Thursday, November 6, 2014

Camp Canaan

Imagine growing up and never being able to go on holidays or to a camp? In North America this is almost unheard of as many people go on holidays not just once but several times a year. Most children and young people also have opportunities to go to a camp for several days. It is so common that we often do not think twice about it. It is part of our life and it is something we expect to do each year. However, in countries like Guatemala the reality of many families is much different. For many the closest things to getting away from home is going to a coffee or sugar cane plantation to work for several weeks or months or going once in a while to a bigger village or city to see family. Many parents of children in Guatemala do not have the resources to go on holidays or even to get away for a little while.
One of the wonderful blessings that AMG offers the children (grade 5 and up) in their schools and centers is a chance to attend 5 days of camp each year. The 40 acre camp, called Canaan, is located in a beautiful location some 45 minutes west of Guatemala City. The camp boasts many amenities like cabins, chapel, hall, soccer fields, basketball court, trampoline, and a swimming pool (which is freezing cold!). Although the amenities are great, the people who minister there are the ones that make the camp excellent. Jose Luis and Ofra are a couple who have been ministering at the camp for many years and they have a heart for the kids who attend. Together with other staff they minister to thousands of kids each year. Over the the 30 plus years that the camp has been around they have ministered to tens of thousands of kids. When I visit projects the kids all talk about the camp and how they look forward to going each year. Many of these kids will tell you that the camp experience and the mentoring they received from the staff impacted them for eternity. The camp even has a special place in the hearts of those students and alumni who are not saved. About a year ago we had our first alumni meeting and we decided to hold it at the camp. Several hundred alumni attended and some even traveled from the States just to be able to spend a day at the camp. Many were crying as they walked on campus and saw the staff. Some literally kissed the ground! The camp ministry meant so much to them and had an impact on their lives.
When we handed the education project in Cubulco over to AMG in 2013, one of our reasons and desires for doing that was to be able to offer the camp experience to some of the children in our center and schools in the aldeas. However, because of financial constraints we were not able to include the camp expense in our budget of 2013. When preparing the budget for 2014 we looked at the camp  again and decided that it was important to include it in the budget and to see if we could get churches to support this part of the ministry. Although the response was limited, we had several churches and young people groups donate money to cover some of the camp expenses. As a result, we were able to send our first group of students to the camp this past August. Ten students from a junior high school that we support in the community of Patuy (1 hour by car and a 3 hour hike away from Cubulco) were given the opportunity to attend the camp. They were there together with other AMG students from other parts of Guatemala and the kids really enjoyed their time. They played games, sports, interacted with other students, performed chores, and were encouraged to spend time in the Word of God and prayer. They were counseled and mentored in walking in the Way. I had the privilege to spend a half day with them and interact with them. 
Our plan was to send a second group of kids in September, but because the week fell during the Independence Day celebrations many schools had activities which interfered with the schedule. It would have meant that the kids would only be able to attend for 2 days. I suggested, therefore, that they postpone the trip until a further date so that the kids could enjoy the full experience. The trip has been rescheduled for January of 2015.

 However, we need your help to make the camp experience possible. We need individuals and churches to come on board in order to be able to raise the necessary funds. The cost for a child from Cubulco to attend the camp is around $40 for five days plus another $15 for transportation. It is at least a 5 hour trip from Cubulco to get to the camp. Our goal is to send up to 75 kids to the camp each year ($4100 US). If we would not had the cancellation of the second group we would have sent around 55 children to camp this year. As of now we have a little over $2,000 committed and it would be great if we could get a few more churches on board to be able to make up the difference. If there is anyone interested in helping out you can send a check to:
Peter Luth
RR 7
10318 Claymore Line,
Dresden, ON
N0P 1M0
Make sure you indicate on the cheque that it is for Camp Canaan.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Update Part 4

