Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Celebration of a young, beautiful life

Thank you for your prayers!  We had a tough week but God has given us strength and has humbled us in the midst of the loss of a young life and confusion over what could have happened. 

Julia (22 years old – 2 Feb 1991 – 26 July 2013) had been attending NAMCOL and taking classes there until this term when she started having some problems seeing properly.  She went to the hospital and they treated her and she was there for a week.  The treatment/surgery helped and her uncle said that she was recovered from that.  Some of our children had just spoken to her the weekend prior to her death and they said she was fine except for some trouble they knew she had been having with her eyes. 

Last Monday she complained of “body aches and pains.”  On Tuesday she started vomiting and they took her to the clinic nearby the village.  She was sent back to the village on some medications (very typical).  Then Wednesday she was really out of it and could respond to her name but could not answer any questions.  They transported her to Katima hospital.  She was admitted to ICU.  On Thursday night, one day later, she passed away.  Her diagnosis was severe pneumonia.  We hear this is a common cause of death because it is misdiagnosed because the people cannot seem to describe properly what they are feeling. 

We took “shifts” along with our staff, in going to the village where our Inonga Julia was staying.  The men sit out under the big tree.  The ladies stay in a mud house to mourn until after the funeral.  When we went we did not know what we would be doing and only knew we were going to serve and pray and whatever they ask of us.  Mostly what we did was sit and listen, sit and talk, sit and cry, sit and pray.  It reminded me that we can do this ANYWHERE in THE WORLD!  There were thin mattresses on the mud floor where the ladies were sleeping and sitting day and night.  Others, like us, would come and cook and serve and wash dishes.

On Thursday, the day before the funeral I had the most humbling experience.  Some of the ladies went to the hospital morgue.  Since I was in the village with Rebecca (one of our volunteers) and 2 of our staff, I transported some of the ladies to the hospital, which meant we were obviously there too.  They were coming to wash the body of Julia.  I would have never imagined doing this but given any opportunity, I try to take every opportunity because I feel that I am in that situation for a reason – a reason from God.  So, I went into the morgue (which is the back of the hospital) where they pulled the body out of the cold and unwrapped the white clothes.  We were all given masks and gloves.  There was obviously one lady that was in the “lead.”  They started with water and a bar of soap at Julia’s head and we washed her all the way to her feet.  Then we dressed her in new clothes and shoes.  She looked so peaceful and so beautiful.  We lined the small, hard coffin with a flowered sheet and then a thick, warm blanket and lower her into it.  When we started the process, the ladies ask me to pray.  Honestly, I was not sure what to pray at a time such as this.  But, I prayed first  that what came out of my mouth was from God and not my thoughts or my desires.  During the time of washing and dressing we sang songs of praise and it was such a beautiful sound.  A memory so personal and intimate and humbling, I will never regret or forget. 

Yesterday Julia was buried in Zambia, where she was from.  Because we still do not have our passports back from getting the work permit stamp (ugg… ) we could not cross the border.  But we were blessed by staying and cooking and caring for the children so the rest of the staff could attend. 

The verse the family chose for the program was:  Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.”  Psalm 91:1 

Please continue to pray for the family including the Zion children and staff family and us as we know she is resting in the arms of Jesus.  It reminds us of how precious each day is that God gives us.  It reminds us that when someone is hurting we must go… we must be there… to do what God has called us to do – pray, listen and love.  Is God calling you to help someone in need today?  Will you respond? 

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