What kind of stories do you like to tell around a campfire? We used to tell ghost stories. This is not exactly a ghost story, though it is about someone’s grave. Sister Aliona’s grave, to be exact.
In the Roma village where Sister Aliona lived, people dug graves at least three feet deeper than normal. Why did they do this? Did they like to dig? Did they need the dirt? No, not at all. They put stuff in the grave, lots of stuff, before they even started lowering the casket down into it. What do you think they put in a grave? They would start with expensive things to drink. Fancy bottles. Colored bottles. Vintage CocaCola! Well, maybe not that. Then they would put in things to eat. Expensive things that were hard to get in Moldova, where they lived. Pineapples and kiwis. Exotic fruit. They might not have much money, but they used all they could to just load that grave all up.
Why did they do that? I don’t know. Maybe they thought the person they were burying would need all that in their next life or on their journey to that next life. Or maybe they thought that would make the dead person happy, so the dead person wouldn’t come back and haunt them. I don’t know. I do know it was not because they believed in Jesus.
Sister Aliona believed in Jesus. She believed that He forgave all her sins when she asked Him to. She believed that He loved her, that He lived with her all through her life of raising children, of burying her own husband, of watching her grandchildren grow up around her. She grew old herself. Her ears stopped hearing very well. Her eyes stopped seeing very well. She knew one day her old body would stop altogether. She was not afraid of this because she knew that then she would live with Jesus forever.
And that’s just what happened. Last year Sister Aliona died. Her grown children wanted to honor their mother with the best funeral they could give her. But two nights after she died, Sister Aliona’s oldest daughter, Silvika, had a dream. Her mother, Aliona, came and spoke to her. Aliona told her that the place where she was incredibly beautiful. It was so very beautiful that she wished Silvika and all of her other children would believe in Jesus. Then they could go to that beautiful place, too. Aliona also said she wanted a Christian funeral.
Silvika listened to her mother. After all, her mother had spoken to her in a dream all the way from Heaven! So she and her brothers and sisters gave their mother a Christian funeral. Sister Aliona’s grave was not any deeper than it needed to be. There was nothing in it but Sister Aliona’s worn-out old body. And everyone said it was a beautiful funeral.