Tuesday, July 19, 2011

You can't make this up.....

This week end was full of events. We have realized very quickly that things in Africa have their own rhythm. Sometimes we think we know why and how things should be. But we have found that we really don't understand as much as we think we do. On Friday night I was informed that one of our members in the the Matero Chinama Branch had perished in a fire. He was attempting to save what small things he owned from the fire. He went back into his small hut and was overcome by the flames. We offered what help we could and offered to assist them in the funeral arrangements. On Saturday I was asked to preside at the funeral. I have presided at many such events and have always tried to offer what comfort I could. The family informed me that most of the people who would attend would not be of our faith. That many of them are from far distant villages and that many of them would begin to walk to the funeral on Saturday in order to be at the site on Sunday at 11:30 am. I spoke with the District president and he asked if we could hold the funeral on Sunday after church because all of them would need to walk back to their villages in order to tend to their crops and those who had jobs needed to be back to work. On Sunday we dressed for church and attended Sacrament meeting and then adjourned to the cemetery. While at church before we left I met a man and his son who had walked over twenty miles to attend church before the funeral. They walk to church every Sunday and walk home again every week. My heart was full. These people are so humble. I asked him how he does it. He said, President, that's what the Lord has asked me to do. Someday they will have a church in my village, maybe I won't have to walk quite as far. After the meeting we went outside to find several pick up trucks and a small bus. There were several cars and even a flatbed truck with small sides on it. Everyone and I mean everyone climbed onto, hung onto it, or stood on it order to go to the cemetery. We drove out to the end of the road and traveled on what in our part of the world would never qualify as a road for several miles. We saw several hundred people standing in an open spot. As we got closer we saw that they were all waiting for us to arrive. We saw a small hand made coffin with several young people standing near it. They saw us and they picked up the coffin and began to walk off into the bush. We were told to please follow. We walked for about a quarter of a mile into what was a paupers field. We walked over a hundred unmarked graves. There were so many I could not count them. People from the area who knew The family were wailing and crying. The sound was the most unreal sound I think I have ever heard. They walked and they cried. Many of them had painted their faces. And many had taken chalk and ashes and covered their bodies. I failed to tell you that all of the church members were dressed in their Sunday best. My black suit and new shoes will have stories to tell for many years. Sister Padovich in her nice blue dress and her new shoes looked like an angel as we walked and watched this event unfural. At the grave site there were still several grave diggers still digging the hole. We stood and listened to the sounds as the wind blew dirt and dust everywhere. Then we began to sing. The sound of a hundred or so saints, who had gathered in this far away place, began to offer up the prayers of hope to a loving Heavenly Father, who hears us in our time of need. The events of the day, the wind, the dirt, and the travel all faded away. The Spirit calmed the souls of all who could hear. The wailing, the crying all went away. The Branch President offered up a wonderful talk on the plan of salvation. The hearts and minds of all those who attended were touched. I know that I will never be the same. I witnessed what it means to feel of the Spirit of the Lord. To feel at peace with Him who knows me by name. I held my dear wife's hand as we watched those who knew where they were going after this life, testify of the love of their Savior. As we walked back to the car, we felt joy for these great people.  They know where they come from. They know that Heavenly Father loves them. They know that as they struggle through this live and  remain true and faithful to the things that are right. He will bless them. I am thankful to be able to work in this part of the vineyard. I am  thankful for the lessons I'm learning. I know that we all can enjoy that same feeling of peace and joy if we but listen. We are well and happy. We love you. We miss you. We think of you often. We are planning another trip over to Malawi in August. Still working out the travel details. Remember, " you can't get there from here". Xoxo m&a

9 comments:

  1. Check out our blog. I finally updated!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Dad, I cant tell you how wonderful it is to feel of the Spirit of your words. You paint an awesome image for those that read your message. In this part of the Vineyard your son-in-law, my husband and Bishop of our ward presided and spoke on Sunday at a funeral of a friend and neighbor. About 400 people came to attend this service of a 46 yr old husband, father, and friend. Amazing that you'd be doing the same thing, on the same day, with the same spirit in totally different lands. The Lord loves his children no matter where they are. Love to you!

    ReplyDelete
  3. wow - what a story- amazing how the Lord works with each of us no matter where we are and loves us just the same.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Lee & MarklynJuly 21, 2011 at 2:39 AM

    '....preaching the gospel in far away, dark places....' '....He will pour out his blessings upon you, until you cannot contain them all....' Words given to us years ago, that now, in the Lord's own due time, manifest themselves once again.....No, you can't make this stuff up!

    Miss you brother....

    ReplyDelete
  5. Wow.. How can any one be the same after living in Africa??? Such amazing stories to tell - Lori Murdoch

    ReplyDelete
  6. Isn't it wonderful to feel the spirit "where two or more are gathered"!!! Even if you don't speak the same language. The gospel is true to all saints throughout the world. Love the story and love you guys for sharing it. Take care.

    ReplyDelete
  7. WOW. What a great opportunity! You guys are certainly being blessed. Can't imagine how your feeling. You certainly will come home much different than when you left. Our love and prayers are with you.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Thanks so much for keeping up this blog. It is so inspirational! We miss you and would be worried sick if we didn't hear from you. You're in my prayers.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Mike & Arlene thanks for sharing your experiences, I love to read them and feel as though I am with you as I am moved to tears.What a wonderful opportunity for you and all of us who are blessed enough to read of your service I got a couple of shirts and hat that say ZAMBIA on them. When people ask I use the opportunity to explain of your mission and am reminded of mine.Love you both, Carl

    ReplyDelete