Sunday, December 7, 2014


We have been very impressed with this young woman.  In a city where many are saying, there are no jobs.  She creates jobs for others.  She hires women to make crafts and sew clothing.  She is now beginning "incubator crafts"  where people come to learn how and then they can sell their work.  She is so successful that she just moved into a larger place.  She says "The cup is always half full for me."

 This unusual flower is everywhere.  Yes we bought two and planted them in our yard.

The first time these women tossed these  sewing machines on their heads and went down the stairs, I gasped.  But now it is "old hat." :) 



When school is out, the streets are filled with young people in uniform.  All schools have uniforms, these are private school students.  Public school primary wear khaki, and Secondary wear blue and white. 

We love that these cute sisters will play Rummikub with us.  It is a game that crosses language barriers!  They also beat us!

People who came to the free screening of the diagnostic eye equipment complained of headaches and neck aches.  Dr. Hunsaker smiled when he asked if they carried heavy things on their heads.  After they said, "Yes", he would tell them "It's not your eyes causing the problem."

This makes my head  ache just to watch!

We love these beautiful bushes in our yard.

Put your hand on your heart!  See OLD GLORY flying!  This is the United States Embassy.  It is only a block from our house and it makes us happy every time we drive by.  It is one of the most beautiful buildings in Bujumbura.

 Can you see the huddles of people under the canopy of this service station?   The rain comes in torrents and then stops two or three times a day sometimes.  We love the rain because it cools things down from 89 to 82. :)  This climate is just so tough.  :)

 This may look like another huddle, but it is just a bunch of workers on top of a building under construction.  Workers everywhere work elbow to elbow with others even when using a pick or shovel.

 This bicyclist was working so hard.  When I zoomed in, it made me tired!

Here we are checking on desks.  Frida was translating for us as Claude and his son speak only Kirundi.  They are learning English, but they are beginners.  As far as Kirundi goes, we are not even beginners!

I was trying to tell Claude that the desks were not well finished, that they should be sanded more and painted a second time and.....and......, but Remy, the director of physical facilities of the school district came and said he needed the desks TODAY!  We tried to tell him, they didn't have the logo on them and we wanted them finished better, but he said, "If I don't deliver the desks today, they will hang me!"  Well, we really like Remy and wouldn't want such a thing to happen to him.  So, Aimable and David and I went to Claudes, quickly painted the logo with the help of his workers and 150 desks were loaded and delivered.  We went to the school and there realized WHY they wanted them NOW and no matter how they looked.  Their old desks, the ones they have, wouldn't be accepted in the worst school in America.  In comparison, these looked like Thomasville top of the line!
The students helped carry them into the classrooms.  It was like Christmas!

Once the truck was loaded with 25 desks, they had to push the truck to get it started.  They had one muzugu who wanted to help.  :)

  The branch had an Openhouse.  The primary children sang songs and recited Articles of Faith.
                                                            Each organization took part.

 This one surprised us.  The branch presidents and a counselor did a skit on church history.

This is the closest to the old west as they could get.  

 I am still in love with the African trees.  They just take such beautiful shapes and look so protective and graceful.  The lighting on this one in the park changes the color of it.

The one at the bottom is huge.  They call it the Marriage tree and take lots of pictures there on wedding days.


 Okay I have been wanting to try the side saddle bicycle ride.  We gave this rider 1000 BIF to take us each on a SHORT ride.  

 We visited our friends the Hippos again.   We didn't know what these balls on the tree were.  Later we learned that the birds who build these nest are called Weavers.  Sister Dow said that the male builds the nest and presents it to the female.  If she doesn't like it, she snips it off and it falls to the ground and he has to start over.  The birds are a bright yellow.

 Sister Petu is up on the patio and Remy is brushing his hair with a cleaning brush.  He hardly has hair as he cuts it off frequently.

Here is our first African funeral. We hope the last.  Emery from the Branch Presidency is giving a few words of comfort at the cemetary.  Frida and Aimable are just beyond him with white handkerchiefs around their necks. They lost a baby in childbirth.  Our hearts were broken for them.

 Jean Paul lead the singing and he really kept up the beat.  He did not allow anyone to sing a durge!
After this the whole crowd (two bus loads of people) met at a reception center for some more talks and the traditional Fanta, Coke, or water.

The family have people coming to the house for a week or so after.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Maggy's Miracle

I sat next to Maggy for breakfast again today.  The smile never leaves her face.  Yes, she talks a lot because she knows we want to hear the story.  We want to know everything.  When her girls come in, she shows us the scars on their wrists and head and neck where the merciless machete blows left their marks.  They were only 5 or 6 years old, but she took them and cared for them even flew one to France – a little orphaned girl in a coma—and stayed with her for months until she was able to return to Burundi.

