Friday, 13 December 2013
Tuesday, 3 December 2013
Friday, 22 November 2013
The interview took place in the headmasters office without a translator. It was exciting to see how good their English is getting as they were able to understand my questions and give simple answers in what is currently their 3rd language. (Which just puts Western language learning to shame!)
Once they realised that they had not been summoned to the Headmaster's office because they were in trouble (oops! - perhaps I should have thought about that) they relaxed and were happy to talk to me. Tharcien took the lead, leaning forward in his chair and confidently answering the questions. The others added extra information and added their opinions to the conversation.
At this point I was concerned that they would miss out on their lunch, so I thanked them and sent them on their way.
There were still a couple of questions that puzzled me, so I went to the staff room to talk to a variety of teachers, to ask how they thought the students were settling in.
Deep in the heart of Burundi, surrounded by hills and valleys as far as the eye can see, lies Gitega, Burundi's second city.
A short distance away from the town centre, down a bumpy dirt track road, is Burundi Youth for Christ's most developed program, Gitega Homes of Hope.
Once you enter through the colourful, painted gates, you can see the spread out buildings clinging to the side of green, grassy hillside. Smoke rises slowly from the charcoal cooking stoves as House Mamas prepare food for the children. Brightly coloured clothes hang drying on the washing lines. Outside of school hours, the children play.
Gitega Homes of Hope currently houses 36 orphans, a diverse mixture of ages and ethnic backgrounds all growing up together.
Sitting casually on one of the house porches last Sunday, basking in the warm afternoon sun, it was great to watch the children play with skipping ropes. The gentle rhythmic swish of the rope brushing against the ground, joined with the happy laughter of contented children; it was a beautiful sight.
These children have had some of the worst starts in life imaginable, but now they have a new home, a fresh start, masses of exciting opportunities, and a new life. Reminds me of the prophet Isaiah speaking, "...a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair." (Isaiah 61:3).
I find this such a beautiful picture of how God longs to welcome us home as his children.
Now that's worth getting excited about!
Wednesday, 13 November 2013
"14 When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them,“Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 15 Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” 16 And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them."
I did a quick search through the Gospels, and you can find the same section in Matthew and Luke, it's in the Bible three times.
Now I don't know about you, but if someone tells me something three times, I know it must be important.
It's like when I was a child and my mother asked me to do a chore. The first request, I might be able to get away with pretending I hadn't heard. Second request required an acknowledgement like calling "Coming!" down the stairs. By the third request, I knew I had to get downstairs instantly or there would be trouble!
This must be an important message he's trying to teach us.
I think God can teach us a lot through children about loving and worshipping him. As we get older we make our lives so much more complicated, it's important to remind ourselves of the simple essence of our faith, a Father who loves us and wants us to enjoy spending time with him. Here with Burundi Youth for Christ, we are privileged to be able to work with children and young people, and it's amazing what they can teach us.
I don't know if I'll be dancing in church this Sunday... maybe...
But my prayer today is that God will help us to strip through our man-made reservations and become more like the child in the video, worshipping God with all our hearts, souls, minds and strength.