The highest highway pass in Central America 10,000 feet.
This summer was the first time in many years on the mission field that we were not able to return to Canada for furlough. This was somewhat disappointing and challenging for us (especially for the kids) since it is hard to get away from work and to find a decent place to relax. Also the challenge we have living in a city is that it is hard to find an affordable place with a yard. When the kids are in school it is much easier as they spend a good part of the day at school, but during the holidays it is much harder as the kids are house bound most of the day. Thankfully the summer went by fairly quick and to avoid the kids being behind the screens all day we had them involved with sporting activities most days. We registered the boys at a nearby soccer academy and they had practice for an hour each day for 4 days a week. We also signed Nico and Jesse up for a soccer tournament on Saturdays. After playing games for several months Jesse's team did not make it to the playoffs because his team was always playing shorthanded. This was quite frustrating for the parents as it is not fun watching your children putting up a good fight, but losing each time because they are playing 1-2 players short (they play 6 against 6 on a small field). However, Nico's team made it to the playoffs and ended up winning 3rd place. They should have done better, but in one of their final games they did not have enough players either. Also for the 3rd place game they lacked a player and Jesse ended up playing with them even though he was in a different age group. It is fun watching the kids play and even watching them practice. It is neat to see how they are improving with each practice and game. Ellen had gymnastics 3 days a week for 2 hours each day. These activities kept them busy for at least several hours a day and they also spent quite a bit of time playing with friends.
We planned to go on some outings as family, but in the end were not able to do much. Work and other commitments kept us from doing many of the things that we had planned. However, we were able to spend a few days in Xela (Quetzaltenango) with the kids with a team from Holland who were building a school. The kids helped out and it was a good experience for them. After this we spent a day at a beautiful water park which was very enjoyable for all of us and with that the holidays ended.
Doing VBS at a school in Quetzaltenango
School started August 14 and we had to get back into the school routine. The kids are in school from 8:00 till 3:15 except for on Wednesday when they finish at 2:00. Jesse is in grade 2 and he was able to get back in the routine quickly. We were a little concerned (although not too concerned since he is a bright boy) about his reading ability since thee school kept on telling us that he was a little behind in that area. However, he had a his first test results back for his reading ability and he more than doubled the goal that kids his age should have. Nico and Ellen had a harder time getting into the routine since they are now in middle school. This means that they have lockers with a combination lock, different teachers, different classrooms, being the youngest kids in the new building, not having teachers remind you of what you need to do for homework, etc. This caused some problems for them and they got several slips for not handing their homework in on time. After a few weeks Ellen surprisingly adapted. Nico on the other hand has had a much harder time and it probably did not help that he was sick for a few days. He had several emotional outbursts that we had not seen before so this was somewhat concerning for us. However, his homeroom teacher Mrs.Choe (who used to be his grade 4 teacher) has been helping him adjust to the challenges of middle school. We also had to sit him down and tell him that we cared and that as long as he did his best we would not be disappointed in him.We said that he would soon get used to it. Thankfully he is doing much better in school now and he seems to be back to his old self. Nico and Ellen play in the school band. Nico plays the trumpet and Ellen the flute. Nico also plays on the middle school soccer team. They have practice 4 days a week, but it only runs for 2 months. They had several games and a tournament, but they did not win any games. However, they did better than in other years and scored more goals and let fewer in.

I missed the first week of school as I spent a week in the States. I had the opportunity to attend a 2 day Christian leadership summit in New Hampshire together with others from the AMG leadership team. I got picked up from the airport by Brian Dennet and his former boss in his Rolls Royce Phantom. I got quite a few stares at the airport, but it was fun. He took us out for dinner and it was interesting seeing a glimpse of what Brian's life used to be like before giving it up to serve in Guatemala. The summit was very informative and helpful and I
really enjoyed it. After the summit Brian Dennett (director of AMG Guatemala) and I drove down to Chattanooga, TN and spent a few days at the AMG headquarters. We had a series of meetings there and it was nice seeing the staff. It is touching the way that they appreciate the work I am doing and go out of their way to make me feel welcome even though I am not an AMG missionary. They do not treat me like an outsider, but like one of them. After a few days there I returned to Guatemala.  
Lia has been busy ministering to women using her gifts and interests. She has been visiting one AMG city project each Friday sharing her story and doing facials with the women. She really enjoys this and the women seem to appreciate her. It seems to be encouraging to many of them hearing that the "gringos" don't always have an easy life either. We also have our share of struggles and obstacles in life. Lia has done this at other AMG events in previous years, but this is the first time that she is going to each project. Recently she also re-visited a project where a teacher had been raped on the school  premises at 11:00am by a pervert who jumped the fence. She went with the staff to the place where it happened, and prayed together. She hopes to go and visit this teacher in the near future.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Update Part 3

