Kevin’s emails finally came through . . . I’ll post them in separate posts to make for an easier read. This one is from Sunday:
We had an amazing day. It started with 3 of us going for a run at 6:00AM. That’s still 2.5 hours after the roosters started. We followed the roads downhill in the general direction of the lake, hoping to find it. We wound our way by the still-closed marketplace, down some very narrow streets, and by burning piles of garbage until we eventually found it. The road parallel to the lake surprised us by having thousands of other people running, training for soccer, or warming up in groups of 50 or 100. The military was even there running in time with each other. It was inspiring to be among so many runners when it wasn’t even a race. Of course we were the only mzungus (foreigners). We had lots of people yelling something at us which we feared might be demeaning but which we later found out was “Courage!” in French. They were encouraging us on our run. We plan to go again tomorrow.
Church was inspiring. We were ushered to the front rows where because we were taller than most locals, we blocked everyone’s view. We had to keep checking back to see when we were supposed to sit or stand. The service was in Kirundi, but most of it was translated to English. The first hour was congregational singing and dancing. We knew many of the tunes, and the Kirundi words were put on the screen so we could follow along a little. This was followed by an hour of 3 separate choirs singing. Next came the hour long sermon. Then they topped off the last half hour with introductions (of us), and admonition for everyone to pray for Burundi. Even though this was the longest service any of team has ever attended, I’m sure most of the team will talk about it the longest too. We had a great discussion over lunch about our different styles of church and how much Africa has to offer our churches back home.
In the afternoon we listened to Painito explain the burdens of Burundi, the challenges and successes of the local church, and the need for an nondenominational seminary in Burundi. He has an incredible personal story of God taking a Kenyan hydrologist, turning him into a pastor in Kenya for 17 years, following the call to minister in Burundi refugee camps in Tanzania for 8 years, and then moving his family to Burundi to set up a seminary with absolutely no money. He has been given free land to build on and is currently running seminary workshops and English courses. He has a huge God-given vision.
EMI’s goal this week is to master plan and design buildings for a large campus on 25 acres. We get to go to the site tomorrow and see how God is going to overcome all kinds of hurdles to see this vision through.
Keep praying for the team as culture shock keeps creeping up. We are quickly getting to know each other. Five of the team of 11 gave their testimonies today and it is amazing to see how God brought each one to Burundi to see what he is already doing here, and see how we can be a small part.