Last month our whole team vacated Kibuye for a weekend (thanks to a couple of visiting doctors who stayed behind) to spend time together at Lake Tanganyika in Bujumbura. We thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to play, swim, worship, pray, eat, and laugh together and we're so thankful for the Serge Member Care staff who came to facilitate our retreat and care for us all. A team retreat was especially valuable at this time because, as you can see from the picture, our team has grown by leaps and bounds over the last few years. We no longer all live in one building where we run into each other multiple times a day for small talk and tall talk. In fact, there are some teammates who I may not see for days at a time as our paths and work don't typically intersect. Connecting in a significant way requires a lot more intentionality. So making fun new memories together and bonding more at our retreat was especially beneficial this year.
In integrating new teammates, I realize that we also have welcomed many new blog readers over the last couple years - grandparents, parents, friends, and supporters of our new teammates. I've loved getting to know several teammates' parents who have come to visit us at Kibuye - and the missionary kids are always happy when anyone's grandparents are around! But I suspect that many of you have not scrolled back through the blog archives to its beginning in 2008 and you may not be aware of how the team formed or how exactly we ended up in Burundi. So I thought I'd offer you a short-ish recap. For those who have been around for awhile, you can enjoy the trip down memory lane and remembering just how little and cute the kids used to be - and how young Jason Fader looked!
2009. The McCropders (with 6 adults and 5 kids) arrived in Kenya to begin the 2 year post residency program at Tenwek Hospital through Samaritan's Purse. I think I actually took this picture for them - not knowing that we would be long term teammates heading off into the unknown together before long.
During the two years at Tenwek, God really grew the team - in numbers through me and Baby Ben, but primarily in developing a deeper shared vision and philosophy of ministry forged in the challenges and joys of life and medicine in a developing country. They were two years of wrestling with patient deaths and suffering, gaining experience as new attending physicians, discovering the joy of teaching and discipling African medical interns and residents, learning from and being mentored by more experienced medical missionaries, and growing as a community of friends and colleagues.
The team's vision was honed to the following:
|McLaughlin family visiting Burundi and being welcomed by Bishop Elie Buconyori|
|We also got to meet the first class of HAU medical students and work with them for a week at Kibuye Hope Hospital. We found them to be bright, enthusiastic learners - great hope for a nation with 3 doctors per 100,000 people.|
|And one of those med students then visited us in Kenya! Alliance is now completing his surgery residency in Gabon and we look forward to welcoming him and his family back to Burundi when he finishes.|
We said goodbye to Kenya in 2011 and the thirteen of us (plus Baby Sammy in utero) headed back to the US to do support raising, locum tenems work, and tropical medicine training before going to Burundi.
We were thrilled when Serge (then World Harvest Mission) agreed to courageously take on our whole team as the first Serge missionaries to Burundi! This picture was taken at our assessment and orientation in Sept 2011.
2012-2013. Ten months of French language school in the Alps was not quite the glamour we expected, but we survived - and learned a lot about God's strength in our weakness through the process.
And then, finally, in August 2013, we arrived in Burundi (8 adults, 8 kids)! We first spent three rough months in intensive Kirundi study in Banga, Burundi, but then we were thrilled to settle into our new Kibuye home.
Our first team retreat in Burundi - visiting the nearby waterfalls.
The six doctors headed off to the hospital while the two teachers homeschooled the kids
Then the team grew (2014)...
And then there was an attempted coup d'état in Burundi (2015) and the team shrunk temporarily...
We enjoyed getting to know our Burundian colleagues...
...and we learned a lot even as we taught each new class of medical students.
We attended Serge's company-wide conference in May 2016 and got our first picture with our new teammates
And here we are at Kibuye, Christmas 2016 - 19 adults, 24 kids - yes, the kids definitely have us outnumbered these days! Thankfully we have great teachers to provide an excellent education for these adventurous, funny, sweet, creative, third culture kids!
And coming soon in 2017...the return of the Wendlers, the Sunds, and Lauren! And in 2018....the arrival of two post residency program families (2 surgeons).
We're thankful for how God has brought us all together through the last 10 years - certainly through unexpected twists and turns in the journey, but always with His Presence and grace sustaining us. Please pray with us that others would see the love we have for one another and be thus drawn into the Gospel to the glory of God.