My parents get here in just a few hours! Wow, it’s crazy.
You know, when Nadine and I were preparing to come out here, to sell many of our possessions and transplant our entire lives to Burundi, people had the tendency to inform us of just how much we were giving up.
As if we hadn’t thought it through already.
Don’t get me wrong. Everyone had their good intentions, and meant well in their comments. We were reminded over and over about the lost income, health security, internet access, just about everything you could think of. The money, that was an easy thing to explain away. I mean, even when I earn money, it’s not mine. It belongs to Jesus. It actually makes things so much simpler when you’re not earning income. Jesus keeps the money, so it’s easier for me to realize that it isn’t mine!
To tell the truth, we weighed what we were giving up against what we were getting. We were getting the opportunity to serve with amazing people in an amazing part of the world. We traded so many things for one thing that is such a rare and powerful experience, that if you had the opportunity to be here with me now, you’d be jealous as you read this post in your own home.
“But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ.” – Philippians 3: 7-8
One ‘gain’ that is pretty hard to consider a ‘loss for the sake of Christ’ has been our friends and family. I know for many of you, family is a cherished and precious thing. For Nadine and I, it’s the one thing, the only thing that we truly miss. On September 8th, our little nephew Nolan was born. It was 0430 Monday morning when we were woken up in our bed by a phone call. As we grumbled and moaned about what could be happening at that ridiculous hour, I startled awake, yelled “what if it’s Mike and Mel!!” and quickly dashed to the phone.
Then came one of the strangest moments of my life. I think very few people know what it is like to feel about as happy as you ever have, and just about as sad, in the exact same moment. To experience the joy of Nolan’s birth, and then to realize just how far away you truly are… tough stuff.
There have been blessings though. Having my sister visit was amazing, and having my parents arrive today has me buzzing through the roof! Coming out to a place like this sure makes you realize who you can rely on. Friendships, family, those bonds strengthen instead of diminish out here.
I’m not writing this tonight to make you feel sorry for me though. It might seem that way, but I want to flip the switch and start bragging about my new family.
We were at a special dinner celebrating the arrival of a team of Americans at Homes of Hope this past week. When you think special dinner, you think dressing up, maybe putting on a tie, going to a dimly lit restaurant and ordering wine, and hey, treating yourself to dessert at the end. You deserve it. When I think of a special dinner, I picture sitting on a floor covered with half-eaten rice and beans, surrounded by 36 giggling kids bouncing in all directions, and maybe getting a nice bottle of Fanta to top it all off!
When one of the Americans had stood up to speak about their amazing experience with Burundi Youth for Christ, he spoke about family. How he loved his family so much back home, but he realized now that he had a 2nd family out here. A family he loved just as much and cherished deeply.
In that moment I was struck as I made eye contact with one of the children. I thought to myself, “It’s going to break my heart to leave these kids.” I teared up at the mere thought of it. Just a gut-wrenching thing, I can tell you.
So God has given us a new family to love. A family that loves and supports us unconditionally. True to form, Jesus comes through in ways unknown and impossible. I could never have imagined feeling at home and as content as I do now. I can’t imagine being in any other place other than in the center of God’s will here in Burundi.
I just wanted to try and convey that to you, our faithful readers, as we continue our work here. Don’t pity us, or feel sorry for us. Be jealous.
It’s not a sin if I’m telling you it’s okay.
We thank God for our circumstances every day. As we encounter obstacles, as we endure trials, as we try to solve problems, we know that we have a home here, and it is good. It is so good.
God bless you guys so much! We feel a distinct privilege to be a part of what God is doing here in Burundi, and each one of you should share in that privilege. We wouldn’t be here without you.
Hey, and if you have any nephews out there, give them a hug from us, and remember to thank God for that precious hug. Talk to you all soon.