Pastor Gift works in the most AIDS-devastated place in the world – in Nsoko, the worst part of Swaziland. This past week was a hard one for him. He shares why in the following blog.
Death is the most spoken about topic in
Nsoko. People die and for me this has become part of life. Every
weekend I watch people go to more then one funeral.
There is a death however, that became an exception. It changed
from observing community routine on a weekend to something that hit
hard home to me. A teacher died at the school adjacent to the community
center. Pupils in uniform as well as community people came in large
numbers to wait for big lorry to transport them to the parental home of
this teacher for the funeral.
Miss Mbingo was darling to all the children in the community. My
firstborn daughter, Nothando was also very close to her. Nothando used
to visit with the teacher often. When Miss Mbingo fell sick, Nothando
and her three close friends would go help her sweep and clean the
house, fetch her water and other basic things she needed help with.
When she died on Easter weekend everyone knew about her death and the
children talked about it a lot.
Nevertheless, to me this was just another AIDS victim that had
succumbed to death. I will also confess that I felt no remorse or even
a tinge of sadness over her death.
In my mind I was reasoning that I had done my part in trying to help
her because if, only if she was not so obstinate she would be alive.
Miss Mbingo refused HIV/AIDS treatment believing that the LORD will
heal her. I counseled with her to no success and now she was dead. Oh!
Lord forgive me.
The Moment of Reality
My daughter came home that evening of the before the funeral with
a lot of questions about death. At first I took them as general
questions from an infant curious about the ritual of death. I began to
give casual answers about how people die so that they can go to their
maker in heaven if they accepted the atonement of sins through Jesus.
She then says, “I’m suffering a lot of pain deep in my heart.”
Wow! That hit home. There and there I remembered that she was
referring to the death of Miss Mbingo. I also recollected that when she
was in Grade 1 she lost her class teacher. She wanted to know if Miss
Mbingo was safe and well where she was.
What struck me the most is my daughter’s wish. She wished to be
the first to die in the family because she cannot stand losing any of
her parents thus becoming an orphan. She plainly said she does not
believe she can survive the death of either of her parents. She kept
on repeating this statement and by that time my eyes were teary . I
tried my best to hold them but my daughter was confused, in pain and
hurting. I could not watch her hurt like that but then there was
nothing I could do. I ran out of words.
When I cuddled her gentle and began telling her it was alright as
I was right there by her side understanding how she feels about this
whole thing. She burst out weeping aloud like someone just heard bad
news. She let out such a sad mourn it began to hurt me deep inside my
soul. I began to cry with her not sure if I was mourning the death of
Miss Mbingo or my daughter fractured soul. I kept her in my arms for
such a long time that she fell asleep like a very small baby. I did not
want to let her go so I too fell asleep with her in my arms.