Monday, December 19, 2011

On Our Way for Christmas

Travel Buddies :)

In the US (stories to come)

Sorry lack of internet left you without stories about Graduation, plans, photos, and travels.

Currently in Washington DC waiting for the next flight to NC then off to SeaTac :)

Nice to have electricity, internet and running water. We are truly blessed here!!!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Time Well Spent

Lambert (one of my previous students studying special education) was 2nd place winners of an English speech contest organized for all university students in Burundi
"he gave such a touching speech about how he has always wanted to be a teacher" was said of someone who watched the ceremony.

I'm happy to hear that my students are pushing themselves to continue to do great things. Last night Lambert and I had an hour long conversation about his speech. He spent much time praising me for the courage I gave him in his studies.

I'm glad that God has a special plan for each of my students and that he isn't done working yet!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

My New Student

Packing Up Today

Today I am moving my things to the Johnson's house to keep until I return to Burundi. It's sad having to pack up my things but I know that my next home will become just as this one was, a true home. (It's just across town that I'm going to but it seems much farther)

Starting in January I will be living with Ken and Melli Johnson. In the morning I will be homeschooling their son who has disabilities (photo above). In the afternoon I will work with her on beginning a special education school and tutoring center. (Very exciting to still be working on the same task, just with a different organization).

If you haven't heard I will be home for Christmas and New Years. (Christmas cookies might help my sappy sad attitude that I have today)

Monday, December 12, 2011


Here is a rundown on my Saturday. It was just so typical that I have to share.
I had two meetings planned for the day one at 10 and the other at 11.
I woke up to a text message reading "Morning rachel how was the night for us it was wonderful i'm down here i think we can meet be blessed"
Just having woken up I put the phone down, put my head back on my pillow and gave out a sigh. Welcome to Buja Rachel I told myself. I sent a reply and informed him I would be ready in 45min, which was still hours before his planned meeting time of 11.
Getting out of the shower I heard footsteps. The bathroom and shower I am using is across the hall from my room (think dorm room style living). I quickly dried off and wrapped my wrap around me as modest as possible and put my towel around my shoulders. I was completely covered neck to mid calf!
My 10am meeting was the one now hovering around my door. (mind you it's not even 9am yet) "I'm not ready yet Papa", I said, "I will meet with you at ten" holding up my hands to help demonstrate my point. "Oh!" he said.
The new first meeting time arrived and I met with the student. He is a sweet man from Rwanda. He wanted to see how I was and how I am progressing with the special education school. He also wanted to tell me about the work his uncle is doing in Congo to support woman's rights. He is looking for sponsors to help put on seminars on how to change how women are treated in Congo. (If you are interested please let me know, this is a good cause)
Ten o clock came and I was waiting for the pastor. He bugged me all year last time I was here about teaching him English. I wasn't brave enough to attempt at that time but since he was so persistent in a pleasant way I agreed. I made him tell me in English
about King David. It was so great!!!
Now the official business of the day was I thought.
I was requested to join a meeting of 4 students over lunch. These 4 students are passionate about starting a forum where people can share ideas and discuss important matters in a safe environment while improving their english public speaking skills. It was nice to be invited and participate in such a meeting.
Then I tried to take a nap. But got up after a short time and had some hot chocolate.
Oh the life...never a dull moment. Always important things to do.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Loosing her cool

It has long been a goal of mine to blend into the city here. I stand out enough with my white skin, blue eyes, and long brown hair. I take every advantage to dress and act like those around me. Often I find people complaining to the bus drivers and money collectors on the bus for this reason or that; most of the time I don’t know what the problem seems to be or don’t want to make a scene so my concern goes unmentioned.
Walking up to the bus I should have known there was something wrong. My regular bus stop the busses come almost full (full being 30+ passengers) yet this one had only 7 passengers. I was in a hurry to get to town so boarded. It wasn’t 30second before I noticed the problem. The bus almost tossed me out of my seat tipping right and left. I looked at the girl sitting next to me and she gave me an understanding smile. I felt as if I was in a cartoon car with wheels that were about to fall off. I began to pray that the wheel wouldn’t fall off but then decided because the likely hood of it falling off was so great that I prayed that the driver would keep his speed slow enough so that when the wheel did come off we wouldn’t crash too badly. We passed by other busses and passengers on our way to town. It got to a point that I almost paid to get off and board another bus but I didn’t. Once we got going the wheels seemed to straighten out and the ride was smoother the driver and money collector began to argue. I believe that the driver was trying to tell the money collector how to gather passengers and the money collector was complaining to the driver about his driving. This went on for about 15min as we slowly made our way to town.
I was so fed up with the lack of concern for the passengers within their care that as I exited I summoned my best Kirundi and finger wag and said, “motocar nziza, OYA!” (translation: the bus is good, NO!) and walked away.

