Friday, December 6, 2013

The Death of a Man

 It was a normal morning, as I sat down to read my Bible. This particular morning, I began reading 1 Peter. I could not move past it, and kept reading it over and over.  Our hope is based on Christ’ resurrection! What a wonderful reminder!  Little did I know what God had planned for us that day. 

It was a Tuesday just like any other. We had finished language class & headed over to the village for the weekly Bible study. We maneuvered between the huts making our way to Anna’s house.  There was a solem mood throughout the village. They were telling us something, but we were only picking up a little of what they were saying. They wanted to do something before the sun went down, and it sounded urgent. Finally, a lady came that spoke some English and filled in the blanks for us. A man had died that afternoon from malaria, and they needed to bury him before the sun went down.  Emotions of sadness, confusion and nervousness all collided together. We have never been to a funeral. We did not know how to act culturally, what to do, we had not learned the vocabulary needed for a funeral. Sure we could fumble through some words, but the depth of comfort we needed to communicate we were lacking. 

While walking over there, Jonathan was informed that he would be expected to preform the funeral. Unprepared, unequipped, out of our comfort zone and without a translator, we did not know what to do. But, as God has taught us time and time again, it is in these moments, when we have to depend completely on Him and not ourselves, that He shows us His amazing power and strength. We followed the women through the village to the house of the man who had just died. It was very quiet. There was a grave dug out right beside the mans house.

An older man, who was grieving, sat under a nearby tree. We mimicked what the other Turkana were doing, where they were sitting and how they were acting. I was lead to the freshly dug and empty grave. We had a Turkana Bible, so I flipped to 1 Peter. My thoughts were interrupted by the screams of a young girl who could not have been more then 15 years old. She was either a sister or a daughter of the man, it is hard to tell in this culture. The women gathered around her, holding her up comforting her.

Three men went into the hut and came out carrying the man wrapped in a blanket. They laid him next to the grave and motioned for me to begin. I cannot explain what happened next, just that God was teaching through me. I was able to teach, very basically from that passage and pray with the family. The old man was called to throw the first dirt into the grave. The weight of his grief and brokenness were apparent. Once he was finished, another family member came and threw in some dirt. the community grieved and buried that young man together. When they finished burying him, the women told me to grab a stone from the pile that was near the grave and place it on top. I followed them and everyone helped cover the grave with stones as a sign that we are together in this and that the family is not alone. The way everyone was truly grieving together and in it together was  very moving. It was sad to see how the children  in the village were not phased by the death, and how it was just a part of life here. They see a lot of death, so this was just another day and another funeral. They all helped carry stones, even the little ones and place it on the grave then skipped off to play. We learned that when a child dies, only the parents cry and it is not as sad for the community as when an old person dies. This is because so many babies and children die. I mean, this man died from a mosquito bite! The death, and struggle of life is so overwhelming here that there are no words I can say. All I can say it that is has changed my life  and mindset forever.