Six years ago today our family landed in Bujumbura for the first time. We packed up our 13 bags in Edmonton, and about a day and a half later walked down to the stairs onto the tarmac at the Bujumbura airport on what i remember as a hot, humid, Sunday evening.
Our first month was a steep learning curve.
And since then there have been lots of firsts for our family here.
Our first attempted military coup d’état.
Our first evacuation
First time sending a child to boarding school
We’ve seen and done a lot of things new to us. We’ve grown and changed in a lot of ways.
This last year we spent the longest time in Canada in 10 years where our trauma recovery combined with a closed airport here meant we had a full 8 months in Edmonton. In fact, that 8 months is more than all the time we’ve spent in Canada in the previous 10 years combined.
So yes, Burundi does – in so many ways – feel like home.
It’s a strange feeling to feel somewhat at home in a place you will never fit in. It’s odd to invest so much time into a place where you will not live forever. It’s hard to know your kids are spending formative years of their lives in a place they will eventually leave.
There is no doubt we have gone through the most trying times of our lives here. We have faced disappointment, confusion, fear, betrayal, and danger in more personal, pointed, intentional ways than ever before. We have come face to face with the realities of poverty, disease, death, and desperation. However, we have learned – and have seen our kids grasp – love, grace, mercy, forgiveness like never before. We have been shown kindness, sacrificial love. We have felt part of work that is impactful, meaningful, and life-giving.
I’ve lived long enough to know I don’t really know where we’ll be six years from now. Maybe in this house with this team -maybe in a place I’ve never imagined. What I do know is that in six years this place has shaped us – for the good. It has stretched us and pulled us – at times painfully. We will never be the same