AMG partners from around the globe who also are partners of WD
At the beginning of April I had to be in Nicaragua for a week of meetings with Woord en Daad Holland. The meetings went quite well and we spent much of our time discussing the next 5 year policy period. This week of meetings was followed by a week of meetings in Holland in June together with all the WD partners worldwide. I enjoyed the conference and had to the opportunity to contribute to the next 5 year policy period. Brian Dennett the director of AMG Guatemala also attended the meetings as did Tasos Ioannides president of AMG International. We were also able to speak with partners that are under the umbrella of AMG but who also partner with WD Holland. There was a weekend in between the 6 days of meetings and we had the chance to see some parts of Holland. We went out for a day and visited a life sized replica of Noah's ark. This was very interesting. This was followed by a trip to Kinderdijk which is famous for the windmills. As we toured the area and the windmills I happened to run into a member of our church in Chilliwack (Martin van Ruitenburg). The world is a small place. Some of us also took a train and spent a day in Antwerp, Belgium. It was only a 2 hour train ride and it was well worth it. We spent the day walking around the city checking out the historic buildings. It was a neat experience. After the conference ended I stayed in Holland for an extra 4 days to meet with sponsors and visit with family and friends. I visited a school that will be sponsoring a school building project in Guatemala next year and was able to connect with some of the staff and students there. I also had a sponsor evening with close to 200 people who sponsor children in Guatemala. I did my presentation in Dutch and it went quite well considering the fact that my Dutch is a little rusty. The evening was quite special as many of those who attended knew Lia's dad. I had a little old lady who knew Lia's dad come up to me at the end with tears in her eyes encouraging me to continue working in the service of the Lord. It was very moving and I must say that my eyes were watering as well. Before she left she slipped a little bit of money in my hand and told me to take Lia out for dinner with that. This is only the second time in my 15 years as missionary that this has happened and both times it was from elderly people who gave a small amount of money with the specific purpose to take Lia out for dinner. That is very special. 
The Everts (the Dutch family who we worked with in Cubulco for 6 years) attended the evening as well and took me to their house. I spent part of the next day with them at their home and biking around the city they live in. It was nice seeing them and I appreciate the interest they have in the work in Guatemala. My brother picked my up afterwards and I spent a few short days with him and his family. The day before I left I was interviewed by a gentleman from the RD (Reformatorisch Dagblad). I spoke with him about many things, especially my father in law which is why I think he interviewed me in the first place, but also spoke of some of the difficulties of mission work. His article focused on that part of our conversation. He sent me the article to revise but since I was traveling I did not have a chance to do it. By the time I got back to Guatemala it was too late as the article had already been published. As a result there are some things in the article that are not accurate.
WD Holland Sponsor evening
I would have loved to have stayed longer in Holland as I enjoy going there, but being away for an extended period of time from family is difficult for them and for me. My return flights were cancelled, but I was put on a different flight back to Guatemala. It ended up being a good thing since I left later from Amsterdam and arrived earlier in Guatemala City than my other flight. Instead of having a 7 hour lay over I only had a comfortable 3 hour lay over. The return flight was much easier on the body than the flight to Europe since I flew all day and arrived in the evening. It was great seeing Lia and the kids again.

Brian Dennett, Tasos Ioannidis, and Myself




Van Lodenstein College in Amersfoort that is donating money next year for a school in Guatemala

One of the old gates in Kampen

Downtown Kampen

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Update Part 2

We also had a number of memorable moments this year. At the beginning of February, we received a visit from our former principle of the high school Lia and I attended in Chilliwack. Mr. Jim Beeke came down to do an evaluation of a school that Word and Deed North America (WDNA) supports in the town of Monjas, Jalapa, Guatemala. This school is run by AMG and I had the privilege of spending several days and working with Mr.Beeke on parts of the evaluation. It was a neat experience and it is not every day that one can work with a former teacher or principal. Corney Les, John Otten, and Rick Postma also came down during this time and it was nice to work together and see what God is doing in Guatemala.
Dinner at Fridays with Mr Beeke.

