Mourning for Mom

Cross Sunset

Psalm 34:18, “he Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

Revelation 21:4, “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

“Say ‘Hi’ to everyone.  I am going to wait in the room,” Rutendo said.  She said this as she descended down the stairs to our room.  The room was on the ground floor facing west just a few feet from the lake.  The jetty (dock) went from the edge of the building extending into the lake.  It sat above the lake as if it were floating, rather hovering above the clear, glassy lake.  The sun was about to bid the day farewell.  It had turned into a big, tan ball lingering on the threshold of the sky and the earth; day and night.  The warmth of the sun was diminishing as a cool breeze swept over the earth.  Darkness encroached, as light progressively disappeared.  The good day was coming to an end.

I rushed up the stairs into the school office.  The School For Youth Leadership building sat at the top of a steep flight of stairs.  I walked past a couple of fellow students.  The receiver of an old phone with a curled chord lay on the desk.  I picked up the phone and said, “Hello.”  On the other end of the line was a familiar voice.  It was my sister, Sunbeam. I noticed a voice sounded somber.  I could barely hear her, as she started crying.  My mind started racing, rather spinning in circles, trying to figure out what news she was about to share.  My heart thumped hard, as if it would break my ribcage.  She paused for what seemed like eternity.  Then she said, “Rutendo’s mom just passed away.”  What?  Suddenly, I thought I went blind – I saw nothing.  My head seemed to go into a tailspin like I was being tossed back and forth, spinning in an emotional tornado.  I did not hear anything else my sister said. I dropped the phone receiver onto the ground and just stood there, motionless.

Receiving this news was painful.  It was as if someone had just driven a spear right into my heart.  This is the toughest news I have ever received.  This is the heaviest and most difficult news I would have to bear and deliver to my wife. I wept.  I wept for my wife.  I wept for my father in law.  I wept for my wife’s siblings.  As I mourned, I was contemplating how to break the news to my wife.  The school director and his wife came and embraced me.  They prayed for me, for us.  They asked what we should do.  I had no idea.  I still had to go down to our room.  I still had to deliver the news to my wife.

Family

How do I tell Rutendo her mother is no more?

How would I let Rutendo know her best friend, her mentor, her confidant had passed away? How?

Although death is guaranteed, death is strangely cruel and mysterious.

Although we all will pass away some day, death makes us uncomfortable.

Although death is a passage to a better world, it is eerily unwelcome.

Death brings pain.

Death robs us of our loved ones.

Death turns our wonderful times into memories

Death turns our dreams into nightmares

 

What do you do when death knocks at your door?

I took the last step down before taking a few steps to the room to our door.

I went in.  I did not have to say much.  From the look on my face, Rutendo knew mom was no more.

I heard never seen her cry, mourn like that before.

We embraced, and cried together.  Sleep evaded us that night.  The light of our day had been replaced by a darkness of the soul.

We will miss you mom.  Amai, tinosangana kudenga neropa raJesu.

  • What is the hardest news you have ever received?
  • How did you handle it?
  • Have you lost a loved one?
  • How do you deal with the pain?
  • Bring your raw pain to Jesus.
  • Come cry at His feet.
  • He will hear you, and wipe your tears away.
  • He cares for you. He loves you.
  • You are not alone. Jesus is with you, through your darkest pain.
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I Am Thrilled She Stole My Heart!

Rutendo

Proverbs 19:14 “Houses and wealth are inherited from parents, but a prudent wife is from the LORD.”

Proverbs 31:10, “Who can find a virtuous and capable wife? She is more precious than rubies.”

My brother Emmanuel walked into the wedding reception hall flanked by two attractive girls.  One of the girls caught my attention.  She was slim, tall, and beautiful.  She looked like the girl I envisioned when I was praying for a girl to marry.  I had spent the last three months earnestly seeking God’s answers to my prayers.  What drove me to prayer?  What would inspire a 22-year-old to spend an hour in prayer every day?  Three months earlier I had lost the girl I thought I was going to marry.  I decided to resolve the problem in prayer.

