After our warm bran muffins and fruit this morning, we headed out to visit a local pastor at his church and home. Sobrinio was Jeremiah's language and cultural mentor. They were very close-like brothers. Sobrinio was on the back of Jeremiah motorcycle when they had the accident and Sobrinio was so traumatized that he could not speak for days afterwards. And although his physical wounds are healed, his heart is heavy with grief for his lost partner. I think this visit with David and Diana will really help him to have some closure and relief from such a heavy burden. He is a dear man and loves the Lord and to serve, keep him in your prayers.
We met in their church building....a mud structure with a straw roof and beautifully set in a coconut grove. As we entered they were singing. John would try to help us understand the meanings of the songs....some in Portuguese, but most in Shwabo language (I know I spelled that wrong, but I can't find it on google and everyone is in bed). They sang worship songs and grieving, funeral songs. And in between the songs people from that church would stand up and tell the Johnsons their stories and thoughts about Jeremiah. It was so hard not to just lay down our heads and sob as we listened. They loved that boy so much and they knew he loved them. Here are a few of the things I remember them saying as John translated:
*He became one of us. He did not separate himself from u s, but was like one of us.
*He was a son to me. Another said he was like a brother.
*He spoke to all, not just to a few, he was a friend to all.
*He ran....he ran ....he ran. (this was in reference to how Jeremiah could play soccer)
*One man told about going to a village where the people ran away from Jeremiah and Sobrinio. While Sobrinio went to talk with the village leader about why they were there, Jeremiah got out the soccer ball and began people started coming back toward him. When Sobrinio came back Jeremiah was talking and playing with the people and they had such a welcome into their village. One man was saved that afternoon while then men talked with the people. Jeremiah's playfulness had opened a door to that community.
*Sobrinio told of how Jeremiah would try anything, even things Sobrinio felt bad about him doing, like wading through deep mud or riding on a tiny canoe with no complaining, just a big heart and adventurous spirit.
*A lot of the people expressed their thanks to the Johnsons for letting Jeremiah come to them.
*A lot of them said they did not understand why God let this happen, but they know it was for a reason. They are learning to trust God with the future, but they were so sad from grief at the same time. And they were so sad for the Johnsons losing their son.
*A few of them spoke so confidently of their assurances of Jeremiah being with the Lord and that they looked forward to seeing him again one day with the Lord.
So overwhelming. I would look over at Diana and David sometimes during all of this and wonder if it was too much, but the only look on their faces was hunger to hear more stories about what their son had done during his time in Africa. What a gift for them to hear the stories directly from the people he had worked with half way around the world.
It was a wrenching good day. I think you know what I mean.