Sunday was a bit unusual, even for us. The previous night’s rain had swollen the river and made travel on the dirt roads slippery. For our Sunday service, Carey led singing and I delivered the sermon. Shadrack, one of our new converts, led the observance of the Lord’s death.
Sunday morning we learned of the death of David’s brother. After worship, our family went to the market and bought 20kg of rice to donate for the funeral meal, as well as bought 10kg of beans that the church agreed to donate. We also bought some bananas, Snickers and water, which would serve as our lunch. Three loaded vehicles drove about half an hour to the rural village. Joyce, a woman with whom I have been having Bible studies volunteered to drive her car. Try to imagine going back in time about 2,000 years and you will have in your mind’s eye that which our eyes beheld. Mud walled houses with grass-thatched roofs, hand-tilled fields of corn, and footpaths right out of the parable of the sower.
The whole village had converged upon the little house wherein was the corpse. Just outside was the plain wooden casket, waiting to receive the body. We sat outside listening to the wailing of the women seated inside, near the body. Wood smoke filled the air as ladies busied themselves preparing food in large pots. Soon after hearing the pounding of the nails, four men appeared carrying the coffin. The whole multitude followed to the middle of the cornfield for a graveside service. Try as we might, it was impossible for us to be inconspicuous. As the only “wazungu” present, every move we made was watched. Our hope is that our presence, along with the other Christians who attended, will provide a later opportunity for David, whose family lives in the village, to tell others about the church.
While standing at the edge of the crowd we received word that the young man Charles had been studying with was ready for baptism. Out of respect for the family, we waited long enough for the grave to be filled and the final words were spoken. As soon as the crowd began to disperse, we headed off to meet Charles and Garosi John, who had caught a ride in a dala dala to get to the river. They were waiting for us on the side of the road, and together we made the short trek to the river’s edge. It was wonderful to see Lusasi (who was recently restored) baptize Garosi into Christ. What a day – worship, two burials, and one resurrection to newness of life!
But wait, there’s more! Monday morning Charles and I had another class with Joyce. Previous classes indicated to me she had a tenderness and eagerness for truth. She came to a clearer understanding of the one true church and was ready to enter that Body. Monday afternoon we headed to the familiar riverside, which was now overflowing its banks. Charles baptized Joyce in the churning muddy waters of the Little Ruaha River. Praise God for another sister in Christ! We thank God for another burial and resurrection!
Please keep in your prayers the classes that are still ongoing in Iringa and Tanangozi. We thank you for your support and prayers.