The Stuff No One Talks About

This post is difficult to write, however, it is definitely necessary.  
It’s about the stuff that no one talks about.  
In all my silver-haired years, I’ve never heard 
anyone talk about this nor have I read anything about it.  So I kinda’ 
feel like I am to share the truth in an effort to raise awareness and hopefully, 
help people understand the importance of praying for those who have 
dedicated their lives to serving in a land far from the support of family and friends,
and most likely on the other side of the world.
Although these thoughts are filled with great emotions, it seems that somehow 
writing about it all will help me process life as it has unfolded in the recent weeks.
As I planned this GO Team trip, I had felt that I should arrive early, a few days ahead 
of the team {something I had not ever done}.

Which, of course, was the Lord.  

I had originally thought that arriving early would be especially helpful as Emma had 
been grieving Arthur and I guessed that we would be able to talk more than the usual 
snippets we are able to sneak in when I am in the States. 
But when I arrived the Gems were very, very sick.  Emma had been at the hospital 
with them and although they were all sent home with medicine, their condition 
was desperately concerning.  
Backing up a bit….
a few months before The Gem Foundation had officially opened, 
Emma had been out at Watoto and had met a precious little guy who had 
stolen her heart.  She told me about him at that time. His name was Jason and 
oh how she loved him and longed 
for him to come home to The Gem.

As the Lord would orchestrate it, 

Jason did come home to The Gem and I was thrilled to meet this 
little guy who had stolen Emmy’s heart.  
He was adorable.  
Very sick, but adorable.  

I prayed over him and digging some of 
my Essential Oils out of my suitcase, had applied them to the soles
 of his sweet feet {as well as any of the other sick ones}.
The next day Emma felt that Jason and Elisha needed to go to the hospital.  I agreed.  
Anyway, the days passed quickly between visiting the two boys in the hospital and all 
the other needs of the rest of the sick Gems at home.
Besides preparing for the team.
We slept little.
By the day the team was to arrive, the word was that Jason and Elisha would be 
released from the hospital.  We went to pick them up and as soon as we returned to 
the home with the boys, I left to go to the airport to pick up the team that 
would be arriving shortly.  
The team was awesome, I was thrilled to see them!!  The next morning Jason still 
did not seem better. Emma had him moved out to the ‘family room’ as is the 
usual daily routine with all the Gems…but even more so for sick little Jason –  
he needed to be right near everyone at all times.
He was being loved on well.    
The staff meeting was about to start right after lunch and I was asked
by one of the staff if Jason should be moved back to his bed.
I told them, “No, let’s leave him here.” 
One of the staff reminded me that the drums and worship are
really loud as the staff worships together and they wondered
if I still thought it best to leave him 
out in the family room with all that going on.
{The rest of the Gems were napping.}
To be honest, in my spirit I felt that Jason needed to be in the hub of it all because 
he would actually be more comfortable with everyone worshipping and I was 
concerned that he was not doing well. 
The nurse was checking his vitals often and he was on oxygen but in my heart I knew
he was fighting for his life.  
During the staff meeting Emma announced to her 23 employees that the next 
Thursday there would be a special Birthday party
for the only October birthday – 
 Jason would be turning 7!!
She told how there would be presents 
{thanks to you amazing bloggy friends who ‘showered’
the Gems with all kinds of clothes and gifts!}  

