In January I found myself in one of those situations you could not possibly have predicted. As the snow deepened and ice glazed the roads Trainees at the BMS International Mission Centre undertook a work placement in order to gain some cross cultural experience. I had the pleasure of working with a local Baptist church with a large Afro-Caribbean congregation. Shortly after starting I was invited to a funeral service for a Jamaican lady who was greatly respected within the community. I felt honoured to attend and to hear her family and friends’ testimonies and celebration of her life. The funeral procession then gathered to move on to the cemetery. The slippery roads ensured that it took the best part of an hour to reach our destination. All gathered to pay their last respects, the snow fell harder and a biting wind picked up. As our Nigerian pastor spoke his kind words, and the gathered mourners sang ‘Amazing Grace’ while snow whipped around us, I marvelled at the intimacy of that moment and the significance of sharing a very personal experience.
How many people can claim they attended a traditional Jamaican funeral in a British snow storm? The unexpected combination of events and people on that day spoke to me of what is to come in mission work and life. It is so difficult to anticipate what combination of events and people I will experience in Mozambique. The Russian author Vladimir Nabokov once said ‘It’s a pity one can’t imagine what one can’t compare to anything. Genius is an African who dreams up snow’. I am certainly no genius, and so I find myself in the impossible position of trying to imagine a life I have not yet experienced. One thing, however, is certain. God was present at that cold, windswept Jamaican funeral as we sang Amazing Grace, and He will be present in any of the myriad combination of circumstances I will find myself exposed to in Mozambique.