Isaiah 6:8

And then I heard the voice of the Lord say, "Whom shall I send? Who will go for us?" I spoke up. "I'll go. Send me!"

~ Isaiah 6:8



Friday, October 28, 2011


Today has been a bittersweet day. We are saying good-bye to our Burundian friends that we have been with all week. We also welcomed back the ALARM team from Gitega. It was great to see them and hear the stories of their week.

We were hosted a farewell dinner by Freddy and the team at Youth For Christ. We were greeted and entertained by the Burundi Drummers. If you've never seen them, search for them on You Tube. They are awesome!

We were then treated to a feast of rice, plantains, peas, beef, broth, fish, pineapple and bananas. We were offered coke, citron Fanta or water.

We closed in prayers for each other and lots of farewell hugs.

We ended the evening meeting as a team discussing our strategy for getting 17 team members, 25 bags and lots of souvenirs to the airport.

It's been an amazing week!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Thursday evening

tonight, we gathered as an entire team (minus the ALARM team who is still in Gitega) to discuss our experiences this week. Here's a glimpse of what was shared:

The Video Team (now known as The Paparazzi Team): We were originally concerned what the Burundians would think about them coming in with their expensive equipment taking pictures of them. Have felt nothing but welcomed and have received great smiles and warm handshakes. We are happy to be telling the Burundians story so that others will know about them and may be willing to help.

Discovery School: The children are just adorable and we love to see them smile but there's also a sadness in them. Teachers have all seen miracles, including experiencing the war. They live in homes with dirt floors yet are so trusting in God, so full. We feel that we have nothing to give them. When you listen to them sing, see how much they love God and how authentic, natural and unpretentious they are. It's humbling to teach them when they already are so full. We feel almost envious for what they have in their spiritual lives. We know have the chance to be inspired and transformed by this experience and share it with others.

Tent Team: Going to the tents where we had to park and walk in to the villages and see where they live was truly humbling. It also made us thankful for what we have when we see how others live. Our relationship with God is so much stronger having come on this trip.

Orphan Care: We are so struck by how great the Burundians faith is in comparison to ours. Also struck by how similar we are. We have had discussions here with Burundian women similar to those with other women in the states, like raising our children, managing a household. We are much more similar than we are different.

One of the challenges we all share is how we will see things differently when we return to the US. We are called to continue our spirit of service to folks in our own country. We all want to try to be inspired and hopefully emulate the Burundians great faith, especially when they have so little and we have so much.

We are so grateful to our Burundian hosts for the hospitality, their generosity, their sharing of their faith and their value of presence. We have learned so much from our brothers and sisters.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Wednesday Morning

The teams arrived back from Gitega last night and all the teams were enjoying sharing their experiences with each other.

The Discovery School team (Bonnie, joy, Matt, Karen and Traci) had a great 2 days at Discovery School. Monday was spent touring the Primary School, the Deaf School, the clinic and the training area. They saw an 8- hour old baby at the clinic.

Each day, the Discovery School teachers start their day with a time of worship and singing in harmony and the team got to join them. All of the teachers speak English, Kirundi, Swahili and French. Tueday, the team taught 60 3- year-olds the story of David and Goliath. That night, one of the teachers hosted a dinner at their home for the team. They had cassava, goat, plantains, pasta, frieds, rice, fish, Fanta and Coke. It was a huge feast, even by American standards.

The ALARM team (Jeannette, Lacy and Courtney)are teaching 40 adults, several women with babies on their backs. The worship and singing was amazing! They are teaching the adults why and how to teach children. Monday ended with a rousing game of UNO with the video team.

The Orphan Care team (Lisa, Donna and JP) and the Tent Team (David, Heidi and Annabelle) traveled to Gitega. On the way, they stopped along with the ALARM team to visit Pastor Onesphore's tent in Muramvya. He uses this tent to serve members of the Batwa tribe, the most marginalized and ostracized of Africa. It was amazing to see all that they are doing for these people: feeding porridge once a day, a primary school for the children and a clinic was under construction. It was so special that Lacy got to meet Onesphore. Her life group sponsored this tent and they have been praying for and emailing each other for the past year.

