Busy Day in Mugina
Trip Start Sep 06, 2012
14Trip End Oct 09, 2012
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Where I stayed
This morning, we left a little before 08:00 for the drive north. Just out of Bujumbura we passed a long string of soldiers apparently coming in from a night march. They were strung out over several miles and I estimated their numbers at about 500. Moise said this was a training exercise in preparation for their deployment to Somali under UN colors. Burundian soldiers are eager for that assignment, because although a number have been killed, the pay from the UN is much higher than Burundian standard. So a year’s deployment can give a young man a very good start in life (except for those…).
Most were carrying AK-47s a few with machine guns on bipods. Their muzzle discipline was pretty poor, and I ended up looking down a lot of barrels as we drove by; I hoped their clips were empty.
The rest of the drive north was without incident. we say the usual scenes of farming and bicycle transportation as we drove along.
As we pulled into Mugina, the members had seated and singing hymns while waiting for us to arrive.
Singing hymns together is a common, and fine way to pass some time on a day of worship. We started on time at 10:00.
Mr. Mundeli gave his sermonette on how to be thankful to God. Then came special music from each of the three congregational chorales that were present. They each sang two selections which made for quite a long musical interlude, but it was very beautifully done. African harmonies are usually clear and natural, of a recognizably different kind than in the western tradition. They can be entrancing.
I asked a blessing on the whole ceremony and then we went down the line taking turns holding the babies that would allow themselves to be held without crying. I asked Mr. Mundeli to ask the blessings (he can do so in the local language) to save some time, since I would have had to be translated, and we were already behind in our schedule. Most of the babies were quiet and allowed themselves to be held. Two I felt were very hot with fever. Malaria I was told later, is rife through the whole region, everyone gets it, and it hits some babies right away, The complications can be serious to the point of fatality especially for the very young and very old.
Subsistence level farming families can’t afford diapers, they just use extra wraps of the thin cloth they have available. So we had a few surprises when the babies were handed to us…. Let’s see, where did I put that hand sanitizer?
By this time, I had about half an hour left for a sermon (our sermons are normally about an hour long), so I trimmed as I went, talking about how to prepare for and celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles in the most profitable manner. I was able to end right at 12:00 on schedule, we sang a final hymn and I gave the closing prayer.
Before ending completely, Nathan asked that Mr. Mundeli and I take greetings back to our home regions and to other areas we might visit and asked the congregations to wave their greetings, which I was able to capture in a photo.
After services, many parishioners came to congratulate Nathan and express their appreciation for his service. We chatted with various people for about an hour (me almost exclusively through translation) until people started heading for home – some had walked hours to come to the service. And we embarked and drove back to Burundi.
For dinner I invited the three men to a local lakeside restaurant that offers excellent grilled mukeke, a fish that is only found in Lake Tanganyika, and is a local favorite. It is Nathan’s favorite dish so it seemed appropriate.
It was a long, full and rewarding day, and will be a memorable one in the developing history of our church in Burundi.
Tomorrow will be a full travel day to Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.