If there is a people who know about loss, it is the Mwinika. I honestly do not know one man or woman who has not lost someone close to them. Most people have lost several close family members. children, parents, husbands and wives, friends, brothers, sisters.
“…comfort them … by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted by God…”. These words from Paul to the church in Corinth went through my mind often in recent weeks.
A few weeks ago we tragically lost our little Jack Russell – Nadia’s “shadow” and faithful companion. Even though she was “just a dog”, we felt her absence keenly and the loss was painful. Francois was still away with the importation of our vehicle into the country. I was however warmed by the kindness of our neighbours! One by one and in groups they came to sit with me; sometimes just quietly, crying with me, and sometimes talking about what happened. I was astounded by their compassion and insight. Even though having pets are not part of the Mwinika culture, they too loved our little dog and enjoyed her immensely. This wasn’t the reason for their compassion though. They felt for us because they know us and were sad for our loss. (Photo: Family photo taken in 2012)
They made a big thing about her finding a snake in the translation office when she was taken there to take care of a “mouse”. (Jackie was a good mouser and this was one of the reasons the Mwinika took to her so well: she had purpose!). It turned out that it wasn’t only a mouse that our partner was hearing, but a spitting cobra, one of the deadliest snakes in Africa. We shudder as we imagine the boys and Phil going there on their own to get rid of the “mouse”… Jackie killed the snake, but somehow some of that poison got into her system (the spit is so poisonous that even just contact with one’s skin, can cause death). Even with the poison already starting it’s deadly work, she went ahead and caught a mouse too! She died an hour later.
I appreciated all my friends’ visits in the aftermath of the accident, but will never forget little old MayeApete hobbling into our yard on her cane… She has been getting very weak and have not been able to go even to the believer’s meetings for months… and here she was walking into our yard on her little stick legs about 1 km from her house!
“When I heard that Jackie died, I just had to come!” she said with tears in her eyes. “I said to myself: I have to go and comfort my child, Nadia. I have to go and see her!’ By the time I passed the prayer house, I was feeling dizzy and there was a ringing in my ears. But I said to myself: ‘Jackie died. I have to go to my child.'”. MayeApete has lost nearly all of her 6 children over the years. When she understood the Gospel for the first time, her reaction was: what about all my children that died before they heard the Truth? Where are they now? MayeApete knows about loss and pain beyond what I can even imagine…
“…comfort them … by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted by God…”.