It happened without my consent or attention. I noticed it just a few nights ago. I was putting my little girls to bed, sitting on the edge of the bed scratching their backs, when it hit me, “Wow, I don’t hate this mosquito net anymore!” I had the same realization the other day when I threw away some old food and didn’t have the gut wrenching guilt that I had experienced in our first few months here.
We have lived in Burundi now for 4 months. The transition has been more difficult for us than we anticipated and in ways that were unexpected….i.e. the trash and mosquito nets. Yet, life has ever…..so…..slowly found it’s new rhythm and patterns. Trash is no longer an issue of angst. I was so worried about offending our Burundian househelper every time my kids didn’t eat all of the food on their plate, or when I would throw away a huge casserole that tasted bad from the very beginning. And the mosquito nets…ugh, they sound so fun right? Like a little tent for your kids, a safe little place for them to sleep. But oh no, they have a mind of their own. They grab your shoe, stick to the pillow, hang too low in some places…..it has been a pain. Yet, now, I can see their appeal and the safety that they offer. I actually wonder now if sleeping without them on furloughs will be an issue.
Transition is a funny thing. I remember our first week here, life was so different for all of us that I didn’t have the time or ability to teach my kids how to brush their teeth without using tap water, so they didn’t. They didn’t even take a bath the first week. Every single one of your senses is overwhelmed each day and the only thing you can do is take one new reality at a time and deal with it. I pictured it like this. Our world was turned upside down with every single ball floating in space, and each day you grab one of those balls and tackle it. Day one, the food and water ball, What do we eat here, how do we want our water filter set up? How do we make COFFEE? Day two, trash/compost ball, what can we throw away in front of a Burundian, what needs to be done under cover of darkness?
To me, it’s a very difficult thing to go through a major life transition like this with 7 kids following behind you. To tell yourself to only use filtered water is one thing, but to get all of your children to understand this, and do it, is an entirely different challenge.
I know that our transitions are not done here, and maybe they never will be. Africa has a way of keeping you on your toes. But God has been gracious in this season. He meets us in our weak moments, in the times when buying a plane ticket to America sounds like the best idea EVER. Yet we keep staying, keep going to bed, waking up and taking on another day. And slowly a love for this life is growing. It’s just a seedling now, I’m not even sure if the sprout has come up above the ground, but it’s there.
By God’s grace it’s growing and will one day be a plant…and then maybe even a tree. A tree of love for Burundi, for Africa, for serving the poorest of the poor in Jesus’ name.
1 Corinthians 3:6-7 “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.”