Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Questions and Answers

Before this post, we asked on Facebook for input about what questions people have about our internship here in Burkina. Although there were only several who posted questions, they had some great ones! So through this, we hope to share with you some of the answers to things that we just haven't thought to share up to this point. Thank you to those who asked these questions and to Lauren for suggesting this! 

Question: Why are you always wearing a long skirt? Is that customary?
Molly's Answer: It is traditional for Burkinabé women to wear skirts every day, although this is starting to change in the capital city. While the majority of women still do wear long skirts, you also will sometimes see younger Burkinabé women wearing skinny jeans and trendy tops. In the small villages, vitally all women wear ankle-length skirts. To be culturally sensitive, missionaries wear long skirts whenever doing ministry work, so you may notice that I'm wearing a skirt in most pictures that I post. However, there are definitely times when it's okay to wear pants or even capris, such as when having staff meetings, helping with the international youth group, going out to dinner, or doing grocery shopping. 

Question: What luxury do you miss the most from home?
Ben's Answer:  The luxury that I miss the most would be the electricity and internet.  We have both of those at times, but having constant reliable power and internet would be nice.  It makes it harder to do substantial work online when the power could cut out or the internet will slow down to the point where it is no longer useful.  I have a greater appreciation for it when it is on, but we get by just fine when it is out.  The price of electricity is extremely high, so it is not like we overuse it in the first place.  The price of running a gas generator is also very high, so we do not like to do that unless it is really needed.
Molly's Answer: I miss being able to grocery shop with an abundance of cheap choices. While we do live in the big city and have several good stores that sell quite a bit, many foods are at least twice the price of what I'm used to paying. Plus, they don't have many of the products that we bought regularly in Ohio, like black beans or blueberries or whole wheat products or almond milk or deodorant and hairspray options. I also very much miss being able to keep cool in summertime heat. Here, it always feels like it's the hottest day of summertime (except for when it rains, which is wonderful!), and there isn't air conditioning everywhere you go like there is in the States. Also, like Ben mentioned, the power is expensive and is out much of the time, so while we have air conditioning units, we try to avoid using them. Being hot and sweaty all day is, admittedly, not my favorite thing about living here.

Question: What's been the hardest adjustment?
Ben's Answer: Communication has been the hardest thing thus far for me.  Most of the changes have been easy or manageable, but the language is a hard thing to just instantly change.  It is not common for locals to speak English, though it is something that many desire to learn.  We have put in a lot of work with learning French, and still have a long way to go.  This is hard but gives motivation for us to work harder.
Molly's Answer: I would say the same thing as Ben. Not being able to speak to people makes it very hard to go throughout your day. It also keeps us from being able to build deep relationships with the locals, so we're quite eager to get better at French to be able to start building relationships with people. Even once we know French, we won't be able to talk to everybody, but it will still provide us with the opportunity to speak to most people here in the capital city. 

Question: What has surprised you the most?
Ben's Answer: This past summer we came out for a week in order to get a feel for the ministries and how life works in Burkina.  This helped us, especially me, to have a better understanding of Burkina, as I had never before traveled to Africa.  I was most surprised by how the handicapped are treated.  They are considered burdens to the community and their families, thus they are often abandoned and mistreated.  It is not as if this does not happen in the U.S., but here it is more obvious and prevalent.  Ministries that help empower people like this are few, but extremely needed.
Molly's Answer: There isn't one big thing that stands out to me as most surprising, but there have been a few things that surprise me: learning of the treatment of the handicapped that Ben mentioned, seeing the chaos of the traffic here, experiencing how expensive it is to buy things here like food and gasoline and electricity, and realizing how draining it can be to live in constant heat. 

Question: What has been the easiest part of the adjustment?
Ben's Answer: Needing to do very little to move into a new home made the transition quite easy for us.  The Envision house that we live in was furnished and ready to go when we arrived.  This allowed us to quickly settle in and move on to more important matters, such as learning French.
Molly's Answer: The biggest thing that has helped me with the adjustment has been how welcoming the other missionaries are here. It's been so nice to come into a new country and to be able to make connections quickly. It makes it feel much more homey to have people here that we've begun building friendships with right away. 

