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.