(Oh my goodness! I'm so excited this loaded!!! We've had limited internet access and what we have had has been so slow that replying to your blog comments has not even but working, but I am getting them and am so encouraged! Thanks for being such a great team of supporters and friends.)
My heart is so happy and broken at the same time… Happy to have been able to be with these children, broken to be learning more about the depth of their needs each day that I’m here.
My first day in Burundi, I was picked up by four African OMS workers. Boopolo (the Village Church Planting supervisor), Pastor John, Pastor Peter and his wife, Fidelite. We drove for about an hour to visit two village church plants. It was a Thursday, so the churches had called special meetings to meet us.
The picture above was at the first church plant, which is only six weeks old. There were 48 children there, and they sang to us! It was so great! The pastor had special places for us to sit up front facing the congregation of kids. I just wanted to be sitting right in the middle of them, but I knew that the chairs they had set out for us were a gift of honor and that it was important to accept that. It took everything in me to stay put while listening to a few of them cry, only to be comforted or scolded by other small children. Besides the pastors, there were only three women with these kids.
Two of these women had testimonies of healing. The first had intense leg pain that forced her to go to the hospital every six months and kept her from walking more than 1 kilometer at a time. Since Pastor John prayed over her during his visit two weeks ago, she has been healed. Now, she doesn't have pain and can walk more than two kilometers. I found myself processing later that night just how much it must have impacted her life to not be able to walk a mile. Most people here have to walk more than 30 minutes to get water-- and that water isn't even clean. This was a major thing for her, and yet how many people in the U.S. can't walk 2 kilometers just because of their choice not to try?
We visited a second church plant, where about 15 adults had gathered to meet with us. The highlight of that visit for me was to be able to pray for them before we left, because honestly, I found myself asking what do I have to offer? At both churches, I was unexpectedly asked to give greetings and a brief word... I felt like, I know it's true that God is good, but what right do I have to even say that to these people who have experienced so much more suffering than I have? I felt completely challenged to be looking for the "holes in my gospel" and to ask God where I am selling Him short.
At each of these churches, I copied down testimonies and interviewed who I could, but the OMS workers who had brought me kept rushing us to move along. I learned at dinner that their plan had been: see now, talk later... more on that dinner meeting later.
So much to process, so much to be thankful for, so much to learn... I'm glad to have the chance to be here and at least get started!