Friday, December 30, 2011

The love of a father

This is Maurice and his father. Maurice came to the orphanage a few months ago with his mother and older sister. His mother had an epileptic seizure and dropped him into a fire. You cannot tell from this picture, but the other side of his head is scarred pretty significantly and he probably will not grow hair there.

When they first arrived. they lived in the clinic while Maurice was being treated for his burns. It became evident that his mother was not well mentally. His sister, around six or seven years old was taking care of the family.

The family's situation was tough. The mother and father were not married, which shamed her family and there was nobody to take care of Maurice. The orphanage wanted to take him in and care for him, however the mother had to agree.  Fortunately she did.

Maurice is doing well. He will stay at the orphanage until he is two years old and then he will hopefully be placed with a family member.

Maurice's father has been visiting him from time to time and we were able to meet him. You can see the genuine love he has for his son. The way he looks at him, talks to him, laughs with him. It's beautiful.

It reminds me of the love that our heavenly father has for us and the relationship that he desires to have with us.

“The word of the LORD came to me, saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart.” --Jeremiah 1:4-5

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The reality of it all....

We come here and laugh at many of the differences we come across in Africa. We write about some of them to share in our laughter, but we are quickly reminded of the reason we are here. The understanding that we are in an area with extreme needs, and an environment that you would have a difficult time understanding by any explanation that I could give you.

There are these Diamonds in the dust as I call them. These babies, these children and these teens that come from the most desperate situations in one of the most difficult places in the world. God has allowed us to be here with, and for them. That's why it is difficult for us to watch when the small unseen enemies of many of the people of Africa strikes. A flu like sickness has swept through the orphanage. We have 2 babies that had to be brought to a hospital in the larger town of Ouahigouya (pronounced: why-yo-gwee-ah), and have three babies here that are being treated with I.V.'s by our staff in our medical clinic. Some of these babies come in poor health to begin with, so a sickness of this magnitude is a very scary thing. Prayer is needed!

As Amy and Delaney continued to care for these sick children, they both felt the affects of the illness. Amy fought it off fairly well, but Delaney has been running a fever for 2 days and hasn't been able to eat much. Through this her spirits are still good! She is an amazing young lady.

It is a battle, but that's why we are here. The reality that so many people try to ignore is the reality that we have embraced. The one that God has called us to attend to. To feed his sheep, and to care for the widows and orphans. To deny this call would be to deny what God had designed our family for.

This is truly a nation of kind, gentle, loving people with so many "diamonds in the dust" that simply do not have the means to help themselves. Your prayers, your encouragement, your financial support and your concern are needed. These children, these widows, these people are God's children. Help us help them.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

The Leatherman that almost saved Christmas Dinner

Things here in Africa are very different. We are quickly realizing that we and Toto are not in Kansas anymore.  I spent the day yesterday working on our home. I was hanging a ceiling fan and dropped a screw for one of blades. Amy was simply said, "no problem, you have another fan there, take one out of there!" Well, that would work for the moment, but what do I do when I hang the second fan? I quickly realized that there was no home depot around the corner, in fact, if I loose a needed part on these fans, I will have to purchase an entire new fan! Situations like these certainly grows ones prayer life!

Then we attended our new church last night, this is a whole new experience. I am greeted by the pastor, and asked to sit on the stage facing the crowd, keep in mind my A.D.D., now take into consideration that this service is over 4 hrs. long. I must admit I was a bit nervous. Well, I can only describe it as amazing. They had a short message of the Christmas story, and how we like the shepherds in the field, and the wise men, then it was praise, worship, and prayer. There was dancing, skits, more dancing, singing, and more singing. At 1:30 in the morning, I headed back to the orphanage, but I heard the church singing praises and dancing from 2 blocks away until close to 3!

Then it was Christmas. Headed to church and had another great time, seeing all these people that are so blessed, yet have nothing in this material world is humbling. We headed home and started to prepare for Christmas dinner, just as Amy was about to put in the first batch of Christmas cookies the gas ran out. So I get busy changing out the Gas bottle, but with all my might, I can't loosen the gas line connection, I look over the entire orphanage for a wrench, but to no avail. Being the hero that I am, I jump into action, I mean this is Christmas dinner! I tell Amy not to worry, I have a wrench at the house, I run over, grab the wrench and race back............. It's too small. Now my bigger wrench which I wanted to bring from the states was left because we did not have the weight available in our luggage to bring it along. Now What?!?!?! Things were starting to get tense (as tense as they get here in Africa :) ) When all hope seemed lost, I remembered our neighbor from cooper city had given a Leatherman to me as a going away gift!! I tore through the luggage, and found it in the last bag! I opened it and sure enough it opened wide enough to get a bite on connection. It still would not open!!!! What am I going to do? That still little voice in the back of my head then gently spoke. "Your in Africa, try turning the connection the other way." So with my bare hand I went and gently unscrewed the connection and changed the bottle. Note to self: "Righty Tighty, Lefty Loosey does not apply in Africa"

Friday, December 23, 2011

Yako Receives Us!