They also visited Homes of Hope, where they have 4 homes of 8 orphans and a mom, the size of an average Burundian family. They also have a primary school, a treated water system for the community's use and a clinic in progress. The teams were able to have dinner with the children and after dinner, the children prayed for the team members. It was truly special. On Tuesday, they taught the teachers and the children. On the way back to Bujumbura, the team visited a memorial where 100 university students were murdered during the civil war.

The video team (Carl and Eric) traveled to Gitega with the ALARM, Orphan Care and Tent teams. They visited the tents in both Muramvya and Gitega, teaching with the ALARM team and Homes of Hope. They covered LOTS of ground over the past few days.

It's been an amazing 2 days! We are grateful to God for all the blessings we've experienced and to you for your thoughts and prayers.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Monday Morning

Another great night's sleep. Everyone is up and ready to depart for their various ministries.

Discovery School (Bonnie, Matt, Joy, Traci and Karen) left at an early 6:30am to go to Discovery School here in Bujumbura. They will be teaching and having fun with the children who attend this primary school. They will return to the hotel late this afternoon.

The ALARM Team (Jeanette, Courtney and Lacy) are leaving this morning for Gitega, where they will teach natives how to teach Sunday School. They will remain in Gitega all week and re-join the team on Friday afternoon.

The Orphan Care Exploration team (Lisa, Donna and JP) are also leaving today for Gitega, where they will visit Homes of Hope and see how they are recreating family for orphans. They will return on Tuesday.

The Tent Team (David, Heidi and Annabelle) are also going to Gitega. They will visit 2 tents that they delivered last year as well as visit Homes of Hope. They will return on Tuesday.

Our wonderful video team (Carl and Eric) are also traveling to Gitega. They will visit one of the tents and Homes of Hope on Monday and the ALARM team teachings on Tuesday. They will return Tuesday.

We most likely will not have connectivity so we may not be able to update our blog again until Tuesday evening. Please keep us all in your thoughts and prayers as we seek and do God's will for our Burundian brothers and sisters.


A Great Sunday!

We have had a great day today. We all experienced an amazing worship service at Life Church of Burundi in Bujumbura. It was very touching when they began singing worship songs in English, provided interpreters for us and acknowledged our visit from the stage. One of the verses read was very appropriate.n it was Hebrews 13:16: "And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased."

After the 3-hour church service, we came back to the Hotel for lunch together. Each of the teams met this afternoon to make plans for our ministries that begin tomorrow morning. We are ending the day with a meal and a discussion about what our purpose is here and what type of impression we want to leave.

The ALARM team will leave tomorrow at 9:00 for Gitega. We will be leading a conference for church leaders on how to teach children in the church. Courtney, Lacy and Jeanette would appreciate your prayers for travel mercies, active participants,and that we will be open to God's plan for our experience. Thank you all for your support and for reading our blog! We will be out of touch until Friday. Then we will post some of our favorite memories!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Sunday Morning

Arrived tired but in good spirits. Slept well, very well. Grateful for the opportunity to serve the beautiful people of Burundi. Thunderstorm last night. Great lightning show! We are waiting to eat our breakfast this morning: paper-thin "omelet" with bread, fruit, coffee (great coffee!) and tea. It's taken an hour for the first people to be served. Then we will spend the next 3 hours experiencing Burundi church service.

Tomorrow the Discovery School team looks forward to meeting all the children and showering them with love. Please keep us all in your thoughts and prayers. 143!

Alarm team is looking forward to heading to Gitega tomorrow, about 2 hours away. Weather is a little cooler (relatively speaking). Everyone is in good health and feeling well. Hallelujah!

The Tent team looks forward to traveling to Gitega tomorrow and ministering to the children and adults at the tents.

Orphan care exploration is excited to view Homes of Hope in Gitega. They are recreating family life for children without parents: 8 children and house parents - the average size of a Burundian family.

