“What’s this?” “Who’s that I see?” So these crested cranes seemed to be saying. They are the mascots at one of the local restaurants in Bujumbura. They seemed as genuinely happy to see our teammates the Watts back in town as we are!
Starting on August 28th there has been an influx of Serge returnees to Burundi. This meant: multiple trips to the airport—4 in one day—for the Kibuye Serge team, beds occupied in two houses for nine adults and five children for the night, great conversation as we reconnected over dinner and breakfast, luggage unpacked and repacked in two vehicles for the drive up to Kibuye. It was a testimony to God’s protection and blessing over each one as we had all left the country in May or June unsure of how and when this day of returning would be. To say we were thankful falls short of the level of gratitude we all felt, despite their jet lag!
Our joy over their return was followed by more joy as the next day we welcomed our teammates, the Watts, back to Bujumbura—all six of them! Everyone knows how good it is to return to your own space after being on vacation, multiple that exponentially and you might come close to what it feels like to return to your home after you’ve been displaced due to circumstances beyond your control. They had been displaced first to Kibuye and then to Rwanda since mid May. They were very happy to be returning too!
As we all re-engage in our work and life here in Burundi we see how much harder it has been and continues to be for others who have weathered the recent crisis. They have lost much, including, but not only: money, business, wages, family members to displacement, studies, time, optimism, trust and hope. I have become even more aware of how each interaction can either build up or tear down in this time of recovery from chaos and crisis. When someone says, “Oh, you’re back!” with a smile in their eyes and a tone of surprise in their voice, I know they are feeling the infusion of hope that having others return brings. It makes me even happier to be back and to have others return too!