What do you say when everyone is telling you Merry Christmas?
What do you say when someone asks if you'll marry a Paraguayan?
What do you say when someone asks when you'll be going to work in a tribe?
What do you say when a man greets you on a street and you don't know him?
What do you say when New Year's comes around?
What do you say when someone is in the hospital?
What do you say when a good friend's mom dies?
These are some of my current questions--and, unfortunately, some are getting answered more quickly than I would like. The mother of one of my really good friends passed away this morning after a two-week downturn, including a heart attack and pneumonia. When I said goodbye to her on Friday, I did not expect to see her again on this side of heaven, but still hoped to see her this week and have another chance to pray with her. She has an amazing testimony of serving the Lord, and has raised her family to serve Him as well. Tonight there is a vigil being held in their home, and tomorrow will be the funeral. It hurts that I will be more of an observer-participant this week than a participant-observer, because I don't know what to say to this family. I understand their pain, but I don't know how to put that into words culturally, in a manner that it will be received well. I don't like that this event, the death of a friend, has to be a part of language and culture study. But I will go and support my friends, observe the actions of those around me, and ask questions another day.
I will hug my friend, share in her tears, and let her know how much I love her.
Please pray for their family, and for the local church as we encourage them through this.