Family of killed missionary Brian Townsend hold teary farewell
Family of an Alberta missionary found dead in Central America held a music-filled, and sometimes sombre, goodbye Sunday.
Hundreds gathered at the College Heights Seventh-day Adventist Church in Lacombe, Alta., to remember Brian Townsend, 64, who is believed to have been murdered on Christmas Eve. The service was also broadcast on the church's website.
Townsend had been living and working as a missionary for the past nine years in the English-speaking country of Belize. He was reported missing from his home in the small community of Valley of Peace, and his body later found in neighbouring Guatemala.
Belize police last week said they had two suspects in mind and were working with Guatemalan authorities, but had not yet made any arrests.
"He had energy that he radiated out. And that was ultimately contagious," Townsend's daughter, Mandy Lund, told the congregation.
He had energy that he radiated out.- Mindy Lund, daughter
Lund said she also worked as a missionary and Grade 3 teacher on the Marshall Islands, and her father's advice over the phone helped her.
"Our dad inspired us and we knew we were loved. And he told us we were loved."
Townsend's son, Robbie Townsend, added: "What I find unbelievable and what's turned out to be beautiful, in the ugliest of situations, is the amount of people my father has touched and inspired and helped."
Townsend's other son, Kory Townsend, who went to Belize in late December after his father was reported missing, spoke about his experience in the country and the pain of coming to grips with what had happened.
"As my plane took off from Belize City a few weeks ago, I thought that for certain the worst part of this experience was over. I was wrong."
Kory said he has come to appreciate that he got the chance to meet the people his father worked with in Belize and visit the places he cherished there.
"Even though [my father] was not around, it felt to me like he was right there with me the whole time. Giving me, essentially, a guided tour of the world that he loved. So I thank you, dad. I love you."