Saturday, March 28, 2015

Upcoming Visit Home

In just a few days from now, we're going to be going on a trip that's kind of a big deal to us; we're visiting America for the first time in a year! It's pretty strange to think that we've been gone for that length of time, but we are so excited to get to go back and see the many people whom we've missed for the past year. 

We do have several things while we're back there that we need to take care of due to our internship extension, as we weren't anticipating being in Burkina past March 2015 and had only prepared accordingly. We'll need to work on getting renewed driver licenses and international licenses, gathering documents for completing taxes, going to dentist appointments and hopefully getting general checkups, and raising the rest of the amount of funding we need for the extra few months that we'll spend in Burkina. The timing for this works out perfectly, not only because we need to complete these tasks but also because Envision is not hosting any teams in Burkina during April, making this the ideal down time to spend away on this visit before teams begin to come again in May. Mostly, we're just really looking forward to spending time with our families and other people from back home.

Because our flight will be going through Istanbul, Turkey, and the plane ticket doesn't cost any more to stop there for a few days than it does to just sit in the airport on a layover, we decided to spend several days exploring that city on our way home. After those few days, we'll be flying into Washington, D.C. on April 3 and will be met by Ben's parents and siblings who live just a couple of hours away from there. 

Here is our schedule for where we'll be staying while we're back in the States:

  • April 3 - April 9: Dover, Delaware 
  • April 9 - April 24: Lima, Ohio
  • April 24 - May 3: Dover, Delaware
If you are near one of these places and would want to plan a time to go out for coffee or dinner so we can catch up, we'd love for you to contact us about doing that. We're really eager to share about our experiences with everyone back home and are working to be able to put into words just how much we've seen God at work throughout this last year.

Also, you're invited to come hear us speak! 
  • In Lima: We will be sharing on Sunday, April 19 at Shawnee Alliance Church's Dorcas House Fundraiser Dinner which starts at approximately 12:15 PM. Tickets for the dinner should be purchased in advance, and you can see the information on that below:
    • A beef/noodle dinner will be held following the 11:00 a.m. service on Sunday, April 19, West Campus. Cost is $6.00 Adult, $4.00 (ages 4-10), under 4 Free. Ticket sales have already begun in the church lobbies and the church office. Following the meal, Ben and Molly Collins will be present to share an update on their internship with C&MA/Envision in Burkina Faso, and the Dorcas House Team will be introduced.

So we are very much looking forward all that this next month will bring, and we hope to see many of you in April before our return to Burkina Faso for May through the beginning of August! 


Monday, March 23, 2015

A Year Later

Exactly one year ago today, Ben and I arrived in this new, overwhelmingly hot, dry, mostly Muslim/Animist country where we were committed to spend the next year. Thinking back to that day a year ago, I can tell you with great happiness that I am not the same person who stepped off that plane on March 23, 2014. God has done countless new things in my life while serving in Burkina Faso.
Some common sights of the countryside of Burkina: cows, termite mounds, and fields. 

Back during our first several months of living in Burkina, Ben and I would randomly turn to each other and say with amazement, “We live in Africa?!” It's funny to think back to when everything was so new and foreign. We had very little idea going into the year what we should expect, but God did. He put lots of people in our path early on to help us get acquainted with life in a new country where we initially didn't know more than five words of the language. The other Envision missionaries were all a huge help to us in getting settled, and we were also pleasantly surprised to find a large international community full of genuinely loving, English-speaking people (the English-speaking part is especially helpful for me, given my lacking language skills). These many people have become dear to us throughout this last year, and Burkina Faso now feels like a second home in many ways.
Me with a few of my good friends I've made here
Ben and one of his good friends he has made in Burkina

Coming into this internship, we really had no clue. We didn't realize how much we'd see that God provides for His children when they are following His leading. We didn't realize how perfect God's timing was in that we needed to be here to help during this particular year (and now will excitedly continue to be here several months beyond originally planned). We didn't realize how many new things we'd learn about culture and poverty and missions. We (specifically I) didn't realize how many more things we were capable of doing than what we would have thought before we started all of this.

Yes, at some moments we might wish that we could be elsewhere, like when we're out all day working in 100+ degree heat that drains you of all energy; or when the electricity is out for hours on end; or when we have yet another car problem from the abuse vehicles take on the bumpy dirt roads; or when we feel far away and disconnected from friends and family. But would I now trade this past year of so many unexpected and new things for the year of “predictability” that I nearly chose instead by almost not even applying for this internship? Absolutely not. Like I said before, God provides.
Charging elephants that we saw on a safari
Back in March of 2013 when we started considering this, Ben and I had felt God's tug on our hearts to do missions work somewhere at some time. We didn't know if Burkina Faso was where He was calling us when the possibility was first introduced to us, and we weren't sure if it was the right timing. But doors started opening and we kept following where He seemed to be leading, praying that He would direct our path. As we continued stepping out in faith, just one baby step at a time—visiting Burkina for a week in August 2013, turning in our application for the internship with Envision, sending out letters asking for support, speaking at some small groups and churches, announcing our departure date, packing up our house, getting on a plane knowing we wouldn't be back for a year—God confirmed to us numerous times that this internship is exactly what He wanted us to do, and He has continued to show us throughout this year that we are, indeed, right where He wants us at this time. It's amusing for me to think now about how much time I spent fretting about whether or not God was really calling us here; thankfully I've grown to trust Him more since then.
With my group of girls during camp at Dorcas House - one of my favorite things I've gotten to do since being here