Excitement was in the air – 
a birthday party honoring Jason
and cake and presents for all the Gems!!!!  
Emma had asked me to share a devotional, which I did.  
When the staff meeting was over, all the Gems, except for Jason, went outside to 
spend time on the lawn with all the Nannies.  
All I wanted to do was hold Jason. 
My heart was breaking for his labored breathing.  So I scooped him in my arms 
and spent the next hour or so telling him all about our family.  I told him about my 
treasures and how I knew that they would love to know him.  Then I pulled out my cell
phone and one by one, starting with Abigail, went through my sweet pile, showing him
pictures of each of my kids.  Actually when I showed him Liberty’s picture,
he raised up a speck. 
 I laughed, “You think she’s beautiful, don’t you?? 
I told him how thankful I was that God had made him.  I sang worship songs over him 
and I told him all about how much God loved him and how beautiful heaven would be
someday and how his body would be healed.  
Unbeknownst to me, Kevin snapped a picture of us as I held Jason close
 and whispered God’s truths to him.  
Since I had no clue that Kevin had taken that picture, 
I actually took a selfie with Jason.
Now, this silver-haired Mimi just doesn’t really do selfies, 
however, I was so concerned in my heart about his health and 
I wanted to have a picture of this precious Gem and I. 
After probably an hour or so, 
Emma came and sat down and said she was going to spend 
some time with him.
I went outside to see what was going on with the Gems and others
on the lawn.  I held a little one and walked around the yard with him.
He picked a flower which we brought in
for Emma and immediately she held it for Jason to smell.
We headed back outside again and within a minute or two,
Emily from the GO team came running out the front door and with a 
terribly panicked look shouted,
“He’s not breathing.”
It literally not been that long since I had been holding him….
I ran toward the door of The Gem and met the nurse and 
Emma running while carrying Jason toward the door.
Inside I remember seeing Kevin standing there and shouted,
“Kevin!  Please would you go with them??!!”

                                    Kevin ran behind them..the oxygen was still attached and

I actually yanked the now taut tube that had been pumping oxygen 
just seconds before.
I was shaking and running back to make sure that no little
ones were behind the car as it would be backing up 
in a second.
It was awful.
Just awful.
The emotions.
I phoned Dw to ask him to pray but the sound wouldn’t work.
I kept trying to call back.
It was so awful.
The reality of living on the other side of the ocean.
I kept waiting to hear how Jason was doing or worse
yet for the gate to open, 
meaning that they had returned with his body.
An hour or so passed.  
Then the gate opened and the car pulled in.
It was just awful.
They were carrying Jason’s body.
I can’t think of any other words but ‘awful, horrible, yukky, terrible’.  
Slowly and gently they laid Jason down right where we had just been 
cuddling with him an hour before.
Only this time, Jason’s body was empty….he was dancing with Jesus
and Arthur and my friend Dave and all the others who had gone
on before him.
And we were left to weep and mourn the loss of this loving little guy.
The reality of a missionary’s life.
Kevin graciously went with Emma while she had to have papers signed
in order to bury Jason.
When they returned, Kevin and his daughter Mary Caitlin 
went with me to find a coffin for Jason.  
Darkness had settled in as Kevin and I wandered through a giant
market of coffins with only the light of Kevin’s cell phone
guiding our footsteps.  
I kept starting to cry – this could not be happening!
Kevin helped me decide which coffin to purchase.  
Emma’s only instructions were that it had to be beautiful.
So we found the most beautiful one possible.
A little glass window to show his precious face.
It was exactly as tall as his little six year old body was.
And we purchased a wooden cross for the grave marker
as well as a lovely homemade blanket to drape over the coffin. 
It just all seemed like a very, very, very bad dream.
I confess I was completely unprepared for Jason’s death, 
yet there was something that I even less prepared for 
and I’ve asked Emma if I could share about it.
When we returned with the coffin,
Emma asked for someone to find a bucket and fill it with warm water.  
Choking back the sobs, Emma explained, 
“It’s his last bath, it must be warm.”   
{Warm water is not a regular occurrence.}
And then, slowly, and lovingly, Emma removed his shirt
and began to bathe his little six year old body.
No, there is no undertaker to prepare the body for burial.
It is the family’s privilege here in Africa –
preparing the body for burial.
And The Gem Foundation was his family
and Emma was his mama.  
She would prepare his body for burial.  
She’d done it with precious little Arthur
and now she would do it again, just about a month later.
I don’t know about you folks, but I couldn’t have pictured myself
preparing a little boy for his burial. 
But this is the life of a missionary
and this is reality.  
I stroked Jason’s leg and reminded him of how much 
he was loved.  And although he was now safe in the arms
of Jesus, I just had to.  
Emma continued to bathe him, 
modestly changing his diaper,
while her staff sat gathered around softly crying.
I kept sobbing as did Emma and Macey
{who was helping Emma bathe him}.  
It was awful, but painfully beautiful all at the same time.
I was in amazement at how God has given Emma such grace to
do what He has called her to do.  
I am in awe.
I remember the time Emma was about 10 years old and
wearing those wheelie skate/sneakers.  We were in the doctor’s office
watching as Liberty had stitches pulled.

