So…we have been living out of our duffels for many months now and have continued to do so since being in Burundi. We have been feeling the need to settle down now into our own home. We have been staying in one of the small orphanage homes and have been having a wonderful time in Burundi. However, I couldn’t help myself from frequently daydreaming about decorating my house, where I will put things,…how I will feel “at home” and better organized and ready to “start my life” here when we finally move into our home. Then just the other day, we were driving in our neighbourhood and drove by a mud house which I have seen many times. It’s not like I don’t know the way that many people live and that I haven’t seen this for myself, but it struck me in a profound way. I was able to glance inside as we drove by and saw people sitting on the floor in the tiny space with their things on the dirty floor. God reminded me at that moment that I am already “at home” and though we have been staying in a small bedroom with no living room space to ourselves for now, it is such a blessing to be there.
We have been safe and comfortable, have all we need and things we want, and have more space than most. We have not been in our own home for quite some time, we have been in transition, but we have still been “at home” and blessed to be there. The people in the mud house have no chance to decorate or organize or have a comfortable space to call their own. We are blessed.
This helped me put things into perspective again. This time in transition has allowed us to spend over a month of quality time with fellow volunteers and staff as we spend time together fellowshipping in the communal living room and eat all of our meals together. This has been a huge blessing. We have become fast friends with many lovely people and have already made great memories together. We are now part of a supportive and loving christian community where we can encourage and uplift each other.
The guesthouse is now finished and we have spent some time buying furniture in Bujumbura as well as buying the things we need for our home. We just moved in to our new home a few days ago and will spend this week settling in. It will be nice for us, our little family of two, to have our own entire living space and be able to feel a little more settled and permanent, but we have been so blessed with our time in transition here in Burundi.
We have spent the last few weeks doing extensive language study. African language is very difficult to learn but our Kirundi is coming along very well! It also helps that everyone around us speaks Kirundi, so we hear it all the time. We have also spent a lot of time getting to know people that we will be living life with, and people with YFC that we will be working with often. We have networked with people to learn more about where to get our supplies and medications for the clinic and what kinds of cases are frequently seen here in Burundi.
We have been taking in knowledge, adjusting to life here, shopping, learning where to find things, how to interact with people, learning & adapting to cultural differences and learning cultural sensitivity, etc. Josh has helped out with basketball at the secondary school a little bit and he has helped with worship in chapel and preached a series about David for the last three weeks. It has been a huge blessing to be able to take time to adjust, live, and learn. Soon enough things will become a lot busier.
To give you a bit of an idea of life in Burundi, here are some of my favourite things – excerpts from my journal:
– We get a couple hours of power from the solar panels per night, so when the power turns on, the flashlights and candles come out, and everyone plugs in their electronics to charge them
– walking throughout the market and seeing the meat section, hoping that that is not where our cook buys the meat we eat (we have been in many markets around the world, and this is the ‘craziest ‘ one we’ve ever seen!)
– having freezing cold showers in the dark, fearing spiders
– Josh gasping so loud as he is in the cold shower, I can hear it through the wall
– falling asleep to the crickets and waking up to crazy bird sounds
– the beautiful 2 hour drive from Bujumbura to our home in Gitega
– herds of cows and goats crossing the road
– drinking African tea
– feeling the need to sanitize your hands every time you handle Burundian money. It’s gross!
– finding popcorn and making it in a pot
– going to the beach and being in paradise and thinking…”I live here!”
– talking to loved ones back home for the first time & seeing how excited they are that they are -talking to us all the way from Africa
– dance party with the students at the secondary school
– movie night and games with the orphans at Homes of Hope
– hugs & cuddles from the kids
– being away from the orphans for just a few days and missing them
– learning how to say the word “string” in Kirundi and thinking “when am I ever going to need to use this word?” and finding myself in the market looking for bass guitar strings and realizing that I can communicate what I am looking for because I know the word “string!”
– learning that when saying the word for “hill” (“umusozi”), you have to be careful not to say “umuzuzi,” which is the word for “fart!”
– getting our vehicle stuck in the mud and it taking (almost literally) a whole village to get us out…men rolling up their pants and getting ankle deep in the mud
– studying Kirundi and learning sentences like “the women are hoeing on the hills in the fields” & “the man is carrying bread on his head” – both sentences that would not exist back in Canada, but when I look up from my studying I see both of those things! Super relevant here!
– Josh and I being serenaded by farting goats outside our front door
– riding in the back of the truck with friends with the wind in your face
– little kids waving and shouting “muzungu!”
– seeing the workers work so hard and do such a beautiful job of the guesthouse
– knowing that one day I will resort to eating the stinky Burundian cheese because I will miss cheese that much
– thinking that certain treats (like terrible cookies) are so delicious now, but normally they wouldn’t be getting served fresh salad for meals…yay for nutrients! (FYI…most meals are made up of starches and carbs)
– the beautiful fabrics that the women wear
– realizing that us “muzungus” talk & dream about food on a regular basis
– making and eating guacamole with good friends
– Josh & I shopping for baskets in the street and bartering so well that about 30 Burundians were surrounding us and watching the action
– spending time with Simon Guillebaud & his family…feeling uplifted every time
– pouring rain and thunder storms on a regular basis
– continually being astonished and amazed at the beauty around me constantly, and thinking “I can’t believe I live here!”
Josh was our first official patient here in Burundi! He had malaria. He is finished the treatment and the symptoms are gone…he is just now recovering from weakness. He was not nearly as ill as he was when he was sick in the summer with Dengue fever. Other than the hiccup with Josh being sick, we have been enjoying life here and are beyond happy to be here, living our dream and being right where God wants us. “Safety is not the absence of danger but the presence of God.” – Simon Guillebaud. I was complaining about spiders one night and our dear friend JD said to me: “Nadine…You are always in a room with a spider.” Haha, wow that sure made me feel better! But in all seriousness, it made me think…there is a constant spiritual battle going on that we can’t see. Satan does not want us to follow Jesus and will try all he can to drive us away. In our case, he does not want us here in Burundi and will do all that he can to discourage us and make things difficult.
So please pray for:
– unity among staff and like-mindedness
– good communication among staff
– health & safety
– a healthy & positive partnership in our marriage & working relationship
– setting up the clinic with supplies & medications
– continued growth in friendships
– growing compassion
– patience and understanding with cultural differences
– pray against the corruption in this country
Thank you all for your prayers & support! We can’t believe we are living here now & that this is actually happening! It’s been a long journey to get here and we thank you all for joining with us in this adventure! We couldn’t do it without you!
Enjoy the pictures!!