Note: For the first part of this story, please read last week’s post When Work Gets Boring
The Husband Arrives
Other relatives joined the parents and sisters to wail and cry over the totally unexpected death of the lovely young woman whose life I had been unable to save. After a while, I gave my place to close relatives, and stood by the door. As I saw the growing crowd outside, I realized this was a respected family and the girl had been highly regarded as a popular singer and dancer.
Suddenly there was a commotion. The dead woman’s young husband ran into the house. He had been working in his manioc plantation several kilometres away, and some friends had run back to tell him the news.
He flung himself on top of his dead wife. As he hugged her he kept crying out, “Oh, I love you so! I love you so! Why did you have to die? I love you so!”
We all burst out crying again. The wailing went on for a long time. Eventually some people came in with supplies to prepare her body for burial. They gently pulled her husband off his wife’s body and began to paint her body decoratively and cut her hair, as if she was getting ready for a special festival.
The Last Dance
When they were done, a group of young men and women came in. “She needs to dance with us one more time,” they said.
Several young men carried her outside and held her upright while others draped her arms over the shoulders of two young men on either side of her. Then more young men and women quickly joined the line dance, singing loudly even as the tears flowed. They did the dance steps, the girl’s limp legs dangling and her feet dragging on the ground. A few minutes later they carried her back into the house.
Those in charge of the burial preparation wrapped her in a cloth with only her face showing, then placed her on a mat and bound it tightly all around her. At that point two men came in with a long pole. They laid the pole on top of the bundle and tied it firmly to the pole.
He shouted at his dead wife, “I used to love you! But now I don’t. Now I hate you! Go away. I hate you. Don’t come back here as a ghost and haunt me. I don’t love you anymore. I hate you. I hate you!” Her father and mother joined in the shouting and so did her sisters.
I stood there stunned, looking at the naked fear displayed on the faces of her family. As the burial party left, I slowly walked back home, my useless medical case hanging from my hand.
Anger and Excitement
I entered our house, sat down, and ate some dinner, and told Jo all that happened. I felt something growing within me. I was angry at Satan who had bound these people in fear of ghosts with the evil eye, returning to haunt and to kill others with a glaring look.
But I also felt a growing excitement. These people were bound with Satan’s ropes of fear, but Jo and I were preparing a sharp Sword of the Spirit to cut through the knots that held them bound.
It was evening, time to rest, but I was too excited to lie in my hammock to read. Instead, I sat down at my study table and continued to work on expanding that dictionary.
We would fill that shoebox with slips of paper! We would learn this language well! And, God helping us, we would translate the Good News that Jesus is more powerful than any ghost and any spirit.
In my excitement and anger, I whispered as I worked, “Satan, I rebuke you in the Name of the Risen Jesus. You will not enslave these Canela people forever. These little words I learn and classify will someday declare God’s Word to the Canelas in their own language. God’s Word will be a sharp Sword in the Holy Spirit’s Hand. He will cut through your knots and chains of fear with which you have shackled these people for generations. These slips of paper have the words that will someday declare that Jesus is the Victor over you. Jesus will cast out fear, He will build His Church and set up His Kingdom in this village.”
I worked till deep into the night and could hardly wait for morning so I could start again.