Everyone (dog included) made it safe and sound to Ouagadougou  the evening of December 20th. We had a busy couple of days taking care of cells phones, internet keys, purchasing a stove and refrigerator and meeting with old friends and new.

To say Ouaga is like getting on a roller coaster is an understatement. You literally have to hold on as you navigate the streets. It was pretty exciting with life going on around much to see!

Today we made our journey to Yako. As you leave the city, everything changes. The busyness in the street slows way down and the landscape changes. You pass small villages, farmers in the fields, an occasional person on a bicycle or a donkey cart. This is Africa!

When we arrived in Yako we drove straight to our new home. The minute we pulled up to the gate, children cam running at us waving. These are our new neighbors! Once we had pulled through the gate and shut of the engine, there were at least thirty people standing in our courtyard waiting to greet us. Bonjour!! There were small children, teens, moms with babies on their backs and grandmothers.

Our new neighbors! Evan isn't in the picture because he is behind the camera.

We started to unpack the car and truck, but swiftly they came to help. Everyone carrying items to our porch and into our home. The welcome party did not stop there! Suddenly women were coming over with large bowls of water and rags. They proceeded to clean the inside of our house! Merci!! We were truly overwhelmed by their graciousness.

We had to leave and head over to the orphanage. They waved as we left. At the orphanage we were welcomed with signs on the door and in our bedrooms. We were greeted by the children and Anne and Judith who are two girls from Germany who graduated and are spending several months in Yako before starting their college studies...just like Evan who we brought with us.
It's very late here and tomorrow is Christmas Eve!! More pictures to come.

Love and blessings!

Friday, December 16, 2011

It's Time!

This Monday we are flying out of Miami International Airport! It's finally here! Bags packed (for the most part), Dog's papers in order, furniture sold...firming up all the little details.

We are still amazed! We are in awe that we would be blessed so much. We are humbled that God would have this plan for us.

Our dear friends, family and even the people we have never met that have been praying for us along the are precious to us!

It's time. To start a new life, on a new continent, in a new country, in a new town. We will meet new people, work along side them and love them. And we know how to love them because of the love God has for us...the love he has displayed for us through you!!

Thank you! We love you and we cannot wait to share this adventure with you. The next time you hear from us it will be from Burkina!!!

Love and Blessings!
Mike and Amy

Friday, November 25, 2011

Not to Help, But to Assist

At the end of 2010 our journey to Burkina Faso West Africa began with a short term missions trip. Prior to the trip I was given some very sound advice. Knowing me, as some of you reading this do, you understand that I can be one to make a mistake every once in awhile.......or maybe a little more often than that. So in preparation for my first trip to Africa, I studied what I could (which means Amy studied then told me all about it), I learned some key phrases in their native language, and even went out and bought some "missionary" clothes that were appropriate for Africa! Our church raised $5000 for projects for us to do while I was there. I was equipped, I was ready, but there was that small still voice in the back of my mind that whispered "you can still blow this".

The last thing I wanted to do is to go to Africa and start some kind of civil war or tribal uprising with an improper statement or  cultural faupaux that I unknowingly committed. I started to get worried. I e-mailed Ruth, the missionary working in Burkina, asking a simple question. "What is the one biggest misconception or mistake that I can make when I'm there?"  This was an obvious cry for help...trying to protect me from myself.  The missionary was quiet for a moment and then stated that they had never been asked that question before. After much thought she responded, "Thinking that you can change anything in the few weeks you are here".

When I first heard this, I wasn't sure how to react. I mean, that is what a mission trip is about, isn't it? Changing the world? I had plans! I had ideas! I had projects! As you know, Americans are very project oriented. We tend to move in, get the job done, and move on!! We have that "We can do this!" attitude (which falls right in line with my A.D.D.).  So I had to stop, step back and think about it for a bit. I realized that I had all these great ideas and plans, but I didn't even understand the need. I did not have a clue on what God was already doing there!  I didn't need to help, in fact, I may do more damage than good if I decided to go and help them as I planned.  What I needed to do is simply assist. The change that was needed was not in the environment that I was walking into, but the change that was needed was within me.  God was already doing great things there! My position was to come along side those that have been on the job for years furthering His kingdom. To assist in what God was already doing!

But the person who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with him. - 1 Corinthians 6:17

So many times we go into things thinking we can change the world. If we simply join the Lord in His efforts...effectiveness is a given, provision is guaranteed, and victory is absolute!


p.s. To see some of the work being done by God through Ruth and the team in Yako, visit Burkina Orphanage

Friday, November 11, 2011

A Dog Moves to Africa "OR" So You Want to Fly Your Pet to Another Country

Many people who know us, know that we have a dog. Her name is Apple. We have been asked what we are going to do with Apple, now that we are moving to Burkina Faso. The simple answer is that she is coming with us, but that's where simple ends.

