Wednesday, November 27, 2019

The Burial of Opio Martin - and Update

I just learned that one of the many medicines Opio was given was the cause of his death.  He was given like two months worth of this medicine for brucilosis and it caused the body to stop making blood.  This medicine is outlawed in America yet any uneducated pharmacists and even hospitals are giving this medicine - and killing people!  Just today another friend is sick and was taking this medicine.  The clinic didn't test anything, said it is Typhoid and gave this medicine.  (Maybe it is fine in small doses, but still!)  On top of that all, another teenage boy from the neighboring village died this week from the same anemia and the same medicine.  I HATE THIS!  Not to mention why were all the doctors from the bottom up not checking all he had taken to see what the problem was or what not to give him.  No one checked.  This is why there is no trust worthy medical care here.  If it wasn't that they the medicine they gave Opio for TB, which he did not have, could have killed him.  I feel so much anger.  Our friend did not have to die!!!  What injustice.  I find myself so sad and crying because his death wasn't God's plan it was a result of injustices and wrongs.  I don't really know what to do with all my sadness and anger.  Ok I know to go to God, but what do we do with this information and living here where it will continue to happen because the medical work just wants money (at the expense of people's lives) and people here just take things blindly.  I want to scream. 

So with all the anger I feel from the injustices, I have no choice but to forgive or be bitter.  I sat Friday with the Lord and cried thinking about forgiving all the medical staff and drug shop people who played a role in the death of our friend.  It is so hard.  They did wrong.  They caused an unneeded death.  They should be held accountable, pay for it.  I chose, didn't feel like it, to forgive each of these people I don't even know.  I could forgive because I trust God and He says I must, He will judge and have vengeance (I don't need to), and He will give me peace.  I forgave and now my anger is gone.  It is in God's hands.  I am free.

With our friends the day Opio died.

Opio's burial was very hard for all of us.  We said many times how different this burial was from any other one we have been to here.  There were lots of genuine tears, testimonies of Opio's life and serving the Lord, and an invitation to know follow Jesus.  The Sunday after Christmas we heard from people there too that Opio's burial was totally different than all other Ateso burials.  People were touched.

Opio was part of the Freedom in Christ choir all last year.  We found it very meaningful that the choir put Opio's FIC shirt on his coffin and buried him with the shirt.  So thankful FIC meant so much to Opio and he lived by it's truth.

The FIC choir sang.
The youth also sang "Bye, Bye Opio Bye, Bye".  Wow was that a hard one.

Josh preached at the burial and did a wonderful job sharing Opio's testimony and challenging others to also come to Christ and live for Him.

People here put "flowers" on the coffin.  (Ribbon bouquets)  The FIC teams gave flowers too. 

The final goodbye by the grave.

It is so hard to loose someone you love.  We keep seeing Opio's smiling face in our minds and thinking about all the good memories together.  Opio quietly and faithfully served the Lord.  Lydia is having a hard time.  This is the first death of a friend.

A few days after the burial we went to greet his father and see the grave.  Luka and Emalai did not go to the burial so it was good for them to see and grieve.
We were exhausted after last week.  There were almost three days of mourning and we were at the  burial was from 10am til 5pm.  It is a mix of being thankful it is done and not wanting it to be done because then it is real and really done.

I was so thankful for our church service Sunday.  Our church is our family and I am thankful Sunday everyone shared testimonies, talked and cried about Opio's death.  It is real and we are free to be real. Someone testified that people saw our church come together and show a great love at the burial.  It sounded like this community was effected by Opio's testimony and the love of his church.  I praise God for that!  Despite our sadness and tears, our church praised God Sunday in worship and it was such a blessing.  Josh preached another moving sermon on "Blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted" timely message.  We have comfort because we have hope knowing Opio is with the Lord and will raise again.  We are also blessed when we mourn for our sins which leads to repentance.  Then God will comfort us.  People received God's Word and responded, many with mourning.  I know God is at work in our church and in us.

Thank you for praying for us.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019


Dear Friends,

Our friend Opio Martin died yesterday.  

We are feeling a lot of pain right now.  Opio was at our house every week for youth group or to see our kids and play games together.  He was faithful in church, served the Lord, ushering, singing and he had a servants heart.  We are all going to miss his smile, quiet spirit, and the encouragement he brought to all of us.

