Why did the tofu cross the road?

By Eunice John 

 ...to prove it was just as good as chicken!

I’m soy excited to share about something I’ve successfully made THREE times this month (it’s become a Sunday tradition)...drumroll please...TOFU!
Neighbor, MK teacher, fellow tofu-lover Erica and me during our tofu making lesson! She is holding okara, soy pulp, which we collected after straining the blended beans.

A little background first -- at Kibuye, aside from the hospital canteen (which serves tasty food, though limited), there are no restaurants for dine-in or takeout. And there are no grocery stores to run to when you’re missing an ingredient or two. However, one of the blessings of team/community life is that you have regular opportunities to lean on your neighbors as well as practice generosity! You and your family just arrived after 24hrs+ of traveling? No problem - there’s already a meal train set up for you! Need a few extra eggs, 1/2c of cheese, a kg of flour, 2 tsp of oregano...or all of the above? No problem - ask your neighbor or just send a message to the ladies WhatsApp group and there’s a good chance someone will be able to help! 

When it comes to preparing food at Kibuye, I would say that it’s a labor of love. Nearly everything we eat is made from scratch -- breads, salads (with homemade croutons...whaat?!), pasta sauce (no Classico or Prego here, folks), yogurt, desserts...you name it. My kids know that at Kibuye, there’s no McDonalds but they do have Mom-Donalds, Mom-fil-A...you get the idea. 

As a Korean-American family, we eat Korean food regularly and wanted to be able to enjoy it in rural Africa. Knowing that it would be near impossible to find Korean ingredients in Burundi, we either brought some essential ingredients with us in our checked luggage or planned ahead and sent them on a team shipping container. Still, there are many ingredients that you just won’t have on hand, so you’ve got to get creative. I am always amazed at how resourceful and creative my teammates are, truly with everything but especially food. From simple foods to fancier dishes, Kibuye kitchens rock! 

Now, if you were to visit a Korean home, you’ll probably find kimchi in the fridge. What else? There’s a good chance you’ll find tofu too -- and 99.9% of the time, it’s store bought. Nobody makes their own tofu...we buy it! Might I mention that tofu is available in various degrees of firmness: silken, soft, medium, firm, extra firm. Moving on...tofu is not only a low-calorie food but it is also high in protein. We love tofu. 

Tofu is made from soybeans which have been soaked, blended, strained, boiled, coagulated, and placed in a mold to get that nice rectangular shape. Sounds simple enough.

I was thrilled to learn that busoma was made of two parts corn, one part SOY, and one part sorghum. To top things off, dry soybeans are plentiful here and very reasonably priced (you can get 1kg of soybeans for 3000 Burundian francs which is about $1). 

Mind you, during our first term at Kibuye, I tried to FIND tofu. Surely our go-to Chinese restaurant in Bujumbura would know where to get tofu, or perhaps they made tofu in house? Nope. Surely, our vegan Burundian doctor would be able to connect us with his tofu supplier in Buja. Unfortunately, he was unable to bring any back to Kibuye. Well, I was determined to make tofu! 

The trickiest part is probably figuring out the coagulant -- there are many options: vinegar, lemon juice, gypsum (calcium sulfate), epsom salts, nigari (magnesium chloride). Each coagulant results in different textures, tastes, and success rates. From that list, we can get vinegar and lemons. I love being able to make food with ingredients we can find locally or in country, so I tried vinegar. I ended up making tofu although it was more like a sorry slab. Basically, it seemed like a lot of work for little return, so I gave it a rest. 

Fast forward two years later. We’re missing tofu again and with our youngest having several food allergies, including milk, I was once again on a mission to get soy based foods/tofu into our home. I did some more reading and learned about a coagulant that I hadn’t considered before: rice vinegar. This is also likely to be found in the fridge of a Korean/Asian household. Rice vinegar is not something you would think you could find in Burundi. In Kenya, maybe, but not Burundi. But sometimes, we find some rare/random treasures here. Back in the summer of 2018, we were on a family trip in Buja. At that time, fellow Serge missionary, Carolyn Bond, graciously took me around to a handful of stores (we were actually on the search for some fish sauce and a few other household items that I was hoping to find). We had lunch at a little cafe called Maison Crèmerie...a hidden gem. I walked into the store afterward to see if there was anything interesting and what do you know? On the shelf were TWO BOTTLES OF KOREAN BROWN RICE VINEGAR! What?!

