On Tuesday 5th of July at 12pm last week, I went to a memorial service at a church that I've been going to off and on since I was a kid of thirteen years old. I felt unusual going to the church for a couple of reasons with one of them they've added a new bit onto the church recently. The second reason was it was to remember Val Harris who had died last Tuesday night the week before. For a few years she had been valiantly been battling cancer which had grabbed a hold of her. Am amazing thing happened which was as the cancer grew bigger her faith and testimony grew and spread to those around her.
The service was a celebration of her life as a daughter, a sister, a wife, a mother and a very dear friend to a lot of people everywhere. As I was getting to the church I noticed that all the streets nearby were jam-packed with parked cars everywhere. I even had trouble finding a car spot whihc you don't normally do for a service. Even at about 11:54am or so as I was walking into the church there were special touches from Val. Upon arrival I received a little purple Gideon new testament bible with the memorial service brochure. When I walked in I was surprised to see a sea of people who had come to pay their respects to her - Val.
I managed to find a seat for myself then about ten minutes later I found my parents in the front part of the church and brought them to where I was sitting. My parents had known Val also since I was a kid. Byrne her son was actually in the same year at me in school and Debbie her daughter was a couple of years below me. So basically we've all known each-other for many, many years since we were young. Val was also really heavily involved in the school that we went to as well which was great. I remember on a year six camp Val and a few of the other mothers came with our class of about thirty kids with our teacher to a national park. The camp was for a week of hiking through bush at Heathcote National Park and camping with tents etc.... Anyway it was a really exciting adventure for us all being in the bush and doing all the bush stuff. In the last few days of the camp we got to a waterfall and creek where we were all swimming and jumping of a bit of a rock down below. Some of us were drinking water from the creek and we had Hungarian Goulash for dinner. The next day was raining and about ten of us including me were really sick as in going both ends which was horrible. I was in a very bad way and I remember Val as well as the other mothers taking care of us sick kids. They were like the Florence Nightingale's or guardian angel to us during that time. We all somehow stumbled about two to three kilometres back to the the train station which was hard. Getting to the train station I lay on on of the benches which I needed to. The place was called 'Waterfall' yet i vomited and I always remember it that there was another type of fall there as well. You can imagine the rest. As you can see I've recovered from that and am still alive typing this blog as you are reading it.
During the service we heard a few words from Debbie, Garnet her husband and Byrne read a few verses out of the bible. Sitting there were heard the beginning of a friendship between Garnet and Val. It lead into a love story of how they married then moved from Zimbabwe which was formerly known as Rhodesia to Australia then settled down. Seeing Garnet there on the platform talking about his best friend and wife with such meaning was very moving to me. I'm sure other people were really moved as well. We also saw a montage of photo's with music which came up on the screen with members of the 300 plus congregation sharing memories as well. It occured to me just how many people she has touched with her life an it got me to thinking. That means for me that with my life I am touching other people as well. Also that I do value and matter as well like everybody does.
Garnet shared a few stories about how Val looked at "The Big 'C'" - for Cancer. During church one time Garnet stood up and shared with everybody about the cancer referring to to it as the "Big C'". Val was quick to correct him and said something like "The Big 'C'" wasn't cancer in her life yet Christ was instead! The cancer was a "Little 'C' " instead. I'm pretty sure I was there that day at that particular service yet it was poignant to hear it another time. With other situations and time like that she was like a shining light out there who shared with people her great love for God despite what was happening to her. She still ministered and shared with everyone around her no matter what.
Words are not coming easily to me here yet you just had to be there to see and hear the service. The service went for about two hours then there was afternoon tea as well. Walking away with my parents I felt a deep sense of sadness and mesmorisation. I was astounded to see how many people had been touched by Val and also how we do affect others around us. That night Val breathed her last was the night that the world lost a very generous, loving, caring and Christian women. She was truly unique and those of us who knew her were well and truly blessed. She is one person who was a real character and I will never forget her. She has seen me grow up since I was a kid into an adult which means a lot to me. She was like almost family to me and I loved her as such. She will be sadly missed by everyone in the church community yet she is in a better place now away from the pain of cancer. Val Harris may you Rest In Peace! You will always be remembered and loved!!