One night it happened that we were able to introduce Rodger Shewmaker, a new missionary to the Itawes people, to a local custom, a wake, which was at the home of a lady who had passed away that very afternoon. We had gone for a walk by the light of the full moon when we passed a house where there were several ladies playing mahjong under a canopy extended beyond the front porch of the house. Chuck noticed lights inside the house, and he knew that meant someone had recently passed away. Filipinos always have lights on both sides of the casket in the front room of the house, with baskets of flowers arrayed around it¸ too. We knew some of the people playing mahjong, so we went to introduce Rodger to them, and of course, we were invited to go in and pay our respects.
On entering, the center of attention was a lovely casket, which was opened and had a glass case over the upper part so we could look in and see the lovely lady below. She was dressed in a beautiful Filipino gown with butterfly sleeves, and even though they said she had died at age 83, she looked much younger, and had been a very beautiful woman. There was no lamenting, and instead her daughter was sitting with several ladies quietly talking. We sat down to talk with her, and she told us about what a serene way the lady had passed away, and she was very thankful for that.
Just a few feet away from the casket was a table surrounded by women who had come to be with the family at this time, and they were playing cards. Outside, at the rear of the house in the garage, men were playing something and chatting among themselves. A few children, grandchildren of the deceased, were roaming here and there trying to find something to do. Most of these people would probably stay most of the night to keep the family of the deceased company, as someone always has to stay with the deceased until the time of burial, which might be several days hence. Before we left, we were brought tea and cookies, and as we said our goodbyes, they thanked us for having dropped in to be with them for a while.