Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Our First Funeral

We had a very sad thing happen on the same day as Jeremy's birthday. The same day that we celebrated his life, we mourned the death of a believer.

John and I had just started peeling potatoes when Maimouna came and told us that Mariama had died. Mariama attended our church faithfully last term. Then when we went on furlough she began going elsewhere. I had gone to visit her twice since our return to Tera, but she was not home either time.

Anyway, we went down to her house to mourn with the family, but nobody was there. Mariama's children told us that they were all at the hospital and that she hadn't died yet. We went immediately to the hospital. We met another believer on the way and he went with us. As soon as we went in her room we heard the death rattle and knew it wouldn't be long before she would be gone. Her mother told me later that her heart had been bothering her and that she had been in the hospital four days. We prayed for her and then went home to finish supper preparations.

The boys had just arrived for supper when some men from another church arrived. The pastor of the church she was attending was gone. Anyway, they came to John to ask if he would do the funeral. Mariama's relatives had always told her that since she was a Christian nobody would bury her when she died. She said she didn't care since she'd be in heaven then anyway. John and the handful of Christian men that they could gather together at short notice arrived at the cemetary just before the others arrived with the body. As she was well-known as a Christian, they did not attempt to do any Muslim prayers for her, but stood back and let John do it. There were sounds of contempt from the listeners, but no outright problems. John knew someday he'd have to do a funeral, but had never prepared for the moment. We were in a bit of a panic trying to pull together some verses and thoughts in the five minutes he had to prepare. He spoke briefly, read verses, and prayed.

Anyway, we felt that she had triumphed in her death by having a Christian burial -- just what she would have wanted. Sadly, we did find out that she had married a Muslim man during the rainy season. Maybe God in his grace saved her from a horrible situation. We'll probably never know.

It was a sad day and hard to celebrate Jeremy's birthday with all the joy it deserved.

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