Dinner with the Directeur

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The medical director & family

Dr Wilson BIZIMANA, wife Jeanine & son Jolison in 2015

“When we received your invitation we thought that there would be five or six other people here,” reported Dr Wilson BIZIMANA, medical director of Kibuye Hope Hospital. “But when I got here, I found that it is just my family. Why have you thus honored us?”

The humility implicit in that statement is only one of the reasons why we admire Dr Wilson and love his family so much. He graduated from the University of Burundi in 2011 and took a risk by coming to work for Kibuye Hope Hospital upcountry. In 2013, the medical director resigned in a huff and the leadership of the church and of Hope Africa University (which own the land and direct hospital operations, respectively) appointed Dr Wilson as interim (then permanent) medical director. This rapid rise to responsibility is not too unusual in Burundian business, but what happened next is.

The next year, 2014, Dr Wilson was offered a government job back in the capital. These jobs are highly-coveted because, beyond the prestige, the pay is pretty consistent and the work hours are flexible (meaning you can hold multiple jobs simultaneously). Previously, 100% of our other employees had chosen the government job when offered. But Dr Wilson didn’t. His precise motives are his own, but given that his wife and son were living in the capital at that time, his decision to reject the government’s offer and move his family to Kibuye is a HUGE statement of confidence and hope in what God is doing in our community.

Dr Wilson is not a member of the Free Methodist Church of Burundi (he worships at another Protestant church in the area) and yet has maintained excellent professional and personal relationships with their hierarchy. He has navigated the hospital through major personnel and legal straits with minimal damage and he brings an air of calm, considerate leadership to the helm. His wife, Jeanine, just completed her bachelor’s degree in language pedagogy and teaches French and Kirundi to our team kids (and selves). They live with their son Jolison and one-on-the-way next to the McLaughlins and the school in our neighborhood.

The dinner was a big success, a crazy linguistic blend of English, French and Kirundi (good to have a couple language teachers at the table). We enjoyed hearing our Burundian counterparts’ story of falling in love and getting married as well as recounting our own. We enjoyed a delicious meal of rice and a modified ratatouille Michelle made. We even slaughtered our prized rooster to serve in a tomato sauce made by Carlan. (Read more about that rooster here.) We capped the night off by sharing some proverbs in different languages (classic Burundian conversation) and prayed for each other.

As you think of him, please pray for Dr Wilson and his family. He faces daily pressures to compromise and faces many discouraging realities. Join us in asking God to uphold him and endow him with the wisdom and grace each new challenge demands. Thanks.

(PS: They are due to deliver their second, a boy, by C-section in the middle of July.)

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An Ode to Copper

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Coppers look

Rule #1 about receiving a gift chicken in Burundi: Smile broadly and be effusive with your thanks.

Rule #2: Do not name that chicken.

I’m afraid we violated Rule #2 within hours of receiving a “welcome back” chicken from one of our good friends in Burundi. Though his crow made him sound like he’d been smoking a pack a day for twenty years, he was a beautiful chicken. He had an almost metallic sheen to his burnished brown plumage with an emerald green tail and a near-perfect comb. He carried himself with the dignity and pomp of a cock without rival in the area around the Quadplex and even ran quickly enough to evade two Burundian men and two white women for 15 min. He was a good chicken.

But there comes a day in every Burundian rooster’s life when he is required to make the ultimate sacrifice so that others can eat. Copper’s day came one week ago when Dr Wilson and his family came over to eat with us. Michelle had already grown too attached to our laryngitis-striken alarm clock to stick around for his final rites, so Josias, one of the team house helpers, slaughtered and prepared the chicken. He tasted as good as could be expected served with a tomato sauce over rice and our guests were pleased and honored that we would sacrifice such a chicken for them. Well done Copper.

One of Michelle’s goals for our family is to raise chickens and/or goats (for milk) when we move back long-term, so we might need to get a little better at following Rule #2 in the future. Do you have any other rules to live by when you receive gift chickens? Comment below.

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M3 (Mobilizing Medical Missions) Conference

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In February we had the privilege of attending and speaking at the M3 Mobilizing Medical Missions Conference in Houston. Here is a recap of our time at the conference.

The conference was brief (Friday-Saturday), but good and very encouraging. Each of the 4 plenary sessions were packed with at least 5 speakers doing a Ted-style talks (18 min). The breakout sessions were a bit more in depth. Carlan was the first main speaker for the conference and he did a great job. Thank you for all your prayers!  Kibuye Hope Hospital, “our” mission in Burundi was one of the highlighted ministries of the conference and received a check for $10,000 from the conference sponsors at the end. Our Kibuye booth was busy the whole time and there are TONS of people interested in what we’re doing in Burundi. The holistic vision of what we are doing and the emphasis on team/community really attracted the interest of people from lab technicians, pharmacists, physical therapists, med students and a bunch of specialists in attendance. Praise God!

