If you know me, I have often been heard to say when talking about my own impending sweet departure...."remember what the first three letters in funeral are!" I can not take credit for noticing that first, but it has stuck with me for the past twenty years or so since I first heard it.
Funerals here are...different. Funerals in the rural areas are different even still. Sister Simona is with the Lord. The body she used to have is in the casket seen here. They decided to have a Church service in the building that for so many years she lent to the Church for services...rent free. It is a custom in rural areas to walk the body to the cemetery. If you have been to San Juancito...that meant walking from where the old Church was all the way out to the road back to Valle de Angeles. Not a short walk mind you...let alone if you are one of the four guys carrying the casket.
The cemetery is set on a hill, and is somewhat overgrown and under-developed. Here you can see an unsuspecting person trying to make her way to the burial in four or five inch heels (which kept sinking into the ground a little when she walked.) This was difficult not just walking the 45 minutes to the cemetery, but then up this grassy path (with mud....she got stuck) but it was quite impressive to see that through it all she never fell. This part was not really fun because we constantly thought she was going down, and then we would have to carry her out.
There were times of sharing, talking, working during all this. It always seems to take death for us to slow down and spend time with one another without feeling like we have somewhere to go, something else to do, etc. Talking with Jonathan and Celeo about the FAME medical brigade last month and how it has impacted the ministry (Jonathan with two new people coming to Church because of it, Celeo talking about the overwhelming spiritual and physical needs there...more on that in another blog) talking about CHE, talking about how disgusting nances are, and how good raspberry juice is at Don Quijotes (10 lempiras for a big glass) and how to make Celeo pay for the check by calling him "the mayor" when we walked in...all very good, but all with that undercurrent of the true reason for us getting together as well.
A grandson of Simona's. He was also at the anniversary service Sunday night...both then and here drunk. Celeo had worked with him and talked with him many times, at one point he was coming to Church. Here he just collapsed and Celeo was trying to help him. So many times we struggle for the right words when what we need to do is just share the ones we have.
I found myself thinking that at least a few times during this 10 hour trip. I was thinking of the child in Cantaranas, and how he was only two months younger than Soren. I thought about talking with Oscar and Julia about all this...and remembering they lost their first child when she was a month old. I especially thought about that because the baby died on Julia's birthday, and Marlon was buried on his sister's 8th birthday (they had the piñata and everything already bought in the house before this happened.) I especially thought about it when we went to see Miriam...as people just came in to hug her. What words could I share? Nothing like that even close has happened to me. I hugged her, and she said "I had happiness, and now they took it from me." I just said what came to mind...even with all the people surrounding us..."I do not know, others do not know, but God knows what it is like to lose a son, and I pray He would strengthen you and fill you with His Holy Spirit."
Then it was again off to the cemetery...walking. Both times I was (fortunately) enlisted to drive the Ford to carry some of the eldery and children...so they are not seen in this picture of the multitude approaching the cemetery. If you can not tell....it was quite a few folks.
Another pastor gave a good sermon as the boy was buried. And afterwords God had it that I walked out with Miriam. She said:
"God gave me four beautiful years with him and I thank Him for that. This is not going to discourage me...but make me seek Him all the more."
What a testimony....already impacting at least one person, and surely to impact even more.