For the first few weeks, I prayed for God to touch her heart so she would come back to me.  I asked God to change her to what I wanted.  Interestingly, God ignored me.  For the next few weeks, God transformed me.  I stopped praying for her. Instead, I asked God to prepare me for the right girl. Instead of praying for Mrs Right, I asked God to make me Mr. Right, first.  He had to deal with me before I would be ready for someone. As I prayed, I would imagine what the girl would look like.  I prayed for a simple, beautiful, down to earth girl.

There she was.  Standing next to my brother.  I walked towards them.  I offered to buy all three of them some ice cream.  (Ice cream is very expensive in Zimbabwe.  Ice cream vendors receive much business at weddings and other gatherings.) While facing the beautiful girl, I asked her a question.  She did not answer. She shyly looked down while avoiding all eye contact.  Her friend answered, instead.  She talked, while the beautiful girl just listened.

I caught her stealing a quick glance at me, and then she continued to look on the floor.  Her shyness was intriguing.  She looked beautiful and mysterious.  She lifted her face, my eyes and her glistening big brown eyes locked.  She looked away quickly. It was as if, for a brief moment, we communicated at a deep, soul level. Her hair was set in immaculate, wool-like curls.  Her sun-kissed, chocolate brown skin glowed under the African sun.  I wanted to sneak away with her.  I wanted to run away with her to far, far away lands. Yet, her only communication when I asked her to call me was a simple nod.  A few days later, I received the call.  It was her at the other end of the line.  Thereafter, we went on our first date.  It was the beginning of a fabulous life with my bride, Rutendo. I am glad Emmanuel introduced me to her.  I am thrilled she called. My life has never been the same!

Wedding

  • How did you meet your spouse?
  • What made you fall in love?
  • How did you know you were in love?
  • What are the circumstances that led to your meeting?
  • Do you see God’s hand in your union?
  • If you are not married, what are you doing to prepare for the spouse of the future?
  • Are you praying for God’s guidance regarding your choice of a future spouse?
  • What qualities are you looking for in a future spouse?

Cry No More. It’s Going to be OK!

Cry no more

Mom missed him

2 Corinthians 12:9, “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” (NIV)

She had not seen him in almost a year.  She missed him.  She missed his little cute face.  She missed his encouraging words.  She missed him, her oldest son.  As she tried to nibble on her simple dinner, her weak appetite failed her.  She was too excited.  Tomorrow she would be going to see her son.  The domestic violence had caused her to flee to her parents’ home.  After spending a year away from her estranged husband, her brother in law had come to get the boy.  He said the boy’s paternal grandmother wanted to see him.  The boy was supposed to be gone for just a couple of weeks.  The two weeks had turned to months. She felt cheated, lied to, and robbed. She had to see her boy.

Her excitement was obvious.  She had spent the day walking down the village telling her neighbors of her impending trip to see her son.  She could not conceal her excitement.  She wore a wide small all day. The night was long.  Throughout the night, she tossed around on her makeshift bed.  Whenever she fell asleep she would experience a devastating nightmare in which saw herself missing the bus.

Soon, it was morning.  She stepped out of the hut to gaze at the orange sun that was beginning to rise as it kissed the eastern horizon.  The sun seemed to glide gently over the tree tops, as if to declare the arrival of a new day – a new hope. She embraced the sun’s warmth, and the promise it brought. The sun’s rays began to pierce through the tree leaves and foliage, flooding her face with a glow that uplifted her soul.  She said a prayer, and was ready to go.

On the bus, she sat in the front window seat.  She gazed outside for the whole trip.  She wondered if her boy had grown taller.  Was he mad at her for her failure to visit sooner?  Her excitement turned to anxiety.  She started hyperventilating.  Her short breaths were interspaced with deep sighs.  Her hands shook a little.

Cry no more boy

He missed mom

The little boy cried himself to sleep.  He wished mommy were here.  He wondered why she had never come to see him.  Would he ever see her again?  Earlier that day, his uncle had beat him up with a pruned branch.  He cried, but no one came to his defense.  His older cousin had slapped him in the face, and kicked him in the stomach. He cried, but no one came to his defense.