Intermissions Conference in Panajachel, Guatemala

Hotel on the shores of Lake Atitlan
During the second week of the visit of WDNA I also had the privilege of working for 2 days in an AMG project in the small rural community of Matochos together with Pastor Tyler Thompson teaching the leaders of the church. I first worked with Pastor Tyler in November of 2013 and we hit it off well. My primary role was to translate into Spanish, but he gave me the freedom and encouraged me to elaborate on things as we went along. I really enjoy teaching and it is something that I miss doing since I do not do a lot of it any more.
The 3 Dutch Ladies at the Conference
After this visit at the end of February we had the privilege of attending the annual missionary conference in Panajachel for 3 days at the end of February. It was nice to see old faces and meet new people. It was nice to connect with different people and encourage one another. Also the workshops and the seminars were uplifting and encouraging. The kids also loved Intermissions as they can be with their friends and enjoy activities that are set up for them. The only time we see them is at meal times and when it is bed time.

Several days after the missionary conference (end of February-beginning of March) I had to go to Bogota, Colombia for a week of seminars on monitoring and evaluation. The seminars were intensive as it was from 8:00-6:30 each day for 5 days. Thankfully, we had a weekend in between which allowed us to recuperate and digest what we were learning and gave us a few days to "relax". We spent one day in a salt mine that is still active, but parts of it have been turned into a tourist attraction. It was neat to see and allowed us to experience something quite unique.  Although the course was intensive and we were bombarded with a lot of information it was also quite practical and we were able to return to our respective organizations with practical ways in which to implement what we had learned. I enjoyed Bogota and the weather there as it reminds me in many ways of BC with the mountains, the rain, and the farmland.
At the end of March we had the annual father-son camp-out at the school. This over night event is a highlight for myself and Nico and Jesse as we get some time to be together and share our hearts. The boys also love the fact that there are a lot of games and they get to go to bed late.
Downtown Bogota
Sculptures made of salt inside the salt mine

Friday, August 1, 2014

Family Update Part I

It has been a while since we last updated you on our family and our lives here in Guatemala. So much has gone on and there appears to be so little time to write it all down in a post. I will try and enter a few posts over the next few days so that you have a better idea as to what has been happening here. However, before writing about the work we would like to update you on what is going on with our family. This is part 1.
Over the past 8 months most of us celebrated our birthdays: Tristan in November, Lia in December, Myself in February, and Ellen and Nico in March. Jesse's birthday is the only one still to go, but that is in August. Thank you all for birthday wishes and cards that we faithfully receive in the mail from different ladies societies and people. 
The kids finished their school year at the end of May. They had good grades and we are very thankful for that. We are happy with the school our children attend. There is a strong focus on the spiritual which is good. Nico and Ellen "graduated" from elementary school and next fall will be going to middle school (grade 6). Jesse finished grade one and will move on to grade 2. Tristan still has one more year to wait as his birthday is past the cut off date. We are also involved with the school as much as we can. The school actually requires parents to volunteer in different ways. I helped coach the middle school soccer team for 2 months in the fall. Because of my work I could not be there all the time, but I tried to make an effort to be at most practices and games. I am currently serving on the school board. I was asked in September if I was interested in serving on the board and before I knew it I was not only on the board, but filling the position of VP. I agreed to be on the board to be more involved with the school and to gain experience. I must say I feel quite green, but grateful for being able to learn and experience something different. Thankfully the commitment as member of the school board is not too demanding as there are only 10 meetings/year.    
Health wise we are doing quite well, except for the occasional bout of the flu. As some of you know, I had a cancerous spot removed from my neck a few days after my trip to Colombia (March). I have had this spot for over a year, but never had a biopsy performed on it. I had gone to a skin cancer specialist a year ago who did not think it was cancer. He prescribed me a topical cream which healed the spot temporarily. However, it returned, would heal and disappear for a while and then return again. I went and saw another specialist and she did not think it was cancerous either. However, she did perform a biopsy which came back positive as cancer. It did not surprise me considering the amount of exposure to the sun I have had in my time working in Guatemala hiking under the blazing sun for hours to visit the churches in the aldeas. Thankfully, it was one of the most common and curable forms of skin cancer which especially affects fair skinned, blond, blue eyes people (that is me). The cancerous tissue was removed and the wound healed nicely. Thank you for praying for me and for your concern.  
Spiritually, it is hard to say how we are doing. By looking through human eyes we could say we are doing fine. However, our eyes are rather dim and our vision distorted and we need to see things through God's eyes. We know as well that we are not what we should be. The older we get the more we see our weaknesses and imperfections... our sinfulness. When looking at our children this become altogether more apparent as we see our sinfulness often reflected in them. The Christian life is a struggle to remain on course as our fervor all too often wains. We find ourselves spending too much time and energy on the things of this life and not on the things of the life to come. Thankfully, God has not given up on us and continues to mold us into the image of His Son.
Related to this we have found a church where we are happy in and growing. For the first two years we were attending a Presbyterian Church, but our kids were not really happy there. They were having a hard time fitting in and connecting with other children. We started attending an English speaking church and we are all very happy there. Lia is involved with teaching the occasional Sunday School. Related to church, we also had the privilege of attending a Korean Presbyterian Church. Our school has a large Korean population (37%) and our children have many friends and classmates who are Korean (9 out of 21). They also spend time at their houses and so we as parents have been getting to know the Korean community little by little. The Korean's are a close knit group, but when we attended their church we were received with open arms. Language was somewhat of a problem although we could get around with our Spanish and English. The service was really nice and it was moving seeing them worship. Lia was quite emotional as it brought back memories of her missionary life in Asia (my eyes were watering a little as well, but I think it was the dust). After the service was over, we were invited to stay for lunch which consisted of various Korean dishes. A few days after the service we were invited over by a Korean couple for dinner which was very nice. They had wanted to invite us over in the past, but they did not know if we would be willing. They were concerned about how we would communicate because they assumed that we could not speak Spanish very well. It is nice to get to know the parents of the friends of our children.



