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Broken Glasses

Aurélie is from France and was mobilized in 2021 to Burundi where she has been appointed the Pedagogical Advisor at the Karubabi Harvest School. She serves with Multiply in partnership with Mennonite churches in France.

With dismay, I looked down at the broken frames in my hands. Just like that, when I had been so careful! It would be inconvenient, at the very least. They would be expensive to replace. Perhaps, I thought to myself, I could get by without them, or even borrow someone else’s for a time. 

If anything, my broken glasses reminded me that I see things differently without them. In a similar way, my time in Burundi has reminded me that I see things differently than my African brothers and sisters. Since arriving in Burundi, my worldview has been radically challenged. Let me give a few examples. 

In my work as a teacher at the Karubabi Harvest School, I have been frustrated many times by the last-minute preparation of lessons by my co-workers. “Why not prepare for class in advance?” I asked. One teacher replied, “There is no guarantee I will even make it through this day! Why should I prepare for something that may not even happen?” 

On another occasion, I burst into praise, admiring the beauty of the lush landscape and majestic mountains. My Burundian companion commented, “You see beautiful mountains, but I see places where terrorist rebels are hiding.” 

On another day, I made a simple comment of appreciation about the rain that was met with a stern reminder of how dangerous rain can be in Burundi, where floods and landslides displace thousands each year.

Are my perspectives wrong, or only different? It is a careful balance, knowing when to allow myself to be corrected, and when to gently and respectfully offer a viewpoint that may challenge others. 

While visiting churches back in France, I tried to help my supporters see things from a Burundian perspective. Sending an abundance of hygiene supplies, for example, is not helpful for families that do not have any mindset for storing things. They don’t keep extra, because they only use what they need for the day, or maybe the week. 

I am still learning to understand and embrace these differences. I need discernment to identify the plank in my own eye before presuming to point out the speck in another’s (Matthew 7:3-5).

Pray for me in Burundi, that God would help me understand the perspectives of my brothers and sisters here, and that he would bless me with his vision, his truth, and his Spirit. 

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