That I might sing Your praise and not be silent (Ps 30:12)

By Julie Banks

Psalm 102:5

Sing to Him, sing praises to Him; tell of all his wondrous works!

Adding music to any gathering automatically adds joy, doesn't it?  It's hardly possible to gather very long with Burundians without a song breaking out.  I guess that culture has rubbed off on us a bit from the youngest to the oldest.  Well, here is a small snapshot of the past month in Kibuye as we have celebrated the Holiday season in music!

A few weeks ago I was blessed to join the worship team at our local church and lead worship for a Sunday morning service. What a great group of dedicated worshippers. 

We celebrated Thanksgiving together with people from 6 different countries and languages.  Fortunately for us a missionary that serves in a different part of Burundi who plays the violin was in town, so we formed a girls trio with Ruth on the violin and Glory on guitar. It’s so rare for us to hear very many different instruments here.  Now I really understand why the Psalms say to praise Him on stringed instruments!  It’s so beautiful! 

This same violinist, Ruth, had an impromptu worship session with our professional pianist, Michelle.

One sunny Saturday afternoon we kicked off Advent with carols together as a team at the Wendler house.  Michelle played piano as we gathered around hymnals and little ones played on the jingle bells.

When several Medical students were struck with Covid, I went to their dorm and stood outside the windows worshiping and praying in Kirundi, French and English.

Our family quartet went caroling door-to-door delivering Christmas treats with Christmas cheer.

Christmas Eve was a wonderful celebration together with Anna and Jason Fader leading us in Carols of worship while the kids stood as a living nativity complete with the Little Drummer Boy.

Liam (12) was able to share his gift of vocal harmonizing in a duet with Mom.  I admit I got a little misty-eyed when we sang “…mother and child…”  I remembered being pregnant with him over the Christmas holiday and appreciating the miracle of the birth of my own son.  And now he is 12, leaving his childhood and beginning his journey to becoming a young man…sigh… but I digress.  Back to Christmas!

Zeke (10) sent us on our Merry way with a harmonica rendition of O Tannenbaum.

Up next is the welcoming of the New Year with our local church.  They are having a big concert and celebration with a couple of us participating in the music.  If you are in the Kibuye area January 1, join us as celebrate what God has done for us in 2021 and as we welcome 2022 and look forward to what He will do this year.

Psalm 126:1-3

When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dreamed.  Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy.  Then it was said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.”  The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.”


Blessing Those Who Bless Us

 By Julie Banks

We love this time of year for many reasons at Kibuye!  One of the things we love doing every Christmas Season is gathering together all the staff that work for the missionaries and telling them how much we love them and showering them with gifts.  These wonderful people work so hard for us, and with us, every day.  They cut our grass, (with a machete!) wash our sheets, (with a bucket!) make us tortilla chips (starting from flour!), and soothe our crying toddlers (with their own baby tied onto their back). 

We visit their homes and try to get to know their family, do everything we can to ensure that their children can attend school, rejoice with them when a child brings home a good report card, celebrate their new babies, and cry with them when a baby doesn’t make it.  These wonderful people fill our homes and compound with laughter, singing, and enable us to go about what God has called us to do, while also maintaining a house of peace for ourselves and for our families.  Thank YOU – our readers and supporters – for praying for our community and giving generously to the work that goes on here.  Your abundance gives us the opportunity to bless those who bless us, in Jesus’ name.

Shout out to Heather and Eunice who organize all of our staff!  They put in countless hours of administrative work, conversation in Kirundi, and provide emotional support for us and for our workers.  Thank you, Heather and Eunice!


