Mission International Teams Blog

Burundi team 2011

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During the period of teams deployment new information will appear on this blog from the teams. Access to and functionality of local internet connections may hamper the upload of images, however we will attempt to show these where possible.

A link to the Haiti team 2012 blog can be found on the right side-bar.

The Burundi team blog will appear below this message on this page.

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Monday, 23 July 2012

I am on the way home at last, the first leg of my return journey is over.   All being well I should be home sometime on Wednesday.
We travelled the 6 hour road trip from Cyangugu to Kigali through the Nyungwe National Park, a large area of rainforest which covers both sides of the main road as we climbed and climbed and then climbed some more.   The old Land Rover discovery handled the challenge well and was a very comfortable car to travel such a long (in terms of time) road which was in need of a lot of repair for a good part of the way.   During this part of the journey is the only time I have seen rain for the whole trip.   I expect the folks back in Blighty wont be saying that at least.

During the trip through the forest we saw a truck which had been carrying a load of cattle tipped over on a corner (I didnt manage to get a photo of it) the one in the image above was a bit further on, on a straight stretch of road, I have no idea why it was in such a position, it really looked impossible to get from the road into this position without a lot of help.

Tonight Esther, Bishop Nathan's wife, took me with her daughter and the driver to Cactus a Pizza place for dinner.   This was a really nice way to conclude what has been an eventful few weeks!   See you all soon!

Sunday, 22 July 2012


During the last few days I have been preaching in a village about an hour's drive from Gyangugu called Gisuma.   This area, as I have already indicated, was one of the major focuses for the Genocide in '94.   The region was known as the 'Turquoise Sector' and was supposed to be a safe haven for the fleeing Tutsis from the Hutu militia, however it took the French peacekeepers so long to get their act together that the Interahamwe militia got there first and they massacred almost everyone.   We passed a number of Genocide memorials on the way and Charles my interpreter commented as we passed one that 8,000 people were killed in this Roman Catholic Church 

 The lad pictured above led the choir of orphan sponsored kids, for me these were the best of the many choirs we were presented with during each service for the whole time we were there.
 Sunday was a special service in many ways, it was a confirmation service for lots of new believers, it was the first visit of Bishop Nathan to this church and it was also a fundraiser for the church building which is in the process of being built.   This sheep was one of the many offerings brought by the rural community in an attempt to raise the funding to continue with the church building project.   Other brought eggs, sugar cane and some even donated a load of bricks.


Saturday, 21 July 2012

Tomorrow (Sunday) is likely to be my last visit to the village church.   It has been a very interesting few days.   Today we were involved in some lively worship and ten some Anglican baptisms took place in the open air.

For me this has been a spiritually tough place.   When preaching it is like pushing a heavy weight uphill, very unlike most of the other places I have been on this trip.   The level of awareness and understanding is low as well as the level of education.   The church here has also been through some tough times with a number of Genocide sites nearby.   Although the most recent troubles took place in 1994 there would appear still to be a deep and heavy cloud over the area.

 Above - lively worship as the church prepares to hear the Word of \God.

Young people are baptised after a number of babies.

Friday, 20 July 2012

I am now in Cyangugu (Chang Goo Goo) Rwanda, I haven't heard yet but I expect the team to be home safely.
Cyangugu hangs on the side of the mountains that surround the Rwanda side of the south part of Lake Kivu. It is really a beautiful part of the world.  In the image below you can see DR Congo to the right side of the river and Rwanda to the left.
Pastor John Paul Munganga came to visit me from DR Congo to pick up a laptop, printer, a piano keyboard and some Christian books I had carried from the UK.  He was so blessed by these and wants to say a huge thank you to the donors of these items, you know who you are.   He had travelled a very long way from Bukavu and beyond to come to meet me.   DR Congo is vast.   Mission International now has a formal invitation to go to Congo to train church leaders.