Saturday, May 24, 2014

"Mourn With Those Who Mourn"!

The young man on the left is Santos Roberto who passed away.
Last week Wednesday evening I received a devastating call from one of our "pastors" Felipe telling me that his 18 year old son Santos Roberto had died tragically in a bike accident. Apparently he was racing with another boy, lost control and slammed into a concrete bridge. He was rushed to the hospital in Cubulco where they realized that his injuries where more than they could handle so they rushed him to the nearest government hospital an hour away. Along the way his blood pressure plummeted on several occasion and the doctor thought she had lost him. Each time they were able to get his pressure back up. At the government hospital in Salama they could not deal with the injuries either and decided to send him on to the city, but during this time Santos Roberto passed away into everlasting glory. While initially we thought his death was a result of trauma to the head, the autopsy showed that died from several ruptured arteries and veins in his chest. His passing was a devastating blow to the family and a huge shock to the community, church, and all of us who knew him.
The family requested that I be present for the funeral which was to be held in their community Patuy. I had an important meeting to attend on Thursday morning, but left right after and drove to Cubulco. The drive normally takes around 4 hours, but there was an accident (not serious) along the way as well as several small landslide clean ups which slowed traffic for quite some time. It ended up taking me around 5 hours to get there and I arrived around 6 pm. I had initially planned on spending the night in Cubulco and then travel to Patuy the following morning. However, the family phoned to tell me that if I could make it to Chitomax (the end of the road) before 7 pm that someone would be waiting there to take me across the river in a small boat. I quickly packed my stuff and made the 45 minute drive to Chitomax. Although it was dark out, someone was waiting for me to take me across the river. Pastor Xicara accompanied me and we hiked for close to 4 hours in the dark to get to Patuy. It took a little longer than usual because it rained along the way and Pastor Xicara had some difficulty walking at night. We arrived in Patuy at 11:00 pm and we found almost the whole community at Felipe's house (over 200 people). They had met the family at the river and had helped carry the coffin to the house (3 hour hike). The women were busy preparing food and we did not have a chance to speak to the family and give our condolences until after dinner. During the next few hours more people arrived from the community and neighboring villages. At around 1:00 pm we held a service in the home in which I was asked to preach words of comfort, encouragement and hope as well as a call to reflect on the brevity of life. I shared from the story of the death and raising of Lazarus and the hope that we find in Christ being "the resurrection and the life".  
After the service ended (around 2:30 am) I went to the church to get some sleep. Normally I sleep on a couple of church benches, but all the benches were at the house so I slept on the floor. I had a thin foam pad with me which took out the chill and some of the hardness of the floor. I actually slept remarkably well. The following day plans were made as to when the burial would take place and whether or not a service would be held in the home or at the church. In the end it was decided that lunch would be served between 11-12:00 followed by a brief meditation and time of singing at the house after which the body would be moved to the church and a formal service would be held. The body would then be carried to the cemetery for burial at around 2:00 pm. Although this kind of planning might seem strange for us, much has to do with how long it would take to dig the grave. I have helped dig around 4 graves during my time serving in Cubulco. It can be very hard work and can take more than 6 hours to dig each one when the ground is hard. Thankfully, the ground was soft and the grave was dug in 3 hours.
