just saying

Just saying..despite the challenges that are occurring due to political issues, I am very thankful to be living in this area of Africa.

I wish I could take a picture that would capture all the colour, sounds, beauty and challenges that are unfurled before me in daily life here.

Trying to write a blog is a journey of courage for me because I know so many people who write exceptionally and express themselves much more adequately than I do.
Recently I have been encouraged to continue to write this blog, sharing what I can and how I can. There are amazing people and wonderful things happening that should be shared ….so I continue in this space.

There are treasures hidden in daily life that can easily be overlooked and lately I have realized just how much beauty there is all around. Giving thanks opens my eyes.
Yesterday I was in town walking on a street full of holes and strewn with garbage. Two little boys came up to me asking for money . They were ragged, dirty and obviously hungry. I didn’t have any small change but my friend with me did and gave them some. The smallest of the boys came alongside me putting his hand in mine and began to walk with me. I looked down and saw his huge smile. He walked along with me until I had to go into a shop and then he left. I can still feel his little dirty hand in mine and am aware his life is a precious gift.

This week we had the privilege to visit again an organization The Cries of a Child, run by dear friends living here in Burundi, Isai and Samantha Torres. Ray was speaking at the weekly meeting they have with staff and people from the area. It was a real joy to be with them. They all are carrying huge burdens for hundreds of people who come daily in the clinic they run and the social program for women and babies. They also have two homes for abandoned children on the land they have.

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Nadine, a little girl rescued and cared for by this lady.

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Samantha with a 5 year old girl

These are two children suffering from malnutrition. It is a sad situation as there are many people starving these days in areas of Burundi and Congo.
The little five year old girl was brought to the care centre by her ten year old sister who walked several miles with her on her back. These are just two of many we saw this week. Many children are abandoned because the mother has died or the people who could perhaps care for them don’t have even enough food for themselves. It is almost impossible to imagine what this is like.
In the midst of this though we are seeing heroes who are working and praying, being light and love among the dark times. It is important to focus on this and continue to encourage where we can, helping to carry the load that at times can seem unbearable.

My heart is stirred to keep believing Gods word, that He sees, and He cares. He works through willing people who depend on Him and His strength.
Even a cup of cold water with love accomplishes much. There is much we all can do to help. May we do so.

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Pressing On

We are still here!

I have not written in this blog since April, not knowing how to communicate the sense of sadness and anger at the injustice I see all around me this year.  It didn’t seem helpful to share more bad news to people who daily are bombarded with it over the news. I will say that the situation in the country here is not secure and no one knows what will happen in the months ahead but no matter what we are living in the present and trusting God knows and cares.  I was reading the the other day…This is my Father’s world, let me not forget, that though the wrong seems so strong, My God is Ruler yet.

This summer while seeing a Dr. about some health issues I was informed I probably needed to process the emotional things I had seen, heard about and live amongst here in this country at this time.  I found my time in Canada during the past months have helped me greatly just being with family and friends in a country where we have the privilege of so much peace and order.  While I didn’t see a counsellor to get help I sense a new awareness of God’s faithfulness in a huge way  in my life and our lives as a family. I know the way forward living here in Africa and travelling back and forth to Canada is in God’s plan for this time. The love and support of family and friends is an amazing encouragement and strength. It is with renewed vision and sense of purpose filled with faith and encouragement from our church leaders I know I can press on into all that is before me and for us as a family.

So, just to say, there is hope for the future because of God’s faithfulness and in turn it is possible to share that hope with the lives we touch daily.

Our friends came to visit us in the spring and helped greatly in stirring us to keep pressing on….

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Mathongo, Andrew Freeman, Charlie Whitley, David Freeman and Emmando

In the background is the training centre being built outside Uvira DRCongo.

Thanks to all who continue to support us and all we are involved with here.  I will endeavour to keep more up to date with happenings as we press on.

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Perspective 2

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The youngest children in New Hope Centre Rwanda.

 

Albert  Einstein said…… There are two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.

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The sixth house finished in Emmanuel Centre.

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The Emmanuel Centre school finished!

Your perspective is the way you see something.
A Latin root word meaning “look through” or perceive and all the meanings of perspective has something to do with looking.

Figurative meaning—-“mental outlook over time”

We are living in a region of Africa which seems very unstable in every way. It is important we see things rightly to be able to continue in what we feel we are here to be part of.
These months I have found my thoughts don’t translate into words. The reasons for this are unclear however I know my heart is full of sadness for the injustice I see all around. Many friends have just left their homes,personal things and moved on. They have no intention to return. In a few weeks life changed.
Hundreds of thousands of people left their homes and land, businesses, churches and moved, either to refugee camps or other places where extended family or friends are in Rwanda, Tanzania or Congo, Belgium etc.

