Friday, December 19, 2014
Monday, December 8, 2014
I make it sound easy enough, but I knew it would be a tough week. My mind and my body are in two very different ages of life. And there is nothing like living in the bush, without bathrooms, showers, or even tents, and working up to 18 hours a day in the 100 degree weather lifting steel rods, and shoveling gravel and sand to help communicate the reality of the body, to the fantasy land that is my mind. They were in need, and with a full staff at the orphanage and school, there was no real reason I should not be there for them.
The first well was at a Bible school in the town of Fada. It had a well, but they had an agricultural project there that helped subsidies the costs of the pastors training there. They also have opened there well up to the local community making it a very busy watering hole! A second was desperately needed. All started fine, we began to dig in the afternoon. Then it happened. We tried to start the compressor, and nothing. After a new battery and new starter brought in by bus the next morning, 16 hours later, we were back in business. We hit water, we put in our pipe, and lined it with rock and started pumping the initial water out with our electric pump. This was FINALLY the last step before heading to Well #2........ until a break in the pipe allowed our gravel to fill in the first several meters of our hole burying the pump 52 meters under the earth under a few meters of gravel. 8 hours later, we were able to remove the pump and we were back where we left off. With over a hundred empty jugs waiting, they began to pump away first thing.
Then we were headed to the bush....... DEEP into the bush. To a village of 1200 people that a pastor has been visiting for 3 years. The village tried several times to ask for a government well, but were rejected each time because the village was "impossible to reach by truck". The pastor said, "God can do this!". The village prepared for months, cutting a path through miles of trees, and building a make shift bridge over a dried river bed. One leaf spring and a few scratches later, we are in a village that has never even had even a in it, let alone large trucks such as these! Back at it, Drilling through the night hours, we are up to our knees in WATER!!!!! God provided one of the most abundant wells I have witnessed to date!
Sunday, October 5, 2014
Took one of our older girls to the hospital today because she had a headache. Did we think she needed to go to the hospital for this? No, but our staff nurse thought she should go and we wanted to be sensitive and let her make the decision. After all, although likely uneccesary it couldn't really hurt. We figured they would run the normal tests they do checking for malaria, typhoid, parasites, meningitis..regardless of the lack of syptoms. And in the end prescribe Tylenol and Vitamin B. Vitamin B seems to be the cure all here. They ended up admitting her and will probably run these tests tomorrow.
This week we had a widow get bit by a carpet viper and go to the hospital. They gave this long list of medications for us to locate and bring back to the hospital. Everything was available in town except the anti-venom couldn't be found. More than 24 hours after she got bit we finally located anti-venom. Talk about cutting it close.
The roughest thing this week was a boy with a life threatening illness was being treated in a pediatric clinic, but his mother became impatient with how long it was taking and left withh her son so she could get back to her bean field.
We are constantly shaking our head. We ask God to show favor in these situations and help us rest in the knowledge that He has it covered. It's just hard sometimes.
Wednesday, September 24, 2014
The main component of most people's diets is a starch and a sauce. Very little protein is eaten because it very expensive. Protein will usually come from dried fish ground up and added to sauce, beans and a peanut based sauce. Because of the lack of protein many children are malnourished and wounds have a difficult time healing.
With these facts in mind we were very excited when we caught up with a friend in the U.S. who has an aquaponics farm. We took this idea back with us in hopes that this could be something used here in Burkina to extend the growing season and to make a plentiful protein source. Aquaponics is a system where water from tanks is pumped through tubes and back into the tanks. In the tubes are plants that grow in a medium that uses no soil. In the tanks are fish. The fish fertilize the water, the plants soak up the nutrients and clean the water and the filtered water goes back into the tanks.
