I would like to extend, to you, an invitation to go with me to a village in Uganda. The distance is a bit far so we will take the car. The road we travel on is dirt and very bumpy. It’s narrow and full of potholes and washed out places. We branch off of this road onto a footpath that winds through the tall grass and shrubs. Occasionally, we come across a field that is someone’s garden. For many years now, I have traveled this path to visit my beloved friend, Regina.
This will be the last trip I make to this place because Regina is no longer with us. This week, she left this world to go home to her beloved Savior and Lord of her life. During this last trip to lay her body in the ground, I indulge myself with memories of past visits.
The memories I have of Regina are all happy. Regina lived in a grass-thatched hut made of mud bricks and plaster, a dirt floor and a door made of a tin sheet nailed to a stick frame. When I came to visit, I was always greeted with a song of praise to the Lord as I approached. A papyrus mat was stretched out on the ground and we would sit and chat as she held my hand. She knew no English and I did not know enough Lwo to converse, so we always had someone with us to translate. I will have to say I enjoyed Jeremiah the most when he translated because he loved Regina so much, too. In fact, his wife Judith and he often visited her and fellowshipped even when I wasn’t there.
Regina never asked me for anything and she always rejoiced when anyone came to visit. Each time I would visit, she began by asking about my sons and grandchildren for she remembered everything that was said the last time I came. She would pick up there and need to know more. She could not read but knew so many passages of the Bible from listening to others read to her. She loved when I would read the Bible in Lwo because it was, to her, as though I could really speak the language!
I had bought her a radio so she would not be lonely as she would sit in front of her hut all day. One day, she heard that there were some big storms in America that caused damage and death (a hurricane). She immediately began to pray for my family, having no idea if the storms even affected them. She had never seen a map of the U.S.A. She had never owned a phone and did not really know how to use one. Her life was simple, but she brought so much joy to mine.
In 2012, she was very sick and sent word to us that she wanted help writing a will. So we gathered some trusted patriarchs, a pastor, and dear friend, and went to write and witness her will. She wanted a Christian burial, not a traditional Acholi one. She asked that when she died no one should cry, but only rejoice because she will be in Heaven.
6 years later, as we approached her hut, the family had already put her body in the coffin. No one was crying. We have been to so many funerals and traditionally the women wail loudly. Not today. Several men lifted her coffin and began to walk to her son’s land where she would be buried. We walked about a mile down the foot path following the men with the coffin.
Her grandson, who is also a born again Christian, had a photo of her framed with the dates of her birth and death on the bottom, birth date: September 1, 1915. She was over 102 years old. I never knew how old she was. I was grateful that I visited her just recently.
Her wishes were honored and everyone sang, danced and rejoiced over her going Home!!
“Thank you, Lord, for the amazing friendship I was able to have with Regina for such a short time of her long life. I am blessed. I will see her again.”
I have the same request that Regina had, no one should cry at my funeral. Instead, sing with joy and dance…yes, DANCE!!! Rejoice, because I will be Home with my beloved Savior and Lord, Jesus!!!