Jesus commanded us ‘Love your neighbour as you love yourself’ which is challenging when you have a common language and a common culture and cultural perspective…at least for the most part. This becomes increasingly challenging when you don’t hold these things in common. Loving our neighbour challenges us daily and varies from week to week as to what it requires of us. Sometimes this is easier one week than the next.
Last week required us to wait with the family as we all waited on the authorities to release the body of a relative who had died the previous week. We had made some preparations but all was placed on hold until we were given the all clear to go ahead with plans. There was some problem with the morgue and also with transportation of the body to the village; as we waited tensions within the family increased. Having little language or understanding of how to grieve with the family it was challenging. Fortunately, after some days of waiting the funeral was held late one afternoon. We travelled about 50kms to the village in an old borrowed ute packed with family members, Craig driving and //ao, our neighbour, directing him where to go. The funeral was a very simple affair with some singing, individuals speaking and a prayer recited. The coffin was placed in a hole dug earlier in the day in the bush and family members threw handfuls of dirt onto the coffin before the guys took turns at using the shovels to fill the hole and to create a mound on top of the grave that was then covered in branches cut from nearby trees.
Our family lost three members within a 48hour period which was devastating for them. One of the deaths was not unexpected as the man had been seriously ill for some time. The second man got up in the night and was found dead the following morning and his death required an autopsy to determine the cause of death which can be a long and drawn out procedure here depending on the availability of the coroner and whether there are other bodies requiring autopsies. This was then followed by the death of this man’s mother in the village. We have yet to fathom all the ins and outs of what has and is still occurring for the family and may never do so but we are endeavouring to be supportive where we can.
This week we have helped our neighbour to put a concrete floor in his house. Craig and //ao talked about how many bags of cement would be required as well as how thick it would need to be. Craig spoke of the need for sand and gravel to be part of the mix and they talked about where to find these here in Tsumkwe. //ao had no sooner purchased his two bags of cement than we had a “big” rain and so we joked with him that he had brought it on by saying that now was the time to do his floor because the rain had finished!!
Craig and //ao and another couple of younger family members helped to mix the concrete on the floor in the house and then spread it. It was warm work for them in the confines of //ao’s small home. I helped the girls to bring the water from the tap in a variety of containers….it needed many trips back and forth before we had enough. We borrowed a couple of cement floats in order to finish the job and //ao seemed pretty pleased with the result that was achieved. It is now a case of waiting for it to dry before the family can move their belongings back inside.