From South Armagh to Burundi...

Donaldson-web-profile-pic Posted by Alastair Donaldson on Fri, 18 Jun 2010 | 3 comments | Bookmark: digg this Post this to Post this to Facebook

Hi guys!

Well it’s been an action packed trip so far. God’s really blessing me in giving me opportunities to help and everybody from Burundi and the church has been so good. Here are some of the highlights to date. Hope they both bless and entertain you…and thanks again for all your prayers.


Mon 7th June…

I think it’s wrong to use the word worrying but come the morning time I was still a little concerned about bus drivers etc coming up and whether or not they would let me carry extra luggage from Lancaster to Heathrow. But I had prayed a lot about it and also with Janice my sister over the weekend. As it turned out though the day couldn’t have went any better and both bus drivers were so ‘dead on’ about it. It goes to show once again that our God is great and can work all things.

Once at Heathrow, I had a bit of juggling to get my luggage allowance correct. One suitcase had 20kg while the other had 27kg so I had to make them both 23kg. But after a wee while I got them right and the check-in process went smoothly. I then had a full breakfast at Heathrow (my last one for a while lol!) and sent some last minute text messages to various people. Some of my own family and friends also rang or texted which was great. And so at 9pm I boarded the flight and we got out of there. My luggage was going right the way through to Burundi and so I prayed that it would all get there.

Tues 8th…

I kept thinking a little and praying about my luggage all being present and correct in Bujumbura and also meeting Seth again. There was nothing dramatic to report on the flight and we got into Addis Adaba at about 8.30am their time. I followed the signs for transfers and to my pleasant surprise it was all very easy. From gate 1 at approx 10.30 their time would go my connecting flight to Bujumbura and so I settled around this area doing some reading and some sleeping. I awoke and noticed we were actually moving into the gate area – I could have missed the whole thing.

But my bags went through the security x-rays okay and they didn’t raise any objections about extra stuff in my laptop case and so I boarded the flight. It was all very straightforward. The flight touched down first of all in Nairobi and then flew on to Bujumbura where it was a small crowd through passport control. At this point I noticed Seth and waved. He waved back. The fact that I had already my visa made things extremely easy and in a matter of minutes I was through and I greeted Seth. The luggage all came very quickly too. So there was no long waits for visa’s or missing luggage like Victor and Kathryn had to endure last year.

On the trip to Matana I was very tired and soon fell asleep. We finally arrived, passing the Santa Julia from last year. We then came to the diocesan guesthouse and I met Ngife my cook and got a wash and meal with Seth and the dean of the Cathedral (Fidel) before bed.

Wed 9th…

Got up about 7.20am. After some prayer I got dressed and had breakfast (fried eggs and toast with jam). Very good – although a little too much. I told Ngife a little less next time! Due to meet Seth approx 9am (Burundi time). Washed teeth and took malaria tablet. Seth came at 9.45am approx and we chatted in the sun for about 2hrs until lunch– spinach, chips and meat – it was lovely. Left the guesthouse at about 2.30pm and made my way towards theological college and diocesan offices etc. Spoke to a few students at TEE for a while and then went to offices where I met a few people from last year including Desree who is in charge of the various projects. Went up to Cathedral and was reminded me a lot again of last year at the 4hr service. For supper, Ejide made us these goujon type things with potato, cheese and vegetables in them – C’est formidable. Seth left and said that Rev. Jean Paul would entertain me tomorrow and also talk about youth work etc.

Thurs 10th…

I set out to find Rev Jean Paul first at the diocesan offices. He was at a meeting. But one of Seth’s sons was playing football so I joined in and soon a very big crowd of Burundian children had converged, eager to show off their plethora of skills. While this was happening I got talking to a man who turned out to be Jean-Paul and we agreed to meet at 3pm. He was very articulate and passionate about his work and told me many things about the aims of the youth work. He worked a lot with the Jesus Soldiers also. He was delighted when I told him I’d be here for 3 months and agreed that I could come and introduce myself at the Jesus Soldiers meeting that afternoon, with me being able to get further involved after that. I gave him some simple books on ‘the boy Jesus’, ‘the good Samaritan’ etc and he handed them out to some people at the meeting, the idea being that they would pass them on when finished.

Everybody there was very warm and friendly. Seth brought me a mobile phone that night and we got that set up pretty quickly.

Fri 11th…

Seth came at 9.30am and until 11.30am we made out a tentative first programme for my time here. Concerning the Kirundi lessons he said that he would do it on Monday mornings. He also asked me what other things would I like to get involved in. I talked about developing preaching skills and working with youth so he suggested that I start coming with him to fellowship groups within local secondary schools and opportunities to preach there would gradually open up.

Sat 12th…

Got some breakfast and updated my journal and put some clothes into Mahora’s basket. I also showed them Janice’s collage of family photograph’s which they enjoyed although I think Egide got the impression I was giving it to him and put it against the wall in the kitchen. If it does stay with him I won’t mind too much. In fairness I tried to leave it with Bishop John last year also but like a boomerang it found its way home!

Went for a walk into Matana Town and all around the diocesan buildings and met a lot of people and exchanged greetings with them. When I got to the town there were a lot of stares. I shook some people’s hands, greeting them in my broken Kirundi and then I started to walk back.

