Grace and greetings.
This morning I was woken up with a call that pastors hate to receive and is one of parents worst nightmare. While the community was getting ready for a celebration in response to a successful whaling season, three boys rode on one four wheeler having fun on the beach. Four wheelers are one of the main ways of getting around in town, year a round. Four wheelers are used by children, teenagers and adults alike. Since they are an off road vehicle, one does not need a drivers license to operate one. Very few people wear helmets, and kids who look as young as 8 or 9 are driving around town. The police will usually pull over those who have too many people on the four wheeler, or if they are driving in an unsafe manner.
But I guess this morning, two boys were heading to the beach, and picked up the third boy. Though I do not know all the details, my guess that the one boy was bounced from the vehicle and died from his injures. This is where I became involved. The Pastor is the one who has to give the news to parents/siblings/family of somebody passing away; regardless of where the person died.
I received the call from a family member, who came with me to look for the mother; she was preparing for the Nalukataq, (the Blanket Toss). It is a community wide celebration, as each crew that caught a whale shares with the community. It is an all day affair, and with 11 crews catching whales, the celebrations are spread over five days in a two week period. We could not find the mother, until after we searched several different places. Her sister found her and flagged us down. She was screaming at the sight of myself and the family member. We took her to the hospital, where she shook the boy to wake up, as the rest of the extended family made their way to the hospital. Soon we had twenty or more people in the room, wailing and screaming, hoping against hope that the news of the 12 year old boy was wrong. I stayed a while, praying with the family and trying to console people I had never met before this morning; as well as other people I knew. Death is always hard, but a 12 year old boy who was to turn 13 next Tuesday? What does one say? His death was the third in four days. There are two others who are near death, but until then, the families can only wait.
Later during the day, I took a walk over to the celebration, then walked up the beach towards home. As I continued to walk on, finally into the silence of the water and shore, I walked for another hour or so. It is a beautiful day, the sun is out, though cool, 38-40 degrees, it was a nice walk. At one point, I came upon a seal about five yards out in the water. It's head was just above the water line, it looked at me for a moment or so, then dived back underneath. That was my first seal I got to see up here in the wild.
The walk helped my mood some what, but the boy is still dead, and we get to continue on living.
Peace and blessings.