Like many other bloggers, it seems we could always begin our update with an apology for not writing more. We do wish that we were more disciplined to write more often. You are faithfully supporting us with prayers and finances and we are thankful that those are not only dependent on our blog-writing! But enough with the apologies, let’s get to the news from the shores of Lake Tanganyika…

Leadership Changes at HAU and in the church

Bishop Elie Buconyori and Burundi President Nkurunziza look at plaque at opening of Van Norman Clinic in August 2012

Bishop Elie and Burundi President Nkurunziza at opening of Van Norman Clinic, August 2012

The biggest news this month was the surprising death of Bishop Elie Buconyori. Many of you have already read this news in other sources so we will not repeat all of the obituary but you can read it here. Bishop Elie also served as the Rector (President) of Hope Africa University and we are still waiting to see how we will go forward from here. Just this week, retired Bishop Gerald Bates accepted the invitation to serve as an interim Rector for the University. We are hopeful about the Bates’ involvement in this transition and look forward to working together with Bishop Bates and many others involved in pursuing the dream of an African University in the heart of Africa. The Burundian FM Church is beginning the process of electing a new bishop to serve out the remainder of Bishop Elie’s term. We are glad that these two important leadership positions are going to be separated at least for the next year. As the University and the church continue to grow, they both require full-time attention.

Janette Is Tested

Janette took the opportunity this month to return to the U.S. for 17 days- yes, I am keeping track! While she did enjoy reconnecting with family and friends, the main purpose of the trip was to take her Family Practice Board recertification exam, a requirement every 10 years. This is a big deal and she put in literally hundreds of hours in preparation for it. The results won’t be back for several weeks but Janette feels like she did her best. Her trip also happened to overlap with the Central Africa Healthcare Organization’s (CAHO) annual meeting. Janette shared about the challenges and opportunities for medical education with this group of medical missions supporters and thinkers.

Meanwhile, Back in Burundi…

Josiah lying on bed with casted arm in sling, smiling

“I broke my arm again. Let’s go to the hospital.” Josiah after falling on the tile floor.

I have been more engaged with the children while Janette has been gone. We hope that Janette never has to be gone from us for that long again (at least not anytime soon!) but the kids and I have done well and we certainly learn things about each other and ourselves when the family dynamics are so radically changed. I re-learned that I like my alone time and that the nurturing/comforting role that Janette plays so well is not easy to just step into for me. This was especially obvious when Josiah (6 years old) broke his arm while playing in the house. This was a re-breaking actually as he had broken the same two bones in the same places in December. He felt the compassion but it was a time when I acutely felt Janette’s absence. I’m sure Janette also acutely felt the distance when we told her what happened. I also re-learned that we have been blessed with helpful, sensitive, loving kids. They really made the days easy for me and have pitched in to help with a lot of the tasks that Janette usually completes.

Last week we had an unexpected school vacation as several embassies warned of an impending Al Shabaab attack in Burundi. This in retaliation for Burundian participation in military activities in Somalia. Thankfully, there have been no attacks and yet we are reminded that we are living in Africa and not immune from the realities here. Thank you for your continued prayers not only for protection but also that we and the church would not live in fear but would boldly proclaim that our hope and our security are in Jesus and His coming Kingdom.

What’s Next?

We are looking forward to Janette’s return this week. She arrives tomorrow night! Shhhh, it’s a surprise! The kids are expecting her on Sunday so are going to be very surprised when we pick up a “visiting professor” from the airport who happens to be their mother.

We will then be finishing the semester at Hope Africa. There continue to be large numbers of medical and nursing students who need clinical education. We are struggling to find enough patients and staff to instruct them. Thanks for praying with us that a deal can be reached with the government that allows us to provide subsidized care to pediatric and maternity patients who cannot afford care in our neighborhood.

In mid-June, our whole family will be heading back to the U.S. for a much-needed, long-awaited visit. We’ll be involved in some partnership building but also intentionally investing in rest and recuperation. We’ll also be avoiding some of the difficult hot and dry season here in Bujumbura. We are returning to Burundi in August in time for the new semester at Hope Africa and the new school year for the kids at the Belgian School.