Monday, July 21, 2008

Bringing tears to my eyes...

So the goodbye's have started and it is hard. On Saturday I hung out with the twins, JP and Brandon along with Duy who was also in the teen program. You should have seen the looks on their faces when I arrived ant their house, trying to hide that they were excited to see me to keep up their "tough too cool demeanor." We went out to lunch with their parents and then went bowling. After that we headed to my going away party.
My party was great. So many of my friends showed up, it was such a great time. And the teens were awesome, so well behaved. And so many of my friends hung out with them! The night was great. Later on in the evening my friends shared with me and then prayed for me. That brought tears to my eyes.

If saying goodbye to my friends at my going away party wasn't hard enough, saying goodbye to the teens that I invested my heart in over the past 1.5 years was. They are like little brothers to me. JP repeated to me numerously Saturday that "its your day" and I could do whatever I wanted. Hugging one of them at the end of the night and telling him I loved him like a brother and him whispering back "i love you" was so amazingly sweet. Then him walking away slowly, kicking his feet before he turned around and asked, "when are you coming back" me, 1.5 years until furlough...and him "saying oh, that's a really long time." Heart Wrenching...

I cried the whole way home that night after dropping my teens off at 1am after my going away party. If that wasn't the end of it.... Sunday (was not the day I am saying goodbye to my Burundian family, but a teary-eyed conversation for sure) I hung out with my Burundian family along with the other amazing volunteers who work with them... When I stepped out of the car, a good 50 yards away and up a hill I was spotted and no joke all 6 Burundian kids ran the whole way chanting over and over is wonderful English with kirundi accent 'Jillian here, Jillian here!" until all 6 of them, including the babies had made their way over me and smothered me with their hugs. I nearly died from the shear way they greeted me!

When the other volunteers had left, Guy, my friend who speaks kirundi was talking and translating with Jone since Guy will not be with me the last time I see the family...and the father thanked me and said that they loved me and that they'd miss me and that they wanted me to call back and have a kirundi/english speaker on the phone call so we can communicate and much more...what was said to me by the father on behalf of his family, obviously brought tears to my eyes.

Not to mention when their 7 yr old daughter tugged on my skirt numerous times saying "Jillian go airplane? Ngabire go airplane? No only Jillian go airplane."

Everything and saying goodbye is really overwhelming me, and its really hard to say these goodbyes. Saying goodbye to my teens, my twin little brothers broke my heart, much less one of them saying "I love you too" to me, that was killer.

It hurt so much to give up that relationship which I have worked on, worked HARD on to build a trust with those two boys, they have quite the story... And then my Burundians, its not even the time to say goodbye to them and I am already brought to tears when I think of it. Please pray adamantly for me during the next two weeks up until August 4th.----(I will be saying goodbye to the Burundians of the 3rd...mental notes--lots of tears will be involved). I am in the stage where I have no idea why wanted to move to Africa when I have to give up such God ordained relationships that I have invested my whole heart and poured out all of the love that I have in my teens, and the Burundian family.

I know this is normal...but it is hard to say goodbye, and very hard to say goodbye to where I've invested my heart. Please pray that I would remember that the Lord has called me to Burundi for a specific reason, because I am having a hard time when I have to give up so much and I feel like my heart is going to explode with every last hug... I could really use your prayers and encouragement, seriously, I am having a hard time giving up the people that I love so SO much.
thanks so much for all of your prayers...

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


How can I say goodbye to this... Sad. Yes I spent yet another day with my Burundian family and their family friends. I should be at home packing, or learning French, yet somehow I find myself at their house. Today I was actually babysitting the kids (6 of them) while their father went to a job interview....
If you're reading this, lift up a prayer that the father would get a job. Their adjustment here to the US has been a tough one!

Monday, July 14, 2008


I feel like time is just flashing past. I have less than 3 weeks left before I head to CO Springs for my 3 week training. Two of that is spent in DC while, And I'll be spending another week visiting family and friends in Oshkosh/Milwaukee WI.