I saved that bottle of brown rice vinegar in storage while we were away this past year. I’m happy to report that it’s still good and a successful coagulant! One kg of soybeans produces 2 large blocks of tofu, so I’ve been keeping half of the soaked beans in the freezer for the next batch. Who knew I would be making tofu in Burundi, but here we are. Just a small, but personal joy that the Lord has given me!

Korean Spicy Tofu Stew (Soon Du Bu), one of Ted’s favorite meals.


Pray for Jennifer

 by Rachel 

One week ago, Eric and I woke up to terrible news.  Our area director, Jennifer Myhre, had been in a terrible bike accident.  She was airlifted to a trauma center in West Virginia, unconscious, on a ventilator with bleeding in her brain.  Many of you might have already seen this news either on facebook or because you too are friends with the Myhres, but in case you haven't we are asking for prayer.  Jennifer has made tremendous strides this past week...she is off the ventilator, walking with assistance, cognitively intact but with periods of confusion throughout the day.  She has come a long way, but there is a lot of healing still to go, and she is moving to inpatient rehab this week for at least 7-10 days.

Scott and Jennifer have been our area directors for East Africa since we joined up with Serge in 2011.  I still remember meeting them for the first time.  They had just been named area directors and were moving to Kijabe after many years of raising their family in Bundibugyo, Uganda.  Despite the fact that we were not yet approved as Serge missionaries, they drove down to Tenwek Hospital, where we were living at the time, to meet us and encourage us.  They showed up with literally two giant baskets of produce, a big treat as we were living hours from the nearest grocery store.  I was thinking back on that occasion this past week, remembering special times with Jennifer...how two of the things that matter most to her, how she shows her love and support to us, are generosity and presence.

I don't know how to be a team leader without Scott and Jennifer.  They have consistently had our backs over these past 10 years on the field.  Always encouraging, always cheerleading, always praying for us.  Scott has a special gift of incredible photography of the world around us, but it's Jennifer that puts into words the beauty and longing and struggle and mystery that we experience day after day in our lives.  We needed their presence and their advice last February, so at great personal cost to themselves, they braved multiple rounds of covid tests, a long journey, and 7 days of mandatory hotel quarantine to physically be with us and support us at Kibuye.  It was perhaps the most encouraging thing that happened to us during that year...good friends and mentors, laying down their lives for us, traveling to Burundi, loving us.  Jennifer wrote this blog after leaving.  

Scott has been updating their family blog with news about Jennifer.  If you're interested, you can click here.  Their blog is amazing, so feel free to browse around a bit as well.  Jennifer is really the rock of our East Africa region.  We've never closed a session together without her calling us all to and leading us in prayer.  None of us know what the future holds for her, but please pray with us for complete healing.  Scott has also said that right now that they need "courage not clarity," (I mean, we'd all love clarity but that's not always an option) so please pray for that as well.


A Time to Every Purpose Under Heaven

A farewell to the McCropders and the Serge Kibuye Team from John and Jessica Cropsey

To every thing there is a season…

In the case of the McCropders, God ordained for us 4,986 days together.  That is nearly 14 years of life lived together in common purpose on a journey that spanned three continents and four countries, ten of those years as members of the Serge Kibuye Team.  It has been a tremendous honor to be counted among such a band of sojourners.  You have been our everything in so many ways:  friends, family as “aunts” and “uncles” to our kids, neighbors, colleagues, bosses, subordinates, counselors, doctors, running buddies,
piki (motorcycle in Kiswahili) partners, fellow vacationers, and more.

McCropders in the early years

Alma with Uncle John -- looks like she's having fun?

John & Jason tubing on a river in Kenya

A time to be born…  

This team was born under incredibly unique circumstances — 4 specialist doctors from the same church who “just happened” to be finishing their different residency programs (of differing lengths) at the same time, and all with a heart for medical missions. And God grew the team, adding more amazing people, each gifted to meet specific needs and created uniquely to form the beautiful tapestry that is the Serge Kibuye team.  Love, medicine, teaching, music, administration, fear of snakes, humor, patience, vision, construction, pastoring, resilience, language, biblical exegesis, spreadsheets, writing, calm, passion, fashion, IT, hospitality, generosity, frugality — and a million other gifts and quirks have been woven into each of you that made our time with you so amazing. May God continue to bless the colorful mosaic that is found at Kibuye. 

