Sunday, December 24, 2017

T'is it the season?

It has been hard to make it feel like Christmas here. 
It's hard to make it feel like winter when the rains pour down and then the temperature raises back up to 70 degrees almost immediately. It's hard to get in the spirit without lights in every window, or mall shopping, or sweaters instead of tee-shirts. Suddenly we're getting homesick for our usual Christmas time activities like decorating our church, or sledding at Mt. Baker. So, thank goodness for our team who have all worked very hard to make it feel like a holly, jolly Christmas. If any of you have read the recent blogpost on the team's blog, Community (Kibuye Style), you know that we all are very close, and spend a lot of time together. This Christmas season, we have enjoyed getting together to sing and praise God, as well as exchange gifts and eat delicious holiday food. There are a lot of new traditions, but we also keep some of the old ones. It may not be the Christmas that we were used to or expected, but it's a new, community centered Christmas.

One new tradition is the Kibuye Christmas pageant. You can see a video on the team blog, Kibuye Christmas Pageant, and I suggest you take a look. It's amazing what you can do with some eager MKs, a great director, and a hope-filled story. We shared the story of Jesus' birth with around 1000 people altogether at the feeding program, the hospital field, the local school, and the church. The Burundians were all eager and excited to hear this tale in their own language. It was told in Kirundi by Anna Fader, and by me in French. When you watch the video, listen for their reaction when Anna starts talking in Kirundi. It's pretty encouraging.

Noëli Nziza!(Merry Christmas!)

Our performance at the feeding program

The Kibuye Piano Studio's first recital

Now we're having flashbacks to our 
last Christmas in Burundi...
 We've upgraded it a bit this year

Friday, October 6, 2017

Baby Bunny Photo Shoot

Warning: This post contains extreme cuteness. Read at your own risk.

The old thing was chicks, the new thing is bunnies. Cages full of pet rabbits. Recently, one of the rabbits gave birth to seven babies, the same one that we did 'surgery' on. We removed an abscess from her foot.
They are adorable, and they're growing fast. After a while, we've finally gotten down the names that we chose for them. There's Ash, Sammy, Frisky, Brook, Midnight, Frappuccino and Cappuccino.
We did a bunny photo shoot, and I just had to get these out into the world.


Sunday, September 24, 2017

Finally Here

After 3 years of preparing, raising support, and language learning, we are finally here. We arrived in Bujumbura August 31st, and as always, we have been busy settling in to a new home, and a new culture.
Since we've gotten to Burundi, we've started school, done surgery on a rabbit, and found and lost our pet chameleon.

It's amazing how much Kibuye has changed. There is a new schoolhouse, an almost completed new church, and multiple new hospital wards. As for our missionary compound there are a lot of new houses, lots of new families. There are 13 school aged children this year, a couple younger children, and there's always someone out playing. It's a great community.

Kibuye Hope Academy 2014-2015
Mekdes' 9th Birthday
Mekdes' 12th Birthday
And yes, in this picture she is holding her 
pet baby guinea pig, Brownie
Our Old Schoolhouse
Our New Schoolhouse
The Burundian school before
And Now (It's still dry season)
The local church before

 We're glad to be back and getting into the groove of things. Thank you for all of your prayers and support!

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Good Goodbyes

"How lucky I am to 
have something that 
makes saying goodbye
 so hard."
-Winnie the Pooh

At Mission Training we learned about saying good goodbyes. And this last week here in Washington that has been what we were focusing on. Not just saying goodbye to family and friends, but also to places and things that we are going to miss. Ice cream, the beach, apples, etc. And no matter how many times we do it, it never gets any easier. Even though it's hard to say goodbye, 
"The most painful goodbyes are the ones that are never said and never explained." - Unknown

This is a very last minute blog post. Tonight we leave for Burundi, hopefully to arrive Thursday afternoon. Please pray that all of our many, many bags containing important medical supplies and most of our family's belongings makes it there safely, and for good transition into the Burundian culture. 

There are so many people that we didn't have time to say goodbye to. So, until next time. Thank you for your support!

Friday, July 7, 2017

Au revoir France!