Apple Testing Out Her Travel Crate

There is a lot involved when you relocate a pet to another continent.
1) Have your pooch microchipped
My vet explained that this is not so much for if your dog gets loose, but to ensure that the paperwork and the dog match eachother. Let's face it...they will not have scanners to identify her in Burkina Faso! This was a painless injection between her shoulderblades that took just a few seconds.
2) Make sure the rabies vaccination is up to date and falls has been administered more than 2 months prior to travel.
3) Purchase the appropriate travel crate. Airlines have standards. Lots of them. Ventilation on all 4 sides for international travel, room for your pet to sit, stand, turn around and lie down comfortably, plastic hardware must be replaced with metal, and there are stickers, tags, tie wraps, instructions, etc., etc, etc.
4) Have the vet fill out the appropriate health certificate (10 days and no sooner) and have it translated to french (or whichever language they speak in the country you are traveling to). There is also a special form that needs to be filled out at that time and brought to the closest USDA office for a stamp of approval.

Then you wait. And on the day of travel there are special feeding instructions and check-in instructions.


Why? Because this little critter has been a part of your family. And the adventure that lies ahead...she will be a part of too.

So when you pray for safe travels for our family when we depart...please remember to pray for Apple too!

Love and Blessings!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

We Have a House!!

Contract signed. Deposit made. It's official.

Things are getting very exciting! Now that we are counting down the weeks until our departure, we have been very busy finalizing details. One big detail was finding a house. Now that we know where we will be living, we are beginning the process of having a few repairs done.

Close your eyes with me and dream of the possibilities. There are a few leaks in the roof which the landlord is going to repair. We are going to have metal supports and a metal roof on the patio you see here. In the future we will have that screened in. The biggest endeavor is going to be adding a bathroom. Right now there is one bathroom...and for us Americans, adapting to living and eating in just isn't going to do.

We have one air-conditioning unit which we hope is working, but we have electricity...which is huge. Many people don't have this luxury in Burkina Faso.

This is the kitchen. Running water...another luxury. We will have to filter the water and possibly boil it as well. We have a little work to do in the kitchen, but with a few repairs, a good cleaning and some paint it will shape up nicely.

We are excited to make this house our home. We are excited to make the town of Yako our home. Mostly, we are excited to meet our neighbors, meet the children at Les Ailes de Refuge and begin the work that God has for us there.
"But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus"  - Philippians 4:19
More updates soon. Until then...walk in faith and be blessed!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Malaria...2 million illnesses a year!

Malaria is disease caused by Plasmodium parasites. Plasmodia are transmitted between humans by the bite of an Anopheles mosquito that carries the parasite. When Plasmodium parasites enter the human bloodstream, they travel to the liver and reproduce quickly. Symptoms are fever, chills, body aches, vomiting and if not addressed quickly can result in anemia, brain damage and death.

When you think of Malaria, you often don't think of the United States, however this disease has affected people since the beginning of human history. Back in the 1940's, it was such a problem that Disney created a short film entitled "The Winged Scourge" seen below.

Today, half the world's population is at risk. The vast majority of malaria cases and malaria-related deaths occur in sub-Saharan Africa, according to the World Health Organization which has called this region "the heartland of malaria." Children are the hardest hit. According to Unicef 85% of those who die from malaria are under the age of 5. This year alone 800,000 children will die.

Vaccines for malaria have been in the works for some time. Clinical trials have been done, however results have not yet been significant. Medication can be taken to suppress the disease from presenting, however it is too expensive for those that are hit the hardest. These people barely have money to feed their families.

This week, two babies from the orphanage we will be joining in a few short months were taken to the hospital. One of those babies had a severe case of malaria and was put on an IV. Education, preventative measures (mosquito nets, repellents) and early detection are key in saving the lives of children. I ask that you please pray for these babies, Paco and Christiane. They are stable and improving, but things can turn so very quickly.

Love and Blessings!

Monday, September 19, 2011

The call to battle has sounded

Throughout history many battle cries have been sounded. A Battle Cry is a yell or chant taken up in Battle, usually by members of the same military unit. Battle cries are not necessarily articulate, although they often aim to invoke Patriotic or religious sentiment. Their purpose is a combination of arousing aggression and raise spirit on one's own side and causing intimidation on the hostile side.

When Amy and I answered our call and gave up the life that we knew to pursue the will of Christ for our lives, the battle cry was sounded. We saw the injustice of evil that has been raging like a wild fire in Africa. Poverty, Starvation, Disease, illiteracy, and the dark veils of Islam and Animism. It was a battle we could not walk away from. The trumpet has sounded and we are marching forward. The one thing we are made aware of is that the battle begins the moment the cry is heard by the enemy. Our case is no different. The attack comes from all directions, and it comes hard.

