Yesterday, I learned of the death of my friend Mariamma. She was one of our housemothers at our children’s home and wife to Emmanuel, our former director of the home. During the trip to celebrate the opening the home, we discovered that both Emmanuel and Mariamma were extremely sick. After testing, we learned that they both had a terminal illness. As a result, they could no longer work in our children’s home. Emmanuel passed away nearly a year ago and Mariamma has been sick for a very long time. Her passing was not a surprise but still painful as she is leaving behind three children, and we grieve with them.
During my April visit to Sierra Leone, I searched for Mariamma. I finally found her in a dusty shack, in a small room. When I walked in, the room smelled of sickness. But her face filled with joy when she saw me. Her body was weak and she was significantly thinner than what she was when I saw her last just a few months before. She had multiple, large, painful boils covering her body. I confess given the nature of her disease, I was at afraid to get too close. Then something happened, I was overcome by love. It wasn’t me it was Jesus in me. I embraced her frail body in my arms; I kissed her face and held on to her hand. It was one of the most beautiful and memorable moments of my life.
What we can learn about Hope in the Loss:
- The Greatest Hope of All: Mariamma was a follower of Jesus, and we have a great joy in knowing her suffering is over and we will see her again!
- Hope Takes the Risk: You won’t regret stepping out and giving hope to someone in their suffering and despair: That moment in her small room in a shack in Sierra Leone is etched forever in my heart. I will go back to it time and time again for inspiration and courage to continue to love greatly & give completely.
- Hope is an Opportunity: We all have opportunities: some big, some small to be hope to someone. Don’t let that those moments pass you by. Don’t be paralyzed by fear, be motivated by hope & love, you won’t regret it.
I will write & share Emmanuel’s story at a later time, but in the meantime, you can watch this video in his memory.