 Above the chalet I am staying in which is part of the Anglican church's Peace Guest House.
Preaching the Gospel in a remote village about 1 hour's drive from Cyangugu.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Our final day in Burundi has been a good one.   We spent the day at the Hotel Club de Lac Tanganyika.   I had meetings with Rema Ministries staff covering a wide range of items on a long agenda.  The meeting lasted from 11.30am - 5pm with a break for lunch.   The rest of the team relaxed by the pool and then afterwards we all had dinner of Nguhe and chips on the beach.



Monday, 16 July 2012

All work and no play.... OK we had both today!   The girls wanted to go to the pool at the Hotel Club de Lac Tanganyika and so we dropped them off there after a nice lunch at Tropicana.  Chris had some deliveries to make, returning the borrowed denial equipment and taking the MI equipment back to the Rema offices.   I was then able to finalise the accounts with Rema and Chris was able to complete the report for the health minister.

Sadly our time in Burundi is coming to an end.   Chris and Clare will go back to the UK on Wednesday evening and Anna early Thursday morning via another airline.  On Wednesday morning I will head for the Rwanda border where I will be picked up by Bishop Nathan Amooti and travel to Cyangugu in West Rwanda.

Sunday, 15 July 2012

As Chris and Anna make their way from Rutana to Buj'a, Clare & I with Frederic and Francois are taken to church where I had been with last year's team for a week.   The church lies in a very poor community on the outskirts of Buj'a.   I preached on the lost coin, the lost sheep and the man who had two sons, (the lost son/prodigal son).   It seems there has been a split in the church from last time and I was told afterward that this was a very pertinent word for the church.

After the church service the pastor's wife had prepared a beautiful meal in their home for us and so we were well fed.   He asked if we would pray a blessing on his house before we left, which we did and then we were taken to Frederic's house to meet his wife and family and from there home to our accommodation.

The Church building from the outside!

The church congregation from the inside!

Frederic Harerimana and his wife and children.

Saturday, 14 July 2012

I have now arrived back in Bujumbura (Buj'a) and Clare has travelled with us today with some luggage to leave room for Chris & Anna who are finishing up appointments at the Nyembuye clinic before going to Japheth's church on Sunday morning and returning to Buj'a in the afternoon.
Our journey down from Rutana took about 3 hours on fairly decent roads, however we are really tired after the journey.   It is so hot here in comparison to the cool temperatures of the mountain regions.   I started to sweat profusely after having a shower, so much so that I felt dehydrated and shaky.  I took a rehydration sachet in some water and feel a lot better now.

as we approach Buj'a from the mountain road, 
a wonderful panorama of the city and Lake Tangayika appears.

Friday, 13 July 2012

I have just this minute arrived in Rutana and will be meeting the Mission Medics team on their return from Nyembuye in an hour or so.   I have a nice room and a quiet yet mind blowing view over the mountains from the hotel.

Our last half day session in Cankuzo was amazing.   Once I had finished sharing the last session on discipleship, all of the pastors en mass came to me to ask if I would pray with them.  They wanted to repent because they had not been obedient to God's Word by discipling new Christians.   They all stood around be in a circle as I prayed and as they asked God to forgive them for their disobedience to His Word.   It was all I could do not to break down! 
The pastors stand in a circle and repent before God together.


Thursday, 12 July 2012

(For those of you awaiting the translation of a letter posted a few days ago, the translation is now posted on the appropriate message ... see below).

Another hard day is over, our final full day of leadership training here in Cankuzo.   I have been sent home to my room armed with a number of questions to be dealt with tomorrow and so I expect that I will be burning a bit of the midnight oil to deal with this.

I spoke to the Mission Medics team last night and they are doing well.   Clare and Anna had been taken on a tour of the Rutana district hospital in the morning and then had a bit of R&R in the afternoon followed by a visit to the local market.   I think they enjoyed the celebrity status as the whole place came to a standstill as the two Mzungu ladies passed by.

