Sunday, May 07, 2006

Village Funeral

Village Funeral

(Our phone went out again, and is now back up! It is still not working properly and I am having alot of trouble connecting to the internet. There is a very good possibility it will go out again for several days. Hopefully it will improve.)

The following took place on Friday, May 7, 2006

Today, I headed out to the village of Sohun to preach a funeral. The funeral was for an elderly lady who was saved and attending the mission work in the village of Sohun. (This work was already going before I arrived. This was the group of people praying for a missionary to come before I arrived. I teach there every Sunday before heading out to the church I started in the village of Kudukudu.) The lady who died was named Mama Ruby. She died from TB.

The funerals here can be quite the experience. I arrived about 9:00am with my family. Many of the villagers were already there, but several hundred more still would be coming. I was early. As the people arrived, preparations were being made for the burial. The hole was dug, and the coffin was decorated. They make their own coffins here. Much better then the outrageous prices we pay in America. At this time, as well, the pigs were brought in. They were still alive and tied to a piece of bamboo.

The men take care of the pigs while the ladies prepared yams, rice, and taro. The entire village will be fed after the burial takes place. The men killed the pigs and then bled them. The pig then had his guts removed and was placed into a hole in the ground. Now, in the hole are rocks that have had a fire underneath them for quite some time. The rocks are VERY hot. On top of the rocks was placed banana leaves, then the pig, which was also wrapped in banana leaves, was placed on top. Then more heated rocks were put on top of the pig, and the hole was filled up. The pig’s guts were placed in this hole; they are wrapped in banana leaves as well. One to two hours later the pig was ready to eat. The ladies get sea shells and use them to scrape the yams. After the yams had been scraped they were placed on an open fire to be cooked.

While all this was going on, the dead body was in the “haus boy”. (This takes places in all the “mat mats”/funerals here.) The ladies all took their turns entering the “haus boy”. Once inside they cried/wailed for several minutes and then left. Except for these funerals the ladies are never allowed to enter the “haus boy”. It is for men only.

After all the people had arrived, it was time for the preaching. We sang a few songs and then I stood to preach. This funeral was a great opportunity. There were 300 to 500 villagers present. I preached on being “ready to die.” Most of the people seemed to listen intently. I hope and pray that the seed that was sown will bear fruit.

Right after I finished preaching the body was moved to the burial site. This was only about 20 yards away. Once the body arrived there, I spoke briefly, read some scripture at the grave side, and then the body was buried. During this time the people began wailing. The wailing continued the entire time the grave was being filled in. Nobody leaves the grave side until it was filled in and then decorated. Once that was accomplished, we returned to the spot of the preaching and the eating began. (During the graveside part, Bethany was stung by a hornet on her arm. It was the first time she had ever been stung by a bee. She handled it bravely. She simply buried her head in my chest and cried for a few minutes. Most of the people simply thought she was crying with them.)

Eating in the village is very different then what one is used to in the western world. When the eating did begin there were no plates, forks, spoons, etc… Papaya leaves were placed in front of us. This was our plate along with three to four others. Then a man placed rice on the leaves with his hands. Next, parts of the cooked pig were placed on the leaves, followed by yam or kau kau. With our hands, we began eating along with the few others around the papaya leaves. (This really saves on the amount of dishes you have to wash!) At the funeral today the pig tasted excellent, and the yam was very good too. By the time we ate it was already 1:30pm.

I hope to be able to get good video footage of their “matmat”/funeral for furlough. It is a very unique experience.

Again, I thank the Lord for the opportunity he provided today to share the gospel with several hundred people! I am also thankful that Mama Ruby is now with the Lord!

1 comment:

Jerry Bouey said...

Praying that this sowing of the Gospel would bear fruit.