Tuesday, January 19, 2010

A Christian Burial in the Jungle

In Memory of Baby David Lopez



It was Easter week. I will never forget it. We had only been in the village for about a year. I had made friends with one indian lady, Linda, as she was one of two women in the village that spoke a little Spanish. Her husband , Antonio, was the school teacher in the village. He had been born and raised in the village of AcanaƱa and had been trained by missionaries there. He had also been sent to town to receive a high school education. He was, perhaps, one of the most educated indians of the tribe at the time.

They had flown out to town a couple of months earlier so that Linda could be near a hospital to give birth to her fourth child. She had only just returned to the village a few days before with her three week old son. Her first son, as her other children were girls. Her only son, as they had performed a tubal ligation on her at the hospital. She came to the house and proudly showed him to us. Antonio would be flying back in on a separate flight the following week.

On Saturday, she came to us in the morning, on her way to her garden. She said the baby had been fussing a lot the night before. My husband checked him out, but all seemed fine. Clear lungs, no mucus, no fever, good heart rate! He was a cutie who was beginning to smile!

She continued on with the baby to her garden to get food for the family. That evening she arrived back at the house. It had rained that day, she and the children were soaking wet. The baby was feverish. When Clint listened to his lungs, I knew we were in trouble just by the look on his face. His temperature was at 104.

We began to do all we could for the baby with the limited tools available to us. He had developed double pneumonia in about 12 hours. Unfortunately, we had no oxygen in the village. We had penicillin, but not the fast acting, injectable which is the preferred treatment.

As the evening wore on, the baby began to struggle to breathe. We had called out by radio to have the plane ready to fly out for the patient first thing in the morning, if he was able to make it through the night. The missionaries in town had found the father, Antonio, and he was prepared to receive his son. The missionaries had arranged for an ambulance to be at the airport. IF the baby survived the night.

Around mid-night, we almost lost him! Clint began CPR, and was able to get him to breathe again. But...about an hour later, he stopped breathing and we repeated the process again. He had a weak pulse but once again began to breathe on his own.

This happened more times than I can remember. My husband wore himself out trying to breathe for the small baby. We had to take turns breathing the breath of life into the child. We did this for hours.

Any doctor will tell you, you should not do this! CPR is meant to be used for a short time only until medical help can be reached or the paramedics arrive. BUT...there was no medial help and we were the paramedics!

Around 4 am, Clint was breathing for the child and I felt the babies pulse, slowly falter, lighter and lighter, until...nothing. Clint's eyes were on my face as he also felt the life slip away.

Linda also realized the exact moment her son died. She did not understand what Clint and I were saying to one another, but she knew!

She stood and began to cry out, "My son! My son, my only son!" I went to her , to try and comfort her. She sobbed all night in my arms. "My little son!"

Clint had laid the baby down and asked for someone to help him. But the indians are terrified of dead bodies and at that time would not touch a corpse.

The Ye'kwana often would take a dying person out into the jungle so that they would die there alone and away from the village. If someone dies in a house, no one would live in the house afterwards. They would hire the Sanema tribe to bury the body for them so that they would not know where it was. This is due to their fear of the spirits.

Antonio and Linda were Christians though. Once we realized no one would help with the baby, Clint went out and built a tiny casket all by himself. He only had a battery powered flashlight and hand tools. I wrapped the baby in a soft cloth and comforted Linda and my own small children who had watched and heard it all.

The other indians all sat around and wailed the death chant ...all night. They were very concerned that we had the body in the house with us. But where should we put him? It was a dark, rainy night in the jungle.

The next morning we informed the pilots by radio that we had lost the patient but to please fly the father out to the village anyway. The men in the village had begun to dig the grave. We were only waiting for the father to arrive for the burial.

When Antonio came in on the flight, they left immediately for the grave sight. Antonio and Linda had become Christians through the ministry of the missionaries in their village. They wanted a christian burial for their son.

Remember, now, it is Easter Sunday morning. As he placed the small casket into the cold, dark, muddy hole he began to preach!

He told them all that he was very sad to lose his only son. His heart hurt! But...he would see his child again!" Yes," he said. "I know that the Son of God, Jesuquiriitu, has taken my son to be with Him in heaven! His body is here in the ground but his true person is with God! And I know that when I die, I also will go to the place of God and I will see my son again!"

He told the old, old story of a Savior who came in the form of a babe and laid down His life upon a cross. The Son of Wanaadi (God) had died to take away the sins of the world so that all who believe might be saved! But Jesuquiriitu did not stay dead! No, He rose again!!!! He defeated death on the third day and rose again. Jesuquidiitu, was seen alive by many witnesses after that and had promised to go to the place of His Father, Wanaadi, to prepare a home for all who believe! A place where the houses are not made of mud, nor cement blocks but had streets of gold! And Antonio, and Linda, had put their faith in that. They would see their small son again and be with him!

I remember that night and how we had done all in our power to stop Death. We could not stop Death.. We are only human. BUT ...I remember that Easter morning in the rainy jungle! I saw the power of the resurrected Christ work in the hearts and lives of a forsaken people in a forsaken land.

John 11:25 Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:


Upon a life I did not live,
upon a death I did not die;
anothers life, anothers death,
I stake my whole eternity.
-Horatius Bonar

8 comments:

Pat said...

Once again, I am touched by this (I never tire of your stories)...
We Mothers all react the same to death, but at the same time, we all have the hope available to us through Jesus Christ....

LIFE....the only HOPE

John_n_Tascha_Piatt said...

thank you for this

The Hermit said...

Those indians are really tense about death.

sandy morris said...

Very good. I agree. Death is totally different in other countries and cultures.
Very well written.
Sandy Morris
Venezuela

Anonymous said...

Rather interesting site you've got here. Thanx for it. I like such topics and anything that is connected to them. BTW, try to add some pics :).

Sarah Joy said...

What an amazing story. It touches my heart every time you print it. This is why God wants us to tell others no matter where they are about His Son. We owe it to everyone everywhere to know this kind of peace that can take us through the deepest valley. The peace of hope in Christ!

Sarah and the Gentlemen said...

What a touching testimony. You tell it so well.

Rosie Cochran said...

Oh, Rita, you bring back memories of similar stories. My heart goes out to Linda and Antonio at the telling of your story. They are such a blessing of a couple. How God has used them for His glory even through the hard times. I'm sure He continues to use them! Do you ever just miss it all? Isn't it great to know that though we may never see them again here on earth, that we'll have eternity to catch up with them!