Friday, July 31, 2009

More burials...

Please pray for the Whitfield's, our ACTION team members... I included a letter from them to their supporters. As for us, this is the third "preventable" death of a baby that we have endured in the past three months. It is hard.

Dear Friends

It saddens us to have to inform you that our house helper, Pauline Sakala, lost her youngest daughter Lizzy this past Sunday. Lizzy was born a couple days before we arrived back in Zambia in May. At only two months old, she died, per the official report, due to an infection of malarial and bronchitis. Although our time with Lizzy was brief, she had already attached herself to our hearts. Emma, was especially fond of her and would capture any opportunity she could to hold her for a few moments during the day.

Over the past few days our family has been exposed to an aspect of Zambian culture that is unfortunately all too familiar to most of our Zambian friends. The funeral in the African culture may just be the most significant way to honor and pay respect to someone or a particular family. You can be excused from missing a wedding but everyone shows up for the funeral, even if you’re not invited.

Yesterday was spent making arrangements for the burial today. Pauline’s husband Norman, and Luke spent the morning collecting the infant casket and burial permit. Transportation for around sixty relatives from the village and surrounding areas had to be arranged as well. Most importantly was the need to purchase two fifty pound bags of corn meal, cabbages, cooking oil, two live chickens and two fifty pound bags of charcoal all used to feed those relatives and friends who came to mourn alongside the family.

Today there was the need for flowers and a wreath to be placed at the burial site(in the picture you will notice the flowers are broken at the stem….this is done so people attending later funerals will not steal the flowers from the grave of your loved one). And lastly, the grave diggers (who dig while you watch and wait) needed to be compensated for their efforts.

Earlier this morning we joined Norman and Pauline in laying their two month old child to rest. Pictures could not describe what it is like to be surrounded, literally, by thousands of burial mounds, some large and some no bigger than a loaf of bread (all the mounds you see in the pictures are actual grave sites). As we were waiting for the grave to be completed we noticed a family nearby digging a small grave and watched as they laid a small towel wrapped corpse in the ground. And of course we wept, as we listened to our dear sister Pauline cry out the name of her dead baby and watched on as she and Norman lay a wreath on the fresh grave.

Why are we sharing all this detail with you? We wanted to share this because all of you, directly or indirectly, were used by God to bless this couple today as they mourned the death of their little baby girl.

Paul reminds us in Galatians 6 that we are to “carry each other’s burdens” and “as we have the opportunity, to be good to all people, especially to those that belong to Body of Christ”. You were a part of living Galatians 6 out in the lives of Norman and Pauline and we just thought you would like to know that because of your prayers and support we were able to cover all of the funeral cost for the Sakalas. To them it was a monumental act of kindness, but you may be surprise to know the total cost for the funeral was $220.

Many of you may never get a chance to meet Norman and Pauline until we get to Heaven, but we know if they could, they would thank each one of you with a hug and smile.

If you are interested in helping out Pauline and her family or simply would like to write them a word of encouragement (we can print your responses and give them to Pauline) during this time please let us know. They will continue life with their three other girls and we ask your prayers for this grieving family.
God is good all the time and we thank Him for what He accomplished through His body today. We love and miss each of you. Thanks again for being obedient to His voice; we could do none of this without your involvement.

His Servants

The Whitfields <><

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