Kibuye Team Retreat -- May 2021

A time to plant…

What has been planted at Kibuye during our years together is mind-blowing.  As we blazed a trail with machetes, axes and hoes for our future houses back in 2013, I remember thinking how exciting/insane it was that our team and Hope Africa University were attempting to develop a teaching hospital so remote it was only a stone’s throw from the southern most source of the Nile, a place Dr. David Livingston died trying to find in vain.  Wild!  Relationships have been developed, wells drilled, buildings built, training developed, healthcare advanced, hospital chaplaincy reinforced, and students discipled. 

A time to harvest…

Despite innumerable challenges — cultural blunders, coups, counter-coups, shortages of many kinds (medicine/water/fuel/power/internet), health emergencies, physical and spiritual attacks, pandemics — God has allowed a great harvest.  We have seen our unofficial team motto come to fruition, We aren’t the best people for this job, our students are.”  Hundreds of medical students have been trained and many of them are now caring for the sick and the poor in Jesus’ name throughout Burundi and beyond.  Thanks to the ministry of our chaplains and students, thousands of patients have committed their lives to Christ while at Kibuye.  Ten thousand plus blind, lame or otherwise infirm Burundians have received restorative surgery and hundreds of thousands have been treated clinically.  The Lord of the Harvest has been at work.  

A time to laugh…

Mixed in with all of that blood, sweat and tears, was a whole lot of fun too — board games, card games, camping adventures, exploring anything and everything on dirt bikes, the weekly ultimate frisbee game, Christmas floor hockey, pizza oven parties, outdoor movie nights — shoot, even our business meetings weren’t too bad.  There is something special about the slower pace of rural mission life (outside of the hospital that is) that affords for such blessings.

Dinner with current and former Kibuye teammates in Nairobi --
July 2021

A time to die… 

As followers of Christ, we are called to bear our cross daily and to die to self. Without death, there is no resurrection. For so many around the world these past eighteen months, that has taken on new meaning, us included. During that time, God used an unrelenting series of events and circumstances to seemingly and unexpectedly be showing us that we had accomplished what He had set out for our family at Kibuye and it was our time to leave. Obeying that call meant the loss of many things for us personally, not the least of which was our much loved team and our physical home in this world, but also the big dreams we had for Kibuye and Burundi. Our decision also had significant, complex implications for our Burundian friends, colleagues, national partners and teammates who have all born a cost for our decision in different ways. Thus, on many fronts, our departure has felt like death.

A time to weep…

In life, and especially in missions, there are a lot of goodbyes, so one of the things we have learned is that saying good goodbyes is really important even though it feels more painful in the moment.  And so, the month of June was spent visiting Burundian friends in their homes, attending special events, saying farewells on our front porch and visiting special/memorable places.  Many tears were shed, especially when we drove away from Kibuye on July 4th and said our final goodbye to our team.  Pray for us and others as we continue to mourn.

Some of our goodbyes to Burundian friends

A time to heal…

Pray for our Burundian friends and partners. Pray that God would allow them to forgive us where we have caused them hurt and loss. Pray for our team as they have to take much of our load when there is already a crushing weight of responsibility. Pray for the eye team to be unified, to learn and to grow.  

Kibuye Eye Team Retreat July 2021

Pray for our family this month. We are dedicating this next month to reflection on the journey we have just completed. Pray for our counselors to be full of wisdom and insight as we seek to understand more fully what God has for us to learn. Pray for insight and repentance for where we have fallen short and faith to trust the riches we have in Christ to redeem us and our brokenness. Pray for hope and our future. We do not mourn as others, because we have hope.  We believe in resurrection. God is still at work weaving His story in our lives and we look forward to seeing where and with whom He will lead us next. We hope to continue the fight against needless blindness in Africa.  

Cropsey family at the waterfalls

We wish Hope Africa University, Kibuye Hope Hospital and the Serge Kibuye Team all the best as they continue to pursue their high calling to train and disciple health professionals for Burundi and beyond.

