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The Home Stretch

“To you who are weary with labor for Him, and now see there is a way of quiet joy sitting at His feet…. seek Him with all the desire He gives you….and He will come to your village and find you” -Kilpatrick

5 days and counting until we step foot on US soil……our year is almost up, but our work has only begun. Here is a glimpse of our final month:

 

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Good Morning & Happy Birthday Ash!

 

 

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Just a few of our daily visitors

 

 

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Our newest Albino baby

 

 

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English Game Night

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Our mango boy Moussa – he is his family’s shepherd and would bring us all the mangos he could find.

 

 

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Welcome to the family sisters – two of the nine believers in Kimini!

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Filling the baptismal for Kimini’s very first baptism!

 

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First ever Women’s conference

 

Some kiddos like school and some don’t 🙂

 

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Saying bye to Kadi!
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Our girl Awa!

 

Writing Letters to sponsors.

Set of twins and triplets in our milk program.

 

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Employee farewell party

 

 

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Our pet sheep – lambchop

 

 

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Children’s distribution

 

Children’s evangelism – Life of Jesus

 

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Day with Awa

 

School time fun!

We leave filled with a mixed bag of emotions; excitement to see family and friends yet pained by the sting of sadness to say goodbye. We will miss the booming laughter echoing from the Pastors’ house as we wash up for the night, the morning greetings of “Ash-a-lee, Britlyn bon bon, ballon, madame , madame…and so on…,”

We will miss the heavenly lights (aka stars) shinning beautifully and brilliantly as if dawn was near (glory to God), we will miss the once wide-eyed and terrified faces which now have faded to grand smiles beaming through all the dirt and snot, we will miss the 30 minutes of repeated goodbye hugs and handshakes followed by “See you tom” and “abeseani (see u tom)” ….and so much more…

As we say our sweet and sorrowful goodbyes our hearts bleed with cries to the Lord for Kimini’s salvation. We pray every single person who saw us saw Jesus and, in some way, experienced His love. We pray they come to accept God’s gift of grace and redemption and that they can one day proclaim Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Our soul aches for these people to know how much they are each individually loved, adored and desired. They have a purpose, they are important and they are not forgotten! They are priceless.

We leave Burkina with a spirit of joy and passion to share our story with you and bring Him honor and glory. We leave with a heart of peace and comfort knowing the journey is not yet over. …….

We love you all and we will see you soon!!

“Where your eye is turned is the certain direction of all your future. What you see is what you follow. Where you look is where you go. The object of your focus is even….what you become”

………. Nothing, being nothing…that is a child whose significance lies in God alone……

2017

December

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free Thine own from Satan’s tyranny From depths of hell Thy people save And give them victory o’er the grave

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel Shall come to thee, O Israel


Excited to celebrate Christmas and the chance to participate in our first Burkina Christmas celebration,” La Fete de Noel des Enfants”(children’s Christmas party) we hopped in our “new” vehicle (newly borrowed that is) making our journey back to the city.  Our plan was to do an overnight in the nearby village having the Christmas party. The party was extra special for us because some of our village kiddos were also attending the weekend celebration for the very first time! The weekend was completely devoted to the children. Loving them, showering them with attention, feeding them 3 meals a day and teaching them about the greatest gift of all, the gift of Jesus. One could say this weekend was their Christmas gift.

Pastor Joel, a village pastor whom our organization partners with, hosted the event. We were shocked to see the detailed and thoroughly planned out-schedule he and his crew crafted. The weekend was jammed packed with activities.  Singing, dancing, worship, games, reciting scripture and a Christmas film (Jesus’ birth).

How did our kiddos arrive…?

The kiddos made there way on something called a taxi motto. This is not a taxi car or bus, but rather a short trailer bed hitched to the back of a 3-wheeler known as an Apsonic. Who was driving? A high school student. Imagine a young high school student driving this trailer at night when it’s pitch dark outside (no electricity remember) on a road that hardly exist; with 10-15 kiddos crammed in the back. Plus it’s “cold” outside (it’s their wintertime) . Needless to say, the children did not arrive until almost 11pm that night. But praise God they made it safely. The schedule said dinner at 7 and then a film…well as all “plan A’s” never seem to work out, on to plan B. Dinner at 11 and then bed it is. Oh did we mention dinner wasn’t actually ready until the exact same time our kiddos arrived, lol.  So they started a little off schedule…but the next day would be a new one.

Surprisingly the next morning they were only about an hour or so off their schedule. We were impressed! After breakfast they had a time of prayer and worship and then dancing. The children recited scriptures referencing the birth of Jesus as well as performed a dance number, which they refer to as a “ballet.”  Pastor Joel gave the first part of his Christmas message followed by a word search game. We also gifted Tom’s shoes.  At noon we departed with joyous goodbyes. Christmas was in the air!


Making our Mark…by accident.

A newly built Auberge (a place to sleep) was open and ready for business. We decided to stay and be their first official guests. Excited yet nervous to check this place out, we slowly drove through the arched entryway to then immediately slamming on our breaks…. You have got to be kidding!  Our vechile was just a tad taller than the Auberge’s entrance. Let’s just say we took a piece of the newly opened motel with us and left a piece with them…use your imagination.

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Humiliated and feeling absolutely awful we offered to pay for the damages. Now, think about what would happen back at home and how the owner/employees would respond….

Here in Burkina they respond like this, ” don’t worry about it. It is no problem. You do not have to pay anything, how was your stay!” This response is exactly what people are referring to when they describe Burkinabe as the kindest and friendliest people you will ever meet.  Words cannot describe how touched we were by their response. Thank you Jesus, thank you for their kindness!


It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas as we enter downtown.  Christmas lights, we see Christmas lights! Now we see Christmas décor hanging in shops and being sold on the streets- is that a mini Christmas tree?! It’s an African Christmas!

Dec 24th and 25th are days filled with singing and worship followed by a time of fellowship with family and friends. A meal of pasta and brochettes are shared with one another.  It’s simple and meaningful. The heartbeat of Christmas takes the stage.

“Go tell it on the Mountain…over the hills and everywhere…go tell it on the mountain that Jesus Christ is born! Jesus Christ is born!”

 This Christmas we had the blessing of watching 3 dogs and 5 birds as our missionary families were away. Our first Christmas here and their first year gone- God has a sense of humor, He really does!  We are celebrated Christmas with lots of animal love, hot showers (yes hot water!) water pressure, electricity, and couches, real comfy couches to relax on! Can’t get much better than that. Thank you Jesus!

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We hope you and your families had the most Merry and Magical Christmas! Rejoice in the truth that God loves you so much He sent His one and only son, Jesus. 

He loves you- not the world but you, His beloved child. How amazing is our one true King that we all will celebrate His birth in our different special ways all over the world. Remember our brothers and sisters who are facing persecution and do not have the freedom to worship the One True Savior as we do during Christmas. In an ordinary place, extraordinary hope was born!!

“He is the song for the suffering, He is Messiah, the Prince of Peace has come

He has come Emmanuel…Glory to the Light of the World….