Our perspective we find is clearly one of seeing life through the truth of Gods word and His faithfulness. If we didn’t believe that we could not continue in the midst of things around us. There is beauty in the mess and hard times.  We only have to keep the right focus.

After fourteen years living here we have come to understand some aspects of life however we still don’t “get” so much of the culture and the years of fear and turmoil people have gone through and still are going through.
Daily we hear of arrests, torture and killing. With all the African and U.N. leaders coming to try to work out some type of dialogue between opposition and government there seems to be not much progress. Even today a body was found in the river and an opposition person arrested.
More controls are coming with a census being taken for foreigners.

Through all the “happenings” as horrific they are we continue to see people push ahead with smiles and hope. It is hard to imagine how they can continue year after year but they do. We have much to learn from their resilience.

Over in Congo building is continuing on our land. Ecole Shalom in Uvira with 900 students is doing well.
Our friend David Freeman will be doing another teacher training with our staff there in April. We are thrilled that his son Andrew will be joining him.
Our friends and pastors in Vernon Christian Fellowship in Vernon will also be with us for two weeks for which we are excited about.
Our children in Emmanuel Centre, the village in the high plateau of Congo are doing well. The school is finished now and the sixth house for mamas and children is also finished. The agriculture project is producing well, the cows producing milk and the flour mill producing flour.

This coming week we plan to travel by road to Rwanda to see Ruben and the New Hope children we relocated from here. They are doing well but we are praying about plans for the future for them.
Pastor Ruben is still in Rwanda but his wife, Jolie and their own children are now living in Nairobi Kenya where the children are in school.

Thankyou to all who continue to support all the children we care for.  We see Gods faithful care daily.  We are in prayer for provision and direction for the New Hope children and know God cares even more than we do for them.

Thankyou too for support you have given to us over these years.  Words are not adequate to express our hearts.

Our love and thanks…on behalf of the children.

 

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A New Normal!

It has been a challenge to know what to write since the last post. Life has taken on what many of us are calling a “new normal”. The crisis in Burundi continues and is becoming increasingly worse. Almost nightly there is gunfire and explosions somewhere in the city and in the morning dead bodies found. We don’t know who is doing the killings and news is scarce. No one is untouched by the things that are happening at this time. It is unwise to say much more other than what we were used to here in the city is no longer the case. No one knows what to expect day to day.
For us we are committed to continue what we are doing in E.Congo and are still based here in Bujumbura for now. All plans are moving ahead albeit slowly.
The children in Rwanda from New Hope centre here in Bujumbura are doing well and coming to the end of this school term. We are considering plans for the next step for provision for them. Rwanda is an expensive place for them to be so we need wisdom for what to do now.

Plans are going ahead for Ray to make another trip to Rwanda to see the children and Ruben there. They will be discussing plans for the future. We are meeting with the rest of the team we work with here to plan for a trip into the high plateau of E.Congo and check on the projects there.
I was asking Ray how he feels our perspective needs to be as we continue what we know we are called to do. He said “to stand firm and keep on.” It is the way he is and I appreciate that. I see it is as though there is a track spread out before us and we can keep following on with determination and believe the plans and purposes are laid out. We don’t know how life will be as we move on but we are “moving on”.
Always when we come to the end of ourselves we see God has always been there ready to show us the next step. In our weak state He really is strong.
We have met such brave people these days who are committed to what God has called them to and are learning how to stand in a place of faith. It is challenging to say the least when everything around is shaking and one doesn’t know what will happen. Thank you for the prayers and encouragement.
We are keeping our eyes on the way ahead even when we don’t see clearly.
Words don’t come adequately these days. Emotions flood through minds and hearts in anger, sorrow and frustration. Helplessness is a common feeling. All around us people are suffering and yet the expat community has the privilege to be airlifted out of this time and space. I have heard some say the situation is not so bad here when they can still go to play tennis or go to other places where only people with some money can go. These people are not obviously touching the population in the depth of despair that so many are in. Some are speaking only positive words and dare not to join in with the reports of trouble. Others are only living in the rumours and reality of the violence. Somewhere in the midst of all the differing perspectives we live daily looking for the wisdom that only God can bring rightly. All over the city we see people calling out for help. Often when we are out in town Ray will be approached by mostly young men who quietly ask him to please pray for them in their situations as they are afraid. Many have had to leave the places they lived because it is no longer safe.