Question: Were did you see that giraffe?
Ben's Answer: We saw that giraffe at the Burkina president's zoo here in Ouagadougou, on the outskirts of the city.  This is the president's personal zoo that has a decent selection of animals.  This is the place where we got to feed elephants and hippos.  There was only a basic chain link fence between us and the lions and tigers.  It was a neat experience.  Unfortunately, we haven't seen any saffari types of animals roaming wild yet.

Question: What is your new favorite African food?
Ben's Answer: I greatly enjoy peanut sauce.  It is good with rice, but I find it especially enjoyable with yam or banana futu.  I always thought that peanut sauce was an Indian dish, but I found otherwise after living here.  Futu is somewhere between mashed potatoes and bread dough.  It is a prepared yam or banana and it pulls apart kind of like a bread dough, a gelatinous blob of sorts.  Yam futu is flavorless but has a neat consistency to combine with peanut sauce and some beef.  My understanding is that futu takes a long time to prepare.  It is more of an Ivory Coast dish, but can be found in Burkina.
Molly's Answer: I really like what's called ragout, a dish made with chunks of yams that taste similar to baked potatoes. It is eaten with sauce and sometimes beef. I also enjoy the futu dish that Ben mentioned.
A large pot of Ragout for lunch in the village of Ouo

Question: What is your least favorite African food?
Ben's Answer: Riz Gras with fish.  I like fish and I like Riz Gras, but when combined it is not my favorite dish.  The fish can have that gross and stale "fishy" taste that ruins the dish for me.
Molly's Answer: Ben's answer goes for me as well. Our experience with that just wasn't too appetizing!

Question: Have you noticed different stars than what we see here in Ohio?
Ben's Answer: I do not remember if I have ever really spent the time looking at the starts and getting to know what is in the sky.  I do not know that I have seen any different stars, but I have seen WAY more starts at night than I have in Ohio.  We were out in the village of Ouo (said like whoa), and the sky was bright and full of stars.  There were more starts in the sky than I knew we could even see with the naked eye.  It did make for quite a beautiful scene for sleeping outside. 

Question: Which of the ministries is most interesting to you and why?
Ben's Answer: The most interesting ministry I've seen here is the handicap ministry out at Sector 30.  One of the ways that donors can help people is by purchasing a hand-pedal bike for them to get around.  ( has a way to purchase bikes for the handicapped).  This is a way of empowering people who are considered one of the lowest classes in the country.  Giving the handicapped a way to operate like the average person also helps to restore their sense of value.  They crawl around in the dust and dirt always having to look up to other people.  They are often rejected by their family and the community.  Restaurants will not serve them as they are too much of a "hassle."  Giving them a hand-pedal bike allows them to interact at the same level as others, and to perform tasks that they may have otherwise not been able to perform.  Sector 30 has a church that is accessible by bike, a restaurant that will serve them on their bike, and a ministry starting soon that will allow the handicapped to keep chickens and pigs in order to provide themselves with an income.  There is also a plan to have a mechanic out there to repair the bikes, and to have teams from the U.S. spend time out there helping with the upkeep of bikes.
Molly's Answer: That's a hard one for me to answer. We've visited a lot of different ministries here already, and I find all of them very interesting. I guess if I had to choose one thing, I would say that I find it interesting how eager people seem to be to learn English. While I haven't had the chance yet to get involved with any kind of an English-teaching ministry, I have heard that many Burkinabé have a desire for learning English and about how the Envision staff has been able to use teaching it as a way to minister to those they might not have been able to reach otherwise. One of the times they held English workshops was for the workers at the international airport here in Ouaga. We went there with our Envision leaders recently, and it was incredible to see how they had built and maintained relationships with all of these workers through teaching those English classes. This is something that I hope to get involved with after the extreme busyness of the summer months has passed. 

Question: How often do you hear Africans talking to each other in French?
Ben's Answer: It is fairly common to hear people communicating in French when we are in the city.  Each area can vary with the language that is most commonly spoken, and not everyone even in the capital knows French. We have heard people have conversations and switch between French and other local languages, and we've also heard people who just converse in other languages that we can't understand at all. 

