Friday, December 18, 2015

The end of a new beginning.

Some of you may have been following the journey of a beautiful little princess we had with us for the past two years. You may have even read my blog post "for God". Wendinda came to us out of an incredibly abusive difficult life. A life with such hardships, it made her first smile to me simply amazing! We were excited to receive her because we knew that this was a new beginning for her. We knew that with a name that meant “for God”, she had a destiny far greater than what she had endured in the start of her life.
Every child that comes into our orphanage comes in as a last resort. When they arrive, our first effort goes into a plan on how to get them out. As much love, care, and comfort we can give them, we are still an institution. We can never replace the love of a family. With that in mind, we make every attempt to find extended family, or options to be reintegrated into a family here in Burkina Faso. Many times, such as the case with Wendinda, there are no options. In these cases, we look towards adoption to a foreign country. And in this case, a loving, passionate family from the United States.

Through mountains of African red tape, and lost papers, and changing regulations, Wendinda has found the family God had for her. The family chosen by God and given to on the day she was supposed to be with them. We celebrated this beautiful young lady. She was a perfectly cut diamond even in the group of diamonds we have here at the orphanage. She is special in every way. These are the days we cherish here at the orphanage. This is the end of her new beginning, and the start of her new life.
Good Bye Wendinda.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Behind the Smile

Today was an awesome day! We had a graduation ceremony for the ten women who have completed the program at the Village of Hope Women's Crisis Center.

These women came to our center because they suffered great loss and found themselves with no family support. They came in with children, many of them with skin conditions and malnourished. All of them frightened.

Salimata and her son David (pictured) had no smiles to give when they first arrived. Salimata is a young, single mother who was rejected by her family. She was married to a muslim man who wanted to send their young son to a marabou who would perform some kind of ritual that he believed would bring him great wealth. In reality it is a form of sacrifice that either results in severe brain damage or death. When Salimata refused she was rejected by the family. She divorced this man and has been shunned. She was to the point of desperation when she came to live at the women's center. Hers is just one of 10 stories.

In the last 9 months we watched these women work hard, soaking up everything they were taught, learning that they have hope in Jesus, receiving love and care. While they learned sewing, weaving, soap making, bread making, hand crafted handbags, math, french and literacy.Their children were cared for by the orphanage tanties, having preschool and playing alongside the orphanage children in a safe and loving environment.

Month by month we watched fear slip away, health improve and smiles emerge. Not just with the children, but with their mothers. The group graduating could not look more different than the group coming in. Each woman has given their life to Christ and when asked if they now know how much Jesus loves them they light up and start praising Him.

We are so excited to see how God will continue working in their lives and in the lives of others that they share their stories with.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Sickness doesn't take a holiday

From the moment we arrived back in Burkina we have been on alert. With polital unrest came the closing of local stores, banks, gas stations and hospitals.

The crisis is still not over, but little by little things have been getting back to normal. Gas stations and banks were open yesterday and we got the cash we needed and fueled all the vehicles and surplus tanks.

Our town's hospital is still not up and running so our clinic at the orphanage has been very busy. With gas in the car we were able to go to one of our village clinics today.

Greeted by thankful moms and fourteen sick kids our staff nurse went to work with the assistance of one of our older orphanage girls who desires to be a nurse one day and Ashley, a nursing student interning with us.

Each child was tenderly greeted and cared for. I am happy to report that all the children were able to receive the medicine they needed to combat ring worm, parasites, coughs and runny noses, as well as malaria. There were no life threatening illnesses.

Today was a great day!

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Field Trip!

We loaded up the van and took a short drive with our toddlers and preschoolers today. We headed over to a local artisan for a field trip. The drive in the car was a new experience for most of the kids and only two of them were a little unsure.
All aboard!
When we were arrived we were greeted by the owner who also has done many paintings for us at our orphanage, school and women's center. He led us to an outdoor area and gave all of the children lollipops. While the kids were enjoying their treat, two boys brought over djembe drums and played for the kids. Afterwards they gave a djembe lesson to children and also gave out hand chimes for them to try. This was followed by lots of singing and dancing.

Arriving at the Artisan

Enjoying a treat!
Drum Lesson

Time to Dance!
Before it was time to head back from our little trip, we visited the boutique where handcrafted items are sold and the children received small wooden figurines to take home.
A good day was had by all!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Hello Hot Season!

It is the time of year where everything has dried up and temperatures are increasing day by day. This is our first year that we will be here through May. We have always know April to be a particularly harsh month, but have heard stories of temperatures in the 130’s in May. We are talking candle melting, fry an egg on the street, heat! This April has either been milder than usual or we really are acclimating to the rising temperatures. By this time next month we will be praying for the rains to come and cool us off.
Yummy Mango
Despite the abundance of juicy mangoes, this is an incredibly hard time for the people of Burkina. Their yearly supply of food is dwindling and so is their supply of water. The majority of water that families use still comes from the small lakes (we call them barrages here) or from hand dug wells. These water sources are dried up. There are still not enough deep drilled wells to meet the needs of the majority of villages. Women and children are now walking, biking and taking their donkey carts miles from their home each day to get water for their families.

Dry Well

Traveling with jugs to get water
In our home we are blessed to have running water. Even so, we share the burden of the people as our water is cut frequently. Sometimes it is for a few hours and other times it is for days at a time. Just like our neighbors, we travel to fill water jugs to cook with and bathe with. It has been challenging, but we know that we will survive. We know that we can afford to buy bottled water to drink if we need to. Our neighbors do not have this luxury. The prayers of the people here is different. Dear Lord, allow the rain to fall so we can drink. So we can grow food to feed our families.

