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Archive for July 25th, 2012

MUYINGA

Our first evening in Muyinga is a quiet one. Aft tea with Bishop Eraste and his wife Consolata we move into the house which will be our home for the next few days. This was the home of Steve & Lucy McIlhenny when they were here as CMS Mission Partners establishing the Bethesda Centre. They have now returned and a short term partner from Crosslinks comes next month. After staying in guest houses / hotels it is a pleasant change having our own house. We even cater for ourselves on this first evening ( only toast and fruit which after all we have been fed is plenty).
The previous Diocesan group have left us helpful notes. There is a pet dog Asher and Gaspar is the house guard. A quiet evening gives everyone the chance to catch up on journals ( or in my case blog).
Early morning the cock starts crowing; in the distance the Muslim call to prayer can be heard. The birdsong is glorious; no familiar sounds at all but such a variety of songs. activity outside begins around 6. Natasha arrives to assist with breakfast. Here our minimal French has to meet with her minimal English along with our few Kirundi greetings. We get there; breakfast is the usual omelette, bread and tea ( or coffee). Today is Saturday so it is community work hours for everyone between 8 & 10. We are left to quietly read, write, relax, pray before the days visits begin.
Our conversation turns to the history and politics of this land and it’s neighbour; of Germans and Belgians; of Tutsi and Hutu; of conflict and killings; of current governments and the desire to be Burundian or Rwandan rather than defined by an ethnicity. Yet the history continues to underlie it all. I pray for truly lasting peace, deep reconciliation and the yearning of all ‘Never again!’
Mukoni Primary school on the edge of Muyinga has just over 1,200 pupils who attend in separate morning and afternoon sessions. There a 20 teachers and a head teacher. The school governors are gathering for a meeting as we arrive. They have textbooks but nothing like an adequate number for this many pupils. There are 13 classrooms some built in the 1950s and very run down; the others well built in the 1980s. Each class therefore has 55-60 pupils. By P6 when the national exams are taken in the most recent round 94 of 99 who took the exam achieved the 50% or above to go on to secondary school. This is a high pass rate, though I have no idea whether 0, 11 or 21 did not sit the exam. There is a reasonable amount of outside space, with a handball pitch and a well cared for banana area & sorghum patch. However when the numbers are considered it must be very crowded when everyone is out to play.
The secondary school uses 2 of the classrooms from the Primary school and has 2 newer classrooms on the other side of the plot. This is another secondary school growing from S1 currently to S3. 275 pupils across 4 classes with a head teacher (new to the role) and 10 teachers. The average salary for a secondary teacher ( who will have a degree) is 130,000FB per month, around £65. This is almost twice that of a primary teacher ( no degree) at 70,000FB. When house rent is around 40,000FB per month it is understandable why many teachers, especially primary, seek to supplement their income with a second job. The structure of the day allows this too.
We are accompanied throughout by a group of around 10 children who sing for us, talk with us and hope for sweets from us (we have none). Some of these children attend this primary school. We don’t manage to ask them what they like about school; the head teacher’s presence might not help with honest answers anyway. Education does offer hope of a brighter future; but here for how many? Never again has to be accompanied by Never Give Up and Never Stop Believing Change is possible.
We move on to visit the Bible School where the Principal, Archdeacon Prudence, and 12 students welcome us. These men are so smartly dressed and have shiny shoes; clearly 2 bishops coming to visit, 1 of whom holds the power to authorise 8 of them as catechisms and ordain 4 of them as deacons means they want to be at their best. Here +Eraste outlines his hope for our partnership; that the longstanding partnership with St Mark’s will expand to the whole diocese. First friendship is sought. Where finance comes first friendship does not follow; money without love and friendship is useless. He makes the point that Burundi is a poor country but yet they are not poor because God is here with them. In our friendship we will share our concerns with one another not just our blessings. We must pray for each other in our journey of mission.