As I write this I am sitting in our mess of a living room, among seven suitcases worth of books, clothes, and quite a few legos. We are working our way through our last days in Albertville, planning to leave on Sunday, and after an overnight layover in Reykjavik, Iceland, returning to Bellingham for the summer.
France has grown on me. I'm going to miss the mountains outside my window and the smells wafting out of the Boulangerie on the walk home from school, but I'm afraid that I can't say the same about classes themselves. I'm probably going to miss that small leap of pride when I can understand the lesson or translate the song word for word. And I'm definitely going to miss all the friends that we have made at The Center this year.

I have to admit that I've gone back and forth between ideas for this post. It's not possible to sum up our year in France in a couple paragraphs, but time's running out, and this will have to do.

As a family we put together a list of weird, shocking things that we've noticed about France:

  • Erasable Pens, the French don't use pencils
  • Roundabouts, almost every time streets intersects
  • Dog poop on the sidewalk-such a clean city, but they don't pick up after their dogs
  • Writing on graph paper for everything
  • Everyone writes super well in cursive, even 2nd graders
  • Not everyone is on their phones all the time
  • Small refrigerators
  • Butter, pickle and ham sandwiches-they don't eat Peanut butter and Jelly
  • Lack of air-conditioning 
  • The French week starts on Monday
  • The French don't make small talk
  • They don't carry drinks on the go
  • Handball-we thought that Albertville would be big on soccer, but they're bigger on a game which is a mix between basketball and soccer
  • Woman sunbathing with their tops off
  • And they wear the same outfit multiple days in a row, even fashionable outfits
So now everyone be prepared when you visit France. It is in many ways the same as American culture, but also very different. We have learned everything we needed to know, after a lot of awkward moments. Another year down, next stop...Bellingham WA!

Au revoir France!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Adventure Update

Before I get in to this, I want to let everyone know that we are not skipping school to go on these trips. The french schooling system has a 2 week break every 6 weeks, and we are currently in our final stretch of school before the end of the year.

Time slipped away from me, and I didn't get the chance to write about our February break in Spain, or our April break in Paris/Normandy, but a picture is worth a thousand words.




 Mont Saint Michel
 Normandy Beaches

In France, there is an ancient castle, an old fort, or an amazing view around every corner. We have had the privilege to explore around Albertville, and have enjoyed many wonderful hikes. 
A couple of weeks ago, we hiked La Belle Etoile ( The beautiful star ), which we have been meaning to do before we leave. It was all uphill, until you get to the top, and it has a spectacular view.
We endured it with another family from The Center ( Mom and Dad's school ), whose boys are in Biniyam's class, which made it much more enjoyable for everyone.

It's the highest point that you can see.

One more thing that we recently checked off our list is zip-lining. Fort de Tamie is an old fort up in the mountains, which has been turned into a zip lining/parkour park. We spent an afternoon up there, ending in a zip-line across a cliff looking out over the mountains. Definitely recommended.

 I'm out in the middle of the gorge.

The time spent exploring Europe makes up for all the time spent sitting in school.

Monday, May 15, 2017

My French Mind

As we get further into our year here in France, we find our family using more and more French, sometimes even in the place of English.

The other day I was sitting at school, writing down the lesson, and I thought 'Oh man, I have to efface this whole thing'. I paused, that didn't sound right. Efface, efface, efface, I know it sounds like it, what is it in English? I finally remembered that it was 'erase', but not for a while. This is just one of many situations where we find ourselves at a loss of words.
We have also taken to calling our pencil cases trousses, notebooks cahiers, and have been saying words like commence, comprehend, and bizarre much more often.
Another thing that has been a problem for me is thinking that french words are really what you would say in English, for example:
I was talking to Mom and Biniyam one night, and during our conversation I said, "... you know, when you manque something." They looked at me like I had said I was an alien from outer space. Mom shook her head, "No, I don't know about manqueing something"."That's not an English word? When you don't have it, there's not enough. What word do we use?" They burst out laughing.
After I racked my brain for what it was in English, I realized that I meant to say 'lack'. They sound almost exactly alike to me now. I'm still pretty sure that manque is a synonym of lack, at least in my crazy world.