Opio was 19 years old.  He was finishing his last year of primary school.  God transformed Opio's life.  He was once an angry boy from a broken family.  I remember at the youth conference in 2016 Opio and many other youth gave their lives to the Lord.  Opio lived with his uncle and their family grew him up in the Lord.

It is hard to hold your children as they weep mourning a friend.  It doesn't seem real that we wont see him again.  None of us feel like having a funeral and burial for our friend.  Sadness and numbness.  

Josh was four hours away teaching at a FIC training when we got the news.  So he rushed home to be with everyone.  Emalai is sick which makes for one more thing right now.

Lydia, Grace and I mourned with our friends yesterday afternoon.  We walked to the home of Opio and wept with our friends.  It was hard to see the youth in so much pain - my girls right with them.  To watch everyone young and old crying.  Our hearts are broken today.  I held many youth.  There aren't many words, just being present.  We share the pain of loss.

We left with Samson to find Tom who had not yet come.  Tom and Samson were some of Opio's closest friends.  We found Tom on the path to his house and I have never seen such genuine weeping here among young men.  It was heart wrenching.  We all just held one another and wept.  We needed one another.

By the time we reached home we had about ten youth, whom I had welcomed, just wanted a place to be together.  For a while they played a game and it was good to hear them laugh but then it grew quiet and everyone was somber.  About then Josh arrived home.  He had Luka and Emalai who were crying as they learned about Opio's death.  Josh had his arms full with his own kids and the youth.

We all ate dinner together then shared why we loved Opio or a good memory we had of him.  I remember him having a servants heart when we repainted the church and he washed all the paint brushes, walking with him after Bible study and asking if he had forgiven his parents and he said yes, the first time he taught Bible study and he was so proud, and when he said he will never forget the question we challenged one another in youth group with, "Does this glorify God?"  Everyone had memories of Opio encouraging them.  Josh talked about how quiet Opio loved to share God's Word when we visited elderly people as a youth group.  Samson, who shared a room with Opio, talked about how they would share the Bible verses they memorized to earn a Bible.  One would start the verse and the other one would finish it.  None of us will forget his smile and him singing in the Freedom in Christ choir.  We ended the night praying together and more tears.  I am constantly so blessed by the youth here.  I am so thankful we could be together at a very hard time.

Opio's body came during the night with his father and uncle (from the capital city where he was in the hospital seven hours away).  Today people came to see the body, mourn, and prepare for the burial tomorrow.  A few hundred people sit at the house waiting for tomorrow.  We also went.  The body doesn't even look like our friend (he was very swollen when he died).  Most of my tears are dried up but some moments they still came.  We went into the house to see Opio's father.  He was not doing well.  He was already sick but now he is in so much pain loosing his only son.  He was almost uncontrollably sobbing.  It was really hard to see and we couldn't say much just sat with him in a dark hut with lot of other people.  He was so grateful for our help.  Opio's sister was having a hard time too and just couldn't stop crying as we sat with her.  

Although we are sad, we find so much comfort knowing Opio is with Jesus.  He is healthy and with the Lord!  We hurt but he is rejoicing.  We pray Opio's testimony reaches all the youth who have not yet given their lives to Christ.  We pray the burial tomorrow will proclaim the Good News and many will come to Jesus.  We pray even his own uncle and other family members will see their need for a Savior and put their trust in Jesus.

I will post a blog after the burrial tomorrow.   You can also pray for Josh who will be preaching.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Baby Esunju

On a lighter note, this is baby Esunju or Sunju.  (Ateso for pumpkin.)  We were given this pumpkin as a gift when we visited our friends.  Emalai thought it made a great baby (most things do to her) and she began carrying it around.  Grace then draw a face on it for her.  Malai loves her baby and she takes it to the table for supper and holds it during night time devotions.  Our neighbors ask about her about baby Sunju too.  It gave us all a good laugh and joy to see Malai and her fun imagination.  Slowly baby Sunja sits on the floor more and more but I am not sure we are up to making pumpkin pie with her yet.

And these are just for fun...thankful for a good laugh!