It was an interesting day. We arrived about 11:30 as the funeral was to begin at 12:00. It didn't start until about 2:00 but there was lots of singing while we waited. It was held at their house (Namabande's). The furniture was moved out of the sitting room so people could sit on the floor. There were also many people outside. We figured there were possibly 300 there. A vehicle arrived with the casket and some family. The casket was put in the centre of the living room and people continued to sing.
When the grave diggers had finished their preparations at the graveyard then came back and a Red flat that was in the yard was taken down. That meant that the funeral could start. The casket was put out in the centre of the yard and people gathered around closer. There was periodic crying/waling going on - mostly by the children. It seems like it got turned on and off at the appropriate times.
Branch members participated and gave the prayers, sang a couple of songs and a family member talked about Maria (we think -- it was in Chichawa). Elder Bullock gave a talk with Bro. Chisambo, the Group leader, translating. He talked a bit about Maria and then about the Plan of Salvation. He hadn't talked too long when it started to rain. :( People were trying to find a bit of shelter and he did have to end his talk quickly with his testimony.
Gabriel commented on the way home that people had liked his talk and that Bro. Chisambo did a really good job of translating it.
The good thing about the whole day is that is was really good exposure for the Church. I am sure that most people there had never heard of it before but I think they got a good impression and it may create some interest. All in all it was a good day. Petros, Maria's husband, didn't show a lot of emotion but seemed pretty somber. The children were crying. Young Maria had a hard time. She was really close to her mother and was by her side through all the sick days and gave her constant care. Maria stayed with me for most of the funeral (except when she needed to be with the family). She is a sweetheart. She will be in charge of the household now that her mom is gone. Her dream is to put in papers to go on a mission and we will help her with that in a few months. She will be a member a year in August. We talked with Bro. Chisambo after and with Maria to check on their need for food. They have none - especially with feeding some of the funeral people (they didn't feed a lot though and that is good --- sometimes they have to feed EVERYONE). We left Maria with a little money so she could buy some food for the family. We will check on them when we go back next week. The Church did pay for half of the casket (about $100) and the extended family paid for the other half.
Apparently this past week at church, the Village chief and his two counsellors attended. Also an investigator who has been coming regularly brought his wife and 7 or 8 children. The older boys speak English well. We need to go visit them and start teaching them the missionary lessons. There was also a member (Melch. priesthood holder) that has been to the temple, that has moved back to Liwonde. We will find out more about him. Things are looking good there. They are asking for more chairs for Church on Sundays.
Must run -- things to do. I have Gladys coming to clean my house today. I decided that I should take advantage of that luxury as it is so affordable here ($10/day). I can't afford that luxury at home in Canada.
Love to all, Elder/Sister Bullock/mom and dad