Monday, December 22, 2014

Busy With His Work

On the road again 
Waiting for our new truck to arrive in Ouagadougou seemed endless when all we really wanted to do was get back to the village and minister in our Kimini community. Hearts filled with gratitude for all our donors ,we were finally able to take the eight plus hour drive back "home" with confidence that our days of stopping every thirty minutes to fill the radiator were now mere memories. This year our Thanksgiving Day was spent in our new truck raising hearts of praise and gratitude to God for his faithfulness and abundant  blessings and for you, our generous friends and benefactors, for making this all possible.

Drissa and new trike
Grateful Widow
Happy Aboulaye

Excitement and anticipation of great things to come energized us to hit the ground running as we prepared for our December distribution to sponsored children and widows. What fun we had purchasing rice, school supplies, blankets, soap and little treats for the special children sponsored in Wangolo, Kangala, Niangoloko and Kimini. It gives us a sense of satisfaction to be able to buy most of these items from the market and little boutique in Kimini and thus support local businesses.

"Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words." St Francis of Assisi

                                 And yet the  stark reality of the harshness of life in Burkina Faso is ever present. Some days the sting is felt  a little more intensely. While meeting with the director of the school and a nurse in Nonfesso , a mother with two small infants, one strapped to her back, the other carried in her arms,came walking by. It was clear  these babies were unusually tiny.We learned that they were almost six months old but  each weighed only about five pounds. Something had to be done if these babies were going to have a fighting chance. A few days later we were on the road to Bobo to the clinic for malnourished babies with the mother, twins and Jennaba, a young girl who will assist the mom in caring for the babies.Once more my heart was broken as I gazed on these babies. Holding Fatamata in my arms and seeing her smile as I spoke to her grabbed my heart in a profound way. How many little Fatamatas and Adamas are out there only one illness away from death ? As time goes on ,we are becoming more aware of the need to establish an emergency medical fund  to allow us to respond when the need arises.

Jennaba holding Adama and Fatamata
Through the good works we are able to do in His name, we bring the Gospel to His  people that they may come to know the love of God .

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Looking Forward

Twenty-three days ago yesterday Burkina Faso was is the midst of violent protests. Crowds numbering in the hundreds of thousands marched on the capital city of Ouagadougou manifesting their frustration and outrage with Blaise Campaore, president for the past 27 years. The attempt to pass a referendum changing the constitution so he could run for re-election next year ignited embers of smoldering anger. Demonstrations became ugly. Lives were lost and parliament was set ablaze. Blaise Campaore fled the country leaving the door open for new leadership.
Parliament ablaze

This week a new interim president was installed just one day after being elected by a unanimous vote. Michele Kafando comes with impressive credentials. Mr.Kafando served at UN headquarters for almost 15 years and was
 Minister of Foreign Affairs for Burkina Faso. He is an experienced diplomat with many international connections to help move the country forward.

US Ambassador Tulinabo Mushingui  and Pres. Kafando

His first act as president, appointing army officer Col. Isaac Zida as prime minister, came one day after his installation.

PrimeMinister Col. Isaac Zida and President Michele Kafando

Our prayers are with Burkina Faso and its leaders in the months leading up to the presidential   elections next fall.

Presidential photo

Days of waiting are over. Our new truck has arrived! All that remains is getting needed paperwork, inspection, insurance and license plates. Then we will finally be on the road to Kimini where much work awaits us.
It is difficult to find words to express how deeply grateful we are to each and every one of you who helped make this possible. You have done so much more than provide a reliable means of transportation for us. You have helped us fulfill our mission to care for the “least of these” in Burkina. Each time we get into the truck we will whisper a prayer of thanks for each of you.

“ I give thanks to my God at every remembrance of you, praying always with joy for my every prayer for all of you because of your partnership for the gospel from the first day until now.”  Phil.1: 4

Monday, November 10, 2014

Burkina Foliage

Majestic Baobab
Lately, much of my email has contained messages about the colorful panorama of autumn foliage in the Berkshires. This caused me to take a closer look at the foliage surrounding me in beautiful Burkina.

Riding through the Berkshire hillside provides a palette of magnificent red, orange and yellow. Burkina Faso’s environment, though not aflame with color, is nonetheless splendid in variety and beauty.                                                      

Baobab, banana, palm, flamboyant and eucalyptus trees replace the forests of maples, oaks and pines of home.
Sesame Plants
Cultivation is the mainstay of life in Kimini and the surrounding area. Fields of corn, rice, okra, millet, sesame, cotton and sugarcane dot the landscape.
Seed spreader
Burkinabé are hard-working people who do the back breaking work of planting and harvesting without the aid of modern machinery. Farmers commonly use a short handled hoe-like tool called a daba. Occasionally, you will see a primitive plow or seed spreader being utilized. I have gained a new appreciation for those who make a living by farming.
May  all farmers rejoice in a bountiful harvest and may we say an extra prayer of thanks for those who toil in the fields.

