As written by Bev Brand on Sunday, March 24.
My heart was so sad for the way Annalise Ynocent Metalus had to live and it was especially hard to watch her die. We met Annalise a year ago this March when Jean Robert enrolled she and her husband in the Five Loaves program, which matches a family in the US with a family in Haiti who cannot afford health care. She was such a sweet spirit but had such a heavy heart. Her home was one of the worst we have seen – no food, no furniture, no mat to sleep on, dirt floor, leaky roof, only the clothes on her back. Analise had seven children, two had died. We were told one son had died in an accident in the Dominican and it had affected her deeply. Perhaps she was depressed, she certainly was malnourished. Living in those conditions would be extremely depressing. She was so grateful for the food and clothes we brought and for the opportunity to be part of Five Loaves.
Earlier this year, we found out her house had burned down and multiple mission teams from Iowa came together had built a one room home for them in January (to read and see pictures of this story – click here). Even though it was small, it had a cement floor, a bed to sleep in, a roof that didn’t leak and it was clean. When we arrived in Haiti in February, we went out to visit Annalise and found her laying, unresponsive in the dirt in back of her house (to read Tim Brand’s post on the day – Death Has a Smell and I Now Know It). After a visit to the hospital, a bath and some clean clothes, we found she had cancer and there was nothing they could do for her.
Taken at the hospital, after she was given a bath and a new set of clothing earlier in March.
She had been to the hospital earlier but it was too late, and there is no treatment for cancer in Haiti – no chemo, no radiation. She needed a blood transfusion but there is no blood bank. So she was sent home with pain medication, antibiotics to fight infection and vitamins to boost her blood.
We started visiting Annalise on a regular basis, bringing food and water. Each time she lay on the dirt in the back of her house. We prayed with her, gave her water, and let her know that we loved her and Jesus loved her, too.
This morning, her husband walked to Pignon to tell Zeke that she might not be alive much longer. We headed out after church and found she had passed away a short time earlier. Her husband led us into the house where he had placed her on the floor on a towel. A few neighbors were there, along with her father, a sister and two of her children. We had brought “wipes” to clean her body and a new set of clothes for her to be buried in. Pam Van Sant (whose family is here with us this week from Pella) and I, along with Zeke’s father, closed the door and washed her and dressed her in new, fresh clothes. Even though her body was completely emaciated, she still had a sweet expression on her face and looked as though she had died peacefully. It was hard to realize how her body had wasted away over the past few months and weeks. She looked regal and beautiful in her new clothes. Zeke’s father poured a bottle of rum alcohol over her body before we dressed her (a tradition in Haiti). We wrapped her in a fresh sheet and invited her family in. It was then they realized she had died. The wailing was mournful and from deep places in the soul. Denny, Zeke, and Jeff Van Zant left to go find a coffin and hire a gravedigger.
The coffin arrived sometime later and Annalise was placed in the humble wooden coffin. Her son lovingly placed a pillow under her head and the coffin was nailed shut and loaded onto the back of Zeke’s pickup. Friends, neighbors, and relatives piled in as well and the procession left for the cemetery. About 25 neighbors and relatives walked behind the truck to the cemetery in Sauvanette. We walked with them. When we reached the cemetery, the gravedigger had already dug up an old casket and removed it to allow for the new coffin to be placed in the same space. The old coffin and remains will be burned. The meager burial was over and we headed back into Pignon.
I am so grateful we could be there for Annalise these last few weeks of her life. I don’t know why, but when I met her last year, I was so drawn to her and God allowed us to walk her “home” this morning. Life is so hard for those who have nothing. All she had was a handful of old dirty clothes, a dirty blanket, and a pillow. As we walked away they were being burned. There is nothing left of Annalise on this earth, but she told us she had asked Jesus into her heart when she was a little girl. So Annalise is experiencing a whole new life today with Jesus. What a joy to know there is hope and what joy she must be experiencing with Jesus today! She was a beautiful child of God and we look forward to seeing her again someday in heaven.