Wednesday, December 23, 2009

moving on...

I left Burundi almost 3 months ago. I miss it terribly. Words can not express.

As this blog was dedicated to my time in Burundi, I've started a new one to give forum for my life as it continues post-Burundi. Feel free to follow and give input as I continue to explore the complexities and challenges of the written word.

check it.

Monday, August 24, 2009

When living in peace means living in absolute poverty and taking up the gun feeds you, which would you choose?

This article presents a grave issue facing the heart of Africa. 

Monday, August 10, 2009

So many demobilized child soldiers are struggling to reintegrate back into civilian life in Burundi!

The article is a bit long, but worth the read.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

coming together...

Years of civil war and violence rendered the country of Burundi desperately ill. A population bound in fear and hopelessness dispersed as refugees around the world testified to catastrophic civil breakdown. Child soldiers are only now entering back into society, damaged from being both victims and perpetrators of violence. With each rainstorm precious topsoil slides down eroded, over-farmed hills into muddy rivers chocked with silt. The greatest loss is life. Children, youth, women, and men irrespective of their status or affiliation lost their God-given right to life. The picture seems bleak.

Thankfully, this is not the full picture nor the picture we see painted today. If in division and hate there is violence than in unity and love there is hope for peace. A community sadly divided and often hateful is the Church in Burundi. But, imagine. Imagine that the Christian community in Burundi (which is a majority of the country) stands together and awakes to their responsibility to peace and reconciliation in Burundi! How would this country change?

This vision of communal and individual awareness ignited the process to organize a week long experience of prayer and fasting for the country of Burundi. World Relief Burundi’s Church Mobilization department played an integral part in coordinating the events that took a small contingent of pastors and visitors from Cameroon to 12 provinces May 4-8. In each province the group met with local intercessors from various churches and Christian organizations to pray for the people and the ground. In various locations they specifically approached places that were once mystic and are still today thought to hold satanic power. The team experienced resistant power while praying over the places-the spiritual struggle was evident.

The week of cross country prayer and fasting ended with a time of prayer and reconciliation at the football stadium in Bujumbura. Representatives from the government, army, and police came forward to ask the people of Burundi and God forgiveness for the atrocities committed by their respective institutions. Theirs was an obvious sin, but ostensibly humbling were representatives from the Church that also asked forgiveness for not fulfilling its mission stand in the gap for peace and the value of human life. Confession and forgiveness have the power to break years of bitterness and hate, and it was in this in this new freedom that those present raised the Burundian flag and consecrated Burundi to God.

Much still remains to be done. National elections are only just a year away and political tensions and violence are on the increase. World Relief Burundi is seeking to (in partnership with other Christian NGO’s and organizations) mobilize churches under a common uniting theme of peace. By the end of 2009 we want to see churches and intercessors mobilized in all 17 provinces that will stand committed as pillars of peace for Burundi.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Love. Learn. Engage.

In that order. If we engaged life with love...I think we can agree this world could be a radically different place.

Check out the World Relief NEXT Project video.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

lake lake

Upon my arrival to Burundi last September, dry season ruled supreme. I distinctly remember the mélange of burnt grass and dust filling my lungs as I walked across the tarmac to Bujumbura International Airport (whose architecture is not too unlike what a communist would build with “hills” for a muse). Bujumbura shrouded itself in dry season haze and dust-near sighted.

A breath of fresh air. The wet season brought cleansing rain, and I saw through clear air for the first time! Patchworks of green crept up from the shores of Lake Tanganyika to the towering Burundian hills to the east and south along the lake. Rice paddies and banana plantations reveling in the steamy valley extended north from the lake. To the near west loomed Congo! Gargantuan, mordoresque mountains levitate jaggedly from the western lakeside-both striking anxiety in your mind and arousing adventure in your soul. There is more to Burundi then the restaurants and beaches of Buj!

Thus I find myself in Nyanza Lac. Translate the first word from Kirundi you get “lake”. Translate the second word from French you get “Lake”. Lake Lake. Appropriate I guess for a community that makes a living off the tasty eat-with-its-head-still-on mukeke fish and the palm trees that thrive on the lakes humid shores. The 2 hour drive south takes you on a old crumbling road through endless palm plantations and along the edge of clear blue Tanganyika waters. Aside from pothole-induced whiplash, it’s a beautiful drive.

I’ve been here many times due to the fact that World Relief’s Refugee Rehabilitation and Livelihoods program is based here in Nyanza Lac. With a steamy cup of chai to bring me to a proper sweat, I glance around the compound. Roofing sheets, iron frames for latrines, bags of cement, roofing nails, door frames, and window frames lie neatly stacked ready to be distributed to identified families. Many of them have recently returned from refugee camps in neighboring Tanzania and now will start a new life in a province whose land is spread thin and waters over fished. No wonder receiving a goat brings such radiant smiles from recipients!

At a goat distribution a few months ago an older returnee shared with me, ““Yes, I am a Christian, but when the war came I lost my faith. But now, I have come back to my faith. I know that God exists. I am so blessed!”

So this is our hope. That now in peace, we continue to see the guiding hand of God. We can lose faith in times of hardship or blind ourselves in times of peace and prosperity, but constant endures His love for us.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

the small things.

A picnic.

Yesterday was a holiday. Some friends and I decided that a picnic would be the perfect way to spend our day off. Now, usually when planning a picnic there isn’t too much strategy put in to it. You raid the grocery store, buy the food, and then go to your picnic location, and voila! You have a picnic. Divergently, in Burundi, a strategic plan needs to be drafted, ratified, and implemented with careful optimism and with plenty of room for changes.

First a list of food items needs to be drafted according to availability/price. With this done, the scavenger hunt begins. A minimum of 3 stores will be hit for various produce that they offer at the lowest price we know. If it is a holiday, some might be closed and subsequently items are crossed off the list. If an item is not found, the Asian quarter is a sure bet of having it and at a good price (imported from Dubai of course).

Location, location, location. Burundi is small, and has a lot of people. Thus, there really is not an area you can go where you are completely alone. Unless contained within razor tipped gates and concrete walls, you are a spectacle to be admired and stared at. A picnic complicates things even more because food (in Burundian culture) is meant to be shared, and if 50 people are watching you, and you’re not sharing…you’re being quite rude! In conclusion, we chose a stretch of beach between two hotels 7kms out of the city.

Perfect. Billowing clouds, placcid lake, mountains looming, gentle breeze, fresh food, and good friends.

With a little effort, planning, and good humor life isn’t that bad!