We arrived. We parked. We offloaded a few more things, and got to unpacking.
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."