This is why it is important to have the army assembled and prepared before the cry. We have been blessed with a great team, church, and family that has been lifting us up in prayer from the moment we decided to go to battle. The more people we have praying, the stronger we become. The closer to the battle we get, the more frequent the attacks become. But we are not alone, When we suited up, when we took up arms, others joined us. Many came forward and said, "I'm all in!" whether it was spiritually with prayer, financially, or even physically, the army was formed. The charge was on. As I look around, I am humbled as I read: 

For the Lord your God is going with you! He will fight for you against your enemies, and he will give you victory! --Deuteronomy 20:4

Standing not next to us, but ahead of us is God the Creator, taking on the battle that we have been called to so we can be assured of Victory. As Christ is ahead of us, we need the rest of the army behind us, encouraging, equipping, and praying for our strength, our courage, our purity, and our focus. We need the help of all, to make sure we stay behind the one that goes ahead of us. Please join the battle.

With Love and Unity in Christ,

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

4-14 in the 10-40....What do all these numbers mean?

4-14? 10-40? Am I stuck in a bad trucker movie from the 1970's? (I actually loved all those cheesy movies) What are all these codes about? What do they mean? These numbers are sadly two windows that are very important, but often overlooked.

The 4-14 is a demographic window. It represents the 1.2 billion children between the ages of 4-14. Do you realize that here in the United States, 85% of conversions to Christ happen between the ages of 4-14? The 4-14'ers are the most ready and reachable "people group". Right now only 15% of global missions giving goes to the efforts of reaching children. 70% of children in the 4-14 age bracket (nearly a billion children) live in an area that is called the 10-40 Window.

The 10-40 window is not a demographic window, but a geographic window. This is an area found between the latitudes of 10 degree north to 40 degrees north spanning from North Africa, and covering much of Asia.

This window is where 2/3rds of the worlds population lives. This is the region that the worlds poorest live and where the three largest non-christian religions are most highly concentrated (Islam, Hindu, and Buddhism). This area is starving, both physically and spiritually. Millions are dying without ever hearing the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Here is the part that shocked Amy and I. Less than 2% of missionaries sent out today are sent to the 10-40 window. Only 1% of missions giving goes to this area of the world. The need is great! The workers are few.

He told them, "The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.     -Luke 10:2

Quick break down.....
We are going to a place where 2/3 of the worlds population lives in the most unreached area of the world, then realize that 2% of all missionaries are sent there with 1% of missions giving, and only 15% of that is usually spent on reaching the most receptive and "ready" demographic in the world. We have a God sized task! If the children of Burkina Faso are reached for Christ, then an entire nation can be reached in just one generation. Your prayers, your support, and your encouragement will directly impact the 4-14 in the 10-40!

God Bless You!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Desires of My Heart

Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4
I have come to understand the meaning of this verse. I believe that when you love God with all your heart and put Him before all other things that he gives you the desires of your heart. Not your own desires, but His desires. He places His desires in your heart so that your desires equal His.

I know this because of my desire to move with my family to another continent, another culture to serve God. If you were to have asked me two years ago what my desires were, I would not have even thought to say…to become a missionary in Burkina Faso. As I put aside my own desires and gave God sovereignty over my life He moved in and went to work. I now have certainty and peace that I never knew before.

It gives me tremendous joy to witness this happening in the lives of people around me. Imagine the smile on God’s face when He sees the love His children express to each other.

There is another child being adopted from the orphanage in Yako. What a blessing it is when a family decides to share their lives with a child who has no family. What a blessing when this child comes from another country where survival is a struggle. AND what a blessing when this child has special needs. The family adopting Samson is amazing. God placed this desire in their hearts. Please pray for them and the journey ahead of them.

Read more about Samson’s interaction with his new family in Ruth’s blog, Burkina Orphanage.

Love & Blessings!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011's not a dance!

Take a break if you will, from the daily stresses of this thing we call life. From the increasing economic challenges before us. It's a good time to focus on the positive. It's a good time to notice the miracles around us.

Today I want to share with you just how a loving God provides. How something so simple...a tree...can change peoples lives. You may not have heard of the Moringa tree, but it has been called a miracle tree. Once you hear about this miracle...I hope you will share it with others.

Moringa Trees at the orphanage in Yako, Burkina Faso
The Moringa Tree

This tree has enormous benefits. Every part is valuable. The wood can be used for fuel and it also yields a blue dye. Crushed leaves can be used for scrubbing pots or cleaning walls. The pulp is suitable for making paper. The seeds contain oil that can be used for cooking and when crushed and placed in water, these same seeds draw contaminants and harmful bacteria out of the water, purifying it. Most amazing is the nutritional value that comes from the leaves. The leaves can be ground into a powder and added to food. This powder is like a mega-vitamin. It has 7 times the Vitamin C of oranges, 4 times the Vitamin A of carrots, 4 times the Calcium of milk, 3 times the Potassium of bananas and 2 times the protien of yogurt. Truly miraculous? That's not even the most miraculous thing about this tree.

