29 July 2011

Finishing Strong

We can't believe we will be home in less than a week.  These last couple weeks have flown by and I feel like we have done so much travelling we could have covered the entire continent of Africa.  We made the journey down to Ivory Coast (15 hours in a van with 9 people). There was a leadership retreat for the church leaders in Ivory Coast that we were able to be a part of.  These people had just come out of over 10 years of crisis, so it was a time of refreshing for them.  Great people, awesome experience.


 We also got to visit and observe at the clinic/lab that serves the people of Abengouru, Ivory Coast.  They have a great HIV/AIDS program going on there...the people that work here are amazing!

We also had our first overnight village stay in an area that a church plant was going to be happening.  We are so glad we got to make it down to Ivory Coast to see all that has been going on, admist the crisis.

So today we head to Dano for a team retreat...it should be a lot of fun to see everyone again.  Then we head to Ouaga on Monday and fly out Tuesday night.  See you all soon!!  Thanks for your prayers throughout this trip.

16 July 2011

Hereforo

On the farm with the farm manager Cheq.  We planted a natural fence to replace the wood posts here.  The farm is named "Hereforo" meaning "Peace Farm"

We were able to take a few hours and visit the Sindu Peaks.  It was about an hour hike through the beautiful peaks behind us.  We were put in a group with 5 young, very western looking Burkinabe.  They asked us if we knew their friend who lived in NYC:)  I had to smile.

After the hike we waited under a little hut for our ride.  We saw these girls walk by and greeted them in our Dioula so they came and sat with us.  They were amazed that our fingers, toes, and ears worked and looked just like theirs.  They'd touch our hair and giggle. I think we stand out here a bit. 

So apparently Cheik loves to cook up caterpillars and he wanted to give us a taste.  He popped off the heads, cleaned out the goop, and fried them with some onions.   

Note:  I, Lori, did not eat caterpillars but Landon dove right in.  Maybe this could answer the riddle to his digestion problems.  We ate this around a campfire that Landon built.  Campfires on the farm were so much fun! 

Waiting for our teammates to arrive at the farm for the team meeting and worship.

Babukari, the other farm manager's wife and daughter.  Landon learned the traditional Muslim washing and prayer from Babukari.  The two farm managers and Andrew pray each morning before work.  Landon was able to join them.  Cheik and Andrew pray in the name of Jesus but still use the traditional Muslim motions.  It was hard for Cheik to leave those behind when he started following Christ. 

This is the nursery we worked in.  In just a few short days, the seeds we planted had already started sprouting.  It was also nice and shady under this tree so it was pleasant to work back here!

Cheik killed this "viper" the day we were leaving the farm.  It was rather small compared to some of the others we had seen.  He and Babukari were quite skilled at killing those little buggars.  Thank goodness they knew what they were doing.

The dreaded toilet.  While it may not appear to be so bad from the picture, it did not always have the best smell and was always infested with flies.  The blue bucket we would take into the house at night and we could relieve ourselves in that so we didn't have to trek out here after dark.  
So we are now in Banfora for the last leg of our journey.  It has been so exciting to see God moving here in Burkina.  At a short stop for a meal at a hotel, Landon was reading his Bible when one of the employees came up to him.  Emmanuel, the worker, asked Landon if he could have his Bible...he had wanted one in English but they are hard to come by here in Burkina.  Landon eagerly handed it over, and Emmanuel said, "When you give someone the gift of the Word of God, you give them everything." That pretty much sums it all up.


 