So far as the Bible School is concerned the principal says that the general situation is good but the lack of materials , notably prayer books, is a problem. The arrival of the new Kirundi Bible Commentary will help a great deal here. St Mark’s have supplied a good number for each diocese to put in their college libraries. We also visit their accommodation where we see that 4 share a room with 2 double beds also being shared. There are cows here and some land. The meal we see is basic but plentiful and overall they are content with their lot. Catechisms spend 3 months here then 9 back in the Parish. They do this for 4 years before being fully qualified. Deacons do a further year. In conversation with the bishop we also talk about the importance of holy living expected of church leaders.
Our first afternoon stop is at the ‘Stand Up and Build’ site on the edge of town. The title comes from Nehemiah’s words to the people of Israel as they rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem. +Eraste explains that after all the years of conflict it is now time for the people of the nation to stand up and build for the future, and the church is to lead the way. The plan is for a building technical college on the large site, given to the diocese by the government. The foundation stone is in place and the boundary markers are clear. However there is a small house on the site and around 10 Twa grass hut homes. The Twa approach speaking loudly and vociferously to the bishop. There is no need for translation they are clearly expressing their anger at having to move off the site. Quite quickly a large group is gathered, some are arguing with their own clearly expressing a different view. Eraste listens carefully acknowledging their words but making no response. He allows them to speak for a long while. Then eventually he calls for them to stop and he speaks. They listen though after a short while clearly object to a comment he has made.
Here is a serious dilemma for the bishop; he wants to build a college which will be to the advantage of the whole community. If he does not start within a couple of years the government will simply take the land back, give it to someone else and remove the Twa anyway. Yet the bishop wants the college to help the Twa too. We later learn that the diocese has helped this group already with food and clothing, and that they do plan to offer help to the group with planting and possibly materials for new homes, just on the other side of the valley. Working for the good of a community can create internal conflicts of justice and priority. The Twa are the despised of this society, others would not offer help at all. The church is on the horns of a dilemma. Eraste displayed real wisdom in handling a difficult situation. I am sure he will find the wisdom to guide them through.
It may sound perverse but this encounter is one of the highlights of our whole time in Burundi. It was so unexpected and clearly unplanned. There could be nothing but Eraste’s totally genuine response to it. It also highlighted the deep deep poverty of this group of people, and raised fresh questions of what justice looks like in a nation like this.
The Bethesda Project is unique in this nation. It aims to work with people with disabilities particularly using sport. 8 hectares at present undeveloped will become a centre of sport, recreation and education. Archery and some team building practices already take place here. We are challenged as a group of 4 to do a couple of the team building exercises. We cooperate pretty well but still need guidance to resolve in reasonable time. Then archery; great fun together. The project arose by Eraste being inspired on a visit to Kepplewray in Cumbria. Steve & Lucy McIlhenny spent 2 years developing the work. They are now in Ireland. Evariste now leads the work. It is a major project. The plans are clear and large. Part of the vision is to change attitudes to disability in the families who have disabled children ( they are often hidden away and treated as of no value); and in wider society. It is seeking to build God’s way of doing things for the disabled. It is a long vision; could there be Burundian Paralympians from this project in the future? Well why not?