Our video team is traveling to Gitega and looking forward to documenting our experiences and the wonderful Burundian people.

The entire Burundi team is healthy, in good spirits and incredibly grateful to be here. Thank you for your prayers and well wishes.

We Have Arrived!

After 30 hours of travel and a do-over on the final landing, Team Burundi has arrived, minus 5 bags yet in good spirits. As I am typing this, we are gathered at Hotel Amahoro cafe waiting on our "beef". It may take up to an hour for the food to come, but it gives us time for fellowship and planning for tomorrow's church visits. Although we are all very tired, we are energized by the work we've been called to do here. We appreciate all of the prayers and well wishes from our family and friends.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Meet this year's Burundi Team!

In four months we will travel to Burundi!  It is amazing to think that in 120 days we will be leaving!  Thank you all for visiting our blog, praying for us and supporting us!  Here are some of our team mates who will be in country with us:

Lisa Allen is traveling to Burundi for the second time.  The first time she traveled as a volunteer.  This time, she represents Forest Hill Church as the Ministry Director for Hope For Burundi as one of FHC's long term initiatives.  She looks forward to renewing relationships with her brothers and sisters in Africa as well as meeting new friends.  Her verse is Isaiah 52:7 "How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation..."
Prior to being able to work from home and raise her two daughters, Traci Millea was a Social Worker for twelve years working with children in foster care.  Her heart has always been to serve children and she has known for a long time that one day God would call her to serve others on an overseas trip.  Traci never knew where or when until now.  God has been tugging at her heart and He has made it clear to Traci that the time is now and the place is Africa.  Traci will be working with our partners on the ground in Burundi through the Discovery School program, and she couldn't be more excited!   Traci has been reminded many times of Mark 5:36 "Don't be afraid, just trust me." With all her excitement, there certainly comes fear, and with fear Traci knows she must trust God.  Traci’s prayer request is for God to prepare her heart for her visit and bless her efforts as she serves His people.  Please pray for our safe travels and that we are prepared to do His work.

This will be Jeanette Reber's second trip to Burundi to work with A.L.A.R.M. and teaching natives how to teach children about Jesus through Sunday School.  She is excited about returning to the country that she has been given such great passion for.  Jeanette asks for prayers for safety, travel mercies, and for the participants who will attend the conference.  Jeanette's favorite Bible verse is Jeremiah 29:11-13 ~ "For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart."

This is Lacy Seawell's first mission trip and first time to Africa.  She is extremely excited about and grateful for this opportunity God has led her to!  Lacy grew up in Greensboro, NC but has lived in Charlotte for the majority of the last 11 years.  Lacy currently works for Bank of America and loves to train for local sprint triathlons.  She loves to visit her parents in Blowing Rock, spending time with her sisters, brother-in-law and nephews as well as hanging out with her life group girls and other amazing friends in Charlotte.  Lacy's prayer request is
that the group stays focused on God's will for the time spent in Burundi...whatever He has planned!

Lacy's favorite Bible verse - Psalm 139 ~
You have searched me, LORD, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, LORD, know it completely. You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,  too lofty for me to attain.

Sissy Sheltra  believes the Lord put a desire for the people of Burundi in her heart so she could shine for Him.  On this trip, Sissy will be working with the children of Burundi at the Discovery School team and she is very excited to see what God has in store for her!
Sissy’s favorite verse is: Matthew 5: 14-16 ‘You are the light of the world.  A city located on a hill cannot be hidden.  People do not light a lamp and put it under a basket but on a lamp stand and it gives light to all in the house.’

