Both beginning and ending have their joys and challenges. Seemingly, we are either looking back or planning ahead these days. Here are a few paragraphs about some of these transitions.
Burundi is experiencing a beginning today. Pierre Nkurunziza’s third Presidential inauguration took place yesterday (Thursday). In an apparent effort to avoid promised protests, the ceremony was announced at the last minute and caught everyone by surprise. International leaders and groups are encouraging the new government to act inclusively for the good of Burundi. This would be in contrast to the African tendency to consolidate and concentrate power. Burundians hope that this is an ending as well – an end to the disruptions caused by fear and political power struggles.
Back to School
We are looking forward to the end of the dry season here in Kibuye. Our chapped lips, crunchy grass, and dusty roads are daily reminders of the need for rain. Down in the valley, there is some water and the new plants (sweet potato and cabbage, mostly) have been put in and are starting to reveal the promise of greener days ahead. The younger Missional Millers are tired of the summer schedule. They have been dragging for a few weeks and are looking forward to the arrival of old friends and new families at the end of this month. The one room school house will be back in session with 12 students in early September.
A new group of medical students have arrived for three months of training at Kibuye Hope Hospital. This is essentially their first clinical experience which means we have a lot of basic orienting and teaching to do. (Some beginnings are hard!) I am still supervising the Internal Medicine service. The other day I counted 14 students and nurses rounding with me. This is tiring but is also an amazing opportunity to speak into these lives-in-formation. Our lives, too, continue to be formed as we interact with these students and this community.
Bittersweet Changes Coming
The end of our first term in Africa is rapidly approaching. We now find ourselves with a mixture of feelings and priorities. Burundi has become home to us and we can’t envision life without these friends and experiences. And yet, four years ago we said goodbye to many family members and friends on the other side of the ocean. This melange of hope and sadness is our daily reality. We have already begun the process of selling our stuff, seeking “carriers” who will take a suitcase back to the U.S., and experiencing lasts- the last trip to Rwanda, the last meal with friends,… These are common to families in transition and we have prepared ourselves as much as possible for the next season. Third culture kids do face different challenges but we know that they will also have unique gifts to offer the world to which we return.
The mandate given us by Free Methodist World Missions and the late Bishop Elie Buconyori when we arrived was to add a Western perspective to the medical training program at Hope Africa University (HAU). By modeling medical missions we hoped to pass that vision of missional living on to as many Burundian students as possible. We all recognized that we would not accomplish everything on our own but our presence might serve as a bridge for others interested in the work here. After three and a half years, that goal is being accomplished as a variety of international visitors make short and long term investments in medical students. There are HAU medical graduates and current students who are in various stages of preparation for future missions service. We thank God and give him the credit for these developments.
As this chapter of our missional life ends, we wonder what will be in the next season of life. Will God call us back to Burundi? Will there be medical mission opportunities elsewhere? Will he call us to serve in a more familiar cultural context? Like many of you, we want to be available for Kingdom purposes wherever and whenever. Lord, give us ears to hear and courage to obey.
We return to the U.S. in early December this year. Spring Arbor will be home for a season and I am applying to work in a clinic in the area. The kids are going to attend the local school (8th, 7th, 5th, and 3rd grades). During that home year, we want to personally thank as many of you as possible. Your faithful support of our family is allowing us to finish well. Our financial support from Free Methodist World Missions will end in February 2016. It will be great to see how God leads you to redirect your support to other ministries.
You made it from beginning to end of this letter. Thanks for sharing the journey with us. If you have questions about what we are doing here or want more information, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow us on Facebook at MissionalMillers.