Threads of Years Long Gone: Ministers, Babies, and Reasons for Reconsidering Hope

 (from Eric)

On Friday, the hospital inaugurated a new district health office. In addition to being a church hospital and a teaching hospital, Kibuye is the referral hospital for Kibuye Health District, a geographic area of over 200,000 people. Anyone sick in that area goes to one of 18 health centers in the district which refer necessary cases to the hospital. Of course, we also get cases from all over the country and neighboring countries because of specialized care here, but we are the primary hospital for this catchment area, and this health district is administered and supplied by the district health office.

Their office was insufficient and helping them build a better office just outside the hospital wall also liberated some valuable real estate within the hospital that the old office was taking up. So we partnered with them to build a new office building. The building is lovely, and governmental dignitaries were invited to cut the ribbon.

The guest of honor was Burundi's Minister of Health. Newly appointed to the presidential cabinet in the last few months, this was her first visit to Kibuye. Burundi's amazing traditional drummers pounded and danced out a welcoming rhythm as the Minister's vehicle arrived, and we formed a receiving line, of which I was about number eleven.

Burundi's Traditional Drummers with the new district health office

As the Minister proceeded down the line, I shook her hand and said "Welcome to Kibuye." Over the thrum of drums behind us, she said "I know you. I met you in Banga when you were learning Kirundi. You had babies with you."

A journalist caught the moment where the Minister tells us she remembers us

I couldn't believe it, to say the least. Banga? Banga is where our team spent three months in 2013 when we first arrived, fresh from French language school but wanting to get a small smart on Kirundi language study before moving to the hospital.
Future Kibuye kids at Banga.

It wasn't the easiest three months. In fact, the "green soup" that we ate every night for dinner has become a bit of team lore. The electricity and water were usually out, and thus staying healthy was quite a challenge. I remember one night walking outside to see the adjacent hillside aflame (apparently a "controlled" burn for farmers) and wondering where the fire would spread.

During meals, the nuns who ran the guesthouse and restaurant, in order to help out high-chair-less parents (and to amuse themselves), would take Toby (who was about 5 months old) around and greet the other patrons. Apparently one of those patrons was the future Minister of Health, who came to Banga for a malaria training event.

Mama Lea - Toby's favorite nun

Now the Minister is at Kibuye, cutting a ribbon and remembering our team fondly. The ceremony began, and the governor of our province gave some opening remarks. Bishop Deo did a wonderful job discussing the work of the Free Methodist Church's institutions at Kibuye and their involvement in health care, including some upcoming plans. Then the minister took the podium and gave a very favorable speech. She again mentioned to everyone meeting our team in 2013 and remarked on our love for their country. She said that she would like to take a tour of the hospital afterwards, and spend close to an hour being guided deftly by Dr. Gilbert our medical director. All in all, a very successful visit.


The collision of past and present filled me with gratitude. It was the gratitude of someone who had been living on the back side of a tapestry, where all the threads are knotted and seemingly disorganized as they do their best to get from here to there. Then, for just a moment, you're allowed to catch a glimpse of the other side of the tapestry, where a beautiful, complex image has been created by those same threads.

You see that there were a couple stitches way over there, and then the thread disappeared for so long that you thought it was gone, and then it resurfaces in just the right place. And that makes you reconsider the other threads. It gives you hope for the other long-invisible strands. Or maybe this one over here has always bothered you, and you wish it would be gone. But maybe it actually plays a role in a bigger picture. It's been a source of tension, but maybe it's like the musical tension of a passing note to a beautiful chord. Who knows?

No thread makes a tapestry. Rather it's all the threads together. It's the whole of all our lives and days and interactions, woven together by One whose perspective is so much bigger than ours that it's like how the heavens are higher than the earth. It's incredibly hopeful, and also incredibly humbling.

Is that what Banga was for? Probably not, or rather maybe one thing among many. Who knows? The point is that there are these moments where you see a bigger story and though you may not have much more of an idea of what's going on than you did before, you now have a reason to hope that there actually is a bigger story. And that changes everything with regards to how you look at the beautiful and the problematic that surround you even now.

Is that what the Minister's visit to Banga and now to Kibuye was for? Maybe a bit, but she is not just a character in our story any more than we are just characters in hers. Surely God has many plans for her life in so many other domains. And so we see that the big Kibuye tapestry is itself a piece within the tapestry of Burundi, within the tapestry of His kingdom throughout His creation.

It's too complex. It makes our heads swirl. No one could weave together such a complicated web of billions of people's lives into a single beautiful work of art. But if someone could... If someone is, then that One is most worthy of praise.

(On a more personal level, here's a song I wrote a while back on a similar theme: The Weaving of My Days, also on Spotify and other streaming sites)

1 comment:

Cindy o said...

Amazing look at where you have been and are and provides for hope in where you will be because there is One at work with the big plan.