Friday, September 08, 2006

Diagnosis! Kids are Really Sick!! (plus some funeral talk)

After a flying trip (3 hours away) to see our family physician, it turns out that we’re not just fighting simple colds here….Timothy was diagnosed with a bad ear infection and Jonathan and Lael both with bronchitis!  So we have a sack full of meds and we are hoping for some quick recovery.  I’m so thankful we went…it was a lot of effort to make such a long journey...I had told Kelly that I was hoping we could just “wait out the virus”….turns out I’m glad we didn’t follow my thinking!  Timothy is miserable and not sleeping well at all.  Hopefully by the end of the weekend, he’ll be back to normal.  Jonathan and Lael both are unhappy and breathing so heavily, but they are troopers.  Kelly’s wrestling with it, as well, and got her meds, too.  Tori and I are doing fine (I think) although I’ve had a cough and Tori’s had some sniffles.  

Tonight we are going to bed to the extremely loud sounds of a BIG funeral just down the road from us…here in Benin, funerals are not quiet, somber events….rather they are filled with live bands, all-night DJs/music, and tons of people, food, and usually lots of alcohol.  Plus they go on for at least 3 days (the music actually started last night).  Apparently a rich young son is burying his mother (he’s from the city but she was from out here near where we live).  It’s a huge spectacle and the talk of the town.  On our way back in from Cotonou earlier this evening, we got stuck in traffic….yes, traffic!  We were following a slow-moving caravan of at least 20 cars all driving from Cotonou as well for the funeral….when the delegation arrived, there was a 10-gun salute and it was like the President was in town…the streets were lined with onlookers wanting to see the city-folk arriving in town.  The lead car had men sitting in the middle window of each side of the car, both carrying video cameras, documenting the entire event.  In this culture (much to the chagrin of several people we talked to), more money is spent on the festivities surrounding the death and burial of a loved one than when the person is alive.  If the family has money, the person is buried and then a slab of concrete is poured and even tiled to look as pretty as possible.  It is interesting to witness how different cultures handle things like death.  

Reminds me of the questions when we first started planting churches among these people years ago….some of the new Christians, wanting to do things in the “right” way, would ask, “what does the Bible say about how we should bury our dead?”  Before us missionaries could spit out the answer that there really is not an exact biblical method of interment, one of the new believers (who had just a very small knowledge of the Gospels) would respond, “Well, they buried Jesus in a cave and put a large stone in front of it.”  Then before we could make a reasonable rebuttal, the crowd would then erupt, shouting, “but we don’t have mountains and caves here, what are we to do!?!?!”   They were so relieved when we assured them they didn’t have to drive 4 hours north to find a mountain cave to bury their loved ones, just in order to satisfy the Holy Scriptures.

From your experiences, what differences have you noticed in the way different people and cultures bury the dead (funerals, graveside, etc…)?  Just curious……guess its’ a somber topic to solicit feedback on, but why not?!


1 comment:

Monica Head said...

Interesting events going on in your neighborhood!!! When things like that go on her I report it to the neighborhood association, but I guess you don't really have that option? : ) Gun salutes make me nervous because what goes up must come down!!!
Sorry to hear your family is so sick. I had not even thought about little Timo and the ear infection issue. He sure has done well with that since you guys went back!! Hope things get better soon.