24 Jan 2013
Elder and Sister Elkington
A mission brings many new experiences – some are enjoyable and exciting, but some are sad and sobering. Sister M’s family has been sick with the flu this past week. In fact, when we took the children from the Reservation to Church last week, the four year old boy had a fever when we took him home. When you have 15 people living in one small house – what germs one gets, they all get. On Tuesday the mother of three of these children got sick and she died on Wednesday. She laid down about 4:00 PM and was dead when they checked on her at 6:00 PM. She was 31 years old and left behind her young children ages seven to eleven. We have spent this week helping the family cope with this and helping them make funeral arrangements. Elder Elkington gave blessings to Sister M and one of the children. Sister M said she felt measurably better after the blessing.
Then Sister M asked Elder Elkington to pronounce a blessing on her deceased daughter’s body. Rather than explain we do not anoint and bless deceased persons, Elder Elkington offered a prayer – asking that she be blessed to come forth in the resurrection and that the family be comforted.
After the prayer one of the tribal members who was there for support of the family explained that their traditions and beliefs are different from that expressed in Elder Elkington’s prayer pertaining to the resurrection. He explained that they believe the resurrection is the spirit going back to heaven – not a physical resurrection of the body. He said that is why they have the all night “sing” and the final “sing” at the grave side when the body is buried. He said the “sing” is not singing, it is more chanting and the words were given to them by God. He said the words of the chant are asking God to open the gates of heaven and receive the spirit of the deceased person. This man then explained that their traditions are that God appeared to their ancestors and told them His name was “I M Jesus”. We are going to wait until the funeral is past and then give this man a copy of the Book of Mormon and ask him to read Third Nephi and compare the description of Christ visiting in America with the Native American traditions. We want him to explain the similarities and differences between the two.
We have agreed to take all the children for the night while the adults have their “sing”. While they are in our home we want to reinforce what the elders have taught them about the Plan of Salvation.
We grieve with the family and we rejoice because of our knowledge of the Plan of Salvation. We told the Branch President we would adopt these orphaned children if we were forty years younger. He replied, “I think you already have adopted them.”
We postponed a doctor’s appt. so we could be available to support Sister M’s family during this period of time. We will reschedule when the funeral is over.
We are still in the middle of this experience and will need inspiration and strength to do all that is required of us. But we are confident it will be forthcoming!