1.19.2016

well done, good and faithful servant.


We met Mike on January 4.  11 days later, Mike met Jesus face to face.  We had "known" him virtually for over two years.  We found their families' blog, and read with great interest 'cuz they, also came to Burkina when their kids were big kids.  We work very closely with the rest of their team.  We love them deeply.

When we arrived, everyone kept saying- you've gotta get with Mike- he's a great guy, he's working on aquaponics and he's really hands-on!  We live 9 hours away from him, so it didn't happen as soon as we'd have liked.

On January 4, 2016 we had a team from Atlanta coming in to see our work and to give much needed hugs.  As we pulled into the guesthouse, we saw the Sheltering Wings van and Mike was attaching luggage to the roof rack.

The first thing he said was, "Oh you guys are from the video." We'd both been able to meet an amazing family from North Carolina last year who were here scouting out ministry opportunities among the Burkinab√©.  They made a video to report their discoveries to their team in the U.S- so we 'knew' each other by proxy.

With hopes to hang out at a later date when we weren't both hosting visiting Americans, we exchanged our short but sweet stories of how the Lord led us to this country late in life.  Mike said something to the effect of- I'm a boat builder, man- that's what I used to do- but now God's got me here doing this and its awesome!

We were glad to finally meet him, said good bye, went to the airport to pick up our visitors and then went to Cappuccino for dinner.

Ten days later, we dropped our visitors off, went back to the guesthouse to sleep, and left Ouaga at 7 a.m.  At 9:30 friday night, our pastor called to ask where we were.  We hadn't yet heard that jihadists had entered Burkina and stolen life, security and peace throughout Burkina Faso.

On friday night, what had been my window into the world of new babies, funny memes and life as I used to know it, lit up with news of car bombs, jihad, shootings, and a missing colleague.

We were so thankful for internet. Three friends wrote to check on us- we messaged back and forth and we went to bed praying.

The quote from Stonewall Jackson felt more real than ever before:

“My religious beliefs teach me to feel as safe in battle as in bed. God has fixed the time of my death. I do not concern myself with that, but to be always ready whenever it may overtake me. That is the way all men should live, and all men would be equally brave.”

― Stonewall Jackson


The next morning, we read the details of the attacks in Ouaga- nearly the first of this kind in this country.

Next we learned that two missionaries in the north had been kidnapped in the night.  My mind went immediately to our friends in that area- there aren't many folks up there anymore due to the yucko activities of bad guys- I hung up the phone and immediately called to check on our friends.  I praised the Lord when the husband answered and said that they were traveling toward Ouaga with a military escort for protection.  I waited until I hung up to cry.

So it wasn't our friends who had been kidnapped, but someone had indeed been taken. A man and his wife, whom we've heard of and known about since even before we arrived here.

We met a guy when we first came to Burkina and when we asked him what his ministry focus was, he explained that he is here facilitating the ministry of a doctor in the north.  As I understand it, this guy saw the need of a surgeon to have a 'right hand man' to take care of all of the extra steps that life in Burkina requires- and he has given his life to it.  Serving the Lord by serving the doctor who serves the people who no one else is serving.  Studs-

Now we are home.  We are praying more as a family.  We are easily entering into family worship again. Life has slowed down.  Everything has changed.

6 people from a church in town came to visit yesterday.  In this culture, when you lose a loved one, people visit and grieve with you.  We met Mike face to face 14 days ago and he is our brother.  The people of Burkina grieve with us.  They know we are hurting.  They know we have sacrificed.

They know that we do it for Jesus.  They know that everything Mike did was for Jesus.  So they are grieving with us.

We've been given a beautiful glimpse into the loyalty and meaning of the body of Christ.  Amy's hurt is my hurt.  A part of the body is hurting, the whole body experiences the pain.

"Get on a plane," we've heard.

If my friends were here, I'd probably say the same thing to them.
But that's the amazing power of the Holy Spirit of God.  We don't feel afraid.
We are aware of the drastic change in the landscape of this country, but have no compulsion to leave.

Our flesh is weak- so I cry, nerves make our tummies rumble, some tempers draw short, but the spirit is willing and our God is mighty.

We are incredibly thankful that Burkina has been, historically, very safe and secure.

And now it isn't.  The bad guys were targeting people who look like they're from the west-
which is scary.

But its not nearly as scary as moving away from the life that God has led us into.  We left an amazing country that has incredibly wonderful access to sound bible teaching, christians in most neighborhoods and a judeo christian foundation.

