Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Our "Angel Dress"

I have been waiting for 2 weeks for a good time to write about this item, but there just doesn't seem to be a right time. So here goes... When our precious little Celine (9 year old member in primary) passed away, I had an elder ask if we could buy her a white dress to be buried in and get a blow up photo of her baptism picture to have at her funeral service. The father said that it would be great if we could do those 2 things. I spent 3 hours shopping at the March with Elder Hancock as my body guard. He was quite a trouper and after about 20 shops we found the perfect dress. We also got a pretty embroidered little slip, ruffly socks and white flip flops, for them to choose from... and cute Elder Hancock found a pretty white headband with little satin roses on it. We went with 4 of the elders to deliver them to the family. We met the mother (who only speaks her tribal language, so she can't come to church) and other members of the family. We already knew Celine's 2 sisters and brother, because they are in primary. They all seemed very appreciative. We paid our respects and then said goodbye. We were in Dolisie for the services, so a couple of the elders went to the "wake" and represented us. On Monday, the day after we came home from Dolisie, Ed met with the Elders. He asked how the funeral went and if there was a viewing and if she was wearing the dress. (We kept thinking they might think the dress was too pretty to "bury" so someone might decide to give it to her sister to wear to church... or to sell it.) The elder reported ... "Elder Gates... they didn't bury her in the dress. Celine's mother's sister went over to their home and told her that the reason Celine died was because she had joined our church, and that the church practices voo-doo. She said our church is full of sorcery and that Elder Gates and I practice witch-craft. The sister said she would take care of it, and she went out and burned the dress." If you are feeling as shocked as we felt, you will have an inkling of how we sometimes feel here. Just when things start to feel "normal", something very "abnormal" happens. Ed and the elders didn't want to tell me about the dress, but Ed felt like he should share it with me. Mamona, Celine's sweet father with a strong testimony, knew nothing of the dress burning, until after it happened. He feels terrible about it and wants to take Ed and I to the local tribal chief where we can present our case, so the chief and neighbors will know we aren't practicing witch-craft. Mamona was at church this past Sunday with 2 of his children. What a good man he is. Oh, how much the gospel is needed here, and appreciated by those who accept it. We have come to peace with the fact that Celine is in a beautiful place, and that our Heavenly FAther will take care of her. We are grateful that we know that there is an eternal plan. (Celine is on the far right)

1 comment:

  1. I'm so sorry mom! The dress is beautiful and I'm sure she would have loved it!