We live in a world where 925 million people are undernourished. Going hungry is lethal. To truly appreciate the "true miracle", I have a map to show you. The top of this map shows the areas of the world that suffer the most from malnutrition. The bottom half shows where the Moringa tree grows naturally.

When I first saw this my mouth dropped and my eyes teared up. This is God at work! This is His divine provision for His people!

This funny named tree is a miracle to the people who need it the most, but many of these people do not realize what they have available to them. This is why we need to pass on information.

Serving with Sheltering Wings in Burkina Faso, we will utilize the trees growing at the orphange as we care for children. We will share the information we know with others and we will give God the glory.
And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus. Phillipians 4:19

Love and Blessings!!

Monday, August 1, 2011

The Mission Heart Beats Louder

The closer we get to the projection date of our launch (which is the quickly approaching month of November), we start to see the world we live in change. Going to the grocery store is.......... different, the daily routines of life in South Florida are different, even the conversations we have are different. The hearts of our family that broke for the country of Burkina Faso are now starting to beat differently.

Our new hearts, missionary hearts are starting to race. Like the drums of the orphanage boys during their Tuesday night bible study...pounding over the hot air of the courtyard. We become more excited as each day passes. We ask ourselves if God could truly be putting us on His front lines, using us for something as wonderful and showing the widows, the children, and the orphans of Africa the love of Christ. WOW!! Only He could pull something like that off!

In an area that I have lived in for over 40 years of my 41 years on earth, I start to feel like an outsider, a visitor. The things that used to excite me here, seem almost a task. Amazing is His path!

Proverbs 3:6

 Seek his will in all you do,
    and he will show you which path to take.
God has given my family a new home, a new direction, and a new passion. We continue to prepare and plan, we continue to minimize and organize. He keeps putting each piece of the puzzle in its place. He is showing us that the opportunities of the ways we can reach Burkina Faso are ENDLESS!! The need is so great.

I want to say thanks to all those who have stepped up and joined the "Reach Burkina" Team! I'm praying that all others would consider partnering with us. Become a part of what God is doing in Burkina Faso with us.

Walking in Faith!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Clean Water?

Running from a faucet. In abundance. Safe to drink.
We take these things for granted.

In the past few days, here in South Florida, several cities were issued a boil water order. The bacteria E-coli was found present in the water supply. This created problems for individuals as well as businesses. Something as simple as water can wreak havoc in our otherwise secure and stable lives.

Our daughter, Haley went to Starbucks and wasn’t able to buy a drink. Yes, Starbucks. A news article detailed the frustration people were having being forced to empty their ice bins and having to buy bags of ice. Annoyed over the inconvenience of having to boil water and wait for it to cool down so they could have a drink or brush their teeth.

Now, let us take a journey across the globe to sub-saharan Africa where water is an everyday struggle. Take a look at how water effects the lives of billions of people.

Diane and her two siblings do not attend school. It is the job of the children to fetch water for their family’s needs. Each day they travel over two miles to fill up containers with water. They are limited to what they can carry so they make this trip several times throughout the day.
Fatima is eight years old and severely malnourished. It was a good harvest this year and the family has been eating well. Still, Fatima is losing weight. The disease she picked up from drinking unclean water is affecting the way her body processes food and is reducing nutrient absorption.

Safieta just buried her fourteen month old son Idrissa. He was ill with diarreah and became severely dehydrated. She tried giving him water, but his condition just got worse. She didn’t realize that parasites in the water made him sick. By the time she got to a health clinic, it was too late.

Lack of access to clean water kills more children than AIDS, malaria and measles combined.

Efforts to bring clean, safe water to villages throughout Africa are taking place and the wells being built are saving lives!

Part of the work we will be doing, serving with Sheltering Wings in Burkina Faso will be bringing clean water to communities in need. A well in a village means children are freed up to attend school and fewer people will get sick.

Water is life!

Isaiah 12:3-4

 Joyfully you'll pull up buckets of water
   from the wells of salvation.
And as you do it, you'll say,
   "Give thanks to God.
Call out his name.
   Ask him anything!
Shout to the nations, tell them what he's done,
   spread the news of his great reputation!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Silly Faces

Despite their the heart of the matter, kids are the same...all over the world!  

Saturday, June 18, 2011

A Forever Home

The number of orphans in Burkina Faso is growing. It's estimated that 1 out of every 10 children is an orphan...which adds up to over 700,000 children without parents.

There are several reasons that children become orphans. Aids and other diseases, mental illness, poverty, and death of one or both parents lead children to be abandoned, sent to relatives or taken in by orphanages like The Sheltering Wings Orphanage (Les Ailes de Refuge) in Yako.

The children at the orphanage, whose ages range from newborn to 22 years old are given special care and a chance for a better life. They receive schooling, clothing, nutritious food, medical care, love and the hope that comes from having a relationship with Jesus Christ.

Some of the children stay temporarily at the orphanage with the hope that they can be integrated back into their families. Others will be at the orphanage their entire lives unless a family comes along and and adopts them, giving them a forever home. This is what every child dreams of.

