I have wanted to write something in this space since Monday, but have struggled for what to say . . . I have been filled with sadness and the few memories I have of a lovely person whom we knew for a very short time. Each time I have thought about what to say my mind has instead kept words back in favor of more time to process.
Easter Sunday was wonderful! We worshiped with the church and I have to say that the worship was the best I've experienced in a long time. Uncle Jonnes passionately spoke of what Jesus' sacrificial death accomplished--an open way for each of us to the Father; relationship with Him based on love and forgiveness. The day was enjoyable.
Monday, Easter Monday here, started off quiet and peaceful. At mid-morning, however, we received news that one of our new primary teachers, Julius Robert Kwapi, had died sometime in the night. He had been with us on Easter morning, eaten supper with his housemates Sunday evening and talked with friends on the phone during the evening. In the morning the housemates got up and started on their day, but realized about 9 that Julius hadn't been seen yet. They found him already dead in his room. Shocking and jolting. He was a quiet, kind young man, with so much promise. For his family back home he was the one providing for his younger siblings and ill mother. For us here at New Hope he was a good teacher and brother in the Lord who loved teaching here with us. I had planned to have him over to our house during this school holiday. Toby thought so much of him and we wanted to get to know him better. We have been filled with sadness and the reminder that the length of our lives is not under our control, but the Father's.
It was also a particularly tense time for us as Uncle Julius was new to us, having come from another part of the country. We did not know how we would be received by his family when we took his body home for burial. Those who traveled and those of us who stayed behind prayed fervently for the favor and wisdom of God to be with those meeting and grieving with the family. After much discussion into the early hours of Tuesday morning we indeed can say we were received well. A van with a few of our staff left Monday afternoon with Uncle Julius' body, picked up some of his relatives along the way and arrived after midnight in the Kumi area. A second van, driven by Geoff, left at 4 a.m. and arrived in Kumi around 11:30 Tuesday morning. Toby and two of his classmates were also able to go along with more staff members from here. New Hope was able to take up the costs of transportation, burial items, food and miscellaneous needs. These sudden, unexpected expenses are a burden to a grieving family and our ability to provide financially and materially immensely blessed the family of Uncle Julius. Some of the family members are believers in God and their statement was that it was evident that it was God's timing and there is nothing else to say. Their understanding that God is in control and we were not to blame significantly influenced the tenor of the environment. Our people were able to stay with them until about 4:30 Tuesday afternoon at which time they started the long journey back to Kasana. Geoff, Toby and his classmate from David Family arrived home just before 1 a.m. Yesterday was quite a blur as we were all so tired from the previous days.
I have found my strength in this time from my favorite passage of scripture:
"The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. 'For in him we live and move and have our being.' " Acts 17
Yesterday was Wednesday and we spend each Wednesday evening with David Family. We eat with them and lead a time of devotion to God's word. Last night we shared from Acts 17 and talked of our God who is in control and who loves us. There are many rumors, lies and superstitions that surface during the time surrounding death. We encouraged them to take their thoughts and fears and still them with the truth.
Please pray for the children and for us as we seek to listen and help them process Uncle Julius' death. Many of them are even still dealing with the death of young Rachel, our secondary school daughter who recently died. The village rumors and lies are abundant and usually attribute these events to witchcraft. We need God's wisdom, guidance, peace and truth to fill us as we lead the children in this time.
Pray for our own strength as it has been a very tiring week for all of us.