This afternoon we attended the funeral for Midraine. A young woman we hardly knew, and who was in so much pain when we met her that I'm sure she never knew us. It was a truly surreal experience. It was hard to take it all in and to believe that I was sitting in a small cinder-block church in a village in Haiti attending a funeral. The casket sat in the middle of the room, closed, and decorated with plastic flowers. I listened to solemn hymns in a foreign language and the wailing of a mother who had lost her only daughter before she was twenty years old.
Pastor Rony reminded us of the joy we can have knowing that this young child of God has gone home to be with Him. I am relieved at the thought of her pain being lifted and the burdens of this hard life here removed for her. Rony also urged everyone to know, today, where we stand before the Lord and to be assured of our salvation.
After his message, Pastor Rony approached me. As he came near, I hoped that he wasn't going to ask me to help carry the casket. He didn't, but he asked me to come pray at the end of the service. I had to ask him if he wanted a prayer in Creole or English. I lucked out again, he chose English.
Six men then picked up the casket, and the whole group filed out after them. We walked down the street and to the cemetary. The cemetary was about the size of a football field, filled with the small cement tombs common here in Haiti. A few more hyms were sung, and I was able to interpret "ashes to ashes, dust to dust" as the family's pastor placed the first trowel of cement onto the coffin. Next to the tomb, there were two men waiting with bags of cement, a bucket of water, a shovel, and a level to seal her body's final resting place.
We left the cemetary and stopped at the home of Midraine's older brothers. We visited with her mother for a little while and generally felt everyone staring at us. Through the whole experience, we did feel out of place (hoping not to be a distraction), and I'm sure most of the other mourners were wondering what in the world we were doing there. Midraine's family did seem encouraged though, which was an answer to prayer.
On the way home, Tara and I learned more about the family, and found out for the first time that Midraine also had two younger brothers that attend the Lifeline school. We also reflected on what an amazing and different experience this was. We are both still shaken by the fact that she is gone. I struggle with the fact that the lack of available medical treatment for simple problems causes death on a regular basis here. Fortunately, we serve a mighty and sovereign God who can supply our every need, and comfort the afflicted with true healing and eternal hope.
(Photos are of the cemetary, those are not houses they are family tombs.)