Good day to you all.  My name is Jeffrey Thomas and Jason and Shannon have entrusted me with updating their blog with their travels/adventures/mishaps as they are in Africa.  This is quite the step of faith on their part (I owe them an act of revenge because of a prank they pulled).  Their trust in me is either an honor or completely mistaken.  I have attached a copy of their first e-update.  Read, enjoy, and praise God.
Friends and family,
We’ve sent a few e-mails to some of you along our crazy adventure to get here to Burkina Faso- but for those of you who haven’t heard…hope you enjoy our wacky story of our trip here….and the many God fingerprints on this voyage!
So we left from Ottawa, Ontario on this past Monday (the 27th) for a quick flight to Toronto, a 3 hour layover and then a red eye flight to Frankfurt, Germany.  PROBLEM #1: at the Toronto airport (when reviewing our ticket itinerary) we suddenly realized that we had read our ticket wrong!  From Germany we were flying into Brussels, Belgium (to arrive at 10:00 am) and then to fly out at 12:00pm SO WE THOUGHT.  But at more careful examination we realized that we actually were to fly out the NEXT DAY from Brussels at 12:00 pm, not 2 hours after our arrival!  So in Toronto we scrambled to look online and book a hotel for the night in Brussels.
After our long red eye flight to Frankfurt (with no sleep) we then transferred to Brussels.  Thankfully, after many prayers- we discovered that there was a storage place at the airport we could store our luggage so we didn’t have to take it to the hotel.  SO we took the train from the airport into the heart of Brussels and only had a 5 minute walk with our rolling luggage to the hotel.  Unfortunately though, we arrived at about 12 at our hotel and couldn’t quite check in.   SO we hit the town (after leaving our luggage at the hotel).  We saw many old churches and the really cool “grande place” area of Brussels- a huge square that has many many shops.  You wouldn’t believe the number of chocolate shops and the number of street waffle vendors!   (By the way, we had an actual belgium waffle from the street vendor and it was absolutely phenomenol!!!!   They are NOTHING like Canadian belgian waffles- very dense, sweet, and oh my goodness- fabulous!)
We walked until we thought we’d keel over from fatigue and lack of sleep, went to the hotel and intended to sleep for 1 hour and slept for 3!  Headed out for dinner and saw the city lights, and then back to the hotel to sleep.  It was actually a huge blessing that we ended up having this layover because we got to have a good night’s rest!!!
Next day we hit the airport again and flew from Brussels to Tripoli in northern Libya.  (It’s right on the Mediterranean).  PROBLEM #2: Ha ha- we got there and they were like ” oh no, we don’t have any flights to Burkina Faso today….” UMMM…..ow well! Opportunity to trust the Lord once again!  After much confusion and many employees rushing around us (they had like 100 too many employees for the size of that airport) an employee whisked off our passports from us and our tickets and told us to wait.  One hour went by….one hour and a half went by….they finally came back to tell us that they would put us in a hotel (praise God!) cause the next flight to Burkina Faso wasn’t until the next evening at 8:30 pm!  And they told us to keep our luggage at the airport AND our passports and the lady handed us a “receipt” and said that when we came back they’d return the passports to us… (what?)  But okay…we trusted and let go of all control.  They sent a taxi for us and we hopped in and waved good-bye to our passports and luggage!  (So- some few little known facts about Libya- it’s incredibly islamic (98%), it is THE hottest place on earth (in the south- it is mostly the desert and they have recorded air temperatures of 58 degrees CELSIUS!!, and everyone, I mean EVERYONE smokes….)  So we had actually a very pleasant stay at the hotel- minus the cigarette smoke, my sore throat and increasingly sore tooth (it’s in need of a new root-canal I found out 1 day before we left Canada- please pray I don’t need dental work here!!!!)  Meals were paid forand everyone there loves their cappuccinos (how can one argue with that??? they sell them for cheap at the hotel ‘mini capuccino bar’!)