This past week I was in Baltimore for a four day training with World Relief and then I traveled up to NYC from there to visit my friend Meg. As for the World Relief training....SO much information I can barely process it all. I definitely have a better picture of World Relief and what I'll be doing in Burundi. But I'd be lying if I said that my mind had taken it all in. I think that all of the info is just swirling around as the reality of moving to Burundi sets in. I'm passed the romanticized part of moving to Burundi. Reality is definitely in the forefront of my mind...

As for my time in NYC, I had a great time visiting my friend Meg. I met Meg during my second trip to Uganda back in 06. She and Jess were definitely a God send as I stayed with them during my crazy time in Gulu. Meg and I had a blast walking literally all over the city...we didn't even bother to take the subway. Jess flew in on Sunday and I got to catch up with her as well....

Note to self...move to NYC when I return from Burundi;)

And now I'm back in DC wrapping up the final touches to my life here. I have 2 weeks to raise the remaining amount of the 30,000 budget...and say good bye to all of my friends, teenagers, and cute Burundian kids. I am jam-packed!

Here's how things look for me until I head out to Buj:

July 19th, going away party/hang with teens
July 21st Fundraiser at BD's Mongolian BBQ in Bethesda (hope you can come out--if I get 50 people to sign in under my name %5 of the proceeds of the day go to me).
July 24th: Head to WI
July 31: Return to DC
Aug 3: Say goodbye to Burundians. Cry. Get commissioned at McLean 5:30pm.
Aug 4th Head to Co Springs for training.
August 23rd, head to Bujumbura Burundi....

I feel like I barely have time to breath. I have many things to do on my "Need to finish before flying off on my 2 day flight to Buj" list:

If you would like to support my too year stint with World Relief Burundi there are a couple of ways you can do that. The first option and most needed is monthly financial support. If you're interested in a monthly commitment please email me at and I would be happy to give you the needed materials. My goal is to have $1250 of committed monthly support. If you would like to make a one time on-line donation you can do so by clicking on the following link and selecting Jillian Lee in the designation box.

And of course your prayers are needed! I'll update my prayer requests on this Blog as time goes on. Currently most of my prayer needs revolve around my departure preparations...raising support, saying goodbye to friends, my transition to Burundi, etc.

As for the highlight of the Burundian kids running up and giving me all hugs at once nearly knocking me over. Have I mentioned how much I love them???

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Almost there....

I have less than a month left in DC before I head to CO for MTI training and then of to Bujumbura Burundi for the duration of two years where I will be working with World Relief. Everything is so surreal to me as my time is winding down. Good byes are hard, and giving up ones life is too crazy to even wrap your mind around. Everything that closes up and finishes for good: a job I loved, moving out of a neighborhood in NE where I lived, passing off the refugee resettlement ministry I started with my friend James, saying goodbye to my teens....

The things that are hardest for me to give up arent the warm showers, or air conditioning. I think it's the relationships that I have with my teens that I have been with for the last 1.5 yrs and the Burundian Refugee Family that I have been working with for the past 9 months.

I found myself in tears on Sunday night when my Kirundi translator and friend called me to tell me that my Burundian family was wondering if I was going to stop by and that they missed me (I had just been to their place 2 days before for 6 hours!) Talk about the killer....when the kids whisper "dakakunda Jewian" (I love you Jillian) in my ear and start giggling as they call themselves my Mzungu baby. Or the fact that the baby literally looks at me and rambles of mamamama with an outstretched arm and cries when I walk to the door. Its painful. However I cant help but smile as I think about them and how they remind me every time I'm at their house that "Jillian go Burundi." The parents have taken to giving me Kirundi lessons, I have a whole list of words that they are teaching me. The Father has such pride in teaching me his native tongue. I think he truly treasures and enjoys that he is helping me with his language, as I have been teaching him English for months. How will I say goodbye to my sweet sweet Burundian family here in DC....