Cooking in (Burundi) Style

The hardest part about moving here was getting used to cooking. At first, I had no idea how to clean my vegetables, where to find oil and spices, if I should use filtered or tap water, how to make simple things like beans, and how to find variety in what I could cook. The longer I have been here, however, the more I appreciate the adventure, creativity, complexity, and enjoyment that are found in the simple task of making a meal. Because literally every dish I make comes with a side of adventure, that is a pretty good place to start.
One evening, I was making a very simple quinoa salad with lemon, sautéed green peppers, roasted potatoes, raw tomatoes and olives, with a honey mustard dressing. Simple right? I started cooking at around 5:30 pm, you know, to get a head start. I turn on our amazing and electric oven to roast the potatoes. Boom, the power goes out. Shoot. I text a neighbor to see if I can use their gas oven and they graciously oblige. I run to put the potatoes in to roast, then start getting ready to go to an empty house to use the gas stove for the rest of the meal. Boom! Power is back on, what a nice surprise. Thankfully, I get through all the stovetop cooking and then...bam, no power again! Where's my flashlight? No idea, its totally dark, and time for me to check on my potatoes. I finally find my light and head outside for the darkest 10 second run of my life. I make it to the house, the lights come back on, I check the potatoes, and the lights turned back off. They need a few more minutes, so I race home quickly to avoid the darkness. As I am cleaning the kitchen and setting the table, the power comes back on again, and the wind starts to howl outside which can only mean one thing, rain. I'm not talking a Seattle type of mist your face rain, I'm talking a downpour, soak your potatoes in three seconds kind of rain. I run back over, get my well enough cooked potatoes and run home JUST as the rain starts to pour, and quietly thank the Lord for saving my potatoes.
And now for the main courses of complexity, creativity, and enjoyment.
A good place to start is milk. It comes straight from the milk man and then needs to be boiled. Once that is done, you let it cool and skim off the film th that forms on the top. From there it goes into a jar and into the fridge.
The next day, when you pull it out, there is a layer of cream that has formed on the top. You can see it in the above picture, if you look closely. Some people use this in their coffee, but I scrape this off, and put it in a jar in the freezer to make butter with later. Now, if we drink all our milk that week, great, but if not, it is a great opportunity to make cheese!
The kind of cheese I learned to make here is made with herbs, garlic salt, and red pepper flakes. It is delicious! Homemade cheese and crackers are a special treat and a ready to eat dinner (if you make them ahead of time of course). As I mentioned before, the cream on top of the cooled milk can be stored in the freezer and used later to make butter. It just needs to be put into a blender or food processor and blended until a cloudy liquid separates from the butter! Yummy!
About six months into living here, I switched to a malaria medication that gave me really bad stomach pains (I have since switched back, thank goodness). In my ignorant opinion, the reason it was causing me pain was because it was an antibiotic, and my diet is lacking in probiotics. So, after some research, I learned that the whey left behind in cheese making can be mixed with honey and lemon to make a delicious probiotic lemon soda!
It took some time to ferment, so I figured I would ferment something else along with it. I really love sauerkraut, but of course, I haven't found it here. However, we have tons of cabbage. I tried it and it was delicious!
Because the nearest place to buy bread is 3 hours from my house, my bread making skills have gotten a lot better over the past months. And it's so tasty!
Although you can buy peanut butter here, it is not my favorite. But we can get peanuts! So, I started making my own peanut butter a little while ago, and let me just say, I will never go back, and neither will my roommates.
Now that we have covered some of the basics, there is also the understanding that if there is any fun or special meal I want, I have to make that too from scratch! Pizza?Ravioli? Potato chips? Sushi? Pot Stickers? While I've made all of these, let's just say, we only eat them on special occasions.
Sometimes it can get overwhelming thinking about all that needs to be done in the kitchen around here. But overall, I look forward to the days when I have time to spend in my favorite room in the house.


New Pediatric Building

By Alyssa 

I am so excited to report that our new pediatric building is open!!!! 130 beds, 3 stories tall - all designed and constructed specifically for the children of Burundi! Son Excellence, the President of the Republic of Burundi himself came on November 17 to inaugurate the new building as part of his Caravan of the Torch of Peace. The patients and peds staff are so happy with their beautiful new building, and I love seeing the children sharing meals together in the grassy courtyard or playing in the playroom or just calmly resting and recovering in clean, bright, well-ventilated wards. And no one has to share a bed or sleep on the floor anymore! 
Welcome sign and archway for the President

Meeting the President on the red carpet

Officially opening the pediatric building 

Team docs and engineer with the US Ambassador to Burundi

Hospital playroom 

Neonatology resuscitation and phototherapy 

Patients in the new building

Patients sharing food - meals are always a communal event in Burundian culture. The patients love this grassy area behind the building. 

During my speech here to the hospital staff and community leaders, I mostly talked about our vision for the pediatric service at Kibuye:
Our vision is to welcome children, families, staff, and students to the Kibuye Hope Hospital pediatric service as Jesus welcomes us; to provide competent, compassionate care; and to make the most of every opportunity to train the next generation of healthcare workers. 

I shared Matthew 19:13-15 where Jesus blesses the little children and I talked about the riches of God's compassion in Ephesians 2 and how we likewise want to welcome children and show them compassion. I also talked about my own experience as a pediatric patient at age 10 when I was paralyzed and in an intensive care unit with an illness called Transverse Myelitis. I talked about how I remember the healthcare workers who showed me compassion during my 2 years of recovery as I relearned how to walk. I'm so thankful to God for healing me, but I'm also thankful for how He used that experience in my life to stir my interest in becoming a pediatrician in order to care for other children like me - hopefully with compassion and competence! And finally I talked about the importance of lifelong learning as we all seek to improve in our understanding of medicine and as we teach students and even patients and parents on the three pediatric sub-services of neonatology, inpatient malnutrition, and general pediatrics. 

It's been a long journey in coming to the inauguration of this building. Four years ago, the fundraising process began with this video and blog post. Watch the short video for great footage of what the peds service looked like before! 

Ultimately over 100 people gave generously to enable this project to go forward. Because of their generosity, we were actually able to adapt the plans to include a third level so that we would have space for all the pediatric patients including neonatology. The nonprofit eMi sent multiple teams of engineers, architects, and others to design and oversee construction. We're especially thankful for Andy Bradshaw and Mathieu Lembelembe who joined our team for many months to oversee this enormous project - the first three-story building at Kibuye. 

eMi design team with hospital staff on the building site

Video of early construction

Pediatric staff on the ground floor in the middle of the construction process 

Andy Bradshaw and Mathieu Lembelembe with Serge Kibuye team touring the building before the roof was on 

Team touring the top floor near the end of construction 

So thankful for all these construction workers! 

And now the patients are all in the new building! Praise God from whom all blessings flow! 

Two happy pediatricians!