The boy awoke to the rooster’s crow.  The birds were chirping heavenly melodies.  The water flowing down the creek behind the homestead, produced a harmonious, soothing sound.  He struggled to rise from his sleeping area on the floor. He finally woke up and folded his two flimsy blankets.  He rolled up the reed mat, and placed behind the door of the hut.  His auntie had lit up a fire.  The firewood emitted a sweet smelling scent, while the smoke it produced hovered like a cloud just under the grass-thatched roof.

Outside, the sun was just beginning to introduce light to the new day. The towering mountains majestically welcomed the first sun rays of the day.  A light wind blew, whistling and swaying small tree branches back and forth.  The new day brought new hopes, even though he felt hopeless.  His surroundings revealed normalcy and peace, yet his little soul was plagued with fear, loneliness, and confusion.  Like many days past, he grabbed the white bucket to go fetch water from the well.  While he walked down the little path dreaming of the big city where he used to live.  He fantasized about taking a hot bath in a big bath tub.  He wished he lived in a house with indoor plumbing, running water, and electricity.

Upon his return, he waited for the water to heat up on the open fire, while he ate the porridge prepared by his auntie.  He took a bath in the grass walled bathroom called “chenjahausi.”  His uniform was so old the uniform shorts now had holes on the back. He put it on and walks to school.

africa-boy-with-cattle

As was the daily schedule, the boy came home from school, had a cup of tea and two slices of bread for lunch.  From there he went to watch the cattle.  He hated watching the cattle every day.  A few days a week would be fine.  Watching the cattle everyday had become monotonous.  He wished there would be another life besides this daily chore.  He wished he could be like other kids.  Other kids would go home to do their homework.  They would go home to play in the yard with their siblings.  But not the boy.  His life was a daily dose of school and then followed by watching the cattle. The regular beatings do not make it any easier.  He wished it would all end.

Suddenly he heard the unmistakable humming of the only bus that comes from the big city.  The boy and his cousin, as is their custom, ran onto an anthill to have a better look of who would disembark the bus.  He wondered if mommy would be coming to visit him.  The bus roared down the dusty rural road past the boy’s family bus stop.  The boy’s heart, like on many occasions before, sank.  Maybe mommy had forgotten about him. Maybe mommy did not love him anymore.

Suddenly, the bus stopped, as a thick cloud of dust enveloped the bus.  The boy looked closer and saw a figure of a woman get off the bus.  Without carefully examining who the visitor was, the boy just started running towards the bus, screaming “Mommy is here, mommy is here, mommy is here!!!”

She disembarked hesitantly.  As she stepped off the bus, she saw a boy running towards her screaming.  He was a scrawny boy, with unkempt hair.  He wore torn clothes.  His pants were torn at the knees, and had patches on the back.  He wore old tennis shoes with holes on the front that let his littles toes hang out.  His big brown eyes confirmed, yes that is he.  He jumped on her.  She embraced and kissed him.  Her tears flowed down her cheeks and flowed on to his dirty little face as if to clean it.  His sobbing and laughter were like a mixture of joy and sadness, bitter and sweet, yet beautiful.  At last, mommy was here.  He would be safe now.  She would never leave her boy again.  No amount of suffering would pry her love from him.  He would vow to reciprocate her love.

  • Are you experiencing difficulties that seem to never end?
  • Are you feeling God has neglected you?
  • Do you feel like your prayers are not being answered?
  • Are you losing hope?
  • Are you watching helplessly as your family crumbles under the vices of alcoholism and drug addictions?
  • Are your dreams and hopes shattered?
  • God is working behind the scenes. His delay is not denial.  God will respond according to His impeccable timing. Trust Him.
  • Everything is going to be OK.
  • He is walking with you through it all.
  • He sees all your tears. He wipes them away, and gently reminds you: “I love you my child.”
  • Hang on in there. God will show up in power to destroy the enemy.
  • Victory is yours.
  • Psalm 30:5, “Weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.”

SOAP FLAVORED MANGOES

Mango

Matthew 13:23, ” As for what was sown on good soil, this is he who hears the word and understands it; he indeed bears fruit, and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.” (NRV)

I took a bite, and almost threw up.  The mango was fresh.  The mango was huge, almost the size of a baby’s head.  When I bit into the mango, it was fresh and cold.  The mango juice oozed from each side of my mouth, and flowed down my hands. The mango looked good.  It was the right size, but the taste was horrendous.  Why?

