To me Burundi feels like this little hidden beauty that the majority of the world will never see, and maybe never even know of. Everyone knows that the Eiffel Tower at night is a sight to absorb, or that the Grand Canyon is incredible in its vastness. But the world is not aware of the little road through Kibuye that takes my breath away daily. So, early on I decided to take pictures of all the beauty I see so I can remind myself of the things I assume will (but hope will not) become just what I see every day. Below is a picture of some, not all trust me, of the amazing beauty around me. I hope that these pictures give you a taste of what I wish the whole world could experience and appreciate. Yes, some of them are bugs, but I think some insects are devine in their own right.
Praise God for His creativity in His creation. He could have made everything black and white, but he chose to give us views and creatures that awe us and make us admire and wonder about Him.
by Greg Sund
Communication is the key that unlocks relationships. We all know this, however, when you become a missionary living and working abroad, you become more acutely aware of this truth and are reminded of it every time you walk out of your front door. Without the ability to speak French, our team in Burundi would be completely ineffective in what God called us here to do - to teach, to disciple, and to build relationships with those God has brought us here to love and to serve.
A significant part of our team’s journey was a year spent at the Centre Chrétien d’Enseignement du Français (CCEF - aka Association Française d'Enseignement Biblique), a French language school in Albertville, France. For over 50 years, this small school has been laboring tirelessly, year in and year out, to “equip the saints for the work of ministry” (Ephesians 4:12), training those whom God has called to bear witness to the Gospel in Francophone countries. The impact that this school has had in France and across Francophone Africa cannot be overstated. Founded in 1967, it has equipped nearly 3,000 missionaries working in 36 countries around the world. During our family’s year in Albertville (2016-2017) we were taught alongside missionary families heading to Senegal, Gabon, Chad, Togo, DRC, Benin, France and Burundi. These are families that, because of their ability to communicate in French, are now caring for the sick and the hungry, teaching children to read and write, training doctors and nurses and sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ to those who have not yet heard it.
Over the course of my life, I have had a small number of teachers who have made what I would consider a significant impact on the direction of my life and on the quality of my character. My two language teachers at CCEF are among that list. Years later, I remain deeply grateful for the work they are doing, and for all the ways they served and equipped me to serve in Burundi.
Sadly, because of a series of lockdowns in France and the inability of most of those who were on track to study at this school to obtain visas to travel to France, CCEF has been hit hard and is on the brink of financial collapse. We are asking all of you who are able to consider making a financial contribution to keep the doors of this amazing school open, so that this vital work can continue, so that missionaries can continue to be trained in the French language for many years to come, so that the Good News of Christ can continue to be proclaimed, in word and in deed. Would you consider making a donation to this cause? If so, you can make a tax-deductible donation at this link. Also, please take a minute to watch this video (look for Michelle on the piano at 5:17!), to meet the teachers who have had such a significant impact in our lives and in the lives of those we minister to.
It might seem somewhat obvious what the physicians on the team do at Kibuye. Although in reality their life as a physician is very different than a "normal" physician in the US. But still, we have found that explaining the medical work comes a bit more naturally. The question that is more complicated to answer is, "So what do you do at Kibuye?" A question directed to the wives and moms who are not physicians. Somehow it doesn't quite cover it to say that we teach classes at our team's elementary school, or that we are also a "stay at home moms," or that we prepare meals, do laundry, and plan activities for our kids. It's so much more than that!
Recently our teammate, Eunice John, was asked by Samaritan's Purse to put together a video in which she shares a little bit of their story in medical missions and what her life at Kibuye looks like. Ted and Eunice went through the World Medical Mission's Post-Residency Program at Kibuye for 2 years. Long-time blog readers will remember that this is the same program that sent the McLaughlins, Cropseys, Faders, and Alyssa Pfister to Tenwek Hospital in 2009-2011.
We are so thankful that the Post-Residency Program sent us the Johns, and that they decided to join the Kibuye team long term! They are currently in California raising support and making preparations to return to Burundi later this year. I know I am inspired by the woman that Eunice is. She is a wonderful mom and a gifted teacher. But more than that, her heart for the Lord shines through in all that she does. I was encouraged by her video when she posed the question, "Are my kids missing out?" I know I often ask myself that very question, as life in Burundi means no parks, museums, sports teams, take-out, English-speaking church, extended-family time, and other things. It's easy to question our decision to live in Africa. But Eunice said that the two things that don't change, no matter where you live, is the Mom and the child. Our calling as a mom is still the same no matter where we live. (We just have fewer resources at our fingertips in Kibuye!) Thank you, Eunice, for your inspiration and for sharing your heart with others.
Enjoy this video as it gives you a glimpse into missionary life for Eunice!
A lot of this past year has felt like the Saturday between Good Friday and Easter morning to me. Christ has come, and his sacrifice on the cross opened the way for us to individually and collectively approach our Heavenly Father. The curtain of the temple that separated us from the Most Holy Place - the Holy of Holies - was torn in two immediately at Jesus’ death so we could access God Himself despite our sin and uncleanness. This is good news!
And yet we are still waiting. Waiting for everything sad to come untrue. Waiting for the pandemic to end. Waiting for tiny premature babies and malnourished children and laboring mothers to get the care they need. Waiting for broken systems to be made new. Waiting for a world without suspicions and accusations and mistrust. Waiting for racial justice. Waiting for shalom - for physical, emotional, spiritual, relational health and peace. Waiting for resurrection.
“I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living! Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord! Ps 27:13-14
The veil of darkness
transformed to the brightest light.
The most dreadful end
became the most beautiful
The depth of despair
fades to reveal HOPE everlasting.
The curse of death,
defeated by eternal life.
Friends shared the above poem with me this week, and it has been an encouragement to me. At times on this earth - including in rural Burundi - we see darkness, despair, and the curse of death, but that is not the end of the story. Light has broken in and brought everlasting HOPE. Christ has indeed conquered death. And this is just the beautiful beginning of the story that will be told for all eternity. We see dimly now, but one day it will all be clear. We only need to wait for the Lord.
So where have I seen light breaking through recently? (All pics from the last 2 months)