My tears had dried up for two days and then I attended worship at church where they sang songs with verses like, “God whatever comes my way I will trust you.” So I was the lady in church with uncontrollable tears, red face, convulsing back, a husbands comforting touch and everyone’s eyes on her wondering what went wrong. Sometimes I can cut it off and make it stop. Not this time. I figured the death of a child is going to cause waterworks for a long time, better just let it out.
In my mind it all makes good sense and I’m at peace. It’s just there’s this room in my heart where the tears are held captive and sometimes without any warning the door is flung open. There’s nothing I can do then. Sorry to all those who have to witness me express a legitimate sadness. Emotion is an interesting condition. It can roll without our minds ever touching it. Crazy stuff. The aftermath of a good cry has a healing effect, and because of that I’m not going to try and hold it back.
The children in our home were all at school when Boniface went home to Jesus. It wasn’t until late afternoon they were informed they lost their brother. The news arrived nearly simultaneously with loading them into the van to go to Jjajja Boniface’s house where his body awaited burial.
Here in America we, the family, don’t see the body until it is prepared. There are professionals who do this job because we are squeamish and can’t imagine taking care of the body. I know at least I speak for myself. All of the adults feared one thing: “am I going to be asked to dress his body?” Personally, I wouldn’t stand up and volunteer but I certainly would swallow and say yes if asked.
Phiona told me that Musa insisted on dressing Boniface’s body. Lovingly this twelve year old boy put all the clothes on the body, wiped him up and set him straight as handsome as ever. I can see in my mind’s eye his sweet face sleeping there in his best clothes. Musa couldn’t bear to be separated from Boniface at anytime before his body was laid in the ground. Devoted brother. Dedicated friend to the very end.
Ok. Here come my tears again. Sorry if I did this to you too, but I’m just so thankful that Musa came to our home and found the love his poor heart had craved with extreme desperation. He had experienced nothing but outright rejection his entire life before coming to our home. Never did he feel someone loved him before he joined our family. He couldn’t believe we loved him and oh my did the boy test us! It was even suggested in the very beginning that he should be returned to his jjajja because he was causing all sorts of problems for everyone as he tested the truth of our love.
I put my mama foot down firmly and said our love is not conditional on good behavior because God’s love is not conditional for us. He stays and we teach him when he misbehaves there are consequences but never is love denied or lost. After only a few months this child believed we love him and blossomed into the sort of boy who would insist on dressing the body of his brother for his burial. Musa craved love, received pure love from God through KS, and now in turn is lavishly able to pour it out. If that isn’t God’s hand on this boy then have me committed. Honestly, I think everyone I know would receive a blessing to know our loving, service oriented, compassionate Musa.
Boniface was kept at his jjajja’s home until it was time to go for the burial at his mother’s ancestor’s land. Family, neighbors, friends joined the family and spent the night with the body. During the years we have talked in depth with our children about their thoughts and fears one thing always comes up that they fear the most: “the night dancers”. These are the pagan rituals that occur at burials. I imagine it is the physical expression of battling evil spirits and all sorts of twisted customs of witchdoctor beliefs. The night spent with a body was a scary event to a child. But when our children spent the night with Boniface, they stayed with him, wept, but experienced no fear.
This is clear evidence to me that their Christian faith is far stronger than the customs of their ancestor’s burial practices. If there was dancing that evening it was to praise and worship a good God who loves us even when we don’t understand his ways. Trusting God means we must trust the way he chooses to work in our life. They felt sad but they didn’t lose their faith, they just sought Him for comfort and now await the lessons to be learned.
Returning home they slept well and slipped into the routines of having home life. There are chores, cooking, laundry cleaning and recreation. The little ones don’t fully understand what the burial meant in permanent terms, so their laughter and play is a good balm for the hurting hearts. The home is quiet and somber as it would be so fresh after a loss. I’ve asked for careful and deliberate devotion times used to help the children process their feelings and feel their faith and better know God. I extend many thanks to all the people praying for our children as they experience this tragedy. Your prayers are answered, they are doing fine. It means a lot to them to know so many care.
In Africa death is more common than it is for us Americans, but it doesn’t hurt any less. I have to remember these children are orphaned, they’ve lost their parents. And all I’ve known them to do since first laying my eyes on them is to embrace life and live it. I know they are going to celebrate Boniface is with our Lord. I believe they will realize the urgency of having the security of our salvation in Jesus when they remember Boniface. It will most likely transform our community outreaches with bible studies as they understand why salvation is so important. I think these orphaned children have more to teach me than I have to teach them.