JULY 22nd

Morning worship at Mukoni Cathedral. At 10.00 when we begin the building (previously a multipurpose community centre) is just under half full. By the close it is 3/4 full. There are very large numbers of children and young people. An unusually large number of choirs sing through the 3 hour service. I preach and as part of the sermon Phil & Poppy share stories from their churches illustrating the way in which Jesus breaks barriers down and brings diverse people together into the one new humanity in Jesus Christ. Apparently the small congregation that meets at the Diocesan Offices in the town had also joined us and every choir had wanted to sing for the visitors. I have been in longer services but never before a simple Morning Prayer that lasted this long. Children here are very patient when it comes to church; they sit for long periods and must be quite bored at times yet when they sing they do so with enthusiasm and joy. Most leave before the sermon to play outside ( no Sunday School this week). The youth choir are good. The worship band quite competent.
After lunch we have a quiet afternoon and evening – our first long period like this since we arrived. It gives plenty of time to chat, reflect, go for a wander ( as is usual 4 muzungu attract looks and comments) and catch up on this blog and journals.

JULY 23rd

In the early hours Rosemary & I awake with the sound of 2 cracks, like gunfire. We have no idea whether or not it was. The mind however races and you soon realise some of your own inner fears and insecurities. You also realise how self centred the world can be. The odds on anything being aimed at us must be very low indeed, yet somehow we can contrive to think we might be at the centre of things. We are all guilty of this centring the world on ourselves. It is the heart of our rebellion against God for He is the centre of all things; from him, through him and for him all things exist. I am most decidedly not the centre of the world. Yet I can rapidly think I am.
In the morning we discover that neither Phil nor Poppy had heard a thing!
We join the Diocesan Staff team for their morning devotions and their brief summary sharing of both how the past week had gone and what lies ahead this coming week. This is clearly a team. They appear to enjoy each others company, are glad to pray together at the start of each day, and care about each others work. The core of it all is a mix of leadership and community development. Leadership through the training of clergy and lay leaders, and enabling local people to grow in taking responsibility for their own affairs, through becoming literate, micro-finance and small businesses. As elsewhere the Mothers Union plays a critical role in this. There is a real care for orphans; 2005 are currently on the books with a staff of 3. The legal adviser offers a lot of support to orphans in the courts and at tribunals, mainly seeking to ensure they are protected from exploitation around their land and property rights. Other community development is around agricultural projects, based on sorghum, beans and other products. There is concern for water supply and protection. The buildings officer is concerned for both building churches and schools. The Diocesan Secretary, Perpetua, is a woman who is pleased to see women growing in confidence and taking on positions of leadership. She is delighted to be able to ask Poppy about women in theology and church leadership. With the appointment of the first woman bishop in Africa whilst we have been here it is clear that for a good number in this team they look forward to that possibility in Burundi too. We are also asked thoughtfully about how we as a diocese engage in community development where we are; so we are able to share some examples. It does come as a shock to Burundians that there are ever any people in need in England but they accept it when we tell them there are.
Then we head for Lake Kavuruga, which may only be 8 km from town but on the road we take is nearly an hour journey. This is a reservoir built in the early 1980s. Here Bethesda run their canoeing, they also have an archery sight and abseil down the side of the dam. We are well guided in our canoes by Evariste, Lambert & Davina, the 3 staff. We have a lot of fun. It did feel more like holiday than visit but gave us a real insight into the kind of activities Bethesda is seeking to do. It’s potential is huge. I was also delighted to see a Malachite Kingfisher, an African Fish Eagle and an as yet unidentified white water bird. I don’t know if they are thinking of adding birds to their activities but it is a possible option here. It will be fascinating to see how this project develops over the next few years. Weirdest sight of the day was on this return journey. 4 men wearing orange high viz jackets, 1 with a measuring wheel, and English stop / Go signs in the middle of nowhere. Apparently there are plans to make this dirt road into tarmac so there was a logic, but it was so incongruous and the high viz so unnecessary.
