Hearse and Grave Digger

Last week I was informed of a funeral of a family member connected to our African family here.  Yesterday was the funeral.  I showed up in the morning after our church service under the tree. Little did I know my day had just begun.

We proceeded out into the bush to the grave site where the guys of the family were already digging the hole with pick axes and shovels. For 4 hours we dug and chipped away the rocks.  I took my turn and helped.  Once we finished we headed back to the house. I was then asked if I could go get my truck to retrieve the body. So I met the guys at the police station.  The officer led us to the cooler where we retrieved the body from storage put it in the coffin box, closed it up and loaded the body and the guys into the truck.  Out of respect I was told to put my hazards on as we drove through town on our way to the bush. I navigated my way through the thorns and small bushes and backed the truck up to the grave site.  Right after I arrived others started to gather and we placed the casket in the ground had the service then took the shovels and proceeded to fill in what we just dug out.

The guys took some thorn bushes and placed them on top to keep the wild animals from digging up the grave.  We then proceeded back to the house of a family member, washed our hands and they made us tea.

It was 3pm by the time I got home, a day in which I learned some new skills about being a missionary here.  Being this involved doesn’t happen much anymore in my home culture of America and I wonder if we have become to modern? What do you think?

2 thoughts on “Hearse and Grave Digger

  1. Here in the States, we’re definitely separated from death. Funeral homes prepare the body and lay it in the coffin, grave diggers at the cemetery prepare the grave, professionals make the tombstones. While in Ukraine, my husband’s homeland, the day we were to visit his elderly aunt (a woman who spent a year living with us in America), she died. I, along with the woman’s daughter-in-law, ended up preparing her body for burial, coached by an elderly cousin. My husband purchased and carried the coffin up four flights of stairs to her apartment. Family lifted the deceased into the coffin… Granted, there were still professional grave diggers and others making her tombstone, but this was much more hands on than I ever experienced in the past.

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