Praise – BACKFLASH:

The Lord continues to surprise and continues to provide. The first car He blessed us with took a hit. The back windshield shattered. Actually already on our way to the mechanics to have the oil filter changed, we heard a pop and turned our heads around to a shattering window. Praise God it was a tinted window so the frame held together or else glass pieces would have been everywhere. We called for help and made it safely to the mechanics.

While waiting for the repairs, a family who went on furlough blessed us with their vehicle.  Our new vehicle is a land cruiser, and it is just made for the Burkina roads, especially roads in the bush.  The Lord knew we would need their car for the kind of roads/partial existing roads we would be traveling. The scary thing about the land cruiser is it’s a stick shift.  Thanks to our parents, we were able to learn how to drive a stick two weeks before we left for Burkina. After calling many different places our sweet parents finally found and rented a manual for us to learn on. We honestly thought we would only need to know how to drive in case of an emergency. Well, this was our emergency….a little different than what we expected. It is scary enough to drive here in an automatic and now to think we would have to do it with a manual, Lord help us. Driving here is madness; no rules are enforced therefore not followed, random huge speed bumps, donkey carts, goats, dogs, mottos, bikers, camels, horses and people are just a few of the things we have to be on the look out for, and now we have to think about shifting too –ahh!  God is good; we are doing it! We like to say our prayer life has greatly increased with driving in Burkina!! Ha!

Praise God for his protection.

2017

November

“All to Jesus I surrender,
Make me, Savior, wholly Thine;
Let me feel Thy Holy Spirit,
Truly know that Thou art mine.” 


Lots of exciting and intense activity over in our neck of the woods!

Our story ended with news and prayers for our sweet Baby Mo. Finally, after a month in the clinic the time had arrived for Mo to travel to the states. By prayer and with leaps of faith, the pieces of this puzzle were coming together. God provided Mo with a loving and faith driven family (more than you can imagine) to care for this remarkable little guy. If you have a spare moment, take some time and read Dr. Carol’s journal of our Mo adventure, or as we like to call it, “Operation Mo.”

After only two weeks in the US, Mo was admitted to the hospital. His CO2 levels were skyrocket and he had been aspirating. After endless prayer and consulting with Dr. after Dr. and specialist after specialist, the decision was made for Mo to have a tracheotomy and feeding tube placed in his stomach. This surgery would give him a 98% chance to receive his next heart surgery. Praise God the surgery was successful and his body seems to be responding well. Now, we pray he will be discharged and back with his host family in two weeks. Prayers are needed as they are learning Mo’s medical equipment and preparing their home for his return. It is truly amazing and inspiring to witness this family’s response to God’s call, with blind faith.

When our chapter ended with Mo on this side of the ocean, we were oh so ready to gear up and head back to our village.  It had been almost 6 months since we had been there! Six months of God enduring and enabling opportunities to serve in other parts of Burkina.  Our time has best been described to us as, “a baptism of fire of Burkina.”

Growing pains experienced and not always met with a cheerful heart, to be honest, yet at the same time we must praise Him for the pain because you know, ironically, it is good! Surely you have heard the analogy of working out, maybe learning to play a sport, or perfecting a skill etc. used in comparison to spiritual transformation. Whatever change is needed takes work and it inevitably involves emotional pain and sometimes physical pain, but in the end the change is worth it because you are transformed for the better (we pray). God’s transforming power is bittersweet, but this is what we long for; the desire to become more like Him in all ways.

Blissfully happy we were, when He directed us back “home.”  An added bonus, our parents would be with us!! We can’t describe the excitement and thankfulness that filled the air as we counted down the days to their arrival.  As we drove to the airport to pick them up you couldn’t help but feel like a little kid on Christmas Eve, filled with uncontainable anticipation and eagerness to see what gifts would be waiting under the tree.  Needless to say, it was a beautiful reunion after 9 months of separation and sporadic phone messaging.

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Our parents’ visit was a fast paced, reality glimpse of our life in Burkina.

Lots to do in a short amount of time. Mother helped nursing mothers, administered vaccines at the clinic, tended to wounds and even witnessed 2 births. She was praying to see maybe one birth and the Lord blessed her with 2!!

Pops tended to the “manly” endeavors. He got a sweet taste of Burkina as he tried to repair things without access to certain tools and materials. While tending to the construction repairs he had a few little elves to lend a hand. Who knew dad would be teaching when he doesn’t speak French! We recall lots of pointing and sign language happening.  Lots of play was had with some of the newly donated materials and toys. Weekly prayer meetings, Sunday worship, market day, a visit to the newly built secondary school, blessing a Pastor with a motto, evangelism activities, and a visit to the village Chief were a few more activities enjoyed during their 9 day stay in the village. Two highlights for us all were Thanksgiving and The Jesus Film. We celebrated Thanksgiving with some of our Burkinabe friends. It was an American/Burkinabe style Thanksgiving. Chicken was prepared, bread, pasta with sauce (a Burkina party specialty), canned veggies, boiled potatoes, stuffing (gifted and brought with our parents) and one pecan pie and one pumpkin pie (ingredients gifted and brought with our parents). We had two pies for 13 people. It may have been the least amount of pie we have ever eaten for Thanksgiving, but it was more than plenty for all of us. Tasting of new foods created funny faces and lots of endearing laughs! Our friends didn’t share similar sentiments about the pie. We learned that they only use pumpkin in sauce (sauce for rice, To’ and pasta). It was hard to decipher whether it was the actual taste or texture of the dessert that they found well you know…different.

After we ate, each person said for what he/she was thankful. Much thanks was given to our Creator. The day was a beautiful and heart warming experience and who knows maybe it will become an annual tradition.


The Premiere showing of the Jesus film:

With money graciously donated we were able to purchase a projector and our film sheet!  “The Jesus Film” tells the life of Jesus, and it was the first time the film had been played in our village. What started out with about 15 people ended with about 150 people! No words can describe how we felt, just pure elation and thanks to God.  Honestly, our village is so small even those who did not physically come, we’re sure to hear the echo of the film. The next day we had both adults and children asking when we would show the film again.


Hi hoe hi hoe, back to the city we go. Just 5 days left and still so much do to with Mom and dad. Visited our organization’s agricultural sight and did an overnight at the orphanage. Next, let the shopping begin. “La Grande Marche,” literally translates as “The Large Market,” and that is exactly what it is. A street full of vendors and little “pop-up” stands selling all types of Burkina goods such as vibrant- colored fabrics, bronze & metal statues, hand-crafted knives & wood carvings, paintings, jewelry, instruments, sunglasses, purses shoes…etc.

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The market can be quite overwhelming and suffocating, so claustrophobics beware, but it is a must, at least once. The Grande Marché can also be unsafe for foreigners. Unless you yourself can experience it, it is hard to explain…. You enter the Marché and instantly bargainers swarm to you like flies. They grab you, physically and pull you over to their stand/shop and even follow you as you try to” browse.” No browsing or peaceful shopping in this place today. To say the least, it was an adventure. We did invite our Burkinabe friend, Blondine, to help us navigate through the chaos.


Side note about Blondine:

She works with our fellow brother and sister, Don and Janet, who are opening a family center. Blondine will be the director of the women’s program. Currently their project is on hold because they had to return home due to unexpected medical problems. What they thought would be a two month absence has now turned into 3 months with another 2 months maybe longer before their return. May the Lord be their strength and place of rest. Their center will provide work and education for women, a milk program for malnourished children and outreach/ministry programs. Since their absence we have had the privilege to step in and help when we are in the city.