 "Through him all things were made;without him nothing was made that has been made." Jn.1:3

I feel blessed to have experienced the beauty of creation from both sides of the 

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Transitions and Changes

This has been a week like no other ! On the one hand , we have had a delightful time preparing Guelil  to meet his mother and grandmother. Medical appointments went smoothly.He is a delightful little man and has brought us many smiles. His mom, Christa and grandma, Joan arrived in country on Friday afternoon October 24. Early on Saturday morning we were on the road to Yako where a along awaited meeting took place at Sheltering Wings.
Grandma, Guelil and Mommy
 Spending time together in the place Guelil called home for more than two years was important for understanding his daily life experiences.

While in Yako , Crista met her two sponsored children, Maimounata and Remi.  Joan had the pleasure of  meeting the widow she sponsors and paid a visit to her home. What a special treat for all involved.

As we prepared to return to Ouagadougou on Monday morning, Guelil asked if Mommy was going with us. When we said she was, he could not contain himself and burst into dancing and shouts of joy.

On our way back to Ouagadougou,we stopped for a quick visit with  Delphine and Paul, recently married friends whose wedding we attended this year. Delphine shared the joy she experiences as a new teacher and young wife. We had a great visit but left abruptly when we heard of impending demonstrations in Ouagadougou and hurried to return back before dark.
Ruth holding her gift of a pumpkin , Delphine and Paul 

Once back in Ouagadougou, our family settled into their hotel and looking forward to a peaceful time of becoming better acquainted.

What a difference a day makes ! The next day, October 31, chaos reigned in Ouagadougou as political turmoil manifested itself through marches, demonstrations and violence in response to Thursday's vote seeking to pass a referendum to extend  presidential  term limits. Blaise Campaore, the president for the past 27 years  was hoping to continue his reign. The opposition party had different ideas.Parliament was stormed,voting thwarted and Campaore removed. He was ousted and fled the country. People vied for power in the days that followed. Hour by hour the transitional leadership changed.
The American Embassy sent out daily alerts suggesting we stay hunkered down and restrict venturing out into the city. Curfews were put in place to restrict further pillaging and violence.

 Although we did see  the burnt carnage of the parliament building and charred remains of vehicles in the parking lot, what was more impressive was the sight of the Burkinabe people coming together sweeping the streets and cleaning up after the turmoil. Throughout these events we remained safe and sound.
 Calm has returned to the city. Airlines are flying and land borders have been reopened.  Ouagadougou has returned to "normal". It has been quite interesting being in the center of history in the making!

Friday night,Nov. 7 we bade  farewell to Guelil and his family.  They departed for America with our prayers for a wonderful future together. We certainly will miss them but look forward to hearing all the wonderful stories of their new life together.

Please pray for the people of Burkina Faso. Pray that calm may continue to replace chaos.
Peace may replace anger and God may guide the hearts and minds of  their leaders.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Sharing the Joy

These past few weeks have been very busy but also very rewarding. Ruth and I have had the great pleasure of meeting with our sponsored children in the villages of Kimini, Wangolo, Niangoloko
Twin brothers Lassane and Ousenni
  and Kangala. It has been wonderful to see their eyes light up as they receive backpacks filled with school supplies that you, their sponsors, have provided for them.

We also had the pleasure of visiting each of their schools and becoming better acquainted with the directors and teachers. Thanks to a generous donation from friends at home we were also able to gift each school with a new soccer ball and pump. Seeing the smiles this gift brought was such a blessing. Soccer is a favorite sport here.  Over and over again , we were told "this is no small gift"! 

Sr.Adele, teacher and happy students in Niangoloko


Every afternoon in Kimini, shepherd boys on their way home from a day tending herds of cattle, stop by our house requesting  to play with soccer balls we loan out daily. As darkness falls, the balls are returned by happy boys who at the end of a work day  have had a little time to just be children.

Our work with orphans and vulnerable children has afforded us the opportunity to meet some pretty impressive young people.  Two youngsters in particular demonstrate courage and determination in the face of physical challenges. Seydou and Drissa are both enrolled in school. The fact that they must traverse more than3km over rugged terrain to attend classes has taken its toll on their specially modified bicycles that now must be replaced.
Special Bicycle
Thanks to generous sponsors, we now have the funds to purchase two new bicycles to give these deserving students the independence and mobility to continue their education. 


