The short answer to where we are going is, Burundi. However, I have found that this answer is insufficient for several reasons. To start with, as it turns out, most Americans have never heard of Burundi. In fact, some of my partners have accused me of making it up, just to get nine months off of work. Well, it really is a country, and not just a nickname for our summer home on Orcas Island.
So why have so few people, including myself up until the last few years, heard of Burundi? This is a question to which I don’t have a good answer. Burundi is a small country located between Rwanda, Tanzania and DR Congo. One of the things I find most interesting about Burundi is that it went through the same civil war that Rwanda went through, but yet it seemed to get very little international attention (at least in the US). From what we know, Burundi, a former Belgian colony, is a beautiful country with beautiful people, which for the past several years has consistently been ranked one of the five poorest countries in the world by the World Bank, CIA and the International Monetary Fund (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/
So, why are we going to Burundi. In 2010, I went on a three week mission trip to a hospital in Kenya called Tenwek. While there I met a team of American missionary doctors (4 doctors from 3 families) who were serving in Kenya for 2 years with Samaritan’s purse and who had committed themselves to long term mission work in Africa. I grew very fond of this group and kept in touch with the general surgeon and his family after that. In 2011, this surgeon and his family came to Washington and visited our family for a couple days. As it turns out, after much prayer and investigation, the group (called the McCropders, a combination of their last names) had decided to settle permanently at a rural teaching hospital in Burundi. And, as it turns out, they have 3 surgeons (general surgeon, ophthamologist and OB/GYN) and very little anesthesia support. Stephanie and I prayed about it, and felt that God was in fact calling us to serve with them, at least for a period of time.
So, off we go, to Kibuye Hope Hospital in Burundi. After a year of language training in French and Kirundi, the McCropders arrived at the hospital last November and have been hard at work, training, lecturing, operating and planning. We feel blessed to have been given this opportunity, and look forward to sharing more about Burundi with our family and friends as we settle in for the next nine months.
If you would like to read stories and learn more about the team we are joining, you can visit their blog:http://www.mccropders.