Mountain expedition

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

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Where I stayed
Hotel Botanika

Flag of Burundi  , Cibitoke,
Saturday, April 21, 2012

This morning Mo´se arrived a little before 08:00 with a 4WD Toyota Prado and driver. Mo´se's wife had come with him so she could meet Mr. Franks, but also to bring their baby into town to get some medication for an ear-ache. We exchanged a few words with her and then said goodbye so we could start north.

The road was the same hodge-podge of asphalt and holes, until we reached the new section which again sped things up considerably. We drove past Rugombo where we had spent the day yesterday and turned east on the paved road toward the township of Mugina. We drove past BusÚroko where we would stop later and continued toward Massango where one church hall is under construction. Arriving at Nyeshenza we found our usual path blocked by the huge market of the day. So we backtracked and found a dirt path toward the road to Massango.

At the exit from Nyeshenza however we hit an obstacle. The recently repaired road had a deep trench dug across it, so deep and steep it was impassible even to our 4WD. I suggested we try to find some rocks to throw in, just enough for the vehicle to be able to make it past. A crowd of local men gathered almost immediately. Several were already drinking "banana beer", which was in good supply due to the market, in spite of the early hour, and some appeared not to be on their first bottle. Nathan and Mo´se got out to check the trench situation. The crowd of men spoke to them and they came back a bit embarrassed. “They said there are Muzungus in the car and they must pay to cross the ditch” said Mo´se “they want 2000 Francs. Or we can walk.” I knew the walk would be about a mile and some of it pretty steeply up hill.

This was frustrating. 2000 francs was no big deal, of course. On the other hand all the road repairs currently being done in Burundi are being financed by aid from Western nations; in other words some of my taxes were repairing their roads which were then immediately dug up to create an obstacle that we would have to pay to cross. Nathan paid. As soon as the money changed hands a log split in half lengthwise, magically appeared and neatly filled the trench. We drove on half a mile or so to where we parked to start the up and down path to the church hall. This hall is done in fired clay brick, very durable, it has two metal doors, but the windows holes are empty, which means several benches have been stolen. Most African are respectful of churches and pastors, but obviously some in this area are not. The local leader responsible for the hall gave us the tour. Mr. Franks was able to have a good look around, judge the situation and ask some questions to get a good grasp of the situation.

Then we walked back to the Prado and started back to Nyeshenza where of course we were made to pay 2000 Francs again, and as we passed some of the more inebriated ran alongside us yelling 2000 wasn’t enough and demanding more. We just kept moving and drove back out to the blacktop.

Turning left we drove past Nyenshenza then again turned off onto a dirt road to head toward Rusiba which must be in the running for one of our most remote congregations. It took half an hour on the poor road, where we definitely wouldn’t have passed if we weren’t in a 4WD. The rainy season is just ending which means the roads are especially washed out and rutted. During the dry season they smooth out a bit and the drive can be made in light vehicles.  We parked at the top of a hill and walked about 10 minutes by fields and houses, attracting the stares of small children who don’t often see light skinned people, to arrive at the church hall in Rusiba. Several local members were on hand to meet with us and show us around the hall which is made of sun dried brick covered in cement plaster to seal the walls. There are wooden doors installed and wooden windows frames, but no glass. The setting here is beautiful, the lush verdant mountains on all sides are fantastic.

I took a photo of those who were present with Mr. Franks. One church lady didn’t smile in spite of me asking them to do so. Nathan asked her teasingly why should would smile. She replied, “my teeth are finished;” she had no teeth with which to smile.

After a thorough visit, we hiked back up and down to the vehicle and drove back to Mugina the third site where we have a plot of land. Until recently there was a simple church hall here of mud brick with a grass roof, but the structure didn’t survive the hard rains of the recent season and it collapsed. They have a tent made of tarps sewn together and are hoping for assistance to be able to put up a permanent hall for the 70 or 80 people that attend here, the village where Nathan lives and farms.

Under the tarp were waiting 10 people who wanted to prepare to be baptized. I took about an hour with them for a first session, being translated by Mo´se into Kirundi. I talked about the commitment of baptism, the biblical conditions and what they were and gave them a chance to ask questions. At the end I left of list of scriptures and subjects that Nathan will cover with them over the next months until my next visit which I hope will be in September.

After this meeting, we were served lunch: rice, beans, greens, a piece of beef and a soda. Some of the people who came for the counseling had walked miles to arrive here and had miles more to walk to get home, so we didn’t want to send them away hungry.

Following all this we drove back to Bujumbura, where we had work to do in preparation for the Sabbath. I wrote an update for our weekly French newsletter and got it proofread and sent out, and posted to our website. Mr. Franks always has letters, articles and other writing with which to keep up, so there is never a shortage of  “office” work.

For dinner we again took a local taxi to a restaurant on Lake Tanganyika. The pizzas have a good reputation at this place. I had mukeke, the fish that is only found in this lake. It is very tasty and does not contain many bones. We watched the mountains of the Congo turning an ever deeper purple until they faded to black of the lake which was pounding with surf. It was a beautiful site on which to end the day.

Tomorrow, God willing, will be my last day in Burundi before heading on to Kenya for a day.
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Tommie Briley on

Thank you, Mr. Meeker, giving us much to think and pray about regarding our brothers and sisters in this part of the world. We are so thankful that you and Mr. Frank are able and willing to sacrifice the time and effort to make these trips. Praying that your travel continues in safety and with as much ease as possible.

Tess Washington on

Our prayers will be for all these people whom God is obviously working with! For Nathan, Moise and their families! They have shown faithfulness to God and His calling! Thank you Mr. Meeker and Mr. Franks...

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