Our visit to Mukezi did not promise much. It is a village a few miles from Muyinga just off the Gitega road. The schools are on holiday so we knew we would be looking at empty classrooms; but we had also been told that unlike everywhere else we would not even meet the head teacher. It is actually an interesting Primary school as unlike many others it has an outside kitchen, a project linked with World Vision to ensure the children of this area get a decent meal each day. There are also 3 classrooms that are out of use and need serious refurbishment. 6 other classrooms are standard size but there are 2 of a different design; broader and with larger windows, with air vents above. A design others could copy. Inevitably some of the school’s pupils show up and follow us round. We then visit the small church. Here the unexpected occurred. The catechist appeared and we had a fascinating conversation with him. Brega is 24; he has undertaken 1 year of the catechist training so far. This small church (130 of whom 70 are children) was started by his parents and grandparents as a sub parish from the cathedral. They remain on the church council. Brega completed Primary school but did only 1 year of secondary education. He possessed his first Bible at 17, though had access to the family one before then. He has a Prayer Book and a Hymnbook. Of the responsibilities that a catechist has he most loves preaching. He works the family land but serves the church as catechist on 2 days each week as well as Sundays. He is clearly proud of his church and his work. He wants to develop as a catechist and hopes he might one day develop into a pastor; but he knows others will have an important say in all of this.
This is the core of how church happens here. Lay led by someone with a relatively low level of education who is unpaid. Where children and young people form the majority of the congregation yet have no specific provision. In buildings erected by the local community that are of no great standard and have inadequate seating even of the minimal bench style that exists. Yet valued and loved. Plus they are growing. Sociologists will have explanations for the dynamics taking place which Re valuable in understanding these things. But there is something very New Testament like about this. The good news of Jesus Christ is changing people’s lives, and changing communities in the land of the poor. Whilst where power and wealth prevail it struggles to have a similar impact.
This encounter is another of those unplanned ones which mean so much in understanding more of the life and church here. What looked an unpromising afternoon proved to be very valuable indeed.
The evening is our farewell party. It actually takes place in the garden of the house in which we have been staying. People arrive, move furniture around, set everything up. Food appears, so do drinks and eventually there are 28 guests; diocesan staff, members of the Cathedral congregation and Bible School. Burundians love their protocols ensuring everyone sits in just the right place. Only the bishop, his wife and the 4 of us as honoured guests have a table, which has a cloth on it. We have to take food first. People do not really talk whilst eating though they talk freely before and after. There are always speeches afterwards. The are genuine thanks; actually very moving; but there is also form to it. This evening however convention is broken when after the 2 bishops have had our say Rosemary is invited to speak, then also Phil & Poppy. We think it is all done when the head of laity stands to speak. What we have heard time and again during this visit is just how much it means that Rosemary & I have returned. This shows true friendship. The fact we have brought many others has also spoken deeply. This is not to blow our own trumpets but the power of this is very clear. Friendship for these sisters and brothers is truly expressed by being together. The giving up of the time is far more significant than the cost. There are real hopes of continuing friendship and sharing ahead. I hope these are realistic and not too high. I certainly have every intention of returning again. I also know I have a responsibility to advocate and speak for this tiny forgotten nation whose people have suffered so deeply and yet whose love shines so brightly.

