March 13, 2005
You have heard me say that life here in Malawi is hard for the people that live here, but that was brought home to us again this week when we attended the funeral of a 15 year old girl.
We have known Natasha’s grandfather since the Partnership began 15 years ago. We have had Harry Mandiwa in our home in the States and invited his family here to our Blantyre home as well. We have also been to his home here many times. Natasha went to St. Andrew’s International High School, and was in the same House as our girls.
From what we understand, she was a normal, healthy girl up until the age of about 10, when she began to experience breathing difficulties (perhaps asthma). At one point a few years ago, she was hospitalized and the family was told that she would not live through the night. However, she pulled through and returned to the life of a normal teenager.
Last week, however, she was rushed to the hospital again. She improved briefly, but then took a turn for the worse, and surrounded by family and friends, died.
Her funeral was held the next day at St. Michaels and All Angels Church. Her mother, Mary, works in the Synod’s Projects Office, so the office was closed and everyone came to the funeral. Many of the employees of the Synod took a late lunch break so they could attend as well. Her family sobbed quietly through the entire 40 minute service.
Funerals here in Malawi are somber. There are hymns, scripture readings, a sermon, and prayers. There was no eulogy. It was more of a commemoration of her dying than a celebration of her life. After the worship, as we followed the petite wooden casket trimmed with gold fixtures and laden with wreaths of fresh flowers out of the sanctuary, her young cousins and schoolmates broke down and cried hysterically.Natasha, however, seemed to be at peace about leaving this world. She told her family and best friends as she lay in her hospital bed, breathing her last, “Don’t worry, don’t worry, I am going to be with Jesus.”