Sheltering Wings has helped many children find families to call their own. This week, Jule's parents are coming to pick him up.

Jule is one of the babies that captured Delaney's heart when she visited last January. He was always ready to climb up in her lap and had such a sweet disposition. Jule made her laugh with his habit of finding someones shoes, putting on only one of them and running around. He thought this was pretty funny too!

Delaney with Jule (note: one shoe!)

Please pray for Jule and his new family. Pray that all goes smoothly and that the transition for him comes easily. Also, please pray for the other children who would like to find their forever homes.

Love and blessings!

Father to the fatherless, defender of widows — this is God, whose dwelling is holy. God places the lonely in families.  --Psalms 68:5-6

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Every Child Deserves A Chance

...And whosoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me.  -Matthew 18:5
One of the important programs that Sheltering Wings has is a Child Sponsorship Program. The needs of these children are critical. Their life circumstances are hard and offer little hope. Tragedy and misfortune have left them with very little opportunity for medical care, proper nutrition or schooling.

Mariam Ouedraogo, Age 9

One of the children who is in need of sponsorship to continue her education is nine year old Mariam Ouedrogo. Her father is living, but is not well mentally. There are not many programs to assist the mentally ill in Burkina Faso, so much of the time he is found wandering the streets. Mariam lives with her mother and three older brothers. Her mother supports the family by collecting wood to sell in the market, however it is not enough to meet their needs. Mariam is the only one in her family to receive an education. Her mother has made great sacrifices to send Mariam to school, however this past year she has been very ill and unable to cultivate food for the family. There is no electricity or running water in their home. Despite the harsh reality of her life, Mariam has done exceptionally well in school receiving very high marks and has remained healthy. Right now she is in desperate need of finding a sponsor...she is in desperate need of a chance.

Child Sponsorship is a $35 a month investment in the life of a child. Sponsorship provides food, clothing, education and medical needs. Please pray for Mariam and the hundreds of children like her. Consider becoming a sponsor and make a tremendous difference in the life of a child.

I have packets for children and will be happy to review the materials with you. You can find me at Hollywood Community Church every Wednesday evening and Sunday morning. You can also e-mail me at For those living outside of Florida, you can find more info on becoming a sponsor at

Love and Blessings,

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Hands, Feet, Heart

People often ask us why we would choose give everything up and move across the world to a little heard of country in West Africa. It certainly will be challenging...we will have to sell all of our possessions, leave the comforts we have grown accustomed to, no longer have instant access to family and friends. Some may think of it as "weird". I started reading a book called Weird: Because Normal Isn't Working. The author stesses in the book that the things that Jesus taught were pretty weird. Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also.  Jesus was the best kind of weird.

We want to be the hands and feet of Christ. We want to have His heart. We want to love people so much that when they look at us they can see Christ in us. We want to be Jesus, narrow path weird.

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.  --Matthew 7:13-14

And that brings us to Burkina Faso. God placed a love in our hearts for the people of this country and we feel incredibly blessed that He would use us to minister there. The need is great and God is at work.

Babies at the orphanage in Yako, Burkina Faso
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.  --James 1:27

Love and Blessings!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Baby Steps

Not the sound of the steps of the orphans that we pray we can soon minister to, but the baby steps spoken of by the wise psychology of Richard Dreyfuss in "What about Bob". It's hard not to look forward to all the possibilities and responsibilities of what awaits in Africa. Instead we need to continue to focus on the road to get there. One of those steps was reading a book called "Serving as Senders" by Neal Pirolo. If you are remotely interested in missions, even if you have no desire to ever go out into a cross cultural  ministry, this is a MUST READ! What a great book. Each "baby step" shows us how much we still don't know, but gets us one more step towards our goal.

We just received word from mission board that Amy and I are looking to be sent by that they want for us to meet the entire board next month. So it looks like we will be flying to St. Louis on the 15th of May for a number of interviews and tests. I'm not worried about the psychological testing on me as much as I am for Amy. Once anyone meets me, they automatically are convinced that Amy must be unstable to some degree if she decided to marry someone like myself. :)

We look forward to going. For those who don't know, St. Louis is where my brother Jeff also lives, so I hope that at some point in my short time there, that we will be able to see the family. All your prayers for this step is appreciated! We will be there likely through May 19th.

To fully prepare Delaney  (our 15 yr old daughter), we decided to watch Hotel Rwanda the other night. We actually befriended some missionaries from Kenya that were stuck in Rwanda when the genocide had begun. They shared their story with us, then we watched the movie, then I asked Delaney.............."Still want to move to Africa?" Without a moment of hesitation, she said absolutely. That is God, We certainly aren't moving into a situation like Rwanda, but it is Africa.

You came near when I called you, and you said, “Do not fear.”
-Lamentations 3:57
Thank you all for your continued prayers and support!!!! We can't tell you how encouraging it is that you show us such kindness and concern. Pray for the orphans and the widows............... Pray for our "baby steps".