It has been a wonderful few days here in Cankuzo, please pray that these wonderful people benefit from the many teachings that they have had and that the Church is strengthened as a result.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Tomorrow is our last full day in Cankuzo, we will probably spend a half day here on Friday before meeting the Nembuye team in Rutana.  It has been a good week.   The leaders are so ready to learn and hungry for more teaching.  They sit from 8am - 5 PM with a short break in the morning and a break for lunch.   There were a few nodding heads this afternoon however as we ploughed through some of the material I have been asked by them to cover.   I am not surprised after seeing the huge helpings of food the put away during lunch though.

The Nyembuye Mission Medics team are by all accounts doing well.   Clare and Anna we delighted to tell me that they had been involved in a birth yesterday and Anna wanted to pack the new baby away in her suitcase to bring it home.   Governments see that newborn as an added statistic on the way to 10 Billion inhabitants in the earth, parents see it perhaps as another mouth to feed however God see that wee one as one of His and packed full of potential to produce a wonderfully effective life.   I wonder how it will fair as it approached the troubles of Burundi and the abject poverty of its family.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

All in a mornings work.... before we leave that is!

Some of the Rema team are travelling with me as interpreters and a driver.  I managed to capture them this morning before leaving for the church to get involved with the day's tasks.

 Here (above) Frederic irons a shirt for François who takes forever to get ready in the mornings, and any other time for that matter.
 François (above) fumbles with a coffee flask which likes to dribble copious amounts of his 'liquid gold' on to the floor on its way to the cup.   We went out and bought a new flask because the loss of his beloved coffee just will not do!  He is an avid Burundi coffee fan.
Peter the driver (above) stuffs a omelette roll in his mouth at breakfast.   He has an upset stomach and so tries to cure it by eating more and more.   The thought of fasting for a day or two is sacrilegious to him.  This man manages to pack two heaped dinner plates full of food away and lunch time, then at dinner time two more and can still slide a Scooby snack away whenever required.

Our day was spent, in the morning, doing a survey of the previous work done by Rema Ministries here, then we had lunch.   The folks debated whether too have one or two hours for lunch, this took about 20 mins; then we stopped for lunch about 13.30 to find that lunch was not yet ready, so we hung around for an hour waiting and retuned to the seminar at 15.10??   

The afternoon session on the Call of God was interesting and enjoyable to teach.   Once I had finished at the allotted time of 17.00 they started to fire questions at me, mainly on issues of family planning.   The church teachings are so varied and the leaders are confused.   A very long debate ensued which no doubt will be picked up tomorrow.   They also asked a list of further questions for me to deal with tomorrow.   Seems like its going to be another busy night.

Monday, 9 July 2012

Thanks to everyone who has been following the blog; if you know of others who may be interested, feel free to send them the link.   The Haiti team also has a blog which makes really good reading, here is the link for it for those who have a moment.  http://missioninternationalhaiti.blogspot.co.uk/

Today in Burundi (Cankuzo) I will be starting a new series of leadership training with a new group of leaders.   They are expecting to be fed and so please pray that God opens up his word during this week and that they are spiritually satisfied as the Bible promises when we ask for food from God.

I will report back later if there is any further news to share.

By the way, there is a comment facility on this blog, if you want to send a message please feel free, we'd be delighted to hear from you!

Hugh
After a short journey from Buhiga to Gitega (where we came across the carnage of two articulated trucks which had collided and turned over and sprawled across the road, thankfully no-one killed) and a long wait for François Nitunga (another Rema Ministries man) in Gitega today (we first thought he would arrive at 10am but he eventually arrived at 14.30) and a long dusty drive to Cyankuso we have arrived.   We met the Methodist Superintendent, Matthew, and he took us to our rooms for the night.   Again I have been blessed by a nice room with a hot shower, which is great.   We are far away from the capital, near the Tanzania border, we have just ordered food which I think is rice and banana chips?  

 I am looking forward to tomorrow when we start the leadership training.   It is always interesting to hear what the current issues are and to think through how these can be taught to the pastors and leaders who arrive.   

