Friday, August 24, 2012

4H club? No...farming and animals al la Burkina!

This morning we took a ride out to visit our animals project. Sheltering Wings purchased cows as an income generating project to help meet the needs of our orphanage. We share a field with one of our local pastors and "animal expert" Pastor Salou.

The animals are kept in an area of Yako called Sector 6 which is very beautiful and serene especially in this lush green growing season.

Kimberly in a Fulani dwelling
The people taking care of the animals are from the people group called Fulani. These people are known for their skill in regards to animals and are very hard workers. The typical home for the Fulani looks like a domed tent made of grasses and sticks. These dwellings are usually temporary because this group of people are semi-nomadic which means that they don't stay in one place for too long and travel with their herds.

There are about 39 cows, 20 sheep and a dozen goats to take care of. We own about 14 cows. One of them is a baby and one of the mama cows is pregnant. I thought it was interesting to see the variety of colors that these cows come in and that some of them have blue eyes. I believe this breed of cattle is the humped back zebu. Don't hold me to that I googled it, but you can see that they are quite different from the cows we are used to seeing in the United States.
Mike & Pastor Salou
Pastor Salou has vast fields where he grows his crops. He used some of the cows to help prepare the fields and he uses the manure to fertilize. I saw the difference between a fertilized and unfertilized crop and it was pretty substantial. Another thing he does is move the fenced area where the cows are kept each year and plants crops on the plot of land that has been fertilized all year long. He grows corn, beans and millet. The parts of they plant that are left after harvest are fed to the animals.

It was fun and educational to venture out and see how our cows are doing. They are all very healthy and much more plump than most of the cows we see around town. It was also very encouraging to see how well the crops are doing.

Vive les Vaches!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Slippery When Wet

Well, you know you’re in rainy season when you have no choice but to be in 4 wheel drive to get to church which is only a few blocks away. The once barren dusty dirt paths that was home to so many goats, sheep, donkeys and chickens is now absent of most except the donkeys that seem none too happy to be standing in a river of flowing mud and waste. Not quite the streams we experienced from our former trips to North Carolina. Also absent is the desire to grab my fly fishing rod and throw a fly out for a trout. The thought of what we may pull up is quite disheartening. With all sarcasm set aside, we are being blessed with rain. We only have a few months of rain before we return to the desert climate where we will be lucky to see a single drop of rain for several months. The mud will be turned once again to a dry dust that stings the eyes, and fills each breath you take. These rains sweep through and act as the sanitation crews that you wait for all year long. Where there is no dumps, no garbage trucks, no bathrooms, and plenty of roaming animals, the dirt paths we call streets become a state of what many would consider to be deplorable. What government and man does not offer in a remote place like West Africa, God does. Even though this may sound like a place that one would be bitter if God were to set them in, this is the place that makes my heart race with excitement. This is home. I could not think of a place I would rather be.

I arrived at church this past Sunday to teach, and was amazed at the amount of people that still made it to church. I have no idea how they make it there. It was nearly an impossible task with my truck, unless I had a canoe, I could not imagine how I would get there. As I sat and pondered how they got there, I noticed the perfectly clean dresses the women wore, and the men’s shoes!!!! Not a drop of mud on them! I am looking for some star trek transporter machine! I look down and notice my shoes full of orange mud from the 10 feet I had to walk from my truck to the entry of the church. Embarrassed, I slowly slid them under my chair, and then hid them behind the pulpit. There are still so many mysteries of Africa I need to learn.

The fields, which are actually defined as any area that is more than 10’ x 10’ that does not have a building on it, are growing well in Yako. Any abandoned property, any small open area next to the paths are now growing corn, millet, beans or peanuts. It is certainly a different landscape than we  have experienced  since December. Come the end of October, we will lose it all and wait anxiously for next years rainy season. We are enjoying the green for the short time it lasts!

Monday, August 13, 2012

God is My Refuge

Sometimes life is very hard! These past 2 weeks have been difficult.
First, Mike's younger brother died unexpectedly in a camping accident when his head was struck by a falling rock. He was 19 years old and otherwise healthy. Mike flew back to the states to be by his family's side. I heard stories of Luke's friends praying for others in the hospital. There were physical healings as well as spiritual healings. Luke was also an organ donor and through him, others received a miracle.

Then, last week during Mike's absence, a bus transporting several of our older orphanage children blew a tire and rolled throwing a few from the vehicle and injuring many. They were on an outing funded by volunteers from France. Nobody could have prepared for this. We got a call from Sara, a volunteer from Germany who was also accompanying them on this trip. You could hear it in her wasn't good. We received a text message from one of the boys that they had been in an accident and please pray. Our local pastor called and Delaney and I drove over to his house. We were on our way into Ouaga when Ruth called and I asked her if she had heard what happened. She was about an hour outside of Ouaga on her way to a wedding with Kimberly (another short term visitor) when she got the news, turned around headed back to Ouaga. She told me it would be better for us to stay in Yako so we headed back. I was getting reports a few times each day from Ruth or one of our kids. Things were looking very bad for a few of our children and the owner of the vehicle and driver. Lucie, one of the french girls was flown home to care for her injuries. After a few days all of the children except two were released. The two boys Edouard and Barthelemy had been thrown from the vehicle and had very serious head injuries. They were in and out of conciousness. Phoebe was released but has already had two follow up visits for her injuries. When she came back to the orphanage it was shocking to see her for the first time. Throughout the week the boys were continually improving. Both of them are having some vision problems and Barto is having trouble hearing out of one of his ears. They have seen specialists and now we just have to wait as they continue to heal to see if these problems correct themself. During this time these boys and their numerous caregivers and visitors have been able to shine brightly giving God the glory for every improvement. The bus owner's wife was able to be ministered to. The family is muslim, however she was very receptive to prayers she was receiving and was able to see firsthand Christ loving her and her husband through ordinary people. The french volunteers, not Christians, have also been able to witness the power of prayer and the love of God.

We got into Ouaga yesterday and visited the hospital. Barthelemy was released and on his way back to Yako as we were on our way in to Ouaga. We were able to see Edouard. I had prepared myself for the worst. I knew his head was wrapped as he had a skull fracture and large wound. I knew that he had stitches above his eye that were not done well. He was in pretty bad shape, but he is healing up very nicely! I know that he has come a long way over the week so I was seeing him after much improvement. He greeted us and was happy to see us. He is eating and moving around a little. We are grateful that he did not need surgery for the skull injury and we hope that he will be released this week. The owner of the bus that was riding with them never regained consciousness and died last night. The driver is still in and out of conciousness, still fighting for his life.

If you were to see the hospital and how patients are treated you would understand that it is truly a miracle that all of our children will be okay. First of all there are not enough beds for those that come in so people are stacked up in the hallways and out in front of the hospital. There are bodily fluids everywhere. In each room that has a bed there are about 4 to 6 people and family members crowding the room. Nobody will be seen until someone makes a payment. A person could wait days on a floor waiting and die in the process. It happens all the time. After being seen the patient's caregiver (a family member or friend) will be told what medications and supplies are needed. The caregiver will have to send someone to a pharmacy to buy these things and bring them back. If an x-ray needs to be done, you pay first or it doesn't get done. I have seen nurses administering medicine by IV, but all wound care I watched being done by family or friends. Watching a loved one waiting for pain medication is frustrating as well as seeing that nobody writes anything down (no patient charts) and doesn't know what has been given and what time it has been given. The caregiver must take note of these things or you can see that the wrong medication could be given or too much medication can be given. It is certainly eye-opening.

But through all these trials I will not grow weary, for I know I am not alone. I know who is with me.

Isaiah 41:10 fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.