Day 3 – Bujumbura

Saturday, Feb 16, 2019 

The temperature is typically in the high 20’s to low 30’s C (mid 70’s to low 80’s F) in Bujumbura during the day and in the mid 20’s C ( low 70’s ) at night and it can be a bit humid.   If you don’t have a breeze can be a bit ‘sticky’.

It was a warm night, however we were so tired that most of us slept soundly. The night was very quite and we were woken up at 5 am by the morning ‘ call to prayer ‘ from the local Mosque and soon afterwards we could hear the chatter from the birds as they began to become active.  We read our morning devotions and at 7:30 am we went to the breakfast area of the complex ( the Swedish Mission ) where we were staying for some coffee, bread, bananas and omelettes.

At 9:00 am, Doug arrived at the complex with Tyler Schulz, who has been helping in Burundi and we headed up to the Overlook Hotel which is situated on the crest of a high point in Bujumbura.   The view from the Hotel was spectacular.  

While we were there, Doug let us in a study of Daniel 6 & 9 after which we took some time to reflect on the story of Daniel and its application in our lives, followed by time in prayer, particularly for Burundi, the Congo and the work being done there.

At 12 pm we drove to a local restaurant and had a wonderful meal before heading back to Doug and Deanna’s house.   

After a short rest we walked to the local market for challenge shopping.   We were divided into two teams, one led by Jeff and one led by Michele.   Each team was given a list of items to buy and their quantities.  The challenge was that everything was written in Kirundi and the teams had to barter for the items on the list.   Each team would be judged according to accuracy of the purchase, the price we paid and the amount of time it took to buy the items.   As soon as we arrived at the market, we attracted a lot of attention and locals got a good hour’s worth of entertainment at our expense.

Having procured the items we needed, we walked back to the house and started preparations for the evening’s festivities.  Travis, Tyler, Sherry Schulz and their daughters , Nathalie, Jillian and Lauren joined us for an evening of socialization.  Before eating, we split up into 4 teams to play outdoor Dutch Blitz.

 

After we ate, after which we had a short celebration for Avery’s birthday.

 

Doug drove us back to the Swedish Mission where we spent a little time reviewing the day as a group before we went to bed.

Day 1 & 2 – Travel to Burundi

February 14/15, 2019

The anticipated day of departure finally arrived. 

The members of our team met at the Town Campus of Cornerstone Community Church at 5:15 am, where Chuck Wiens was waiting for us with the van that we would be using to travel to the airport.   Our checked luggage consisted of 14 bags, each containing 23 kg ( 50 lb ) of books and materials to be delivered to Doug and Deanna in Burundi.   We packed them into the van, along with our carryon baggage before leaving for the Toronto airport.   It was a little after 5:30 am when we left the church parking lot and Chuck got us safely to the airport by 7 am.

At the airport we grabbed 6 carts, loaded the baggage onto them and headed to the Ethiopian Airlines check-in register.   The agent was very helpful and we were able to efficiently check all of the bags and get our tickets and seat assignments.   The checked luggage had been efficiently packed and I was quite impressed that each bag was within 22.8 – 23 kg. 

We had no major issues in the airport, however, one team member had forgotten that there was a limit to the size of each liquid container allowed in carryon luggage, so there was a slight delay while the situation was corrected and the member’s bag got lighter.

After we cleared customs we still had a few hours before our flight left so as we headed to our gate, we stopped at the nearby food court for some breakfast.   Our boarding time was 9:15 and we were about to head to the gate at 9:15 when we heard the “ last call “ over the intercom, for boarding our flight.   Since the gate was near the food court, we didn’t have to rush.  We still had plenty of time to get in long line that was still waiting to board the plane.   

The 13 hour flight was uneventful, but very tedious.   We tried to sleep as much as we could but it was difficult for any of us to get any sustained, relaxing sleep even though most of us could stretch out across some empty seats.   We received 2 large meals and several snacks during the flight, which served to satisfy my appetite, but also interrupted my sleep.

We arrived in Addis Ababa early on Friday morning ( local time – around midnight EST ) and when we stepped on the warm tarmac we were embraced by the warm ( not hot  – 20 C, 68 F ) weather.

