A memory of/En memoria de Carlos de la Garza

Este es largo, pero con mucho amor. This is a little long, but with a lot of love. Espa√Īol y English.

Carlos predicando

Carlos predicando

Christmas Eve morning we got a phone call that you never want. Carlos de la Garza, one of the elders at Comunidad B√≠blica (our old church here) and a good friend and dear brother in Christ, died of an infection related to kidney failure. We hustled to the hospital and joined others from Comunidad B√≠blicain being with Martha and her mother (also Martha). We were all in shock. He’s been ill, just recovering from pneumonia a few weeks ago, but until the 23rd we had been planning on spending Christmas Eve with them. What do you say? In times like this all you can do is be there. Words are just useless.

They took his body to the funeral home and at 8 PM there was a viewing. Pastor Chris led the service, doing a good job of putting things together quickly and well. There were probably 60-80 people there–short notice, Christmas Eve–from all sorts of areas, Campus Crusade (Carlos and Martha are ex-staffers), Comunidad B√≠blica, Echo (Carlos’ current ministry), and Unete (Carlos’ work). Carlos’s parents and brother made a 4:30 flight from Monterrey and arrived at the funeral home in time. It was a time of celebrating (Carlos’ favorite songs), crying, testimonies, and Scripture. Kevin Bult spoke, sharing our assurance that Carlos is with Jesus.

One neat thing in this is that the funeral home, Valle de los √Āngeles, picked up the cost of the funeral services. Carlos and Martha had begun doing business training for them a short time before, had purchased two packages and made a payment. But the owner came to Martha and told her that they would do the work free of charge. That’s the kind of impact and quality that Carlos (and Martha!) had on those around him. They even bumped them up to a bigger room–and a good thing too. It’s an amazing provision for God’s servants.

Martha and the family spent the night there. One friend who has done amazing things for them was Chema, a ministry partner. He has been Martha’s chauffeur, go-fer, and servant in all of this. He took Martha mam√° and Estefania home, picked up food, and spent the night with Martha and the rest of the family at the funeral home. At about 8:30 AM, Christmas, he called to ask if we could bring some breakfast to Martha while he took the rest of the family home to clean up, eat and rest a bit. So we took some eggs over and spent the morning there. When the family came back with Chema, about noon, they took Carlos’ body to be cremated. It’s a hard moment, a good-bye. John 11:25-27 and 2 Corinthians 5:8 were a blessing to share with Carlos’ family. His father has accepted Christ, but we’re still waiting for his mom and brother. It was good to be with them–it’s fun to get to know the family of someone so special. In the afternoon, I was hunting photos of Carlos on our computer with his brother and we laughed over some of them. Arturo shared some growing up stories of Carlos–they were quite the characters together, competitive, always into something.

Then the service. More songs, D√≠as de Elias, a favorite of Carlos, and, the mark of our new age, testimonies pulled of Facebook. Even though there were a lot of people there, the rush of the service, meant that only maybe 10% of the people that would have come could make it. But it was great to sing, to honor God, to honor Carlos, and share about his life. Victor Magall√≥n did a great job of speaking–sharing the things that made Carlos so special, his relationship with the Lord. We had a couple videos. I’ll see if I can post them and add the link. Then…home. As Drew said, “This was the weirdest Christmas I’ve ever had.” That’s just for us. But for Martha and the girls a world turned upside down. A hard beginning. I’m pretty sure there will be lots of support around them. It’s going to be rough though. We ask for prayers for them.

