Hello Dear Ones,
It is another beautiful, and hot, week in Bujumbura! The nights are spent laying on top the sheets, wishing for a breeze, and asking ourselves why in the world we have prolonged buying a fan, only to remember that our electricity is out completely until further notice. The joys of living in Africa!
I (Carley) thought I would share about how our week was in Bururi and Rumonge doing marriage conferences with the Scripture Union team.
We left on a Monday afternoon, and drove the absolutely stunning drive to Rumonge, the place where we were saved from robbery a few weeks ago. For two days Scripture Union was able to lead a marriage conference for about 30 couples. The topics that Ladd and I were given were: Sexuality, Integrity, Christ and the Church, and Men’s Leadership. It went great and they really got a lot out of it, however, it was obvious they had a hard time digesting the lesson on sexuality. Sexuality is not talked about here. I mean, ever. Nobody talks about it, everybody does it. So you can imagine, in trying to teach on the importance of teaching your children about sex, there were a lot of questions. In the end though, I think it was totally worth it, even if it was just to get them talking about sex as a non-taboo subject.
We continued on, stopping on the way at a memorial where forty students were shot and killed during the crisis because they refused to split up into tribes. The memorial was sobering, yet powerful. Afterwards, we drove on to the second of the two marriage conferences in the province, Bururi. It was beautiful! The most beautiful province I have been to yet! We just kept ascending these giant mountains, and when we arrived we were surprised to find this quaint, clean, little town at the very top, and it was cold! See your breath cold. That marriage conference was fantastic, with about 40 couples that time. After tackling some hard content, they joyfully accepted that it is true that they need to teach their children about sex. The pastor even got up and formally apologized for not teaching that to his congregation. Beautiful humility.
The most astounding moment of the day was when we had them split up into groups of men and women and write down the reasons they got married, as well as things they wanted to hear their spouses say to them. Their lists read things like, “I got married for a companion, to have a helper, someone to talk to, someone to hold my hand…” and “I want to hear my husband tell me that I am beautiful and loved, that he is thankful for all the work I do around the house, that he is faithful to me. I want him to listen to me when I have a problem, and teach our children about Jesus…” and “I want my wife to want to spend time with me, and to thank me for all the work I do to bring home money. I want her to tell me she thinks I am a hard worker. I want her to trust me.” People are people everywhere.
Lastly, the place we stayed at the five nights in Bururi, was interesting. It was a semi-hostile that a church had built on to the back of their building. We put on our grateful faces as were shown our room with mold covering the walls and the tiny twin bed we were to share. Also, we shared a bathroom with the other four Burundian pastors, as well as the shower which was a concrete mud hole with the rusty shower head and spiders everywhere to bathe. We really thought we could try to make it all week without venturing into that shower, but the smell won out. So on Valentine’s Day, half way through the week, we had the hotel heat a small bucket of water. We tipped toed into the muddy room, stripped down in the cold, and took turns splashing that precious warm water on ourselves, trying to keep the flashlight away from the ceiling as to not see the audience of spiders watching us like their next meal. Pretty different from last year’s Valentine’s Day in a five star hotel on the Oregon coast with a Jacuzzi tub next to our bed. But you know what? I wouldn’t have changed it. It was a good memory with lots of giggles. And I definitely won’t forget it.
Praise Jesus we made it the whole week with no sickness, full night’s sleep, no robberies, and many good relationships made and established. What a joy it was to encourage marriages in rural places like that! The bottom line lesson learned was this: All marriages, even in the African bush, were created to model Christ’s love for his church, and the church’s love and submission to Jesus. How beautiful that even way up there in that tiny village, our God is present, and is moving in the hearts of men and women to love and lead and submit like He models.
Have a wonderful week. We love and miss you dearly!