This past week we laid to rest a great man and a dear friend to The Esther School, Chief Bunda Bunda of the Soli people. Chief Bunda Bunda was instrumental in the creation of the Esther School in that while God was working in the hearts and minds of the leadership of GEMS Girls Clubs in North America to create a vision for this school, he was also preparing this Chief and other local leaders to hear and accept the call to invite the project into their area. We have often said that it is no mistake that the two communities were brought together, from different sides of His earth, to make this dream a reality. In many other places, this work might be impossible or at least much more difficult. Chief Bunda Bunda was a faithful man of God and understood the challenges but also the blessings of development. He knew that bringing The Esther School to Nyangwena would greatly improve the lives of his people for generations beyond his time on this earth. He was a visionary in that way and very wise, but was also always seen as a simple family man and a hard working farmer.

Conflicting reports exist as to when exactly the chief died. It actually was likely some time ago as the common practice has been to keep such an event quiet while the leaders convene to develop a succession plan. We also are required to participate in local mourning practices, some of which are appreciated: no drum shall be beaten during the time of mourning; and some of which are difficult to accept: no cock shall crow nor the earth be turned - which means that all roosters in the chiefdom were slaughtered (or hidden at a relatives house out of town!) and we could not weed the fields.

We were also, though, blessed with the opportunity to attend the funeral and burial services this weekend. We were seated among guests of honor along with some of the other leaders from our village and parents from the school as well as national leaders and dignitaries. We witnessed many familiar and even more novel ceremonies to honor the chief. It was a rare opportunity to appreciate such a unique event.

We are deeply saddened by this loss and are praying that God will raise up another faithful servant who will serve the people of this area and continue to support our cause. Please join us in praying for such a leader and also for the immediate transition time. We are told that the next chief will be appointed in late August.

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