Wednesday's excursion was to Giteranyi, the farthest part of the diocese, in the corner of northern Burundi where there are borders with Tanzania and Rwanda. Giteranyi was largely evacuated during the civil war and now there is a constant flow of people returning from refuge, mainly from Tanzania, and resettling. Giteranyi is also Bishop Sixbert's birthplace.
Our journey took us through the Diocese of Muyinga, where we were warmly welcomed by Bishop Eraste Bigirimana. We learned that Bishop Eraste and Bishop Sixbert had studied together in seminary, even sharing the same room, and had been consecrated together in the same service. They were clearly old friends. Bishop Sixbert said they were twin bishops because of their joint consecration.
|Bishop Jane signs the Guestbook|
We travelled nearly to the border of Tanzania, and then turned to follow the frontier toward Giteranyi. On the way we made a quick stop to visit the parish of Emmanuel. I remembered the pastor, Papias, from my previous visit, and was touched to see him wearing a Diocese of Edmonton pin.
He welcomed us into his church and into his home for a drink and a prayer. Then we were on our way again.
Our next stop was the Kimeza farm. This project is an extraordinary operation. The farm employs over 300 people who work on raising banana seedlings of an improved variety. They also produce organic fertilizer which is used on the farm and in the surrounding area to replenish the depleted soil.
|Workers at Kimeza Farm|
The banana seedlings are distributed among the local populace, enabling them to produce bananas at a commercial level instead of simply for their own subsistence. And by working together, people from different ethnic groups develop trust and co-operation, which helps build a peaceful and harmonious community. Kimeza farm is truly a success story in the ministry of the diocese of Buyé.
|Workers at Kimeza Farm|
Reaching Giteranyi we were welcomed with singing and drumming at Bishop Sixbert's home parish. Bishop Sixbert introduced us to the assembled group and Bishop Jane expressed her joy at being among these wonderful people and told them that people from Edmonton are praying for them and send their love as brothers and sisters in Christ.
Next we visited Bishop Sixbert's primary school at Gakoni. The children were overwhelmed with excitement as we drove up. We stepped out of the car into a sea of children.
Bishop Jane was the star of the visit. The children were not the least bit shy in showing their curiosity about her white skin and her hair.
We met a group of grade six students and both bishops addressed the class.
Finally, we set out for home along the long and bumpy dirt roads. We all sighed in relief when we got to the main paved highway.
It was another beautiful and memorable day.