Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Let the living lay it to heart...

Taguete Tragedies

I personally work a neighborhood called Taguete.  It is one of the nearest neighborhoods to the church.  On Sunday evening the first tragedy struck.  At around 6pm, a man riding a motorcycle shot and killed the driver of Mr. Nepomuceno.  Mr Nepomuceno is a very rich man who owns land and retail space her in the city.  For those of you that have been here, that is where the Nepo mall gets it’s name from.  People began lining up on the side of the road and gawking at the dead body.  For many it brought a seriousness and even a fear to their hearts. One girl who is faithful to all of the services was found crying as she was leaving.  She was scared to walk home.

The second tragedy occurred just about 12 hours later and I have earlier referred to it.  The granddaughter of a family who always attends died.  She was less than a year old.  She had a heart problem.  We went to the house of the family and the ritual had already begun.  The small closed casket with a window near the head lay in the living room.  Food preparation was under way.  A card game was going on outside.  I have wondered about their choice of activities, yet it seems this constantly being surrounded by people may somehow make it easier. In some areas, the card game is used as a way to raise more money for the family. As the people come, they give an offering to the family, a guestbook was by the door that listed the names and the amount given.  Later I found out that if your family gives now, they who receive are indebted to give if your family meets  the same tragedy.  This vigil continued from Monday until today (Wed.) I went there around 2:30pm and we prayed, they hadn’t asked for a service, but I put as much of the gospel as I reasonably could into the prayer.  Then the procession began.  The small coffin was laid in the hearse, the door closed, and they slowly began the procession to the graveyard. Some would throw coins onto the roof of the hearse which were later collected.  It was close to a 45 minute walk with many vehicles following.  The mother, father and close family members walk along with the hearse, their hands resting on the rear window, weeping as they go.  Behind them, more family and friends walk and then the vehicles follow them all.  When we got to the cemetery, they took the body out of the larger “display coffin” and placed her into the tiny burial coffin.  Many of the tombs here are above ground.  Here, a concrete box had already been prepared, and once the casket was placed inside, they began to seal it with the concrete. One by one they quietly left realizing there was nothing more they could do.

As I watched the people looking at the procession, some oblivious to the pain of the family, laughing and joking, others, serious faces and somber looks, the phrase that has been often used in funerals came to mind….”Let the living lay it to heart.”

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