JULY 24th

Morning devotions at the Diocesan Office are less well attended than the previous day; but Monday morning is staff meeting so everyone is in. Come Tuesday some will be out in the field meeting orphans etc.
Then it is time to say farewell. The gulf between the rich West and this nation becomes perhaps most apparent when handing what are in our terms very small gifts to those who have helped us during our stay; Elsie who has cooked our breakfasts and washed up afterwards, Gaspar the night guard and the day guardian whose name we never got. They are small gifts, T-towel, wind up torch, soap, small bar of chocolate and what for us is a minuscule amount of money. Yet their joy is very very evident. This for them s abundance. All the guidance is to somehow strike a balance; give too much and it is overwhelming and actually unhelpful.
Here is the catch for the consuming West. Consumption is okay, even necessary, as it helps move an economy forward etc. but over consumption takes away from others and exploits. How do we actually help Burundi develop whilst reining back our own over consuming? No easy answers available but somehow we need to find some; not just for Burundi’s sake but also for our own as we sleep walk into cultural, moral, spiritual and physical obesity.
Farewells done we drive to Bujumbura. At times a scary drive but we make it. En route, at Karuzi, there is an unexpected surprise that brings tears to Rosemary and my eyes. But that is another story to tell on another day.

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GITEGA

Again we are welcomed warmly. Bishop John has been bishop of Gitega since 1985. Quietly he shows us around the Diocesan office area gently explaining how things have grown and developed since he first began. Almost impercibility we find ourselves hearing of the time when 150 displaced persons camped inside the compound grounds because it was the place they felt safe. How the diocese welcomed them, fed them and helped them over several years. There is a quiet grace about this man of God. Unassuming, having had to handle all kinds of difficulties that I can only just begin to imagine how I might respond if faced with such matters. Jean Francois is a lively principal of the Bible College. She explains how the focus at present is on training 12 pastors who are largely returnees from Tanzania. People who became Christians in the camps and were cared for by the Anglicans there now returned and wanting to remain Anglican. Needing training as Pastors so the diocese is providing it. It is a joy to see such work being led by a woman. Later at dinner we also meet her husband who is a school chaplain. The dinner is with the whole diocesan staff. The thing I notice most is their lively conversation with each other and their laughter. It is also the whole staff, whatever their role they are included. There is something vibrant about them Asia group. This is my introduction to Gitega. Tomorrow we visit church planting projects.

DAY SIX

The whole morning was spent visiting a number of church planting projects. They were all from St. Luke’s which is both cathedral and parish church. These visits took us deep into real settings where the levels of poverty were clearly to be seen. Yet here there is enterprise and desire to establish a centre of worship and witness. Each was taking a different approach in the first instance. The first a former small house with inner walls removed to create a space where 50 gather each Sunday. Twice a week literacy classes are held in the same space. The congregation is lay led; the literacy programme locally run by those trained by Mothers Union workers. Close by the foundations of a permanent building are in place; these we done last year. There are bricks that have been locally made but not yet enough. It is hoped more work will be done this year but the anticipation is this is a 5 year project. Close by an independent full gospel church is being erected; deliberately started to be near the Anglican church it is thought.
The second is a small hut like church purpose built for worship. Around 120 gather here each work, mainly children. We meet many delighted children here. Again lay led. But this building is becoming in need of care aft 5 years; the average life of a mud brick church is only 10 years. There is a gaping gap between the side and end wall which if not repaired will lead to the collapse of a wall before long.
The third is a plot of land. 16 families who live in this area and travel into town each week have a vision for building a local church. The diocese has bought the land. At present the 16 families a cultivating it to produce crops for cash to give them the capital they need. They give. 1 or 2 days each week to working together on the land. They are also engaging with the wider local community to see in what ways they can serve. They always begin with Bible study and prayer. Lay led once again. Close by there is a small growing ‘commercial’ centre. They hope to assist with the growth of local trade through their presence.
The fourth again deep in the hills has foundations laid but with a wooden pole and tin roof structure within it. This began just a year ago. Next week the concrete columns go up. Then they will wait as they raise the finance for the bricks. Eventually the tin sheets from the temporary structure will help roof the new building. A local man, a congregation members, is employed to ensure the iron sheets are not stolen. Lay led once again. Being developed to serve the local communities.
There are some principles at work here. First there is a desire to grow the church through growing new congregations who are locally rooted. Second these are all encouraged by the bishops, the diocese and the parish leadership but they are all lay led. Third there is a core community from which the new church can grow. Fourth there is a commitment to work with the local community and serve it not simply through worship but also through meeting local needs, like literacy, commerce, agriculture etc. fifth there is a combination of funding at the outset to help the project start but then an expectation that the local people will raise the money / do the work to bring about the vision. Sixth there is an importance placed on having a specific place and space in which the people can meet; the building is seen as important.
Gitega Diocese has a strong commitment to growing the church through growing new congregations.
In the afternoon we share in a time of worship and fellowship with members of St Luke’s Cathedral congregation. Alongside singing, adding scripture, introductions, a word from the bishop we have a time of questions. Some of them share their challenges and their joys in knowing Christ as Saviour. We are asked a range of questions about our churches, congregations and inevitably the issue of human sexuality came up. Whilst at Lambeth some US bishops admitted to not previously realising the impact some of their statements and decisions have had here in Africa. Sadly little attention appears to have been made to this since, though there are some notable exceptions. The positive nature of same sex friendships is recognised and valued here. Indeed there appears to be a greater acceptance of this possibility without sexual overtones being real. It is not easy handling these questions without offering long explanations of cultural difference etc. But it remains essential that serious listening and engagement across the communion continues.
I have said little of our group thus far. Rosemary is with me so too are Phil Williams, vicar of Porchester & Area Dean of Gedling. Our fourth member is Poppy Richards a member of Ordsall Parish and student at Chester. We spend a lot of time together and chat about what we have seen and heard. But our conversation ranges across many matters relating to home, church, mission etc. they are great company; really stimulating. I am enjoying having a younger mind and voice as part of the group. She is quite a star. It is also brilliant spending so much time with 1 of my excellent clergy. He was already a star and just shines brighter by the day.