Back to the market:

We thought the haggling would be somewhat better if Blondine accompanied us. This thought was an optimistic one. There where a couple of times when she felt uneasy and advised us to leave the area for our safety. We moved very quickly and eventually went to a private spot were her two buddies brought us any materials we wanted to possibly purchase. Crazy day, but left with some lovely gifts for the family. So thankful she was with us!

Finally it was time to say goodbye to our parents, meet up with our partners in crime and head back to the village. Talk about a world wind! It is still quite surreal to think they have actually come and gone!  We were all together in Africa! Wow!

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10 months have now gone by, 10 months folks; feels like a lifetime yet the blink of an eye.

Special Thanks:

When our parents arrived in Burkina, we were blown away by what they brought with them. – Totes filled with supplies and goodies for our kids in Kimini, Burkinabe friends, fellow missionaries, and even some yummy treats for us! Pure love flowed out of these totes and made us feel incredibly undeserving of the opportunity to be serving in Burkina and of our awesome support team. We have said it before but not enough, you are here with us each step of the way and we know that we could not be here without you.  Thank you falls short but we say it to the fullest meaning and with hearts of gratitude.

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Back at home base:

With the help of our Pastor we held another viewing of the “Jesus Film” and continued our story telling of the Gospel. To refresh your memory, we started with the creation story, then the fall of Adam and Eve and now the birth of Jesus.

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We held English tutoring classes in the evening with the high school students, and blessed about 100 children with a new pair of shoes. We also handcrafted Kimini’s first and finest Christmas tree, and the kids created 42 ornaments to paste on the tree.

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One of our last days in the village we had the pleasure of working in the field with our fellow sister, Mariam. We thought this would be a great opportunity to build relationship and experience her every day.  We also hoped our accompaniment would be helpful as we would be a double pair of hands. Mariam is a Christian, but her husband is Muslim. She badly desires to attend church, but her husband has banned that option. She told us the other day she believes in her heart, but cannot go to church.  Mariam works extremely hard and then goes home to an abusive husband; it’s gut wrenching.

She was a little taken back when we asked to join her for the day; not really understanding we simply wanted to spend time with her. Initially we thought we would be up and gone by 5-6am, but she preferred later morning because the temperature is too cold that early. What!!! 70-degree weather would be perfect! But then again, it is “winter time.” We left around 9, which was a win-win; warmer weather for her and more sleep for us. Her field is only 2-3 miles away, which was much closer than anticipated. She harvests cotton to export and corn to feed her family.  She was done harvesting both. She now needed to shuck the corn.

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When we first arrived we picked leaves from some sort of plant, which will be used for sauce. Thinking we would be hand shucking the massive piles of corn, we were blown away when her husband arrived with a corn-shucking machine. We worked quickly filling basins of corn to be dumped into the machine. Sacks where placed in front of the machine to catch the kernels, while the husks and cobs exited the back. Once all the corn was shucked, we sifted through piles of fallen husks to ensure all corn kernels had been collected. Almost 2 additional sacs of corn were collected.  A total of 9 sacs full of corn were standing when we finished. 9 sacs may seem like a lot, but Mariam was displeased. She has to feed a courtyard of people with this corn for the next 12 months.  As a thank you, we gave Mariam a 10kilo bag of pasta noodles. She was so happy and thankful for the gift! Pasta is typically prepared and eaten for special events like weddings and  holidays.


“All to Jesus I surrender, Lord, I give myself to Thee; Fill me with Thy love and power,  Let Thy blessing fall on me.”


 – PRAYERS –

  • We are excited to see where God leads us during the remainder of our time in Burkina. Please pray that we would be sensitive to the Spirit and carry out all God is leading us to do in our remaining time.
  • Our dear colleagues, the Guizettis, are still in the states as Don has been in and out of the hospital numerous times for back operations. Please pray for a miraculous full recovery and that God would reveal Himself to them in a very intimate way and glorify His name to all those they encounter during this trialing time. When we are in Ouaga, we have been helping as much possible with their ministry. The official opening of their family center has been placed on hold until their return but we have been able to assist with their milk program for malnourished infants, come alongside and encouraging Blondine, who heads the women’s program, and carry out office-type work to keep things moving.
  • Prayers for God to flood Burkina with the gospel and His protective covering that would allow us to continue our work here. As Burkina faces new challenges, we pray in the midst of evil God reveals truth and life.
  • Softened hearts, especially the chief in Kimini and those in leadership roles. For eyes to be opened and the chief’s permission for anyone who wishes to go to Church and worship.

 

 

2017

June Update

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“Christ has no body on earth but yours, no hands but yours, no feet but yours. Yours are the eyes through which Christ’s compassion for the world is to look out; yours are the feet with which He is to go about doing good; and yours are the hands with which He is to bless us now”
-Saint Teresa of Avila.

June

We made it to our next village, excited and anxious to see where Sheltering Wings all began. The growth and development of the orphanage is truly God’s handiwork. What started off as a simple house where Ruth and the orphans lived, has grown into a massive compound. The total amount of land with which God has graced Sheltering Wings is 13-14 acres! There are male and female dormitories, infant/toddler sleeping quarters and play area; a playing field, a kitchen and dining hall; a guest house; a main office, medical clinic and office; storage rooms, and gardens. They also have the women’s center which includes a classroom, offices, a little boutique, the women’s living quarters, gardens, and their working area. They are raising rabbits and chickens as well as growing plants and raising fish through their aquaponics system. The national workers in the compound speak French, Moore, and English! You easily feel as if you are living in your own little community. Off the compound, Sheltering Wings has a private elementary and secondary school. I think we just need to take a moment and give Him praise for this!  With the Lord’s blessing, Sheltering Wings will continue to grow and build offering more opportunities for the lost, rejected and afflicted.


How does the orphanage work exactly?

Social action, an equivalent to the states’ DSF, requests children to stay at the orphanage if room is available. There are also multiple situations in which women or children will come to the orphanage for help. All the children who live at the orphanage go to school which is supported by the sponsorship program. The tantis (hired national house mothers) take care of the infants and toddlers. A child stays in the orphanage until he/she graduates from school or drops out. We have an orphanage manager who takes care of the children’s needs; such as, accounting for food, toothbrushes/toothpaste, school materials, feminine/personal needs, etc.

The older students take turns making dinners with the other house mothers. They also oversee caring for the gardens. We have a grounds keeper and guards policing inside and outside of the compound. We have a national director of our widow’s distributions, children distributions and Tom’s distributions. We also are transitioning a female national to become the fulltime director of the women’s center.

There are lots of activities throughout the week. On Tuesday nights, the children lead their own prayer meeting, on Saturday mornings we have bible club, on Thursday they have a women’s bible study, and on Friday evenings they have a boys’ bible study. We also have Saturday film nights, about 1-2 times a month. The older children can join us for bible clubs in other villages as well.


The village itself:

It is not city life, and yet not village life, so we will call it “the suburbs” of Africa. They have markets and boutiques which are in walking distance, they have restos and “cafés”, a couple gas stations, a bus station, a patisserie, and a boulangerie. We also have electricity, which means fans and cold water!  There are multiple churches, one in every sector; praise God.

