Well, we’ve been in Burundi for almost three weeks! In some ways it still feels surreal as we adjust to our new home setting. We have been thinking and praying about Burundi for so long now, and it is hard to believe we are finally here. This seemed like an end goal for so long, and now that we are here we realize that it wasn’t an end, it was just the beginning. We are so thankful that the items we packed in a shipping container last year are here safely, and all the luggage we checked on the flight over also made it safely. This next chapter, The Banks’ life in Burundi, has begun. Thank you for being a part of it, and going along for the ride with us.
We are getting used to some major life changes. For example, if you find you need something around the house, you can’t just run down to the supermarket or hardware store or Walgreen’s to pick it up. The nearest store is a 45 minute drive away. While the selection is somewhat limited, we are happy to find some comforts from home, such as Pringles. We have been using them like tortilla chips when we make guacamole. If we find ground corn, or cornmeal maybe we could figure out how to make our own chips one day!
School has started for the boys, and they seem to be doing well so far. Besides math, science, and reading, they have African social studies, French and Kirundi language class everyday. We are so thankful for the missionary teachers, the Nimmons, that arrived with us to direct the school, and for the other missionary moms that give of their time to educate our children. Julie is also involved at the school and teaches the Africa class, beginning French, as well as a music class twice a week. Logan has attended morning report at the hospital on occasion and has helped out with some workshops, but will not be active every day in the hospital until we have studied Kirundi for a couple more months. We are also part of a medical student Bible study once a week in French. Please pray for us as we get more involved and share the good news of the grace of God with the students.
We have started Kirundi language study with a language helper and we are remembering back to our time at CIT in North Carolina over a year ago, as we prepare our language helper sessions. Now we are doing it for real, and it is a LOT different than when we were at CIT! We are thankful for that training though, because at least it feels familiar. We can now say a few greetings and survival phrases, and are learning some basic nouns and verbs. Please pray with us that the Kirundi language would come quickly and easily.
We are also adjusting to the drastically limited internet access. There is a slow rate of bandwidth that we have access to via satellite, and we share that speed with everyone on the compound. It is not uncommon to have speeds around 10-20kb/sec. This means it can take almost 2 minutes to download 1 picture. And this is when the electricity is on. We try to find off-peak times to check facebook and email so we can stay in touch with you. Upload speeds are even slower so we won’t be able to show lots and lots of pictures of our life here, but we will try to upload at least one picture fairly regularly so that slowly over time you can get a sense of our new home and culture.
Thank you for your prayers and support! We are so happy to be here! We are still in the honeymoon phase and haven’t dipped down into the depths of culture shock yet. Please pray that when that happens we will recover quickly as we remember why God has called us here: to be a light as we train and disciple medical students to care for the physical and spiritual needs of the many underserved patients in Burundi and the surrounding countries in East Africa.