We knew that this was going to be an experiment and that we would be learning along the way. We had many things to take into consideration as the nearest Home Depot for us in on another continent thousands of miles away. What energy source are we going to use to pump the water? What medium are we going to use to grow our plants? How are we going to construct our tanks? What are we going to feed our fish? How are we going to keep the right balance of Ph, ammonia, nitrates, nitrites...well, you get the idea.
|Checking on plant growth|
|Trip to catch starter fish|
So every day we feel like we are in science class and every day we learn something new. We are using solar power and car batteries to pump our water. We are seeking out the man who sells coconuts so we can get the husks to try as a growing medium. We are saving egg shells to help regulate the Ph. We have started a worm farm to feed the fish. We are figuring out the best way to construct a tank for holding water. We currently have cement, but that messes with the alkaline so we have painted the inside of a tank to see how that works. In the village we are thinking of something totally different for holding water...maybe animal skins or holes lines with plastic sheeting.
|Worm Bed...Fish Food!|
|Painted tank in front. Unpainted in back.|
In the end we hope to have a system that is inexpensive, uses all materials found in a village and runs using wind power. We have a long way to get from here to there but we are driven by the fact that this could be a life changing thing for the people here.
What might we learn tomorrow?
Our hearts have been touched by the many stories of the vulnerable and disadvantaged women who we have met. There have been many women who have stayed in our clinic at the orphanage for a few days to a few months while social services seeks out their families and tries to find a place for them. We saw a need for a facility to help women in these situations. A facility that could be a place of refuge and a place of learning, where they could gain skills and be empowered to care for themselves and their children. Most importantly a place that would share with these women that their strength, refuge and hope comes from God. Out of this was born the idea for the Sheltering Wings Women's Crisis Center named "Village of Hope".
While sharing women's stories and the vision for this center, God moved in miraculous ways. We received funding for building facilities, for purchasing equipment for the technical center and for monthly operating expenses. People have partnered with us to change the lives of women and rewrite their futures.
|The start of the wall being constructed. Now 95% complete.|
|Walls going up inside old classrooms to make bedrooms.|
|Murals being painted at entrance.|
We have put up a wall, are renovating rooms, and have equipment on order. We are putting together a team of teachers and mentors and we are excited to see how God will use this place.
Friday, August 8, 2014
During these three months were any other tests done? No. Is she any better? No. Is there anything more they can do for her? No. Do they have any idea what the problem is? No.
I can't tell you how many times that a diagnosis is unable to be made here. I want to pull my hair out sometimes. How is it that a child can be treated for 3 months and come back like this?
Is there anywhere else we can send her? We are told no. What do we do? This is not the first time we have been in a situation where we feel like we are on a death watch.
There may be hope! One problem that we saw immediately with Fatimata is that every time she has a bottle, she vomits. Maybe we are on to something here. An allergy to milk maybe? Or a digestive problem of some sort? We are just taking guesses.
We received a donation of some special hypoallergenic infant formula specifically for babies with digestive and allergy problems. With nothing to lose, I decided to give it a shot. So far, so good! Baby Fatimata is keeping it down.
Praise God for prompting the person to send this formula. Who would guess that this donation may likely save a baby's life!
Tuesday, July 22, 2014
So when today I received a very encouraging email with a very good report I was so grateful for God's timing
Sunday, July 13, 2014
As good as an environment we can offer, and as much love as we can give, this does not compare to a forever home. We strive to make our orphanage as family oriented as possible, and I am papa to many as Amy is mama to the same. We are very intentional with our affection, and purposeful with development as any family would be. But even with all this, we are and institution. We could never be a true home for these children. So we quickly bring them in, and diligently work to get them out!
Some are easy. A healthy new baby comes in who has lost their parents, or whose parents do not have the capacity to care for the child. Easy! Papers get signed, the child is in the system, and quickly people line up from all over the world to adopt their new cute little Jimmy or Julie (or more accurately Bassirou or Latifatou.) Then there is the child who lost his or her mother in the birthing process which statistically happens in 10% of all pregnancies here. The father not always able or willing to care for the child, yet does not want to sign away the rights to that child either... this is more difficult. We work diligently with Social Action and speak with, and some times go toe to toe with, the father to do what is right for the child. Not as easy, but it's an exit strategy with some work attached to it. And then we have special needs kids. This is any child that may have a handicap or, as we see more and more, the child may be infected with H.I.V. We have had 3 children this past year with H.I.V. in our orphanage and this is where we see God shining more than ever. All 3 of these kids were quickly adopted! People seem to be lined up for kids like these. We have a young boy now, who is blind, deaf, and possibly has mild Cerebral Palsy. Came to us at 3 days old, in failure to thrive, premature and hours, if not minutes, away from a very short life. But Harouna is now being adopted into a "SUPER WOW FANTASTIC" type of family in the U.S. that are eagerly awaiting the arrival of their newest little gentleman!