I have not heard from the Mission Medics team today yet, however yesterday they told me that they had had a great day at the local church and had been well looked after for lunch afterwards too.   I will post more when I hear from them......

..... I have just spoken to the Mission Medics team, who were arriving back from their day's work in Nyembuye clinic.   Chris informed me that the dental team (Chris, Anna and one of the Burundian staff) had seem 30 patients and that Clare the midwife had overseen a baby being born.  She says there is another expected tomorrow too.   The team are expected to visit the Rutana district hospital on Wednesday with Jean Claude who id the district medical officer and who has been very helpful to the team in a number of ways.

During the last few minutes the Methodist Superintendent has asked if I might come to preach at a gospel crusade/convention next summer (end of July) for a few days.   I thanked him for his invitation and said that I needed to pray and also deal the potential logistics of the situation when I got home to the UK.   God willing we have a place for next year's team already, those of you who are interested, start praying now!

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Sunday is almost over, the service this morning was good, the people worshipped beautifully and from the heart, they sang a song at one time called "We'll be together in Jerusalem" which raised the roof.  After preaching a further 20 people responded seeking to come to faith which was a real joy to see.   We went to the pastors tiny house for a large lunch of chicken, rice, roast potatoes and spinach, followed by a huge slice of fresh, ripe pineapple.  

After lunch we headed back to the hotel and I managed to catch the F1 text report on the internet mixed with playing games with a wee lass who joined me to draw pictures, fly the paper aeroplane a bit more and take photos with digital camera, (she has some wonderful shots of her mums feet and the tile floor in the dining room) she has loads of energy and so I was a bit jaded by the time she was called away by her mum.   She has taken a real shine to my world band radio too, I can see it has a higher calling.   I also tried to catch the Murray Federer final however I ran out of airtime on my internet dongle.   By the time I had gotten more airtime it was all over.   Now I have just finished supper, a meal of roasted sweet potatoes with cabbage, spaghetti and a huge chunk of boiled pumpkin, washed down with a cup of Burundian Coffee.

Saturday, 7 July 2012


It’s another early night due to the lack of entertainment here.   I spent the last hour or so before retiring to my ‘chambre’ making paper aeroplanes for a couple of the kids in the hotel and flying these across the dining room.  As I go to bed I try to find an English speaking voice on the little world band radio I have with me, but since we are in such a remote corner of the world which speaks Kirundi, Swahili and French predominantly there appears to be nothing.  A detailed search of every MW, FM, LW and SW channel is made and reveals only a couple of occasions where English can be detected. However the voices I so much want to hear wave in and out of detection.   If I try to alter the channel I have miraculously found; since the graduation between one channel and another on SW seems to be only a fraction of a millimetre apart, the channel is lost.  I eventually give up and resort to listening again to Bob Dylan’s ‘Slow Train Coming’ album, the only one of two I have on my iPod, which I didn’t sync before I left.   Soon I fall fast asleep.   The night is quiet here, no barking dogs and no honking horns in the night.   No discos until the early hours and so I have a great nights sleep.   The Imam rudely awakens me at 5am or so.  His call to prayer to the Islamic flock is eerie in the early morning hush, his only competition a few cockerels who cannot keep quiet and the rumbling sound of distant traffic which is now starting to roll as darkness begins to wane and the light of day dawns.  

