Laughter, Police Actions, and Roadblocks

Tomorrow, Burundi is inaugurating its first democratically-elected president since the cease-fire of 2006. The 12 year ethnically-based civil war claimed an estimated 300,000 lives, most of them civilian. So this is an important step for the people of Burundi.

When you travel overseas, it's always good to register with the State Department. This way, the United States government knows the whereabouts of its citizens in case of an evacuation or the need for general assistance. They also send email updates to inform those registered of any changes in the foreign civil situation.

I received one of those emails today. With the inauguration tomorrow, the state department warns of tightened security, regular police road-blocks, and large civilian crowds. Even without the Department of State's warning, it's always a good idea to avoid large crowds when overseas.

That's why I'm grateful that I finished my teaching today. With nothing on the agenda for tomorrow, I can huddle in my hotel room and pour over the pictures and video that I've taken.

I have to admit I'm looking forward to the day off. While I'm extremely thankful that God allowed me the opportunity to teach these dear men, it's tiring work. Add to that the electricity being off for most of the last several nights (no air conditioning or sleep machine), and I haven't been sleeping overly well. (The power just went out when I put the period on that sentence.)

Flory was sick yesterday, so I had a different translator. The first hour spent slogging through the language barrier left me thinking "this is going to be a long day." I'm not sure if he began to understand me better (I made some changes in my pace and vocabulary) or God gave me the patience I lacked, but things improved over the course of the day. 

Flory was back at his post today, and we finished (for the most part at least) the doctrinal statement. Some parts went quickly without much comment. But others inspired animated discussion and pointed questions. Issues like eternal security, justification, the cessation of tongues, the baptism of the Holy Spirit, and the filling of the Spirit were hot topics.

From the questions asked, the heavy Roman Catholic and Pentecostal influence in central Africa was evident. The baptism of the Holy Spirit generated the most commotion. I would make a statement or two and the men would begin talking all at once. Then would come the questions, the answers, and more animated discussion. It was great! A good cook loves to feed a hungry crowd, and these men were eager to work through the doctrines. 

The best times, however, were when the men laughed. They didn't laugh because something was funny, however. They laughed when they saw something they've never seen before. You could almost see the lightbulbs over their heads. And today, even more than yesterday, was a day of laughter.

They laughed when they saw the Holy Spirit was a seal and a "deposit guaranteeing our inheritance" (Eph 1:14). They laughed when they realized that "no one can snatch us from [either the Father's or Jesus') hand" (John 10:28-29). They laughed when they grasped that praying in tongues isn't evidence of the Holy Spirit assisting them, because he "intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express" (Rom 8:26). And the list goes on and on.

It's been a good two days.

[Posted with iBlogger from my iPhone]