Posts Tagged With: funeral

Part 2. Mysteries, Emotional Rollercoasters and Flickers of Hope

(Please note there are pictures of deceased people here)

I lost a friend. She was 27 years old. She passed away on the 3rd of July 2014. I wanted to write earlier, but couldn’t. It makes me so sad. My malpa wiru (good friend).

We had some laughs, her and I. Most at my expense. šŸ™‚

I met her just after we moved to Alice Springs. She had come in to Alice as she was quite sick and was having some tests done. She was married and had a small beautiful boy. They all turned up at church one day after getting on one of our church busses. She gave her life to Jesus and became a part of God’s family. She lived a long way away, but I saw her again and again over the next couple of years when she would come in from community mostly to visit the hospital. She would always be wearing a bandanna and had the most beautiful smile. Each time she came in I would get to know her a little better, but it wasn’t until about 4 months ago when she came in for her second last trip here that I got to know her a lot better. We would talk of her home, of her family and of her love for Jesus. She wanted to share her story, of how God had changed her life. I did not know at that time of how sick she really was or how much her life hadĀ changed. I thought that she had caught pneumonia and had just taken a while to recoup. I prayed with her often, and even shared her story at her request to a church we spoke at in Adelaide. She was really standing for her faith and it appeared she was getting physically stronger every day. She missed her family terribly and couldn’t wait to be discharged from hospital so she could return home.

She went home, but it was a short lived visit. Within a couple of weeks she was back, with what was to be her last time. This time, the doctors said that this was it. They called the family in. Her mum stayed with her. She had visits from many friends and family. I would go in, often with another friend from church and we would sing together and pray and read the Bible. It was good practice for me to read from her PitjantjatjaraĀ Bible. She would help me read the words, until she got too tired and breathless and then she would just listen.

She urged me to share her story. She wanted people to know that Jesus was the true way. That He was real and how much her life had changed. One day when I was visiting, a lady was there that had known her for a long time. She was a remote nurse and had a lot to do with my friend’s care. I prayed with my friend as I did every time I visited and when we finished the nurse had tears in her eyes. She asked me if I could see her outside for a moment. When out there, she shared how my friend used to be very angry and volatile and an extremely difficult patient, but approximately 2 years ago, she began to see a change in her. Until now where she had seen a major change in her temperament and the way she dealt with people. She said she was certain it was due to my friend becoming a Christian. How wonderful it was to hear the testimony from this lady. She said she had first thought it was because she was being the best nurse, but she quickly realised that this was a profound change. She was not the only one to tell me this.

I had a social worker pull me aside and tell me the same thing a few days later. They could not attribute it to anything else. When I talked to her later about it and she went all shy with me and asked how I found out, I explained it was because she was now shining Jesus so much, that it had changed her so much that even people who didn’t believe in Him could see the difference in her and had to declare it as nothing short of a miracle (or at least something they couldn’t deny).

We were praying for a miracle, but I know she was ready to go home to heaven. She liked me to read the verse about there being (pika wiya) no more pain, no more tears. She made me promise I would tell others of her hope in Jesus, of the life to come if we believe in Him, of how she changed. I promised I would. She wanted to write her story, but sadly she never got to finish. She began, but got too weak.

Friends are hard to come by in this place, but she became my friend. We were from different worlds in some ways and yet we understood one another. The day she said ‘I used to say you were my friend, but now I call you my sister’ I will treasure that for the rest of my life. I pray for her family. In particular her husband and young son. They are wonderful people andĀ areĀ grieving so much.

I did not get to attend her funeral as I would have liked, my son was in hospital and I was with him. I have been holding back the grief of her loss until now as I would find it hard to cope with that and with all that was happening with my son. But it is time now. Time to share what she asked me to. Time to cry. Time to say goodbye.

She was a strong lady in spirit and her body just couldn’t keep up. I don’t understand why God chooses to heal some people and not others. I don’t know why she couldn’t stay here on this earth, but I do know I will see her again. She is with her little girl who she lost when the girl was 1 year old. She missed her terribly. I know she is finally in no pain and having no more suffering. I know she would be singing the song she was given just before she passed away and her smile would be so big as she is in the arms of her saviour. I miss her. As I do the many friends we have lost since arriving here.

The verse she had displayed in her hospital room was fitting for her then and for us now: ‘Be strong and courageous, for I am with you’.

One of the things she had written in her journal

One of the things she had written in her journal

Bronnie, me and our friend

Bronnie, me and our friend

My friend and I

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On the road again

So much has happened since my last post, but I have only half written drafts as it has been so busy and emotional. But thought it would be good to share what Ben and I have been up to in the last couple of days.

I knew that I would go back to Indulkana, but did not expect it to be this soon. Our friend, who travelled down with me the first time (Mrs Goodwin) passed away. I think she knew that her time was short when we went down last time. She was so keen to get home. Before she passed away, I had some special moments with her which I will be forever thankful for and got to meet some more of her family.

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Ronald, Wapawapa, Nollie and Ben

On Tuesday morning we travelled down with a bus full. We had Ben Zion and me up front, and in the back was Kinyon, Rupert, Annie-Margaret, Yilpi, Maringka, Ronald andĀ Helen. We had a lovely trip down. We sung and chatted and they laughed at Zion who had questions about everything. We saw camels and eagles and dingoes and an emu.Ā Thankfully an uneventful trip. We reached the turn-off for Indulkana and I don’t remember the road being that bumpy last time I went. Gotta love the corrugated feeling on the roadĀ :-).

When we arrived we first went to the ‘sorry camp’. There were a group of tents set up where the family had been staying and we were to go there and shake hands and sitĀ with the people as they wept. Zion just asked why they were crying and then sat in the dirt nearby and made a ‘chocolate cake’ out of the dirt. He seemed very much at home. Ben and I weren’t sure how long we would be down at the camp for, but no sooner were Ben and I just getting comfortable than they were all getting back in the bus and telling us it was time to get ready for the memorial service.

Ben had never ran a funeral before, and the language barrier was a bit daunting, but he seemed to take it in his stride.

The memorial service was lovely.

Getting ready for the funeral

They basically sing some songs, share memories of Mrs Goodwin, light candles and then give new blankets to the family (Mrs Martin told me that this was to symbol a fresh start). Then Ben was asked to bring a short word of encouragement from the Lord. All this time, we sat around campfires and the children played and enjoyed touching Zion’s face, I think because of how white he was, though I’m not sure. He fell asleep in my arms close to the finish.

The next morning, possibly the most amusing thing was seeing some wild pigs just walking through the town.

Dinner Anyone?

One of them were huge and had knocked over a bin and was looking for food. People were very responsive to us and were shaking our hands and saying that we had made them glad with Ben’s message the night before. The funeral was set to start at 10am, but it wasn’t until 11.30am that the car arrived with the casket, so there was a lot of hymns sung and a few people even took the time to preach, reminded me of the old open air meetings we used to be a part of. When the casket was brought out, it was laid on a table and everyone gathered around and placed a flower on top and touched the casket and wept as Ben prayed and read the Bible to them. Faxes were read out of those that couldn’t make it, and then we all headed down to the graveside where they throw dirtĀ in to the graveĀ and everyone takes turn to shake the families hands.

Although there was obviously a lot of grief at the loss of our friend Mrs Goodwin, there was a beautiful peace that was there as the people seemed very assured that her final resting place was with their loving Father in heaven. The air was full of hope.

We felt so privileged to have been welcomed into this wonderful community, to share with them a very intimate experience. The views are beautiful there, but the people are what captures my attention. I look forward to seeing them again…

Categories: My journey, stories | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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