I don’t know why I wrote out a report. Just processing, I guess. That’s how I work. But I want to write about Carlos. He was a man of God, a man to emulate, who lived an exemplary life. Here are maybe the top five aspects of Carlos that people mentioned over and over and over:
1. Carlos’ smiles. He was always smiling about something and it was so easy to joke around with him. I’ll miss this very much.
2. Carlos’ hugs. Mexicans are a hugging people–men give men un abrazo (a distinctive hug, complete with handshake before, two pats on the back and a handshake after). Carlos was renowned for his “5-second abrazo“.
3. Carlos’ competence. I guess that’s the best way to say that Carlos was good at many things and had lots of wisdom. He was the director for Campus Crusade in Mexico for several years before he resigned for health reasons. He was a good public speaker, often tapped to speak at special events. He always had good advice and a wise perspective on what we were doing. He was a really good networker and businessman. For about two years he was building a network of sales contacts and business consulting jobs. He had a gift for this sort of thing and loved what he was doing. In part this was because of the next quality:
4. Carlos was an evangelist. He told everyone about the Gospel. He had a passion for introducing people to Jesus. He was still thrilled about his own salvation (August 17, 1992) and loved witnessing. We only knew Carlos in the Puebla phase of his life (he and Martha moved here from Monterrey in 2005/6), but we heard stories of his witnessing exploits in Monterrey. He trained Comunidad B√≠blica in evangelism just before we left and sent everyone out on the streets around the church to do street witnessing. His passion for his business work was to share the Gospel in a winsome, attractive and appropriate manner–and he had many stories already.
5. Carlos the husband and father. One of the last things that I think of Carlos is that he was a great husband and father (and son-in-law). Martha, over these last few days has said that over and over. Martha mam√°, his mother-in-law, spoke for his family at the funeral–how many mothers-in-law who live with their sons-in-law have that kind of relationship? Sadly, not everyone with the previous qualities have this one, #5. Carlos did. That’s perhaps the greatest tribute and honor to the man that can be said.

Finally, one last thing that marks Carlos’ life and says what kind of man of God he was. At the funeral, towards the end of the time, America, a funeral director, asked Chris if she could say a few words. She told everyone there that she had been working with Carlos and Martha for some time before he died–they were beginning to do employee training there at the funeral home. At one point she commented to Carlos that God had blessed her in her endeavors–she is quite successful–but she felt empty inside. Carlos told her, “I can tell you what you need.” He shared the Gospel with her, and invited her to come to Comunidad B√≠blica ‘s Christmas Cantata. She went. Just 6 days before his death Carlos extended himself to speak at the Cantata. He spoke of the gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh, and of giving our lives to Jesus, and, being Carlos, shared the Gospel, and invited people to pray the sinner’s prayer with him. America was there with her husband and she prayed. Afterwards Carlos and Martha spent time with them. America was deeply impacted by Carlos’ witness and life. She may have been the last person he led to the Lord. What an unexpected and appropriate word honoring Carlos’ life and Carlos’ Savior.

Carlos, we love you, we miss you, we’ll see you.

—— Espa√Īol ——
La ma√Īana de Nochebuena recibimos una llamada telef√≥nica que uno nunca desea. Carlos de la Garza, uno de los l√≠deres de Comunidad B√≠blica (nuestra antigua iglesia aqu√≠) y un buen amigo y querido hermano en Cristo, muri√≥ de una infecci√≥n relacionada con la insuficiencia renal. Nos apuramos al hospital y nos juntamos con otros de Comunidad B√≠blica en estar con Martha y su madre (tambi√©n Martha). Todos est√°bamos en shock. √Čl ha estado enfermo, pero hasta el d√≠a anterior est√°bamos planeando pasar la Nochebuena con ellos. ¬ŅQu√© se puede decir? En momentos como este lo √ļnico que puedes hacer es estar all√≠. Las palabras son in√ļtiles.

Se llev√≥ su cuerpo a la funeraria para cuidar el cuerpo y para el velorio. Chris dirigi√≥ el servicio, haciendo poniendo las cosas de forma r√°pida y buena. Hab√≠a probablemente 60 a 80 personas all√≠ – son mucho aviso previo, en Nochebuena – de varios √°reas de la vida de los de la Garza, Cruzada Estudiantil (Carlos y Martha son ex-empleados), Comunidad B√≠blica , Echo (el ministerio actual de Carlos y Martha), y Unete (el trabajo de Carlos). Los padres de Carlos y su hermano alcanzaron un vuelo de las 4:30 de Monterrey y llegaron a tiempo. Fue un momento de la celebraci√≥n (canciones favoritas de Carlos), de llanto, de testimonios y de las Escrituras. Kevin Bult habl√≥, compartiendo nuestra certeza de que Carlos est√° con Jes√ļs.