God Bless You All!

Friday, April 15, 2011

The Hazards of Relaxation and The Goodness of Bissap Juice

Last Sunday...

In an effort to enjoy a sunny afternoon, I grabbed a book and slipped on my sunglasses and headed outside for some reading and relaxation. Little did I know that I unwittingly set in motion events that would lead to an afternoon spent, not in the great outdoors, but in the emergency room......WHAT?

Although it seems a rather embarrassing way to get hurt, it would be wrong for me not to share these events because by sharing my newfound knowledge I might keep YOU from an injury or perhaps something worse.


With a smile on my lips and the sun on my face I sat down on the hammock and layed back onto the pillow. After a quick adjustment to center myself and even quicker snap and I found myself falling down to the ground. The 4x4 wood post that I was counting on to support me had cracked and the hammock pulled that post down onto my head with what I liken to the force of a baseball bat at full swing. Wow did that hurt! I did not pass out, but I was stunned. I instinctively reached for my forehead and that is when I realized I was bleeding...alot in fact.

The only one at home was Delaney. Mike was on his way home from North Florida with his dad. I walked to the patio, opened the sliding glass door and called for Delaney...three times I called. It seemed like an eternity, but finally she arrived. I asked her to grab a towel so I could try and stop the bleeding. I must have looked horrible because she sprang into action, bringing the towel and immediately dialing 911.

I wasn't sure I needed an ambulance to come, but it was smart that she made the decision. Turns out I needed 14 stitches and a CT scan to make sure I had no fractures or brain injuries. I am happy to say that my brain is A-ok!

What did I learn? Well, I won't be getting on a hammock again. I urge anyone reading to make sure that a hammock is secure before trying it out...maybe wear a helmet or hard hat. In thinking this was a freak accident I did a little research. I am not alone!! A year ago a couple sat down on a hammock supported between two trees, and the tree came down on both of them sending them both to the hospital. The girl didn't make it.

Thank you God for protecting me. My injuries are temporary. It could have been much worse.

Now...on to Bissap Juice

Bissap is a drink that you can find throught Burkina Faso and much of West Africa. It is made from dried flowers of the sorrel plant (a type of hibiscus).

Mom and daughter sorting dried flowers.

Preparing the Bissap Juice

I had read about it and asked Mike to bring a bag of the dried flowers home with him from his trip to Burkina. I figured that even if i wasn't there with my family, I could try and make this drink at home. Today is the day.

I found a recipe online from The Congo Cookbook that I will share with you. I heard that these flowers can be purchased at West Indian markets as they are also used to make drinks in the carribean.

2-3 cups of dried hibiscus flowers (sorrel or roselle)
1-2 cups of sugar
1-2 of the following optional flavorings:
* sprig of mint
* 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
* 1/2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger root
* 1 teaspoon orange-flower water
* 1/2 cup lemon juice
* 1 cup pineapple juice or orange juice
Briefly rinse the dried flowers in cool water.
In a saucepan heat two quarts (approximately two litres) of cold water. As soon as the water begins to boil, add the dried hibiscus leaves.
Immediately remove from heat and let the flowers steep for ten minutes.
Pour the water from the pot into a pitcher using a strainer (lined with a cheesecloth or paper towel if you like) to separate the flowers from the water. Be sure not to pour any of the flower sediment into the pitcher.)
Stir in the sugar. Add any other flavorings (if desired).
Add ice and chill completely. May be served over ice.

Monday, April 4, 2011

The Journey Begins

Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.                   - 1 Corinthians 9:25

With the missions conference behind us, the training has begun. It was humbling and still encouraging being surrounded by veteran missionaries during the conference. It is amazing what God has been able to accomplish through these warriors of Christ. Amy and I pray that God can use us in a similar way when we reach Burkina Faso.

I spent the evening reading through the Sheltering Wings handbook tonight. Great insight, and a firm foundation. It makes things so much easier when you have those who have gone ahead of you that you can learn from. We have a lot to learn. The most challenging for me is the french language. Amy and Delaney seem to be picking it up a bit faster than me, but I am the little train that could........

We just finished reading the first book of many in the training process. One thing we have learned from reading and from the wisdom of the veteran missionaries is that the training never ends. We are empty vessels just taking in all that God is giving us at the moment. Feeling almost naive in all that we don't know right now. I pray that God keeps us with this mindset for the rest of our lives.
Amy and I are very excited that so many are sharing this journey with us. Your prayers are not only appreciated, but felt. I look forward to sharing with you each step of the process. God is so good. His amazing grace is the only explanation for this entire opportunity.

God Bless!!!!!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Mission Possible

This weekend is our church's mission conference. This is our first experience with a missions conference and I have to say it has been awesome so far!!

On Thursday and Friday we were able to speak to the 6th-12th grade classes, the elementary chapel and the 3K and 4K classes at Hollywood Christian School. What a blessing that was. The students learned about the importance of missions and about what is going on in Burkina Faso and how God is at work there. We had many good conversations with students and teachers who's hearts were touched by the need in Burkina and want to get involved and help. I believe that we met some future missionaries!

