Friday, January 6, 2012

First baby's funeral on the mission field.

     During my American ministry I had conducted several funerals for babies and it is always difficult for me.  But, my first funeral for a baby on the mission field was particularly difficult!  This was over 25 years ago so Mexico was really more primitive.
     One day a young mother came to our church in Rosarito to inform me that her 6-month-old baby had passed away in the General Hospital in Tijuana and there was a problem.  You see, people die evrery day in this large hospital for the poor.  So, vans from the funeral homes are parked there and as soon as someone dies they pick the body up and the family is just told where the body is.  Then you have a battle if you do not want their services.  This had happened in this case.
     In Mexico, if you bury the body within 24 hours it does not have to be imbalmed and at that time you could prepare the body and bury it yourself.  So, that was our plans.  However, the funeral home did not want to release the body and told me, as an American, they were sure I could pay for the funeral.  Right!
     I knew the officials in Rosarito so I rushed back there to get the paperwork to force them to give me the body.  In the meantime I directed the young men of the Bible Institute to make a plywood coffin out of some left-over plywood from a building project while I and the mother went for the body.
   When we got back to the funeral home they were SO angry they handed me the body wrapped in the same bloody sheet from the hospital.  I cannot describe how I felt at that moment!  In the van the mother asked if she could uncover the face,  Man!  They didn't teach this in Missions in Bible College!
     When we got back to Rosarito, Edna and the girls had put a nice pillow in the box and had stapled a white bedsheet around the box.  They cleaned the little body and dressed him and laid him in the box.  The girls made artificial flowers out of colored cleenex.While this was being down the men students went to the cemetery and dug the grave by hand,  We rounded up some members and headed for the church for the service.  Time was running out.  We had the service and as the sun was setting we shoveled on the last dirt.
     BUT, that is not the end of the story.  As Americans, we would have felt terrible to need to bury a loved one in such a poor manner.  However, at the next service, during the testimony time. the mother stood and expressed how thankful she was to have her Christian family in the church.  She said her baby would not have had such a BEAUTIFUL funeral otherwise!  I'm SO glad we came and that you sent us.  Bro Don

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