That Crazy White Girl

I’m impressed at the amount of Kirundi I had stored in my brain. A month ago if you asked me to speak Kirundi I would have clamed up and not said a word. Yet now being around it all the time I’m back having conversations with people as I pass by or informing people where to meet me, or listening in to conversations about me on the bus :) that crazy white girl.

Internet !!!

Please forgive me for a lack of communication this week. This is rainy season and as some of you know when the rain falls the text messages, phone calls, power and internet seem to have much trouble working.
This week has been a whirlwind of remembering language, culture and getting things accomplished.
This morning I was woken up by a text message from a student who had an 11am meeting with me. His text read that he was now ready to meet. I, still being in bed, was not ready. I gave myself 45min to prepare for his meeting. As I was drying off in the shower I heard footsteps outside my door. On my way across the hall to my room the student who I had scheduled for a 10am meeting was standing there. I said, “Papa, I’m not ready yet, 10 is your meet time”. This was all before 9am!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Tutoring Center Proposal Submitted

Last time I was in Burundi it took the whole year to submit a proposal for a special education school. I haven’t been in country for a week and I’ve already submitted a proposal for a tutoring center for children with learning disabilities!
I wonder what God is up to in all of this.

New Room Again

So the first night, Sunday, I spent at Theogene’s. Night 2 & 3 was in a room without a way to cook. Now for today’s sleep, night 4 I am in a room with a kitchen :) So nice to now be able to go to the market and get food to cook.

Hundreds of Handshakes

I’m amazed at how many people I know here. Students, faculty and staff have been so welcoming to me. My good friends that I didn’t inform I was coming are all doing a double take. On friend said, “Can I pinch you to make sure you are real? It’s like I’m Thomas and need to feel the scars on Jesus to prove it’s him.”
The students of mine who I’ve been able to greet have been so happy! Joy surged through Jackson’s body when I told him, who is in his mid 50s, that I was here to watch him graduate. That right there was worth the 36hour flight!

Day 1 and so much to do

First day in Buja and I’m already to work. Exchanged money, wondered in town, updated blog and emailed parents, then called a friend. Melli Johnson is a resident of Burundi with her husband and children. Soon I was in her living room talking about the future and enjoying lasagna for lunch! After a cup of tea we decided that tomorrow would be another lunch date and planning. God is up to something fun!!!
Dinner was enjoyed with students in the cafeteria. Nothing like rice, beans, and lingalinga (think cooked spinach) to remind me why I love Buja! (no sarcasms there, I really love the cafeteria food here and for 80 cents a plate how can you not!)

Back home with no where to rest my head

I don’t feel like I left. Driving back from the airport seemed so normal.
On arrival to campus everyone hopped out of the cars and then we realized no one knew where I was staying. We called a few school administrators but no one seemed to know I was there or in need of assistance. Luckily one of my very good friends invited me to stay at his place with his wife and 2 children. His wife and I have done cooking together and thy have invited me for dinner so many times. They are such a blessing!!!

Airport After Airport

It is amazing how 36hours, 6 airports, 4 planes and a total of 5 hours of broken sleep will affect your body!
But nothing compares to the joy that comes when you see face after face of friends waiting for you on the other side of the glass while waiting for customs.
There were 3 car loads of people and 1 bouquet of roses waiting for me at the airport.
It’s so good to be back!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Work Going Away Party

Staff meetings at work can easily double as a going away party if Jean brings an Africa shaped rice krispy treat!!!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Like I never left

It's amazing how I feel being in Burundi. It's like I never left.
I was greeted at the airport by 15 friends!!! And a bouquet of roses :)
My housing wasn't settled when I arrived (apparently communication about my arrival didn't happen so there was no place prepared for me with the one responsible for my housing off on a trip). So I stayed at a friend's house. It's good to have friends :)

Battery is low and forgot the adapter for the power in my suitcase so I must leave you now. But wanted to let everyone know I'm doing well and loving life in Buja :)

Stories later :)

Yes I'm all smiles :)

Friday, December 2, 2011


So I'm just about to walk out the door (after I pack this computer up) to head to the airport.
I will update the blog as soon as I get to some internet.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Travel Plans

I'm flying away in less than 18 hours!!!
For all of you that would like to know where in the world I am at certain times...this is for you.