It is Sunday, my final day in Buhiga.   The leaders who patiently received the leadership training that I had delivered have now all gone back to their own churches for the Sunday worship.   The Saturday afternoon outreach service where 20 people came to faith in Christ is also over and soon the Sunday service will also have passed. And I will move on to another place where I will be expected to repeat the leadership training to another group of hungry clergy.  I have been challenged once again by lack.   Lack of just about everything.  Lack of education, lack of initiative, lack of resources, lack of skills, lack of funding – no lack of lack - lack everywhere.  These people have nothing; I am reminded of a comment made by a schoolgirl/team-member some years ago when she reported about her trip; she said “I had no idea how little nothong really is”.   The frustration I felt from the church leaders who had attended the training this week as they appealed to me for ideas on how they might implement some of the things that I was suggesting.   Simple things like putting into place ‘plural leadership’.   But most of our people cant read, and even if they did they don’t have a Bible some said; if we want to train them they don’t have the sagacity and education to accept the training.   We don’t have the resources to deliver it in such a way as to train them in the short term and the resources to educate them from the very humble place they now stand.   I tried hard to say that this was not an insurmountable problem however they would require some creativity to get there.   It seemed that my comments fell on un-creative ears in the main.  One or two however did manage to grasp this idea and welcomed it along with other suggestions on how they might take an illiterate group of people and train them to be leaders in the church.   My plea to them was to get together, pool their resources and experience (some of the men had been pastors for many years) and identify skills where possible and make a plan to get to the desired destination.
 Perhaps one day my lack of wisdom will be reversed to the point I can see out of the constraints of my own culture and background and meet them where they are.  Perhaps one day the little education that is managing to filter through into the nation will remove the curse of illiteracy and a new dawn can break through on this beautiful country and wonderful nation.

Hugh

Friday, 6 July 2012

The two black areas on the map show where I will be travelling during the mission trip this year.   The one to the left is Buhiga and the other on the border with Tanzania is Cankuzo (pronounced ChyanKuzo).   The Mission Medics team are in Rutana which you will see in the blue area on the bottom right hand side of the map.   My time in Buhiga is about to come to an end on Sunday after which I will travel with Frederic to Gitega (in the middle of the map) to meet Francois Nitunga and go on from there to Cankuzo for a further week after which both teams will meet again in Bujumbura for meetings with Rema Ministries and with Government officials to establish a platform for a dental training programme planned for next year and thereafter.



It never ceases to amaze me that we as Christians can travel around the world and find ‘family’ there.   This week I have turned up to a town called Buhiga in the north east of Burundi to find a group of welcoming smiling people rejoicing in the fact that someone has travelled a long way to spend time with them.   They have not been forgotten after all.   They are all hungry for what is to be shared with them.   It is 8.30am and they are just finishing breakfast, some of them have already cycled 40km to be here and others have walked long distances.   This happens every day; they are not staying overnight.   We finish the meetings at 3.30pm so that those who have travelled a long distance can get home before it gets dark and be with their families’ overnight.
The group of about 30 men and a couple of women hang on every word.   They ask searching questions about all aspects of church leadership and wont be satisfied until their questions have been fully answered.   Some appear very shy, however Frederic from Rema Ministries, my interpreter, tells me that these people, predominantly Hutu are ‘cowed’ due to the systematic abuse that they have received from their masters over many years.   They are a broken people, but nevertheless are really keen to break free of the shackles and break out once again.    It is a real joy to share with them.  Unlike on some other occasions I don’t feel at all used, I feel appreciated and made very welcome.
They want to squeeze the last drop of ‘leadership juice’ out of me and they really done mind making it tough either.   It is hard work teaching 6 hours a day, but somehow the reward for the hard work and tiredness is a sense of real achievement and fulfilment too.   The first week will soon be over, I have to repeat it again in another town next week.   I really hope that there will be a similar sense of accomplishment at the end of it.

Hugh
6/7/2012 PM   I was speaking to a lady in one of our seminars today who made a request of Mission International, that is we send community health workers and midwives to the area to help teach the uneducated community about how their bodies work so that they can understand a lot more in terms of birth control and the like.   If there are any of you out there who are keen to help in this way, please get in touch with us and we can give you more details.
Her letter says...

"Dear Brethren in Christ,

Greetings and peace of the Lord be with you!

