Saturday, December 16, 2006

Merry Christmas!

Dear Family and Friends, December 15, 2006
Greetings from sunny Burkina! The dry season is well upon us and we have been enjoying some wonderfully cool temperatures, very few bugs, no frogs, and no mosquitoes. Dust storms are starting to pick up though as winds come in from the north bringing the desert sand and dust with them.
For two months now we have been having serious technical problems with our e-mail server. We are unable to send or receive e-mail from Yako right now and can only catch up on e-mail when we are in Ouaga. So, if we are slow in responding to you, this is the reason. You are constantly in our thoughts. Please pray that the Lord will help the technicians with of our local server to quickly find and resolve this problem.
Just this evening we took Sarah McGrew to the airport. We had a wonderful 3 weeks with Sarah and it was hard to let her go. Sarah used her nursing skills everyday to minister to our children and each one of the children fell in love with her. Under her care, our little baby Grace gained three-quarters of a pound. Grace was born pre-mature and has been sickly since her birth but in Sarah’s capable hands Grace greatly improved.
Nichole is doing wonderfully well here. The Lord is helping her daily to adapt and adjust to the challenges and difficulties of life in Africa. She is doing very well in her language studies and is able to communicate simple exchanges in French and also exchanges greetings in Moure. The kids all love her dearly. While Sarah was here the three girls, Nichole, Sarah, and Julie, took on some painting projects which brought a new and vibrant face to many parts of our orphanage.
Our primary school is flourishing. It is a joy to hear the sounds of learning, singing, laughing, and shouting coming from the school building. This past week mid-term exams were given and most of the children did very well. Some of our children were not doing well in the public school system and some of them had never even been to school. We have been watching these children knowing that they need special help and tutoring. Some of their grades were not good but this did not surprise us. We now know even more where they need help and concentration in their studies.
We have a little one in the hospital right now. His name is Amede. They are treating him for pneumonia. He is responding to the treatment and we are encouraged that he will be okay. He is in the local Yako hospital and one of our part-time workers is there taking care of him. Amede will be one year old the 22nd of December. Please pray that the Lord will completely restore him to health.
I want to send a huge ‘THANK YOU’ for all the generous contributions that came in for Christmas gifts for the widows and for the children and for a Christmas party for the children. This week will be full of planning and shopping in preparation for this event. We will butcher a goat to prepare with our holiday spaghetti and this will make the children very happy. We are also planning games and prizes and a special gift for each one of them.
Our holiday traditions here are very Christ centered and most activities revolve around the church. On Christmas Eve there will be a special time together where all of the children prepare skits and musical presentations. There will also be a Scriptural presentation of the story of the birth of Christ. Around 10 or 11 we will go home and then return again on Christmas morning to celebrate the birth of Jesus together as a family and then enjoy a meal together.
On New Year’s Eve the church again gathers together for a time of celebration, skits and musical presentations. We then sing and pray until the new year enters. After the service the children stay at the church and sing and dance and celebrate until early hours of the morning.
In closing, I want to wish each of you a warm and blessed holiday season. I hope and pray that the love of Jesus is burning in each of your hearts and that the new year brings you blessings beyond your greatest imagination. Our God is good and He is a faithful and loving father to all who love Him.

Blessings to you!
Ruth. . . Mom. . . Grandma

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving!

Dear Family and Friends, November 24, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving! I hope that for each one of you your holiday was happy
and filled with the love of Jesus and close family and friends. Lynn, Nichole, Julie and I
went to Ouaga and celebrated Thanksgiving with some missionary friends there. We
were a ‘family’ of 14 and it was good to be together. There are several wonderful cooks
in this ‘family’ so we ate royally. After dinner, we watched a re-make of "Miracle on 34th
Street and that also was lots of fun.

