you had my back when i came to visit you, and it is my turn. No you are not gone, you are only gone phisicly, but spiritually you are all with us
you are the best.....I LOVE YOU!!!!
aND I WILL NEVER FORGET YOU!!!!!!!!
And Javier ,Walfred and kids you are not alone we all are there for you. You are still loved now and eternity...

David G. Woolley said...

The Deseret News posted this follow-up article on Monday, August 25th indicating that a trust fund will likely be set up to support surviving family members. Details will appear here at the Top of the Morning.

Karin Estrada said...

I just got off the phone with my husband. Their were literally thousands of people who showed up to the viewing to honor Javier and Walfred. Many of the native people from polchic traveled some fourteen hours to pay tribute and honor Javier and Walfred. Even the president and students from the University where they were studying came to pay their respects. My husband said how humbling it has been to see the love and admiration that so many people shared for these two amazing people. The kids spent the night with my husband and my daughter at my brother in laws house. They are just waking up now and preparing for the funeral and burial. The hardest part might be for the kids, when all the people go home to their normal lives, and the children...

amanda said...

javier and walfred, you guys risked your lives to save other people and that is what i call brave.and i hope all the kids now they are protected

Rebecca Talley said...

What a touching tribute to two people who certainly impacted so many. I'm so sorry to hear about this tragedy and hope their children will find comfort in the legacy of their lives and in the love of the Lord.

Karin Estrada said...

The funeral is over. They were on their way to the cemetary when my husband called. The Stake center was filled to capacity with people standing in the hall way. Area authorities were there, the temple president, the mission president, as well as hundreds of other people. The line of cars was long, and some people literally went from the stake center to the cementary in buses. It was mentioned over and over again in the funeral that the legacy that was left was a legacy of love and honor and respect that a husband has for his wife!!! And anyone who spent anytime with them at all will know how deep their love is!

Anonymous said...

Karin,

Thank you so much for updating us on the details. It helps to feel as if we are a part of what is going on there.

Carlos said...

David,
I just came from spending an afternoon with my nephews and niece. I think Karin has answered most of your questions. We had a meeting with family members to define what will be done. Josue, Daniel, and Laura will pray, fast and go to the temple tomorrow or Thursday to have a clear understanding on what the Lord (Daniel's words) expects from them. We are encouraging Josue to continue with his plans on going on a mission.
I am deeply honored and humbled to be these children's uncle. It is impressive to see their perspective, courage, determination, and faith.

David G. Woolley said...

Carlos:

Thanks for keeping us posted on how your are doing. Many of has not been able to go about our daily routine because of the saddness we feel. I have been worried about Josue, Daniel, and Laura. We are grateful that they have such a wonderful family close to them. And many of us here are waiting to know how best we can be of assistance.

I can only say that Josue, Daniel and Laura have been prepared by their parents for these difficult times.

May the Lord bless you, and your family and Josue, Daniel and Laura. You are all in our prayers daily.

David Woolley

Tom said...

Thank you for your wonderful tribute to these true saints. I had the opportunity to work with them while serving as mission president in the Guatemala North Mission. They loved the Lord and His children. All have experienced a loss with this tragedy. I am concerned about the continuation of their work and legacy with the Qechi people in the Polochic area. I know that a fitting remembrance to Javier and Walfred is to insure that their family and their work not be left unattended. Tom and Carolyn Coleman

Anne said...

It has been 7 years since I was a 14 year old girl embarking on a CHOICE Expedition to Guatemala with my family. The Rabanales family helped make that an experience that I will never forget. I will always remember Walfred and Javier (and Josue, Daniel, and Laura) for welcoming us into their family, as well as for the smiles and laughter that they brought with them.

Thank you for keeping us updated on how the family is doing.

Carlos said...

Dear all,
The kids received a temporary temple recommend to officiate baptisms at the temple, and while being there, they will try to receive inspiration about many things that need their attention. Josue, Daniel, and Laura need to keep their life as normal as possible and to continue with the legacy Javier and Walfred left.
We are receiving lots of comfort from many people. I've received many phone calls from people that I didn't know. So, thank you all for all of your prayers and support.

David said...

Dear Rabanales Family,

I was deeply saddened to learn of this tragic accident, and am so grateful for the outpouring of love and support for your family. I know that the Gospel will be great comfort for you. You are in my prayers.

God bless!

Elder Hill

Shaleese said...

I had the privilage of going to Guatemala this last may with Utah Medical Outreach. It was one of the best experiences in my life, made even better by Walfred and Javier. You'll never find more selfless individuals. They dedicated their lives to service. Im so grateful that i was able to meet them. They were the type of people you couldn't help but love! I learned a lot from them in just the week i was with them. I can't begin to imagine how many lives they touched and how many people were devastated to hear of the loss. My thoughts and prayers are with their 3 wonderful children, who i met also. They are some of the most amazing people i have ever met. They will be greatly missed!

David G. Woolley said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
David G. Woolley said...

Thank you everyone for your comments here at the Top of the Morning. Please continue posting any memorial thoughts or remembrances. Your words are a balm to many aching hearts.

The Top of the Morning will post updates about the coming memorial service in September as soon as those details are finalized.

Devin Spence said...