 But these were not the first.  Maggy had taken in seven orphans from the war and was searching for a place to hide them.  Four were Hutu and three were Tutsi.   Hutu’s would not take her because she was Tutsi and she had three Tutsi children.  The Tutsi would not take her because she had four Hutu children.  Finally she gathered her Hutu friends and her children and they hid in the church. 
She told them, “If the Tutsi come, I will protect you. If the Hutu come, you can protect me." 

  But Sunday morning the Tutsi came.  She said to them, “It is Sunday, you are all Christians.  Leave us alone.”  But they said, “Oh, you love these people so much.  We will show you.”  They stripped her naked and tied her to a chair and made her watch them kill 72 Hutu friends before her eyes.  

They looked for others in the church and asked at the closet of the priest, “Is anyone here.”  A little orphan boy said, “No,” and they left.  She feels they were protected by the angels of heaven.  

Maggy determined to never hate like that.  She buried her friends in a common grave as there was no time or ability to do better.  She kept the place secret hoping to protect them from further desecration.  Later she marked the sacred place with the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi.

Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace;
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is discord, harmony;
Where there is error, truth;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
And where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, Grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console;
To be understood as to understand;
To be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Thus began her quest to bless humanity especially those affected by war and hatred.  She had as many as 500 orphans at one time because they would bring them to her from Rwanda, and the Congo.  Another time they (the rebels) sent a child warrior to kill her.  He told her to kneel down.  She said to him, “Why do you want to kill me, my child?  Why do you want to kill your mother?”  He said, “You are my mother?”  “She said, “Yes, you can come and be my driver.  You don’t have to kill anymore.”  He came and is still her driver to this day. 

Richard (right) was one of her orphans.  He had been locked in a school
which was set on fire. He is now one of her directors. 
Her philosophy is to keep children in the family if possible.  She began searching for their extended families and then she provided a house for the children near them. 

Where parents were killed, there were still existing aunts and uncles and cousins who survived.  With a home of their own and being near family, they could learn to work and support themselves.  In an Institution, it is hard for them to have an identity.

Now she has the best hospital in Burundi, a farm where she teaches people how to grow food and care for animals.  She built Angel City, a theater, a swimming pool and a library.   In the theater she had them put on plays and they acted out things from the war to help victims and perpetrators heal.  

She continues to follow up with those in her program, but she is slowly giving responsibility to her “children”.  The orphans she cared for have become her colleagues.  They run the three hotels, the farm, the Angel city and the hospital.  They have gone to school and become trained.  They have married and live in their own homes caring for their children.  They prepared the food for us while we stayed with her at her modest home.  She stands for right and truth wherever she is.   

At Rema hospital one morning, we visited classrooms in the medical school.  She gave inspiring messages to the students. 

  Then, on the sidewalk we met a young woman with a child on her back.  Maggy stopped and talked to her sternly in Kirundi.  Later she told us that she was telling the woman that there was no excuse for being dirty.  “We have water here in Burundi.  You can be poor, but you can be clean.”

  When we visited her school, the children were the cleanest we had seen in Africa.  The classes were normal size, 25 or so.  The rooms and grounds                                                                                        were clean with beautiful grassy areas. 

Yes, I sat next to Maggy and marveled at her strength and purpose.  She epitomized what I read recently in 
“A Year of Miracles.” 
“I love, I love!” you might say.  And of course you love.  We all do.  The problem, however, is that we do not love only.  We love, but then we take it back.  We love, but then we stop when it becomes inconvenient.   We love, but only until the ego is challenged by the thought of risk. 
“And so it is that while we love, we do not wield the power of love.  We love, but we do not love only.  And so we love, but we do not work                                                                                                                 miracles.
“For miracles occur naturally as expressions of love.  When you choose to love, you choose to work miracles.”

And also what we read from the Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith:

“The work in which we are unitedly engaged is one of no ordinary kind.  The enemies we have to contend against are subtle and well skilled in maneuvering; it behooves us to be on the alert to concentrate our energies, and that the best feelings should exist in our midst; and then, by the help of the Almighty, we shall go on from victory to victory, and from conquest to conquest; and our evil passions will be subdued, our prejudices depart; we shall find no room in our bosoms for hatred; vice will hide its deformed head, and we shall stand approved in the sight of Heaven, and be acknowledged the sons of God. 
Let us realize that we are not to live to ourselves, but to God; by so doing the greatest blessings will rest upon us both in time and in eternity. 

“Happiness is the object and design of our existence; and will be the end thereof, if we pursue the path that leads to it; and this path is virtue, uprightness, faithfulness, holiness, and keeping all the commandments of God.” 

Maggy was the first to be screened with the equipment the church
purchased for Rema Hospital.

Dr. Jesse Hunsaker and his wife Diane were here to train Maggy's staff on the use of the new equipment.

                                                       Sunset in Ruiygi, Burundi