Since my last writing life in the orphanage has been much calmer. Outside of
coughs and colds, all of our children are healthy and we are thankful for this. A set of
our twins, Awa and Bourema, rejoined their family this week and we were very glad to
release them as healthy and strong toddlers. When they came to us 10 months ago,
Bourema was malnourished and sick but now he is healthy and walking. Thank you,

We received a call from a French couple this past week who are thinking and
praying about adopting Tene. Tene has been with us for 2 years now and she is about
6 years old. Most often, adoptive families want to adopt babies because it is easier to
integrate them into the family. Because of this we have been praying for a family
especially prepared to receive Tene. This adoptive family has an eleven year old and
they specifically asked for a girl 5 or 6 years old. There is still lots of work to be done
before the adoption will be complete but we are thankful to the Lord for what He is
doing for Tene.

I attended a 3-day seminar in Ouaga last week sponsored by a national
association of orphanages that I belong to. The theme of the seminar was ‘keeping the
needs of the children as our priority’. For three of the sessions, the speakers were the
director and assistant director from the department of international adoption of Social
Action. The teachings that they gave were outstanding and after the classes we had
times of very open discussion about what is working and what is not working in the
arena of international adoptions. They listened to what we had to say and took notes
so we are hoping for change and improvement in the adoption procedures.

We have taken 5 new babies into our Friday Baby Milk Program in the past few
weeks. Each of these little ones have their own unique story but I want to tell you about
SEBOGO, Kiswendsida. His mother and his father are both not well mentally. His
mother was caring for him but one day she walked out of her father’s courtyard and did
not come back. The grandmother brought Kiswendsida to us asking us to take him.
Because we work closely with Social Action on cases like this, we sent them to SA to
talk with an agent before accepting the child. As it turns out, SA knew this family and
knew about some of their problems. And because here in Burkina, by law the children
belong to the father’s family, SA called the head of the father’s family to come in and
discuss the problem of the baby. As it turns out, there is an aunt and a grandmother in
the father’s family who are well and are willing to take care of Kiswendsida. The best
thing for a child is always to be placed in a family and in this case, we are happy to help
them with formula until Kiswendsida is ready for solid foods.

Another new child to the orphanage is Nanema, Pauline. Pauline is 15 years old
and she is a sponsored child. Her story is complicated. She was living here in Yako
with a grandmother. When the grandmother died, she went to Ouaga to live with an
uncle. For some unknown reason, the uncle brought her back to Yako this past
summer and left her alone in the vacant courtyard where the grandmother lived. When
school started, Pauline came by the orphanage asking for help with her school fees and
for food. At this time, we started asking about where she was living, who was looking
after her, etc., and we learned about her living conditions. We contacted her uncle and
also some family out in the village and no one wanted to take any responsibility for
Pauline. So we invited her to come and live with us in the orphanage. Pauline has
adapted easily and quickly to our routines here. This past Sunday, she responded to an
invitation from the Pastor and asked Jesus to come into her heart. Pauline is a sweet
girl but she is struggling greatly at school. Please pray for her as she learns what it
means to be a child of God. And, pray that the Lord will help her to understand her
lessons at school.

Oh! I almost forgot to mention. . . Yako now has electricity 24/7. You may
remember us complaining from time to time that the electricity was cut anywhere from
midnight to 2 AM and it was turned back on around 7 in the morning. We have been
promised 24 hour electricity for 5 years now. . . and we finally got it! So, if any of you
have been thinking of coming for a visit and have just been waiting for 24 hour electricity
to come to Yako. . . well, call and make your air reservations now!

Love you,
Ruth. . . Mom. . . Grandma

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Back in Burkina--

Dear Family and Friends, November 3, 2006

Already we are into November! Where has the time gone? Since returning to
Burkina (almost one month now) we have had some serious challenges: in the area of
communication problems and in health issues with our children. Server problems and computer problems were blocking all of our e-mail. We were able to send but not to receive. This past week I found a friend, Eric, in Ouaga who had a little extra time to tinker and play with my computer and some of my software and he performed magic! It seems that my McAfee software was blocking all incoming mail as well as our internet access. Eric, uninstalled McAfee, installed a free virus protection package and set up Nichole, Julie and I with gmail accounts. What a relief to be back in touch with the outside world. Thank you Jesus for friends with computer
expertise and a heart to help.

