Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Today you will be with me in paradise

For the past few months Ryan and I have had the honor of getting to know a woman named Sandra through a church we work with in Posoltega. She is a young woman in her 30's. She is a wonderful wife and a wonderful mother. She has breast cancer.

Materialistically speaking, this family does not have much at all but family is something they do have and family is so important in Nicaragua. Sandra, her husband, and her son had been living with Sandra's parents. They live in the country land of Posoltega about 25 minutes from Leon. Sandra has three brothers and they all live right around them. They are surrounded by sugar cane. Their home is completely built out of tin roof material and they sweep their dirt floors. They have this beautiful area they have built for themselves in the front of their home. They took two trees that were there and grew a vine over them to make a sort of "front porch area". You can go to their house and they immediately get you a chair and you sit and could visit with them for hours under this beautiful shading vine.

We got home around 11:30 P.M. on thursday the 10th of January and on the morning of the 11th we got a phone call from Norman(the preacher of Posoltega). He was coming to town with Sandra's mother to buy her casket. The family knew it was coming.

For the last two weeks of her life she was surrounded by all her loved ones, her husband, her son, her parents, her brothers, their wives, nieces and nephews, aunts and uncles etc. Her 13 year old son was always sitting in a hammock starring at his mother with blood shot eyes. Her husband, in the last weeks was leaning over her wiping the few hairs on her head with a wet towel. You see, she couldn't sit up, she couldn't lay down, she was so uncomfortable in her last days that she would sit on the edge of a plastic chair with her elbows on her knees and her head leaning down in to the floor. She had open sores on both knees and those were just the visible ones. Her hands were so swollen that she couldn't bend her fingers. Her feet would no longer fit in her shoes. Her eyes were almost swollen shut. She could not eat. She could not drink. She was just waiting. They all were.

We had gone to Leon to get her some sort of relief and came back with some medicine a doctor had recommended. For three days she used it and for three days It didn't help. She was suffering but all glory to our God in the highest, she knew she wouldn't be suffering for long. You see, this was a woman who was strong in her faith. She had helped lead her family to the church. She was an example to so many. She was leaving a true legacy.

We went to bed around 10 P.M. on Sunday night and at around 12:30 A.M. Ryan got a call from Norman. Our sister Sandra has gone to heaven. So Ryan gets up and picks up Norman and they go and receive the casket they had purchased. Then go and take it to the family. By 1:30 A.M. many of the distant family had already arrived. The funeral was to be at 1:00 P.M. the next day.

We arrived a little late because we were waiting for the preacher and his wife who were riding with us (this is usual in Nicaragua, time is just a suggestion). When we got there, there was around 100 people at their tiny little home.  As we drove up, to our right, across the street from their house were all the distantly related men. Many of them were passing around a bottle of vodka and slurring their words. To the left were all the women in a circle under the beautifully vined shade porch. The closely related men and women were sitting in the house. The emotions were high. At the back of the circle was the open casket. There she was. Covered from toe to neck in a sheet, with some sheer material over her face. She had a bandana around her head and some cotton in her mouth. This family could not afford to have her embalmed and so there was a fan on a chair blowing on her to keep as much smell out as possible and there was almost always someone standing over her fanning off the flies.

We sat and visited with the family for about 2 hours and then Norman got up and gave a lesson to the few that would listen. At about 3:30 the closely related men in the family closed the casket and carried it to our truck. There were about 4 or 5 trucks who were going to be carrying about 200 people to the grave site about 5 miles away. In the backseat of our truck was the mother, two of her sisters, and the son. In the bed of the truck, with the casket, was the father and brothers. The husband wanted to ride along side us on his bike. In Nicaragua, for a funeral, many people walk in the street and the others are 30+ in trucks. We were to drive the casket as slow as possible. There were people walking along side us. It took about an hour to get to the grave yard. They had us stop about 500 yards from the grave yard so that the men could carry the casket the rest of the way. All the family followed. They came out about 2 hours later.

This is a family we have been blessed to know. Their faith and their love is so easily seen. They don't ask for anything. In some of Sandra's last days Ryan had to ask them to let us help them. After that we were able to buy them a chicken, some rice and beans, oil, and some other things because they hadn't worked in weeks.

Like Norman said in his lesson the day that she died, "Sandra is with the Lord now, and with the Lord a day is like 1,000 years and 1,000 years are like a day." Our friend Sandra is no longer suffering. Today and forever she is now with Jesus in Paradise.

I am thankful that we can rejoice in the physical death of our friend Sandra and thanks to her faith I am confident more will find Him.

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die. John 11:25
Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life. John 5:24

So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy. John 16:22

Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” Luke 23:43*Special thanks to Michelle Boyd for these pictures.