One week ago, Eric and I woke up to terrible news. Our area director, Jennifer Myhre, had been in a terrible bike accident. She was airlifted to a trauma center in West Virginia, unconscious, on a ventilator with bleeding in her brain. Many of you might have already seen this news either on facebook or because you too are friends with the Myhres, but in case you haven't we are asking for prayer. Jennifer has made tremendous strides this past week...she is off the ventilator, walking with assistance, cognitively intact but with periods of confusion throughout the day. She has come a long way, but there is a lot of healing still to go, and she is moving to inpatient rehab this week for at least 7-10 days.
Scott and Jennifer have been our area directors for East Africa since we joined up with Serge in 2011. I still remember meeting them for the first time. They had just been named area directors and were moving to Kijabe after many years of raising their family in Bundibugyo, Uganda. Despite the fact that we were not yet approved as Serge missionaries, they drove down to Tenwek Hospital, where we were living at the time, to meet us and encourage us. They showed up with literally two giant baskets of produce, a big treat as we were living hours from the nearest grocery store. I was thinking back on that occasion this past week, remembering special times with Jennifer...how two of the things that matter most to her, how she shows her love and support to us, are generosity and presence.
I don't know how to be a team leader without Scott and Jennifer. They have consistently had our backs over these past 10 years on the field. Always encouraging, always cheerleading, always praying for us. Scott has a special gift of incredible photography of the world around us, but it's Jennifer that puts into words the beauty and longing and struggle and mystery that we experience day after day in our lives. We needed their presence and their advice last February, so at great personal cost to themselves, they braved multiple rounds of covid tests, a long journey, and 7 days of mandatory hotel quarantine to physically be with us and support us at Kibuye. It was perhaps the most encouraging thing that happened to us during that year...good friends and mentors, laying down their lives for us, traveling to Burundi, loving us. Jennifer wrote this blog after leaving.
Scott has been updating their family blog with news about Jennifer. If you're interested, you can click here. Their blog is amazing, so feel free to browse around a bit as well. Jennifer is really the rock of our East Africa region. We've never closed a session together without her calling us all to and leading us in prayer. None of us know what the future holds for her, but please pray with us for complete healing. Scott has also said that right now that they need "courage not clarity," (I mean, we'd all love clarity but that's not always an option) so please pray for that as well.
A farewell to the McCropders and the Serge Kibuye Team from John and Jessica Cropsey
piki (motorcycle in Kiswahili) partners, fellow vacationers, and more.
By Carlan Wendler
“You need a [insert French title of a document you have never heard of here] in order to do that.”
“There is no power, so the computer / printer needed for your document cannot work.”
“The person with the key [to the electrical closet] is not here.”
My expectations to get four errands done in a morning in town, either Bujumbura or Gitega, are frequently tempered by such realities. Sometimes what one can get done in a day is substantially less than what was hoped. This prompts three major reflections on my part.
First, I am a slave to “productivity.” Or perhaps a better way to describe it is that I idolize getting things checked off my list. Progress. That feeling of moving forward, resolving difficulties, building momentum towards big goals. That is what I love. And though we perceive time as linear, moving from Creation to New Creation, it is false to think of it as a straight line. Maybe it is more like a tapestry, warp & woof, bends & knots coming together to reveal a scene no single thread could ever comprehend.
|Progress sometimes looks like pavement & multistory buildings.|
The Burundians I encountered during this last round of administrative errands did not appear to live under such expectations. In fact, they didn’t seem to mind when we were ushered to the front of the line (grimace, sorry everybody). And that is the second observation, the incredible grace & patience of these gentle folk. I know it may be fraught to generalize, especially with such a superficial sampling (hearts may be hard though facial expressions soft), but the flexibility and resiliency of Burundians stands out in my experience as a particularly strong feature of this culture. They are teaching me a lot.
|Sometimes we get ushered to the front of the line, only to find that the person we need isn’t available.|
Others have written more and better [African Friends & Money Matters] about the priority of relationship over transaction in many African cultures. This has unexpected impact when it seems like one party is seeking to extend the interaction as long as possible while the other is desperate to leave and accomplish another task. Yet at the same time, it means that knowing the right person opens doors…or finds keys, turns on the power, and gets you that form that you need in an instant. Within 15 minutes of finding out that we needed that “Attestation de résidence,” Jason had printed and signed them for us, texted us a photo, and left the physical copies with a secretary who could give them to a house helper who rode on his motorcycle to deliver them to Gitega (30 min drive). We had them before the bankers went home for the day and all ended well…it might also have had something to do with the fact that the banker’s supervisor graduated from the local high school.
So at the end of the day, I think I got a lot more than three out of four errands completed from that trip to Gitega; I got God’s personalized reminder that succeeding in life, progress in maturity, is so much more about the relationships we form & develop along the way than the boxes we get to check. Thank you Burundi!
by Julie Banks
Our family (the Banks) recently arrived in Burundi after a little over a year in the States. We completed our first term (5 years) with Serge in July of 2020. We were already due to have a Home Ministry Assignment in 2020, but as we all know, this past year proved more complicated than we had anticipated. Our HMA was extended, providing our family time to pray about our future, process our past in Africa, and cherish the present time with family and supporters in the States. All things considered, it was a great year for our family. We were thankful for the opportunity for Logan to rejoin the faculty of Cox Family Medicine Residency practicing “Western” medicine for a season, to travel across much of the United States seeing supporters and beautiful sites in the US, as well as grace and time to participate in counselling and preparations to rejoin the team at Kibuye. We arrived in Burundi on August 1st, with a feeling of coming home, for which we are so grateful.