Besides the living means being different, one of the biggest differences we have noticed is less staring. You can tell this village has had more white visitors than our home base. We are surrounded by people who know French, in addition to their tribal language, as well as English. Like our home village this place is its own unique and special village.


A glimpse of the Church:

The church we attend is a 5-minute walk away and packed every Sunday. Church is about 2-3 hours long depending on who is praying or preaching. We love it.


Break down:

There is a band with different chorus groups who sing depending on the Sunday (women’s chorus, children, young adults, solos, quartet, etc.), We sing and praise for about an hour with lots of dancing. During this time, the offering is collected. Offering is done differently at this church. There are two boxes at the front of the building, one labeled “tithe” and one labeled “offering.” The “tithing box” is for your weekly 10% tithe to the Lord and the “offering box” is for money given beyond your typical tithe. We still do not truly understand the reason for the two boxes, but this has been the best explanation given. During the offering/tithing time, the women first walk up in a line and give their tithe/offering, and then the men walk up and give their tithe/ offering.

We have announcements, introduction of new guests, and prayer time. After all this the Pastor gives his sermon. After the sermon, we may sing another song, pray, and finish by reciting Lord’s prayer together.

The church is a one room building with benches and a pulpit in front. The walls are decorated with scripture verses in Moore and French as well as left over Christmas decorations.

Decorations do not come down unless they fall down or are falling apart.

The lead pastor is Pastor Valentin. Pastor V partners alongside sheltering wings and is the spiritual director of the school. He has been preaching on David, a man after God’s own heart. What does it mean and what does it look like in one’s life to have a heart for Jesus? Pastor Valentin used David’s story as an example of how to treat and/or not treat others, how to persevere through difficulties, and how to humbly ask for forgiveness when one sins. Having a heart for Jesus means to act justly and walk righteously.

Pastor Valentin is the Pastor who was with Mike at Cappuccino’s when the attacked happened. Pastor Valentine is joy-filled, kind and gentle. He just beams with love for the Lord. Not to mention, he speaks French, Moore and English.  The lord is using him and his family in a powerful way!


Our role:

Isaiah 61: 1” The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

We are helping in the guest house by preparing meals and bedrooms for visitors. We have been organizing the supply closet, which is full of materials for the children. We plan special activities for the children and help with Bible club every sat morning, and Thursday evening (or whenever they need it). We have been able to take part in the widows’ and children distributions; end of the year graduations and ceremonies, and Tom’s distribution. We have had the opportunity to learn how the women at the center make their sweet and spicy popcorn as well as their enriched/fortified cereal, which is given to malnourished infants and toddlers. They serve it as a breakfast for all the kiddos at the orphanage. It is great to know how to make this cereal because one can find all the ingredients or at least a substitute ingredient. Since we now know how to make both the popcorn and fortified cereal, when we return to our village we will teach the women how to make it. We hope to have Dorcas, the pastor’s wife, help us teach the women in our village. There are so many kiddos who would GREATLY benefit from eating this cereal, AND we can make it for our preschoolers!


Tom’s Shoe distribution:

The distribution takes place at the church and it happens multiple times a year. We have already had two distributions since we arrived. At our first distribution, we gave away over 100 pairs of shoes.

How it functions:

You have sizers, fitters and runners. Sizers take the child’s foot measurement before he/she enters the church building. Each child is given a piece of paper with his/her proper shoe size.  There are multiple shoe fitters lined up in the church. All the shoes are lined up along the wall according to size. The child enters and finds a fitter. The fitter sends a runner to grab the correct shoe size. The fitter checks to see if the size works or if the child needs a different size. Sometimes the shoes are too small or too big. Kids try all sorts of things to get a pair of shoes. If we do not have his/her size, kids have tried to enter back in the church going through a different line and some kiddos have even tried to curl their toes. We have lots of help from the kids at the orphanage. They like to come and work as the shoe runners. Afterwards we might hang out at the church, listen to music, drink tea/coffee and just chat. They really have an effective and efficient system set into place. It’s so much fun.

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Widows distributions 

The widow’s distribution is done a little differently here from the widow’s distribution in our village. We drive to the widows’ homes and personally deliver their supplies to them. We also pray for them. The first time we went with the crew was quite a comical sight.

Just picture, three white chicks and three small Burkinabe men driving a white Ford truck with American flag air freshener hanging in the rear-view mirror. Not to mention they were blasting English Christian music. Lol – Good times.


Ceremonies:

We had two elementary and secondary graduation ceremonies. The top 5 students received a special gift and the overall top student received a bike.

We also had a graduation for the women living at the women’s’ center. The women who come to the center stay for a year and learn a trade. They learn to weave, sew, cook, make soap, and how to read/write in French and Moore; specifically, in math and literacy.

When the women complete their year at the center they have a graduation ceremony. The women receive a certificate, there is dancing, picture taking and lunch served. This year was Sheltering Wings third graduating class!


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Bible Clubs:

We attend a bible club Thursday evenings at a nearby church. It is so simple and basic yet powerful. The youth mentor (youth leader) focuses on one memory verse and then preaches on it. One of the verses we studied was 1 John 4:19. “We love because He first loved us. The youth leader discussed why we love and how we show the same love Jesus’ gives to us. He asks the kids what they can do to show others love. The kids must repeat and memorize the scripture verse as well as say what they are thankful to God for. They sing songs and pray together. At the very end, we play a couple of games and close with prayer.

What touches our hearts more than anything and proves their love for the Lord and His love for them is the kids will come even after they have been working out in the fields all day.

They could stay home and just rest, but they are faithful to come and worship our Lord.

The prayer meeting held on Tuesday evenings are completely led by the children! They sing, pray, read scripture and give a mini message.


Praises

 “Praise the Lord, all you nations; extol Him, all you peoples. For great is His love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever” (Psalm 117).

Our hearts cannot even begin to give Him the praise and glory He deserves.

A main concern for our safety here has been our lack of ability to leave immediately. We do not have a car or moto so we have been completely reliable on other missionaries. However, when the Lord commissions He is faithful to equip, in all WAYS. We have been blessed with a vehicle!!! An automatic! A missionary friend, who like us, is not proficient driving a manual, bought an automatic car from a missionary couple who was leaving the country.  Our missionary friend just returned home for furlough, so she offered us her vehicle to use!! We now have the flexibility to explore and attend different ministries going on in the city. We are learning to drive in the city which is insane, absolutely insane. Cars, buses, bikes, motos, donkey carts, people riding bareback on donkeys, pedestrians and animals all making their way down the road. Sometimes the road seems to “disappear.” Its intimidating, but we are learning quickly.

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The Lord continues to provide finically for us and we witness His spiritual and physical protection every day!

He continues to sweetly break our hearts for new ministry opportunities to explore. Our time in the city will allow us to visit two ministries who care for girls who have been sex trafficked, as well as meet and interview, at least one, working prostitute.

We had been praying where we would stay and what we would do over the summer months, as most of our missionary friends have returned home. The Lord, of course, already had his plan in motion. Not only has he provided the place, but He has given us a specific role to do there as well. We are directing a 3 day VBS overnight camp in a nearby village, starting a women’s bible study, and having one-on one time with a handful of orphans.

