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I have no idea how many entries I’ll be able to make due to time or internet availabiliiy/computer availability while I’m on my trip to Africa from Jan. 22–Feb. 3, but I’ll give it a shot when I can.

There are approximately 850,000 orphans in Burundi.

Stop.

Read that again.

That’s 10% of the nation’s population that lost their parents from the ravages of war or disease or abandonment. Hence, there are 850,000 or so stories.

And, today, I heard three of them first-hand.

The peculiar reality was that the 9th of 10 kids or the oldest of 5 or the 17-year-old that sat in between them didn’t focus much on what I was expecting they’d talk about: I mean, they’re teenagers, right? With a captive audience of Americans, right? They’re at an orphanage with a story to tell that’s likely been told so often they know precisely when the captive audience of Americans will break down, right?

What we heard were stories of thanksgiving.

We heard that they were thankful for the ministry for paying their school fees (which, if you’re wondering, is close to $3 USD per month).
We heard that they were thankful not only for the school uniform that was purchased for them but also for the extra clothes for when they weren’t in school.
We heard that they were thankful for the textbooks.
We heard that they were thankful for notebooks.
We heard that they were thankful for the hygiene products.
We heard they were thankful for their education.
They told us they loved us and were grateful for us.
Because we all follow the same Christ who somehow brought us together.

And, by us, they meant any of us who’d given gifts that somehow wound up in a missions budget and some minor fraction had ended up as paying for a part of any of those things…or maybe some of us who’ve sponsored a child in this manner through any number of organizations.

They wanted to say “thank you.”
And tell us they loved us.

Thier story was one of gratitude.
And they have at least 850,000 reasons to tell a different story.

But they chose to give thanks.

And, in humility, I will choose to as well…

…so, thank you to all of you who’ve given any type of resource to ministries such as ALARM or Compassion or your church’s sponsorship program…

…it matters.

(and don’t even get me started on my friends who’ve adopted from orphanages on this continent and in the States)

Because it changes stories.

Here’s to 849,997 more changes, eh?