Question: What other languages are spoken there?
Ben's Answer: It's estimated that there are sixty-nine different languages spoken in Burkina.  Each area has a different local language combined with overall French across the country.  Mòoré is a common language around the city of Ouaga.  Bobo or Bwa is common near the city of Bobo and near the country of Mali.  Fulfulde is spoken by the semi-nomadic people group called the Fula; they are scattered across a large portion of west and central Africa.  Jula is a trade language that is common on the west side of Burkina as well as Ivory Coast and Mali.  Our leaders John and Betty speak Jula, as their background in Burkina was living in areas where this language was more common then French.  There are a lot of other languages, but these are the main ones that we know of and deal with regularly.

Question: Do people introduce themselves by their first names or is there a more formal way?
Ben's Answer: Most of the introductions that we have heard are just first names and often what they do as a trade or with the church.  In the villages, there are sometimes full names when being introduced.  Greetings are extremely important here. Even if there is not much of a formal introduction, it is still polite to greet everybody in the room and ask how they are doing.  Greeting people addresses their value; otherwise, it is considered to be acting like they do not exist (culturally).  Even if you are talking to somebody, when a new person comes in the room you need to stop talking and greet the person.  Greetings are no small thing, as you are supposed to ask how they are doing, how is their family, how are their children, how is their home, how are their animals, how are their crops, etc, etc.   It is a long process when done properly, but we only know short greetings so far.

We hope that gives you a little more insight into what it's like to live in Burkina! If anybody reading this would be able to think of other questions for us, we will likely do another Q & A post at some point. We'd be glad to have you post any further questions that you have in the comment section below or e-mail them to us at

Monday, May 19, 2014

Continued Work in Sector 30

If you've read all of our blog posts to this point, you may recall that we've posted previously about Envision's work in Sector 30, one of the poorest areas of Ouagadougou that's about twenty minutes from where we live; it's where we've helped with drilling a well and with distributing special bikes to the handicapped. Recently, our Envision team has had two more opportunities to go out there to minister to the people of that area, once for a bike distribution and again today for a corn distribution.
Handicapped and widows gathered outside the church in Sector 30

Bike Distribution: Two weeks ago, our team did another bike distribution for three handicapped men. The handicapped who received bikes were on a waiting list that the area's pastor keeps. The way it works, then, is once there is enough money donated for several bikes to be given out ($400 each), a distribution takes place. While everyone was gathered on the church's porch before this particular distribution, the pastor gave a short message and an invitation for people to raise their hands if they wanted to pray to give their lives to Jesus. Twenty-five people raised their hands wanting to do this! 
Hands raised to accept Christ
It was an incredible thing to hear them praying out loud, repeating the pastor as he led them in a prayer. What followed then was singing a song of celebration, giving out the three handicapped bikes, and praying over those who received the bikes.
Praying over the handicapped men who were receiving bikes

Our Envision leaders later explained that some of these who raised their hands may not be sincere conversions, since people there may be claiming to become Christians only because they see exciting things happening linked with the Christian ministries in that area. However, even if only a few of those twenty-five were sincere in their desire to give their lives to Christ, it is great reason to celebrate! Plus, it may be a step closer to true faith for those who weren't honestly making a commitment this time.

Corn Distribution: Today, our team got to go back to Sector 30 for a corn distribution. The money for this distribution came from one of the former Envision interns who had spent her year in Burkina working with the women of the Tabitha Center there. She sent the money to be able to give 50 kilos of corn apiece to the fifty-one women of the Tabitha Center, but since the pastor got such a good deal on corn, he was able to use the leftover money to buy enough extra to give a good-sized sack to thirty handicapped men and women as well. 

