Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Community Day

John Gee, a member of the Diocese of Edmonton, is currently in Burundi, working in the Diocese of Buye for a three-month stint. We welcome this guest post to the blog.

On Saturday I helped out at a Community Works project. Every Saturday, all over Burundi, people volunteer to work on infrastructure projects in their local communities. Originally the purpose was to rebuild what was destroyed in the civil war, but now that has largely been accomplished and new projects are being tackled.

I was working on construction of a new local government office in Buye, near the cathedral. We were pouring the concrete floor slab. Pouring concrete is not the same in Burundi as it is in Canada. There is no cement truck. The concrete is mixed in a shallow pit in the ground. Most of us formed a human chain to carry the wet concrete in plastic containers to where it needed to go. There were hundreds of people there, many of whom engaged in energetic singing and dancing to keep up the energy level. Bishop Sixbert participated, and the president of Burundi, who is Anglican and originally from Buye, was supposed to put in an appearance but was delayed. His advance guard did show up and helped mix concrete.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

A wedding in Burundi

John Gee, a member of the Diocese of Edmonton, is currently in Burundi, working in the Diocese of Buye for a three-month stint. We welcome this guest post to the blog.

My first activity on arrival in Burundi was attending the wedding of Bishop Sixbert’s niece. A wedding here is an elaborate affair that goes on for at least two days.

On the first evening we had the “give-away” which is hosted by the bride’s family, in this case the bishop. The groom’s family is expected to provide a payment to compensate for the loss of the bride’s services to her family. Originally the payment took the form of cows. Now it is a large basket of fruit with a small basket of money hidden inside. Before it is presented, there is a protracted negotiation over the price with lots of humour and innuendo. Eventually agreement is reached and the bride is produced. Then everyone joins in feasting and celebration.

The actual wedding is the next day. In Burundi the civil and religious ceremonies are separate. First the couple attend at the municipal office for the civil marriage. Then everyone goes to the church for the service. It is a full liturgy with communion; the order is immediately recognizable to Canadian Anglicans even though it is conducted in Kurundi. However, the congregation participates more actively, interrupting with applause and “Amen” at every opportunity.

After that is the reception, hosted by the groom’s family. The couple come into the hall through a ceremonial arch and adorn each other with jewellery. The cake cutting is similar to what would happen in Canada. Then there are many speeches and incredibly beautiful traditional dancing. The festivities carry on through the night, but my hosts thoughtfully didn’t make me stay for the whole thing.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Catching up

The following few posts are a late addition to the blog to catch up with the last few days of the visit of Bishop Sixbert, Clotilde, the Reverend Dominique, and Canon Bibiane to the Diocese of Edmonton in June.

A Day in the Countryside

Wednesday, 11 June, we visited Camrose. Archdeacon Jacques Vaillancourt welcomed us to St Andrew's Church where we opened our worship by planting a tree for reconciliation with Aboriginal People. The tree had been blessed by the two bishops at the Pentecost service.

Jingle Dancer

After a wonderful lunch, we visited three farms where we saw


and Sheep

and lovely people!
It was a lovely day for a visit to the countryside!

We relaxed with our hosts over a splendid meal before piling into our cars for the journey home. Thursday we would bide farewell to our firends from Burundi, as they would embark on the long journey home filled with memories, and leaving us with a sense of shared joy at their visit.


Tuesday, 10 June, we met with John Gee, a member of the Diocese of Edmonton who is pursuing studies in Theology and International Development. John will be spending a few months in the Diocese of Buyé.

Next we had lunch at Augie's Cafe, an outreach ministry of St Augustine's Church, in Spruce Grove.

Finally, we had a chance to play tourist a bit, and shop at the West Edmonton Mall.


Monday, 9 June, we visited Edmonton City hall and met Mayor Don Iveson, who graciously welcomed our visitors to the city. While at the City Hall we also visited the Kids in the Hall cafe and learned about this social enterprise and its impact on its young employees.

Next, we visited St Faith's and St Stephen's parishes and Prayerworks Common, hearing about some of the programmes these two parishes offer in one of the more disadvantaged neighbourhoods of Edmonton.

Later, we visited the Inner City Pastoral Ministry and the Bissell Centre, where the Rev Rick Chapman explained his work with impoverished and homeless clients.

The day ended at the Royal Alberta Museum, where our guests learned about the flora and fauna of Alberta, as well as about the indigenous people of the province.