Tuesday, July 21

From Africa to Alaska

Ok...so she really flew here from Seattle since she's in America for the summer and living in the Tri-Cities near her family, but most of the year she lives in Burundi, a small country in Africa.

Meet my cousin Alex.  She's one of the most mature and inspiring 22 year olds I have ever met.  God planted a dream in her heart at a very young age and she has cradled that dream and seen it come to fruition.  She'll tell you herself that it hasn't always been easy, but she continues to listen and follow His plans for her.  Spend five minutes with her talking about her life in Africa, her fiance there, and her kids at their school and you'll know how deep her love and commitment to them runs.  You can read some of her thoughts about this journey on her blog, Reaching the Ends of the Earth.

Alex and her fiance Etienne run Bujumbura Bright Beginnings School (BBS), a preschool in Kabezi, Burundi which is a village just outside the capital city of Bujumbura.  Alex and Etienne work through the organization Youth With a Mission (specifically YWAM Burundi) to run their school.  Burundi is a country that few have heard of.  It's the second poorest country in the world, where most families live on less than $1.25 each day.  For many of the kids at BBS, their meal at school is the only meal they get during the day.  Preschool aged kiddos are actually expected to find their own food through foraging, fishing, and catching small birds.  Burundi was still recovering from a 12 year civil war (1993-2005) when they were thrown into turmoil once again this spring by a president seeking an unlawful third term.  It's a very tough place to be--a place that needs people like Alex and Etienne to show God's love.  A place that needs our prayer and support.

Alex came to America this summer to tell people about BBS, visit family and friends, and avoid being in Bujumbura during this time of upheaval and violence.  Do a quick Google search of 'Burundi News' and you'll see it's not a safe place right now.  Alex isn't letting that get her down, even though it means she's half a world away from her fiance!  She's using this time to teach people about Burundi and its people.  We invited her to come to Whittier to teach us and our small fishing community about a very different small fishing community on the other side of the globe.  I am so very glad she accepted!

Alex had been to Alaska as a young girl, but she seemed to enjoy visiting as a young lady as well!  We took her on all sorts of Alaskan adventures.  We visited the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center...


...we went beachcombing at low tide...



...to the Iditarod Headquarters up in Wasilla...



...we drank hot chocolate on a cold, rainy day and celebrated National Ice Cream Day on a sunny day...


...we got her hooked on salmon spread and jumping in the cold water...


...we went hiking, adventuring, and exploring...


....we got to Skype with Etienne back in Rwanda (he's left Burundi for a bit as well)...


We had a great time, and we sure hope you enjoyed your time in Alaska, Alex!  Thank you so much for coming and sharing your love for Africa with us.  You've planted a seed in our hearts and in the hearts of many of  our Whittier friends as well.  You're in our prayers...

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Our family sponsors this beautiful smile at BBS...


There are still kiddos who need a sponsor for the upcoming school year.  Despite the political upheaval, BBS is prayerfully planning for the fall.  For $25 you can provide a meal and a Christ-centered preschool experience for one of these adorable loves.  I wish I could find her 'before' picture...her smile wasn't nearly so bright before BBS started loving on her!  You can also choose to support Alex.  She doesn't earn an income at the preschool, so she relies on support from people like us to meet her needs while she works with her team to provide a safe school experience for 40 kids.  I hope you'll pray for the school, staff, and students.  God is clearly at work in this place!

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