Ray just returned from Rwanda visiting the kids at New Hope children, Ruben and his family. The testimonty of the principal of the secondary school where the older kids attend is that they have changed the atmosphere of the school for the better. All the students have passed this term. Thank you to all who have helped relocate the children from Burundi to Rwanda.  We are praying about what to do regarding the New hope children in the future.
This weekend Ray spent time with Steve Thomas and David Freeman who we have had relationship with over many years. It was encouraging for Ray as there was prophetic words spoken into our lives here to continue to do what we are called to do and ride out the storm that is around us in Burundi at this time.
Inspite of the insecurity we are aware the work in the high plateau of Congo is going ahead with the school finished and the sixth house almost done. The security situation is such that Ray cannot go up himself to take pictures and see for himself the work that is being done. We are thankful for our administrator from Emmanuel Centre childrens village and the oversight he gives to the work there.
We are thankful to all who are helping with funding teachers salaries, child sponsorships and helping finish the school and sixth childrens house being built. As soon as we are able, we will send photos showing the work done.

This is a photo of Ray and some of the older boys at New Hope Centre in Rwanda.  They are always eager to talk with Ray about things.IMG_6047
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lunch with New Hope kids Rwanda.  (bugali,rice and beans)

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Vanessa the youngest of children in New Hope centre Rwanda.

 

 

 

 

 

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Looking beyond.

Looking to the future, beyond the present crisis in the Great Lakes Region of Central Africa …we stand in faith.

looking to the future!

looking to the future!

We cannot change what has and is happening in the area of Africa we live and work in.  To believe God is Sovereign over His people and that He has a great plan is where we put our hope and faith.

The government of God…His Kingdom continues to move ahead no matter the circumstances around the world.  We see so dimly but beyond our sight there is much happening in the heavenly realms which we sense but do not comprehend.

We have been privileged to know many people who are standing in faith  in God during the crisis in Burundi and Great lake area of Africa.  No government or organisation has the ability to “fix” what is occurring in these days.  Only God can do this.  So we pray along with thousands of others daily fixing our eyes on the one who knows all things….beyond the violence and injustice.

So many friends have been uprooted from homes and jobs not knowing what will happen in the weeks and months ahead.  As for us…Ray and I, we continue to proceed with the vision God has given us and we are believing what is of Him will stand in the midst of much injustice,conflict and fear.

For me, I have been displaced from our home in Burundi and from Ray for over 8 weeks and recently Ray joined Boss and I here in Canada for a short time before we return again to Burundi. This time has enabled me to further understand just a wee bit what thousands of others are going through to a much greater degree.  I can’t imagine the trauma so many have experienced.

We have a wonderful family and church family who have supported us in so many ways from lending vehicles, keeping us in their homes, finances and on and on.  I have appreciated that all our family and friends have supported our decisions to return to Africa even in the midst of uncertainty.  The support they have given to us to continue to trust God in leading us on is very strengthening.  We could not do what we are doing without this support.

There is much uncertainty not only for us but for the care for the New Hope children who have been moved into Rwanda during this time.  They may not be able to return to the area of the city of Bujumbura in Burundi at this time as it is a volatile area and would not be safe.  This would mean a greater expense to care for the children with school and living expenses.  Thank you all who have helped out in the various ways needed.  We appreciate your prayers for wisdom for Ruben and Ray as they need to make decisions soon as to what to do for the next months.

Even though the elections in Burundi IMG_1713are set there is much instability in Burundi and the area.  This election is not a “done deal” and many voices are sharing about further conflict ahead.  We look to God as we move ahead but need to be wise in our decisions.

We are in Africa with a vison for the widows and orphans.  This picture below shows two orphans and the way they relate with each other.  Esther, the oldest girl was orphaned a few years ago in the mountains of Congo.  She walked with Ray eleven hours from her village to the children’s village in Emmanuel centre  where she received care and education and now is in New hope centre doing further studies.  Vanessa, the little girl is Burundian, the youngest of five children who are orphaned due to their parents being poisoned by neighbours so they could take their land.

We are in Africa because we believe God has an amazing plan for the generation of children left without parents and guidance as they manoeuvre the violence happening all around them.

We need sponsorships for children if anyone is led to help you can contact us…maryabale@gmail.com or rmabale@gmail.com.

Thank you for your interest and prayers for the dear children who have need of help.

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IN TIMES OF CRISIS

Moving to a safe place.

Moving to a safe place.

Like many thousands of people these dear ones have moved from Burundi to a safer place during the crisis here. We are thankful to you who contributed to this move for the children and mamas we help care for.  Unlike so many, because of the support from people who care, they have a peaceful home, food and the children are able to be in a school to continue with their education.

