Megeni Update

Mugeni passed away around 7:30 a.m. on Tuesday morning … we spent several hours at the hospital with Monika and Amena and all the others who gathered to support them … we left to get money to pay the remaining bills and then met at 8:00 p.m. to discuss the funeral arrangements. Olivier organized it all; everyone left with their jobs to do. The funeral would take place tomorrow. When I left the meeting, Olivier told me that I should help the ladies in the morning. What did that mean? It meant going back to the hospital to clean the body and ready Mugeni for her coffin. That was too much to ask of me. I actually felt like a failure … that I could not do that for her. So instead, I ran around with Olivier taking care of the tasks of the day.

Wednesday morning at 8:00 a.m. we went with James to look for a burial plot. Let me describe the cemetery … we drove across town to a hill … we circumvented it before making the climb to the top. At its base there was a lot of garbage, which caused me some concern at first. We rounded the corner and found the inhabitants surrounding the cemetery were planting gardens on the unused soil. Climbing the hill, we discovered a grave-digger, pre-digging graves from which we were to choose one. The choice was left to me … I chose the one highest on the hill, under the shade of a tall tree; she lived in a valley, but her final resting place would be the highest upon the hill. You would like the spot.

Once the men were paid for the preparation of the gravesite, Olivier and I left to purchase clothes for the kids … suits and shoes for the boys, shoes for Deborah to wear with her Mushanana.

We then picked up Mugeni’s younger sister, Janviere, and the flowers. Calla lilies, stephanotis, freesia arranged in bouquets and wreaths – white flowers with sprigs of greens … purity and life … so lovely … so fitting.

Off to the hospital to pick-up friends, family, and Mugeni. The women of the family were dressed in matching traditional mushananas … white with peach flowers … and much to my surprise; they had one for me too. Yes, you guessed it, I cried when they told me … “Mama Mugeni” was to be dressed like her sisters and her daughter. What an honor! We quickly dressed (at the hospital … assisted by all the women who attended their ailing family members) and made our way to the streets of Nyabosindu.

The funeral service was held in the middle of the “street” by Monika’s house. Everyone gathered! Joseph preached (yelling at the top of his lungs despite the microphone) and then a few people gave speeches. When “Mama Mugeni” got a turn, I spoke of the redemption of her life … how though her body was blemished by infection, God saw her as perfect, beautiful and washed clean as snow. I read part of the letter from God to you … from Song of Songs.

After parading by Mugeni’s coffin, we gathered a couple of blocks away to organize travel to the gravesite. The whole community came out to see what was going on! It took some time to organize so many people (about 100) onto buses, motos, and the few cars … and the longer it took the more people gathered.

Graveside there was singing and more preaching (from Joseph) … tears and gratefulness. Mugeni was lowered into the grave, dirt shoveled upon her casket and then cement poured on top. It was real and it was permanent. Mugeni was gone.

We were the last to leave … Olivier, Judah, Deborah and me. Mugeni’s prayer bear had been left on top of the pile of flowers. Rather than have it go missing, Olivier and I decided it would go to Deborah. That blessed her.

After these events we all gathered at the bar where the church meets. It’s tradition to have Fantas together after the funeral. More speeches and offering of thanks.

Monika’s and Mugeni’s kids had not eaten all day, so Olivier, Judah and I took them out for dinner before dropping them off at Monika’s house. (Deborah begged me to have her stay with me at the guest house … oh that was hard … but I knew that if I did that one night, she would want it every night.) We returned the kids to Monika’s.

When we drove down to Nyabosindu, Monika greeted us in the street to tell us that the amazing outpouring of love they had felt at the funeral shocked the whole community. They had seen God … they had felt His presence and the overwhelming love He has for “the despised.” People were getting saved left, right and center!!!

It wasn’t until last night that I gained a greater understanding of what had transpired. Olivier told me that no one … not a single person from Nyabosindu has ever had a funeral like that. No one … not a single person, especially not an HIV+ person, has had anyone take care of their medical costs … let alone be constantly present with them through their last days. Can you imagine?!?!? All the lies of their unworthiness were being dispelled. If Mugeni was worthy then so are they. This is what you were a part of!!! Loving her has translated in loving of a community … allowing people to see the truth about God’s unconditional love for His children. How instrumental you are were in this! And, yes, our awesome, gracious, good God is getting all the glory!!!

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