Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Tide is Rolling In-Hope is Alive

Sadly, the children are the great tragedy of Africa. There are many who have no family. AIDS and other diseases have left large numbers of children to be taken care of by other family members or to fend for themselves. Some families are just too poor to send their children to school. These children work at jobs that are never going to help them to progress, learn & grow.
These boys sell hard boiled eggs on the streets and the young boy in the corner on the right sells black plastic sacks at the marche.
This little girl is selling popcorn and sugar cane. This cute boy works in our yard every day. Look at his clever lawn watering system.
These children are selling small piles of charcoal, which is the major source of cooking fuel here.
Sometimes the circumstances of these innocent little people are the hardest things to see and it's hard to imagine what the future holds for them.

But then there was Sunday in Bujumbura. Family including children flocked to our little meeting hall. Our beginning meeting three weeks ago included all those from little cities up to 90 miles away. There were 70 to inaugurate our little chapel. The wall came down and the space was doubled two weeks later. 

Those two Sundays found half the original number. We began to realize that to start a Bujumbura branch would take more than just opening the door. Those far away could not afford to keep coming in spite of their new found hope and faith.

Pastor Johnson and Frere Malabi-Group Leader

Then Pastor Johnson responded to our call and humbly came with some of those he had shepherded for years in reading and learning from the Book of Mormon. He had been a former revolutionary fighting along side those that now serve in the government. He is a former university teacher, business executive, and politician. But after having been saved multiple times from death he decided to keep a boyhood promise made as an orphan whose prayers were answered in such a miraculous timing and manner as to allow him to stay in school and survive the lonely and war torn culture. 

With his following the chapel was filled with almost 80 people. Not only Pastor Johnson's flock but others with whom we had shared the message of the restoration while shopping for groceries, buying insurance, etc. Several cousins of a Burundian convert living in Hawaii with whom we had been corresponding finally came as well as the money changer from the night before, the taxi driver, and others we didn't even know that the missionaries had found. 

This was the first meeting we needed to translate into Kirundi. Janet spoke on the role of women. An embassy employee played a flute medley of Hymns and the former clerk of the old Bujumbura branch of 92 spoke of the history of the Church in this country between 92 and 96. He spoke of the devastating effects of the war and some of the personal losses he suffered: a grade school son burned alive by insurgents as his school was torched, his wife dying from grief, etc. and the hope his faith has given him to endure until now as the Church returns.

He found boxes of old books in the old meeting hall and brought them Sunday along with his  twenty something son who is now meeting with the missionaries.

This next Sunday should be our first baptisms... if we can just find some place without crocodiles and hippos.


The children of Africa tug at our heartstrings every day. They are, in general, gentle, well-behaved little people. The young are the hope of the future and we see it in their sweet, shining faces. They are filled with light and promise and are a joy to watch.
 Some of the little ones cry when they see us and won't get too close to us scary, ghost-looking, white folks, but we still love seeing them and trying to make friends with them. These are the faces of some of the little people in the church in the Congo and Burundi.
The lucky children go to school. They have double sessions with half days morning and afternoon. Sometimes they have to walk a long way to a school. They come in their uniforms and are serious students. Parents pay tuition for school at great sacrifice and are also serious about their children's education, if they can afford to send them.

The gospel holds such promise in helping them become dependable, independent, and interdependent...though some may sleep through it all for the moment...

As with so many things in the Congo and Burundi, there's a long way to go. But the faces of children in the church give us hope for a better, brighter future for them and their home lands.
There is hope for this new generation as the gospel gives eternal perspective, encouragement and a scaffolding upon which to build a mortal future as well as the promises of eternity that ignite hope and lead to happiness -

No comments:

Post a Comment