The last time that I wrote, I told you about the twins, Alphonse and Alphonsene,
who just came to us from Koudougou. Alphonsene is strong and is trying to walk but
Alphonse was diagnosed to have some kind of brain damage, probably from his birth.
In the 3 weeks that Alphonse was with us, he was hospitalized twice, once with malaria
and the other time with a high fever but no actual diagnosis. Both of these times, when
Alphonse had a fever he would convulse. Well, Alphonse was back home and
seemingly doing better when just yesterday he took a turn for the worse again and
began convulsing. Jean immediately took him to our local hospital but before he even
arrived there, Alphonse passed away.

Just a few hours after Alphonse was buried we were back on the road to
Ouiyaghuia to the hospital with Grace. Grace is the little pre-mature baby who spent
the first 2 months of her life in Ouaga in a neo-natal ward. Grace is now 5 months old
but she is still tiny for her age. When Grace is sick. . . well, she is very sick. Grace was
admitted to Dr Zala’s hospital and is being treated for malaria. Please pray with us that
the Lord will heal Grace and bring her back to us healthy and strong.

Also yesterday, one of our little sponsored children, 5 year old Sibila, who had
just been diagnosed with AIDS, died at Dr Zala’s clinic in Ouiyaghuia. Lynn took Sibila
to see Dr Zala because of his symptoms of malnutrition and dehydration. But, after a
blood test, it was clear that his symptoms were because of the effects of AIDS on his
little body. The diagnosis was too late and his little body was too weakened to respond
to any treatment that could be offered.

Last week we had another little one, Jacob, in our Yako hospital. The doctor was
treating him for malaria but he was not responding well. Because of the malaria, Jacob
was dehydrated and anemic and the doctor referred him to the hospital in Ouiyaghuia
for a blood transfusion. At the same time, there was a little boy from the village who
also needed to go to Ouiyaghuia for blood so we had a truck full of sick children and
family care-takers. Just as we arrived in Ouiyaghuia, an hour and a half drive from
Yako, the little village boy stopped breathing. We continued to the hospital but there
was nothing they could do for him. The nurses moved very quickly and gave Jacob
blood. He revived a bit and we thought that he would be okay. But, we received a call
early the next morning that Jacob passed away around 4:00 that morning.

I don’t really have happy things to write to you about this week. Sigh! This is life
in Africa. This is the effect of sin in our world. I rant and rave against it sometimes until
I wear myself out. But, at the end of the day I know that the Lord is here in the midst of
us and that He is a faithful God. I know His love and his undeserved mercy. I rejoice
right now in each of our children who are healthy and I entrust these who have left us
this week into the everlasting love of our Father God.

With love and blessings!
Ruth. . . Mom. . . Grandma

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Hello Family and Friends! June 18, 2006

It is Sunday evening here and again time to write to you. It is amazing how quickly the week can pass by. It does not seem like a week since I have written. This has been another wild and crazy week. Through weeks like this one, I am comforted with the thought that eternity will reveal the reasons and purposes for all that has happened.

Our children have continued to work in our field this week. They have cleared the land, burned it and started digging up ground that has not been plowed in several years. They have worked hard and joyfully. We are waiting for one more ground soaking rain and then they will plant. The rains have been slow in coming this year but we are trusting that the Lord will give us a good rainy season.

Pierre, Matthieu, and Emanuel spent 3 days this week in the standardized exam that follows 10th grade. They are all confident that they did well but we have to wait for a couple of weeks now to have their results. They have worked very hard this year and we are hoping that they passed and will be able to continue their education.
We’ve had a young mother, Awa, and her baby staying with us for the past two weeks. Awa is just 16 years old and she is not married. Her baby, Hamidou, is just one month old. Awa has not received much support from her family. In fact, when it was know that she was pregnant, she was sent away from the family courtyard. She has been living with an aunt here in Yako since then.

