On Tuesday 1st of April last year our friend Paulo went to be with his Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. It was a shock to everyone as he was only 34 years old.
He was faithful in serving the Lord each week, playing the piano while his brother played guitar and sisters sang. About two years ago, he received the honour of being invited to be part of the Orchestra of Arequipa in a town where there are very few paid music jobs. He played the double bass and his colleagues described him as extremely talented.
I felt a connection with him because he encouraged us in our desire to get our girls learning the piano and appreciating music. The kids (and us too) loved to go to see Paulo play in concert often in beautiful old cathedrals. Thankfully, being a double bass player, he was standing so we could see him :-).
We had hoped he could teach them piano but because of his commitments with the orchestra (and his health issues which his Mum had told me briefly about) he recommended a music school right near our place where he studied himself. We knew of the place and had met him nearby accidentally many times as we played in the parks close to the school. He would spot us or the kids would spot him as he walked to his classes. It seemed he was ever keen on improving his skills even though he was already so good. So through these meetings, music events and the church I got to know him well. He was a gentle person, kind, faithful and interested in others.
He died of a heart attack in the waiting room of the hospital. He had some prior blood pressure issues and health concerns and was awaiting a heart operation, though few knew the gravity of his problems which he did not mention. It saddens me greatly to think his death could have been prevented. He had gone to the hospital the day before (Sunday night) with pain in the heart but they just asked him to come back the next day. We trust that he is in a better place. I am grateful that about a month before his death his parents had returned to live with him and this gave them some precious time with him.
His death was a shock. We got a phone call from a friend and then an SMS from his brother-in-law. There was a “wake" that very night in the funeral home with the funeral the following day. Thankfully our pastor (brother-in-law) was able to, despite his grief, point people towards God. Both events were well attended by friends and family and orchestra members too paid their respects with music.
His brother was devastated after Paulo died but we were happy to see that late last year God gave him a lovely wife, no doubt a comfort in this time of distress. They make a beautiful couple and it was a joy to attend their wedding in November and see his joy. The brother returned to leading church after a break mourning Paulo's loss.
Paulo did not run the race in vain but served God and others in his short life – may we be encouraged to do likewise. It seemed fitting to post this a year on in memory of Paulo – I miss him and sometimes feel myself choking up when I think of him. It took me a little longer to make friends here in Peru so when someone makes an effort, with some English thrown in, it touched my heart. We miss you Paulo but know you served God with enthusiasm with the talents he gave you.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us...