God has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man's heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God's gift to man.  
— Ecclesiastes 3:11-13 (ESV)

And so, we sign off from this blog as writers (not readers). If you would like to know more about the progress of the Kibuye Eye Clinic over the last 8 years and some of the reasons behind our decision to transition out of Burundi, you can read our last two newsletters here and here. If you’d like to continue following our family for whatever lies ahead and receive our quarterly e-mail updates, please write us at johncropsey@serge.org or jessicacropsey@serge.org


A Goat Ate My Police Report (and other stories)


By Glory Guy

Amahoro (hello in Kirundi) to you from Burundi! My name is Glory, and I hail from Nashville, Tennessee and arrived in Kibuye a little over a month ago. I am an MK teacher by trade, and am loving getting to know the children in the classroom while walking alongside these incredible families as a teammate and friend in all that goes on here in our beautiful Burundi. I was received warmly by incredibly kind teammates in Kibuye after several days of travel in early August, but we quickly discovered that my entry period into our lovely Burundi was far from over. Unfortunately, when I arrived, we discovered that one of my bags and two of my trunks had been lost in transit somewhere between Nashville and Brussels. A week later we discovered that my bags, which we expected were lodged somewhere in Brussels, actually never left the United States and sat on the tarmac in Washington D.C., classic. Closely following this bag debacle, my passport and visa paperwork, along with several other teammates’ passports, were stolen out of our car on the three-hour trip from the capital Bujumbura to our rural mountain town, Kibuye. A police report was filed and as I was carrying it to my home, our team goat (yes, you read that correctly) promptly took a running leap into the air and bit off a good piece of the Burundian seal that made the report official. Thankfully the US Embassy didn’t mind. It was a real-life “my dog ate my homework” moment, with an East African twist. In all things in the past four weeks, I am consistently reminded that the Lord is with me as a feel like a jumble of contradictions. He has an incredible sense of humor and is teaching me to laugh at myself and my surroundings, and he is just as present in my tears of exhaustion, confusion, and homesickness. He is in my wonder and my sorrow, unfazed and endlessly kind in both. 

Arriving in Kibuye was a whirlwind of activities and grace, so here are some highlights. 

These are the two seventh-grade students with whom I spend most of my hours these days, teaching Language Arts, Reading, and Writing, and History. They are inquisitive and silly and share my love of coffee and voracious reading. I am teaching them grammar rules and how to write a research paper, while they are giving me a crash course in East Africa life, which includes identifying the caterpillars that will burn me if I touch them, and how to ride a dirt bike. We share in the opinion that our last class of the day is the best one because I reading aloud the first Percy Jackson book, though they insisted they would not enjoy it, they now hang onto every word. Needless to say, I adore them. 

On Saturday morning, my two roommates and I emerged from our bedrooms realizing we were on the same wavelength in our accidental matching outfits. Their welcoming presence has been the most significant reminder of the Lord’s faithfulness in my time in Burundi so far. I’m convinced that Jenny is the real-life Snow White, endlessly kind, bohemian, thoughtful, and strong. Erica is both the bread queen and the brains of the operation in our home, our French language expert, and a constant source of laughter and light. 

Rides to Buja in the backseat of the Land Cruiser, jamming to 70s rock (as requested by the middle schooler) and many, many rounds of twenty questions. As a girl who struggles with severe motion sickness, here are the necessary steps to avoid vomiting en route: 

1. Take medicine
2. Pretend you’re in an action movie (heroes never barf!) 
3. Pray. Mostly this one.

Learning how to take good and thorough notes includes asking students to choose a random topic, spout out facts about it, and organize them in outline format. These students chose Hotdogs. For three kids who live in rural East Africa, who have most likely never seen a hotdog stand on a city street corner, they know a lot of facts about hotdogs. Did you know that annually more people die of choking on hotdogs than shark attacks? (What is my credible source you ask? The seventh grader on the left). 

Sometimes we take read-to-self time to the trees for a change in perspective. The student who appears to be suspended in the air is actually on a swing! 

My brain and heart feel like they are brimming over, with all that I am learning and loving about where the Lord has planted my feet. I explained to my roommates this week that it simultaneously feels like I have been on African soil for a year and a day. It is a check to my pride to lean so heavily on those around me with so many questions, like, “do I wash dishes in filtered or sink water?” “How do you say ‘help me’ in Kirundi?” and “If I hit that gecko with a broom will it come back for vengeance?” Though I feel that I don’t know much, what I do know is that the Lord is good, and He is present with us. In all that is going on in the world, regardless of what continent you are on, He is present, faithful, and stronger than we could ever be. I am consistently reminded that HIS power is made perfect in our weakness. So, we learn to laugh and weep in alternating breaths, and we lean in.