After three moves we are finally settled into a rental house of our own! Yeah!!! It’s bigger than we would need for just two because part of our ministry here is to be a host house for visitors and our sister Serge team from Kibuye when they come to the city (thus “l’auberge” or inn). In our search for a rental house we had several prerequisites—a yard for children, 3-4 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a porch or outdoor living area, adequate kitchen space, not too far from campus or downtown. We are very thankful because all these criteria have been met in the house we are now renting.
It is a two-story house on a hill that has a large second floor porch with great views of Lake Tanganyika to one side and the green hills above Bujumbura to the other side. Since the house is on one of hills rising out of the lakeshore flat lands, there is a nice breeze that blows down from the hills, keeping us cool in this warm climate that lacks any AC systems.
There is a lot of building going on in this area, everything from duplexes to flats to single homes and even two hotels toward the top of the hill. Many of the finished places are still empty of occupants, but there is a boom of building. Sometimes construction just stops due to lack of funds or awaiting a shipment of tile or other construction materials. But since most work is done by hand, hearing power tools during the day is infrequent. Hearing trucks deliver materials however is not, so there’s can be a lot of activity during the day, by the evening it’s quiet with only a few cars going up the hill.
Like most homes here there is a high wall around the house and yard, which means a safe place for children to play on the level grassy area. But also real barriers to getting to know one’s neighbors. The yard has several papaya trees (one mature with fruit on it, others still young), an avocado tree and a mango tree (very young, so no fruit for a few years I’m told) and some flowering bushes around the house.
The walls of the house are painted cement but the floors are all tile. The grating on the windows (for safety) is artistically done. The ceilings are all about 15 feet high, a common feature in many homes. It helps the heat to rise and keeps the house cooler. All our beds have mosquito nets since this is an area for malaria.
Fortunately, this rental house came with most of the necessary furniture (beds, couches, table and chairs, night stands, a hutch or two) and kitchen appliances. And while I probably would not have chosen these particular couches, or colors, we are thankful to have places to sit and the convenience of not having to find furniture. Furniture makers are plentiful, but organizing, communicating and negotiating can make the process of obtaining the furniture you want long and frustrating. We are thankful to be spared that for now and for the aesthetic touches in this house.
Settling in, unpacking and having a sense of place that is more long-term has been stabilizing after so much change, transition and movement. It has also been a pleasure to host many visitors so quickly (seven nights of guests between 1-7 people per night during the first month of occupancy) and provide a base for those who come to Bujumbura either just passing through or to pick up supplies for upcountry living. We are delighted to serve in this way and share the blessings we’ve received. While life is challenging in many ways, especially living outside one’s own culture, our desire is to provide for others who come to stay here the same respite and welcome we have known.
Visitors welcome! Bienvenue! Amahoro!