Thursday, June 23, 2016

Hermano Zanelli

We're still stressing over preparations for our Pioneer Trek, and last week the blacksmith finally had the hand cart wheels ready. Ken made plans to go with President Zanelli to Trujillo to pick them up Thursday. The morning got a bit hectic so they put off going till right after lunch. Ken waited in the plaza until President Zanelli finally showed up. He was all in a flurry as he guided Ken away, and said, "We're not going. Come with me to the hospital. My son's been in an accident." But he wasn't at the hospital, he was still at the accident scene. That's where they went next and found his body still on the pavement surrounded by a crowd of people and emergency crew. He was a young motorcycle police officer making his rounds on a narrow winding street just out of town when he met a trash truck head on. Suddenly everyone's pre-existing plans melted away. We gathered at the church where the crowd grew till it spilled out to the yard and filled every space. The body arrived, was embalmed in the casket, and set up in the chapel for viewing. As the evening wore on, they decided to hold a spontaneous memorial service. Elder Whitney encouraged them as they planned talks, and then everyone sang hymns. Meanwhile the fellow police officers marched in bearing flowers and set themselves up in formation around the coffin where they kept watch all night long.
Friday we had meetings in Trujillo and also a going away party for President and Sister Marler of the Trujillo North Mission. I stayed in town while Ken came back for the official memorial service. Once again he helped them plan talks on the Plan of Salvation and several eulogies. Everything went smoothly, so he snuck away and made it back for the end of the party. What a fun surprise as he made his entrance to our warm little get together.
Saturday the activities continued. We attended the temple with 17 missionaries about to leave for home. What a beautiful experience to watch each one enter the celestial room. We shed tears. The mission feels empty without them.
After lunch it was back to VirĂº for the funeral. Elders Miller and Perkes accompanied us, and were much appreciated by the family, especially Sister Zanelli who prepares missionary meals at her home. She always called Elder Miller one of her sons, so they had an emotional reunion. By then it was apparent that the family hadn't slept and had wept nonstop. Still we gathered on the street outside the church for the grand procession to the cemetery. Fortunately we had big strong police officers to carry the casket, and also a marching band, as we made our rounds to various homes to say goodbye: his home, his grandparent's home and his parent's home. They stopped head first in front of each home then dipped the coffin low as if to bow or curtsey in farewell. Next we stopped in at the town hall where the mayor gave an honorary speech. Then it was up the hill to the cemetery for the final stop. Don Carlos Luis Zanelli was remembered with much love and honor.

It was a sad funeral procession.

A solemn group of police officers accompanied us.

They carried the coffin on their shoulders. 

The coffin dipped a curtsey to say farewell at each of his homes. 

And the band played on. 

We delivered the casket to the town hall so the mayor could give an honorary speech. 

Then our procession marched around the corner and up the hill to the final resting place. 

Elders Miller, Whitney and Perkes

One last goodbye as they poke their heads into the crypt before it gets bricked up. 


  1. What a sad yet moving memorial

  2. Huge tears in my eyes. I cannot even imagine the experiences you both are having. You are both amazing missionaries and human beings.