May 15, 2014

the boy next door

The funeral workers were just about to pull the casket from the van when Mommy fainted. Only moments prior the funeral procession had arrived. As all the vehicles parked, the van carrying the casket, with Mommy in the front seat, sat just outside our house. Mommy’s anguish carried throughout the neighborhood with every sob, every wail. 

The black funeral van parked outside the neighbor’s house and the crowd who came to mourn with the family.

Our first experience with a Guyanese death began 10 days ago. Our house (minus my two children who I’m convinced can sleep through anything) was woken up to the sounds of wailing. Red and white lights flashed through the window from the ambulance. We sat on our second-story porch watching and wondering what happened. The ambulance left and was shortly replaced by a funeral home van. They took the body and left only the cries of the family. 

“My buddy’s dead… my buddy’s dead…” 

Mommy wailed for a long time until her sobs died into moans. 

We found out the next day that the boy who died was only 26. He died of cancer. 

Since the death, we’ve learned a Guyanese tradition called Nine Nights. For eight days they play very loud music and play dominos while holding small wakes in the evenings and into the night. The ninth night is the big wake. The loudest music, the largest gathering. It’s kind of like a send-off party for the deceased. Only it’s a sad party. 

I wish here is where I told you that I had been visiting the sick man and ministering to this family. I help by taking them meals and praying with them and spending time sharing with them about the comforting promises in the Bible. 

Instead, I’ve been over here worrying about finances, housekeeping, and what to make for supper. I didn’t even know the boy was sick. This isn’t about me - but a small part of me thinks, “what does this say about me as a missionary?” What am I doing here? What am I so caught up in that I didn’t take the time to get to know the family living 10 feet away - completely oblivious to the suffering going on there. 

Today, ten days after the boy died, they brought the body back to the house. We knew it was going to happen today, but still it caught me off guard. Mommy’s grief was overwhelming. I saw her faint twice, and from the sounds of things, she fainted again after that. 

Millie, Sam, and I watched from our deck. She wanted to know why Mommy fell down. “What does it mean that she fainted?” She wanted to know what was in the big box. “What is a casket?” She asked me why we can’t go over there. She was so curious. Today is a day of conversations that I know she won’t fully understand, but that she really wants to. “What are they going to do with that big box?”

Friends, our world is sick. It’s going to die. I needed this reminder not to get so caught up with supper preparations that I become totally oblivious to the people around me. This next week I’m going to visit Mommy again. I’m going to find out her name. I’m going to take her some of my homemade bread. I’m going to be stepping way out of my comfort zone and talking to her about some promises I’ve read in my Bible. 

It’s the people in this world that matter. Not what’s going on in my kitchen. Not what’s on my to-do list of chores. If it will be rubble in the end, it shouldn’t consume me now. 

This is what I learned from the boy next door. 


Anonymous said...

God bless you! He'll go with you. Questions from kiddos are precious, but sometimes hard. At least you KNOW the answers--my little grands are asking the questions but their folks are atheists and HAVE NO ANSWERS to offer them, sob sigh, and they won't let us tell them the true Truth. I will be interested in the continuation of the story and my heart hurts for the mama's loss.

PB said...

Praying for you as you minister to them, Cas. God will give you words, and actions for them. And Patti, I've known prayer go huge distances to save family members who were denied the truth as little ones for various reasons. God will answer your prayers too. I also pray for my children and grandchildren. One promise I claim is Isaiah 59:21. It's amazing.

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