                            I thought, “Why is Emma being so weird and banging into me with

her roller shoes as the nurse pulls the stitches?”
Finally, glancing down to where she was banging into me
I discovered, she was not playing – she was passed out cold!
And now, not that many years later, 
Emma lives in Africa and is gently
preparing a precious and very loved little guy
for his burial.  
We cried as we picked out Jason’s burial clothes.
They were lovingly picked out in the United States for the Gem Shower
by our orphan-loving friend Kate C….and little did we know that instead of 
wearing them to play and laugh and smile and learn to lift his head
…he would be buried in his first-ever new 
and very handsome clothes!
It was unlike anything I had ever watched before.
I felt honored to be a part of such a sacred 
and holy time. 
After he was dressed I questioned Emma,
“Could we please put one of the Matchbox cars
sent from the bloggy friends in one of his hands?
Every little boy-treasure needs to be carrying
a Matchbox car.”  
We chose an orange one with snazzy sides.
And then we wrote notes to tuck in his new jean pocket – 
cause every little boy needs a pocket full of stuff!!
We tucked his right hand in that same pocket,
just like little boys like to do.
Jason looked so handsome.
My life was forever solemnly changed. 
A fresh reminder that life is short.
And a passionate need to remind others to pray for 
missionaries serving around the world.
We will likely never experience what they have to do on a 
day-to-day basis…
But oh how they need our love, monetary and prayer support!

36 thoughts on “The Stuff No One Talks About

  1. I was with a precious baby in Haiti when he passed away. I had to help prepare him for burial and inform his living family members. God has given Emma a calling that will include such sorrow but He is also calling her to recognize that for the time Jason and Arthur had in her home, they were so very loved and treasured.

    She is doing a mighty thing. I'm so sorry for the loss of her boys.

    1. Thank you Kait. It was such a solemn, Holy thing to prepare his body. Such a privilege…just never would have pictured myself doing it nor would I have pictured my daughter doing it…we just are so sheltered from all that in the western world…but it was so painfully precious.

  2. This has moved me to the depths of my soul. What a sweet servant's heart your daughter has for all of God's precious children. I am confident that Jason knew he was loved and entered the Gates of Heaven with a smile on his face.

    1. It's true, Jason did know. He adored Emma and he knew Emma deeply loved him. I'm still pondering how deeply she loved Jason and Arthur and yet they were both taken so quickly…I can't help but believe that part of all that was that the Lord placed an extraordinary amount of compassion in her heart for them because He knew how much they needed the comfort for their final days.

  3. He giveth more grace as our burdens grow greater,
    He sendeth more strength as our labors increase;
    To added afflictions He addeth His mercy,
    To multiplied trials He multiplies peace.

    It's that grace that is working through Emma. I keep praying for her. It is a hard testing time. I remember what my friend went through when she first went to Ethiopia. and the Lord has grown His ministry…so many Gems are being loved and being allowed to learn with her, where they aren't welcome in the 'normal' schools. But it was Very Hard at the beginning. and even now the enemy would like to take them out.* But God is holding them deep and fast in His hand. He will hold Emma and His workers at the Gem Foundation, too.
    Much love to all of you,
    Sandy in the UK
    *A recent storm took the roof off of our other friend, the nurse's house. A spear of wood went deep into the couch where she sometimes sleeps with the poorly babies. But she was in another city helping a young man settle in Bible Collage. and the office roof went, too. But our friend was back in Holland for a wedding. God is greater than the enemy.

    1. I love that old Hymn. There is no doubt that God is using this ministry here. There is none like it in the entire city, which is rumored to have 3 million people in it. The favor has been astounding. We praise His name! As for your friend – praise the LOrd for His supernatural protection and His blessing upon that ministry. God is faithful!

    1. I am reminded of the scripture in Psalm 116:15 – "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints." No doubt, little Jason was very precious to the Lord – the apple of His eye!

