Zacarias Buhuro

Zacarias Buhuro poses in the chapel at the Wyoming Medical Center on Friday morning in Casper. Buhuro, who grew up in Mozambique in southeast Africa, is the newest chaplain at the WMC. (Dan Cepeda, Star-Tribune)

DAN CEPEDA

There was no such thing as winter where Zacarias Buhuro was raised, but after 13 years living in Chicago, he’s used to the cold by now.

You can call Buhuro by his nickname, Zac. He was born and raised in Mozambique, a Portuguese speaking country in southeast Africa that borders the white sand beaches of the Indian Ocean.

Buhuro is the new staff chaplain at the Wyoming Medical Center in Casper. His passion for comforting others started at an early age. It’s why he originally studied to be a priest, and then switched to ministry within health care.

Buhuro’s passion has brought him to Uganda to work with kids whose parents died of HIV/AIDS. It pushed him to learn English in his early 20s so he could broaden his communication skills. It compelled him to leave his home country for the U.S., the first and only from his nine other siblings. He’s worked in hospice care, was a staff chaplain and has a Masters of Divinity degree and an MA in theology.

“I just love it where I can be of any help,” Buhuro, 41, said. “People faced with questions that even most of the time I don’t have an answer, only God can answer, the metaphysical, ultimate questions of life.

“Some things science can fix, but when the science stops, where do we begin?”

Buhuro made the move to Casper in October after his fiancée got a job here. He had never been to Wyoming, but Casper reminded him of Mozambique: Small and friendly with beautiful scenery.

His job at Wyoming Medical Center is not necessarily for religious purposes.

“When I say I’m a chaplain, many people say, ‘I don’t need that, I’m not religious,’” he said. “Though the title says that, it’s more to say we are here for you in this difficult journey as a human. Whether you believe in God, whether you are Catholic or Muslim, we are all humans facing this challenging time.”

Buhuro has comforted many in their final moments throughout his life, from the rich to the poor, the elderly to the young.

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“Facing the common denominator of suffering, death and dying. I kind of enjoy the spiritual journey of the humanity of a person. What do we do when we have done everything? Just be there,” he said.

"That’s what I enjoy doing.”

Now that Buhuro is here in Casper, he is tasked with adjusting to a new culture. When he Skypes with his family in Mozambique, he tries to explain what Wyoming is like.

“When I got here, I was like, ‘People eat buffalo?'” he said. “Now, I have eaten a buffalo sandwich. I’ve eaten antelope. And, oh, it’s delicious.”

Buhuro is already looking forward to embracing the cowboy culture. He wants to attend a rodeo, learn how to ski on Casper Mountain and ride a horse. But less than three months in, the new Wyomingite is already ahead of the curve.

“The day before Thanksgiving, I went to Pinedale with my friend. They have this nice store there,” Buhuro said. “And I (bought) my cowboy boots.”

Contact Brendan Meyer at 307-266-0544 or at brendan.meyer@trib.com. Follow him on Twitter @Brendan_Meyer13.

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