Planting Churches and Vegetables

This is the eulogy I wrote for my mom to read at my Granddaddy’s funeral in the Philippines:

When recalling memories of Pastor Mateo, many of you may imagine him behind pulpits, planting churches, and occupying high positions in the Church. To be honest, I never really got to know Pastor Mateo. When I recall memories of this man, I imagine him behind the wheel of his white pick-up truck, planting vegetables in his garden, and visiting Home Depot, our local tool and appliance store in Kansas City. This was Granddaddy—the man I knew, whose life we are celebrating this evening.

Anyone who knew Granddaddy understood that he was very different from Grandnanay. Grandnanay was the one who wrote letters, called, and was the glue that kept the family together. While she could be tough and strong, she was also affectionate and warm. Granddaddy, on the other hand, was not the type that wrote letters. He expressed his love through service and getting things done.

His love looked like driving Grandnanay anywhere she needed to go or making a homemade punching bag for me when I was learning martial arts. It looked like painting an entire bedroom purple with glow-in-the-dark stars on the ceiling for Doris in Kansas City or teaching Vanessa how to drive. His love looked like faithfully working any job imaginable in order to support his family, whether it was being a supervisor over the cleaning crew at the Nazarene Headquarters or holding a top pastoral position in Asia. It looked like him planting a small tree to represent every grandchild in his front yard in KC, as he deeply valued each one. His love looked like building a beautiful kalapao (rest house) in the provinces for Grandnanay to enjoy and laying down a cement walkway for her in the middle of his rice fields. While Granddaddy may have been few with his words when showing affection, he was not limited with his actions and service.

One story comes to mind that he loved to tell over and over. When I was small, I pretended I was sick so I could leave school early, and so Granddaddy came and picked me up to take me home. I asked him to take me to McDonald’s because I was hungry. He said, “But, Sweety, I have no money.” I responded, “Well that’s okay, Granddaddy. There is a bank right next to the McDonald’s.” Somehow, I ended up getting a Happy Meal that day.

It’s strange to imagine that the time I most spent with him was when I was a child. My siblings and I were receivers of his gifts—from Happy Meals to punching bags. But when I visited him as an adult here in the Philippines, I related to him as my fellow co-worker for the Kingdom. And that was a sweet, sweet gift to me from God. Because I knew growing up that Granddaddy was always passionate about his Kingdom work—but as an adult when I visited him, while I was on a mission trip, it was a passion I got to share with him and understand better.

Other than the churches he planted, here is the legacy Granddaddy left behind:

A daughter, Venus, who works hard bettering a hospital in California so that people are well cared for.

A son, Jun, who also plants churches like his father.

A son, Sam, who trains people with physical exercises and God’s word to be the best version of themselves.

A daughter, Doris, who raises her children to know their Heavenly Father so that they may become godly men.

A daughter, Juliet, who teaches like her mother and multiplies her life through her students.

A daughter, Linda, who has the biggest servant’s heart I know—who serves like Jesus did.

And many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Including me, who grew up in Kansas City, and whose love for the Philippines was developed and fostered by the grandparents that helped raise me. Grandnanay not only taught me ABC’s and 123’s, but modeled what praying fervently looks like. Granddaddy not only bought me happy meals, but also showed me what working faithfully for the Lord looks like.

Granddaddy, thank you for sharing your life with us. Christian was so thankful to hang out with you in January, and he will miss that fishing trip you guys didn’t get a chance to do. Richelle and I are blessed that we got to be under Grandnanay’s and your care in KC.

You were fruitful in planting your vegetable garden in that small backyard, as well as planting churches all over the place. You prayed behind that wheel of your white pick-up truck before you drove anywhere, just as you prayed behind your pulpit. You took great care when working on your construction projects, just as you took great care of Richelle, Christian, and me. Thank you. We love you and we will see each other once again in a place even more beautiful than your green rice fields and more abundant than your vegetable garden. I’m looking forward to it.



This was taken in 2012, about a year after Grandnanay passed away. Granddaddy was showing me his rice fields and the cement pathway he made, “Grandnanay’s Highway,” so that Grandnanay could more easily walk with him through the rice fields. His field was the only one with a pathway going through it. It’s strange looking at this picture and seeing him walking on Grandnanay’s Highway. Almost as if he was just walking in her footsteps, following her Home.





One thought on “Planting Churches and Vegetables

  1. Nicely said Charissa…..always remember the legacy your Grandpa Norie planted in your young heart and relay it to the generations to come….

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