by Jess Cropsey
When we first arrived in Burundi in August 2013, there were 16 of us, including kids. Now merely 2-1/2 years later, our team has more than tripled in size with 52 people officially approved for 2-year terms or longer (although not all on the ground yet). It has been amazing to see how God has met all of our needs and brought people to us in some really unexpected ways.
I’d like to introduce you to the newest additions:
Greg & Stephanie Sund came for a 9-month term in 2014-2015. Greg is an anesthesiologist and Stephanie has a background in nursing. We really enjoyed having their family with us and were thrilled that they decided to come back on a long-term basis. Greg's skills are critical given the surgical volume at the hospital and he provided important training for Burundian anesthetists while he was here. They are currently raising support and looking for folks to join their support team in the hopes of heading to French language school this August.
Scott & Lindsay Nimmon: Beginning in the Fall 2016, we will have 18 school-age kids here (24 in total). With our current, amazing, going-to-miss-her-so-much teacher finishing her term and moving on to another ministry, we were desperately searching for other help with educating our kids. Scott & Lindsay read about our need and decided to take the plunge! We are excited to welcome them, a teacher-teacher couple with complementary expertise in social studies & language arts (to my & Heather’s backgrounds in math, science & foreign language). Their daughter will join our class of six 2nd-graders! They are raising support now and hope to join us by the beginning of the school year. If you’d like to help them along their way, click here.
George & Susan Watts: George & Susan started their term with Serge one year ago, originally on the Bujumbura team. George has a PhD in business and was working with the Master’s program in business at Hope Africa University. Unfortunately, shortly after their arrival the political unrest in Burundi began and has come & gone in waves since then. After sticking it out for quite some time (road barricades, routine explosions/grenades at night sometimes very close to their house, limited travel around the city, etc.), the Team Leaders in Bujumbura along with the Watts & the Serge Security Team thought it best to relocate their family here to Kibuye for the remainder of their 2-year term. We are grateful to have them here. George has many skills that are a huge asset to the hospital in the areas of business & administration. Please pray that George’s role at the hospital would be clarified soon. The hospital has recently created its own board and is working on restructuring, so pray for wisdom for the leadership in determining the best role for him. Susan has dove into daily visits to the pediatric & malnutrition ward at the hospital to bring encouragement & hope to those kids & mamas. She also recently started an English class for the Burundian doctors. They have four kids (ages 4-14) who have adjusted well to their new life “up-country”.
Nicole Christenson: We were the lucky recipients of Nicole from yet another Serge team (hopefully we’re not making too many enemies!). Nicole was slated to join the South Sudan team, but they had to evacuate last year while she was still raising support and weren’t sure if/when they would be able to go back. It came up in conversation at our Serge East Africa retreat last year that we were looking for a finance person, and the team leaders for South Sudan told us about Nicole. Et voila! — She arrived in August and has been helping wade through the financial systems at the hospital and keeping track of lots of receipts for the many projects. She also goes out of her way to host special events for our kids. It’s been great to have her here! (The photo below shows her in costume for Elise's "African Animal"-themed birthday party.)
Tony & Judith Sykes: Tony and Judith are on loan to us from Engineering Ministries International. Tony has been working tirelessly with Caleb Fader on the many building projects happening right now in Kibuye, particularly the new hospital surgical ward. We really appreciate his many years of experience!
Pray for our team as a whole as we continue to add new people - that we would remain unified in vision and purpose and be a light to this community in how we love each other.