Noeli Nziza WECC!

Noeli Nziza, West End,  from Burundi!

Our team just celebrated our fourth Burundian Christmas and I love our developing team holiday traditions - a combination of traditions from our families, from America, and from Burundi. I forgot just how busy the Christmas season is - even in Burundi - with so many fun celebrations with various groups (see pictures below). And incorporating family and American traditions takes a little bit more effort here - making homemade presents, planning far in advance to import special ingredients - or figuring out substitutions, waiting for the painfully slow internet to load a page in order to send presents to US family, waking up in the middle of the night to download a new Christmas music album (when the internet is faster), bringing decorations in suitcases or making them with local materials. I remember when my family lived in South Texas that people seemed to attempt to compensate for the lack of snow and seasonal signs of Christmas by going overboard with lights and decorations. It’s a little bit like that here for the missionary families. The stakes seem a little higher and we try to compensate for missing family and friends and snow in various ways.

But of course there are inevitable disappointments in that - a lost suitcase filled with Christmas gifts, special sausage gone bad, missing a party due to unforseen interruptions and delays, a failed recipe, power/water/internet outages at inopportune times, etc. I was thinking of Mary and Joseph and their experiences with disappointment 2000 years ago - a pregnant fiancé, two unexpected journeys far from family (to Bethlehem and Egypt), the Son of God born in a stable with only animals and shepherds to greet him, etc. And then a few years later the disciples expressed their disappointment that Jesus didn’t overthrow the Romans and bring freedom from their captivity.

But the truth was that God was doing so much more than they realized. He was bringing a much greater and lasting freedom not only for them but for the whole world, including the Romans. He was demonstrating His love and welcome of all people - shepherds and wise men alike - and His upside down gospel of bringing great salvation and brilliant light into darkness by quietly and humbly entering our world and our hearts. He is always doing so much more than we realize - and that’s a hope and comfort to me in small Christmas disappointments and in the bigger challenges of severely malnourished patients and too-tiny babies and kids dying of preventable & treatable illnesses. And despite a few glitches along the way, through God’s graciousness, I truly had a fabulous Christmas in Burundi full of joy! I hope Christmas was a time of peace, hope, and joy for you, too. 

Did you hear our team’s big news? Our surgeon Dr. Jason Fader was awarded the first $500,000 L’Chaim grant! Here’s the video announcement. 

That money will be primarily used to complete a new surgical ward and purchase necessary orthopedic surgery equipment. But lest you think that means there are no opportunities for you to contribute to our work in Burundi with your year end gifts this year, here are a couple options for you to consider:

  1. Our hospital feeding program is almost out of funding. In the hungriest country in the world, it’s important for our patients to be fed at least two nutritious meals per day to help with their healing and general health. We’d like to expand that to three meals per day soon. We also continue to see over 150 kids twice per week in our outpatient malnutrition program and we need increased funding to provide the high protein porridge and eggs for them. To donate to these nutrition programs, click here and write “feeding program” in the memo line.
  2. My sending agency Serge needs additional funding for missionary care. I may be biased, but I think they provide the best missionary care of any missions agency! Our team has greatly benefitted from their support over the years through helping us work through growing pains with team conflict, team member health problems, administrative guidance, and spiritual encouragement and renewal through retreats and mentoring. Serge is growing by leaps and bounds, but the finances aren’t quite keeping up. To help them with missionary care, click here.
  3. As I mentioned in my last update letter, it’s not too early to contribute to our new pediatric ward. We hope to begin construction on this new 80 bed building by the end of 2017. To contribute, click here and write “pediatric ward” in the memo line. 

Thanks so much for your continued prayers and support. Happy New Year!


Alyssa Pfister