There is no fast food in Kibuye

By Michelle

Hello Everyone! I thought I’d give you a glimpse into what life is like here on a daily basis when it comes to food preparation. Julie wrote a great post on this topic (Kibuye Kitchens) but I'll touch on some different elements. 

Food shopping:

There are no supermarkets in Burundi and the only “store” closest to us is in Gitega. While our food choices are limited, we are thankful to have food and to eat on a daily basis. Sadly, with many of those in our community this is not the case. 

Each week we place a produce / food order that looks like this:

I have found that meal planning is a must when one is limited to getting food once a week. If you run out of something midweek, you usually can borrow from your neighbor. But on the plus side, this gives us women a chance to communicate on a daily basis. 

The food arrives in a basket like this. 

There is a market behind the hospital that has a few options such as eggs, tomatoes, avocados, onions, pineapple, and carrots.


The food options here are seasonal. If something is not in season, then you wait until it is. The last few months we had lettuce in the garden: 

But now that it’s been used up we need to wait until more grows before eating salads again. It definitely teaches you to be patient and to be thankful for what you have!


Milk is delivered a few times a week: When it arrives you need to cook it for a period of time, then let it cool and strain it before putting it in the refrigerator. The availability of fresh cow milk is a recent luxury for which we are very thankful. 
In Gitega we can can buy bags of floursugar, and rice. If you want any kind of bread product, you or your house helper needs to make it from scratch. There's nothing like freshly made bread!

The cheese we can buy comes in wheels and is made in Congo. It's not always the best quality but we are thankful to have cheese! 

It is very difficult to buy meat other than goat meat in our area. There is a butchery in the capital that has more options so we have found that if one has the freezer space it's best to stock up and eat sparingly.

Our team has put together a cookbook that uses mostly the limited ingredients we are able to get. Check it out! There are some gems in there!

Kibuye Cookbook

Speciality meals: For Christmas, Carlan and I made a lasagna with cheese we had made from scratch, freshly made pasta noodles, sauce from scratch, and herbs grown in our garden. It took a lot a work but it was worth it!

Kibuye gourmet: Fried Termites. For those with a strong stomach there is always something new to try.

Conclusion: Each time we buy food, we are thankful for the hard work of many that had to grow, pick and transport this product by manual labor:


Beautiful Burundi

(from Eric, with help from everyone)

Burundi, like anywhere else, is a mixture of brokenness and beauty, of glory and shadow.  And this blog has told its share of tragedies.  Today, however, we'd like to honor the goodness and the wonder that is around us in Burundi, country of a thousand hills, country that reflects the glory of its Maker.

So here's a feast of photos that we've collected over the years.  There are two focal points here.  The first is the beautiful green landscape.  The second is the beautiful people of Burundi.  Over the years that we have been here, the people of Burundi have been examples to us of joy, love, enduring forgiveness, hard work, undying hope, intelligence, and great kindness.  We have seen faith and self-sacrifice that we pray that God will enable us to emulate.

VoilĂ !  Beautiful Burundi:


Heroes Come In All Sizes, or, How Guinea Pigs Exemplify Christ

by Carlan

[Trigger warning: this post involves a story about experimentation using animals. To skip to the spiritual lessons learned, skip down to "Heroines #1".]

Sherlock Holmes statue in London (courtesy: Wikimedia Commons)
I read the adventures and further adventures of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's most famous character when I was in elementary school. If I learned one thing from Sherlock Holmes it was to be observant. So when we lost three patients in two days, only one of which I expected to die, I wanted to know why. Often we do not have enough information to accurately diagnose our patients' diseases and causes of death are no different. These cases were no exception. One presented very late with miliary tuberculosis (pretty sure of that diagnosis based on the X-ray), one had terminal renal failure and heart failure, and another had passed out after drinking too much on Christmas and started complaining of back and abdominal pain. Disparate cases, to be sure. But all had received Ceftriaxone within 6 hrs of dying (for concurrent pneumonia, urinary tract infection, and febrile diarrhea in the setting of leukopenia, respectively).

Could the Ceftriaxone injections be implicated in the timing of these patient deaths? A bad batch? A problem of labelling in the factory? Some toxic transformation while in transit or sitting on our pharmacy shelves? The imagination can run wild, but we needed data. One cannot make bricks without clay.

At my hospital in California, I could talk to the pharmacy committee and we might send a sample to be confirmed in a reference lab with mass spectroscopy and other advanced chemistry. In a land where 90% of the population farms without tractors or plows, that won't work. What would Sherlock Holmes do?

We could inject a healthy volunteer with Ceftriaxone and watch what happens. I could never ask a patient or colleague to consent to this, given that there is a risk that the Ceftriaxone was contaminated with a fatal poison, so I would need to be the volunteer. But wait...could a goat stand in the place of the volunteer? I would ask Silas, our chaplain who is also a veterinarian and pig farmer.

An experiment must have documentation.
Silas recommended we choose a more diminutive species. Could we find some "cobayes" to use? I did not know that word in French, so I asked about rabbits while looking it up in my dictionary. We have some rabbits on campus. That would be OK, according to my friend Silas, but we could probably find some cobayes even in the community around Kibuye. Alors! I found that word in the dictionary: guinea pigs. We have guinea pigs on campus too. I would need the permission from some kids before using their pets as guinea pigs for a science experiment.