Many areas of the city of Bujumbura have undergone violence during this pre-election time. There has and is much fear of what may and what has already taken place.  We from western countries find it hard to fathom the kind of life and injustices that are taking place.  I find myself angry then sad and emotions that are up and down constantly. Tears come easily, not seemingly having control over when it happens.

Ray and I felt it was important for myself and Boss to come back to Canada during this time of insecurity.  My sister has been very ill with cancer so I took this opportunity to come to see her.  There has been ongoing rumours of the crisis in Burundi and region becoming an ethnic thing and didn’t want Boss to be in the country if it became that way.

Many friends who have also left the country to go to their countries of origin to wait out the conflict and we all have found it hard to have left.  Ray continues to stay in Bujumbura and keep up to date with work in Congo and communications with Ruben and our New Hope children in Rwanda.  Projects in Congo are moving along slowly but still moving.  We are thankful for that and trust God will show us how to continue with it all. The children’s home in the high plateau of Eastern Congo is doing well and children are safe.  We are trusting the much needed cement to finish the school will have reached the village by now. It is dry season in that region which makes it easier to travel on the less than adequate roads.

As for now we wait to see the outcome of the next week in Burundi and hope Boss and I can return to our home there soon.

I find myself challenged  returning to Canada at this time.  Friends and family are more than loving and supportive but to try to explain to people what I feel or what life is like back in Africa right now is extremely difficult.  As emotions seem out of control at times I tend to want to hide away and feel safe.  Safe from “what..or who” I ask myself but that is the “feeling” I come up with.

There is great sadness that so many people, some of whom we know are struggling with loss of jobs, food prices rising, hope waning and lots of fear of the unknown. Many church leaders have left the country long ago due to fear or whatever  and there are thousands of people in churches without shepherds to care for them during this time. Often we have people at our gate just asking for prayer and some food.

Friends have asked us why we don’t just return to Canada where it is safe.  That alone shows us that there is not an understanding of what God has called us too even though we appreciate the love behind these questions.  It is almost impossible to explain that question.  I guess we just know we are to still continue now more than ever to press on with what God has called us to.  The work in Congo has not stopped. People need encouragement now more than ever.

We are thankful to our family and our church family for the continued support during this time of challenge and crisis.  The unknown is every before us and waiting is hopefully producing something in us which is eternal.  Our prayer is that God’s Kingdom will indeed be established throughout the earth and His will done.  There is no other answer for all that is happening in the world today.

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Burundi at the edge of war? by Archie Henry

Contact Dispatch

After 2 months of pre-election violence—street battles between protesters and security forces, grenade attacks, assassinations of political opponents, retaliation killings of ruling party militiamen, intimidation of independent media and civil society activists, a failed coup and a mass exodus of more than 100,000 refugees across the region—Burundi now enters a particularly uncertain phase: election period. Burundi has been on the international radar since April 26th, when President Nkurunziza’s attempt to run for a third term became official, creating waves of discontent across Bujumbura and subsequently other parts of the country.

As the situation remains volatile, Burundians went to vote on Monday in the first round of elections—parliamentary and communal. After pressure from a wide range of international actors, the Burundian government agreed to delay polls in order to create a more conducive environment for elections to take place. However, the chosen delay of 2-3 weeks was not in line…

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What about Congo?

Inspite of us being isolated in Burundi during this crisis progress continues over the border in Congo.

The foundation for one building on the new land is finished.  Cement is purchased for transport to the high plateau so the school for Emmanuel Centre children’s home can be finished.  Ray and Emmando hope to be able to get across to Congo to check on further work to be done.  This of course is contingent on the border security between Congo and Burundi.

Some people are asking “what are you doing while waiting around in Bujumbura”?  We thought perhaps we should give a report of our plans and progress.

While waiting, we are accessing funds here that so many have sent for support for the children from New Hope centre moved to Rwanda for a safer place to  live during these months.  A bank account is being set up in Rwanda so funds eventually can be transferred there for daily running of the homes. We hope we can travel soon to Rwanda to visit the children and give a first hand report of how they are.  Ruben and his wife are there right now overseeing the care of the mamas and children. Ray is in contact daily with Ruben and how the children are doing.

We are supporting our friend Chrissie Chapman as she is caring for her children’s home here in Bujumbura and the many daily needs during this time.  There was a funeral recently of one of the children in her care and Ray was able to be a help with that.  In these days everyone who is left in the city is looking out for one another and it is a time of “pamoje…”  unity and togetherness.(in swahili)

It is sad to see so many church leaders who have left the country in these days and the people in their churches are left on their own.  When the shepherds are gone the sheep scatter.  It is a sad outcome.

