Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Special Happenings - Sadness and Joy

Four recent events deserve special mention.

First the funeral of the late Archbishop Joseph Morona. He died in Khartoum on Friday 18th September and his funeral took place a week later here in Juba. We are in the nearest house to his grave. As the third archbishop he is buried next to his two predecessors outside the cathedral.
His body was brought into the cathedral with prayer and a short (one hour) service on the Thursday evening at around 5 o'clock. Those who could had gone to the airport and received the body from the plane. His coffin was then left in the chancel all night when a vigil was kept. This meant singing, prayers and preaching using the cathedral sound system - silent vigils are not a thing of the ECS. (It was pretty difficult to sleep that night - the cathedral doors are always wide open of course -but we have got used to it having now lived next to the cathedral for a few months). We went for a few minutes at 9 pm. and found people sleeping on the floor of the cathedral all around the coffin, on the pews, in the vestibule and even under the stars outside.

The service began at 9.30 am in the morning, and everything was concluded at around 4.30 pm. We had a very well put together funeral service that, however, as always in the Sudan, was surrounded and interspersed by many speeches and talks of varying quality and length from a plethora of people including family, colleagues, politicians and church representatives of different backgrounds. We heard about his work and his death, his kindness and generosity and the contribution he made to the peace process and the advance of women within the ECS. He spent much time as a teacher and education was near his heart. The cathedral was, of course, full to overflowing and many people used the outdoor area specially covered for the occasion.
An event of this nature is not complete without refreshments and a lot of Sudanese food (meat, beans, rice, greens and bread) was prepared and distributed among those who had spent so much time keeping vigil for him.

The same day we learned that a young man called Biar, living with the archbishop, had been killed along with two others - a man and a young woman - in a road accident in Juba. They were all on the same motorbike. In Juba there are a lot of 'motor bike taxis' and very few people wear helmets. They are very dangerous and road deaths are far too common. This man was an only son whose mother had died when he was two. His father died only 5 months ago and thus the family were quite distraught. We had his Juba service at the archbishop's house on Tuesday afternoon (29th September). This was accompanied by speeches and prayers too - and food. This a particularly sad event.

On a happier note we have spent two Sundays in inaugurating two new archdeaconries in Juba Diocese. In fact there are three new archdeaconries but we only managed to get to two! Here the day began at 10.30 am and finished around 5.30 pm. The service itself lasted from 11.15 am to 4 pm. including songs and dances from the young families group, the Sunday Schools and the youth groups - in fact anyone who can muster a dozen or more people to sing two or three songs and dance to them. These are always impressive and some are astounding. At the one this last Sunday we were even presented with a gift of soap! Everyone who has any role in the ECS has to make a speech and that, of course, means Trevor and Tina! When Tina says she is going to teach English it always goes down extremely well - as does her membership of the Mothers' Union.
These occasions begin with breakfast (meat, maize-meal, bread) at 10.30 am and finish with a meal (several sorts of meat, maize-meal, rice, greens and bread) all cooked on charcoal. The Sudanese eat meat all the time. Although they can grow bananas, pineapples, pawpaws, cabbage, tomatoes, onions, peanuts etc. these things are only served for the most part in small quantities as side-dishes - and then not always).

So we have had a very busy couple of week-ends. We are always made extremely welcome and are looked after so well here.

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