The morning started out with one handicapped bike being given to a young boy who was very much in need of it. This boy named Theophli was one who, last time we were there for the bike distribution, was tottering around on his crooked legs with jerking motions. When the question came up about whether or not he could get a bike, we were informed that he was on the waiting list. Today, seeing this boy sitting on the bike seat, learning how to work his stiff arms to steer himself about, was such a beautiful sight. 
Theophli on the bike alongside his mother, brother, and the pastor

After that, we went inside the Tabitha Center where fifty-one women had gathered to receive their corn sacks. I wasn't actually thinking that they were getting a huge sack each, but the sacks really were quite big and heavy, filled with the food that would meet one of their most pressing needs for a good amount of time. 
The group of women ready to receive their corn

After the pastor spoke briefly about why this distribution was taking place, the men helped carry the sacks out as the women's names were read off one by one. You could tell they were excited about this, as they eagerly jumped up when their names were called and several of them even pointed to the largest-looking sack they could see, wanting to be sure they got as much as possible (in spite of all the sacks weighing the same!). 
Ben helping the women carry the corn sacks out

After the Tabitha Center women had dispersed with their sacks, we got to help pass out the remaining smaller bags of corn to the thirty handicapped men and women who had gathered outside. Their bikes have shelves on the backs, so as the pastor read names from the list of those signed up to receive, our team helped secure the corn-filled bags on their bikes. 
Securing this lady's corn bag to her bike rack

With this corn, these recipients will be able to grind and boil it make Tô, one of the staple foods here. There were so many excited people in Sector 30 today, and it was great to get to be part of another demonstration of Christ's love to the people of Burkina. 


Wednesday, May 14, 2014

An Evening Out with a Burkinabé Family

This past weekend, our Envision team enjoyed an evening at the home of a local Burkinabé family.  They were very welcoming and had prepared quite a feast for us to enjoy with them.  The food was all West African and included some dishes that we had not tried up until that point.  They company was very enjoyable, and it was nice to spend time in a new setting.  The conversation was almost all in French, so we got to test our developing French listening skills to follow what was being said.  Forming relationships with people is a very important part of any ministry here in West Africa.

Here is the story as told by one of our Envision leaders, Betty:

"Gathering in the US about the well work in Burkina + young University student who attended these meetings, a Burkinabe' young woman (Gaelle) + her family who lives in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso + Engage Facebook page = New National Friends for us all here in the Capital City.........

Gaelle's contacted her family after attending a well meeting in the Atlanta area and messaging me on the Engage Facebook page. She then put us all in touch with each other and we have met together twice now here in Burkina Faso, once in our home and this past week in theirs.

Friday evening they had our entire Envision group over to their home for a Burkinabe' feast. Our newest interns Ben and Molly loved the food, and Ben especially loved the spicy ginger drink. It was an evening full of fun and laughter. Who could have imagined how God put us all together!"

Monday, May 12, 2014

Banfora Cascades

After all the work we put in the village of Ouo, we took the team up to the town of Banfora for a day.  Banfora is one of the nicest areas of Burkina and is known for its waterfalls (cascades).

Along the road to Banfora, we spotted a Burkinabé with a camel.  We pulled over near him, and Olivier went over and bargained with him over a price at which he would let people ride the camel.  It was one of the ugliest animals I have seen when it opened its mouth.  I decided not to ride it (I feel that I am too big for such a small and unsecured saddle), but Molly went for a ride.  It is a strange animal in the way that it leans forward to stand up.  It was a neat and different experience for everyone.

Molly riding the camel
I think I will sit this one out

It was about 2 hours from the village of Ouo to Banfora.  Upon arrival in Banfora, we dropped off our trailers and settled into the hotel we would be staying at that night.   We left the hotel before lunch and drove the short distance to the falls.  I am very glad that we drive Land Cruisers, because the roads (or lack of roads) were probably too much for a car.  After eating lunch in the parking lot, peanut butter and Nutella sandwiches with bread from Ouo (A.K.A. the best bread in Burkina), we hiked up the wooded path to the falls.
Walking through a large mango grove on our way to the falls 
The bottom of the falls
Climbing up to the falls
It was a steep hike, but not very far, and we quickly made it to the area where countless waterfalls continued down the hills.  The larger falls were at the bottom, but the smaller falls at the top had places to sit and small pools in which to splash around.  This was a beautiful location and a fun way to relax after some hard work in the bush.  Molly and I particularly enjoyed one section of the waterfalls with heavily-pounding water that felt like we were having back massages when sitting beneath it.

