Wow, how quickly this time has gone! Shannon and I are now in our final week here in Burkina Faso. The last couple of weeks have been busy wrapping up, so I thought I’d post a quick overview.
On Friday, April 10th, the Center for the Advancement of the Handicapped (where I work full time and Shannon has worked a day a week) had a little goodbye party, since that was my last work day. Everyone was incredibly kind, and Shannon and I felt very privileged to have been able to serve this group.
On Saturday, April 11th, we hosted a big goodbye party at our house for all the friends we made in Mahadaga. We gave invites to the medical clinic and the Center, our two places of work, as well as to our church friends. We expected maybe a 50% turnout rate, like a party back home, but people warned us that when a white person has a party, EVERYONE shows up! It turned out they were right, with about 80 people coming to our house between 11 am and 5 pm. Several of the locals and Florence, one of the other missionaries, cooked up tons of rice and sauce for us to feed everyone, and Shannon baked MANY dozens of cookies and cut up lots of mangos. We managed to go through the whole party without running out of food, and it was a wonderful way to say goodbye to everyone.
We waved goodbye to Mahadaga for the last time on Monday, April 13th, as we drove off to Fada for a short visit. There is another mission station there, and we wanted to spend a bit of time with the missionaries we had gotten to know there before leaving the country.
A few days later, we continued up to the capital, connected with 5 other short-term SIM missionaries, and headed off on a 4-day visit to Djibo which we had been planning for several months. Djibo is a large town/small city in northern Burkina Faso, close to the southern frontier of the desert. It’s known for being hot, isolated, and a difficult place to minister. We went to visit the missionaries there, and to learn about the church planting that is being done among the Fulani people. This people group, we learned, is actually the LARGEST unreached people group in the world! (By unreached, I mean they don’t have a growing, self-sufficient Christian church in their own culture.) They are a stoic people, who think it’s weak to show any kind of emotion. They are spread across western Africa, and are almost entirely followers of Islam (although they often mix Islam with their traditional animistic practices). We had the opportunity to visit a Fulani pastor who has just moved to Djibo, visit a traditional Fulani village and have a meal in their home, and visit the small Fulani church that the missionaries are working with. It was quite fascinating, and helped open our eyes to the needs. Please pray with us that God would open the hearts of the Fulani to know Him! Pray as well for the Fulani pastor we met – it’s quite tough for him when Christians often become social outcasts from the rest of the Fulanis.
While in Djibo, we also got introduced to the Tuareg people. The Tuaregs are nomads, who typically live in Mali. However, the Tuaregs have been engaged in a struggle with the Mali government for quite some time now, and many Tuaregs have left Mali as refugees from the fighting. We had the privilege to visit a Tuareg camp, have a meal with them, and even take a short camel ride! Here’s a picture of Shannon and I with the camel in the background.
Shannon has also posted several other pictures from our last few weeks here on Facebook. To check them out, click here: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=74893&id=502659080&l=62892af52e
Our last week here will be planning and preparing for our time in Europe and our time in Ontario. We will be taking a 3.5 week trip through Italy, France, Spain, and Morocco and are excited to get the chance to see Europe for the first time! We are scrambling trying to book everything even now and also hoping to prepare some presentations for when we return to Canada. We are also getting the chance to visit with missionaries here on the field for one last time and are getting the chance to see some ministries here in Ouaga.
Please pray for our continued protection and that we make all our connections in Europe! Please pray also that we finish well here and have opportunity to bless the different missionaries here. We look forward to connecting again with everyone back at home!