We live in Mwanza, Tanzania, serving with Emmanuel International helping local churches in physical and spiritual ministry.

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Knitting a Legacy. Thoughts from the Far Away Place.

Death is awful. The sadness that it carries is heavy and dark. For me, it wasn't a tragedy. So the grief is nothing like what many others have had to bear. But it was still sad. My Grandma died this week.

She was in her eighties, she had been married almost 66 years, and was the very proud mother, grandmother and great grandmother to a bunch of us in the Watts line. As well as knitting loads of cardigans, she had lived a long, good and godly life serving others, she had made so many people laugh, and created endless happy and rather crazy memories. She died with her daughters at her side, relieved from the pain, confusion and suffering that came at the end. It was a good thing.

But I wasn't there. I had just posted a letter which will arrive who knows when, saying how much we were all looking forward to seeing her when we arrived in England very soon. But that was before she went into the hospital. That was before she died. Now my Grandad will have to open that letter on his own. And I'm not there.

I cried a lot on Tuesday. I wanted to be with my parents and sister, looking at old photos like the one of me bouncing on my Grandma on my first birthday. Like the one of my daughter, Amisadai bouncing on her when she was one. The photo of my sister and me eating lunch with her in the rain in big overcoats - I can't remember why we did that, but I remember all the laughter! The photo of "rescuing" her from a creek up a mountain. The photo of her with flour on her face after playing the flour game beside the homemade snowman full of presents at Christmas. We don't have any old photographs with us here in Tanzania, but I quickly realised all those photos are already imprinted in my memory. So many silly and wonderful memories!

Brighton Pier

But that is what I cried for. With all these memories, it is goodbye. I'm happy for Grandma; she is in a far better place! But I'm in a far away place! And I want to share those memories now with those who knew her best. Really, I know I'm in the right place. And I know my Grandma knew that. But that doesn't mean it's easy being in the far away place.

I am thankful for the hope we have. I am thankful for eternity, for healing, and for the truth that all this sadness will be undone. But death is still sad now and it still hurts. As the family gathers at the funeral, there will be shared sadness, but so much joy in the memories, so much gratitude for the legacy she leaves! There will be so much thankfulness that she is no longer in any pain, but in complete and peaceful joy with her Saviour. 

And that is what it is really about. It is not about my world in far away Tanzania and their world in wintery England. Rather it is about the joy of that new eternal, perfect world which since the death and resurrection of Jesus, is continually, over the years, through the lives of people like my Grandma, being woven (or should I say knitted!) through the sadness of this fallen world. And she has passed on the legacy to keep knitting that truth ... wherever I am.

Leslie and Beryl Watts



  1. Rachel, this is so beautiful and made me tear up at my desk in Houston, Texas. I remember the same feeling when my grandma died while I was in Tanzania. So thankful for Jesus, and the fact that death is swallowed up in his victory. The sting and darkness of death, has been destroyed in Christ. Give everyone a hug and a kiss. --Austin H.

  2. Well said Rachel. ..when jon and Jude were in Swaziland and went through a similar thing, it really brought home to me the verses about turning your back on your mother, father, family to follow the Lord and what a great sacrifice it is for missionaries..We are all, so proud of you all, and the wonderful work you are doing..Sending you much love and blessings and praying you will find your 'enough ' in our Lord at this time. .xxxxcc

    1. Thank you, Rachel, for your kind words and prayers. It means even more now. We all sacrifice things but all gain much in the work of the kingdom, wherever we are. Loads of love, Rachel


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