God has done so much to move us to action, to prepare us to live, speak, and nearly thrive here.  He has kept us here for 2 years- and that is a mighty act of God!


So I'm gonna stay in my neighborhood and shine the light of Jesus.  I hope that each of us will shine the light of Jesus in this dark world.  Shine brightly.  Let the Holy Spirit empower you to do things that you know are beyond your abilities.  I promise you...It will be amazing.

6.03.2015

Little did I know

I'm a bit of a stalker.

We live a bit out of the way, so if I have the chance to "get to know" someone, I do it, even if only virtually!


This morning as my minion stalkers were "doing research" we happened upon a website that plainly, clearly called me out- It gave statistics on why missionaries go "home" , as this ministry is working to lessen the numbers of families/couples/individuals who come to a far away land to share of the Father's love, only to spend years in the process of praying, selling, training, praying, making new homes, language learning, STRUGGLING, praying, and hopefully, ministering in the name of Jesus to those who have not heard of His great love- and then they leave. unplanned, embarrassed, scared and confused.

There is a LOT of time, energy and expense poured into an invaluable goal… proclaiming the gospel is worth it all- but are our goals being met??

As I read over this website, I was brutally convicted-
I had heard that the number one reason missionaries leave prematurely is because of conflict amongst other missionaries… and I agree, living among other passionately 'called' people is challenging some days.

But today I read that they don't leave earlier than planned because of sickness, lack of funds or persecution as often as they leave because of personal spiritual discipline, marriage and parenting struggles, team dynamics and a lack of ability to engage with their host culture…

Wow.

I'm not leaving Burkina, but boy do I feel my lack of personal spiritual discipline…


I share this because I almost haven't realized that surviving in a harsh environment drives me to my knees in prayer, but unfortunately I rarely am able to grab hold of the Truth of God's word and the comfort of His love for myself.  I can speak of it, shine His truth on the dark situations in the lives of my neighbors, but I have to confess that I am in a sinking little tug boat- and I know that I'm not alone!


I don't want to allow the distractions, interruptions and busy-ness to lure me away from my Father and His word!  He is working miracles around me, and somehow I have thought that if I don't answer the door, I am failing the proclamation of the gospel… as if it depends on me!?!  So silly...

As I type, I am reminded of the encouragement we often receive, "Ministry is what happens in the interruptions!!"  This is very true but can also be debilitating.  It's not an option to be so available to my neighbors, my kids, my church or whatever, that I don't have my source of strength firmly engaged…


For our first 10 months here, we had weekly conversations about the very real possibility of not making it.  Those conversations are few and far between now, and we are firmly and joyfully committed to the work that the Lord so graciously places before us each day- but wow, were we in a bad spot- for a long time…

Not talking about it, or talking about it doesn't really seem to make a marked difference, when you have to pass every second in a place of discomfort, fear, uncertainty, confusion…  I've just found that it is brutal to feel like I can't be honest.

If you are called, you will be happy.
If you are sick, just go home… um, we are sick regularly- there are five of us, if it's not some horrendous thing on our skin, it's tummy troubles, or headaches from the thick saharan dust that we attempt to breathe while sweating profusely trying to fill barrels to filter water to rehydrate ourselves from all our lost fluids through sweat!  I say all of it with a smile- because God is amazing and He has allowed us to see things we ached to know of when we were soaking up the luxuries of our former North American life.

Little did I know!

Sometimes life feels precarious because it IS

6.02.2015

Prayer of Faith

 James 5:17 says, "Elijah was a man with a nature like ours and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth."


As a middle aged American homeschool mom, I am learning how to live and pray alongside people in a new culture, new country and new mindset.
Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Gentleness, Faithfulness, Self-Control

 My kids feel like oddities, are laughed at, yelled at and stared at every day- and they want to be here-sort of
where water is pulled up, one arm length of rope at a time.

So as Elijah, 'a man with a nature like ours' prayed fervently- we pray fervently.
I am a part of a family, and we are slowly learning how to pray fervently and live peacefully
 We are sinners in need of the power of the Holy Spirit to get us through each day
- each moment, really

"For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, 
but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit…" Romans 14:17

As our love deepens for the people of this land- our concern, confusion and compassion toward them grows exponentially.  
Prioritizing need in a galaxy of need feels paralyzing and at times, nauseating.  
Only the Holy Spirit can guide us through the daily decisions.
The ability to hear from the Lord amidst the clamor is something we are working on-  
the clamor of birth, sickness, celebration, death, confusion and error- 
Only with the Holy Spirit 



How do you wash your calabash?

