Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Too Many Eulogies

I want to clarify about the title of this post. From a human perspective, everything feels "too hard." People we love often lose their lives "too early." There is "too much" tragedy around us...doesn't it seem like more than our fair ration?

Although God is compassionate and allows us to grieve, I also think of Psalm 139, verse 16: "...all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be." (NIV)

He knows exactly what we are going through, and He has perfect, albeit mysterious, reasons, for allowing our loved ones to suffer and even die. So even though I grieve, I still affirm the perfect sovereignty of God's will.

The Accident

A lot of you know what happened to the orphanage recently, but I will do a quick recap.

The orphanage that I visited for something like 8 years in a row had sent a group to another city for an excursion, during school vacation week.

On the way back, the bus was in a head-on collision with a tractor-trailer. I got the news that 6 people had been killed, but I didn’t know which ones. It felt like one of those school shootings where you don’t know at first who survived and who didn’t. And you don’t have any contact.

I got online, gathering information really quickly. A few of the orphans/staff already had posted about grieving. Everyone was in shock. I found a few news reports, including one with a list of all those injured/dead. But which were which? The next thing I found out was that all those who had been killed were adults: of the orphanage group, 2 drivers and 2 other chaperones. It wasn’t until a few days later that I saw some photos and matched the names with the faces. I recognized them all.

And the children, the precious children…relief that they are alive, but sadness that they experienced this. People have posted some GRUESOME photos of the wreckage, and I just cannot imagine the horrific scenes that the children witnessed. And what gut-wrenching fear was felt by the other members of the orphanage family, who were not with them at the time?

The counselor I am friends with was not on the bus. I spoke to her by phone and she was headed to the hospital to see the injured. I could hear the grief in her voice. Reach out to her, Lord.

A few weeks have now gone by and most of the injured are back in the orphanage, but the road to recovery, emotionally at least, may be long.

And now, a few words about one of the deceased, an orphanage counselor in her 50’s.

I walked to the bus stop with her once. (I know I shared this with someone, but I can't remember if it was on my blog or not.)

I felt embraced by many people at the orphanage and largely ignored by others. But whenever I had the opportunity to actually talk to someone, it turned out that they were just misinformed about who I was and what I was doing there.

As we walked along, not ever having chatted before, Maria said to me, "Many volunteers come and go. But you...you KEEP coming." We talked a little bit and she just couldn't understand what would sustain me in this country, and I can't remember if I shared my faith. I hope I did. 

Anyway, after that, she would always smile at me, so genuinely. She was always busy helping the kids and I was, too. But there was that warmth. I wish I could have told her that SHE was a part of the reason that I could go on living here, that God sends people like her to encourage me with a life-giving smile.

In this post I admired some art done by the kids at the orphanage. It turns out that Maria was the one behind the paper sculptures. I learned after the accident that she had been the in-house origami specialist, as well as math tutor. 

What a treasure! Clearly, she will be missed.

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