The Lord continues to amaze us as we learn to depend on Him. The Holy Spirit exposes deep seeded sin and then beautifully redeems and heals. He is always refining us, and it is not easy! But we praise Him in the midst of tears and amid challenges because we know our God is good. Our tears are not wasted and our struggles are not meant to tease or punish us.

 “He has etched the very letters of our name of who we are, right into Him. He hasn’t forgotten us or this chapter or this story, and if He hasn’t forgotten us, we’re not about to go forgetting that His stories always work out in the end-and if things aren’t working out quite yet, it means we’re not quite yet to the ed. We’ll practice our faith- we’ll practice saying Thanks God in the middle. Faith thanks God in the middle of the mess, of the night, of the story. Because [faith] believes in the relentless goodness of Him who will not stop writing til there’s good at the end of the story”
(Anna Voskamp).

Prayers:

“Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul” (PSALM 143:8).

It is hard to believe we have been in Africa for 4 months! It is safe to say we are falling in love with this country and falling in love with Jesus all over again! As we have said in the past we have heard Him say “Love my Children.” We pray we are obedient to this call and have the wisdom to discern who it is and how to do it.  We ask that He define our mission as He continues to shed light on so much need.  We also pray for this country. We pray that “the gospel is more than the personal salvation of individuals, but rather a social revolution” (Richard Stearns).

“May your unfailing love rest upon us, O Lord, even as we put our hope in you”
Psalms 33:22

 

2017

Mo

Sorry, it’s been awhile since our last post. So much has been going on and we have been keeping track of everything. Several posts will be put out to get you all caught up to the present. Looking back to the last several months here is what has been happening in our lives.

“Yes, my soul, find rest in God;my hope comes from Him”
Pslam 62:5

We hope this letter finds you and your families well. Life has been moving in God’s unexpected ways. Due to our situation at the moment which we will tell you about shortly, this will be a very informal quick update about immediate things. We will already go ahead and apologize for grammar 😉 You can see God in so many details!

Due to security we have been relocated to the city. We moved in with an amazing new friend and missionary who does literacy training and we will be excited to tell you more about her work and our work alongside her. We have started a Saturday morning children’s program for the children in her neighborhood. We have started with creation, fall, and Jesus’ life and resurrection. Then we will follow along with a French children’s Bible. We provide lunch and a vitamin and gave out hygiene bags with local made soap and toothbrushes and toothpaste. We all brushed our teeth together while Dr. Ashley tended to wounds.

Back track a few months ago . . . our amazing colleagues Don and Janet, fellow Sheltering Wings missionaries, worked to get a baby to the states for medical care. Baby Mo is his name and we had sent a few pics out and included him in a newsletter before he left. He went to the US and there they discovered his heart condition was more severe than diagnosed. He was in the ICU with two types of pneumonia and fought malnutrition. The doctor was able to due an operation to put in pulmonary bands. (Please excuse our informal medical explanations!) He returned to Burkina at 5.6 kilos with the plan that when he reached 12 kilos he return to the states for the first of 3 heart operations. Mo stayed a week with Janet to adjust and for her to train mom on his medications and special needs. He then moved into a special house similar to our Ronald McDonald homes with his mom. This is where we enter. We started to help Janet and would watch Mo when Janet needed to be somewhere. Our mission was just to assist her and do strengthening exercises with Mo. During this week, Don severely hurt his back and simultaneously Janet injured her shoulder. Mo was diagnosed with a double ear infection as well, but he was gaining weight and strength. We helped transition Mo and mom into the facility and within a few days Mo’s health started spiraling down hill. He landed in the hospital and after many tests and miles he was diagnosed with a nasty case of pneumonia. He has been placed on oxygen and an IV. His weight has dropped to 5.29 kilos. Don’s pain level became so severe him and Janet had to make an emergency trip back to the United States. We have stepped in as Mo’s primary advocates in Burkina. Our honest prayer now is that Mo will be accepted to return to the US immediately. The doctors here have said that their care is limited and he needs to return to the US for a chance at surviving. Mo is a fighter, but he is getting weaker and weaker. The conditions here are very challenging and he has a weak heart. Care is extremely limited. We are working to do everything on our end to care for Mo as best we can here and get information and medical reports gathered to see if he can return to the US.
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We had planned some other activities to be involved in; however, everything is on hold at this moment and our focus is solely Mo. We believe God brought him to our organization. We do not know what all God is doing and we do not know or understand the many whys, but we know He is moving in His omniscient, omnipotent, majestic ways that will glorify His name. Mo comes from a muslim family that does not yet know Jesus as their savior. Our hearts cry out that Jesus would heal Mo but above all we pray His truth and love is revealed because we know He has Mo in his arms and has His perfect will in plan for Mo. This has been emotional, frustrating at times, powerful, and humbling to be alongside Mo and his dear mom. His mom stays with Mo at the hospital. We cannot Imagine – your child is sick and you are uneducated so you have no idea what is really going on, even if someone explains, you do not speak French, only a tribal language, so you do not even know what is being said most of the time, and your one year old son is only 11 pounds and just when you felt hope of him getting better you are right back to where you started. The same hospital, same tubes coming out of your child, same bed, and more waiting. And you do not know the Lord.
We could list so many things to praise God and so many prayers . . . Mo’s healing, the doctor prayed over Mo after he took his blood this morning, Don’s healing, people who have come alongside us, Janet’s heart as she is struggling rightfully so to not be here with Mo, Mo’s mom’s love and strength, Mo’s family to know Christ, and that we would represent Christ in every response.  We trust the Lord will place specific prayers on your heart if He desires, if not, we ask you  lift up this whole situation to the One who has no equal, or lay your hands over these words and ask God to be glorified in all.  No medicine can rival our prayers!
We love you and feel overwhelmed that we can reach out to all of you.
Ashley & Britney
2017

Our story continues….

1

Back at home base:

After leaving the city we were happy to return back to our precious village; however, we were a little worried about the heat (remember there is no air conditioning or electricity in the village). But, the Lord truly sustained us and he even blessed us with a couple of rain showers! At times, it is cooler in the village because there are no buildings or congestion blocking air flow or attracting and trapping the sun’s heat. In the village we are in the bush, have huts and lots of open land.

Once we returned to home base we officially started our preschool; we began tutoring a little girl named Awa in math and reading; we started our Thursday night English sessions, and had our very first “puppet” show. We love our village and the children whom the Lord has brought into our lives.  Yes, we have challenges, but when we arise in the morning to braying donkeys, chickens clucking, cows mooing, and children crying and/or laughing, we know God has an adventure in store for us. Each day is a new day to depend on Him and give Him glory.


 Preschool in Action:

“And they were bringing children to him that he might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them.”

