Today I went to my first funeral in Haiti. Yesterday I was practicing a song with Gracienne when a group of high school aged students started gathering because they had repetisyon. Gracienne told me that Chadavoine’s brother had passed away Friday afternoon, and this group of students was practicing a song they were going to sing at the funeral. I know Chadavoine. She is a very sweet girl, about 16. She would try and speak English with me and always wore a beautiful smile. Gracienne told me he was 25 and died from a head tumor. It was somewhat expected, though not necessarily any easier to deal with. Gracienne told me the funeral was at 4:00 the next day and asked if I would come.
Around 2:30 today, the wailing, singing, and music began. I still had to finish my work for the day, and some of the translators I know were planning on going and they weren’t going to be there until 4ish, so I knew I was okay. I ran back and quick showered and changed into my black and white outfit, typical Haiti funeral attire, before going over. When I got there, the church was packed, and it had begun raining. I was standing in the front right side of the church, opposite the casket, which was closed. The choir had just begun singing; it was heavenly. After the song, Pastor Luc began his message. Gracienne and some of my other girl friends were now standing with me. I asked Gracienne if he knew Jesus. He did. She probably told me some other things about him, but I didn’t understand it all, but I did understand that he was tall and that many people knew him, which was evident by the number of people there. I remembered a few weeks ago during a Ladies Bible Study, Chadavoine began crying, but I didn’t know what was wrong. I asked Gracienne if she was crying about her brother that day, and she said yes.
I was hoping to see Chadavoine to pay my respects or however they do that, but I never did see her. Apparently she was sitting towards the front with other family, but there were so many people there, I couldn’t find her. After Pastor Luc’s message, they must have removed the casket, though I didn’t see it leave, because the next time I looked, it was gone. Many people had left too, but a bunch stayed while some members of the band continued to play music. I think they were headed to the cemetery. I was a little confused by those of us who stayed behind because the music was upbeat, people seemed to be enjoying themselves, and some people were even dancing. Gracienne left, but some of the other girls I knew were still there. They wanted me to dance. I know I’m in another culture, but it just felt wrong. I asked if people are happy at a funeral. The family is very sad and the others are less sad, but I was assured it’s okay to dance to the jazz music that was playing. It seemed odd at first, but I guess it’s the same way in the States. The family is very sad, and the other people are sad too, but yet people also are enjoying one another’s company and catching up on what’s going on in each others’ lives.
I left at 6:00. When I saw Christi, she asked me about the funeral. “Was it Rudolph’s son?” Everything started to click. Rudolph is one of our head masons for the homes we build. I had met his son, Tiga, a couple times earlier this summer out in tent city. We prayed for him once because he had some sort of illness in his head, but I didn’t understand what. He had approached me another day, remembered my name, and I prayed for him again. He was a very tall, good-looking man who appeared healthy. I had no idea his sister was Chadavoine or that Chadavoine was also Rudolph’s daughter. My mood had already changed now thinking I knew the person’s funeral I went to. I had only met him a couple times, but now the body in the casket had a face; I knew his name, and he knew mine. I asked Sylvia who was working in the kitchen if the funeral was for Tiga. She said yes. My stomach dropped. I didn’t do all the “why God?” questions, but my heart truly hurt for Tiga’s family.
1 Answer me when I call to you, O my righteous God. Give me relief from my distress; be merciful to me and hear my prayer. 2 How long, O men, will you turn my glory into shame? How long will you love delusions and seek false gods ? "Selah" 3 Know that the LORD has set apart the godly for himself; the LORD will hear when I call to him. 4 In your anger do not sin; when you are on your beds, search your hearts and be silent. "Selah" 5 Offer right sacrifices and trust in the LORD. 6 Many are asking, "Who can show us any good?" Let the light of your face shine upon us, O LORD. 7 You have filled my heart with greater joy than when their grain and new wine abound. 8 I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.