Our cook, Audace and his wife and child came today to say thank you for his job with us and care for him and his family. His wife and child are on their way to stay with family in Rwanda.  It is sad time realising how many people are suffering in separation from family in these days.  Audace will stay here in our compound now as it is unsafe for him travelling back and forth from his home.

Thank you all who have so generously supported the children we help care for with Ruben and his wife.  There are many who have no help and are on their own.

I found this quote the other day and share it with you.

“If we are to teach real peace in this world, and if we are to carry on a real war against war, we shall have to begin with the children.’

_ Gandhi

Showing the children the book of pictures of themselves!

Showing the children the book of pictures of themselves!

 

 

 

 

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Times like these!

Bombs, Birds and Bougainvillea

As we are finding ourselves in the middle of a crisis here in this beautiful country of Burundi, the reality of what is happening around us messes with my head and emotions.

Last week amidst military tanks on the street, bombs and heavy gunfire around the city there are still birds singing.  In the front of our house we now have barbwire strung across the wall and gates for security and bougainvillea growing.   Our tree is producing amazing avocados all the while people are being killed and thousands of people fleeing in fear of what is happening here. This week we had news of a baby born to a young couple here.  It is clear that life goes on no matter what.

While some are fleeing from this country there are others who continue to work hard harvesting food and bringing them down to a market that may or may not be open to sell them.  People open their shops sometimes daily for a few hours, others have left the country and locked the shop doors with heavy chains.  Many have struggled with leaving the country and others struggling to know if they should still stay.

Tensions are high and there is a tangible fear in the atmosphere here.  What one hears on news is only the tip of the deep issues in this country.  Many things cannot be said publicly for fear of reprisals.  Journalists are watched carefully and are in fear of what could happen.  Only the government radio station is now open.   The people who work for us are concerned, expressing fear of the Imbonerakere (the youth wing of the ruling party) who are reported to have threatened the population if they are not supporting the government party.  Many reports have been shared but because of fear, names of the perpetrators are not put forward.  Fear keeps people quiet when perhaps there needs to be much said.

Every day there is a struggle to maintain right perspective when everything feels upside down.  Sadness, anger and tiredness seek to overwhelm people.  The stress felt due to all the unrest and lack of news causes different reactions in people then they would have imagined themselves to fall into. I have such admiration for those leaders of churches who have stayed in the country to care for the people.

The population of this country and those countries around are suffering greatly and there is a feeling of helplessness that hovers over our minds these days.

We thank God for those of you who continue to lift up the people in this region in prayer.  Thank you for your friendship and support.  Because of you, we have a wonderful beginning of support financially  for the children from New Hope Centre as they are settling into a peaceful place for this time.

Thank you on behalf of the children and for their future.

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on their way to a safer place.

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These Days!

  “These are the days my friends, I wonder how they will end.”

Today I give thanks for life, for family and friends.  I even give thanks for electricity, water, food and a place to call home here in Africa.

I don’t understand why God has given us such blessings when I see so many struggling to even survive.  There is so much I don’t understand.  These days here in Burundi people are loosing their lives fighting for change in the way their country is governed.  People don’t have enough food or jobs and are running away to  countries nearby  fearing for their lives.  Some leave their homes wondering if they will be there if and when they can return.

Each day the men who work for us seem more concerned and sad.  They want to believe there will be better days ahead and a future for their children.  They have hopes and dreams like we do in Canada but the dreams  are continually dashed.

The questions I have these days are many.  What are we able to do being here,? How can we make a difference in the limited way we are able to even move around with the insecurity?  Even though I do know only God can bring change in lives and nations, however here we are trying to deal with this craziness.

There is much happening daily here and it is not clear to us exactly how things are going to play out in the days ahead.  For now we try to keep family and friends informed as best we can.  Every day is different.  Some days it seems as though it is business as usual here.  Other days we hear about grenade attacks and people killed, we see blockades in streets, no gas, shops closed and on and on. Tensions are high as people wait to see what will happen.  As people make decisions to leave the country or stay, we try to support them in whatever they decide.

We still have not been able to get to the children’s home we work with due to the barricades in the streets near the home but are in constant phone contact.  The mamas are with them and a young man who administrates things at the home. They are safe and doing okay despite fear triggered from past traumatic events. There are plans in place if things should escalate and we need to move the children.

Thank you to all who are praying and giving encouragement in these days.  We realise again how important it is to be part of  a community.

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