Un suceso positivo en todo esto es que la funeraria, Valle de los √Āngeles, asumi√≥ el costo de los servicios funerarios. Carlos y Marta hab√≠an empezado a dar capacitaciones a los empleados poco tiempo antes, hab√≠an comprado dos paquetes y hab√≠an realizado un pago. Pero el due√Īo se acerc√≥ a Marta y le dijo que iban a darles sus servicios de forma gratuita. Ese es el tipo de impacto y la calidad que Carlos (y Martha!) tuvo en quienes lo rodean. Incluso les cambiaron a una habitaci√≥n m√°s grande. Es una disposici√≥n incre√≠ble para los siervos de Dios.

Martha y su familia pasaron la noche all√≠. Un amigo que ha hecho cosas incre√≠bles para ellos es Chema, un compa√Īero de ministerio. Ha sido chofer de Marta, y un servidor en todo esto. Llev√≥ a Martha mam√° y Estefan√≠a a la casa, recogi√≥ la comida, y pas√≥ la noche con Marta y el resto de la familia en la funeraria. Alrededor de las 8:30 AM, la Navidad, nos llam√≥ para preguntar si pod√≠amos llevar un desayuno a Marta, mientras que √©l llev√≥ el resto de de la familia a la casa para ba√Īarse, comer y descansar un poco. As√≠ que pasamos la ma√Īana all√≠. Cuando la familia regres√≥ con Chema, a mediod√≠a, se llev√≥ el cuerpo de Carlos para ser cremado. Era un momento duro, un adi√≥s. Juan 11:25-27 y 2 Corintios 5:8 fueron una bendici√≥n para compartir con la familia de Carlos. Su padre ha aceptado a Cristo, pero todav√≠a estamos esperando a su madre y su hermano. Fue bueno estar con ellos – es divertido conocer a la familia de alguien tan especial, claro, en circunstancias menos tristes. Por la tarde, yo buscaba fotos de Carlos en nuestra laptop con su hermano y nos re√≠mos a varias de ellas. Arturo comparti√≥ algunas historias de la ni√Īez de Carlos – que eran bastantes competitivos, siempre metidos en algo.

Entonces el servicio. M√°s canciones, D√≠as de El√≠as, uno de los coros favoritos de Carlos, y (porque somos del Siglo 21) testimonios de Facebook. A pesar de que hab√≠a un mont√≥n de gente all√≠, me imagino que significaba s√≥lo unos 10% de las personas que habr√≠an venido. Pero fue genial cantar, honrar a Dios, dar homenaje a Carlos, y celebrar su vida. V√≠ctor Magall√≥n hizo un gran trabajo de hablar – compartiendo las cosas que le hicieron a Carlos tan especial, su relaci√≥n con el Se√Īor. Tuvimos un par de videos. Voy a ver si puedo publicar y a√Īadir el enlace. Entonces … a casa. Como Drew dijo: “Este fue la Navidad m√°s rara que he tenido.” Eso es s√≥lo para nosotros. Sin embargo, para Martha y las ni√Īas un mundo est√° en ca√≥s. Es ahora un comienzo dif√≠cil. Estoy bastante seguro de que habr√° un mont√≥n de apoyo, personas caminando con ellas. Va a ser duro sin embargo. Pedimos oraciones por ellos.