If you've kept up with our blog, you can see that we've gotten to be involved with quite a variety of different projects and people during our internship. The fact that we've done so well being here and that we've had any bit of influence in this last year was truly God, not us, and we praise Him for all of it. Reflecting back now, here are some of the highlights we've had:

  • Working with fifteen teams of Americans here on short-term trips doing things like church hangar construction, well drilling, ESOL camp, Dorcas House camp, handicapped bike distributions, Compassion visits, orphanage visits, TOMS shoe distributions, and a variety of other things.
  • Getting to know people from all over the world who live in Burkina—from many different states in the U.S., Canada, Northern Ireland, England, the Netherlands, Belgium, Australia, Brazil, a few different African countries, several Asian countries, and more.
  • Working alongside Burkinab√© pastors and other believers as they do evangelism nights in the bush—showing evangelistic films (using a generator) and preaching in remote areas without power or running water—and seeing people come to Christ.
  • Learning about the variety of missions groups and ministries in this country, and seeing how so many of them willingly work together to spread God's Word.
  • Helping as leaders at the international youth group for English-speaking teens, a ministry that we would never have realized is so needed in this country, and getting to know many of the great teens whose parents work here.
  • Being a part of the Envision team—having great leaders has made such a positive impact in our lives.
  • Learning how to be independent in this country—speaking very basic French, driving in the busy traffic, knowing what groceries are and aren't available in order to plan meals, getting used to bartering in the market, and adjusting to the heat (as much as one can).
Sweet boys watching the hangar-building work taking place

All of this barely scratches the surface of all of the memories are flooding my mind today as I think back over the last year. The biggest thing that keeps coming to mind is “Thank you, God!” He has carried us through the good days and the bad ones. We've tried our best to trust God with the unknown days ahead (sometimes failing to trust very well), and He indeed has directed our paths, just as Proverbs 3:5-6 says: Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” It a nerve-wrecking thing to submit your ways to God and venture into the unknown, but if He is directing you to do something, we've discovered firsthand that He is more than able to provide and He brings about blessings in unexpected ways. He has brought so many people along with us in this journey to support us in prayer, finances, encouragement, and friendship, and that aspect alone has been a huge blessing in my life. I have so much to be thankful for.
Ben and me with a well we had just helped drill

After our month-long visit back to Delaware and Ohio in April, we're now looking forward to continuing on in Burkina for several months longer than planned. Please pray with us that God will continue to direct our paths, as once we've completed the extension of our internship at the beginning of August, we don't currently know where He has us going next. I do know that if it's anything like this experience has been, it will be quite an exciting journey to be on!


Sunday, March 15, 2015

A Tale of Ouo

For some time, the village of Ouo (pronounced "Whoa") had one drilled well and it belonged to the Muslims.  The Muslims would not allow the Christians to use the well most of the time, and if they did, it would only be at a special time when others were not using it.  This left the local believers with no good local source for water.

A few years ago, Friends in Action (our partner well-drilling organization) drilled a well by the Christian church in Ouo.  After the well was put in, the Muslims approached the local believers saying, now that the believers had a well, they could use their new well and the Muslims could use their own separate well.  The Christians, however, did not want to reject anyone from the new well, and told them that their well was for everyone to use, Christians and Muslims alike.

The original well by the church in Ouo

The imam (Muslim leader) of the local mosque was amazed by the grace and mercy extended by the Christians in the area with sharing this well.  The imam's youngest daughter was also amazed by what happened and became interested in the church.  He allowed his daughter to attend church, and has allowed her to remain part of the family since becoming a believer herself.  This is extremely abnormal, as a Muslim family would typically excommunicate a family member for leaving Islam and becoming a Christian, especially a daughter.

The Christian daughter, Muslim imam, and local Christian pastor

Throughout our time drilling, the daughter worked hard to help us.  She filled barrels of water for us to use for bathing and for drilling.  The closest water source was a few kilometers away, and she brought water to fill the large barrels bucket by bucket.

On this last drilling trip at the end of February, the team of guys out here from West Ridge Church in Georgia worked with Friends in Action to put a well in the village where the imam lives (7 kilometers away from Ouo).  The area that we drilled in was a Fulani village (a semi-nomadic Islamic people group that is hard to reach).  There was no church in the area, but the well was put in under one condition: the village was to allow the area pastor to come and speak.

Praying over the first well attempt

We lost the first attempt at a well, but God blessed us with a great water source on the second attempt.  The village was soon buzzing with the news about the well and questions about the people there to drill it.  Why would these people care to come from far away to give us a well?  Why would they provide water for us when we do not believe the same thing as them?  What does this local Christian pastor have to say?  

Hitting water at the second well site

Providing new opportunities for the local believers to advance the message of Jesus Christ is what's truly at the heart of these well-drilling trips, and this was so clearly put into action during our time drilling in Ouo. 


Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Video for Missions Week

Here is a Skype interview that we did with our home church - Shawnee Alliance - for Missions Week.