A Birthday Chicken

by Heather

The story really started the day we arrived at Kibuye.  Someone gave us a welcome gift:  a rooster.  Our kids adored it, fed it popcorn kernels, attached a leash around its leg, and took it for walks.
It was a great pet… for a day… until it made an enormous ruckus at daybreak.  This meant trouble.  Within hours, the older kids polled the team:  Kill or Keep?  Anna lobbied her hardest, informing everybody of the many reasons to vote “keep.”  She wrote out some persuasive arguments, including “he is important to other chickens,” “he is educashional,” “he is innocent” and “parents can get work done when their kids are playing with him.”  Despite these efforts, after two days of 6am racket, the rooster became Rooster Curry for dinner. 

Since that fateful dinner, the children have been on the lookout for an opportunity to acquire another chicken.  A hen, actually, in order to avoid the 6am disturbance and to see if it would lay eggs.  Anna suggested a hen for Abi’s birthday present.  So we forked over 4000 francs (less than $3) and brought home a shiny black hen for Abigail’s 5th birthday today.   

The kids are loving it, and it made an easy birthday party theme here where there are no party supplies to be bought.  Egg races, pin the wing on the chicken, and frosting chickens on the banana cake.  Best of all, a real chicken to provide weeks of “educashional” entertainment until we all get hungry for chicken curry. 


Getting to Know the Locals

by Jess Cropsey
One of the more important objectives for this two months at Kibuye (before diving into medical work in January) is to get to know people in the local community and at the hospital.  We recognize the importance of relationships, particularly in this culture, and we are also aware that an influx of a large group of foreigners might make some people uncomfortable.  So, we’re trying to be intentional about building relationships.  This can take various forms.
Rachel & Alyssa have both given lectures (in French!) to the midwives and nursing students who are currently at the hospital.  Others have had planning meetings with administrators at the hospital and at the university.    
For some of us, athletic events are an appealing way to get to know people. 
 All of us (including the kids) have taken at least one visit to watch the drumming class which happens every afternoon after school (and lasts for hours).  It’s fun to listen to them from our apartments.
 Visiting the construction sites of our new homes is another enjoyable activity, and there are plenty of workers with whom we can practice some Kirundi.  Pictured below is the McLaughlin house which has made a lot of progress this past week.  The Cropsey house is also under construction, but not as far along.  The other houses will be built after these two are finished.  Jason, Carlan, and John have all purchased their own hoes so that they can join in from time to time.
 Today, a contingent of the team paid visits to several of the local community leaders.  Apparently, there is a proper order for all these things (start at the top and work your way down), so we’re thankful for the nationals here who can offer us guidance.
Please continue to pray for us in these first few months as we establish relationships and continue with language learning, both of which are crucial for long-term life and ministry here.


A Big Loss

by John & Jess Cropsey

It is with great sadness that we inform you that Sarah Crockett, our elementary teacher, will not be joining our team in Burundi.  As you may remember, Sarah’s deployment to Burundi was delayed in order to provide her with some recovery time after a challenging year in France.  Over the last few months, it has become clear that having Sarah join the team in Burundi is not God's leading.  This was a mutual decision and was made after much consideration, counsel, and prayer.

This is a huge loss to our team.  Sarah is an adventurous, caring, thoughtful, and dependable comrade as well as a creative, energetic, and resourceful teacher.  She loved our kids well in France and we got a small glimpse into how wonderful Kibuye Hope Academy (missionary kid school) would have been with her at the helm.  We also saw firsthand Sarah’s compassionate and tender heart and watched her pour herself out in sacrificial ways for others.    

We would ask for you to pray for all of us in the following ways:
*for the team in Burundi (including the kids) as we process and grieve this loss of a teammate.
*for Sarah as she also grieves the loss of a team and seeks other opportunities for work and ministry.
*for Jess and Heather as they serve as the children's teachers for the remainder of the school year and for the effect that has on their ministry outside the home.
*for God’s provision of two teachers for the 2014-2015 school year.

We are grateful for the time that we had with Sarah in France and know that everything we walked through together during that year came about due to God’s providence and loving hand.  May God continue to bless, guide, and strengthen us for the good works that He has prepared for each of us.



