Why I need Burundi...
Not many people know about Burundi. Including me, until my family and I started attending NorthPoint Church about a year ago. So, I was invited to go with our pastor's wife one of their trips to the orphaneges we support there. Being that I have always been in love with Africa, that I jumped at the chance is an understatement.......I literally jumped up and down...several times, while squealing.
The orphanages, called Homes Of Hope, are just that. They are more like homes. The children are well cared for by home mothers, sponsors and several of the surrounding churches and their members. The children attend a school and have access to medical care. There are also feeding programs that provide the children with plenty of food. But most of all, and more importantly, these children know Jesus. They know that they are loved by God. They know they have a place in heaven and they are princes and princesses of His Kingdom.....I saw it in every single one of their beautiful eyes.
I titled this post "Why I need Burundi". Some people might find that statement strange and ignorant. I have known God all my life. Starting in my difficult and sheltered childhood, when I went through a rebellious stage of entitlement and stupidity, and He still remains even now when I feel that I'm just entering into true adulthood (at 33 years old). I always thought I knew faith because of my particular story of pain and triumph and falling and persevering. I have also known, to a sense, that the people of Burundi probably knew these principles far more deeply than I ever have or ever will. That's part of the reason why I believe I have felt drawn to them. But, as I discovered so intensely, thinking this and experiencing it is two very different scenarios with two different affects.
The people and the children I met, my new friends, have been through atrocities that I could never create in my imagination. Burundi is the 2nd poorest nation in the world and Cibitoke is the poorest town in the 2nd poorest nation in the world. Starvation and poverty are part of the everyday norm. Naturally, those lead to unstable and violent governments, abandonment of children, crime, and death. Those are unfortunately also a part of the daily life in Burundi. So seeing these people smile when you yourself know you wouldn't be smiling if you lived their lives, changes something in you. Hearing their personal stories, which I know I could not endure, followed by how much they love Jesus and how much faith they have in Him despite the "proof" the world thinks they have that he doesn't exist, is just something that never leaves your thoughts. Listening to them tell you time and time again how faith in Him and His word, no matter how horrific and desperate the situation you're in is always strengthening and never ever fails you. I thought I knew all of this, like really really knew it....until I stepped off a plane in Burundi.
Visiting the children and seeing them in school and at play with each other was, to me, a glimpse of what heaven will be like. Warm sunlight, lush green grass, laughter, joy, peace and bon bons.......heaven! These children had one way or another have been face to face with loss and death. Loss and death of the most essential parts of a child's life. Yet, through human hands and feet, God has kept them right in the palm of His hands as He promises. I felt Him more all the way across the ocean, than I ever had in our land of plenty. I saw Him more evidently in the eyes of an orphan, than I ever had in my own.
So yes, I feel I need Burundi. I needed to have these changes take place in my life and in my heart. I needed to see God clearer and deeper like they do everyday. I need to go back, and hopefully I will again soon so I can continue to give and also just be with these people, my new friends. I tell you this, they long for our presence and friendship much much more than our money and services. I hope I can give them that. Friendship. Presence. I hope I can again squeeze these faces and hold these hands. I hope I can become yet even closer to God and see Him clearer.....know Him deeper. And of course, I hope I am able to take another obscene amount of photos to share with you.
If you didn't get my newsletter and would like to receive one, please leave your email in the comments below. I am so thankful for all the support that allowed me the privilege to make this trip. Hopefully, if am so privileged to go again, I will be doing sessions to fundraise again. Keep your eyes open! Thank you for reading.