12 July 2011

Life on the Farm

Life on the farm has been great and difficult at the same time.  I (Lori) wouldn't consider myself high maintenance but not having electricity has challenged me to say the least:) Pretty sure using the composting toilets has been the hardest part for me!  We have been living with the G family and they are so much fun!!  They recently just moved to the farm back in May and so it has been an adjustment for them as well.  They have 2 paid farm managers who live on the property.  The farm managers are from 2 of the local villages.  They are learning some new farming techniques that they can then teach their home villages.  One of the farm managers had been seeking Jesus for some time and within the past few years became a Christ follower after observing the G Family while living on their property.  He is the minority is this community.
So we have done quite a bit of planting while we have been on the farm.  We have worked in the nursery and planted beans, corn, and living fences.  We built a chicken coop with scraps of wood and have done a few village visits.  Yesterday we were able to go to one of the farm manager's villages.  The guys went and worked in the corn field while the women gave a Nutrition lesson on Hygiene and told a Bible story.  It was awesome to be a part of.  Once again the village fed us a meal (this time with no utensils) and we headed back to the village of Kangoura.
It is officially becoming rainy season, as it has rained and been overcast for several days straight now.  The temps are dropping finally and the roads become very sketchy as the rain erodes what is considered to be the road.  Life on the farm has brought interesting critters our way, including a spider called "Horse of the Scorpions" because it is big enough to carry scorpions.  There are also many snakes and fortunately we have only seen the ones that have been killed.  I prefer to keep it that way for the next few days!!  We also had quite the adventure in the kitchen with several mice.  Several of us (including Landon) were screaming and hollering as the cat hunted these mice.  We had to laugh when we noticed the farm managers wife standing outside the kitchen door wondering what these white people were doing:)
Hope everything is going well back home.  We will be back before we know it.

30 June 2011

explanations

Since it took over an hour to load the nine pictures to the blog yesterday, we didn't have time to comment.  Shannan, here are some explanations.

We had the privelege of helping in 3 water well rehabs.  It is much cheaper to repair the wells than drill new ones, so the family we stayed with the past week let us come help.  We visited two villages on Tuesday and we had no idea what to expect.  We arrived at the first village and within 10 minutes everyone from the village was standing around the well, singing praises to God for what was about to happen, and then the well rehab began.  The women sang for 4 hours straight, while the men repaired the well.  One lady convinced me to dance with her and I am pretty sure I looked silly but went with it.

The second village rehab was very similar.  The man who is over community development told us afterwards that he has had people come to repair wells in the past but charged over $9,000 each and so he was thankful for Living Water International who was part of the well repair funding.  He also mentioned that he would be telling all of the other villages that they need to follow Jesus (even though he is not a believer at the moment) because in the past he had only seen Jesus on the cross, but this day he had seen Jesus in us. (I HAD TO HOLD BACK MY TEARS).

The team we stayed with also particpates in a literacy program in the villages because many of the church members cannot read the Word of God.  They also train the leaders individually so they can be equipped to teach and church plant.  The Church among the Dagara people group is growing so fast and there are not enough people that can train these leaders...pray for people to be sent to this group so they can be soundly trained.

We head to the farm in the morning....we will take pictures and hopefully  post in a few weeks. 

20 June 2011

Madame T's Story-June 16


She pulled in on Monday morning at 9:00 am on her moto.  She was beautiful and strong looking, and she was to be our Dioula language tutor for the next week.  She spoke only French and Dioula (and a few English words) but somehow we have made it work.  She never begins our mornings without prayer, and then typically we do our Language Aquisition Plan and go over some basic conversational items.  Today was different, though.  Today, we got to hear this great lady tell her story about her Savior, Isa.
…Madame T grew up in a Muslim family in Cote D’Ivorie.  When she was 10 years old her dad wanted her to attend school in Burkina Faso but her grandmother insisted she stay in the home and help with the chores.  Since she was too old to begin school, her father found a way to make a few tweaks on her birth certificate so she could be a few years younger, and despite her grandmother’s wishes, she was off to live with her older brother in Burkina Faso to attend school. 
    It was when Madame was 12 years old that she said she finally met the “One True God”.  Her life up to this point she had never known the “One True God” but she gave her life to Christ that day when it became clear who Jesus was.  Her family quickly found out that she gave her life to Christ and came to Burkina in an attempt to sway her decision otherwise.  Even at the mere age of 12, Madame T said she finally knew her Savior, Jesus, and no one would ever be able to convince her to go back to her old ways.  Because of this, her family disowned her for many years, at the age of 12, for following Christ.
      She counted the cost and it was worth it.
   Madame T’s mother passed away a few years after this, so a wealthy family in Burkina that had been good friend’s with her parents would have Madame T and her cousin over for dinners and to help her along.  Madame T would tell them the joy she had from Jesus but they had no interest.  So Madame T began to pray they would encounter Jesus.  She would pray for them at their gate before entering; she would pray for them before she ate meals with them; she would pray each time she thought of them.  For nineteen years, she prayed for this family to know Christ.  Not too long ago Madame T got a call.  It was this family letting her know they encountered Jesus and decided to follow him.  The husband, his two wives and all of their children are now following Christ.  Madame T’s persistent prayers were heard!  These people too had to leave everything they knew for the past 60 years so that they would have eternal life in Jesus Christ. A small sacrifice for a God that is worth it.
Madame T went on to marry a pastor and now teaches women here how to cook on solar ovens.  She has also worked on microfinance projects, has helped get low cost meds out to the people that need it, served in clinics, and does just about everything else a servant would do.