Repeatedly the Lord has reminded us to love the people here, and Love My children. Thus, our primary mission is to do exactly that; to expose these children to His love. Through the work of the Holy Spirit we want to be a physical extension of His love to them. We want these children to feel adored, valued, and simply loved on. Conversations with the Lord and one another consisted of questions such as; “Ok Lord, how is our preschool going to look and function?” “How can we be effective and efficient with our time and resources, while being culturally adaptive and respectful?” “Do we need a committed group of children or allow children to randomly come and go?” “How do we enforce a consistent committed group?”  “Lord is it necessary, now, for us to hire a French-Jula translator?” We prayed and sought council about who should attend and the number of children we could handle. After much prayer and discussion, the Lord gave us a clear vision. First, He put it on our hearts to give those who may never get to go to school a chance to learn something as well as those who were going to begin school in the fall.  Although we did not want to turn any child away, He made it very clear we needed to begin with a committed group of children for consistency, those who could and would be faithful to come each morning. Some guidelines we used to help us prayerfully decide who specifically to invite and our number where: the children who are at our house every day all day; age, he/she needed to be at least 5 years old; and those who had verbal parental consent. We settled on 8-10, but the Lord answered our prayer in the way He knew best and gave us 11. All but one child whom the Holy Spirt instantly put on our hearts to request came!! We wrote out our list, presented our proposal to “The Man,” Babou (our international assistant), and he went to work. He was excited to help and at once spoke with the parents. Our first day of preschool began two days later! We had prepared, but did not think we would actually begin that quickly. (Time is relative culture to culture) Praise God is all we can say to that!

Our objective is to teach basic pre-academic skills through play and hands-on activities while teaching them about Jesus and His love for them. Every day we offer a substantial and nutritional snack for the children, as well as water to drink.  It helps the children to learn when they have some food in their belly. We meet every morning for about 2 hours or more. The children are a mix of boys and girls between ages 4 (Babou’s son J) – 8 (estimated). Out of the 11 children the Lord has blessed us with, we have one boy, Yaya, with special needs. We are not sure of his diagnosis, but Yaya is dependent on a walker and the right side of his body is weaker than his left. He also has some language/speech delays. Yaya was in school, but he now no longer attends and there is some discrepancy for the true reason this is.  What we do know is he often cried, he would have bathroom accidents in the middle of class, he struggled with embarrassment, and there was no one available to help him. Teachers simply thought he was incontinent which created an inconvenience. However, come to find out he is not at all incontinent. The environment of the school was the problem and it is simply not conducive for his situation. We give thanks to God because he is doing so well with us. He is easily able to walk to the door and go to the bathroom. He is trying to repeat tasks, and he can grip a crayon in his left hand and colors little by little. He is working hard. We need to give God glory for this situation because Yaya also comes from the other side of the village. He is dropped off two hours before we begin and waits. It takes two bikes to transport him and his walker to our side of the village; and then he tries to walk back home at the end of the day. Walking home is a great challenge for this little guy, but we know it will help strengthen his legs, hands and arms. The first time we walked him home, but now he along with his friends from the same side of the village will walk together. We were a little worried to just let him go with his friends because Yaya fell the very first time we tried walking him home. The wheel on Yaya’s walker hit a stick, set him off balance, and he fell straight backwards hitting his head. He was ok, thank the Lord, just a little shook up. If Yaya does not walk, he will wait an additional hour or more for someone in his family to come pick him up. It is a blessed sight to see little 6-8 year olds peddling on adult size bikes carrying all sorts of things. In this case, Yaya’s brother or cousin (8) strapped Yaya’s walker to the back of their bike and peddled behind Yaya who is riding on the back of his sister/cousin’s bike (she was 8 as well). Your heart just melts to see such kindness and helpfulness shown to Yaya.  You know Yaya’s family loves him dearly and greatly desires for him to learn and have the same opportunities as the other children because there is no other explanation for doing all that for just a few hours a day!! Thank you, Jesus,

3

We truly have the sweetest class. We absolutely adore them.  They anxiously wait for us to open our door to begin the day. They are quickly learning the routine and little by little understanding our expectations. They are learning how to listen, how to wait, how to share “toys,” the consequences of hitting, etc.  They are very typical in the sense of having a short attention span and becoming easily distracted by outside factors or one another. The seek both negative and positive attention.  We naively assumed they would be better at sharing materials since they do such a nice job of sharing food and water. However, as with any child before he/she is taught the art of sharing, the sin of selfishness is often evident. They do not like to share things, but they, like all of us, will learn and continue to learn.


Glimpse of our day:

  • Enter pavilion and wash hands whiling singing a song
  • Circle time: hello/good morning song, who came to school today activity for name recognition, what is your name game
  • Calendar time – sing days of the week song, discuss the date, weather (cloudy, rainy, sunny)
  • Color of the day – color activity
  • Music – Jesus loves me (song of the week)
  • Snack
  • Story time (play creation story in Jula on mp3 player)
  • Alphabet review and game
  • Letter review and game
  • Activities – we set up three “centers” sometimes 4.
  • Special large group activity- parachutes, bubbles, a special craft, etc.
  • Goodbye song and pray

Joys of the Day:

The children’s smiley faces and excitement to learn; all their hugs; listening to them repeat French words; hearing them sing the songs; watching them experiment with colors, blocks, letters, cards, glue, paper, etc; their insistence to help us clean up; our additional 30-minute goodbye hugs and handshake routine after the pavilion has been cleaned and closed; and the most heart fulfilling moments are when they point to our cross necklaces and say the name of Jesus. We know the Lord is cultivating something beautiful in them! They know the cross and they know the name of Jesus.


Challenges of the day:

Outside distractions – when the school is on recess break, the other kids flock to the pavilion to see what we are doing. They try to engage our kiddos, which distracts them from listening to us. The kids climb up and hang off the side of the pavilion to peak in, if our kiddos are eating a snack the other kids ask for some; if the kiddos are working on an activity the other kids ask them to show them or give them the answers, etc.…What becomes even more frustrating is when we ask for them kindly to leave and they refuse. Some will listen and others will not. Besides the children acting impolite, their behavior takes time away from our teaching and the students learning. Thankfully, the situation has improved the last few days of class.  Less kids were coming over, and those who did would say a hello and then leave on request. We also have mothers stop by and engage us and if they speak French they may ask if their child can come; while others will say hello and just watch or address the children. In general, there always seems to be an outside interruption every 15 minutes, which is often frustrating and draining after a while. At times, we must remind one another to not always see these interruptions as inconveniences but as God ordained opportunities. Men and women who stop by to watch us can see the way we interact with the children. They can hear the tone of voice with which we use to speak; they have an opportunity to witness the way we correct, yet encourage the children; and they can see the multiple ways we show affection to the children. In the village, there is always a flow of people, and people stopping by to greet and meet; it is cultural. We are still adjusting to open courtyard living, which means you have very limited and lack of personal space and boundaries. We either need to flow with this situation, or else we will hit a wall of resistance and struggle. 


English tutoring:

We have had three students (1 boy and 2 girls) come on Thursday evenings for English conversation and help with homework. It has been so much fun! Helping them, helps us with our French and we have the privilege to ask cultural questions and discuss cultural differences which leads into conversations about why we do what we do. As Peter writes “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” ( 1 Peter 3: 15). The young man Yacouba who attends and was raised in a Muslim home, began asking questions and started attending the Wed. night prayer meetings. Unfortunately, he soon was instructed to stop. We are confident the Lord is going to use our time together as an open door for intriguing conversations. Speaking of intriguing conversations, we had a wonderful conversation with Babou. We were writing and having our devotional time when he inquired about what we were writing and reading. We happily explained, and read to him from the English and French Bible.  We told him he was welcome to read the French Bible anytime. We were able to explain to him, as best we could, the reason we are not yet married, the gift and sacredness of marriage, and the parallel image between marriage and that of Christ’s relationship with His children.