I was asked once again to do the meditation in the home as well as the sermon during the service. I spoke from Psalm 121 and focused especially on God watching over us and being beside us like our shadow is always beside us. Most English translations state in vs.5 that "the Lord is your shade at your right hand". The word in Hebrew for "shade" can also be translated as "shadow" which I personally prefer as I like that image of God being with me constantly just as my shadow never leaves me. I also spoke from 2 Corinthians 5 in which Paul talks about the "struggle" he faces constantly. His desire is to be with Christ, but he realizes that while he is clothed with an earthly tent (body) he can not be with Christ in heaven. In order to be with Christ he must first leave his earthly tent. That is the reality for all believers that it is not possible to physically be with Christ without dying first. Paul also speaks of his desire to be "re-clothed" with a glorious body since man was not created to be simply a soul. God created man with a body and soul and the two belong together. Death for the believer and his family is bitter sweet. It is sweet for the believer who passes from death to eternal life. It is bitter for the family who is left behind, although they are not left completely empty. They are left with the hope of that all believers have. 
This part of the funeral was the most difficult for me as it was for the family. Reality set in that Roberto is really gone and that soon they would not ever see him again on this earth as his body would be buried in the ground. The emotions were very raw and it was hard to not be moved. It was heart wrenching seeing family and friends draping themselves over the coffin and wailing bitterly. I do not cry very easily, but it was impossible not to. Thankfully, I could keep it together for the most part during the times I had to share from God's Word. Another difficult thing for me was having to stand at the head of the coffin and as I would look down I would stare in the face of the dead boy. Also as time went on the sweet stench of death became more apparent. In North America and Europe we try and "beautify" death. In countries like Guatemala this does not happen and you see death for what it really is. It is not pretty and it helps bring home the fact that we will all die one day. Death is ugly even though a funeral home might try and make one look good. 
After the service in the church and the final goodbye's were said, the coffin was carried to the cemetery which was around a 30-45 minute hike along a narrow trail. At the grave site I was asked to once again share from God's Word. I spoke from Psalm 23 and 90. After a few words from the family the coffin was lowered into the ground and the grave was filled up. This was done rather quickly with very little emotion. The emotions and goodbye's had been shown and done prior in the church. I spoke to the family for a little while afterwards and then hiked the 3 hours to where the pickup was. We had arranged to have someone take us across the river, but they made us wait an hour while they played soccer. When I arrived in Cubulco I showered and changed and then drove for 3.5 hours to Guatemala City. After such an emotional trip the thing I wanted most was to be with my family. 
Although several days have gone by, I still feel quite exhausted from the trip. It was physically and emotionally draining. However, for the family it was much more exhausting and they will feel it for a long time. I can and have continued on with my life, but for them life in a way stops as they deal with all their questions, fears, doubts, anger, grief, etc. Although those days where like a whirlwind Felipe sought me out on several occasions to talk to me, ask questions, share from his heart, and thank me for being there for them and encouraging and comforting them. I personally do not feel that I did a whole lot. I felt rather inadequate and at loss as to what to say to them. However, perhaps the most important thing I did was listen to him, pray with him, cry with him. I do not have the answers to his questions. He wonders why God took his son who was a good boy. He wonders why the wicked prosper. He wonders if his son can see them. Rather than try and give him theologically correct answers I told him to bring his questions to God. I encouraged him to read the book of Job and also said that it is not wrong to question God, to share how one feels and show one's raw emotions. God is greater and bigger than all of us and can handle these questions, outbursts, doubts, etc. better than we can and He can also comfort and answer those questions (or choose not to like He did with Job) better than we can. 
Please continue to pray for the family. Pray that they will find solace in God and His Word and that the death of Roberto and his testimony will especially speak to those who do not know Christ yet.

Just a note..... It might seem morbid to some to take pictures during a funeral, but the family requested that I take pictures, although it felt a little awkward.