Robi’s father has passed away. Robi is the Roma, with whom I went to the Netherlands three years ago to buy him a car for his ministry as evangelist. This was possible thanks to a successful crowdfunding, to which many of you also contributed. Perhaps that therefore this blog might cause disappointment. Yet, we also want to share that with you.
The father of Robi has suffered a lot from doctors, had many surgeries; unfortunately, he eventually also died in the hospital at the age of 64. Last week I attended his funeral.
A Roma funeral is culturally a very loaded happening. Many of it is hard to grasp when you look at it with western eyes. For example, it is custom that the bear with the deceased is being loaded with floral wreaths; and I really mean a bunch of them. Those floral wreaths usually cost around 30 to 40 thousands forints, which is close to half a month’s wage for a Roma. But this is a way in which emotional connection to the deceased is being expressed; and of course, there is also some social pressure behind it.
It is also a usual thing that during the funeral service one or more women faint. This is because of the intense emotions they experience at that moment, but also because of lack of sleep preceding the funeral. It is custom for the close relatives to spend the preceding nights awake.
All in all, a funeral is an incredible costly thing here. And really everything costs money: from the bearers to the church bell ringing. Many times the relatives of the deceased feel obliged to take debts upon themselves for years in order to be able to finance the funeral. Robi unfortunately chose to sell his car for this purpose. When he told me about it he said: ‘Please, forgive me’. I told him however that this car did not come from me and never had been mine, that he had got it from God and was responsible towards Him.
What will be of his ministry now, I don’t know. I leave that to God. What I do know, is that there is a huge gap of cultural differences between us. Even after having been here for eleven years, I still encounter things that I don’t understand. And perhaps I should not even try to.