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. 

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Alyssa: Thank you so much for your update and pictures -- it is marvelous and inspiring to read and see what God is doing in humble Kibuye Burundi. Oh, that every village, town, city and metropolis would welcome the Good Shepherd into their midst to save and heal them. Lord Jesus, please come soon and make all things right! I attend ‘Knox’ church in Ann Arbor MI U.S. where we’ve been praying for God to continue to pour out his grace in abundance on the McCropders and those you serve spiritually and physically in Burundi. For our practical part, the Knox elders and pastors are wisely and gently leading the congregation to get our own ‘house’ in order financially over the next three years so that we may be better and more strongly positioned to render all manner of gospel centered aid to those at home and abroad. We prayed as a church last Saturday that such aid, led and enabled by God’s Spirit, would overflow in grace from out hearts to reach even further, in abundance, to God’s gospel servants like you. Thanks again, and please keep us updated and aware of any special needs that we may be able to fill. The Lord is with you always. Your brother, Greg.