JULY 19th

St Luke’s Primary School began in 2009. They have 6 classrooms. 13 teachers look after 338 pupils who attend school in 2 sessions either 7.30-12.45 or 1.15-5.30. Sometimes they have to double up classes which will mean 100 in a lesson. There is little by way of text books or equipment. There is no electricity and the school secretary and head teacher do not even have a traditional typewriter to use. It is on the same site as St Luke’s Secondary School which began last year with Senior 1 (equivalent to Year 7/8). They have 116 pupils & 4 staff plus Principal. There will be up to 120 joining in September to create a new S1. There are no labs, no assembly space and a minimal number of text books. The vision is clear but the needs to develop these 2 schools are huge. Th e Burundi Government has decided that Primary Schools should be P1-P9 so that those who do not pass the exam to get into Secondary School at the end of P6 are not turfed out into nothing but can continue with education for a further 3 years and then possibly move into a vocational training of some kind. The idea is laudable but suddenly another 3 classrooms are required on this confined site. There will be the mix of ages across the 2 schools and there is no finance to provide the extra resources. Where do you even begin? What becomes first priority? Electricity, new classrooms, textbooks, recruiting staff … In the UK we take our education too much for granted; we fail to recognise how privileged we are to have such a strong system in place; we continually compare ourselves with our Western counterparts without recognising the vastness of the gap with the world’s poor when it comes to this provision. This is no exceptional story in Gitega it is repeated time after time across this land, and many many others. Education matters; it needs priority. It must be one of the issues for which our aid is used.
Then onto Mushasha Parish where they are bringing the final touches to their brand new parish church. Outside parishioners are tidying the grounds and planting some new trees. Windows are being painted, slightly bizarrely with grey undercoat over a gloss coat of blue – there must have been some reason. Some teenage helpers are clearly not that enthusiastic about being here, the signs are the same all over the world. Younger children are having great fun swing how many can hang onto the branch of an avocado tree at the same time. Loads of laughs and smiles; they also recognise that they are entertaining us so play up to it; there are some universals with children at play. There is also a large community hall which will be dedicated on August 5th by Bishop John Ndwayo alongside consecrating the new parish church. The area appears more well to do than some others; seen partly in the clothes worn by the parishioners. Clearly much work has been put into this, and much generous giving of money, time and talents. The work began in 2005 just as Eraste Bigirimana then parish priest and diocesan secretary moved to Muyinga to become bishop there. The parishioners talk of their hopes for the use of the hall by them and by the community. They speak of growing a congregation from its current 200 to filling the church, which would hold 3 or 4 times that much. They also talked about friendship with a parish in England. Their hopes would be that they could learn from our church how we do things as we have been around so much longer; they hoped too for people to visit from England who would help them with the programmes of development and outreach that they run. This was a vision of companionship and mutuality not dependency and receiving.
The afternoon was very different. We drove up the rough Ngozi road to Gishoro where the site of the King’s resting place from his flight in 1908 is found. The huts are built along the same lines as those we had seen in Matana. Our guide loves his subject but his large bare feet gnarled by the years are distracting from the commentary. But then the real drama begins as we take our seats and the drummers enter carrying there various sized large drums on their heads, and beating them as they enter. For the next 30 minutes we are gloriously entertained by the finest African drumming I have witnessed. They drum, dance, leap, chant and sing telling stories of friendship and unity as they go. There are 22 adults and 2 children who we later learn are 8 & 11 but the latest in the family line of drummers. Once they played only for the king; now to entertain. The Burundians with us absolutely love it too. At times it is almost deafening. At the close we are invited to join with them 1 at a time. None of us can hold the double rhythm required on top and side of drum; there have been many complex rhythms throughout and not once was there a slip. Simply stunning.
In the evening we have a pleasant meal with +John, his wife Christine and their family along with Tharcisse the Diocesan Secretary who has been our ever present guide whilst in Gitega.

