After a fun and busy summer in the United States, we returned to Burundi where the second semester at HAU had already begun. We were glad for almost three weeks of readjustment time before the kids had to return to their school. We unloaded our suitcases, said hello to expatriate and African friends, and did a few fun things as a family. It was good to not have the twice daily trips to drop off and pick up the kids from school. Those can be wearisome after a while.
I jumped back into the clinical work at the Van Norman Clinic with hopefulness and a clearer sense of allowing God to be in control of the outcomes here. I am hopeful as I see Dr. Eric Nzeyimana give focused leadership to the clinic. What a relief to be able to go to one person who makes decisions regarding the clinic and to be able to work alongside him in setting and maintaining our priorities. Many times I am tempted to rely on my own understanding or intelligence or skills as I problem solve here. The reality is that it just doesn’t work- whether I am here in Burundi or back in the U.S. We are called to work with God but I want him to be leading me and not the other way around.
We are also experiencing small gains in our patient numbers at the clinic. Dr. Eric has been inviting employers and organizations in Bujumbura to consider sending their employees to be treated in our clinic. We are now receiving some ex-combatants from the various civil wars in Burundi. Most of these are men with injuries to their extremities. Not only do we want to help care for the physical ailments they bring but this may also be an opportunity to speak peace into lives that have not known much peace.
One of our new rhythms is that Janette now comes to the clinic several days a week to help with teaching the medical students who are doing their clinical rotations with us. She enjoys teaching and the students are responding enthusiastically to her energy. Janette and I do the bulk of the supervision of students at the Van Norman Clinic but our African doctors are also involved in the daily work of the clinic and modeling good clinical care for our students. Janette will continue to be at home in the afternoons when the children are there.
A new and completely unexpected rhythm that I am going to adopt for the next 2 weeks is preparing and teach a course at the University. In the last year of their studies, our medical students are required to take a course that has been called “Christian Philosophy of Medicine”. We have been fortunate to have an American doctor well-versed in those subjects of History and Philosophy to teach this course in previous years. Unfortunately, he cannot come this year so the Dean has requested that I fill in. Since I am neither Historian nor Philosopher, I am necessarily changing the focus of the class a bit to think about what the Bible says about health and culture and compassion. We are also going to be looking at some practical cases that some of our African doctors will face in their careers. This would be a somewhat daunting task even in my own culture but to do it cross-culturally will really be a stretch. I may learn more in the teaching of this class than my students! I am thankful for an African University in which we can discuss these topics and for a God who will give wisdom sufficient for the task.
My job description continues to evolve. I am helping with the clinical education at Van Norman Clinic during morning report and through sessions with pre-clinical students who will soon be given responsibilities in the clinics. More and more I am also involved in communication with Americans- visiting professors, people with access to medical equipment, potential donors, etc. There are many people involved in the success of Hope Africa University and it continues to be our privilege to represent you here.
The brief update on the kids is that they are all in the Primary section of the Belgian School this year. Josiah is now a first grader and has already been given homework consisting of writing “i” words in cursive. Samuel is in third grade this year and is a good student and friend by all accounts. He and Josiah love playing with Nerf guns and light sabers. Leah is in the fifth grade where she is still looking for a good friend. With her contagious laughter and smile, it shouldn’t take her long. Hannah is in her last year of primary school (6th grade) where getting more confident in French is her priority. She is a loving big sister who is quite responsible for her 11 years.
One of the joys for the kids has been jumping on a trampoline. We were fortunate to have one here in Burundi. As we reported on Facebook earlier this week, a big wind/rain storm blew our trampoline across the yard and over the 8 foot wall that divides our yard from our neighbors’. In true African style, the neighbors did ask for a donation since they had “watched” our trampoline all night until we were able to disassemble it and return it to our yard the next morning. In the process, the mat was torn, but with the help of our guard and cook, we were able to patch it (seen under Josiah’s foot). We are thankful that we have a house that, while not storm-proof (lots of water on the floors), protected us from the elements and continues to provide an oasis from the busyness of our lives here.
We’ll try to not let the news stack up so much. Thanks for your faithful support of the life we are living here with Africans and others. We’re glad to be serving with you.