The past couple weeks have been good. I feel like we are starting to hit our stride with living here. There continue to be challenges, but overall, we feel well and are grateful to be here. I thought I would describe a few of the highlights from our past couple weeks.
Last Friday evening, the 4 anesthesia students as well as the full time anesthetist here came to our home for a visit. It was wonderful to see them all out of the hospital, and to have the opportunity to serve them tea and zuchinni bread. They came bearing gifts as well, a beautiful basket filled with 3 pineapples (one for each of our kids). We found out the following day that it is Burundi tradition that when someone brings you a basket such as this, you remove the gifts, then place something back into the basket as a gift for the visitor. I wish we had learned this one day sooner.
I have now twice had the opportunity to visit other churches outside Kibuye with the local missionaries. I am eager to accept these invitations because to be honest, I am getting a little stir crazy here on “the compound”. Both times involved 30 to 45 minute drives through beautiful hills and villages. Both times involved being greeted by mobs of people (mostly children) and both times involved being seated behind the pulpit facing the congregation (yep ... awkward indeed). Oh yeah, and both times involved services lasting 4 hours (our Kibuye church service only lasts for 3 hours). The first church we visited presented us with gifts halfway through the service, a small gift-wrapped box containing 4 eggs. They also presented our local Burundian pastor with a live chicken, which rode home with us in the car. Mekdes joined me for the second visit, and somehow managed to sit through the entire 4 hour service. This was undoubtedly a miracle. I later found out that she’d completed a full week’s worth of math in the math workbook she brought with her, with the entire church watching her. After each service, we were again mobbed by hundreds of people who wanted to shake our hands and then just stare at us. I guess this must be what Brad Pitt feels like when he goes out in public. Yeah, that’s right ... I just compared myself to Brad Pitt, what of it?
The past couple Monday afternoons, Steph and the kids visited the hospital, bringing paper and crayons to draw pictures with the kids in traction. These poor kids lay there in bed for weeks at a time with nothing to do, and they seem grateful for the distraction of a bunch of Muzungu kids playing with them. On their first visit to the hospital Steph and the kids were a bit surprised by the herds of rats scurrying around the ward. The rats here are not shy ... and they appear to be well fed, sometimes more well fed than the kids in the hospital. In fact, we’ve been told that the malnutrition rate among children in Burundi is 60%, but that’s a topic for another post.
We are continuing to learn new things, and meet new people everyday, and are grateful to be here, and to have the strength to continue in this ministry.