Ruth and I continue to be overwhelmed by the generosity and support of so many friends and benefactors as we raise funds for our new truck. Only a few weeks remain before we back the new vehicle out of the shipping container and hit the road with confidence and security.Expressing our thanks just does not seem adequate. You are remembered in our daily prayers as we ask God to shower his blessings on each of you.

" I thank my God every time I think of you; and every time I pray for you all, I pray with joy."  1 Phil. 3-4

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Day By Day

Where has the time gone? August has flown away and here it is mid September. Ruth and I have found many things to keep us busy in Kimini and beyond.

Ruth and I repainted the rusted out village sign. We drew many onlookers who voiced their approval and gratitude. Others asked when we were going to paint the signs to their villages. If our day job fails, we have a backup plan!
Welcome to Kimini !

Construction of the medical clinic in Kimini is moving forward though more slowly than we hoped. The rainy season has taken its toll on brick making. Strong rains often cause the handmade concrete bricks to be lost which has caused a little setback. The foundation can at last be prepared and iron supports put in place. Windows and doors have been purchased and ready for the day they can be installed.

Malnutrition is part of life here. Sometimes it is displayed in the underweight frame of an infant. Other times it masks itself in the bloated body of an infant with feet too swollen to walk and body too weak to stand. This was the case of 2 ½ year old Rasmata, the latest child to be transferred to the clinic for malnourished children in Bobo. Just escaping the need for hospitalization, she and her mother and baby sister remain at the clinic as she recovers and heals. Her mother is torn between remaining at the clinic and cultivating the family field in Kimini.  Life here is a difficult balancing act just to meet the basic needs of caring for a family.

Child sponsorship continues to reach many needy children in Kimini and surrounding villages. Pastor Zongo in Niangoloko has agreed to assist in facilitating the sponsorship program there. The school year commences here next month and he is busy securing places for children in appropriate classes for them.

We passed out hats sent by a generous friend from home. Word spread quickly and in moments all were gone. Now we see happy heads all over Kimini ! 
Thanks, Jeannette !

Bintou, a seven year girl from Kimini will have the opportunity to enroll in a special school in Bobo for hearing impaired children  thanks to the generosity of caring sponsors.

Ema, a five month old whose mother is not well mentally, lives with her grandmother who does her best to care for her but does not have the means to purchase needed formula. Once more a sponsor has come to the rescue.

Madiatta , our first sponsored widow in Kimini, received much needed supplies. We are working to connect additional needy widows with sponsors who can help.
Madiatta  and Ruth

All this took place in spite of numerous breakdowns on the road and delayed trips due to car repairs. We are counting the days until our new truck arrives and our work schedule is not dictated by transportation woes !

We are richly blessed. Daily, my heart overflows with gratitude and prayer  for all of you who truly make all these things possible.

Sunday, August 10, 2014


Being in Africa is cause enough for me to rejoice but I don’t have to look too far to find other reasons to celebrate. The latest ones include spending time with Michael and Jennifer Cassidy. This was especially fun for me because Jenn and I had been teammates on a shoebox distribution for Operation Christmas Child in 2008. The impact of that trip is clear when you realize where it has lead. I am now living in Burkina Faso and Jenn and Michael are adopting a little boy from Ouagadougou.

Michael, Jennifer and Arnaud Cassidy

Arnaud is an amazing little man. He is sensitive, caring, curious, engaging and definitely a leader. Early on, his love for shoes, hats and phones was obvious. Riding in the car to numerous medical appointments, he could be heard whispering to himself as he took in all the new sights and sounds. Every time we passed vendors of shoes or hats he would tap us on the shoulder and point them out to us. Later we discovered that at the orphanage he was known as “Mr. Shoes”. He has loved sporting the new hats and shoes that are now part of his wardrobe. Some of his happiest times and bathing and eating!

It has been such a privilege to step back and observe the birth of a new family. Soon Arnaud will meet Jackson, his new brother. So many new experiences and opportunities await! Wishing this new family many blessings as they begin their journey together.
Walking the pathway to a new life.

I experienced my first African wedding. These people know how to celebrate! Dephine, a Sheltering Wings Alumna and graduate of  teacher training , is now a married woman. Following the civil ceremony, the couple exchanged vows in a religious ceremony filled with singing and lively dance.
Congratulations, Delphine and Paul !
Wedding Reception

August 9th, Ruth's birthday provided an opportunity to celebrate this amazing woman who has and continues to touch the lives of so many people.She truly " walks the walk"!
Happy Birthday, Ruth !
May your  light continue to shine brightly for many years to come!