Thursday, June 19, 2014

Expand Your Blog Experience

We wanted to make sure that everyone knew about the different pages that can be found on our blog.  Each page provides different information, and shows different aspects of our life.
The pages available for your viewing pleasure.
One of the kids who played near where we build the church in Man.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Bush Trip to Man

Constant driving, early mornings, fun teams, great hospitality, prayer, evangelism, nights filled with animal noises, sweat, mosquitos, African meals, construction work, new relationships with brothers and sisters in Christ, bucket baths, holes, cots, kids, pastors, a new church, adventure—these are the things that come to mind for me when thinking about a bush trip. It is a great experience and one that I recommend to others to try for sure!

As of June 7 when Ben and I went to pick up our first summer team from the airport, our summertime of busyness had officially begun.

Things never go quite as planned here in Burkina, so the week started out with hearing that one of the two teams that was supposed to get in on Saturday night had flight issues and was actually not going to get in until Sunday afternoon. This wouldn't be a huge deal except that Sunday afternoon's schedule revolved around driving out to the little village called Man a number of hours away to build a church hangar. 

The five of us Envision staff members quickly concluded that we'd have to split up. Ben, Rhyan, and Joanna took the three team members from Edge Point Church in Georgia whose flight arrived as scheduled, and that group made the drive to the bush as planned; they thankfully were able to start building the church hangar on time. Meanwhile, Nicole and I stayed back at the guest house for an extra night to pick up the team of seven people from Hope Community Church in Cleveland, Ohio, arriving late and to get ready to drive out the meet the others the next day.
Ben driving the team over the rough roads toward the village

That threw a bit of a kink in our plans, but on top of that, we discovered that what was supposed to be a 4 ½ hour drive was more like a 7 ½ hour drive. Ben's group had to spend the night in a different village than planned, and we all had to make a drive out across a very rough dirt road for about 2 hours of the trip (which Ben loved getting to drive through in the Land Cruiser). I had fun, though, getting to chat with the team members and get to know them during that lengthy car ride down.

Despite all of the changes that we had to make for things to work out, our time in the bush was very good. On Monday, the posts for the hangar were set the first day by the time my group arrived in the village of Man in the late afternoon, and we all got our camp set up and got bucket baths.
The village of Man where we built the hangar

The pastor's wife and some other ladies from the village served us dinner of spaghetti, chicken, and tô in huge pots set on a bench in the middle as the twenty of us crowded on benches around it. Now, I generally can eat all of the African dishes without any issue, but I was interested to discover one Burkina food that I REALLY don't like. With the tô (globs of ground millet that you break off and dip in sauce), there was an accompanying dipping sauce made of bits of leaves. Just imagine eating uncooked egg whites with leaves mixed in—that's the best way I can think to explain this sauce. The sliminess was quite hard to choke down, but our rule of the bush is that you must eat everything that you put on your plate (to be polite to those who worked hard to prepare the food), so I did indeed finish what I took.
The chicken for our dinner in the process of getting plucked

After we got past that, we went to attend the evangelism meeting in an open area not far from where our camp was set up. The village pastor set up a screen, speakers, and projector, and many people from Man crowded around in the dark to watch; being that the village has no electricity or running water, they were very interested to see this movie. It's especially great that the movies shown for evangelism are filmed in Africa and are in the local language. Because that particular movie tells a story of a boy choosing Christianity rather than Animism, the topic also aims to help meet the people where they're at and to help them see the truth of Christ.

We passed the night outside in the open air on cots as usual. Both Ben and I slept great just like we did on our first bush trip, although unfortunately many of the team members said that they didn't get much sleep. I am very grateful that the two of us are able to sleep well amidst the noises of bats, donkeys, roosters, and goats; it definitely isn't quiet at night in the bush, even once all of the people are in bed.
Our camp site

The next morning, we woke up at sunrise and ate a small breakfast of bread and had our group devotional time. After that, the men set to work on roofing the hangar. Because there were ten men on this trip, the girls didn't need to do much of the construction work, but the men did a great job completing the hangar and were finished by the early afternoon. 
Ben helping with the hangar roof

The Christians in the area expressed great appreciation and said they were encouraged by our visit; they went from having a tiny church building to having one that is about three times the size. In fact, the completed hangar stood out as the largest structure in the village.
The Georgia/Ohio team with their completed hangar

After the completion of the hangar, we decided it would be best to make the two-hour drive back to the paved road in case of rain during the night, which would literally make the roads impassable. We drove back out over the very rough dirt roads once again and ended up camping in the pastor's yard at the same village where Ben's group had stayed on Sunday night. We received star treatment there, as the girls got to bathe in the pastor's house which had a little room for taking bucket baths rather than in the open mud-brick structure like usual. It even had electricity! While there, we ate our meals in the good-sized church building that they had, and we slept outside again. The only low point of this particular stay for me was that the two main holes for using the bathroom both had two-inch cockroaches crawling all around them; that made me a bit queasy, and I opted for different toilet choices. 
Women working together to pound their millet for the day

In the morning before we headed back to the city, we got to see the women of the area working together to pound their millet for the day, which was pretty neat. They kept rhythm so well while five people took turns crushing their poles into the pot. A couple of the girls from the team tried to do it, too, and didn't do quite so well! From there, we drove back to Ouaga and had many more great experiences during the rest of the week with that team. 

It's been so busy for us lately that we're a little behind with our blogging, but we will write soon about more of the other great things that have been happening here lately. Thanks for following this adventure with us! 


A boy from Man happily rolling a tire with a stick