Below is a picture we had taken with Paul Osteen and his wife Jennifer.

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Below is a picture taken during out of the breakout sessions. It was encouraging to see many medical students and residents with a heart for missions in attendance, and with many eager questions.

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Below is a picture with Chrissy Chipriano, who flew out from Serge to help us man the booth. We couldn’t have done it without her! Behind us you can see the banners that Carlan designed himself.

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It was a great experience connecting with those who are like-minded in their desire to use their gifts for the glory of the Lord and in His service. We really enjoyed reconnecting with Paul Osteen and his family and seeing their heart for missions and desire for the spread of the gospel. He had the speakers and their families over to his house for dinner before the conference started which was a rich time of fellowship. The evening ended with the group congregated around the piano singing Amazing Grace while Michelle accompanied.

While we were attending the conference, Carlan’s grandfather Del Carper went home to be with the Lord. We were saddened to be away from home but thankful that he is now free from pain and his faith is now sight! A few weeks prior we had the opportunity to visit him the day after his 91st birthday and to celebrate with a chocolate pudding pie (he had no remaining teeth at that point, probably due to his inclination to favor the sweet dishes on the menu 🙂  Before we left we asked him how we could be praying for him, and he said, “Pray that I will remain true to the Lord.” What a heart of faithfulness to the very end! We were so very thankful to have had this opportunity to visit him before he passed away.

Thank you all for your prayers! God answered in many ways!

 

 

 

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A Hero Passes (Written by Carlan Wendler)

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Grandpa upon graduating Navy basic training at Farragut, Idaho.

 

“Pray that I would remain true to the Lord.”

That’s what my grandpa said when Michelle and I asked him how we could pray for him the last time we saw him. Ninety-one years old. He had served faithfully on his family farm growing up, in a Navy submarine in World War II, at the mission station and in a rebel prison during 20 yrs in Congo plus 17 more in France afterwards and for decades in retirement.

In my mind, he had already passed the “true to the Lord” test.

In the sovereign plan of God, he would pass the ultimate test two weeks later, in a hospital bed but surrounded by family.

My impulse is to “go philosophic” in the face of Grandpa’s death. I’m wired to engage the deeper, weightier things, to search for meaning in the jagged, ruptured edge of our earthly existence marked out by sin’s cursèd effect. But for Grandpa, I don’t really have to: he had completed his course and was receiving his medal of reward.

We, his surviving family, all prayed that God would not delay his death for even a moment. He was ready to go. I don’t mean that he had checked out of life and become unresponsive or listless. He was simply a boat at port (“Submarines are referred to as ‘boats,’ not ships,” he had taught me.) Rudders and planes locked, engines quiet, ropes coiled or fastened — his journey was almost complete. He had only to walk down that gangplank onto the dock of that glistening shore where his Savior waited to welcome him home.

I love my grandpa. To say that he inspired me to attempt great things for God and expect great things from God is understatement. I depend on him for a quarter of my genes but he had an outsized influence on my spiritual heritage. Grandpa taught me as much about  carpentry, agriculture, prayer, ministry, and trusting God as anyone.

And though this is a time of real sorrow for my mom (his daughter) and our family, this is also a time of real rejoicing. Grandpa knew Jesus Christ well. I saw Him shining in him all the time. His sins were forgiven. His heart and mind were at peace. He was prepared. After all, it was Grandpa who used to tell me as a boy,

“A missionary’s got to be ready to preach, pray, or die at a moment’s notice.”

(In lieu of flowers or gifts, we are honoring Grandpa’s legacy by planting the Word of God in Congo through the continuing work of missionaries with his mission,  Crossworld, accessible by clicking here.

 

Grandpa and Carlan in France in 1993.

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M3 Medical Missions Conference and Prayer Cards!

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Our prayer cards have just been approved and sent to the printers…yay!! If you would like one let us know!

We can’t believe how fast the time is flying! In a few short months we will be leaving for language school in France; we just got our confirmation in the mail postmarked from Albertville, France 🙂

This next week (2/15-21) Carlan, myself and his Mom will be flying to TX with two mail goals: 1) to finish packing the container that will be shipped to Africa 2) to present at the M3 Medical Missions Conference. We would covet your prayers!

