Friday, April 18, 2008

Burundi trip update

I’m home again! I didn’t take very many pictures, but fortunately the team I was with did, so I’ll post a few here and give a brief summary.

Burundi as a whole has not improved since I was there in 2006. There are the same huge potholes in all the roads, the same corruption and inefficiencies. (I found myself particularly frustrated at the inefficiency—why do you have to pass through 3 people to get a local check cashed at the bank??) The level of insecurity has increased as well as the poverty, unfortunately, and there continues to be political instability. In the midst of all that, a few Burundian church leaders told me there is revival in Burundi—many people are coming to Christ and Christians are getting more serious about their faith and in prayer. Praise the Lord that he works even in such adverse circumstances!

My role was to help connect the team from Mars Hill church to Turame, and be a cultural and language interpreter as needed. The team was very impressed with the work that Turame is doing, and there is great potential for this partnership. After the team left, I stayed an additional week to work on other issues with Turame. I really enjoyed the chance to reconnect with the staff of Turame and work “in-person” rather than by myself at home!

Me with the team from Mars Hill,
eating lunch near the shore of Lake Tanganyika

Ron showing some kids the picture he took of them on his camera

Outside of work at Turame, I got the chance to reconnect with several friends and colleagues. I had fun playing with kids when I spent the night with some missionary friends, and when I visited a few Burundian families. I visited some new churches, and enjoyed the African worship style (one hour is too short for a service! J) I was really encouraged by some of the things that are happening in Burundi on a small scale –spiritually and physically. And, I decided to seize the opportunity of having a jogging partner and dirt roads, and went jogging 5 times in my 2 weeks!

Another thing I did was read. I don’t read for fun very often, but traveling is one time when I do. I read 4 books on this trip, each of which was really excellent. Here they are, in the order that I read them:

  1. For What It’s Worth: a call to no-holds barred discipleship, by Simon Guillebaud. Simon is a missionary in Burundi, and the book is sprinkled with illustrations from ministry in Burundi. It is a challenging and inspiring book, and I recommend it. I even got to visit with Simon and his wife on this trip.
  2. With Justice for All, by John Perkins: This is mainly about the need and method of community development in America. I thought it was very insightful, and that many of his insights are applicable to Africa, as well. I never thought I would hear and African American speak about the negative effects of the American welfare system so vehemently!
  3. The Alchemist, by Paulo Coehlo. A short novel that I read in one day at the beach, upon Trina’s recommendation. I was really glad I did! The story is amazing, and I think anyone would find it inspiring and intriguing.
  4. The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini. I had been somewhat-wanting to read this for awhile, but was scared of it (if you know how well I deal with any violence in movies, you will understand). A stirring, but very somber story. I’m glad I read it, but really hate the thought that such evil and pain do exist in our world.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Burundi pictures

The picture above is of the Turame managers and the Mars Hill team that was visiting Burundi. Their visit really went well, and I am really excited about the potential of this partnership. They were excited to interact with staff and clients, and asked some great questions about Turame's processes and how the work can be improved.
A client group that we visited in a rural area.
the building behind them is Turame's branch office.

Watch out--Kristi might come home with this baby! :)

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Weekend up north

I'm in Burundi now, but wanted to share a few pictures from last weekend when we had the chance to visit San Francisco. We had the rare opportunity to see all of Bob's family, and had fun catching up with each of them. Here's a picture of our nephew, Dylan, feeding the ducks and Grandma and Grandpa's.
We also had the blessing of meeting with our care team from Menlo Park. Everyone was able to attend, and the gathering was a real encouragement to us! Here's everyone at breakfast:

Those are just a few of the fun highlights. We're so glad to have loving friends and family to go home to! I'll post a few pictures from Burundi in a few days when I have a few more minutes...things are still busy here!