From Michigan to Burundi: Container #2

by Rachel

It doesn't seem that long ago that, several days before Christmas 2013, a big red 40 foot container made its way up Kibuye hill to deliver Christmas presents (and a variety of other household goods) to our families.  Well, several years and several new teammates later, we were ready to send container #2.  This container featured personal items for a few families, a lot of construction equipment (including a flatbed trailer and cement mixer), books and computers for a new medical library, power conditioners for our wildly surging electricity, classroom supplies for the local Kirundi primary school, boxes of medical equipment, and a variety of other sundry donations and goodies.  As before, the packing of the container required the assistance of many, many people.  Caleb, John, and Eric all supervised the loading of different portions.  Our home church, Knox, generously gave us space in their lower parking lot to park a beautiful to us, but potentially an eyesore of a mustard yellow metal box, for what turned out to be six months.  They also built us several storage sheds which we will be able to use as future container packing staging sites.  This is not even mentioning the generous financial donations from our church and others to purchase the majority of what went into the container.
Best seats in the house for watching container packing
John's solution for putting a 1,000 lb planer on the container: a pickup, some 2x4's, duct tape, and a ramp

Loading the packed container onto its semi trailer last December
On the front end, packing required ingenuity (mostly on John's part) and heavy lifting equipment.  Pickup trucks, forklifts, and flatbed trailers with lifts were all engaged to do the work.  And finally, after months of delay (some of which was due to our shipping agent waiting on a quote for rail transport for the container within Burundi...which we could have told him didn't exist), on an icy day in December, our container was launched.  It travelled overland to the East Coast and sailed to Oman.  There it was transferred to another ship which had to skirt the Somali coast and its pirates (see the movie "Captain Phillips" for details) and landed in Dar es Salaam.  After several days of overland journey through western Tanzania (where there aren't apparently paved roads), the box arrived in Buja, where it sat for several weeks clearing customs.  There were a few false starts and delays on its final leg of the journey up to Kibuye, but it finally arrived late last Sunday.

On the back end, unpacking required ingenuity (mostly on John's part), and heavy lifting equipment (i.e. 20-30 Burundian men).  It was amazing to watch these guys lifting and unloading what took forklifts to put on the container.  Thanks to dozens of people, what took months to pack was unloaded in just under a day, and the empty container was laid to rest in its new home in the new Busoma compound.  There were a lot of tired, but very happy, western missionaries on Monday night.  I would be lying to say we weren't happy in part because of the marshmallows we were eating. :)  So, thanks to everyone who helped make this possible.  The container's contents are and will be a blessing to many here as we seek to continue to serve.
"Heavy lifting equipment" = Burundian workers

Excited kids opening up container gifts

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