Brethren, in the region and district where I minister, it is clear that there are many people who continue to give birth to many children, yet there are so many challenges.   Some of those challenges are as follows:

1. Burundi being the least developed country in the whole world and the most densely populated country in the world, there are people who live under the poverty line.   This poverty leads to children not attending school because their parents cannot afford paying for the school fees, educating them and taking them to clinics when they are ill, feeding them and clothing them becomes a nightmare.
2. There is an acute scarcity of land and many families kill each other for land.   Arable land has become so scarce and hence there is hunger in the families.
3. Many women who give birth to many children become weak and cannot get involved in any development of their families, they become old prematurely and die early.

The Government is trying hard to educate the population with regard to family planning and spacing of births.  However, churches do not agree and have different views and standpoints.   Some churches do not even support the use of condoms for family planning, yet the consequences are hard to bear.

Dear brethren, my humble request is that you may consider sending us experts, doctors and midwives who know and can teach the functioning of a woman’s body so that women here may know which methods of family planning work well.

It has been predicted that in Burundi that there is nothing that can be done to develop the country if the population continues to grow at its current rate.

I reiterate my gratitude for the positive action you are going to take in response to our humble cry and request.

May the Almighty God bless you!

Rev, Alphonsine Niyimpaye"

(Translated faithfully into English by Frederic Harerimana)

Thursday, 5 July 2012

6/7/12 I have just heard (Last night) from the Nyembuye team, who dont have an internet connection to hand, that they are all doing well after their first big day at Nyembuye clinic.   Chris and Anna and one of the local technicians have created a team where two of them prepare the patients by giving them injections and Chris then pulls the teeth.   This will allow them to make the most of their time there.   Clare is now seeing some of the pregnant mothers and is getting first hand experience of what is required to benefit the community in terms of pre natal and post natal care.
Clare displays the newborn as Grandma watches on, and gets her photo with her new grandchild too!

For me in Buhiga the work is going well too.  The leaders are hungry to learn and are prepared to ask questions.   Many of these folks have had little in the way of formal education and the tribal situation means that some are unwilling to present questions and say anything because they have been so brow beaten in the past.   We are however seeing some good interactions, for which we thank God.

5/7/12 It has been a long day teaching leadership to a group of pastors here in Buhiga.   This now the end of the second day here and there are three more to go.   Last night I had a very sore throat and a fever so I went to bed at 8pm and awoke at 6am feeling a lot better.   I have managed to get through today in a dusty church building and have arrived back at our place of residence in one piece.
I have heard from the Mission Medics team to say that they are getting on well and so we again hope to have a successful time here.   I will hopefully be able to post here again soon.


Hugh

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Image: from left to right... Chris, Anna, Clare, Hugh, Frederic.

Good morning from the beautifully sunny Bujumbura! We won't be here for long however as Chris, Clare and I are preparing for our journey 'up-country' to Nyembuye where the real work will commence. In the meantime Hugh is leaving us to teach a couple of groups on leadership, please pray for us all!

The word of the day seems to be inspiration; it's hard not to be inspired by the people and beauty of this place despite the acute poverty we see. The past couple of days have been spent meeting partners at Rema and the Hope Centre. I've felt really blessed hearing their stories which reflect the healing this country is going through after such a devastating history and the sacrifices and forgiveness key to this progress. Hello to everyone supporting us back in the UK and to the team in Haiti, God bless!

Anna

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Sunday services went well today, Chris preached at a church in Bujumbura city with Pastor Leonard Tuyishimire who pastors the Hope Centre children and Hugh, Clare, Anna and her dad (also Chris) went to a church in Gatumba.   We were treated to a meal of Ugali, Meat and veg after the 3 hour service was over. We spent a few hours after the service at the Club du Lac Tanganyika a beach resort on the shores of the lake where we had a soda and an enjoyable chat and relaxed.  In the evening we watched the final of the Euro 2012 match on the laptop.
We have just received an email from Kenya to tell us of a horrific attack on a church there by Al Shabab, this has all happened as the Kenyan president is in Burundi for the 50 years of independence celebrations.  Our email says 17 are killed in the attack but BBC say two killed and a few others injured.