Keep telling the sad stories

A few weeks back on Friday I went to visit the wife of our worker who died last month. I’d been putting it off for days – I was too tired, it was too hot, I was trying to work out what to do with the last of his paychecks. But, when Friday came around, my excuses had run out and Bek was doing school with all of my kids so off I went. I walked down to the T-junction where I had arranged to meet a friend and we continued into town together.


I’d only met this lady once before when I’d gone with Scott and Cam to pray for her husband. We sat together in the room next door to where the guys were, listening, chatting and praying. We talked a little bit afterwards about kids, how she’d recently lost a baby early on in pregnancy… how I’d had that experience too.


She wasn’t home when we arrived but there was someone in the yard who sent word to her that the people from up on the hill had arrived. We were invited to sit on a grass mat on the edge of the verandah and wait.


I sat there and surveyed the yard. It was an underwhelming sight. It’s a rental, located right at the bottom of the valley, next to the barely running stream full of people digging for water and washing clothes. The small, two-roomed mud hut with a grass roof where we’d sat just weeks before, praying for healing was directly opposite me. There was rubbish strewn everywhere, kids roamed in and out with filthy scraps of clothes, goats and chickens passed though at will.


Not long after, she arrived, sat down and we greeted one another. After that I’m never really sure what to say – I’m really not great at these things in English and in my own culture let alone here. I told her that I’d heard what had happened and that I was so sorry for her loss. Then we just sat in silence for a while, which is totally normal here and not really all that uncomfortable for me anymore.


I was trying my best to hold back my tears. Crying in front of people outside of the “set” times (when the body leaves a funeral for instance) is really not the done thing, I can’t remember ever seeing it happen, even with some of my best friends here. When I glanced across at this lady… she still sat silently, but tears were streaming down her face, and that was all it took for me to cave.


So we sat, not talking, just crying. I couldn’t help but thinking what a crap life she has. Her first husband, the father of her first child, is the town drunk. The father of the second one just isn’t around. Now her third one… who as far as husbands here go… wasn’t a bad sort had just died. She was living in a dump of a house… but who knows how long for – it’s just a rental and she has no money. She doesn’t have a job. It was just desperately sad.


As I sat there and chatted quietly to God, I wrestled with just how many overwhelmingly sad stories I’d heard lately and what to do with them all. I felt the sadness but I also felt incredibly privileged to be able to sit with people, to cry with people and to hear stories that so few people get to hear. I’m pretty sure I heard God told me that day to keep on telling them.


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