Monday, October 31, 2011

a church in mourning and 1000 gifts...

Yesterday we got up and went to church. We picked up one of the youth along the way. After a month of being sick and getting adjusted to his new surroundings it was Spencer's first Sunday to see where we have been serving. As soon as we pulled up to the church we could hear the wailing. Rosalva had just found out that her youngest sister had suffered a heart attack.  If we understood all the details correctly...the sister was only 31 years old.

Tom and the guys got the cars ready for the trip and I helped the girls pack their bags.  Eight people crammed into our 5 passenger car and took off on the two hour drive to Orange Walk Town.

When we arrived Ritchel's mother had lunch ready.  She had expected to cook for us all later in the week...the plan was to invite us all up for his father's and his daughter's joint birthday celebration.  But we came five days early and unexpectedly.  We shared a simple meal of chicken, rice and beans, fried plantains, and cassava.

After the meal we went to Rosalva's other sister's house and they were already making funeral preparations. The husbands and brothers were setting up a tent.  The death certificate had already been prepared and was just waiting for the official stamp from the coroner today.

We were introduced to everyone in the house, the yard and anyone else who came through the door.  After a few hours we said our goodbyes so the family could grieve in private.  Silently driving home.  Still in shock.

Although our Sunday service didn't happen I felt God's hands on us during the drive.  I can still hear the questions, the denial...the wailing.  Reflections of my little brother's death at only 31 came to mind.  I could only answer her  cries by saying "it's not fair and it doesn't make any sense".  All I could do for Rosalva was rub her back, stroke her hair and listen.

And the counting of gifts goes on...

363.  a full tank of gas
364.  seeing Rosalva's and Ritchel's 6 kids support their mom.
365.  Spencer entertaining the youngest with games in the back of the car.
366.  Ritchel's mother feeding 14 extra people with only two hours notice.
367.  Tom and Desmond driving the two cars safely there and back.
368.  the blessings of a small church family

369.  getting an A on my first test in Tom's counseling class at Belize Bible Center.

370.  most of the students doing well on the exam.

371.  seeing success with using the technique of having the person draw three simple pictures of a house, a tree and a person to get a shy reluctant teen to open up and share in the counseling office.

and finally:
372.  no matter how many things come our way...I am so grateful for all the things He has spared us from.

joining Ann Voskamp and the gratitude community:


  1. I lost my older brother when he was 21. And it doesn't make sense and it isn't fair. I'm glad your family was there for hers. And yes, I agree. Small churches are such a blessing.

  2. Anonymous1:04 PM

    Thank you sharing and know that Rosalva and her family will be prayed for from far away. Wonderful list!!

    Jumped over from Ann's 1000 gifts

  3. So many gifts....and they just keep on keeping on. Sandra

  4. So sorry for your church's loss. I can't even imagine. Thank you for sharing that, so powerful! He certainly does protect us from so much.

  5. the newspaper article says it at the 21 year who had a heart incredibly scary is that! keep the gifts coming!

  6. Anonymous6:30 AM

    I love the toons of the man crying why me true....! We are called to be brothers and sisters in the Lord ... the brotherhood of His Love, Kindness, His life to the ones that have been hurt / wounded by life's journey. thank you for sharing ...

  7. I'm so sorry to hear of the loss in your church family Alida, but as you noted, the Blessings of that relationship were still at work throughout the turmoil. I pray that as they grieve, God will open their hearts to His love and comfort in the coming days.

    Have a Blessed Day!

  8. SO many gifts, I appreciate the cartoon, it is truly profound.

    21 years old. My heart breaks for her family.

    The gifts are a blessing. Thank you.