Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Madame Stephen's Funeral Part 1

When Mountain Top Ministries opened the school in Gramothe, they committed to feeding each student a substantial meal at lunch knowing it could be the only one they had. The woman who headed up the feeding program, as I've heard it called, was Madame Stephen. She was a 30-something mom with two young kids attending the school and quickly became a trusted ministry partner. She was a dedicated Christian and served the children in the Gramothe school faithfully.

About two years ago Madame Stephen had a baby, but it died at a month old. Madame Stephen was not well herself and when she couldn't get better, she went to the hospital. She eventually learned that she had an incurable disease. After struggling for many months with this sickness, on Sunday September 5th she passed away at home.

Typically funerals here happen very soon after someone passes away because the bodies are kept at the home and they don't have the embalming or the refrigeration necessary to keep the body much longer than a day or two. However, Madame Stephen was a very important person, so her funeral needed to be put off a little bit for some planning. Her body was sent to a funeral home and her funeral was a week after she died.

In the days leading up the funeral, the family and friends just kind of hang out together, mourning their loss. I went up to the village on the Friday before her funeral with Willem and Barry (an MTM board member who came down for the funeral). We visited the home of Madame Stephen, where there were about 40 people hanging out, playing dominoes, and drinking coffee. Barry is a rock star in the village; everyone knows his name and wants to say hi. He visited with the people a little bit. I met Madame Stephen's husband and son very briefly. Then Willem wanted to show Barry some of the homes they've built recently. We toured Jean Pierre's new home. It has 3 or 4 rooms. Then we went a little further up in the village and toured another home.

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