Acquiring the Basics in Burundi

by Jess Cropsey
We were excited to learn that Gitega (the second biggest city in Burundi) is located 30 minutes from the hospital.  We had high hopes that we would be able to acquire a decent amount of food necessities there instead of making the 2-1/2 hour drive to Bujumbura.  We have been pleasantly surprised by what we can indeed find in Gitega, so that is great news.  What has taken us by surprise is how little we can actually find at Kibuye.  In Kenya, we had fresh cow’s milk and eggs brought to our door and could purchase select local produce.  Every 6 weeks or so, we would stock up in Nairobi on meat, cheese, canned goods, and other such luxury items.  Now, we are struggling to find anything that we can buy locally.  This has meant that we’ve already made several trips to Gitega in the last week.  A group of us braved the market the other day and the locals were astonished at how much we were buying.  One lady commented in Kirundi, “The white people are hungry!”  I haven’t confirmed this yet, but I think that a lot of people only eat one meal a day and/or they eat the produce that is grown on their own little plot of land, thus minimizing the amount of food that they buy.  We’re hoping that an entrepreneurial Burundian will set up shop at Kibuye once he/she finds out that there are a bunch of hungry white people here now. 
While we cannot find a lot of things that are available in the U.S., we are fortunate to have access to some very unique treasures that you, our American blog readers, won’t be able to find.  Take for instance the noteworthy “Crust” toothpaste.  Having sampled this product, I would say that the “fresh mint” flavor is a bit of false advertising, but otherwise I’m sure that Drs. Jeffrey Brink & Hank Willis would approve of its fine quality.  
When Christmas and birthdays come around, we will be able to acquire paraphernalia for all the Harry Potter and/or Spiderman lovers on our team.  
And for the wee ones among us, “Happy Bear” (created by “Drum”) would be an excellent gift option.  
So while we do miss cream cheese, chocolate chips, and pretty much anything sweet, we are thankful for these special items that keep us laughing and remind us that “We’re not in Kansas anymore!”  



By Alyssa 

Beginnings are full of introductions. And in this context, there is a certain formality involved in those introductions beyond what is typical in the US - left hand on the right arm while shaking hands as a sign of respect, inquiring about family, etc. Thankfully that’s one of the first things we learned in Kirundi class and have practiced quite a bit. My brain still gets confused though as to which language to use - today I began introducing myself in French and then inadvertently switched to Kirundi and then got stuck and went back to French! One of the joys of pursuing this as a team is that it’s not quite so intimidating so stand up as a group as it would be as individuals. Plus then we get to learn from what other French or Kirundi phrases teammates have picked up along the way for greetings, etc. Everyone has received us so graciously and eagerly. And they seem to understand us for the most part - even with our halting words and grammatical mistakes! And they have as much trouble with pronouncing our names as we do theirs so we have the opportunity to extend grace to each other! It’s a blessing to begin our service here in the learner position, to accept the help of many eager language helpers, and to seek advice for figuring out how to accomplish basic tasks like purchasing milk and eggs. As we pursue careers here as teachers, it’s encouraging to remember that we are first learners and students ourselves. 

 We enjoyed our first church service here on Sunday including many beautiful choirs. My favorite was the choir of young girls - you can see them in the center of this picture with their white bandanas. They had impressive motions with each song. The church service was longer than we are used to, but we appreciated the opportunity to practice Kirundi, and to experience the joy the church members expressed for worshipping our Savior. We look forward to worshipping with them more fully as we understand more of the words sung and preached. As a team, we've been reading a book together called "Keeping the Sabbath Wholly" and I was reminded & convicted during the church service of the values of ceasing and resting on the Sabbath. Remembering that made me more content to embrace the opportunity to worship with the local community no matter the length of the service as I was free to do so without any other obligations for the day. 

Today five of the McCropder doctors were introduced at hospital staff devotions and morning report (Eric stayed home with the kids but will come next time). We appreciated the opportunity to meet our new colleagues and to listen to the devotions in Kirundi and then the morning report in French. A nursing student presented the admissions from last night for each of the services including a child with malaria, another with hydrocephalus, a pregnant mother with HIV, a lady with a gastrointestinal bleed and a large liver, a child with seizures & malaria, and another laboring woman who needed a C-section. We didn't quite understand all the French medical terms, but we felt warmly welcomed by all the staff, and we look forward to attending morning report regularly as a great language learning exercise as well as an opportunity to get to know our colleagues better. 
There was only one welcome that wasn't well received thus far. The kids were introduced to their new schoolroom yesterday and were greeted by swarms of pincer ants! We'll seek help from our "teachers" here as to how to fix that problem! In the meantime, the kids are learning how to avoid said "bad guys", as the little ones call them. 