Fun side note, Yacouba is Babou’s son! The Lord is working on him and his family.


Festival of the Mask:

The first week of May was the festival of the mask in our village. It is a week-long festival concerning the coming of age for boys into manhood. Throughout the day, two men dressed in full costumes run around as “the masks” whipping any boys they came across. There is dancing and other ceremonies which take place in the evening. After asking many natives what exactly everything means and why they do what they do, we never got a clear explanation. Every people group has its own mask ceremonies and festivals. They are all rooted in animistic beliefs and a reminder of the spiritual ware fare surrounding us. We were extremely happy, as were the boys, when the festival ended.


God Blessings:

Our pastor officially moved in with his family! So, our last night in the village, we enjoyed a delightful time of food and fellowship with Pastor Bernard and his wife, Dorcas. Typically speaking, people prepare spaghetti(pasta) for celebrations or special occasions. Pastor Bernard’s wife, Dorcas, graciously prepared pasta with chicken. They also brought us cokes and Fanta’s to drink. It was a feast and a time to celebrate the work the Lord has done and is going to do through Pastor Bernard. We also had another unexpected and thoughtful cuisine prepared for us.  Pastor Joel, whom we have mentioned in previous blogs, offered us, essentially, veggie sandwiches. Pastor Joel had prepared pork for us to eat once before; however, this time he served us bread, avocado and onion for lunch. We couldn’t believe it! After our pork incident with him another situation arose in which we had to come clean to him about our meat feelings. He was surprised, but not at all offended. So, he remembered! There are no words to describe his thoughtfulness and kindness.

 We had two beautiful rain falls. Oh, how we greatly enjoy the cooler temperatures the rain brings. During the last rain, we joined a few of the kids as they courageously began playing soccer. The giggles and smiles at the sight of us sopping wet and trying to kick the soccer ball, were priceless.  We did carry some guilt because they had to go back to school soaked and cold, while we could go inside to dry off and put on new clothes.

7

Our first Puppet Show! It was truly a show for all those participating and those watching. We had a fun activity prepared with a powerful message to share with all present. At the same time, God was doing a show of His own. God was showing us His intentionality to draw people to himself, as we needed all hands-on deck to help perform the show.  The Lord is constantly at work. He has to clear out weeds and soften the soil before a seed can be sown. Little by little He is seeking new relationships, while deepening relationships with those who already claim Him as Lord and Savior. We will never fully grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ for us. It is a love that surpasses knowledge (Ephesians 3:18-19).  Literally we had 4 pairs of hands trying to hold up our fabric pieces, due to the wind, which could have easily become a nuisance, yet it was completely a Jesus moment. Pastor Dorcas’ wife had a brilliant idea, and brought us safety pins. Babou passed out peanuts to the children; Ruth and Ashley held up props corresponding with each new day, while Britney changed back ground colors; and Pastor Bernard translated the creation story in Jula. Linda took pictures as well as gave light to the show as the sun set. Luckily, she noticed the sky quickly turning black and before we realized it, she rigged up a spotlight with a solar flashlight.

8

Church Sunday morning- Oh, what a joyous day it was! Pastor Bernard was preaching for the first time as the ordained pastor and we had a packed church of about 20 adults and 30 kids. To our great delight, we had some visitors as well. As Ashley peered out the window she saw one of our girls (from our preschool) being dropped off outside the church. She was followed by two of our other preschool buddies who excitedly ran into the building and stayed.  This was the first time for them. Not only were they full of joy and enthusiasm, but they also had crosses with them. On the Friday before, we did a special craft with them which included foam crosses and other foam pieces.  They could have chosen any other piece, but they choose the cross. Holding back tears of elation and suppressing the desire to jump and down we gazed upon the beautiful scene God painted right in front of us. Once again, God gave us a show of His love for us. He reassured us we are where He has called us. Sunday was one of those moments in which we wanted to fall on our knees before the King. Cleary there is one True God.  “There is peace and fullness of Joy in His Loving Presence. As [we] delight in the Lord He fills [us] up with Love, Joy and Peace. Look for Him throughout the day, He is eager to be found by you” (Young, Sarah).


Prayer Request:

  • Pray the children remember our words as being encouraging and comforting to them even when we are not with them. Through our physical touch, we pray they feel gentleness and a sense of security. Even when we correct and/or redirect their behavior we pray they see patience and unconditional forgiveness.
  • Pray for the fruit of the spirit to be evident, especially on the days we will be tested and tried.
  • Continued prayer for spiritual and physical protection
  • Continued prayer for the Chief to give his blessing stating that anyone interested in going to church has the freedom to go.
  • Continued prayer for softening of hearts and awaking of eyes
Uncategorized

Hello There!!

17240712_10155088926174089_1237552940440080339_oSorry, it’s been awhile since our last post. So much has been going on and we have been keeping track of everything. Several posts will be put out to get you all caught up to the present. Looking back to the last several months here is what has been happening in our lives.


To begin we will give you a quick summary of life in the city:

As we previously said in our other posts we take full advantage of cold water; the fridge, shower heads, fans, wireless connection, accessible food, and physical activity. During our time in the city we explored our area a little more, which meant we had to walk! It was wonderful to walk for more than an hour. We found a new boutique, a mini store we like, a boulangerie (bread store), and the food marche (open air food market). We also took a walk on the “wild side” and took a taxi cab for the first time! Us along with our new friend, Donna, whom lives in the city, decided to ride over to the other side of town. To be blunt, the taxi was questionable, but we made it to our destination without a break down or passing out from the heat and odd smells. Our driver was extremely nice as well. The quality of the taxi was different from ours (which we anticipated), but we did not expect to stop for gas. Both drivers stopped to buy gas; however, they did not fill up the tank but they simply put in a few cents. We also had to bargain and set a price to pay before we accepted the cab rides. They don’t use taxi meters to measure distance and time. Hopefully we got a good deal! Our adventure to the other side of town was a success. We bought a French press, made copies for our preschool, bought paper, notebooks, scissors, etc. We also had passport photos taken to use for our US embassy library cards.


Memorable moments:

Copy store: A single room space with paper and select office materials enclosed in a glass case on one side and a couple of copiers on the other side.

Differences: We had to ask for the type of paper or material we wanted to buy and we were not able to make the copies ourselves. Back at home, we can make copies quickly at work, Kinkos, library, etc. but here, it does not work quite like that. We waited about two hours, maybe more, for 100 copies to be printed.

You might be thinking this would be frustrating, especially if you are on a time crunch (you learn quickly not to do anything on a time crunch), but it was very nice. We were not in a hurry, there was a slight breeze from whatever was blowing out of the air conditioner, and we enjoyed listening to Christian music. They were playing Christian music! Come to find out, yes, they are believers. They were also extremely helpful, patience with our French, and just genuinely kind. It was a success!

