Day Three: Rutana to Gitega

Distance Travelled: 70.1 km

Saddle Time: 3 hours, 30 minutes

Ascent: 784m

Descent: 788m (it was an easy ride!)

Calories Burned: 2,653

Today was a good day. It’s nice to have a bit of a break – if that’s what you call a 70km ride – but I suppose everything is relative! 

It was a blast making our way to Gitega, which I still think of as “home” for the moment! We even stopped briefly on the roadside to say hello to some of our friends from Kibuye Hospital, where you’ll remember our patient Anesie being miraculously treated there. 

I’m feeling strong in the saddle as the ride has progressed, although my legs are feeling my lack of training. The uphills come slowly, but they do come in the end! My cardio is strong, as the land-based training I was able to fit in has paid off, but there’s nothing that replaces time on your bike.

Haha, the joke to start the big climb on Day Two was “alright, now it’s time where all of those hard hours I put in yesterday pay off!”

Practice indeed does work in your favour, and the team here came out well-trained and prepared for the rigours of the bike ride, so they certainly keep me moving and pushing my pace! 

It’s funny how practiced I feel here in my element in Gitega. The kids from Homes of Hope, our Shammah staff, our YFC colleagues, even the road into Gitega is full of intimate details and memories: Little kids on the road shouting my name when they see me, driving by the house of Kitu, a boy we treated for burns to his foot, or the bar owned by Papa Stephen, whose son we treated for a wound abscess. 

I can’t even remember what it was like the first time driving down this road, and experiencing it all for the first time. 

Speaking of first times, a remarkable thing happened today, and it ties into the history of our home here in Gitega.

Almost ten years ago, when Freddy and Burundi Youth for Christ were given this land, he was asked one simple question: “Do you have money to build?”

Freddy, speaking a lie he knew to be the truth, said “Yes.”

Less than a year later, a Brit named Geoff Morris organized a bike tour across the UK, going north to south (so it took him only about 40 minutes to cross the whole thing… just kidding!), and ended up raising over 60,000 USD.

Freddy’s lie became God’s truth when that money was used to build the first homes here in Gitega, and thus the orphanage was born. 

A big first happened today, when Geoff came to visit Homes of Hope for the first time, years after God used him to set the whole thing off! How good is his faithfulness, how excellent are his promises, if we are just patient and wait on the Lord! 

I don’t need any reminders to tell me how special this place is, and how privileged I am to call it home, but the look on Geoff’s face said it all:

It’s good to be here. 

It would take nothing short of the will of God to take me out of this place, and that’s what has happened. God is calling us away and that’s how it is. The familiarity, the practice, the comfort, all of it will be taken away from us physically, but the memories and love we have will remain. 

The work continues on here as well. Shammah will continue to treat patients and make its mark in this community. They’re currently on pace to treat over 500 patients this month alone. Gitega International Academy and Future Hope School will continue to grow and develop as infrastructure is put in place and students continue to receive excellent education. The kids here at the orphanage will continue to grow even in our absence, which is a little hard to believe, but it’s true! I think of Desi, and Chartiel and Don Brian, some of the boys I’ve just fallen in love with over the past two years, and I think of how they’ve grown so much. I’ll come back in the coming years, and each time they’ll be a little taller, a little stronger, a bit faster. It’ll be tough to miss out on that. 

Yet Geoff waited years for God to allow him to see with his own eyes, the work of his own hands and feet. He waited with patience, and a reliance on God. 

Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” 

If Geoff can lean on God’s timing and not his own, then surely I can as well. I know I’ll be back to Gitega (and Burundi) again, to see my friends and my family here. It’ll feel like slipping on an old pair of shoes that have been worn in just the right way. 

Practiced. 

In the meantime, I’ll keep my head down and my feet moving, and work hard to rely on God’s wisdom and timing, and not my own. As we move to Uganda, we’ll have to re-discover what life will be like for us. It’s scary, and it’s going to be tough, but I suppose practice makes perfect. 

James 1:4 “Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be perfect and complete, not lacking anything.” 

Thanks for reading, and God bless. 

Josh.

One thought on “Day Three: Rutana to Gitega

  1. These are great posts. Thanks for keeping us in the loop. Enjoy the adventure and camaraderie. Great that Geoff was finally able to visit HoH!

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