Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Burundi Through the Rear View Mirror

One year ago today I boarded a plane in Seattle and flew to Newark, then on to Brussels and finally to Bujumbura, Burundi. I was a part of a team going to work with Sister Connection, a ministry to widows and orphans of Burundi. If you have read my blog much you have heard about Sister Connection and the wonderful ways they are enriching the lives of women and children who find themselves at the bottom of the heap in their country. Through the sponsorship program and the homes Sister Connection builds for widows, through the job training the widows receive, and through the spiritual nurture provided for them at the annual camps and from the loving care of the churches and Sister Connection staff, hundreds of people in this nation with a history of genocide and poverty are finding support and resources to live meaningful lives.

I chose a picture from each day (more than one, in some cases) to represent what happened on that trip, a look back through the rear view mirror, as it were.

Day 1
Seattle to Newark to Brussels (the map on the screen on the airplane)

Day 2
Hotel room in Bujumbura

Day 3
Joy and Denise, Sister Connections directors

Beautiful children greeted us wherever we went

Day 4
Visiting a home built for this widow and her children by Sister Connection

Day 5
Visiting another widow's home -- and getting to hold her grandbaby!

Day 6
Our team, with some of the dedicated Sister Connection staff

Taking the offering during the Sunday service

Day 7
Being greeted by the women at the Window's Retreat

Children with quilts made for them by Quilts Beyond Borders

Day 8
Meeting the widow we sponsor!

The widows at prayer

Day 9
I taught two sessions at the Widow's Retreat

"Mobbed" by the widows sponsored by people in my home church!

Day 10
Hanging out with the team at our hotel

And now to go buy some fabric!

Day 11
We delivered hats to newborns in the hospital, made by a woman in Seattle

Day 12
Shopping in Bujumbura. This woman was an artist as well as a shopowner. I loved her work.

Day 13
Three godly men I met at church on Sunday morning.
The one on the right interpreted the entire service for me!

Back in Brussels, headed home.

Day 14
Travel snafus made the return trip home long and grueling, but it also gave me a chance
to meet some interesting people, such as my new friend Alex.

My last cup of coffee before leaving Heathrow
I am so grateful for the opportunity to have made this trip. It had been a lifelong dream to go to Africa, one I never expected to be fulfilled. I was able to meet brothers and sisters in the Lord and see how he is caring for widows and orphans through his people. God put messages on my heart to share with the women about his love for them and our role as mothers, and he gave me the strength to share those messages with the widows gathered at the retreat.

I found the church in Burundi to be vibrant, living out the apostle Paul's injunction in Romans 12:12, Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. The leadership of the church is strong and impacting the life of the nation. By God's grace, widows and their children are being raised to a place of acceptance and are shining God's light into their communities. It was indeed a privilege to be a part of this.

Life goes on. Another summer has come, with the widow's retreat and youth camps being held in August. Other teams are preparing to go to Burundi to participate in these events; still others are going to help with the development of micro businesses and the project of bringing water and electricity to Mt Hope, the place God gave Sister Connection. With the rainy season over, more homes will be built. Other widows will be sponsored and begin the life of hope this allow them.

You can be a part of this, if you are not already, by praying for the work of Sister Connection and by becoming a sponsor. If you can only give a one-time gift, you might send $30 to allow a young person or a widow to attend camp this summer. And, since all funds go directly to their designated purpose, you might want to help with the administrative costs, which is vital in keeping a ministry operating. Details for all of this can be found on the Sister Connection website.

One final thought. On Easter of this year, Bishop Eli Buconyori, a man of God whose influence has been felt throughout Burundi -- even in national government -- and Central Africa, the Free Methodist bishop and husband of Joy, Sister Connection's Burundian director, passed away. His passing is deeply felt, but God is raising up others to carry on the work. Thank you, Bishop Eli, for your untiring work for the gospel. We praise him for the role he gave you, and the faithfulness with which you fulfilled it. Thank you for your example. We are blessed to be able to call you Brother.

Bishop Eli and Joy

No comments: