Manui and Lesili

Today we wept.  We wept for Lesili Langi, 15 years old, and his mother Lavinia Manui Langi, 43 years old, who died in a car accident earlier this week.  In a beautiful service at the local high school hall, hundreds of people from our small wet town honoured two short and beautiful lives.

I wept for the challenges of their lives.  I wept to hear of Lesili selling his fish so he could buy a loaf of bread so his little siblings could have lunches for school.  I wept at the honouring of Manui's efforts to have the seven children looking beautiful for church.  Her dear friend Atu spoke with grace and power of Manui's secret - she went to the Salvation Army and then she took home the clothes and washed and ironed them so the children had nice clothes for church.

Frankly, I felt profligate with my takeways and fancy foods and the material wealth of my children's lives.  Afterwards, Brighid and I went home and chose some pretty dresses and also black clothes for the mourning period, and some other pretty skirts and tops, and we delivered them to Atu for passing onto Brighid's school friend Meleane, who this week lost her mother and her biggest brother. 

Our small town has rallied to help a lot this week.  This death has brought out the better side of us as we think outside of our needless present shopping to help those in solemn need.  Atu asked us all to step up as a community to support the Langi family, and to learn from this experience.  We will do our best Atu, and I hope my best will be of real help.  No one should ever die without someone else learning something from that life, and the deaths of Manui and Lesili offer our whole town a lesson to live more generous and understanding lives.

When Brighid and I took food and a card around to the house earlier in the week, I was unsure what to expect and hadn't anticipated the bodies being in the house.  I was so proud of Brighid who handled the beautiful Tongan singing and prayers so well and cuddled her friend's Dad and gave him the card.  I was so pleased that my daughter who has never lived outside of an English speaking community could learn that her school friend has a whole rich and wonderful world which we are not knowledgeable of and confident in. 

Our local newspaper, the Grey Star, has opened a relief fund for the Langi family, and through the generosity of local people, it already totals $4500.  I put money in yesterday and will put some more in next week.  The ANZ account number for people wishing to make a donation directly to the relief fund is: 01 0841 004153600 ( http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11174635 )

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