Something that French people say a lot is "Ça me dérange" which means "That bothers me", or "Ça ne me dérange pas", "It doesn't bother me". This is a phrase that has become one of our favorites to say around each other, another is "Ce n'est pas grave", 'It's not serious'. And this is one that we hear a lot at school, "Ayo, il y a trop de bruit là!", "There's too much noise there!".

Hopefully one day I will be able to sort this all out, and be able to go back and forth between languages without getting tongue tied, or as Mom calls it, French Fried.

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation
 of my heart be acceptable in your sight, 
O Lord, my rock and redeemer.
-Psalm 19:14

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Skiing to Spring

A few weeks ago we finished our skiing season. We had signed up for a ski school on Wednesday afternoons, and Mekdes and I did cross country skiing with our school for P.E.. I had only gone downhill skiing a couple times and Mekdes and Biniyam had never been, so this was a new experience for all of we are in the Alps.
Even though there was not a lot of snow down here in Albertville, as soon as it was cold enough we were able to go up to the mountains around us. Soon we were skiing like pros. We had the opportunity to go up one Saturday with the whole Family, so we spent the day whizzing down blues and tumbling down reds.
The ski school went for as long as it could before finally all that was left was slush and mud. Now for school we went straight from skiing to swimming, and the weather here has really gone up. The mountains are turning green, and yesterday we got to experience 'La première sortie des vaches' or 'The first exit of the cows', where we went up to a farm and got to watch all the cows go out for the first time this spring. It was very cute as all the cows went bounding and running through the field.

Below is a link to see a video of us skiing. The one going straight down the mountain is Biniyam, he does not like to turn and beats all of us to the bottom most of the time.

Click here to see us ski

And here is a link to see 

The milk from these cows is used by monks to make cheese 
and by the farmers to make ice cream.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

It's a Hard Knock Life

Today in our French class we were talking about cliches or stereotypes. French people might think of Americans as being portly, noisy and obnoxious, while when Americans usually think of French people with a beret and mustache, carrying a baguette and wearing black and white stripes, right?
Well, I think that when we came here people had the stereotype that life in France is the dream, but for us, that hasn't exactly been the case.
The first day of school was overwhelming, period. Everyone was of course speaking French, and every class there was a new teacher to awkwardly figure out we were American. The first day I came home and never wanted to go back.
After that our motto was 'Heads down, hands down, don't say a word'.
Since then it has gotten a lot easier. Eventually the words people were saying started to slow down and make more sense. The kids in our class seemed less intimidating after they stepped back from trying to get as much information from us as they could, and now we know who to ask questions to and who to stay away from. We survived math class with 3 different teachers, and a ski trip with a bus full of sick kids. We survived going over to a French family's house, and we even survived learning different verb conjugations, though it seemed almost impossible. 
 So even though it might seem hard, we will survive this year knowing much more French than before.
And for the record, I don't think I've ever seen a person in Albertville wearing a beret or black and white stripes.
The view of Albertville

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Strasbourg, Capitale de Noël

After six more weeks of school we finally got out for Christmas break. We decided to drive to Strasbourg, France, also known as the capital of Christmas. Strasbourg is right on the German border, so it gets a lot of German influence, including architecture and food. We spent the week exploring the city, castles, and cute villages. For Christmas we found an English church to go to which was nice. And it was all very, very cold. Unfortunately no snow, even in the alpes. Merry Christmas everyone!

After Strasbourg we drove to Munich, Germany for a night. We visited Dachau concentration camp which was really sad, and the next morning we got up early and explored the old part of town, most of which was destroyed and then rebuilt after World War II.

Next we drove to Salzburg, Austria, we actually stayed in a small town called Gmunden on Lake Traunsee, 45 minutes from Salzburg. Where we also spent my 12th birthday.
We explored around there for three days, also very cold, and on the drive back we stopped in Vaduz, Liechtenstein.

We got back to Albertville on Monday and went back to school on Tuesday. We were supposed to go on a ski trip Tuesday afternoon, but it was canceled because of the lack of snow, hopefully we start getting some snow soon, I hear it's snowing a lot back home.
We miss you all! Happy 2017!

And other villages

Mozart's House, and Museum

 And we finally found a decent coffee for Dad