My 84-year-old friend, Alejandro, died Thursday. We met at church 7 years ago, but I still had the honor of leading him to Christ about 5 years ago when we were talking one day and he told me how scared he was of dying. He had been in the hospital on and off for the last 3 months with gangrene in his remaining foot. His other leg was amputated 3 years ago because of an infection from poor circulation.
I've been struck by how close one is too death in Peru compared to the United States. In the US, it seems everything is done to distance one from death until you die yourself, at which point you can't really escape it. The dead are quickly covered up and whisked away in the US. In contrast, Alejandro was left in his hospital bed for over 2 hours until I arrived and could help his niece move him to a gurney and take him down to the morgue and put him into the cooler. Mary Beth went with me to the hospital and impressed me by not being shook up by dealing with death in its raw form. She even helped move the body. Yesterday was the burial. At all of the services I've been to in the US, the casket is perched on the casket lowering device until everyone has left the cemetery. In Peru, in contrast, I helped lower the casket into the grave that was so freshly dug, we had to wait 15 minutes for the gravediggers to finish excavating. The dirt was filled in immediately. The whole thing seems less mysterious and scary here I think.
Tomorrow, I will help his niece clean out his house. Pray that she be ready to accept Jesus as her Savior then after hearing the Gospel several times in the last 3 days.