On Monday afternoon a dear staff member, whom I mentor, approached our house with a bent determination and serious concern on her face. "WHAT is the matter?!" I asked before she even reached the doorstep. She barely got into the house when she burst into tears, "I just took a child to the hospital and she died!" And thus began our most recent journey into the grief of losing a child of New Hope Uganda. There has been both numbness and heaviness in the air since the death. Her mother and father were also children of New Hope many years ago. Her father passed away in 2005 and her mother lives nearby and works in one of our staff members' homes. On Tuesday many traveled almost two hours to the burial site. With a passion to equip our children to experience their grief with hope and strength, our manager, Tal Anderson, called an all-staff, all-children assembly yesterday. It was a time in which we were able to address the various beliefs about death: scientifically, spiritually, animistically (sp?) and God-centered. Geoff approached me just before we started and said, "In season and out of season, right?" I smiled thinking that he had been asked at the last minute to share something. He held his smile and fixed his gaze on me . . . "YOU mean I need to be ready in season and out of season--RIGHT NOW?" Smiling he replied, "Yep, it's you this time." I explained from a medical perspective the reason for the death. The doctors had proclaimed the death as a result of a cranial hemorrhage, so I explained in SIMPLE terms the anatomy of the brain tissues and skull and physiological aspects of such an occurrence.
Though it has been very difficult this week, I am thankful for the opporutnity to talk candidly with our kids, both our own and the David Family, and with other staff members. As one of our fellow staff said to me yesterday, "Death is just very raw here. It all happens so fast and is very in your face." There is no prettying up the body, no waiting for a convenient time to bury, no preparation of any kind. Most burials take place within 24 hours of the death. There is no coroner who transports the body to the burial site--it is all up to the family to get the body from the place of death to the grave.
And so, as always, we are thankful to God for the strength He has placed in us that we are ready in season and out of season to give His love, truth and grace to those around us. . . especially in times like this.
In less somber news, we visited with one of our "old boys" (former New Hope children) this week. We went to his current school and met his administrators. We talked openly and challenged him to continue pushing forward to accomplish his goals WITH God.