With heavy hearts we let you know about the death of a friend, colleague, and father Paul Westlund along with two national Indonesians. Paul was a pilot in Indonesia where we previously worked. He had been flying in those remote mountains for 25 years. Paul was a man of God and had a great sense of humor. He was also a “no-nonsense” kind of guy. His plane went down in the mountains of Indonesia yesterday.
I remember him returning to Indonesia from his furlough time in the US. There had been sickness and death in his family. I was murmuring something about what a tough year it had been for them when Paul stopped me and said, “We don’t want these things to define us. They were just a part of our lives and God took us through that.”
Wow, those words have stayed with me for many years. When I want to have a pity party for myself I think, “Why do I want to make this issue ‘define’ who I am? God is greater than this one thing.” Boy, I need to say those words to myself today.
After grieving for his family yesterday, my next thought was, “Paul would be okay with this death. If he had been told ahead of time that he was going to die that day, I could see him saying that it was just fine.” I hope people say the same thing about me when I die.
Below are some photos of Paul as well as a link to an article he wrote some years ago about “A day in the life of a pilot.” And here is a YouTube video that Paul helped produce a few years ago, tribute to Paul’s life of service to the Papuan people here. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rr0mDf6fdYM
I know Paul is resting in peace with His Father who he served so wholeheartedly. I also know he will be sorely missed on earth.
Will you please stop a moment and pray for his wife LaVonne, his daughter Joy, and his son Mark as well as all of the others who are grieving? Joy, currently serving in the military, graduated in the same class as our daughter Laura and was one of the students that we spent time with as class sponsors. Pray for Joy who is, at this very moment, flying half way around the world to her father’s funeral. Pray for Mark, his son. He is a junior at Hillcrest International School. Pray for wisdom regarding his schooling, whether he will be able to stay in Papua or have to return to the States. Pray too, for the teams who must go to Papua, Indonesia and investigate this accident to see what went wrong. It can be a stressful time for many people. Thank you.
September 28, 2011 at 2:36 PM
Ken, Thank you for sharing your beautiful post about Paul. I knew Paul & his family. His dad was my pastor for over 20 yrs. Pauls always had a smile every time I saw him. We are comforted by the fact that Paul was exactly where the Lord wanted him & that’s where Paul wanted to be too! He will missed by many!
Ken & Anne
September 28, 2011 at 10:49 PM
Thanks for stopping by, Clarice. I can only hope and pray the next time you visit the blog, the news will be much nicer. It is obvious that Paul touched many people’s lives during his short time on earth. I can only pray that I am able to do the same.
May God bless you and your family. And may we both reach out to others like Paul did.
September 23, 2011 at 9:36 PM
Yes, we really thank you for writing this. As family, it means a great deal to hear the good word spoken about Paul. We are so proud of him.
September 23, 2011 at 4:43 PM
Ken and Anne, I know it is hard to lose a friend, and Paul was a friend to so many. To borrow Nate Gordon’s words from his blog, “Our hearts are heavy. We do not grieve as those who have no hope…but we do grieve.”
September 23, 2011 at 1:37 PM
What a great post. I pray that God will help me to view the things of this world in the same way. We are just His vessel.
September 23, 2011 at 11:36 AM
This is a beautiful post. Thank you for writing it
Miss you already uncle paul.