Still, you will not see sad faces on the streets and in the villages. What you see around you is great endurance, incredible strength and perseverance.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Another miracle!

Over two years ago we met little Landry in a village where we were holding a medical clinic. This village had not had such a clinic in over 15 years. While we saw many cases that day that we could help simply by providing diagnosis and medication, Landry's case was more complicated.

Landry's had an enlarged tongue. This started to occur as an infant, and when we saw him at the age of two it had grown so large that he could no longer shut his mouth. To feed him, his parents had to pull his mouth open from the side and shove food as far back as possible. Landry could only tolerate liquids and small amounts of soft foods. Afraid that his condition could potentially cause him to choke and possibly die, we immediately started seeking help. We brought him to several different doctors and pediatric hospitals in several different towns with no success in finding someone to help Landry.

His family prayed, his pastors prayed, we prayed. Everyone who met little Landry was praying that a miracle would happen. Then, two years later, that miracle happened.

We found out about a mission who takes children to the U.S., places them in host families and then doctors help the children at no cost. We submitted Landry's photo and story and in about four months Landry was on a plane to the United States.

Landry received surgery and is now ready to fly home this week. His family is so excited to see him and they will be so surprised at their son's new appearance. Never again will they have to fear that his condition could threaten his life or lead to a future filled with rejection and seclusion because of a deformity that in this society would deem him cursed.

Landry now has a bright future filled with hope. A future that all four year old boys should have.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Widow Visits and Spontaneous Prayer

Today we went to visit some widows who are newly sponsored to deliver their first months grain and soap. These women had been waiting a long tome for a sponsor so they were so happy to see us and hear about their sponsors. It was really sweet to be able to share in their excitement and talk about the provision of God and how much He loves them.

One of the widows lives with her granddaughter who is in the 6th grade. this is a very important and very difficult year for students. They take an exam at the end of the year and must pass this exam to advance to 7th grade. We prayed over health issues that the widow was having and also prayed for her granddaughter's education.

While we were praying there was a group of children who had gathered outside the widows courtyard. As we were leaving, these children stopped us and asked if we could also pray for them and for their education. Afterwards, Pastor Valentin invited them to come by our church any time that they needed prayer. Spontaneous prayer is a beautiful thing.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Ministries Working Together to Change Lives

We have been very blessed to partner together with different ministries and organizations while here in Burkina Faso. One of our partners, "Friends in Action", recently helped us change the future of a handicapped women.

Salimata had an accident when she was young and broke her arm in several places. The only thing the doctors had the ability to do was to remove the bones in her arm. This left Salimata with no use of her arm. Despite this difficulty, she grew up and married, had five children and worked as best as she could cultivating crops.

Salimata lost her husband three years ago. This significantly changed her situation and that of her children. To help keep her children in school, Salimata started to raise chickens. Unfortunately, many of her chickens became ill and died leaving her little money for school fees. She had to borrow from family and the local pastor.

When we heard about Salimata we sat with our local Pastor and discussed what would be the best way to help. He suggested that raising goats would be something that she could do physically and would help her earn the income she needed to care for her children and pay back her debts.

Our buddies at "Friends in Action" drill all the wells that you see us post pictures and talk about. Their ministry gives life saving, clean, healthy water to villages throughout Burkina Faso and into the Ivory Coast. Each year they drill about 40 wells. Often they receive gifts of goats from villages and they keep them in their work yard, not really knowing what to do with them. Recently they gave us some goats to give to people in need.

Immediately we thought of Salimata. God's timing is so good! The guys at "Friends in Action" had no idea we were just discussing Salimata's case, but God did. Today, we went with Salimata's pastor to deliver her one male goat and one female goat. As a bonus, we believe the female is already pregnant. Glory to God!

The gift Salimata received will help her to help herself and her family. She will no longer need to ask for loans and she can be assured that her children will be able to complete their education.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

A Different Future for this Young Lady

We met Natalie this summer when she came to our clinic at the orphanage. When she was a small girl she was washing clothes in dirty, stagnant water. She contracted a disease that would slowly change her life. It was so small at the time that her family didn't seek any medical help. Like any other scrape or cut, they expected it would go away on its own.

Year after year, the muscle and flesh in Natalie's arm and buttocks was being eaten away by toxins. By the time she came to us it had done so much damage, we feared for her life.

We took Natalie to visit a few different doctors, but nobody was able to make a diagnosis. We consulted with American doctor friends that we know and it was suggested that this looked like a Buruli Ulcer. This is a slow necrotizing disease common in West Africa, but it was the first time that the doctors in our region had seen it. Finally, a doctor in the capital confirmed what it was, but we were having difficulty getting treatment for her.

Because she would likely need surgery and months of antibiotics, we asked Natalie's family if she could stay at the orphanage. Since she would be living here, we had our seamstress start training her how to sew. Even with limited use of her arm she has become very good with the sewing machine, making handbags and dresses. We have been constantly amazed at the perseverance that Natalie displays. She does not allow her disability to stop her from doing anything. She is often found doing the other girls in the orphanage's hair and helps our cook cut vegetables in the kitchen.

Today is the day that Natalie has surgery. She will have dead tissue removed and a plastic surgeon will reconstruct as much as possible. After this, Natalie will begin recovery and a treatment plan to be sure no additional toxins are lingering in her system, ready to do more damage.

Natalie's future is changing. She is beating her illness. She has learned a new skill. When it is time for Natalie to leave, she will have what is necessary to succeed.

Please pray for Natalie today!