Laura Snow is the proud mother of 5 boys!  Toben (18), Dalton (17), Chance (7), Michael (6) and Charlie (1) are her special blessings from God .This will be Laura’s second trip to Burundi, Africa.  Laura works at Forest Hill Church in the Global Missions area and with By Grace Alone ministries.  Laura’s favorite verse is  Micah 6:8 - He has shown you, O man, what is good.  And what does the LORD require of you?  To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

Bonnie Torrence worked as a full time Senior Diabetes Sales Specialist for Amylin Pharmaceuticals.  She is currently working to earn her Masters in Divinity to become a Chaplain. In her free time, Bonnie likes to go running, do yoga, travel and spend time with her husband and 2 pugs.
Bonnie’s favorite scriptures are Psalm 121 ~ I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip— he who watches over you will not slumber;  indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The LORD watches over you— the LORD is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. The LORD will keep you from all harm— he will watch over your life; the LORD will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.
Please pray for safety and staying healthy. Pray the children we serve see and expierence Jesus through being with us.

Matt and Joy Hopkins are originally from Pittsburgh, PA.  We moved to Charlotte 5 years ago.  The friends that we have made at Forest Hill have made Charlotte our new home!  Family and friends are very important to both of us. Matt works in marketing and Joy is a Physician Assistant. We have both been on short term missions trips in our younger days. Last year we felt a calling to go to Burundi so that we could invest in the lives of others. We feel that God has blessed us so richly that we needed to pass His provision on! We are excited to get to work with the children at the Discovery School and make a Jesus shaped imprint on their lives!
Our verse of inspiration for this trip is Isiah 6:8  "Here I am, send me." We are very excited to see how God is going to use us on this trip and to see what He is going to teach us.
This is Heidi Williamson's first trip to Burundi.  Heidi says the most rewarding thing I have been blessed with from God here on earth has been a great, supportive and encouraging husband and family. My parents, grandparents and great grandparents and family members instilled great values in me. I have been married for 17 years to Michael and we have two beautiful daughters, Myka (16) and Maya (15). I am so full of expectancy as I get ready to go to Burundi. I trust that God's Will be done before, during and after this trip. It is truly a blessing to have the opportunity to go to Burundi, Africa in October. This will be my first mission trip and I'm sure the citizen's of Burundi will bless me way beyond my expectations. I knew early in my life I would do mission work all over the world. I love serving in my own community and I'm sure this trip will be great. I have been attending Forest Hill Church for more than six years and I knew one day the time would come for me to step out and be obedient to God’s call by serving abroad.
Heidi's favorite Bible verse is Psalm 91:1-2 "Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust Him."
This is David and Annabelle Suddreth's second trip to Burundi.  Last year, their team pitched 10 church tents that serve not only as places of worship but also as community centers for several villages in Burundi.  This year, they look forward to visiting the church tents, providing encouragement and reassurance to  the adults and children who are being served at these tents.  David and Annabelle look forward to renewing friendships with their Burundian brothers and sisters they met a year ago.  Their Bible verse for this trip is Isaiah 6:8:  Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Four Months and Counting~

Hello and welcome to our blog for our upcoming Burundi 2011 Mission Trip!  A group of twenty members from Forest Hill Church in Charlotte, NC will travel to Burundi, Africa from October 20 - 20, 2011.  Once in country, we will divide into 5 smaller groups and work with 5 different partners/causes.  Our 5 small groups will work with partners in Burundi to conduct the following projects:
  • A.L.A.R.M. = African Leadership and Reconciliation Ministries - Conduct a conference in the province of Gitega, Burundi for churches on how to teach children through a Sunday School setting.
  • Judea Harvest - Work with the pastors of the 10 church tents planted last October to provide support, training, encouragement, and see how we can continue to support this project in the future.
  • Discovery School - Partner with the teachers and staff of this school to teach the children about God's love through songs, crafts, puppet shows and more.  To develop relationships with the Burundians and support and love on the staff of this school.
  • Orphan Care - Seek out new initiatives and avenues of ways Forest Hill Church can support the many orphanages, orphans, and caretakers in Burundi who are there because of the recent civil war, AIDS, and poverty.
  • Women's Empowerment Initiatives- Work with future partnerships for developing a program to help the women of Burundi become empowered through education, support, reconiciliation and learning about God's love and grace.