David,

We have never met but we share a common friendship in Javier and Walfred. My name is Devin Spence. I sincerely thank you for this wonderful tribute and for your concern for the Rabanales kids. Javier and Walfred Rabanales along with Josue, Daniel, and Laura are my family. They embraced me as a new missionary when I was homesick and could not speak the language. Walfred took me under her wing by teaching me Spanish, encouraging me, and always having a hot meal for me and my companions. Words cannot express how much I will miss them.

amanda said...

javier and walfred i want you to know, that we all miss you! and you were an amazing couple!and i hope josue,daniel and laura you are protected and loved.you all have strog hearts and you must know you will be taken care of. i wish the best in the world.

daNyBoY said...

im daniel son of javier and walfred, sometimes is to "hard", its so amazing, how can i control it?? i feel sometimes like that is... you now??
but keep praying for us, that help a lot!!...because..

Edwin Fernando Coronado Roche said...

T.Carlos
I'm sorry about your brother but i think that he and his wife are in a better place than here with out problems and they're wqatchin you from the sky

David G. Woolley said...

Hi Danny Boy:

Thanks for posting here. I know it must be really hard for you and your brother and sister. Very painful. But we're all thinking of you, and praying for you and working to help you in these tough times. The pain will go away very slowly, but what won't every leave is the wonderful memories you have of your parents, their example, their faith, their sense of duty and responsibility and their love and kindness. Didn't your dad have a wonderful sense of humor? And didn't your Mother have a delightfully kind manner? That is your heritage and it is a wonderful, memorable, faithfilled one. Keep the light alive.

We all love you.

David G. Woolley

daNyBoY said...

thanks david, you are so special like the other person that i know, it just.. sometimes i feel like thinkgs are not going well, you now?..

David G. Woolley said...

Quierdo Dannyboy:

El dolor qudara contigo para mucho tiempo. Si no los amara tanto a tus padres, no te causaria tanto dolor.

The rest of us will keep praying for you and making sure you know how much we love you.

We all remain your friends.

Hope to see you soon,

Tu Amigo,

David

danNyBoY said...

thank you very very much!!
i hope see you soon to..
you are helping me a lot!!..

David G. Woolley said...

Hey Danny:

When are we going to play some soccer over at the cemet court at your chapel. We have to plan a whole week. You get all your friends together I'll bring one or two of my players and we'll go at it every evening at the church for a full week. Have you got any new moves to show me? That will be lots of fun.

Dave

Anonymous said...

Hola Daniel, soy Noelle. He estado leyendo tus mensajes y me hacen querer orar mas por tu y tus hermanos. Para que sepan, he estado pensando y orando mucho por ustedes.

Cada dia pienso en tus padres...pienso en todo lo que aprendi estando junto a ellos, y pienso en el amistad y amor que me dieron.

No tengo ninguna duda que ellos estan cerca a ti y a tus hermanos. No tengo duda que ellos estan dandoles consuelo, y no tengo duda que durante toda la vida tuya, tus padres van estar a tu lado.

No puedo imaginar lo dificil que es ahorita, pero seguiran en mis oraciones.

Noelle

Devin Spence said...

Daniel,

Quiero que sepas que vos y tus hermanos siempre estan presentes en mis oraciones. No puedo imaginarme del dolor que has de sentir. Soy tu hermano y si hay algo, lo que sea, en que les puedo ayudar, avisame. Oiste?

Con Amor,

Devin Spence

danNyBoY said...

hey! devin mi brother!! i love you so much! you are great! thanks for everithing, for you friendship...
hope talk to you soon..

danNyBoY said...

thank you noelle, eres muy especial! te aprecio muchisimo,gracias por tus oraciones! es algo que me hace sentir mucho mejor en esos momentos cuando siento que realmente no soy lo sufucientemente fuerte, tus oraciones han hecho la diferencia!..

danNyBoY said...

hey dave! claro que si eso seria estupendo!! jugar! eres muy calidad.. you are an amazing guy!! you have a great spirit!
david thank you for all your doing for us! and.. i hope see you soon! couch!..
gracias por tus mensajes tan inspirados, me estimulan a que pueda ser lo que realmente soy, sabes.. la palabra GRACIAS, es corta en comparacioncon todo lo que siento por ti y todas aquellas personas tan unicas que han estado con nosotros!...

jeannine said...

David,
Have you heard anymore from the Rabanales kids? Is Javier's mother still staying with them? Are they still living at home?

Carlos said...

Update: I just asked for a visa application at the embassy of United States in Guatemala. We will go to the appointment and see what happens. If everything goes well, we will be traveling as soon as we have the visas. I want to thank all the people who have been in touch with us. We are planning to meet people in Utah and California. David Woolley, I hope I meet you in person.

Karin Estrada said...

The kids, Josue, Daniel and Laura and Carlos, Javiers brother GOT THEIR VISAS!!!! They will be arriving in Utah on Saturday, December 13!!! David, if you have my number still, feel free to contact me. They will be staying with us, and traveling to LA for a time, then returning to be with us. Carlos will only be here until the 27th of December. THEY ARE COMING!!!

David G. Woolley said...

Karen:

This is great news! I am so excited to see them. And we will have LOTS of snow for their arrival today. Sorry I have not responded sooner. I got hurt this week, fell on some cement, went to the hospital and have been "out of it" for the past few days trying to recover.

I have a new computer so I lost all the contact information. What is your phone number and email address? I can hardly wait to see the kids. And I know there are a lot of others who feel the same way.

Let me know.

I love you guys!

Dave

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