Leadership seminars

Trip Start Mar 26, 2012
Trip End Apr 29, 2012

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Flag of Burundi  , Cibitoke,
Thursday, April 19, 2012

Yesterday we were on the road by 08:00 on our way to Rugomba in Cibitoke Province to hold leadership seminars. The trip used to take 2 hours, but a large section of the road has been redone with international assistance. The first section, right out of Bujumbura is still very bad, full of potholes that keep vehicles rolling at a crawl and slaloming back in forth and narrowly missing collisions in a sometimes alarming manner. But once the new sections are reached, things can safely (more or less) speed up. The trip only took 90 minutes, which is an appreciable gain.

As soon as we arrived at the guesthouse we rented, which we have used several times before, we greeted the attendees and got right into the seminars. Jim Franks presented the first one, introducing himself and giving a history of the beginning of our new church association. He took questions of which there were quite a few, especially relating to how we plan to work in Burundi and East Africa. The attendees were very thankful that the church president would travel all the way to their region to meet with them and better equip them to serve in the Church of God in their area.

After a short break I took the second seminar slot talking about church service format whys and hows and also answering questions they had, to make sure everyone is on the same page. Many of these people have an SDA or Church of God Seventh Day background, so these discussions are important to insure everyone understands why we do what we do.

We then broke for lunch, prepared locally: rice and beans, some spinach-like greens and a small piece of beef each. The beef had obviously lived a long and strenuous life before arriving on our plates, but even so it is a rare treat for the farmers here, who may only eat meat once a year. The meal was topped off with a Fanta, which is very much like a dessert.

After lunch, Jim Franks took the third session, on the topic of the importance of character in church leaders, as a very useful presentation that was much appreciated. The final session of the day was Q&A which got into many areas: questions about divorce and remarriage (this is additionally complicated by polygamy which is common here), about how ordinations occur, about how Burundi would be represented in planning discussions for future work, about materials they need to be able to share the good news and many other topics.

One man had come all the way from the Congo, crossing the Rusizi River, in order to attend. He was a Sunday-keeping Protestant pastor who learned about the seventh day Sabbath and began observing it. The congregations he had pastored left him then, with the exception of 12 people who studies and agreed with this new understanding. He asked me to visit them on my next trip to Burundi. Getting into eastern Congo can be tricky since there is not stable government in the region and it is prone to violence as various war-lords compete for its dazzling mineral wealth. I told him I would try to plan such a visit, though I couldn't promise it would be anytime soon.

We ended a little after 3:00 pm and said goodbye to everyone so we would be sure to have time to get back to Bujumbura before dark, which we did. As usual we passed many squads of soldiers maintaining security along the side of the road. They pull out for the night about 5:30, so it’s best to be back in Bujumbura by that time.

Jim and I had a pizza at a lakeside restaurant for dinner. The views of the lake and the mountains in the distance were beautiful. As darkness fell we saw a hippo coming up out of the lake to begin grazing on the shore; quite an amazing sight.

Tomorrow we’ll be back up north to visit the church halls we have under construction for the church members here. We’ll be off the beaten track, so we plan to travel in a 4WD drive vehicle.
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Martha Caudle on

Thank you so much for taking the time to share your travels with your Church family. I look forward to this treat every day. Your very personal accounts enable us to experience Africa vicariously in all its sights, sounds and flavors -- and much more. May God continue to bless and protect you in your travels and to cause them to be very beneficial for our brethren.


It is wonderful to see and read about the work that God is also doing in these parts of Africa...so remote but God is opening up the minds of some of them! It is so good to know that we have a part in this work of preaching the gospel and making disciples of the nations that God has revealed Himself to!

S Faith on

Joel, Trying to catch up with you on this trip, but you travel fast and furious. Thanks for all your blogs, just reading them keeps all of the brethren there in our hearts and prayers. You are one amazing traveler and we appreciate all your time and hard work and the sacrifices you and your family endure in serving the brethren there. Keeping you in our prayers.

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