I have the opportunity here in Bujumbura to see the principle of forgiveness, repentance, and the atonement at work among the people. I'm sure bishops back home must have this same experience, but it's new for me to witness it. Here there are no throw away people. Everyone deserves a second (third, fourth?) chance. Everyone seems willing to forgive, to let the person who has made a mistake repent, and to let the atonement of Jesus Christ work the way it should. You lied to me? O.K I love you, I forgive you. You stole from the last missionary couple? Fine. You have repented, so you are now going on a mission to South Africa. You lied to manipulate more money from the Church when you arrived at the mission home? O.K. Return home, prove yourself, that you have changed, and go back out again. Thrown in prison for stealing? You are out of prison, you have repented, so we'll make you a branch missionary again. A branch clerk has kept money that should have been deposited in the Church? We will release you from your calling, you can make a full confession, repent, and pay back the money you stole over time. We love these people, love watching them apply gospel principles, love watching the principle of repentance and the atonement at work. You just know they are good people, and you love them in spite of mistakes they make. Given the difficulty of their lives living here in Burundi, it's almost more understandable when someone sins. President Dieudonne sort of summed it up. We had to go to the airport to pick up a missionary who was sent home for breaking the law of chastity. Dieudonne sent us an email about the interview he had with the young man, and this is how he ended his note: "We hope that he will truly change and repent. We are going to be on guard against the sin, but always love the sinner."
RELIEF SOCIETY BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION IN BRANCH 1
To celebrate the Relief Society's birthday, Branch 1 decided to go to a local hospital with soap, sugar, and cookies for two hospital wards.
Here is our group.
We put 2 soaps in plastic bags before going into the wards.
This is our group making our way to the 2 wards, one a women's ward, one a children's ward.
Once inside, we sang a hymn, had a prayer and passed out the sugar, soap, and cookies.
Here we are visiting with the family of a woman who was not really conscious. They had to constantly keep swatting the flies off the lady.
This woman received her sugar in her own bowl. Most everyone else had their personal plastic drinking cup filled with the sugar.
Our Relief Society president Jacqueline filling one of the plastic cups.
This is Gian Franco's wife Nicole helping out as part of our group at the hospital.
The next 2 pictures are a couple of the little patients in the children's ward.
Here are two available beds in the women's ward. Take your pick and make yourself comfortable.
On the way home from the hospital we stopped to visit a branch member who was in a different clinic. She is being treated for problems related to her diabetes, malaria, and typhoid fever.
Mama cat has moved on. She took her 2 kittens, one by one, and climbed and jumped to reach the top of the wall. She then kept on moving north along the wall to greener pastures. The two kittens we have are growing, eating more all the time and getting steadier on their legs.
We believe the gas protest has finally ended. Turns out, the suppliers of the gasoline were a big part of the protest also. The suppliers are from Tanzania, and every time they brought a shipment of gas across the Burundian border, they were hit with the high increased taxes. To apply pressure on the government here, they simply refused to bring in much gas. This created lines that were blocks long of cars parked waiting for gasoline to be available at a particular station. People were parking their cars, not going to work. I will say I liked the lighter traffic on the roads for this period of time! It took a little over a week before the government relented, rolling back the tax increases. Now we just need to get the gasoline trucks in here to re-supply the stations.