It’s been a busy few days, so now I am finally sitting down to tell you about them. It hasn’t always been busy in a pleasant way. On Thursday afternoon we got word that a daughter of a member (Rebeka) of our Kamkumung congregation had died. So at 5:30pm Andrew and Ian rushed to be with the family (they actually had another meeting planned, but postponed that meeting till after visiting Rebeka). The daughter was called Nancy and she was about 19 years old. She had often come to church with her mother too. However, quite a few months ago (maybe a year ago?) she contracted tuberculosis (TB) and was quite sick, thus preventing her from joining us in worship many times. She also spent a long time in hospital. Towards the end of last year/beginning of this year she was doing much better, and went back home, basically living a normal life. However, a couple of weeks ago she got sick again with TB and was admitted into hospital again. She spent the last week of her life in a coma and toward the end of her life was put into ward 5c. This ward is apparently known as the 50-50 ward by locals, which basically means that a patient will be put in there if his/her life is hanging in the balance and he/she has got 50% chance of dying or living. Well, young Nancy lost her battle for earthly life on Thursday afternoon. Actually her breathing got really bad, and apparently the doctors were considering tubing her, but her mother said she would take her home. That she did, and Nancy died an hour later. Death just seems to occur so often here, from things which we know would often be prevented in our western society.
Please pray for Rebeka. She has had a hard life and lost her husband some ten years ago. She has an older daughter and a younger son, but does not see them much. Nancy was a daughter who was very close to her. Rebeka is an amazing woman, a hard worker who has a quiet strength about her. Also in her grief, her faith and belief in the wisdom of her Heavenly Father is clearly evident. Nancy, we found out, also left behind a husband. (In this culture it is not unusual to not realise that someone is married, unless you specifically ask, as men and women often do thing rather separately). He was also at the funeral, and obviously in grief. He needs our prayers too, especially because it would seem (as far as we know) that he is not a believer, at least not in the sense that Christ is Lord and Saviour of his life.
Because Nancy died at home, and Rebeka did not want to bring her body to the morgue, the burial had to be done very quickly. Thus on Friday afternoon we gathered in Kamkumung church to hold a funeral and then bury her body. Nadia looked after our children so I could go along with Ian and Andrew. We arrived just before 3 pm and waited for about half an hour before the body was brought in a coffin to the front of the church. I sat just up from Rebeka and as I watched her it moved me. There she sat with her bare feet and head bowed. Her grief was so obvious, but her hope in Christ was too. The church was full with family members, many who had never been to our church before. Andrew was able to open the gospel with them, comforting them with the riches contained therein. Please pray, too, that the Lord may have used this funeral as a way to reach others in Rebeka’s extended family who do not know Him.
After the church service we drove a short distance to park our car further into the Kamkumung settlement. This family group has their own “cemetery” on their own land (it is the family of Rebeka’s late husband). Then we walked for about 10 minutes, behind the coffin to the small family cemetery, where Ian spoke a few words, we sang and prayed and then the body was buried. We all waited for almost an hour afterward as they filled in the huge hole they had dug to bury her in. When it was completely filled in we walked back and then drove the short distance back to Rebeka’s house, where we were given some food (culturally this is their way of thanking us for being there for them). It was getting pretty late, and we did not arrive back home till after 6:30pm. I was getting a little worried about the girls, well actually I was feeling bad for Nadia, but they were all doing fine.
It was a long, sad day, but also an uplifting one. God is strengthening his people. He truly is a loving Father.
Oh…and to continue on the story from last time – the saga about the daughter of Julie. I found out on Friday from Julie that the husband had already found himself another woman/wife (only 2 days after Julie’s daughter left). Apparently even his own family were angry and upset by this behaviour of his and for this reason he has been forced to take up residence somewhere else for the time being. I always wonder what I am going to hear next…