Specific Prayer requests:

A) Prayer for strength for Carlan as he is packing up all the materials we need for our house in Africa, and that we will be able to fit everything in the container.

B) Prayer for wisdom as Carlan prepares for this conference. He is speaking for one of the main sessions and two breakout sessions. We also will have a booth which myself, Carlan, his mother Marilyn Wendler, and a volunteer from Serge will staff and field questions about the work in Africa. What an honor to be there and to have the opportunity to tell people about God is doing in Burundi!

 

 

 

 

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The Wendlers’ 2016 Travel-Line to France & Beyond!

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unnamedWelcome to 2016!

This year represents many small steps for the Wendler family as well as one giant leap [back] into international life and ministry.

We’ve constructed a rough timeline of travel between now and September, when we will hopefully be moving to French language school in Albertville, France. We have been deliberately vague with some locations (sorry, can’t specify further) but would be happy to furnish you with dates for any of these so that we can coordinate seeing you.

Thank you and we love you!
Carlan & Michelle

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First Married Christmas

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As the business of the holiday season starts to climax, a moment for contemplation and praise is in order. Looking back over this last year I am amazed at God’s work in our lives. He gets the credit for where we are now, and for crossing our paths those many months ago. And it is because of His great love and mercy towards us that we have something to celebrate. Christmas…Christ with us! What an awesome reality!

We shipped our Christmas decorations to a container in TX which will leave for Africa in a few months, but my parents graciously let us borrow a few decorations, and the Winslow family sent us our first nativity scene (as seen on the fireplace mantel).

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Don’t worry, we have two stockings…I just need to hang the other one 🙂

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We didn’t have Christmas tree topper, so Carlan got a single sheet of paper and voila!

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A paper poinsettia ornament I made out of some old sheet music.

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We have so very much to be thankful for!

“O God, take me in spirit to the watchful shepherds, and enlarge my mind; Let me hear good tidings of great joy and hearing, believe, rejoice, praise, adore, my conscience bathed in an ocean of repose, and my eyes uplifted to a reconciled Father.

Place me with ox and ass, camel, goat, to look with them upon my Redeemer’s face, and in Him account myself delivered from sin.

Let me with Simeon clasp the new-born child to my heart, embrace Him with undying faith, exulting that he is mine and I am His. In Him Thou hast given me so much that heaven can give no more.” Valley of Vision

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Delicious and Easy Butternut Squash Soup

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We’ve been living on a budget and trying some fun/easy recipes. This one is definitely one of our favorites! My mouth starts to water just thinking about it. Enjoy!

Butternut Squash Soup

2 tablespoons butter

1 small onion, chopped

1 stalk celery, chopped

1 medium carrot, chopped

1 medium butternut squash – peeled, seeded, and cubed

1 (32 fluid ounce) container chicken stock

salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Bring chicken stock to boil. In a separate pan melt the butter and cook the onion, celery, carrot, and squash 5 minutes, or until lightly browned. Add to chicken stock and cook until soft, (around 40 minutes).

Transfer the soup to a blender, and blend until smooth. Return to pot, and mix in any remaining stock to attain desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper (or cayenne pepper if you like your food spicy hot).

 

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Hope Burundi: Reappointed!

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Some of you know (or realized) that we were in Philadelphia this week visiting Serge’s Serving Center (aka, Mission HQ) for a process known as “A&O” for “Assessment and Orientation.” This is the interview and evaluation process by which Serge determines if the mission is ready to send us (and we are ready to be sent) to the field. In our case, things were easier since this was Carlan’s second time around, but there is always more to learn and to master. We were approved yesterday and offered a five-year appointment, which is the maximum available, for which we are very grateful and excited. We would covet your prayers as we enter the next phase of fund-raising and pre-field preparation.

CarlanandMichelle

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The Journey Back to Burundi

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Next week (December 5th 2015) we leave on a jet plane bound for Philadelphia, another step in our journey back to Africa. The goal of this trip is to meet with the leadership at Serge, Grace at the Fray, and to Lord willing be approved and sent to back Africa as a married couple. Our hearts are yearning and eager to return to the team and the dear African people, and each step closer brings us such joy and anticipation. Yet, we remind ourselves that God is sovereign over our movement forward in this direction, and if he chooses to redirect our steps we know that His will is perfect. So with eager, yet surrendered hearts we step forward and prayerfully surrender our plans to His will.

Prayer Requests:

  1. Wisdom for the Serge leadership as they seek God’s will in the approval process.
  2. That we would be approved.
  3. Travel safety.
  4. Wisdom in all the decision making that the journey back to the mission field requires.
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