Our multi-talented chaplain, missionary kid, and guinea pig "volunteers."
Heroines #1: our team kids. With a healthy amount of trepidation, a surgeon's daughter agreed that she could furnish three guinea pigs for this experiment knowing that it could save patients' lives. This pre-adolescent girl already had internalized the central ethical tenet that allows me to support animal research for healthcare - human life, as bearing the image of God, is more precious than animal life.

Heroines #2: those guinea pigs. As I was talking with this heroine, we both realized the connection between Christmas and these research subjects. They were risking their lives to save others. It might be a stretch to say that the guinea pigs were willing to die to save others, but they were standing in the place of myself and my patients so that we would not be exposed to a certain risk.

In any case, I'm glad to report that all three guinea pigs came through the process fine and dandy. Eliminating the impossible, I'm concluding that these patients died of their diseases and not our treatments. Thanks guinea pigs! Thanks intrepid missionary kids! But most of all, thank you Jesus, for absorbing not only risk, but wrath rightly deserved, for me and so many of our patients and colleagues.
Alive and well after 100 mg/kg of Ceftriaxone. Yay for guinea pigs!


The McCropders Officially Turn 10!

By John Cropsey
The day the McCropders officially decided to become a team!
Global Missions Health Conference, Louisville, KY 2007
Before the year 2017 comes to a close, I felt I needed to make an important observation: 
Our team turned 10 years old in 2017!!! 
Baby McCropders on first arrival in Africa.  Can you guess who they are? 
Here's a hint, each kid is being held by their McCropder mommy? 

We've been through a lot since first meeting in 2002, be it the rigors of medical school and residency, the steep learning curve on arrival in Africa as part of World Medical Mission's Post-Residency Program, or the lows of becoming like pre-schoolers again as language learners not once, but twice, in France and again in Burundi.  

John and Eric along with friends at Christmas from medical school in 2002
before they knew their lives would become inextricably inter-twined over the next 15 years! 
We've lived together through attempted coups, counter coups, fuel shortages, flash floods, relentless bed bug epidemics, multiple mass guinea pig atrocities from plague and predator alike, Banga's green soup, countless tragedies and triumphs at the hospital and the list goes on and on.
Great memories like John and Jason's epic adventure "conquering" the Chepkulo on old inner-tubes. 
We've also witnessed scores of young, bright doctors graduate from medical school and tens of thousands of patients treated.  We've made friendships with people from all over the world and we've built a community amongst ourselves like few on this earth will ever be privileged to experience.
Some of our proud medical school Grads!  
N.B. - Africans typically don't smile for formal pictures like this, but trust me, they really are happy:)
Children playing together after being treated for the potentially deadly eye cancer, retinoblastoma
The highs have been high, and the lows have been low, but we've done it all together.  It has been special.  I couldn't imagine doing life with a more talented, wonderful group of friends, mentors and colleagues.  

Here's to each of you, my incredible teammates!  A special thanks to the McLaughlins for being the life blood behind this blog and helping us all tell our story so thoughtfully for the past 10 years.

We give God the glory for all of this.  We certainly couldn't do this work on our own without our Heavenly Father giving us an amazing support team from all over the globe, giving us strength when we feel we can go no further and giving us grace upon grace to live with each other so closely. 

Thanks for following along on our journey.  If you've been following our team from the very beginning, we'd love for you to send us a "Happy Birthday" comment on the blog.  We'd love to hear who you are and how this blog has impacted you.

Wishing you and yours all the best in 2018!


Kibuye Christmas Pageant (video)

By Logan

Twice a week, over 150 chronically malnourished children, along with their mothers and perhaps a couple brothers and sisters, make the long walk to Kibuye to receive a cup of warm fortified porridge called Busoma and a small sack of the nutritious flour to take back home with them. 

Last week, they also received something else -- a special performance of the Christmas story by the kids of Kibuye Hope Academy. The children have been working very hard on this Christmas pageant for several weeks now — rehearsing during music class, as well as in French and Kirundi classes, and even working on their singing, dancing, or speaking lines after school let out. 

Under Julie’s direction, and with the added musical talents of Michelle Wendler, the kids sang songs, danced, and shared the message of the hope of Christmas with over 500 people at the hospital on Friday. Ella Sund told the story in French, and Anna Fader spoke in Kirundi. 

They first performed at the outpatient malnutrition Busoma program, then performed a second time in a courtyard adjacent to the hospital. I was rounding in the Pediatrics ward at the time that they were setting up for the second performance, and there was a rustle of excitement that went through the hospital. Everyone that was healthy enough went outside to see what was going on. Most of the patients on my ward (and therefore, my rounding team as well) decided to take a break from rounding and went outside so we could all watch the show. 

Here is a video I took of the second performance. Julie introduces the group and describes what they are going to present. Silas, one of the hospital chaplains, translates into Kirundi for her. After it is finished, she also shares the gospel in a simple way and invites anyone who wants to know more to speak with the chaplains. I am so proud of the work that the kids and teachers put into sharing the love and hope of Jesus’ coming with the hospital community. They scheduled two more performances this holiday season: one yesterday at the local elementary school (pic below), and finally at our local Kibuye church service on Christmas Eve. 

Here are a few pictures of the first performance at Busoma, and some of the second as well.  While I thought that they all did a great job, I was surprised to also find myself impacted emotionally as I watched first the angels, then the shepherds, and then the wise men, all bowing down before the newborn king of kings. Especially as they sang “Noel, Noel” in three different languages.  I thought about how we will one day bow before the throne, along with people from every tongue, tribe, and nation. 

And at the local elementary school yesterday...