A Great Light

 by Rachel

I was just getting ready for bed last night when my phone started ringing.  I only ever get calls these days from the hospital, so my phone starting to ring produces a bit of a Pavlovian panic response akin to the code pager, for those who understand that analogy.  I wish I could say that every time I get called up to the hospital I respond with joy at the opportunity to go up and save some poor woman's life, but if I'm honest I'd almost always rather stay in my pajamas and climb under my blanket and stay warm and cozy.  Last night was no different, but it was clear after talking to the doctor on call that the transfer patient needed an urgent hysterectomy, so I changed into my scrubs and headed up.

It's not a long walk to the hospital from my house, but at 9:30pm it's dark and deserted.  The guard at the front gate walked up with me and we stumbled together over the bumpy dirt road, illuminated only by 2 fluorescent lights on the local school building.  It's hard to imagine a darker place than the rural part of a country with minimal electricity.  In the OR, the patient was unconscious.  My team did well and we were able to stop her bleeding and transfuse 3 units of blood.  But she never regained consciousness and died not long after we sewed up the skin.  We had done what we could, but she arrived too late for us to save.

I walked out the back gate of the hospital and looked up at the sky.  It was a brilliant sky last night...perfectly cloudless and cool and the stars were definitely twinkling.  Ahead of me I could see the reddish glow of Mars sitting next to Orion, and Jupiter shone brightly right overhead.  The idea that I can look up in the sky and see actual planets never ceases to thrill me, and I found my imagination wandering down the path of what the Christmas star must have looked like.  What an amazing sight that must have been.  The guard walking me home must have wondered why I kept staring up, tripping along, instead of down at my feet.  Isaiah 9 kept playing over and over in my head as I walked.  "The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned."  It's a verse as true today as it was then and I was struck by the literalness and figurativeness of it at the same time.  My friend Jennifer posted a blog this past week and she wrote that the light shone on the people IN the darkness.  In other words, you have to be in the dark in order to appreciate the light.  "The darkness is not a sign that the light has been defeated.  It's a sign we're in the right place to wait for it."  

I can't see the stars and the planets and the immensity of the universe unless the night is dark.  I can't appreciate the light and the promise of hope to come nearly as much if I'm not face to face with the brutal reality of death and limitations and sorrow and grief.  Isaiah wrote in the present perfect tense: have seen, has dawned.  A verb whose action starts in the past but continues into the present.  The Light has come and is here and is coming again, and it shines precisely where I need to see it most.

I walked back into the gate and said good night to the guard.  Turning down the path to my house, I saw that the Christmas lights on our tree had been left on to welcome me home, although everyone else in my house was asleep.  And again, the lights shone all the more brilliantly for the dark night and the absence of lights in the rest of the house.  This Advent season, I want to wait for that light and remember. 

"The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it." 


Musical Guests

by Julie Banks

As the Music teacher for our missionary kids, I’m always trying to find creative ways to allow the students to experience music in any way that we can. When I was in elementary school, I remember taking a field trip to the Symphony Orchestra to learn about stringed instruments. I remember the blasts of brass instruments in the marching band of the local football team, and I remember singing in large choirs. Well, we don’t have any of those experiences to offer the kids, but what we do have is a surprisingly musical team!

Here is a little glimpse of our “field trips” to different houses around our missionary compound and our musical guests who are generous to let the students see first-hand several musical instruments.

We made our own paper ACCORDIONS so that we could “play along” with Uncle Eric (McLaughlin) as he demonstrated this oh-so-complicated instrument! 

Aunt Michelle (Wendler) shared her CELLO with us, and even let the kids take a turn.

Who knew Uncle Michael (Harling) played the FRENCH HORN? This is one he actually found in Burundi, and he is replacing parts and fixing it up!

Uncle Eric showed us why the PIANO is considered a percussion instrument. The kids loved watching the hammers inside.

One time we had a British nurse visit us for a few days, and she just happened to bring her VIOLIN!

They even got to rock out while Liam Banks showed them how cool the ELECTRIC GUITAR is! (video)

So fun for these kids to grow up surrounded by musicians!


Eight Stage Professionnels Finish their Training

by Logan Banks

At the end of October, our community celebrated the graduation of 8 stage professionnels. These are new medical graduates who spend a year at Kibuye Hope Hospital in a traditional rotating internship, where they spend three months on each of the four main hospital services (Pediatrics, Internal medicine, Obstetrics/Gynecology, and Surgery). We are especially grateful for our partnership with African Mission Healthcare which supports this program. 

This is the sixth class of graduates of the program since it started. With 8 interns, this was our largest class to date. They came from all three medical schools in Burundi: Hope Africa University, as well as the University of Burundi, and the University of Ngozi. Over 30 stagiaires have now graduated from this program. 

As they spent time on each service, it was encouraging to me to see how much they learned over this period. They also noticed this, and remarked during their graduation ceremony how much they had grown as physicians and people over this internship period. 

They lived together in an intern dorm on campus, and really bonded over the 12 months that they were here. It was great to see them form friendships with each other.  And we had a great time celebrating the end of their studies.  Here are some pictures from the event. It was a wonderful evening, and we're proud of all the graduates.  

As the Director of Medical Education, I served as emcee
for the event, but it was a team effort!

Dr. Axel, one of the graduates, with his diploma and 
the heads of the different medical services. 
The graduates also received a certificate of competency in
performing c-sections, a certificate of competency in minor surgery,
and a lapel pin shaped like the Burundian flag.
Some also received a certificate of competency in OB ultrasounds. 

All of the graduates with all of the missionary doctors. 

We had good fellowship, and a delicious Burundian dinner

Dr. Juste wearing traditional formal attire, shares the 
celebration with his wife and baby.

The graduates also gave a speech thanking Kibuye Hope Hospital
for this training, and gave us a gift of a group photo to remember them by.


Map of Kibuye

 By Michelle Wendler

I wanted to share with you the updated map of Kibuye that I just finished watercoloring. 

The houses are in red, and the hospital buildings are in blue. You can see directly in the middle in-between the housing compound and the hospital is the village church. The buildings to the right of the church (in light brown) is the Kibuye school, and to the left is doctor housing, storage, student dorms and at the top left the new student center. 

Below is the map of Kibuye I did in 2018. A lot has been added since then!