But what do we do when things are even more difficult. What if that handicap is so severe, there may be little to no hope for an adoption? We are still finding the answers to this question. We recently received an angel named Sonia. An amazing little girl, with severe handicap. We do not know the extent of her abilities or inabilities. We believe she suffers from severe Cerebral Palsy or something similar, and may or may not be deaf and blind. Amy and I know a few families in the States who had and have angels like Sonia. I was privileged to know and care for a boy named Brandt when I was just 12 that was very much like to Sonia. Our pastor has a beautiful young lady named Amber who shares a similar if not the same handicap. Each family I have known has loved their child with a deeper love than I could even comprehend, but that did not make their job as a parent any easier. Having a child like this changes your life. It is not easy. And looking from the outside in, most would never choose to endure most of these hardships.
Social Action came to us thinking we would never accept a child with this condition. This could be a life long commitment. There may not be an exit strategy for someone like Sonia. We were not even the slightest bit hesitant! This IS why we are here! This IS the least of these! And God IS the king of Exit Strategies! This one goes far beyond our abilities, and we really could never plan and exit strategy for this. This just like every other, from the easiest to the hardest, is a plan for God to design, present and accomplish. So we wait with great expectation!
Monday, June 16, 2014
We have partnered with TOMS Shoes for a year now and I think now is a good time to reflect on this past year and what this partnership means.
A year ago we were just getting started. We had some basic ideas of how we were going to tackle giving shoes and where we planned to give them. We have really learned so much in this past year. We learned how many distributions we would need to hold each week to give all of the shoes that were sent to us before the next shipment arrived. We learned how to handle 2000 children at a time excited to receive shoes. We learned how many volunteers we would need for any given number of children expected to show up. We learned how many shoes to bring so that we had enough, but not too many. We learned that the children of Burkina will stand for hours out in the sun and wait patiently without cutting in front of someone else or pushing and shoving. We learned that there are some pretty big feet in Burkina. We learned that there are some pretty damaged feet in Burkina. We learned that the children didn't want to dirty their new shoes so they didn't put them on right away. We learned that children in Burkina never get tired of chasing a balloon or trying to catch bubbles.
And really, it's about the healthy feet and smiles. It's been a good year partnering with TOMS!!
Tuesday, May 20, 2014
This Friday we travel from Hollywood, Florida to St. Louis, Missouri. We will make a stop in North Florida and then Georgia on the way and expect to arrive in St. Louis Sunday night or Monday morning. This will be the first time we have seen our daughters Delaney and Haley in a year! I cannot tell you how excited I am to have them in my arms again. Delaney is graduating high school and we could not be prouder of her.
We have four more weeks of cherished time with family and friends and then we make that long journey back home. I wonder what else will be popping into my head in these upcoming weeks.
Thursday, March 6, 2014
This week we got an inside look at animal theft and how it is handled. Barto, one of our beloved boys at the orphanage came to us saying that he needed a picture of his father's donkey. Someone had stolen their donkey and they knew who had it, but needed proof that it was theirs. Many people have visited Barto's fathers home in the village and, as luck would have it, many pictures have been taken with the donkey.
All week long Barto and his father went back and forth to the Gendarme (military police). After the first time he brought pictures, they said that they wanted more pictures. We sent a few emails out and received more pictures. This alone is very interesting because #1: out in the bush who has a camera? and #2: if someone in the bush had a camera, who would use it to take a picture of their donkey? We really felt that Barto had a fighting chance of proving that the donkey was his father's. There were distinguishing marks on the donkey that were clearly in the pictures.
Today, Barto came to us saying that although he knows the truth, he is going to end fighting with the Gendarme, and he is at peace. There is a saying here..."WAWA". It means West Africa Wins Again.
There is another often used expression in French..."Ca va aller". It translates literally "it's going to go", but it means "everything is going to be alright". He doesn't know it yet, but Barto will be getting a new donkey.