I was thrilled when we were invited to a marriage seminar at our church… Aaron, not so much!

We were thankful for the opportunity to go, but it is still a huge challenge to do this kind of  "date-night"/"fun" stuff in French and Jula only- with no idea what we're walking into!  We should be used to it, but we're not- I still get excited, like I'm going to get to visit like "normal" and have sweet fellowship and chit-chat…Aaron is a realist, so he's not nearly as disappointed!

And when they said a potluck would follow, it really stressed me out…Do I bring my own plates and forks? Do I bring something totally American and potentially interesting to them, or do I stick with rice and sauce??

Thankfully, our day filled up fast and I had no time to fuss over the details, so we went from one event to the next, ending the day with the marriage seminar starting at 7:45, and then the communion meal started at 10:30 p.m!

The marriage discussion was eye-opening and interesting, but surprisingly the same as it would have been among our friends in the states!

Because we were there, the other couples (there were 6 others) often explained their situations with a disclaimer- "Maybe this is just in my ethic group, or in the African culture…"  We smiled knowingly, as they went on to explain their challenges of marriage- like communication, unmet expectations, financial stresses… all of areas of challenge within mine and other western marriages!


My favorite specific account was along the lines of, "My husband doesn't turn his socks right-side-out before leaving them on the bathroom floor 2 feet away from the laundry basket." The Burkinab√© equivalent was, "He leaves his clothes in the salon, and when he goes to put them on the next morning, they aren't there, someone keeps moving them into the other room…and HE is frustrated that his clothes aren't where he left them.  Disgusting Sidenote- many of the african fabrics don't absorb moisture at all, so while they are sweaty and wet when you take them off, they aren't smelly or dirty so you can still re-wear them; so you hang them to out dry and put them back on the next morning.

You wash the calabash with leaves, but everyone knows that it's better to do it like my mom does it- with a corn cob- You're not doing it right... Kinda like when I married a granite contractor and wanted to scrub everything with Comet!

The times of fellowship together, sharing from our hearts, our experiences and our struggles, many of which are very much the same, are an encouragement and a blessing that help us to keep going through the tougher patches!  Praying alongside women like these is an experience and a privilege I don't want to take for granted!  I'm blessed to be able to hear the voice of a blind woman singing out praises to her Savior in a language that just received it's New Testament last year, and the Jesus Film last month!  

God is moving Mightily all around us, and the sad, awkward, misunderstood moments are no biggie in light of the changes we get to see and the lives we are able to pray for, live with and testify to!


Romans 12:13


Hebrews 13:1–2 says, "Let brotherly love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares."


Aaron spent time with a pastor and his family yesterday- he was warmly welcomed, fed and given testimony to God's love and miraculous hand in our daily lives... 
Their church is in the background, this is their kitchen/cooking area

 This is the moto used by this pastor to travel to further villages to evangelize and continue the work…don't miss that the front end is being stabilized with rubber straps!

Days like this, stopping in 5 villages to encourage, meet with village elders, cast vision for a future church and hear of hands-down, MIRACLES done by the Lord are what keep my husband smiling, seeking God, working hard and loving his neighbors.  

We thank the Lord Jesus Christ for the opportunity to live here and learn from the saints.

 Contribute to the needs of the saints, practice hospitality- Romans 12:13

6.01.2015

In the "village of the big lion behind the river"

  Sunday we joined in the dedication of a newly constructed pastor's home.  We prayed over his home, sang praises to the Lord for His provision and celebrated this amazing gift together...
These little girls were playing a mancala-type of game…
 I didn't stay long!

 They prepared a nice meal for us, and we had a great afternoon
Love the hand on the hip!!

3.11.2015

Women's Day!

We went to our first Women's Day celebration!

Our church is led by men who value women according to God's word.
Purposing to empower and validate women toward God's highest calling on their lives sets a man apart  in this context.
So when tents and guest speakers arrive, and a soccer match, ballet and chorale is prepared, and a meal of 110 pounds of rice is shared with any who would come-
the women of the village feel important, appreciated and loved!

  As pastors are trained and sent out to "plant" a new church- they begin praying, teaching, and building relationship as they watch the Holy Spirit work.   At first, the church is filled by children and women.  

Sometimes a church of only women and children can feel less legitimate.
 But when pastors see their church fill with hearts seeking Truth, Love and Power- lives are changed, and the Light of Jesus shines.
May God richly bless these men and their families who serve His children!

These are church planters. Faithful. Diligent.


Our pastor's wife, serving the masses in her 'sport' clothes after the Women vs. Girls Soccer match!