We had a 3 hour layover before our next flight and there weren’t a lot of food options available however, Andrew and Matthias found some fresh samosas that they shared with the group.   

Our flight from Addis Ababa was approximately 2.5 hours and it was also uneventful, which is good.   There is an Ebola outbreak in the Congo area, so there was a lady taking our temperature and having us fill out some paperwork to make sure that we weren’t sick.  Unfortunately they didn’t have the facilities for all of us to fill out paperwork at the entrance to the airport from the tarmac, so the process of writing down the information with limited desk space was a little awkward, but we managed to get everything filled out to their satisfaction and then headed to baggage claim.

After collecting our 700 lbs of checked baggage and putting them onto carts with our carryon luggage, we headed out of the airport where we met Doug.   He was accompanied by Travis a newcomer from Wichita, Kansas, who has recently joined the team in Burundi for a 3 year assignment.   

Doug drove us to our accommodations

where we took a quick shower before heading to  house for orientation and supper.  At the house we met Deanna and their girls, Maddy, Keza, and Avery.

Many years ago, as a pastor at Cornerstone, Doug had invited Onesphore, a minister from Burundi to speak at Cornerstone Community Church and since then Onesphore‘s. ministry has  been sponsored by the church .   He initiated a very successful program called “ Harvest “ which involves training Burundians to become pastors.  Harvest works with the indigenous people, especially one of the minority groups known as the Pygmy or ‘Twa’.    

Onesphore joined us at Doug and Deanna’s house for orientation and spent some time explaining the history, culture, people and some of the issues in Burundi.   He also gave us details about the work being done in Burundi in training local people to become pastors.

After orientation, Deanna treated us to a wonderful meal, after which we spent some time socializing.   We were all very tired from the trip and when we started to run out of energy, some of the group helped with the dishes before we left.  On our way back to our accommodations, Doug stopped  stopping at a store to buy some much needed water.   By 8 pm, local time, most of the group had gone to bed for some much needed rest.

Preparation for Burundi, Africa

February 13, 2019

A new adventure awaits.

In the late Fall of 2019, an opportunity became available for a unique visit to Burundi, Africa and after checking my schedule, I signed up to go.

Cornerstone Community Church supports Doug and Deanna Hiebert (along with their 3 girls) as they serve in Burundi and eastern DR Congo.  Jeff Martens, the Outreach Pastor at Cornerstone Community Church, has organized a trip to visit the Hieberts in order to show support for the work being done there, to meet the people of Burundi  and to visit the new school that was recently built.

More information about the work that is being done in Burundi and the Congo can be found by visiting the church website: https://www.ccchurch.ca/the-hieberts- .

There are 6 people who will be accompanying Jeff on this epic journey: his wife Michele, Andrew Thiessen, Rachel Fast, Gisela Reimer, Matthias Boss and myself.

Burundi is a very small country having almost 1/3 of the population of Canada in a country that is half the size of Nova Scotia.  The country gained its independence in 1962  and its official languages are Kirundi (the national language ), French and English.   They have a population of 10.5 million people, of which, 85% are Hutu, 14% are Tutsi and 1% are Twa.  “One of the smallest countries in Africa, Burundi is landlocked and has an equatorial climate.  The country lies on a rolling plateau in the centre of Africa and is bordered by Rwanda to the north,  Tanzania to the east and southeast, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west.”  Lake Tanganyika, which is located along the southwest border, is the second oldest freshwater lake in the world and the second largest by volume and depth.  Lake Baikal in Siberia is the only freshwater lake that is larger and deeper than Lake Tanganyika.

We are scheduled to leave at 10 pm on Thursday, February 14 from Toronto for a 13 hr flight to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

From Addis Ababa we will be catching a flight to Bujumbura, the largest city in Burundi, where we will be staying for the first few days.

I will attempt to post my journal entries daily, however, there may be some delays due to internet connectivity or because I’m trying to outrun a lion while doing my best to avoid tripping over my beard.   Either way, I will do my best to keep my journal updated.