What’s Next
On a Sunday morning one January in 2013, the central marketplace in Burundi exploded into flames. By the day’s end the hub of the local economy melted, ending the livelihood of too many. Dozens of mothers waited at the front gate of our little bank the following morning. They cried, lamenting their loss and fearing their future without inventory or income. My husband opened the gate and mourned with them. It was a day when only lament seemed appropriate. Claude…
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Justice Work
[one_third][/one_third][two_third_last]Slow Kingdom Coming: Practices For Doing Justice, Loving Mercy And Walking Humbly In The World by Kent Annan I met Kent Annan at the end of a long table of new friends back in December. I'd already read one of his previous books, After Shock, and knew him to be a ruthlessly honest and skilled writer. He shared about this forth-coming book, Slow Kingdom Coming. The title alone captivated my imagination. The idea of articulating practices for justice work spoke…
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{ Do Not Shun the Small Things }
Often in community development work we focus on the big things – the massive ideas that will transform the local economy, the construction of classrooms or strategies for improving local human rights. The challenges are not small, so our work efforts expand to meet the needs – we make our best, biggest attempt, anyways. Today I was thinking of the small things. We started a school last year. It took the better part of the year to secure the land,…
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{ A Life Overseas: Coming Home }
[caption id="attachment_1468" align="aligncenter" width="600"] With Batwa friends in Burundi // Photo Credit: Tina Francis[/caption] Two weeks ago I was in transit from Burundi (East Africa) to the United States. The news flashing across multiple media outlets – CNN, Al Jazeera, BBC, the New York Times - highlighted the Israeli incursion into Gaza, the advancing of ISIS in Iraq, the confusion around the downed Malaysian airline in Ukraine and the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. I boarded my plane aware of…
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{ A Life Overseas: The Sign That Matters }
Five years ago we landed in Burundi. Around the small capital I noticed signs everywhere – signs of other NGOs present in the city with logos plastered on their large Land Cruisers, big placards at their local offices and signs out in the countryside wherever they had a project. The rampant self-promotion turned my stomach sour. No one could do any good thing without erecting a sign to mark it, to prove their worth and claim their territory. For the…
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How to Host a Short Term Mission Trip (part three)
This is the third and final installment (for now) on how we host short-term mission trips, based on ten years of experience! We just took our summer team to the airport last night, so I'm pretty tired. Hope there aren't too many typos in this post - but if there is - please forgive me!  ***** We just said good bye to a team of friends who left Burundi last night. Their send off included one last party with friends,…
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Hosting Short-Term Mission Trips (part 2)
[caption id="attachment_1433" align="aligncenter" width="600"] photo credit: Tina Francis[/caption] When I was young I remember embarking on my first short-term mission trip – to Hawaii. I don’t recall much of what we did while on the island, but I remember when we clustered under the buckling metal patio cover for morning devotions. The team leader opened up his Bible and taught us about the seeds of the gospel we were meant to cast with generosity across the globe; a kind and…
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Hosting Short-Term Mission Trips (part 1)
I spend my summers in Burundi. I am married to a Burundian social entrepreneur and in me he’s found his chief storyteller. Together we are community development practitioners in multiple communities as well as parents to our two children. Our lives stretch between Burundi and America; our conversations wide with words about agriculture, education, banking and health. It’s a rich life woven with many textured threads. Part of our annual rhythm includes the high season, that time when visitors come…
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{ A Life Overseas: A Land Flowing with Milk & Honey }
The dark-soiled land was rich with promise. As they stood on the property line looking across the verdant valley carpeted with cabbage and hills of slim trees whispering with the breeze, the 30 Batwa families could scarcely believe this was their new home. Each man had a plastic grocery bag with the family’s belongings – a cooking pot, some salt, maybe the metal head of a rusted hoe or some cups. Other than that, they had only what hung on…
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{ A Life Overseas: Giving Good Gifts }
[caption id="attachment_1374" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Photo Credit: Tina Francis[/caption] The Batwa people live on the edges of Burundian society, marginalized in their own country. Local humanitarian workers tell tales of these people who thwart good gifts and show little gratitude, making them notoriously difficult to work with. One organization generously gave corrugated metal roofs for the thatch-constructed homes. But soon after the installation, the aid workers discovered the metal was sold. Another religious-based agency gave these families window insets and doors…
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