Well – i think a lot of people just lost one of the major reasons for not visiting us: “It’s too hard / far / tough of a journey.”
My mom and my aunt – who I think one can agree are not currently spring chickens – just left after about 2 1/2 weeks with us here in rural Burundi. So unless you’re older than them (which would put you in your 90’s), it’s a bit harder to say the trip would be ‘too hard.’
We had a great time – honestly not ‘doing’ a lot of things, but just allowing them to see, and experience what our life and work is like here in Kibuye. This isn’t the first long trip they’ve made together to see us. They visited us in Kazakhstan, they came to see us in France – in fact when they were in France when Alma was born.
They did what they do best, what they’ve been doing my entire life, and let’s be honest – for a long time before I was born: showing kindness and love to others.
They spent as much time as they could up in the hospital wards – playing with the kids, helping to bring some joy and happiness to the children who have otherwise rather dull and depressing days. Let’s be clear, the kids in the hospital are getting great medical treatment (in many cases life-saving) from people who treat them with love and respect, treating them as fellow people created in the image of God. However, for a kid, hanging out in the hospital for days, weeks, or even months on end can be a bit much, so any distraction is very welcomed.
They went up to the cafeteria in the hospital, just to have a cup of tea, and hang out in the hospital.
They tried their best to bumble through interactions where they had no language skills, but merely defaulted to smiling, and laughing, and showing kindness.
They read to our kids, to the kids at school, and made who-knows-how-many treasure hunts in the yard where the prizes were small things they brought for the kids from Canada.
They came with us to the market in Gitega, buying sacks of flour, and rice, some cloth, and clothes for the kids in the hospital.
They made cinnamon buns, sang songs that I remember from my childhood and did their little ‘parlour-trick’ games that I remember spending I’m pretty much years of my life trying to figure out.
Our family lives a life that is in many so rich, and rewarding, and interesting – but it does come at a cost. Some of those costs I think we as parents bare the hardest, others we have actually put on our children, and definitely there is price to for the life we lead that is paid by our friends and family – most notably our parents. I can only imagine how hard it is to hear your kids say “we’re taking your grandchildren away, for a number of years, to the other side of the world” only to be updated a few weeks later with “there was an attempted military coup, but don’t worry the bullets went right over our house.”
I think that’s why it feels so meaningful, so affirming, so life-giving when those closest to us tell us in all honestly “I can see why you’re here. I’m glad you’re here. I’m proud of you for being here. I think it’s great that you’re here.” I guess because there are lots of days when we question why we’re here. When we question whether it’s all worth it, and if were delusional when we thought that God really wanted our family to move here, or if it was all big mistake.
Those are the times when it’s so welcomed to have someone say “good job – keep it up.”
So a good time was had by all -and on the way to drop them off at the airport we even got a chance to stop by the lake.