Molly and I near the falls
Hanging out under the falls with the guys on the team
A beautiful section of the falls

After spending the whole afternoon at the falls, we went to dinner at a restaurant in Banfora called McDonald.  No . . . not the fast food; that doesn't exist in Burkina.  This was a small local place with artwork for sale and good food.  I decided to be adventurous and get the langue de boeuf (cow tongue) with fries.  I regretted the fries, should have gotten the fried bananas, but I loved the tongue.  It sounds gross, but with the skin layers taken off, it seems like any other red meat.  I was debating between that and the horse steak, and next time, the horse will be my meal.

Mmmhhhmmmm.....Tongue and Fries

The hotel we stayed at was very nice.  It was not the nicest of rooms by American standards, but to us after just having slept outside for three nights, it was awesome!  The grounds were better than the room, with neat statues, pools, and great seating everywhere.  The bed may as well have been made of rock, but we were too tired to care.  It was nice to have a real, by our standards, toilet again.  After dinner, we went back to the hotel and hung out.  We greatly enjoyed spending time with the team in a relaxed environment.

The view from our hotel room door

After a night of sleep, we ate breakfast at the hotel and headed back for Ouaga.  It was once again a 10 hour trip, but I didn't mind, as I was able to drive the whole way.  Driving through the bush is much different than driving in the US.  We did see 6 flipped trucks throughout our journey home; I will have more on constantly seeing these in another post.
Semi with the wrong side on the road

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Our First Bush Trip: Part 3 of 3

Thursday, May 1: 

Thursday morning started in the same way as the previous day, with us waking up at sunrise. Once the ten of us were all ready to go, we again headed down the road to our project site. 

The cement around the six posts that we had completed on Wednesday had hardened, and it was time to complete the hangar's roof. The first task of the day was to use the scaffoldings to lift three A-frames across the posts. Olivier welded these while the men assisted with holding the frames in place. 

Ben helping with putting up the first of the A-frames

Once those were completed, wooden boards had to be measured, sawed, and nailed in going all the way across the frames. It made me a bit nervous for the guys scooting across the thin poles, but everything went smoothly. Metal poles were then cut and secured along the sides of the hangar. 
Jake, Olivier, and Ben balancing their way across the A-frames to nail the boards

Next, the thin metal sheets had to be nailed to the roof structure. Ben got to be the one to crawl along the top of the A-frames for nailing these. 

Nailing the hangar roof (Ben is the one at the top right of the picture)

As usual, we had a crowd of cute kids around, with many of the same ones from the previous day returning to watch yet again. The girls from the Riverside team had brought some Dum Dums suckers to hand out, and these were greatly enjoyed by both the kids and the adults that were around. 
Some of the kids that hung around the building site on Thursday

Around 1:30 in the afternoon, the work was completed. We packed the extra materials and the scaffolding back into our trailer and gathered everyone up in a circle, ending the project with a time of prayer. 

With church hangars like this, the people might use it as is (because being under it is significantly cooler than being out in the sun) or they might build onto it, expanding the sides or enclosing it with walls. If I find out any updates about this particular hangar's use, I'll be sure to post them on here. 
The whole group with the completed church hanger

Once we returned to Ouo, lunch was ready for us. We got to eat ragout, which is a traditional West African dish made with yams (that taste a lot like potatoes) in a stew of sorts. It is quite good! 
Lunch of ragout and goat

We had several hours after lunch where we got to sit on the porch and relax before again taking bucket baths and getting ready to go down the road for another evangelism night. This time as they were setting up, people again came in the dark from every direction. Many of the kids stopped over to where we were near our vehicles to say hello to our group, and they quickly became fascinated with my flashlight. When you twist the top off of it, this particular flashlight was designed to also act as a candle, and ALL of the people nearby were fascinated with it. Even the adult women around reached for their turn to hold it and to try to figure out how it worked. It was pretty fun to watch their excitement over such a little thing.  

