Saturday, July 20, 2013
"We are only resident aliens in this world if we are true Christians." -- Will Willamon
I wrote the other day of the death of the infant daughter of one of our evangelists (lay pastors). He was the leader of the church at Nyamalebe which is just over the hills between us and the Serengeti National Park. In fact, the the church at Nyamelebe is in the park property, so predators are also dangers there, although most of the damage is done by elephants who can devour an entire year's cassava crop in a single night. The fire not only killed the little girl (her brother made it out) but the entire hut burned to the ground. This cultural does not have that kind of Amish "let's all help rebuild" philosophy but more of a "what can you do" philosophy. We are trying to get our fellow churches to help out in some manner. We are trying to initiate what we called a "pounding" back in Arkansas, where everyone donates a pound of something be it butter or sugar. Of course, we don't use pounds here, so we are asking for kilos of sugar and flour. We are also collecting clothes since they only had what they were wearing. I found a man who would do the thatching (for a reasonable price of course), and it looks like we can get the hut rebuilt in a week or two (we are paying for the supplies). In the meantime, the family is staying with relatives and church members. The funeral was held the next day as is the custom here (there is no embalming, so rapid burial is a must). The four days of mourning are taking place at a neighbor's house since there is no family home any more. We are in the middle of the dry season here, and the fire hazard is high. There are no fire departments, no fireplugs, not even any volunteers. Most of the time, the people just stand and watch it burn while trying to keep their own homes from catching fire. It is a different culture but that doesn't mean that there isn't a deep sense of loss and pain and hopelessness that comes from events like this, but this family are Christians and they know that their mourning will be comforted and that the pain of this life is just that--the pain of this life and not the next. They can still hold tight to the hope that lives in their hearts.