US Embassy: It was a cup of reverse cultural shock. Of course, green grass surrounded the Embassy- literally the only grass in town as of now. The bathroom had an automatic flush toilet, a soap dispenser, paper towels and an automatic hand drier! We were not able to take a tour or go anywhere else on the grounds besides the library. You can take a tour, but you must schedule in advance. We hope to tour next time we visit the city. We decided to visit the Embassy library because an American friend informed us the library was amazing, thus, pre-bias expectations were set. We were visualizing our home library, yet on a smaller scale. Reality and expectations did not match up in terms of book selection. The library was clean, organized, there was a flat screen T.V, computers, water accessible to drink, a trash can, tables to work at, a few magazines, dvds to rent, and a selection of books. It really was very, very nice, and you did feel like you stepped back into the States for a bit. Plus, it is one of the few libraries here, possibly the only one. The choice of books was slim and outdated, but they had a selection of both French and English resources. After we looked over the book selection we decided to try out the computers to freshen up on US news. Our internet accessibility did not last long, not do to internet connection, but rather do to viruses. To say the least, we will have a forever implanted memory of disturbing images- yikes! Before one uses the computer, he must sign a contract which holds you accountable to what you are or are not permitted to research. The contract was violated from someone else and we had the pleasure of exposing the culprit. We kindly reported the problem and were reassured they would find out who last used the computers, so hopefully this will not happen again. Overall, it was a good visit. The guards and workers were helpful, warm, friendly and inviting. Lesson relearned: expect the unexpected.

17758180_10155150498759089_3478506077586776956_oAdoptive Family: Another highlight of our time in the city was meeting our adoptive family. The boy adopted out is profoundly deaf and 14. Praise God for this adoption. Sheltering Wings adopts children with special needs, which includes children over the age of 6. Because older children are more difficult to find forever families they are considered a special needs case. US law also states that a child adopted here must reach US soil before their 16th birthday and it takes about 2 years for the adoption to be completed. Our adoptions are more difficult and challenging, yet, the Lord has been faithful to give families for these children. It breaks our heart to see these older children who may never have a family and the children with disabilities who would excel in the US. We pray for God to convict people to have a heart for these children. One of the many blessing which came from this particular adoption was the opportunity for the adoption to be filmed by the organization known as, The Archibald Project. The Archibald Project is an orphan care advocacy organization. They use media to advocate for orphans, educate people on orphan care, build community and inspire people into action. Because of their stories fewer children are called orphan (http:www.thearchibaldproject.com). Praise God! We encourage you to check out their website!! Adding the cherry on top, they also asked to film and promote Sheltering Wings!

Meeting others: While staying at the guest house we had the pleasure and joy of meeting a gentleman, “JP.” We actually knew of him before we met him. When we first came to the city we had meet another missionary who told us about his friend J.P and his story. J.P. grew up here. We do not know his story in detail, but we do know he had to choose between his faith or family. His step-father tried to kill him with an ax so he fled his village. He ended up in the capital and met an American missionary couple. By God’s grace his life was forever changed. JP is a follower of Jesus and working to build His kingdom by ministering in the US and in here. JP’s nonprofit is called Kingdom Investment International. Its mission “is to engage the body of Christ to empower the local people to solve their own socio-economic difficulties”. Through the founding initiatives of the Micro Finance Initiative, the School of Leadership and Development, and the Community Project Initiative, Kingdom Investment International equips communities by establishing core proficiencies that promote sustainability for generations to come” (http://kingdominvestment.org/). It was truly an honor to meet him. His love for the Lord radiates and his passion for the work God has called Him to is encouraging and inspiring. Not only did we have the opportunity to speak with him we also had the privilege to help assist him with interviews. He was interviewing nationals (women!) for a liaison position. He asked us to help him rate their language comprehension, language proficiency and language clarity. We interviewed 4 women. We hope to hear whom the Lord put on his heart to hire.


Some other highlights:

Guesthouse guards: Our guards at the guest house offered us a gift of peanuts and tried to speak English with us. One guard offered Ashley his hat after she said that she liked it. Culturally, if you tell someone you like something he/she has, you are indirectly asking for it. Whoops!! Her intention was to merely complete his sense of fashion. We think he was quite happy when she refused his gift.

Swimming: Yes, we went swimming. Some missionary friends have a pool and invited us for a dip! It felt amazing!! They are a family who are all about hospitality and community. They are part of a Pentecostal missionary organization. They help plant churches, do pastoral care, Sunday school, etc. What is really amazing- all God of course, Ashley used to go to grade school with their son-in-law!! While visiting for dinner one evening, we were looking at family pictures when Ashley thought their son-in-law looked all too familiar. She asked what his name was and where he went to grade school. Sure enough, she knew him and he remembered her. They were friends back in the day. God is always doing the unimaginable. He along with his family are moving here in December.

Easter:—Day of Life and Celebration!!

“Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said” Matthew 28:5-6”

“We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father we too may live a new life” (Romans 6:4).

Although we did not die Easter eggs, or feast over the traditional Easter delicacies, it was still a wonderful Easter. Truly a day set apart for the Lord. Easter, the celebration of Christ’s victory, is the most important day to celebrate as a Christian. We missed our family and celebrating Easter with them of course, but we appreciated the sole focus on His resurrection. If Easter was going to be celebrated, it was going to be about Him, not the Easter bunny or Easter baskets and such. At church we took communion which, once again, was overwhelmingly powerful and joyful. We could not contain tears of gratitude and adoration for Him. We sang songs of His victory and resurrection and the pastor preached about what Jesus did and what it means for us today! Glory Hallelujah! Later that day, we did try to boil eggs to make deviled eggs or at least egg salad, but failed miserably. We are finally learning how to distinguish edible, good eggs from nonedible, rotten eggs. You can do the sink vs float test depending on type of chicken egg. You have pentad eggs and chicken eggs. The float test is dependable for regular chicken eggs- if egg floats it is bad, but if sinks it is good. However, with pentad eggs it depends. Usually you must crack them open to find out. Usually you know by smell and color; however sometimes the egg does not have a potent smell so you must decide if it is a bad or good egg by the yoke consistency If the yoke breaks apart easily or separates it is bad. We tried over a dozen eggs- all bad. The night before we were “successful”, in making chocolate chip cookies. Well, they were a little dry, but editable. They tasted mostly like sugar and chocolate. Britney feels they turned out exactly how the people here would enjoy them. We passed out the cookies with an attached scripture verse on Easter. We simply wanted to bless the people and let them know how much God loves them and the reason for this national holiday.

Perks continued: We have found our new “Q.T.”, now known as Total, Bonjour. They have a mini coffee machine, patisserie/boulangerie, cold drinks and other assorted beverages, milk, cereal, candy, assorted snacks and cookies, chips, etc. and the best dried mango we have found. Feels like your typical gas stop.

While we were in the city we tagged along with Ruth and Linda to visit some of our kiddos, up for adoptions. As you can imagine not all the orphanages are in good condition. Mixed emotions run through you as you see workers, whom appear to be caring and affectionate with the children, yet see the living conditions and how extremely poor they are. All we can do is pray for them and pray they find forever families.

Our time in the city was blessed, but we are ready to return to home and begin our work with the children.

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