On Saturday afternoon I rode down the hill with Rachel to the Hope House where we escorted the children to the church for the funeral. Before the service started, the children filed into their seats and then two by two walked up to the open casket where Rachel stood to say goodbye to their dear sister. It was heartbreaking as each child took an envelope up with them that enclosed a letter they had written to Maggie, and left it by her side. The younger children started going up to see her first, and about halfway through I went up with the girls sitting by me. After giving the girls a few moments to say goodbye, we walked back to our seats and one of the girls walking with me began to cry. She cried in my arms through the whole service. As the rest of the Hope House children came back to their seats and the service progressed, there were many more tears but I was amazed at the way that the children comforted each other. At one point in the service one of the older Hope House girls got up to read scripture and she broke down about halfway through. Without hardly needing a prompt, two of the boys instantly left their seats and went to the stage. One of the boys continued reading the passage, and the other boy with a solemn face put his arm around the girl and escorted her off of the stage.
One particularly memorable part of the service was when all of the children went on stage with one of the ladies from the worship team, Vena. Vena sang the verses for 'It is Well' and when she got to the chorus, all of the Hope House children echoed, "It is Well". It was heavenly. The funeral also included beautiful tributes by Rachel and Brad (director of the Mission).
After the service, we followed the casket out of the church and when it was loaded into a waiting car, we followed the car by foot for at least a kilometre to the cemetery. Even though it was a very sad journey, it was comforting to be together. As we walked down the long dusty road in the hot sun, none of the children complained or asked to be carried. They were content to simply hold hands and be together with the ones that they loved.
As Rachel read in her tribute, Maggie's life didn't start out very well (she was found abused and burned in a garbage dump), but it surely ended well. She had friends all over the world and 57 brothers and sisters sending her off to her eternal home.
When we arrived back at the mission, Rachel had prepared cake and hot chocolate for the kids, and as the mommies got everything ready in the kitchen, the kids sat outside singing worship songs just like they had done on Friday evening. It was truly beautiful.
Now that the funeral is over, the children seem to be coping better, however please continue to lift up the Mission of Hope, Rachel, the mommies and the Hope House children in the days ahead.