Saturday, August 30, 2014

Burundi at last!

Well, two days later than expected, but we have finally arrived.  We were picked up at the airport Friday night by Jason Fader and his two daughters.  They brought us to the home of an American pediatrician and teacher missionary where we are spending the first two nights in Bujumbura, and tomorrow we make the 3 hour drive to Kibuye.  It is beautiful here.  The kids are so excited and have quickly bonded with Anna and Abi Fader.

The house we are staying at is perched on a hill overlooking the city, Lake Tanganika and on a clear day we are told you can actually see the DR Congo across the lake.  Spent today shopping, as there are no stores where we are going.  Would love to load more photos from the day but the internet is a little slow right now.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Life in Africa is hard

Oh wait .... we are still in Brussels.

The girls could not understand why this statue of Biniyam is found all over Brussels.  

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

We made it ....

..... half way to Burundi!  So, our journey began yesterday morning at 4:30 AM at the Seattle airport with us finding out that our first flight (to Chicago) was cancelled.  Which meant that we would be missing our connection to Brussels and our connection to Bujumbura.  After spending 2 and 1/2 hours with the ticketing agent (with Steph and the kids hovering close by with our 500 + lbs of luggage), they found us another flight plan:  Seattle to Denver to Frankfurt to Brussels to Bujumbura.  However, the flight to Bujumbura only happens 3 times a week, so we have a 2 night layover in Brussels.  Not exactly what we had planned, but we are trying to make the most of it (see photos below).

Monday, August 25, 2014

Why We Go

The excerpt below is from a book that has become very dear to me.  It is a book of puritan prayers, titled, The Valley of Vision.  Most of my mornings I start by reading over one of these short prayers.  These prayers are a daily reminder to me of the depth of my depravity at the same time reminding me of the grandeur of God's glory and goodness.  On my best day I am prone to forget these two great truths ... on my worst day I am prone to invert them.  

When Stephanie and I made the decision to take our family to Burundi to serve for 9 months, one question I thought I would often be posed with was, "Why are you going?".  As it turns out, very few people have actually asked me this question.  But I feel like it is an important one to answer, whether people are asking or not.  So, although our intention is to primarily use this blog to keep our family and friends updated on what we are doing while in Burundi and to share stories from there, I feel I need to start by trying to answer the question of why we are going.

The truth is that our motives are mixed, and some of these motives are entirely selfish.  Stephanie and I both love to travel, we love an adventure, we want our kids to gain a larger worldview.  But buried under all these selfish motives, is one motive that we hope is pure, and that really has very little to do with us, and that motive is our faith in a God who would love us enough to pursue us and reconcile us to Himself through the humble and sacrificial servanthood of His Son, Jesus. 

“You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them.  Not so with you.  Instead, whoever wants to be great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all.  For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” - Mark 10:42-45
This is the paradox and the beauty of the Christian faith, that God Himself became meek and lowly to serve us, and to adopt us into His family.  That is why we go.  We go, because He came to us.  We serve, because He first served us. 
The Valley of Vision

Lord, high and holy, meek and lowly,

Thou hast brought me to the valley of vision,
where I live in the depths but see thee in the heights;
hemmed in by mountains of sin I behold thy glory.
 Let me learn by paradox
that the way down is the way up,
that to be low is to be high,
that the broken heart is the healed heart,
that the contrite spirit is the rejoicing spirit,
that the repenting soul is the victorious soul,
that to have nothing is to possess all,
that to bear the cross is to wear the crown,
that to give is to receive,
that the valley is the place of vision.

Sunday, August 24, 2014


So, what does it look like to move a family of 5 to Africa for 9 months .... something like this:

10 checked bags (each weighing dangerously close to 50 lbs)
5 carry-ons
5 "personal items"
I hope we remember to bring the kids

Sunday, August 17, 2014

So, where are you going?

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 ( 

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:

The team

The hospital