At the end of her story, there was nothing better that we could think of doing than praying to our Father in heaven for loved ones and friends who have not experienced the freedom, healing, hope and salvation in Christ that we all have found.  We know God heard the prayers we said, prayers in Dioula, French and English.  Our God is a big God.


Here's just a few pics from the past 2 weeks!


We love you all!

Sleeping man...on the top of a van...that is rapidly moving...on roads that are largely unpaved and filled with holes.

Morning fruit ladies on our street

The wildest animals we've seen to date (besides a pet monkey that we saw just a few hours ago)

13 June 2011

Dioula.

Ephesians 2:8
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God--not by works, so that no one can boast.

Ani Wula!  Today we began language learning with Madame ToĆ©. We have language lessons with her for three hours a day and then spend the afternoons on a language route. Most people speak French, however the primary people group that we are working with speak a language known as Dioula.  This morning we literally did not know a single word in Dioula and then this afternoon we were rooming the streets attempting to have conversations with people we encountered.  Please know....I use the word conversation very loosely!  It was exciting to meet new people today: Marguerite, Antwan, Awa, and many others whose names were basically impossible to pronounce with our limited American tongue.

Praises:  
  • Burkina Faso has recieved rain for the past 3 days
  • Team worship yesterday with the CMF team was encouraging
Prayer Requests:
  • Health and peace for the Burkinabe
  • Continued patience and perseverance in language learning
  • For us to comprehend the "big picture" of what CMF is working at in Burkina

We tried to upload more pictures, but we are having an extremely slow internet connection so hopefully more will come!

Thanks for your prayers and support!

08 June 2011

Ouaga.

It's 9:30 pm in Ouaga (pronounced Waga, which is short for Ouagadougou), Burkina Faso and we have arrived safe and sound.  We had a relatively uneventful path of travel from Indianapolis and are living in a guest that is owned by a missions organization.  We will be here until at least Friday.  It was completely surreal as we were landing at the airport and knowing that we were about to land in a country that is so distant and far away from everything we grew up knowing.  We were given strict directions to follow from the second we landed in Ouaga until we met the missionaries and it went seamlessly as we went through customs and security.  

Today we spent the majority of the day running errands (going to the embassy, market, and getting acquainted with the area).  We also took a sieste to help us catch up on some much needed rest after the 24 hours of travel!

Thanks for all the prayers as we traveled, but we continue to ask you to pray as we try to learn a little bit of language and culture.

We will try to upload more pics as the days go by!!!
Indianapolis Pre-Departure

First Sights of the Sahara

Inside our shower for the next week!

4 bunks complete with mosquito nets

1 of the few pictures that we took out in public


A big tree

03 June 2011

If you have your Bibles...And I hope you do.

Psalm 26:4
One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek; that I may be in the house of the Lord all of the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple.


We have completed our first full day of training and are getting more and more excited to leave for Burkina Faso with every minute.  We are staying at the Benedict Inn that is run by the Sisters of St. Benedict.  They serve us breakfast, lunch, and dinner each day and will be praying for us all summer. Such great ladies! Here's where we are staying for the next couple of days.
We have met our teammate, Alexa along with the 33 other interns that are going to SE Asia, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mexico, Spain, and Ukraine.  We have been able to hear the countless stories of how Jesus has changed the lives of the interns who literally have flown in from across the United States.    

Meet Alexa...I can already tell this girl is going to be awesome to be with for the next couple of months.  She has a great story, so I can't wait to get to know her better. 

Today we had sessions covering a variety of material including learning about CMF International (our sending organization), took personality tests, did some group building activities, and learned more about working as a team. Tomorrow we will be going to a ropes course, so we will be heading out early. 