JULY 20th

Our final morning in Gitega takes us to the largest coffee factory in Burundi. Here washed coffee beans arrive; they are graded (7 grades available) then de-husked, sorted by size and colour (using a computer controlled colour imager), bagged and prepared for transportation around the globe. The very best coffees go to the premium niche markets; the poorest end up in cheap instants and the middle grades end up in Starbucks, Costa, supermarkets etc. it is a fascinating process to see and have explained. We also get to experience cupping which is tasting coffee to grade it; a process akin to wine tasting – spitting out included. Our guide is a lovely Muslim who has worked here for over 20 years. He tells us that in the move from state owned to privatised factory the workforce has gone from 75 to 25. However there are 900 working here today on a daily paid rate. Many are involved in hand picking the beans; this is for the real niche market high end coffees. Others are lifting sacks etc. Their pay is just 3000 burundi francs a day (£1.50). There are still at least 100 people outside the gates hoping they might be taken on even though it is late morning. The director who leads the tasting is a true world citizen; born of Portuguese & Indian parents who grew up in Kenya, was educated at Ampleforth College, Yorkshire and now works in Burundi for a company based in Switzerland. He does assure us that Burundi coffee is amongst the world’s best but does not produce enough to have a major brand of its own; most ends up in some blended form of coffee whether ground or instant.
From here we go to see the earlier stage of the process at a washing station. 1 kilo is bought here for around 465 francs (22p). The amount a coffee bean goes through from being picked to reach our cup has grown in my mind. It has been stripped, washed several times, stripped again, graded, checked, sacked, roasted, ground and possibly reconstituted, all for the sake of a wonderful drink ( at least if it was a good coffee bean). The argument that the basic producer deserves a bit more of the profit share by being paid a decent amount for the raw material is clear to me.
A long slow lunch with Tharcisse & +John follows (slow to due to service rather than choice) & then we await the arrival of the group from Muyinga as the vehicle bringing them is taking us there. A brief reunion after 7 days apart is good and it is clear they have had a really good time thus far; just as we have. Before the group coming from Makamba arrive ( we later learn their vehicle had a break down but got going again okay) we are off to Muyinga. It is an eventful journey in that very early on the car is clearly very eating and the oil warning light comes on. We continue more slowly, coasting in neutral down the hills whenever possible. I pray silently as I know the others are also doing. If the Lord could provide oil for a widow he can do the same for the car. He can also guide the driver to drive thoughtfully and cautiously avoiding overheating. It may have been both that happened I will never know but the warning light went off, the heat dropped and we arrived safely in Muyinga, having very briefly driven around Buhiga seeing the hospital, secondary school, primary school, technical school and church. Buhiga has been a centre of mission since 1935; here is where the Anglican church in Burundi began. A shame we had no time to stop and reflect on the brave pioneers who came here.
Our time in Gitega diocese was gentler than Matana but still stimulating, rewarding, inspiring and raising questions of mission here and at home. I learn so much about our situation by observing that of others.

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