Dozens of mango trees formed the fence around our village.  There were mango trees in the middle of the homestead. There were mango trees behind the houses.  All these trees produced different types of mangoes, yet the fruit was delicious.  The mango trees produced Brooks, Kent, Keitt, and other types of mangoes. But this mango tree produced mangoes that tasted like soap! Why?

Mangoes

My family had built grass bathing area called “chinjahouse.”  After you were done taking a bath in the “chinjahouse” you would pour the soapy water onto the ground.  The soapy water would seep through the rocks and then would permeated the soapy soil below.  The tree’s roots would draw nutrients and water from the soapy soil.  Consequently, the soapy water would travel up the tree stem, branches, and on to the fruit the tree produced.  Thus, the mango I ate tasted like the bath soap I used.

The Bible mentions the concept of bearing fruit many times. Jesus told the parable of the sower who sowed seed. The seed fell on different types of soil. Some seed fell on dry a path, while the other fell on rocky ground. The other seed fell on soil that had weeds and thorns that choked the seed.  Some seed fell on good soil.  This seed produced good, sweet harvest. This is an example of people who hear the Gospel and produce fruit.

What does to bear fruit mean? This is to live a life like Jesus. A life like Jesus reveals itself in your character, words, thoughts, and actions.  Your fruit shows what your roots are feeding on.

  • Where the mango tree was planted determined the quality of its fruit.
  • Where the mango tree drew its nutrients determined the taste of its fruit.
  • If you want to know the quality of the fruit, know the quality of the nutrients the tree feeds on.
  • Where you spend time determines your character.
  • Where your character is shaped determines your destiny.
  • Your spiritual food source determines the person you become.
  • Do you feed your soul?
  • Where does you spiritual food come from?
  • Does your character stink? Check what you are feeding yourself
  • What is your fruit like?

Embracing a New Life

Baby

“Dad, come receive your baby!” the nurse said.  The nurse had just finished wiping the baby, and was now wrapping the baby.  I hesitantly took a few steps forward, and then stopped.  Apprehension immobilized me.  Was I ready for this next step?  I glanced over my shoulder to look at Rutendo. Half a dozen doctors and nurses gathered around her.  Next to them was a mound of gauzes and bandages soaked in blood.  I peeked to take a closer look of her Caesarean incision.  A curtain stood across half her body, blocking her from seeing the medical staff operating on her.  The anesthetic had numbed half her body.

I took the final few steps towards the nurse.  There she was.  Beautiful. Innocent.  I was in love.  I held her in my arms, and admired her little face.  A warm trickle of tears flowed down my cheeks. My heart skipped a beat.  Was this real?  Would I be a good father?  God was entrusting a little, helpless baby into our care.  This thought overwhelmed me like a huge dark blanket.  I spoke to her.  Yes, I spoke to a few minutes old baby.  I will love you.  I will protect you.  I will provide for you.” She did not answer.  Her little mouth opened wide as she yawned.  Her cuteness covered the whole room.  She stretched and then put her little fingers in her mouth.

My arms embraced her.  My heart fell in love with her.  My shoulders welcomed the responsibilities that awaited.  Sleepless nights, diaper changing, hospital visits, driving her to school.  Our lives would never be the same.  Parenthood was turning our lives upside down.  In her frail, tired voice, Rutendo said, “Terrence, bring her so I can see her.”  I walked across the room, with a big smile on my face.  Fiela is here.  I am a father now.  Hallelujah!

Baby 1

The birth of a child brings unexplainable joy.  My wife had taken part in fulfilling God’s command, “Be fruitful and multiply.”  It was a joyous day for us.

  • What has been your most joyous day? What happened?
  • What brings you joy? Why?
  • Have you told someone you love them? How does it make you feel?
  • Has someone expressed their love to you? How does it make you feel?
  • What are your thoughts on parenthood?
  • What is the most difficult part about parenting?
  • How do you handle parenting challenges?