Today I was encouraged greatly by the other missionary wives at a luncheon that our women's ministry had. It is great to hear their stories and greater to see God at work in their lives. It will be a tremendous blessing knowing I have women who are committed to praying for us. Thank you ladies!!

I am certain that Mike was also encouraged greatly by the men at their breakfast.

I want to share a video that shows some of the hardships that families face in Burkina Faso. A single mother faces difficulties trying to take care of her children. A single mother in Burkina Faso has challenges that we cannot imagine.

Feed the hungry, and help those in trouble.
Then your light will shine out from the darkness,
and the darkness around you will be as bright as noon.                   - Isaiah 58:10

Love and blessings!

p.s. For more information about Sheltering Wings and ways that you can help, including child sponsorship, visit: Sheltering Wings

Friday, March 18, 2011

Live to Make a Difference

"I can do things you cannot, you can do things I cannot; together we can do great things."  — Mother Teresa

I love that quote. It's a reminder that we were all created differently...with different abilities, talents, interests. AND that because of these differences, things will always be better when we come together. When we bring our abilities together, we have the power to do big things!

With our church having a Missions Conference next week, these thoughts bring me to another point. MISSIONS IS FOR EVERYONE!

God has left us with a responsibility. To bring the gospel to all nations. To care for widows, orphans, the sick, the impoverished. Love your neighbor, not just the one across the street, but the one across the world.

And just as people have different abilities, there are different ways to make missions a priority in your life.

  1. Go into the mission field. Whether it's a short-term trip or a more permanent move, God is at work around the globe and invites you to join in that work with Him. With 66,000 people dying each day that don't know Jesus Christ...there is much work to be done.
  2. Support missionaries financially. Give generously to missionaries to support their work. Funds given for monthly support and donations for special projects are helping to change lives.
  3. Pray for missionaries. Those on the missions field need your prayer. Pray for protection, material needs, strength, receptive hearts in the communities they minister to, health, that they remain encouraged, that their focus remains on God and their relationship with Him grows stronger.
By doing one of these three things you are living to make a difference! I encourage anyone reading this to look beyond the four walls of your home and really see what is going on in your city, state, country and across the globe. We often walk around with blinders on because if you are living in North America you are living in priveledged GPS coordinates. Remove your blinders and let your heart break for what breaks the heart of God.

Check out the MISSION POSSIBLE missions conference at Hollywood Community Church on the corner of Taft & 441. Friday, March 25th at 7pm is the kick-off of this weekend long event.

For nothing is impossible with God.  -Luke 1:37

Love and blessings!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Until The Whole World Hears

Lord I want to feel your heart
and see the world through your eyes
I want to be your hands and feet
I want to live a life that leads  --Casting Crowns

It is always amazing the way God works. I can look back over past years, hardships we have faced, people who have been put in our lives...God has been preparing us, shaping us for this time in our lives.

Africa had been placed on our family's heart...Burkina Faso specifically. You may have never heard of Burkina Faso before. It is a small country, approximately the size of Colorado, which resides above Ghana in the 10/40 window in West Africa.

What is the 10/40 window? It is a stretch of land that lies across Africa and Asia from 10 degrees latitude north of the equator to 40 degrees latitude north of the equator. What is significant about this area is the following:

  • Although it represents only 1/3 of the earths land mass, it inhabits 2/3's of the worlds population.
  • 90% of the people living in "window" are unreached people groups. They have never heard the good news of Jesus Christ.
  • 85% of the people living in these countries are among the poorest in the world.

In Burkina Faso there are over 150,000 orphans. Many times the mothers die in childbirth or due to complications during childbirth (1 in 10). Parents may also die due to AIDS, but more commonly due to preventable, treatable diseases. The problem is that they don't have money to keep their families fed, let alone pay for medication or medical procedures. The staggering truth is that the average life expectancy for an adult is 46 years old and 1 out of every 5 children may not make it to their 5th birthday.

Mike and Delaney traveled to Burkina Faso this past January. They stayed at the Sheltering Wings Orphanage in the town of Yako. There are approximately 48 children, aged newborn to 22 who live at the orphanage. Hundreds of children attend the primary school and secondary school which are part of Sheltering Wings. There is also a medical clinic, sponsorship program, widow basket program and weaving program. God is at work in Yako and there is more to be done in Burkina Faso.

As we prepare for the journey ahead we ask for your prayers. We are going to need a whole team of people praying for us each step of the way. There are many things we need to do prior to our move, so please pray specifically for our focus to remain on God's plan and not our own, for protection from the enemy's lies and discouragement, for our hearts to be prepared for the hardships we will encounter, for the love of Christ to shine through us, for discernment and sensitivity to a culture very different than our own, for our minds to stay sharp as we educate ourselves, train for missions and learn new languages.

With love and blessings!