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Sunday, April 04, 2010

Easter Sunday: resurrection and reality

Easter Sunday faded into cloudy light as our team gathered at the Johnsons to sing hymns and be led in a meditation on John 20 by Travis, looking at the ways Jesus comes to the many characters in the story, from Mary to Thomas. Then we all dispersed to our homes for family breakfasts, ours an unusually leisurely waffle production (we have a cast-iron one-by-one pan that cooks over the gas flame, allowing for extended coffee and conversation). The church service began in a pouring rain but ended in steamy sunshine, almost four hours, including about four different singing groups, and the two main choirs must have done 8 to 10 songs each. Kisembo brought an actual large rock to illustrate the sermon, which he dramatically rolled down the steps of the front dais, with a crash! Many people brought produce as their offering, and a business-man visitor in a suit bid up the post-service auction to the highest prices ever, much to the delight of all concerned. In the afternoon our whole team, and a few friends, came to our house where we had spread a long table in the shade and we grilled meat and feasted. People stayed around to chat as the day became cooler, kicking a ball, making phone calls home, playing ping pong, eating cake, and finally resting under the stars by candle light. It was a lovely day.
But reality broke in, too. We got phone messages as we were preparing for the team dinner, that one of our neighbors had died. Milton was the father of a boy we sponsor in school, a boy who has played with our kids and been our friend for most of his life (he's about 21, and we've known him since he was 5). Richard finished CSB this past year, and we sent him last month to be trained as an electrician in a trade school in Fort Portal. By evening he had received the news and come home, and Scott, Luke, and I left our party and walked up the road to his house. From the sparkling table-under-the-trees spread with food and surrounded by laughter, we went to Richard's where I crouched on a dirt floor strewn with banana leaves next to a dead body while Luke and Scott sat with the men outside. No glorifying death here: wailing tears, a man basically our age who worked as a laborer and lived in extreme poverty and struggled with alcohol and died in his home gasping for breath after three days of a pneumonia for which no one sought medical help.
Since my Dad also died on Easter night, it was a bit surreal for me. I gave Richard a big hug. His dad could not provide much (which is I believe a huge factor in the numbing attraction of drink for men here) but he was the anchor of that household, and now he is gone.
Songs and friendship and feast are part of reality . . but only made substantial and sweet by the dust-to-dust contrast of a soon-to-decay body in a soon-to-crumble mud house. Resurrection, come.

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