Saturday, August 27, 2011

Africa: Part 2

Saturday of the trip is when it gets kinda crazy. We woke up early, around 4 a.m., and loaded up the vans by 5 to make the journey to Pondou, an area in the Bush where we would be attending a wedding and staying the night. It was the wedding of a friend Kevin had made years ago, Jehojakim. It was a big deal, there would be many big name pastors at the wedding, as well as at least 2 missionary teams.

When we headed out that morning, a few people on the team were already feeling sick. The plan was to go to the wedding Saturday and stay the night there and then drive to Gauo the next day to help put a roof on a church in a very unreached and dark area. We were going to a crazy place to do big work with God.

The drive took about 5 hours on roads that look like this:
It was rough driving. We got 3 flat tires total on the 3 day trip. We stopped on the side of the road for breakfast and to use the bathroom (aka the bushes). At this point, 3 people I think were sick.

When we got to the wedding, we were a little bit late. But it didn't matter because in Burkina, nothing is on time. Everyone is always late. We arrived at about 10:30 a.m. and went inside the hot church, it was packed but there was room for us. People made sure of it, because we were white. When you're white in Burkina, you are treated way too nice. People get seats for you, feed you, and are just so happy to meet you. Most of the time, not everyone is this way.

The wedding lasted until after 2 p.m. It was quite an event. People were singing and dancing. The local youth group came in (they acted like American boy/girl scouts, wearing uniforms and carrying flags in). Different people spoke and prayed, including some very high up CMA people. The couple sat down in the front of the church while people sang to them.
It was quite an experience. To be honest, it was hot and uncomfortable and I felt sick and exhausted. I thought I might pass out or fall asleep sitting there.

We walked over to the reception where several Burkinabe left the reception area so that we could sit. Just because we're white. I didn't know the bride or groom. I didn't have a right to be in that reception when that meant that some of the bride or groom's friends couldn't sit and eat with them. I felt terrible. By this point, most of us weren't feeling that great physically. But we ate what we could and then left to go set up our sleeping area for the evening. It gets dark in Burkina at 6 pm so we had to set it up before then.

We had a 'bathroom' at our place, which means we had a brick wall around a concrete floor with a hole in the middle to use. The picture above is one such bathroom. (A bush outside was almost better sometimes). We also had a shower area where we could take a bucket bath (most of us didn't that night). I set up my cot inside that night, as we had a room for some of us to sleep in.

The Burkinabe people danced and sang all night in celebration of the wedding that night.

The stars were incredible that night. You could literally see the milky way. We took some neat pictures that night.

Okay, day 2 in the bush, Sunday. We woke up and went to church. They started the church service early for us, 7:30 I think, because they knew we needed to head out early that day. It was an interesting service. The people sang and their rhythm and music is so different from ours. We sang a song, Blessed Be the Name, and it sounded so weird in comparison.

The pastor talked about how God is our shepherd and leads us where need to go. He provides us with all we need. That's how the people live out their faith in Burkina.They have so little. They need Him to provide each meal, clothes to wear, water to drink (not clean water might I add). Everything comes from Him. We have no idea how to live out this kind of faith. We have our savings accounts and tons of grocery stores and restaurants to eat it. We have no idea how to depend on God instead of ourselves.

The village fed us that morning and then we hit the road. There was still a lot of sickness in the group. We drove about 3 hours to a village where we were meeting a girl named Lati. Kevin had met her 4 years ago. She was crippled and her family was starving her because she was of no use. Kevin wanted to help. He raised $800 in a week back in America to pay for her surgery. After that, she was fine. She was running and walking like other kids and her family was feeding her again. He hadn't seen her in 3 years. This Lati with one of the missionaries who is actually from Franklin.

It was such a privilege watching Kevin interact with this little girl who he loved so much, who he had given a new life. We met her brother and father in the village and we drove Lati and her brother back to their home village. It was on the way to our next stop Gauo. Lati was very fun to watch, very mischievous little girl!! When we dropped her off, she just stood at the road waiting, wanting to come back to us. It was heartbreaking leaving her.

We drove another 3ish hours to our destination. We stayed just outside of Gaou that night in the village where the pastor lived. He is the pastor of 4 churches, one of which we were roofing the next day. We drank some tea and ate spaghetti that night (spaghetti in the middle of nowhere, cooked over a fire--our cook was amazing!) We were prepped some for the next day. Two of our team missionaries who are living in Burkina (Kalen and Susan) had already been to the area we were going to. There was a lot of witchcraft and it was very spiritually dark. The people were not too fond of us white missionary folks. But, since their first visit, the people invited us to stay in their actual village that next night. This was a very big deal.

I took a bucket bath that night and I kinda liked it. I slept inside again because we weren't sure if we would have that luxury the next night. And it didn't really feel like being inside too much because the windows were just open holes and the doorway was open too.

The next morning, Monday, we were packing up to leave. Two of our girls were very sick. Kevin and Larry decided to send them back up to Ouaga that day. Larry would drive halfway and meet another long term missionary, Pete, who would take the girls to Ouaga and to the hospital. It was really hard watching them go.

A few of us headed to the work site. I was expecting to see walls and a roofless church ready for us. This is what I saw instead.

Just some poles in the ground waiting for a roof. No walls. Here is the church that was already there.

I had to bend over to get inside. And I am short. The people were definitely more shy towards us than others. We set up the scaffolding and the boys mostly worked while us girls did easy work, like putting nails in this tar stuff to use later. We also had the opportunity to talk to the kids. I know a little french so I was able to find out names and ages and ask about school and church. I also asked the kids if they like to play soccer (it's very popular in Burkina). This is Dappel. Such a cutie.

We danced and sang with the kids as there wasn't too much work for all of us to do. The four guys were capable of doing all the work. We took more pictures. Here are some friends I made.

They were so precious. All of them.

Many of our team was still sick. The sickness during this 3 day trip can be easily explained. As I said earlier, we were going to a dark place. Satan did not want us to go. He did not want us to do God's work. Sickness and hardship sometimes comes when you are working for God.

Getting the church up is kind of a story in itself so this is going to be the end of this blog. Sorry it's so long :)

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