Thoughts on the Arrival to Kibuye

(from Eric)

We arrived at Kibuye five days ago.  It was the shortest of all our epic moves.  We had sent most of our stuff ahead of us, so last Friday, we just piled into our van and our car, and headed out.  About 2 1/2 hours later, we had arrived, with the only hang-up being an overloaded truck carrying a small crane labeled ominously "Abnormal Load", which had tipped halfway off the road, blocking all traffic.  We were shown a detour, which was an absolutely incredible dirt mountain road, which John and Jason successfully navigated to much acclaim.

We arrived.  We parked.  We offloaded a few more things, and got to unpacking.
We're here.
And it's good.  And surreal.  People arrive places every day, all over the world.  Sometimes they arrive in a new place with an expectation of staying a really long time, like we have done.  The thing that sets apart this arrival is the road to getting here.  
Over three years ago, we visited this very place, and shortly thereafter committed to this location.  Two years ago, teams of individuals and churches committed to join this work and support us and send us… here.  Over a year ago, we left our home country again and started learning French in order to live and work here.  Three months ago, we arrived in country, got visas, started the grueling work of learning a second foreign language in tandem, because it's necessary…because we were going here.  The number of sentences we have uttered that started with "when we get to Kibuye" are countless.
It's lovely here right now.  It's green and cool.  There are avocado and papaya trees.  People have welcomed us warmly, speaking of their long anticipation of our arrival, during the same period of our preparation, though thousands of miles apart.  There is a buzz of construction everywhere as homes and dorms are being built.  The schoolchildren nearby practice their traditional drumming on the field between us and the hospital.  Every last Burundian smiles at our fledging Kirundi sentences.  It's good.
And yet nothing can be expected to stand up the kind of expectations one inevitably develops over such a long road of preparation.  So, I guess we'll have to fight the expectations or endure the disappointment of some of them. 
And that's fine, I think.  Because this is a monumental moment.  And this is also like every other moment.  This is the destination.  But every step of the path to get here has been a destination of its own, and now Kibuye is also a step on this path.  Maybe we're not moving for decades, but the path stretches on through time, and it remains true that we have been given today, so let us walk well in it by grace.
"A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step."  I think Carlan coined that phrase.  Or maybe it was a fortune cookie.  Anyways, it seems true as well that a thousand miles ends with a single step, the same step in which the next thousand begins.  Thinking about journeys in life can be (and has been) both fruitful and overwhelming, sometimes at the same time.  But even more fruitful (though overwhelming in a different and better way) is remembering the One who holds our journey: the thousand miles, the single step, the arrival which is also a beginning, all the things that cheer us on, the unknowns that frighten us, the friends who walk with us, and the grace that makes each step a gift.
"He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus."
"Celui qui a commencé en vous son oeuvre bonne la poursuivra jusqu'á son achèvement au jour de Jésus-Christ."
"Uwatanguye igikorwa ciza muri mwebwe azogiheraheza gushitsa ku musi wa Yesu Kristo."
-Phillipians 1:6


Arrived safely in Kibuye, Burundi



For more pictures and details of the move from Banga to Kibuye check out Alyssa's blog here.


Welcome Home to Kibuye McCropders! Bienvenue chez eux!

By Sarah
Today, November 1, 2013 the McCropders move to Kibuye, Burundi.  Kibuye has been on the McCropder hearts since December 2010 as we have finished serving at Tenwek Hospital in Kenya, raised support in the states, completed French language school in France, and began our studies of the Kirundi language and Burundi culture in Banga, Burundi.  This day is more than 3 years in the making as our God has been preparing us for every good work. 

Many precious people are joining in celebrating this day and sending love and support to the McCropders.  Here are just a few:

“You're off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting,
So... get on your way!” 
Dr. Seuss, Oh, the Places You'll Go