One morning this week as missionary Carolyn Crockett was going to teach her Moi literacy class, a woman stopped her on the path.
"I’ll be right up to school in a few minutes after I help my friend bury her baby. Can we bury him in your banana garden?" she said.
"I’ve always been confused as to why moms of newborns show no emotion when their baby dies," Carolyn wrote. "My Moi friends have tried to explain to me that they don’t really feel that attached to the baby till it’s about three months old. Only then will they cry if the baby dies. I wonder if it’s just because they have spent their lives expecting newborns to die."
The woman who lost her newborn had come to Carolyn the day before for medicine. She said her baby was about ten days old. It was the first time Carolyn had seen the woman.
"He really did look sick and I wondered if he’d make it through the night," Carolyn wrote. "We tried antibiotic and ibuprofen for his high fever, but he died early this morning. I told them they could bury him in our banana garden."
The father didn’t come to help bury his son. He was talking with others about the big Moi dance coming up.
Carolyn told the women she’d go get a shovel and by the time she returned with it the mother was already digging with her walking stick.
"I couldn’t help but keep looking down at the lifeless baby [and] at the mom digging his grave with not a sign of sadness on her face." Carolyn wrote. "I guess maybe there was some fear in her face."
Other Mois walking by asked. "What are you guys doing?"
"We’re burying a person. No, not really. It’s that baby that just died," the mother’s friend said.
"Oh that’s gross," they responded.
The women wrapped leaves around the baby and placed him in the ground. There were no final words. No ceremony. Nothing! They quickly covered him up and stepped on the dirt to tamp it down.
"You think that’s good enough?" the mother said.
"Sure it’s fine," said the friend.
The mother wiped dirt from her walking stick, and turned to walk away.
"Doesn’t your heart have heaviness inside?" Carolyn asked the mother.
"Yes, my heart has heaviness," she answered.
The mother and her husband left while Carolyn was teaching the literacy class.
"I wonder if I’ll ever see her again," Carolyn wrote.
Please pray that the Moi people will learn to value the gift of life that God gives them.