Sunday, August 17, 2014

Summer in Review

It has been a busy and enjoyable summer.  Envision/Engage Burkina hosted 4 different groups consisting of teams from 9 different churches.  The churches were all from different locations in the US: Ohio, Georgia, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Wisconsin, and North Carolina. 

First group
Our first group was a mix of two churches working together. We built a hangar for a church in a somewhat remote village that was a day's drive away. Evangelism was done by a local pastor from another village who worked with us on the hangar project.

Putting up the framing for the hangar

The rest of the time with this group was spent working with local ministries and seeing Ouagadougou. For many people, this can be their first trip overseas or even their first missions trip. Allowing them to be involved in different aspects of ministry gives them an understanding of what missions is really about and allows them to develop their heart for others.

Hanging out with the girls at Pãn-Bila

One of the group leaders had been an intern in Burkina a number of years before this, so it was nice to see his perspective and love for the Burkinabé

Second group
The second group was a combination of three churches coming out with an organization called Grain of Hope (GoH). The leaders of GoH were bringing out volunteers from churches that were involved with the organization.

Praying over a woman who received a new handicapped tricycle

This group did two handicap bike distributions, one in Ouaga and one in the city of Bobo. This was the first time our organizations were part of a bike distribution in Bobo. Together we did a couple of grain distributions, giving out grain to the handicapped and locals in need of food. This group also gave out oxen, plows, and donkey carts; these luxuries can help to improve farming output compared to the normal methods of farming by hand.

Molly giving out corn at a distribution in the village

Grain of Hope was about more than just giving handouts. Their ultimate goal in mind is to find more ways to make improvements in the country that lead to sustainable food sources and improve the lives of the Burkinabé.

Plows and carts for a distribution

Third group
One of the churches in this group was a sister church to the Central Church, the largest C&MA church here in Ouaga. One of their projects was to help the church build a hangar for outdoor activities. The American sister church sends groups out regularly and does projects to encourage and assist this local church.

Toms distribution at a church in Yako

This group also did a bush trip to build a hangar for a village church. This trip took us about 12 hours there, then over 15 hours with all the problems we had with vehicles and equipment during the return trip. The distance was only about 500km (310 miles), if not a bit shorter. We were able to get through and it was quite a memorable trip. 

The ladies of the village and the ladies of our group teaching each other dances

Fourth Group
The last group of the summer came out to run an English camp for the Burkinabé. The camp mainly helped students to practice and slightly increase their English capabilities. The camp was only four days long, but many of the students wanted it to be longer.

Leading worship for the camp

These groups were on the ground for seven days and most of that was used for the camp. However, they were also able to visit Dorcas House and visit the children that they sponsor through Compassion.

Molly teaching art and Ben as an easel

Molly and I are now back into French studies 3 hours a day, 5 days a week. Having had all of these experiences along with our teams throughout the summer with our limited communication skills gave us even more reason to want to learn French. Relationships are a big part of life here in West Africa, and it is very hard to be relational when your words are limited.

Out at breakfast to celebrate our three-year wedding anniversary during some down time after our busy summer

Our next team will be coming at the beginning of September. That group will be led by the Dunns (a couple that runs one of our Envision guest houses) and ourselves, as the rest of the Envision/Engage Burkina staff will be away during that time. We look forward to continuing our work with all of the upcoming fall teams soon. 


Monday, August 4, 2014

English Camp

Last week, Envision got to host a team for an entirely different purpose than Ben and I had experienced so far: running a Christian English camp. These team members were from two different churches, The Summit Church in North Carolina and West Ridge Church in Georgia. The ten of them split into pairs and were the teachers for students in five different levels of English classes for the week. 

This four-day camp has been an annual event here for about five or so years now, geared toward Burkinabé students who want to come improve their English skills. Most of the students are between 12 and 25 years old, and they are divided into classes by their English knowledge rather than by age. Some students come speaking nearly fluent English, while others come knowing only a few English words. 
Handprints of the students and teachers involved in this year's English Camp

The camp registration started on Sunday afternoon when students came to sign up for the week and get settled into their dorms. They were each assessed in their English by Joanna and Nicole (two of our Envision coworkers who speak French pretty well) and assigned to classes based on that assessment. On Sunday night, we all gathered in the meeting hall just to watch a movie (played in French with English subtitles) before the English instruction began the next day. Ben and I bunked with the team at the guest house for the week so that we didn't have to drive 40 minutes across town to get home each morning and night. 
Relaxing at the guest house during a break time

Each day of camp, then, from Monday through Thursday started at 8:00 AM with all ninety-four students, ten team members, and six missionaries gathered in the meeting hall for a time of worship and devotionals. Ben's job for the week was to lead worship, and thankfully he was just recovered enough from the malaria that he'd had the previous week to be able to do this. He sang and played guitar, leading the group each day in the songs "God of Wonders," "How Great is Our God," "Unashamed Love," and "Blessed be Your Name." Also during each morning gathering, a different team member shared a short devotional each day that was translated by one of the young ladies attending the camp who spoke English very well. 
Ben leading worship at camp

Following this time together, everyone split off into their groups, using the high school's classrooms to divide the students into five separate classes. From 9:00 to 12:00, everyone was in English class, with the team members using textbooks combined with all sorts of games and strategies for teaching English. Throughout this time, the Envision staff members were back and forth checking on classes, preparing supplies, and getting ready for activities. During these morning hours, there were also special events throughout the week, like tie-dying T-shirts, learning to play "Hot Cross Buns" on recorders, and putting handprints on the guest house wall.
All of the students getting ready to play "Hot Cross Buns" on their recorders
A few students working on tie-dying their T-shirts

At noon, there was a break where everyone got to eat and rest until 2:00. All of the team members and Envision missionaries ate lunch with the students each day, so we got to have the African-style foodsuch as rice and sauce, watermelon, refried black-eyed peas, and couscous and sauceright along with the students. I actually really enjoyed most of what they served for lunch.

From 2:00 to 4:00, English classes continued. At 4:30, the students were divided into three groups and went to special classes: sports, baking, and art. The same classes were taught three days in a row, so the students rotated to the different classes and got to do all three. I was in charge of the art class, which I tried to model after the increasingly popular step-by-step painting classes in the US. To do that, I found a cross painting online that I liked, made an example painting similar to it, traced the cross shape on all of the papers for the students, and readied the supplies for each day. Several of the team members helped me out during the class each day, as I led the students in how to paint a cross like my example by slowly explaining each step and showing them how I painted each part on my own paper at the front of the classroom. It was something that I really enjoyed doing, and a lot of the students' crosses turned out pretty nicely, despite the fact that some of them didn't fully understand the English instructions.
Explaining to the students how to begin their cross paintings
Working on my example painting with the wonderful assistance of Jennifer

One of the three classes with their completed works of art

At 6:00 when the special classes were over, the team members and missionaries gathered back at the guest house for dinner. At 8:00, there was always an evening event scheduled: Monday night was a movie, Tuesday night was games, and Wednesday night was the local pastor presenting the gospel message. On Wednesday, six students raised their hands wanting to accept Jesus as their savior following the Pastor Agabus's message! This was so exciting to see, as that was really what the week was all about.
Students listening to Pastor Agabus's message

On Thursday, the last day of camp, students went to their classes as normal, but at 4:00, there was a closing ceremony where students were presented with certificates for completing their classes.
The full group of students and teachers on the last day of English Camp

It was a very eventful week, and the Envision staff members and the ten awesome team members who taught the classes worked extremely hard to help the students learn better English as well as to show the students love and point them to Christ. Ben and I were glad to be able to be involved with English Camp!