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!