kids we(a)re home

The two older kids are were home from Kenya on their Christmas break.

As of yesterday, they’re back at school in Kenya. The time really does go by fast when they’re here. We had a great time together, We got away to Tanzania to the same place we’ve gone camping for the 4th year in a row (!). Mostly though, they kind of have this sort-of-vacation-but-others-are-not kind of existence. They are a huge help – not just for our family, but for the team at large. A number of people seem to have projects that get left for “when the big kids get home on break.”

Anyway, here’s some shots of what they seemed to be up to in the month they were home. To be honest, I forgot about a lot of this until I found the pictures….seems they were actually up to a lot!

helping out with the nativity play the kids did up at the hospital..and at the feeding program, and the church. Sometimes that help means riding on the roof of the Land Cuiser to keep the cardboard set from blowing off
sorting things in the storage containers
decorating Christmas cookies.
coming with me on bikes to get the Land Cruiser unstuck…
because when you get driving directions from someone who has likely never been in a car before…things don’t always end well.
building a cotton candy machine. It was made up of: a cordless drill, pieces of a broken fan, and a bunch of other stuff…actually kind of worked (kind of)
building a new house for the chickens
fixing up the ole 1979 Honda
helping teach …which somehow seems to involve Lego
building the frame for the nativity backdrop
being a human slide for their little sister in the living room
oh yeah…worked on my bike too


hey everyone… umwaka mushasha mwiza….happy new year.

Just a quick post to share some pictures I took the other day when I accompanied Susan to visit the home of a widow who attends the feeding program. She lives in an IDP camp (Internally Displaced Persons…basically refugees who never cross the border) not too far from Kibuye. It’s been there since the war in ’93. Susan was looking into what could be done to help her. Her roof is currently loose-fitting scraps of rusty tin, and there is so much water that runs through her house in the rain that she finally just dug a bit of a trench, and removed a few bricks from the wall on the downhill side. If she can’t keep it out….at least she can try to contain it a bit.

Anyway – I snapped a few pictures of some kids who were standing around, quite interested in why we were there. So here you go…some kids, abana in Kirundi.

Noeli Nziza 2019

setting-up-the-Christmas-tree night

This year is our fifth Christmas in Burundi. If I’m counting right, since we were married that makes: 8 in France, 5 here, 1 in Kazakstan, and the remaining 9 in Canada.

Despite being here several years, there are definitely still parts about it that feel odd. It still feels strange to go camping at Christmas and have hot days swimming in the lake, with monkeys pestering us as we cook. Seems like we should be skating on a lake, and pestered by…icy roads.

From what I can gather, it doesn’t seem like Christmas is anywhere close to as big of a deal here, even in Church. There is no mention of Advent, no leading up to Christmas. Our local church will likely put up a coniferous tree in the corner of the church for Dec 25, but my guess is that probably is heavily influenced by the fact that there have been Americans living on this hill on an off for the past 30 years or so.

The last Sunday before Christmas there was a Christmas song or two, and it was definitely a ‘special’ Sunday – judging from the number of pastors present, and how they were dressed. But it’s still a long cry, at least to my western eyes, of Christmas preparation. I’m sure there are many things that point to Christmas here that I just don’t see.

cookie decorating….when the power goes off

The same way that a Burundian even after a few years may not notice that mandarine oranges in Canada or revillon chocolates in France are a clear indicator of the season, there are definitely things that get past me here. Perhaps the (in normal non-disastrous climate change years) tapering off of the rains. Maybe its the casava being harvested?

Perhaps this is the constant reality of living in a culture so different from the one(s) I am more used to. The things that seem apparent aren’t’ so to me. That is, after all, essentially a definition of culture: ‘the things that seem so obvious to a group of people that they feel no need to explain them.’

So I guess it’s more accurate to say I am not aware of the things that indicate Christmas is coming. In some ways, I’m kind of thankful for that. It has stripped away all of the purely cultural holiday things and forced us to look at Christmas for what it really is.

Although, I still do miss egg nog.

Micah is 13

{PART OF THE MEA CULPA SERIES OF POSTS _ where I post things I should have written a long time ago. yeah…that’s on me.}

So we now (yes…months ago) have 3 teenagers in the family. Micah turned 13 just before the kids headed back to school.

Yes, every kid changes a lot every year..but his year one of the shocking things that happened is just how much Micah grew.

Judging from various photos it seems that from around his birthday in 2018 until his birthday in 2019 he probably grew about 10cm. And honestly – the majority of that was probably all after Christmas. Hard to find pictures where there is any gage, but these pictures below of Micah standing close to Susan, about 12 months apart

Since his birthday is in the summer, that means his 12th year of life also coincided with his 7th year of school. That makes K,1,2,3 in France, 4 a combination of Canada/ Bujumbura, 5 a combo of Bujumbura/Kibuye, and 6, 7 & 8 here in Kibuye.

He still loves reading, loves building (forts etc) and climbing trees. Playing ultimate frisbee, bike rides, and his most recent activity… motorbike rides.

trip to Rwanda to see the dentist
he tried out some rather varied looks over the year
birthday treats last year – dropping off J & M in Kenya

Micah is a kind soul, and it’s been great to watch him grow, learn, and change over this past year.

Happy Birthday (4 months ago)!

Rainy rainy season

This time of year is really the heart of the rainy season. It’s supposed to be raining. Just not this much. This is actually a very rainy rainy season.

Sure there are some annoyances about it: trying to dry clothes, go for a run, and the incessant darkness. However, it’s pretty easy to look over those as insignificant when you see what’s going on around us.

Last week there was a mudslide in Burundi where 40 people were killed. Houses and fields were wiped out as it seems the entire side of a hill just let go and slid down into the valley.

Many of the people around us live in pretty rudimentary houses, so when it really rains, the drips through their roofs become constant.

Yesterday Susan was at the house of a woman who finally just removed a brick from her wall, and made essentially a small channel right through her house for the water. She couldn’t keep it out anymore, so at least she could try to control it and get it out the other side.

As I write this, it is pouring outside…actually…let me show you…

Jonah has been receiving texts and pictures from friends who live in Kenya. Houses flooded, belongings destroyed.

Probably the worst that we know of is from our Serge team in Bundibugyo, on the far western edge of Uganda.

Last week they had a series of mudslides with devastating effects. BBC even reported on it.

A woman we know who works in the area just barely made it through as mudslides full of massive boulders came down both in front of her and behind her.

Behind us “after” photo of the road
In front of them
Ahead of us
behind them!

Our Serge team there is stepping up and trying to do what they can.

We have water engineers on that team who are currently trying to restore water since all distribution pipes to the area were wrecked.

Josh getting deeply involved in his work.

You can read more of that whole story here, and please – please – consider helping them out with the fund they have set up to bring emergency response to those most affected. They are gathering disaster response aid and distributing it to those who lost everything.

As has been pointed out to me – this feels even more frustrating as the effects of climate change seem to often be unevenly felt by those who have played such a small role in creating the problem.

We are fine here, just a bit damp. Please pray for the situation across East Africa right now. If crops continue to get destroyed, it could cause a massive problem in the area come harvest time.