The next day we decided to be brave and ventured out around town and stumbled upon the “old city” which apparently is an old ruin of some kind (the country is known for very well preserved Roman ruins).  In the old city there were TONS of little shops, men smoking bizarre looking and large pipes, and lots of women in hijabs.  Interesting.  Mainly middle eastern looking people- with only a few black africans.
Anyways (bored yet?) …we enjoyed another free meal at our hotel and PRAISE GOD our taxi shuttle arrived promptly at the time it was supposed to- at 4 pm to take us back to the airport……where, we simply gave the ticket people the name and number of the lady who took our passports the day before (an angel) and she came flying in with our passports, waves us through the MANY, MANY security checkpoints and brought us to the waiting area for our flight.  Phew!!!!!  It was incredible to see God’s provision in the circumstances- we had peace, we had an angel carrying us through the process, and lived to tell about it!  (We were told later that the issue was that they needed to give us a visa so that’s why our passports were held…and 6 months ago they didn’t give visas overnight like that and if your flight was delayed for 24 hours they would house you in the prison….HA!  That would have been interesting….)
Waited 4 hours in the smoke-thick waiting room and finally, 1 hour late, the plane took off for Burkina!  We were praying hard things would go well in Burkina customs cause we realized we didn’t have proof with us of our yellow fever vaccination!  But customs was a breeze, seriously, and the only problem was that one of our bags was missing (PROBLEM #4).  Please pray it arrives soon!  Apparently the next flight comes from Tripoli tomorrow at “around” 10 pm and we have to just ‘wait around’ at the airport to collect our baggage off the carousel- hopefully!   The only good thing about the baggage loss was the hour it took to get the forms filled out- I got to practice my french with the officials! 
SO we are currently staying in the guest house here at the SIM compound in Ouaga.  There are around 50 missionaries (long term) in Ouaga and this is their main office- so many come and go (as well as short termers).  We thought we’d be here for awhile but we leave on Monday for our 10 hour drive (which is SOO long because of the bad road conditions) to our new home in Mahadaga.  We’re a bit jealous because of the comraderie here, and the ammenities are lovely (air conditioned rooms and internet!) but we are excited to see how we adapt in Mahadaga.  For the first two days we have lunch and dinner provided by different long term missionaries which is AWESOME to get to know the staff and we’ve been really blessed by them!  Most of the long termers are Canadian or Australian which is interesting!
It’s hot here- despite reports of this being the ‘cool season’ and most african folks are wearing long sleeves or jackets (ha ha) it’s definitely going to take some getting used to!  It’s actually a lot more humid than I expected!
Please pray for our safe journey there, our baggage to arrive safely, and that we’ll adapt.  I’m most nervous about the daily living stuff!  There’s practically nothing (so we are told) in Mahadaga so we have to stock up on food in Ouagadougou for a month’s supply and I just don’t know how to cook here!  Washing clothes by hand here we come!  Please also pray we have good relationships with the staff on the field in Mahadaga.  Thankfully we have two young missionary couples out there each with two small kids and a few others- so we’re thankful for the company!
God bless and we will be receiving a new e-mail address in Mahadaga as well as possibly a change in the postal address we originally sent you.  Keep posted!
Thank you for all our prayer warriors!  Though our journey was 4 days- we are thankful to be here in one piece!
Love in Christ, Jason and Shannon

2 responses to “There…”

  1. What a trip! Getting to Burkina for you sounded a bit like getting to Mahadaga for me! 🙂 So, you were planning on a 10 hour trip to Mahadaga?!? I can’t wait to read how that went! (You obviously were not going by bus)! 😉
    I think it took me 19 hours. Poor Matt & Dale who had to track me down in Kunchari after the bus broke down. But they found me and then we had a whole other adventure in getting there!
    (See, I told you I’d start following your blog now. Better late than never)! 😀
    Oh, and PS – Grande Place in Brussels … I can actually relate to that too. I visited a friend there some years ago. The chocolate shops were my favourite!