I went up past Desree’s house and then to the school and basketball court. Played basketball with some of the kids there for a while but soon retired due to the heat and also carrying my camera in my shorts.

At around 3pm I contacted Seth about visiting the Secondary school that evening. At 5pm we headed to Rubanga where the church was under scaffolding last year. We didn’t see the church but went to the secondary school, a government school, and there were about 150 kids there eagerly worshipping God. I think Seth said that they weren’t actually expecting him or us and so he didn’t want to disrupt their schedule too much. I got an opportunity to address them and tell them a bit about myself, where I was from etc etc and Seth interpreted.

The worship was extremely powerful and there were addresses concerning the birth of Moses and the man from the caves in Mark’s Gospel before Seth was asked to preach and he spoke powerfully on Daniel 2: 27-28 and the students seemed engrossed. After that and interspersed throughout was praise and then some prayer where people came up to the front either to pray for salvation or for some problems etc. It was a wonderful evening.

Sun 13th…

I wore my suit and walked to the cathedral where I met Jean Paul, Desree and then Seth came as well on his way to Bujumbura. After a while myself and Jean Paul went in and he translated the service for me. There was much singing from the cathedral choir, children’s choir, Jesus Army choir etc. They also welcomed all visitors and asked me with the help of Jean Paul’s interpretation to greet them. There was also congregational singing and some liturgy from the BCP. The sermon was preached about Jesus and the disciples in the boat amongst the storm and the message was to remain in Jesus and also say no to witchdoctors and all similar things.

Mon 14th…

Kirundi lessons, going for walk around Matana schools and gaining quite a following, learning Kirundi from everyone, rotating fellowships with Seth and also fellowship afterwards back at guesthouse. This trip is really getting interesting now and God is moving mightily. Done some preparation work also regarding youth work and I have written down a number of ideas.

Tues 15th…

Well this was the most amazing day yet. Praise God.

I got up quite early again and had a wash and some breakfast. At 9am Seth collected me and as per the programme we made together we headed off to see some projects that were in the pipeline. Predominantly we were concentrating upon Seth’s archdeaconry of Muramba and we visited an area called Kwijuru where the diocesan was planning to build a school.

Seth spoke to a group of men a bit about who I was and what the church were hoping to do and they were very enthused. Seth would like to see it becoming a kind of a retreat centre due to its high platitude.

After this we went to Muramba village where we played parachute last year and I met a lot of the children again. Then we went for a short time of prayer with the pastor and the catechists where we talked and asked each other some questions. We looked at the foundation of their new church which I had seen last year. Some of the foundation was in bad enough repair. They asked me if I would make some suggestions and/or draw up some plans/costs etc for the church to which I said I would. We then proceeded onto another parish in Muramba called Roku. Here the existing church was extremely old and small and in bad repair but they had the idea to build another church on nearby ground. The site was very flat and seemed to be good ground. The pastor said that they had gathered some materials already and asked me if perhaps I could draw up some plans and costs for the foundations. I will need to go back sometime soon and get some measurements.

We then got home for some dinner and both myself and Seth were quite tired and hungry so the food went down a treat. I then went and played basketball with some young guys at the court. It was a great game and soon a big crowd formed with all the small children cheering on the mzungo. Played reasonably well. At 6pm, we went round for a fellowship in the Dean’s house and we sang some praise and studied some from the Bible. They also asked me to tell them about myself and so I did. They all seemed concerned about the forthcoming election and what they should do or indeed what the outcome was going to be. Much prayer required.

Wed 16th…

Seth got the internet set up on my computer. I met Jean Paul and told him of ideas for youth work. Martin from Germany who we met last year came around and we talked for a while. He also said that he had rigged up a bit of a screen in the theological college and although the quality was bad we could watch some of the World Cup.

Please continue to keep Alastair in your prayers over the coming weeks. To subscribe to this blog and receive updates when new blogs are posted, please click here.

Useful links:

For more information on Burundi, click here.

For more information about CMS Ireland’s STEP programme, click here.

For current opportunities with Global Partners, click here.


Lynda Baxter said Fri, 18 Jun 2010 11:26PM
Delighted to read your news Alastair. You seem to be settling in well and already have made quite an impression. I`m sure you are a great encouragement to Seth etc. I know God has equipped you for whatever you are called upon to do. You are an amazing man of God and I know you will be used mightily by Him as you serve the brothers and sisters in Burundi. Please be assured of my continued love and prayers. Blessings, Lynda.
Victor said Mon, 21 Jun 2010 10:45PM
Hey bro, like a duck to water. wish i was there, i'm sure the crack is mighty dead on. Sounds like you're settling in and fitting in so well. All this is sure proof that the Lord is mighty and good. Love from everyone here in the Epiphany, Imana Shimwe ps glad your luggage arrived safely lol
Jan said Sun, 04 Jul 2010 07:26PM
Hey wee bro (or bigger bro) What a lovely diary update - so glad to hear of all this good work - amazing! Also glad 2hear of your feast of Spinach - now if I give you that at home you would turn your nose up at it as it is one of Jan's regular foods. Indeed I think I may have fed it to you before - haha. I'm also glad they liked the photo collage - it could mightily be done with a good update - like soon! Indeed some new photos could be doing with being taken - r family r too camera shy. Anyways great to hear of the blessings God is directing to Burundi - take care and God Bless xx

Add your own comment