But this blog is not about us. Our family was not the only one to arrive this summer! In fact, this summer was quite a busy time of missionary arrivals to Kibuye!
Caleb and Krista Fader arrived with Liam, Gavin, and Jono after two years in the States. Caleb is diving back into all things Engineering while Krista is taking on many important roles within the team and local community. Liam will be starting 2nd grade while Gavin is beginning Kindergarten.
Dr. Ted and Eunice John arrived with Toby, Amos and Timothy after a little over a year in the States. Ted is back at home in the Operating Room while Eunice is joining the faculty of Kibuye Hope Academy and helping with many jobs around the missionary compound. Toby will be starting 1st grade at KHA this year.
The Wendlers arrived in Burundi after a year and a half in the States with new baby Isaiah and 2 year old Gabrielle. Carlan is eager to be back in Urgences (Emergency Room) while Michelle is making their newly finished house a home for their family.
Glory Guy also arrived this summer from Nashville, TN. She is a teacher who will be serving at KHA for two years. She has served with other Serge teams in the UK, and we are so glad to have her join our Kibuye team.
Our family is settling back into our home in Kibuye. Logan is the primary acting FP/OB right now working in the Maternity service, operating in the OR, as well as OB and internal medicine clinics. Julie is jumping back into life on the compound and is preparing to teach French and Music at KHA where Liam will be in 7th grade and Zeke in 5th grade.
All of these arrivals over the summer could each be a lengthy blog post in and of themselves. With the arrival of these 19 people, none of our journeys went smoothly! Among us we experienced unexpected delays due to weather, surprise positive Covid tests, non-covid sicknesses. Not all of us received our luggage - which meant complications with medications, contact lenses, and other necessary items. Six of us had our passports stolen upon arrival. Plus lots and lots of Covid tests, masks, social distancing, and struggles traveling with busy toddlers and crying babies!
But… we all made it! We are all fine. All luggage did finally arrive – praise the Lord! And we are ready to join in the efforts at Kibuye, each doing our part in the missionary community, at the hospital, and in Burundi. God has called us each here for such a time as this. We are happy to be with our colleagues, holding up each other’s weary arms in this spiritual battle we are a part of. (ref: Exodus 17:12-14)
Thank you for praying us all here. As many of us have arrived this summer, there have been some tearful departures as well. So please continue to pray for our team as we are all in transition. From the doctors at the hospital to the little toddlers of the team. We are all in transition and we need grace, patience, and mercy as we all readjust.
|Two masks are always safer than one...|
Travel in, to, and from African nations has always been a challenge. Airports are crowded and chaotic, flights are sporadic and often changed. There are visas to purchase, sometimes at the airport and sometimes ahead of time, occasionally on websites that don’t work, and even once in awhile, an exit visa to procure before you can leave your host country. You can never check in online, and the internet doesn’t report flight updates (due to the “low likelihood of accurate information”). Upon arrival into said international airports, there are many forms to fill out, many lines to stand in, and not always many people who speak your preferred language or understand the fact that you may not know what you’re doing. Once you’ve made it through the gauntlet, your luggage might or might not have arrived and if not, who knows where it is and if/when it will ever arrive (and if it does arrive, where it should be held or sent to so that one day you will see your luggage again). Finally, will someone be there to pick you up? Hopefully yes, because your cell phone doesn’t work in this country.
|Thankful for our travel buddies, Steve and Mary Wiland. At the airport, good to go!|
Jenn teaching on rounds
Medical Education. Not something I thought I'd really get in to, but I love it! When we arrived to Kibuye 2019 for a two month vision trip, my role was mostly observational, helping out and seeing patients, but mainly seeing how things work working in an underdeveloped, underserved hospital in Burundi. When we returned in January 2020, I was mostly in a clinical role - seeing patients on wards, answering questions from generalist doctors who were seeing a complicated case in the outpatient clinic, and teaching some didactic sessions for the medical interns. Slowly but surely, however, I started taking on more and more of the "medical education" (MedEd for short) component of the work that is done here.
Six of our most recent graduates from the "Stage Professionnel" program - the one-year rotating internship for doctors who have just completed medical school.
For the documentation of grades for medical students who are doing their clinical rotations during the latter part of their medical education, they have abook called a "carnet" in which the professors write down a grade for the rotation they have just finished. The profs are in charge of writing the grades, but it's my job to collect the grades, enter them into our spreadsheet, and return the carnets back to the students. And guess what. I've loved this. "That's weird." you may say. Well, through this process, I've been able to get to know the names of the students and get to interact with them even when they are not on the peds service. Sure, it takes time and effort, but I'm glad I've had this responsibility for a bit.
Another fun thing that is new is that we are now having a Peds Journal Club two times a month. I pick articles and alternate between French and English. French so they have a better chance of fully understanding the article which increases the chance they will discuss the article and English so that they are encouraged to at least attempt to read medical literature written in English. Why is this necessary? Every medical student has to write a thesis paper for which an extensive literature review is necessary. Why English you ask? The majority of medical literature is in the aformention language which for all of them is a second laguage. Wait. Did I mention this was voluntary for the students!?! They still come! ◡̈
Other new(-to-me) responsiblities are organizing lecture schedules for our medical intern program (Stage Professionnel program), giving some of those lectures, teaching medical students after rounds, giving weekly pediatric lectures to the medical interns who are rotating on peds, etc.
Dr. Christmas was a student at Hope Africa University, worked at Kibuye Hope Hospital for some years, and is currently in a pedatric residency program in Egypt. He is spending this month with us here at Kibuye. It's so encouraging to see God's work in the lives of people here! Expecially when it's a stuednt of this system who is now here teaching! ◡̈