Yo no s√© por qu√© escrib√≠ todo una historia. S√≥lo para processarlo, supongo. As√≠ es como yo trabajo. Pero quiero escribir sobre Carlos. Era un hombre de Dios, un hombre a emular, que vivi√≥ una vida ejemplar. √Čstos son los cinco aspectos de Carlos que la gente menciona una y otra y otra vez:
1. La sonrisa de Carlos. Siempre estaba sonriendo por algo y era tan f√°cil de bromear con √©l. Voy a extra√Īar mucho esto.
2. . Los abrazos de Carlos Carlos era conocido por sus buenos abrazos. Fue reconocido por su “abrazos de 5 segundos”.
3. Las habilidades de Carlos. Creo que es la mejor manera de decir que Carlos era bueno en muchas cosas y ten√≠a un mont√≥n de sabidur√≠a. √Čl era el director de la Cruzada Estudiantil en M√©xico por varios a√Īos antes de renunciar por motivos de salud. Era un buen orador p√ļblico, a menudo designado para hablar en eventos especiales. √Čl siempre ten√≠a un buen consejo y una perspectiva prudente en lo que est√°bamos haciendo. Ten√≠a una facilidad de hacer enlaces con la gente y era un buen hombre de negocios. Durante cerca de dos a√Īos estaba formando una red de contactos para ventas y una consultor√≠a de negocios. Ten√≠a un don para este tipo de cosas y amaba lo que estaba haciendo. En parte esto fue motivado por la siguiente caracter√≠stica:
4. Carlos era un evangelista. Le compart√≠a el Evangelio con todo el mundo. √Čl ten√≠a una pasi√≥n por hablar de Jes√ļs con la gente. Estaba a√ļn muy emocionado por su propia salvaci√≥n (17 de agosto de 1992). S√≥lo conocimos a Carlos en la fase “Puebla” de su vida (√©l y Martha se trasladaron aqu√≠ desde Monterrey en 2005 / 6), pero hemos escuchado historias de sus haza√Īas compartiendo el Evangelio en Monterrey. Hizo una capacitaci√≥n en Comunidad B√≠blica de la evangelizaci√≥n justo antes de salir y nos mand√≥ a todos a las calles alrededor de la iglesia para hacerlo. Su pasi√≥n por su trabajo en los negocios fue para compartir el Evangelio de una manera atractiva, efectiva y apropiada – y ten√≠a muchas historias despu√©s de poco tiempo.
5. Carlos el esposo y padre. Una de las √ļltimas cosas que creo de Carlos es que era un gran esposo y padre (e yerno). Martha mam√°, su suegra, afirm√≥ esto en el funeral – ¬ŅCu√°ntas suegras que viven con sus yernos tienen ese tipo de relaci√≥n? Lamentablemente, no se puede decir esto de todos los hombres en un ministerio. Carlos lo era. Esa es tal vez el mayor tributo y honor al hombre que se puede decir.

Finalmente, una √ļltima cosa que marca la vida de Carlos y da testimonio al hombre de Dios que era. Casi al final del funeral, Am√©rica, una asesora de la funeraria, pidi√≥ a Chris el tiempo de compartir unas cuantas palabras. Ella nos comparti√≥ como ella hab√≠a estado trabajando con Carlos y Marta por alg√ļn tiempo antes de su muerte (estaban empezando capacitaciones con los empleados de la funeraria). En un momento le coment√≥ a Carlos que Dios le hab√≠a bendecido en su trabajo – es bastante exitosa – pero sent√≠a un vac√≠o por dentro. Carlos le dijo: “Yo puedo decir lo que usted necesita.” √Čl comparti√≥ el evangelio con ella, y la invit√≥ a ir a la Cantata de Navidad en Comunidad B√≠blica . Ella la asisti√≥ con su esposo. S√≥lo 6 d√≠as antes de su muerte se esforz√≥ Carlos para hablar en la Cantata. Habl√≥ de los dones de los magos a Jes√ļs: oro, incienso y mirra y de dar nuestras vidas a Jes√ļs, y, siendo Carlos, comparti√≥ el Evangelio, e invit√≥ a la gente a orar con √©l. Ella or√≥. Luego Carlos y Martha pas√≥ tiempo con ellos. Am√©rica se ha visto afectada profundamente por el testimonio de Carlos y por su vida. Ella pudo haber sido la √ļltima persona que Carlos llev√≥ al Se√Īor. Qu√© palabra tan inesperada y apropiada para honrar la vida de Carlos y su Salvador.

Carlos, te queremos, te extra√Īamos, nos veremos.

Familia de la Garza-Escudero

Familia de la Garza-Escudero

4 Responses to “A memory of/En memoria de Carlos de la Garza”

  1. 1

    This is a wonderful expression of who Carlos was and how much he meant to so many. Thanks, Tim.

  2. 2

    And yes, Carlos, you are already missed. Indeed he was one of the few I know that could say ¨follow me as I follow our Lord.¨

  3. 3

    Mando un abrazo muy fuerte a la familia y solo decir que carlos ha sido un ejemplo en mi vida…

  4. 4

    Gracias por compartir esto, es de mucha bendicion para todos los que no pudimos estar en su funeral.

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