When this movie was about to get started, we went up to the benches near the screen so that the crowd around us would follow. Although they got started a little earlier with the movie than the night before, this movie lasted for an hour and a half. During the intermission of the movie, one of the local pastors got on the microphone and preached. He invited people to accept Christ as their savior, and although it was too dark for us to see from where we ended up sitting, we later heard that three people raised their hands wanting to become Christians! This area is one where very few people follow Christ, and this was very exciting!

Once the movie was over, a group of maybe one hundred people formed a circle and fifteen or so started dancing inside of it. There were a few ladies singing Christian lyrics, men playing drums, and a dance leader blowing a whistle to keep people moving together in rhythm. This was pretty neat to get to see come together spontaneously. 

Getting back to the camp site late that night, we again slept out on our cots and thankfully had no issues with surprise animal invasions during the night. The next morning, we left the village after breakfast. 
Such cuties, huh?

The experience of our first bush trip was so positive. I was a little unsure beforehand about sleeping outside, having no toilet facilities, bathing inside a short wall, and not knowing how to help on this kind of a trip; after the time we spent in Ouo, though, I know that it's not only doable, it's fun! Both Ben and I really enjoyed these few days that we spent with both the team and the Burkinabe down in that area of southern Burkina, and we are now so excited for this summer when we get to regularly be a part of leading teams to do projects like what we did on this first bush trip. 


Thursday, May 8, 2014

Our First Bush Trip: Part 2 of 3

Wednesday, April 30:

With spending the night outside in Ouo, the broadening sunlight, voices of villagers, and farm animal noises served as the alarm clock for us right around 6 AM. We ate a breakfast of local bread as well as cinnamon rolls and fruit that we brought with us and did group devotions while sitting on Pastor Innocent's porch. Shortly afterward, we all set out for the village that we would be working in for the next two days, driving about four miles down the road. 
Riding with Kayla, Justice, and Keira from the Riverside team on top of the Land Cruiser

Our trucks pulled into a wide-open space with trees and huts situated back a little ways. There, our welder Olivier got right to work scoping out where to build the church hangar while the rest of us unloaded supplies and put together the scaffolding. Once he had the spots for the six posts determined, the digging began. 
The beginning of digging holes for the six posts

We took turns using shovels and pick-axes for chopping away at the hard dirt in an attempt to create squares that were a pretty good size and depth. By this time, plenty of kids and a few adults had shown up to watch what was happening, as they do any time that a group that isn't Burkinabe does a project here. After a while of digging, the ground went from very hard to rock solid. It was a very slow process to chip away at the dirt little by little, and some of the Burkinabe men that had shown up assisted with the digging at this point. Their endurance far exceeded any of ours! 

We took a break for lunch and continued in the afternoon with setting the six posts in the holes with large rocks and cement. During this time, there were so many people working that I didn't really do much, so the other girls and I played with the kids that were around. The Burkinbae kids will often stay for the entire time that we are around somewhere, and they are just so well-behaved and friendly. It doesn't take long at all for them to warm up to us, so before long, we were playing clapping games with them, throwing a foam football around, and doing whatever it took to get them to smile. 
All of the kids around loved to play whatever games we started
Ben doing an explosive fist bump with one of the kids
The progress that was made by the end of the first day

When the posts were finished around 3:30, we headed back to Ouo, recovered for a little bit, and then started bucket baths. This involved going into a little three-and-a-half-sided mud-brick structure that came up to my neck, using a cup to dip water out from a bucket that was sitting on the floor, and proceeding to bathe myself as normally as possible. The bucket bath area has a little hole at the base of one wall to let the water and urine stream out (they use their showers for that as well). In all honesty, as awkward of a bathing situation as this may sound to be, bucket bath time was wonderful. After being constantly sweaty and dirty throughout the day, nothing could beat that feeling of a bucket bath. 
Inside this little wall was our bucket-bath area

Once we had all gotten the chance to bathe, we ate another African dish for dinner and got ready to go back down the street for evangelism. 