Sidenote for those who "know" David Platt: We met a girl from the Church of Brook Hills, and I am pretty sure we could chat with her all night if time allowed.  If you have not heard of him or the church, we would highly recommend you listen to some of his Biblical teaching.  He is an extremely anointed teacher.


02 June 2011

Prayer Requests

Our apartment is now completely empty, besides myself and the computer! So before we leave we wanted to post some specific ways you could pray for us as we head down to Indy today and leave on Monday.


Traveling-timeliness of flights and all those arrangements that need to happen; that even when we are exhausted that we would still be patient and kind to each other and those around us (Alexa will be traveling with us too)

Marriage-that our marriage would remain strong during this big change in our lives and that we would continue to love each other as Christ loves us

Please pray for the Hoch's, Gordon's, and Houser's as they are opening their homes to us and teaching us about the ministry they are doing. Also, that we would be gracious and pleasant house guests, as I am sure it can be stressful on all to have people living together for extended periods of time.  Please also pray for the agricultural and church planting ministries they are doing, that they would see fruit from their labor, in all ways.

Health-that God would strengthen our bodies as we eat new foods and are exposed to new surroundings

Pray that the Church would grow and would be an extension of God's love to the people in Burkina Faso.

Pray that we would know God more deeply than ever before and that we are able to learn from those around us as well as teach those around us. 

Pray that everything we do would be a reflection of our Savior, Jesus, here in the States and overseas.  That we would love in ways we didn't know were possible. That we would love just as Jesus calls us to:
      "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another" John 13:34-35

Lastly, pray for those at my work who have taken on all of my duties so I can be a part of this.  There will be very busy times, so pray that the work can get done as quickly as possible in order to minimize the burden.  I can't express how grateful I am that they are giving me this opportunity to pursue one of my dreams. MutualBank and the management there are outstanding!!









 

31 May 2011

Time to get serious.


We are literally days away from flying around the world.  To a different continent.  A different climate, culture, and language. We are slightly intimidated and very excited.   However, this post is not about what is yet to come but rather to say thanks to our family.  This past weekend we went home to say good bye to our family.  It's odd because we have gone 2 months without seeing family in the past, but just knowing that we are on the other side of the planet makes 2 months seem a little longer.  We talk often of how blessed we are to have family on both sides that love, support, and encourage us.  Here are just a few snapshots of our beautiful family.

Mom, Dad, Lori, and I


Jack, Ruby, Colin, Silas, Calvin, and Jake (Evan is face to screen with the TV thus not in the pic, he's our oldest nephew)

My brother Cory displaying his athletic prowess by riding a toddlers bicycle over a mile.  Well worth the $10 I never paid him.

Mindi and Dustin

My brother Cory and his wife Shannan and their oldest, Calvin

My sister Lindsey and her husband Kevin with their youngest, Macy.

My sister Jamie and her husband Matt

Uncle Terry and Aunt Donna

Caitlin enjoying New Buffalo Beach (and the 40 degree water)

Jace

Me, Dad, Mom, Jeremy, Annie, Caitlin, and Larry (Lori's dad)

Family picture at Redemak's
Somehow, my mother-in-law Bev managed to avoid any photos this weekend! She's pretty sneaky like that!
 We tracked down a photo of my mother in law.

25 May 2011

The Final Countdown.

It's hard to believe that after months of praying, studying, and preparing that we are a mere 8 days away from a our internship in Burkina Faso, Africa.  We are hoping that this blog will be useful to those of you who wish to follow how God is using us among the Burkinabe people.

We first off want to thank all of those who have been such a crucial part of making this possible.  Those who have prayed for us, encouraged us, or financially supported the internship we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.  The last year has been incredibly challenging and we are grateful for the friends and family that have come along side us and encouraged us to continue to pursue Christ.  We know that God is in this.


Here is a brief snapshot of what the next couple of months hold in store for us (aside from flights, all dates and plans are flexible):

June 2-6: Pre-Departure training in Indianapolis
June 6: Departure date (Indianapolis --> D.C. --> Brussels --> Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso)
June 7-21: Language learning
June 22-July 12: Living/working on the Resource Farm
July 13-August 3: Participate in Chronological Bible Storytelling, church planting, and water rehabilitation

Although we may not be professional bloggers, we really want to keep you updated on how things are going this summer (as often as the internet connection allows).We are eager and excited to worship beside our Burkinabe brothers and sisters in Christ!