GITEGA, Burundi-- My second day in Burundi, I left Bujumbura for Gitega to meet up with the Sister Connection team. This awesome ministry, provides sponsorship and homes to Burundian widows and their children. Many of these women were widowed during the civil war between the Hutu and the Tutsi. In fact, such a large part of this generation was wiped out that, when we saw an elderly man on the street Friday, Denise (the U.S. Director of Sister Connection) stopped mid-sentence to point it out. There just aren't many men older than late 30s or early 40s there, she said.
It was great to meet up with Michelle after all our emailing back and forth about this trip. She was the one person in Burundi that I had met before. We arrived at the hotel where they were spending time working. There is a team of about 11 engineers and architects from all over the world, here to serve with EMI and work on building plans for Mount Hope, a mountain donated to Sister Connection by the governor, who was orphaned himself in 1972.
That afternoon, the EMI team, Denise, Michelle and I went to visit three widows. The pictures below are from our visit with the first woman, Jackie. She was so grateful. She kept saying, I want to thank Jesus for the blessing of this house and thank you. Praising God. In fact, she was so grateful that she told Denise she wanted to give her a chicken. Jackie had no idea Denise wouldn’t be able to take it on the plane, but it would’ve been horrible if she hadn’t accepted it.
Then, Denise had one of the team members pray for the family. I couldn’t stop my tears, realizing that many of the children who had sung for me the day before were probably in the same situation. I had learned after visiting them, that many of them were orphans, but it was just dawning on me that the kids I would’ve guessed were three years old were probably closer to five or six. My heart just broke for them even more.
However, these women that we visited were able to see the blessings in the midst of their poverty. Instead of focusing on what they lacked, they gave praise to God for their new homes and were so happy to receive us as visitors. Jackie shared with us that before receiving her home from a donor through Sister Connection, she had a thatch roof. I thought she would say the problem was rain came through, but what she shared instead was worse. Her own family set fire to that roof in an effort to scare her away and gain whatever her husband had left behind.
I was also so surprised to hear that the women we visited didn’t have sponsors yet. Though they could certainly use the aid, no one is currently sponsoring them through Sister Connection. The reason this surprised me because they were so thankful—thankful to the point of saying their lives had been changed—and by what? $600.
Their lives were changed by God using a gift from someone with more resources. What does it take to qualify as having more resources? Take a look here.
If you’re interested in learning more about Sister Connection or in providing a home to a widow and her family go to http://www.sisterconnection.org/.
Thanks so much for your prayers and continued support!
Jackie ripped a piece of the tree off to tie the chicken's feet together before handing it to Denise.