At this point it was very dark and the sky was clear, unlike the night before. I didn't realize just how exciting this would be to me, but the stars were just breathtaking. In a place where there's no electricity for miles and miles, I gazed at the sky and just marveled at how great God is, that He would create a sky full of millions of twinkling diamonds. Of course, I've seen the stars plenty of times before, but their clarity out here - wow. All I could think to do was to praise Him. 

Okay, so back to what was happening that night. Evangelism is done by a few of the area pastors who travel around to different villages with a microphone, speakers, and a video projector. They set up to show a movie and preach in an open space after dinnertime (by which time it is pitch black outside). They show movies with Christian story lines that the people can relate to. These are done with African actors in French, but since we were in an area where people spoke Jula, the movie was voiced over so that the people could understand it. 

We were wondering how the people would find out about this event so that they could come, but we quickly discovered that getting people to come wasn't an issue. As soon as the sound system came on (using a generator), little dots of light began to appear in every direction. People came by the light of their flashlights, eager to see what was going on in this place that has no electricity, where watching a movie is just about unheard of. 

(Sorry, no pictures of any of this. It was much too dark out!)

By the time that they had worked through the issues they ended up having with the equipment, it was around 10:30 at night. While the original intent was for them to show a longer movie and to preach, they ended up just showing a half-hour movie and told the people to come back the next night to see another. Everybody in our group was extremely tired from our early morning and long work day, and after greeting people before the start of the movie, I fell asleep for the rest of it. Afterward, we got back to Ouo, quickly got ready for bed around midnight, and once again I slept soundly . . . almost.

Suddenly in the middle of the night, everyone in our group was jerked awake by very loud and very close hee-hawing. I quickly sat up in my cot to see two donkeys up on their back legs, viciously biting at each other. They were no more than a few feet away from one of our team member's cot, and not all that far off from where Ben and I had our cots, too. Pastor Innocent rushed out of his house, stone in hand, and chased them away from the area before anyone got hurt, but it was definitely not something that we expected to occur while sleeping! 
A donkey is now on my "most disliked animals" list

Tomorrow I'll post about the final day we spent in the bush. Be sure to look for that post to read the rest of this story . . .


Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Our First Bush Trip: Part 1 of 3

Working as Envision staff, our main focus once we're trained and finished with French classes will be to work with US church teams of anywhere from four to twenty people that come on a missions trip for seven to ten days. This last week, Ben and I got to spend the whole week traveling with a great team of five people from Riverside Church in Minnesota, and while all but one of them were experiencing African bush life for the first time, the two of us were experiencing it for the first time right along with them. Let me give you a look into what a bush trip is like. It's such an experience!

Tuesday, April 29: 

There were ten of us all together who piled into the two Land Cruisers pulling trailers with supplies for this team's hangar-building project: the five from Riverside, four of us with Envision, and the Burkinabe welder who always goes along on bush trips to be in charge of the construction. We set out early for the ten-hour drive down to Ouo (pronounced "woe"), a small village in the southwest region of Burkina. But this was nothing like a smooth ten-hour drive in America, which Ben and I did regularly when going from Ohio to Delaware to visit his family. On a ten-hour trip in Burkina, you must expect all sorts of farm animals to be wandering across the road at any time, busses to be flying past you, roads to be full of pot holes, trucks to be packed so high that the loads are over twice the hight of the trucks, and paved roads to turn into dirt roads as you get closer to the remote villages.  
A truck packed dangerously high - a typical sight

The main street going through the village of Ouo

After hurdling the many obstacles, we arrived in the village of a couple thousand people, driving back a ways past many small mud homes until we got to the home of Ouo's pastor. We met Pastor Innocent, who was hosting us, as well as several other of the area pastors, unloaded our bags and camping supplies, ate dinner (African food prepared by the pastor's wife), and had some down time. 
Rice and peanut sauce with cabbage and goat meat

As the sky got dark, the only lights to be seen were battery-powered flashlights or little hanging lights; the village had no electricity, no running water, no toilets, and no showers. We set up camp in the pastor's front "yard" (the open dirt area in front of his house), where I got to experience my first-ever night of true camping. There on a cot in a remote village, in the open air with donkey and goat noises sounding off at intervals along with the sounds of bugs in the trees and the bats swooping overhead, believe it or not, I slept like a rock for my first night in the bush. 
A few of our sleeping cots in our "camping" area
Since I have so many things to tell about our trip, I'll be breaking it up into three different posts. Stay tuned for tomorrow's post with the continuation of what happened on Wednesday when we started our hangar project . . .


