Tuesday, January 5, 2016
“If you have ever lost a loved one, then you know exactly how it feels. And if you have not, then you cannot possibly imagine it.” ― Lemony Snicket
Shaban, our driver and friend whom we have known for thirteen years (picture at the right), got word last night that his younger brother had been killed instantly in a motorcycle accident. His younger brother had been taking care of his mother in Singida which is about a ten-hour drive by car and over fourteen hours on a bus. Funerals are held the next day here since there is no embalming, so there is no way Shaban could get there for the funeral today. He sent me several texts last night on my phone (the brother died about nine o’clock at night) as he expressed his grief and we tried to figure out what to do about getting him back to his home village which is close to Singida. We have a woman from the United States flying in to Mwanza tomorrow and we have to be there to pick her up. She will be with us for eight days as she is working on a Master’s Thesis on the Methodist Church in East Africa and wants to hear and learn first hand about what we have done here. She was recommended by my professor at Boston University who flew me back there three years ago to be named a distinguished alumnus and to be the Missionary in Residence for a week. The woman coming knows about our problems with the Kenya church and is not taking sides—just writing about what the situation is here. We don’t even know what she looks like, so I will have to be there as she knows what I look like. Shaban will then drive us back to Bunda, drop us off and then turn around and head back to Mwanza. He’ll spend the night in Mwanza and then drive to Singida early Thursday morning. He’ll spend two or three days with his mother and family and then return. We sat and talked for an hour or two with him this morning about sudden death, loss of a loved one, funeral practices in Tanzania, and the needs of his family after the loss of his brother. Shaban was attacked and left for dead in 1996 and a man in the morgue noticed he was still alive. He still bears the machete scars on both sides of his face, so he knows suffering. Men in Tanzania don’t cry unless it is for the death of their father and Shaban doesn’t even like his father, so maybe he will never cry. I did really well not to cry this morning while we were talking (I was able to cry last night when he couldn’t see me). This is a hard cultural practice for me to observe since I cry at sad billboards. Still, at least we’ve got things figured out, and now I can work on what to prepare for our guest while we don’t have a car or driver. Luckily, we have bishops and pastors who can come here to talk to her, and we will get her out to a church in the bush while she is here. Edina, who prepares the guest cottages is out sick, so the men are pitching in and making things ready with John overseeing the work. When Gilda Radner was diagnosed with terminal cancer she wrote a book well worth reading. It’s title is, “It’s Always Something” and today I can relate. Please keep Shaban and his family in your prayers.