You Know You're a Kibuye MK When...

Missionary kids share a culture like none other.  I (Heather) grew up in Wisconsin, pretty unaware of the global missionary kid (MK) experience... until I met my MK husband.  His mother wisely predicted that we could be dealing with a bit of a culture gap, so she gave me an insightful, humorous little book entitled “You Know You’re an MK When….” The book lists 500 experiences that are more or less common to missionary kids but that might seem bizarre to people from, say, Wisconsin.  The little book sparked some revelations about the world between worlds where Jason had grown up.

Recently our 12-year-old discovered this little book, and she loved every page.  She giggled.  She felt validated.  She read it to her friends, and they all nodded and laughed to see their idiosyncrasies called out in print. 

 So in case you wonder about peculiarities of the Kibuye kid culture, here’s the condensed version of the highlights:

You Know You’re a Kibuye MK When…”. 

-  You can introduce yourself in three languages, but you don’t always know how to answer the question, “Where are you from?”

- You know about the visas stamped in your passport, but you didn’t know that visas are also plastic cards in a wallet.

-  You flew across an ocean before you could walk.

- Tree-climbing comes as naturally to you as breathing. 

-  You watch nature documentaries, and you imagine how that animal or insect would taste if it were grilled or fried.

-  You think that kool-aid packets and peanut butter are excellent Christmas presents.

-  The vast majority of your clothes are hand-me-downs.

-  Your wardrobe also features some eye-popping designs.

-  You speak with authority on the comparison of international airports.

-  You sort your friends by continent and country.

- Someone brings up the name of a professional sports team, and you get the sport wrong.

- You believe that football is played with a round, spotted ball.

- Rain pelting down on a corrugated metal roof is one of the most soothing sounds in the world.

-  Fitting 15 or more people in a car - or on top of a Land Cruiser - seems normal to you.

- You refer to gravel roads as highways.

- Lizards crawling on your face don't bother you. 

- You own appliances with three types of plugs, know the difference between 110 and 220 volts, and know when to use an adapter and when to use a transformer. 

- You eat all of the food on your plate, and usually the food that fell on the ground, too.

- You are loved by dozens of aunts, most of whom are not actually related to you.

- You know how to remove a jigger from your own toe.  Or a botfly from your siblings.

-  Someone has to explain to you that the double yellow line in North America means only oncoming traffic can drive on that side of the road, even when there isn’t any oncoming traffic… and you don’t understand why. 

-  You go to a church you have never been to before and find your picture on their bulletin board.

- Your family zealously conserves chocolate chips.  You use only half a bag when making a double recipe of cookies.

- You have never called a 1-800 number in your life.  In fact, you aren’t sure what an 800 number is.

- You resent having to wear shoes.  You haven't worn any shoes since last Sunday.

- You are always thankful when you turn on the tap and find that there is hot running water.

-  You receive Christmas cards all year round.

- Apples are a rare treat, but papayas and passion fruit grow in your yard.

- People have eaten your pets.

- You love many people in different places, and you have begun to understand that Heaven is the only place you can always call home.


(adapted from “You Know You’re an MK When…”  by Andy and Deborah Kerr)


Burundi Birds

 (by Rachel)

It took moving to Africa 12 years ago for me to develop an interest in birds.  Birds in America aren't "just birds", but they were to me.  When we moved to Kenya, we started to get interested in the fantastic birds all around us, which led to us purchasing Jonathan Scott's Safari Guide to East African Birds, which is a little like Africa Birds for Dummies.  Lots of pictures and not too much time lost in the small difference between this starling and that starling.  We enjoyed taking the book on safari and spotting different birds.

Then baby Maggie decided that Jonathan Scott was her favorite book.  We spent countless hours pouring over the picture pages with her always laughing at the Lappet-faced Vulture and the Southern Ground Hornbill.  Our lives as pseudo amateur African birders was cemented.

Here in Kibuye, the birds are still fun, if not as diverse as Kenya.  Our kids enjoy noticing a new bird they've never seen before, and figuring out what it is.  Right now the elementary kids are doing a bird unit in science and can frequently be found outside, staring through a pair of binoculars.

Sam apparently prefers looking at the camera.

So, here is a brief tour of some Kibuye birds (noting that Burundi at large, especially at Lake Tanganyika, has much broader bird diversity than this).  We're not great at bird photography, so we'll use some stock images.

Hadada Ibis - eBird
Hadada:  Ask any kid at Kibuye to impersonate a Hadada call, and they will nail it.  This chicken-sized ibis can't seem to fly without making noise, and is our collective alarm clock.
black kite, black kites : Story of Africa
The Black African Kite: Our most common raptor also makes quite a bit of noise, often staging epic battles with the Pied Crows (see below).  There are a few trees in Buja where these birds nest in scores, and you can literally see 50 take off together.
File:Black-headed weaver (Ploceus cucullatus bohndorffi) male nest  building.jpg - Wikimedia Commons
The Black-Headed Weavers: showed up at Kibuye about 4 years ago.  The whole noisy flock picks a tree (seemingly preferring to share a nest with the raptors?) and starts making a nest.  We're told the females peck at the nests that the males make.  If it falls, they are an unworthy mate.  So Kibuye kids have often collected the nests, which are truly a marvel.
Heron (Grey) – www.wildengland.com
Grey Heron:  Though we don't live on water, the valley streams nearby are apparently enough for a few of these herons to call Kibuye home.
Paula Gilhooley…African Paradise Flycatcher – travelswithpaulagilhooley
African Paradise Flycatcher:  Always colorful and sometimes with the awesome long tail feathers.
Red-chested Sunbird - eBird
Various Sunbirds:  "Wow, the hummingbirds are beautiful here," says the visitor.  "We don't have hummingbirds.  Those were sunbirds." say the Kibuye kids (respectfully!).  We have several varieties that are beautiful and love the hibiscus flowers behind our house that Carlan planted when we moved in.
Hamerkop - Wikipedia
Hamerkop (Rare): Afrikaans for "hammer head", we've only seen this duck-sized bird maybe a half dozen times in Burundi.  When you see one, you start looking for the nest, which can be as big as 8 feet across!
Ross's Turaco - eBird
Ross Turaco:  Last year, our boys came home wanting to look up a nearly chicken-sized bird in the bird book.  They saw this one and said "yeah, that's it" (very nonchalantly).  They were right.  It's possible that it's just one bird, but we've been seeing it occasionally ever since then.

Pied crow - Wikipedia
Last and Least:  The Pied Crow might be cool if you've never seen a crow like this before, but they are the bane of local bird life.  "Murders" of Pied Crows are everywhere.  They squawk terribly all throughout the day.  They have eaten lots of baby chicks and maybe some other small pets, in addition to quite a bit of our Easter candy one year.  But no list of Kibuye birds would be complete without them.