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June 25, 2014

Fandevena

If you have missed Steve's first two posts regarding the funeral ceremony in Kilimary, feel free to click here and here to catch up!

On Friday morning, I showed up in Kilimary for the Fandevena or burial.  The first thing I noticed was that there were not nearly as many people around the big tree as the day before.  The visiting families were all still there because they stay the night in and around the village.  Each family finds a big tree to sleep under for the night.  Most were finishing up breakfast and were still tired from the long night of partying.  I walked up to the village leader's house and was greeted by a few of the believers.  I was thankful to see that they were all sober.  I was taken back to where they had me sit yesterday on the mat under the tree.  This morning there were only 10 older men present but by noon the number had grown to over 100 under this one tree.
I sat under the big tree with the older men for over three hours, listening to the band and watching all that was going on.  The smells on the 2nd day were quite different than those that I smelled the day before.  On Thursday, gun powder filled the air with the scent of burnt goat or sheep as people prepared meals.  Today, the strongest smell was of alcohol.  Most were drunk from the night before.  The custom is to fill up three buckets of locally made alcohol for everyone to drink from as they walked by...I declined this gracious offer.
One of the older men sitting near me, started sharing with me about the two day ceremony.  He said that funerals bring the Mahafaly people together.  Funerals are something the Mahafaly actually look forward to every year.  It gives them a reason to come together and throw a big party.  Many of the aspects associated with the burial, including the cows that are sacrificed, are associated with their beliefs about their ancestors and their worship.  It was an ever present reminder of how important it is to be sharing the gospel with these people.  It was also such a huge blessing to see the believers of Kilimary figuring out how to participate in an important cultural cermony without compromising their beliefs.

Pray for the family of the deceased.  Pray for the believers as they minister to their unbelieving relatives.

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