Saturday, June 28, 2008

Month End

June is coming to a close, the end of our first month in Burundi.  It has been a time to settle in, learn some lessons and begin dreaming new things for the people of Burundi.  Here is a list of some of the things that happened:
  • We received Grace Scale and her mother, Lois, from AZ.  Grace is staying with us for the summer to experience life in Africa and help local friends who oversee an orphanage up country.  She will soon be starting an English-learning group for some university students, which will allow her to share English but also develop relationship with new friends. Burundi seems to agree with her!
  • We have been spending time deepening our friendship with the Batwa community in Bujumbura.  We have hosted a dinner in our home, visited a village up country, visited the village in Bubanza in need of immediate assistance, gone searching for land for them and meeting together to understand more of their needs and dreams for their tribe.  We are listening, learning and loving... what friends do together.
  • We hosted an Amahoro breakfast recently to gather the local friends who attended the event in Rwanda.  It was so encouraging to listen to them share what they brought back from The Gathering.  In true African fashion, they are already gettin' busy!  Most have already begun to implement new enterprises to live out lessons learned in Rwanda.  One is hosting community meetings to discuss, openly, tribal struggles in an effort to move toward pre-emptive reconciliation in his region.  Another is intentionally inviting Batwa students into her new school, something that she would not have considered before hearing the Batwa testimony in Rwanda.  Others have walked far on the road of forgiveness since we'd been together - one Batwa pastor shared how he was stoned in a previous church because of his tribal identity.  So he returned to the church and let them know that he forgave them, and that he was sorry for the anger he harbored in his own heart toward them.  And now they share meals together - reunited because of his bold gesture of forgiveness!  The westerners present at the breakfast shared how they are still processing (so true!), but as you can see, our African friends are taking action already!
  • Emma and Justin have discovered new family members:  Aunt Leonie, Aunt Anna, Uncle Cadeau... and other friends who are always around to help and play.  Emma and Aunt Leonie are cut from the same cloth, and it is a delight to see them play and dance together.  Justin loves playing soccer with Eric - he can even initiate a game using kirundi! The kids love it when Uncle Cadeau comes to pick them up for school.  They are enjoying their extended family.
  • Emma and Justin also enjoyed 2 weeks at the Bujumbura International Montessori School.  Their teacher said that Justin had twice as many words as the other kids... we are not surprised!  Emma seemed to enjoy the animals on campus and the activities - my kinetic learner.  Justin loved all the new friends to play with - my extrovert.
  • We did make it to the Rainbow Center last week for a sweet reunion.  The nannies, gate man, mechanic... they were all so excited to see Justin and Emma again!  They hollered, laughed and cheered as the kids got out of the van.  They could not believe how much they had grown, how Emma could hear now, how Justin spoke English and how beautiful Emma was now... so much joy!  I was glad that these dear people could see that their investment in Justin and Emma was part of their health and happiness now.  I was glad they could see with their own eyes God's great goodness, and know that they are part of that story.  They kept thanking me for coming to see them, for remembering them, for bringing the kids.  They were encouraged, and so was I.  This is such a special part of Justin and Emma's story... their very own rainbow connection!
  • Our friends and companions, Ron & Sarah, celebrated their one year anniversary here in Bujumbura!  I bet they did not expect to be in Africa when they exchanged vows a year ago in LaJolla, Ca!  Ron is a natural expat, quickly picking up kirundi and making friends all over town.  He is already known in our neighborhood by his kirundi name, given to him by Claude.  He walks the dusty streets chatting with everyone, getting haircuts at the local barber, helping people carry their heavy loads... a true neighbor!  Sarah is still finding her kirundi name, but she seems to have found a good pace here.  She seems to reflect deeply about what she sees, not satisfied with staying at the surface of things.  
  • Claude traveled to Princeton Seminary to participate in Envision '08.  He was able to share his hope for Africa with 600 new friends - wow!  He also enjoyed a reunion with friends Brian McLaren and Richard Twiss, as well as meeting new friends and planting seeds for more partnerships.  He was delayed in transit... stopping over in Brussels while I awaited his return.  But he did make it home - with Almond M&M's from Terry!  
  • Claude returned home with an unexpected gift - Soularize videos from their gathering in The Bahamas.  I devoured the sermons by N.T.Wright and Brennan Manning.  But I was deeply challenged by the series offered by Richard Rohr, a contemplative and leader of The Center for Action & Contemplation in New Mexico.  I needed his words at the very moment they arrived.  I know that I need deep spiritual resources to be here, or to be who God desires me to be while here.  I believe God brought a ray of hope, a lifeline, right when I was at the end of my own rope (or my own shallow resources).  I am excited to go deeper, to be not a mere introvert but a contemplative in the best sense of that word.
  • I have read 6 of my 12 books... and still have 2 more months to go!  Lots of time to read, reflect, journal and correspond here.  As I said, this has been a sabbath season in many good ways.  I am moving slower, but maybe I am moving better.  I am certainly seeing more things in me that need to be addressed, need to be let go, need to be surrendered to God for reformation.

And next month... well, I fly to Uganda tomorrow to launch the first Amahoro Institute on July 1st.  Then we have another in Burundi the following week, and then off to South Africa for the 3rd one before the month's end!  So this month will be about smaller regional conversations. The kids will begin learning french at a new school - one they will be in for July and August. Claude will be working closely with our Batwa friends to move the project forward.  We are all on the move...


Sib said...

i am so inspired and moved as i read through your blog---and i am so very happy to see the beautiful life you have!!! we love you guys! and what a surprise we had as we were reading through Brian Maclaren's recent book and found you in there!!!!!

Sib said...

i forgot to sign my name!

love to you!