    1. I cannot thank the Lord enough that I could be here for this privilege. Never would have dreamed all that He would orchestrate to minister the way He did…including Kevin coming at the last minute {literally} but he did CPR as Emma drove to the hospital….and picked out a coffin with me and helped carry it at the funeral which was way, way, way down a hill….God is into the details and never leaves us to figure it out ourselves. He is completely faithful.

  4. Thank you for sharing this. I firmly believe in rituals like these and was privileged to have been the one to care for my grandmother during her final weeks of life, to be sleeping my own bed beside her when she passed away and to keep her home all day, until I allowed the people from the funeral home to come. Then, my aunt and I dressed her in her "travelling clothes" and I helped wheel her out to the van. Later, I dressed her and fixed her hair one final time. These are hard, but sacred moments. I felt so close to my grandmother and to God during this time. It's one of my most treasured memories.

    I'm so sorry that Jason died so young, but I'm so glad that he knew utter love and care during his last moments on earth. He was laid to rest with dignity and love, a treasured son. I know love goes with us to heaven. He must be rejoicing!

    1. It was a breathtaking, humbling, and gut-wrenching privilege to prepare Jason's body to be placed in the coffin. Such love! So grateful to be able to be here for this holy time.

  5. I've read this post multiple times, each time my heart breaking anew for little boys gone too soon and you and Emma and the nannies and team left behind to grieve. Emma has been heavy on my heart ever since she lost Arthur, and even though I've never met her, I've felt so burdened for her since losing Jason. Like you, I could never imagine being the one to prepare a body for burial, let alone a child, but something I've learned in my life is that you don't know what you can do until you don't have any other choice. God gives us strength when we need it most, when we never could imagine finding it on our own. I will continue to pray for all of you in your grief, especially Emma and her staff and any of the boys who may have been close to Jason. She is doing a sacred work, and I can't imagine how proud you must be of your girl.

  6. Oh this had me in tears Linny… the intimate details of all God is calling Emma to… Wow… praying for Emma and the Gems daily… So thankful that Jason knew the love of Emma!

  7. oh goodness, how sad a story but so glad you spent some precious time with Jason. I pray for our missionaries alot as I know it is difficult. I will continue to pray for Emma and her Gems. Sorry to hear so many have died lately. Hard to see a child die. Period! Hard to have anyone you love die. No matter the age. Hugs and prayers for your caring and love for orphans.

  8. I can't imagine…G-d bless you, Emma and her helpers for all that she, you and they are doing there. Jewish thought sees preparing a body for burial as the ultimate act of love and charity. It's sacred work.

    1. It doesn't surprise me Penny that Jewish thought would see preparing the body for burial as the ultimate act of love and charity. It is definitely sacred work. I would never have understood the solemn privilege had I not seen it first hand. xo

  9. So glad that he was loved so deeply and beautifully this side of heaven. And, ushered out with such tender care. I would add your dear Emma to the list of Gems in Africa!

    1. It sounds interesting Maureen. I will try to remember the link when I return to the states. The internet here barely works. And yes it is such comfort to know he resides with Jesus now.

  10. I am undone. The story the pictures my heart is weeping. All I can think about is how amazing that by Emma's obedience she held these precious ones and you for that matter and gave them the love of the Father. I can't even imagine this precious one leaving this earth without these last days in a loving environment. It seriously makes me sick to think these kids our dying with out this. I love you guys and am praying. I will pray for your heart as you return. So hard to leave your girl and the Gems and then the adjustment of life here in the States after your experience. Love Love Love you guys !!!!!!

    1. Thank you my sweet friend. It was so painfully beautiful and horribly hard all at the same time. How thankful we are that Jason's body is whole and He is snuggled by the Savior. Our sure foundation. Loved talking to you 'the other day'. xo

  11. Since becoming a mother (16 months ago), orphans have been on my heart. I went to school with Abi and saw a post about Em and began following her on Instagram. I would weep and pray anytime I saw a post about the loss of a Gem, but reading that late last night while my girl was asleep next to me shattered my heart. It took me a full 10 ten minutes to get through it and then I had to drop to my knees to silently/quietly weep and pray for Em. I say all that to say that you gave me a glimpse that so impacted me that I now HAVE to do something. I'm sure God knows what. I'll start with continuing to pray for Em and Weep when she weeps. Thank you so much.

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