Sunday, May 4, 2014

Our First Well-Drilling Experience

Water is a much-needed resource in Burkina. This is one physical need that we can address as a means to provide for the spiritual needs.  Sector 30 is an area that we have mentioned before; it is one of the poorest areas of Ouaga.  We got to spend two days there recently helping to drill a well.  The area we put the well was a place where the handicapped are setting up a business in order to provide for themselves.  It is a place where they would need water and be able to provide for others who need water.

Engage Burkina (the group we are with) decided this area needed a well and the organization we work with for drilling (Friends in Action) decided this was a good place to put one.  We did not have a team with us like on a typical well-drilling trip, just some of the staff members of each organization.
The Engage/Envision staff post-drilling (Molly would like to add that she got dirtier than she looks!)

We started drilling on Thursday April, 24 at 9 in the morning.  It took some work to set up the equipment, but we were ready to go in a short amount of time.  The morning started out hot and stayed that way throughout the day.  With it being our first full day out in the sun since getting here, we were not yet ready for the heat. A few hours in, Molly and I were dehydrated and nearing heat stroke.
The drilling truck getting situated to begin

Kids from all over the area came to watch.  We had to set a perimeter in order to keep them back, and even then they kept moving closer.  Whenever we turned on the trucks or generators, the loud noises would scare them and they would run away.  It didn't take long before they would come back, though, after that.
The crowd gathering to watch what was happening

The drilling process was long and dirty.  After the machine drilled down 10 feet, we had to load a new bit to cut deeper.  Each bit was heavy and took a few guys to load.  After drilling 100 feet, we had to take them all out again and load a bit for drilling into rock.
John and Ben adding a drill bit
After drilling down to 150 feet, we were well into water.  We dropped the casings down into the hole; these keep the structure of the hole for the well pump and piping.  We finished out the first day with the casings.
Molly scrubbing the threads of the casings to help them to fit together correctly

The second day we started by filling in the hole around the casing with gravel and dirt.  The gravel is used in the area where water comes into the casing for the well.  It helps to filter the water and keep the dirt away.

Once it was filled, Molly and I jetted the well.  Jetting settles the gravel and sediment surrounding the casing.  We were the first husband-wife jetting team they'd ever had.  With jetting, you push a hose with compressed air down the well's hole.  The air settles the rock but also shoots out water.  The kids from the area loved playing in the water as it rained down on them.   This was one of our favorite parts of the whole process.
Molly and I jetting the well and getting drenched
Kids playing in the jetted water

While we were priming the well, Molly played with some of the kids.  She made a mud heart for one of the kids, and all of them wanted one as well.  The kids were really cute and really wanted attention.
Molly making mud hearts and crosses for the kids

We ended the day by making a cement platform were we would mount the pump.  This took a few days to settle, and we decided to come back a few days later on Monday to finish the pump installation.

We went back the following Monday in order to install the piping and pump.  We put together 100 feet of stainless steel piping and mounted it to the pump handle assembly.  After an hour of installing the piping and pump, we finally had a usable well.
This lady who expressed her extreme gratitude for the well was chosen to be the first to pump it

The handicapped and other residents in the area were very thankful about the well we had put in for them.  The handicapped are often not allowed/unable to get water from other places.  The well should provide good water for a number of years.  It can flow 600 gallons an hour, but the pump is only capable of 250 to 300 gallons per hour. So this well could be pumped all day and would still provide a constant flow of water. 
Women brought their water jugs to line up at the well as soon as it was finished

Please pray that this will continue to effectively provide for the physical needs as well as the spiritual needs of the people in the area.