Awa came to us asking us to take Hamidou so that she could take the standardized exam that our children were taking. Her aunt sells vegetables everyday at the market and does not help her with the baby.

I refused to take Hamidou because Awa is nursing him and would have even greater problems if her milk dried up and she was not able to feed him. So instead, I offered Awa to come and stay in our girls’ room and to spend all of her time studying and preparing for the exam. Our ladies cared for Hamidou and called Awa when he was hungry.

This evening, Awa and Hamidou returned to the aunt’s courtyard and Awa promised that she would let me know her test results. Awa needs lots of help and lots of encouragement but we were thankful to be able to help her in this small way. She also desperately needs to know that Jesus loves her and has a way out of her difficult situation. Please pray for Awa.

A very special blessing came our way this week in the form of a check that was given to us from Social Action. A sum of money was given to SA by Unicef, the World Bank, and a couple of other Burkina banks, and they distributed this money to the orphanages in Burkina. Friday was the National Day of the African Child and we were invited to a ceremony where checks were distributed to the orphanages. The amount that we received was nearly $2,000!

We are very thankful for this money, of course, but in addition I am thankful for the recognition from the government of the overwhelming need of the orphans in Burkina. It is encouraging to see Burkina rising up and taking some responsibility for the great social need of her children.

There are many places where this money could go and we have not yet made decisions as to where to put it. One very pressing need that we have is for new screens on the windows and doors of the orphanage. With the rainy season upon us, we need all the protection that we can get from the mosquitoes. We also need some maintenance work done on the truck. . . like new shocks and repair to the A/C. Not very exciting things but definite needs for the project.

I have something really heart-wrenching to tell you. On Thursday, a thief broke into Lynn’s house while she and her guard, Boris, were out doing sponsorship visits. The police are investigating and evidence points very suspiciously that the job was done by someone who was very familiar with the courtyard and the house.

The thief entered probably through the front door and left through the side door. He took a brand new laptop computer, a camera, a CD player, a cell phone, and about $600. He went straight to what he wanted, even though some things were in a closed cabinet and in a file drawer. He did not disturb anything but reached in and took exactly what he wanted, knowing exactly where it was at.

As the shock of all of this is settling, our prayer is that the thief will be found and that Lynn’s possessions will be returned. Our prayer also is for justice as well as mercy and compassion for the thief. The justice system does not work real well here and prisoners are often severely mistreated. Please pray with us that all that is hidden will come into the light. Please pray for the salvation of the thief and for compassionate treatment of the prisoners.

Blessings to you!
Ruth. . . Mom. . . Grandma

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Hello Family and Friends! June 11,2006

It is blog-writing time again and I’m sitting here with a glass of iced tea and a bowl of peanuts. This has been a wild and crazy week. So much has happened that I don’t even know where to start.

This was a week of much travel. Travel here is exhausting because of bad roads, animals on the roads, and people on foot, bikes, motos, and donkey carts all in the same lane of traffic. Plus, the air conditioner is not working in our truck. Sigh! But through is all, God gave us some wonderful advances this week.

We are trying to get a little girl, Ludivine, who is severely handicapped, to the States for medical treatment. There was someone visiting Ouaga this week from the organization who may fund Ludivine’s treip. So I made a quick and unplanned trip to Ouaga this week to take x-rays and some medical records to Basil who hand carried these documents to the States.

Then on Thursday, I returned to Ouaga to continue to Koudougou with our attorney. The adoption case for Stephane went before the judge in Koudougou on Friday morning. The trip took about 5 hours and the time before the judge was about 10 minutes. I would have been willing to spend 10 times the travel time though just to hear the decision that Stephane is now legally a McAlister! Stephane’s case was difficult and complicated with blocks all along the way. His case has been in process for over 2 years but finally, it is finished. Thank you, Jesus!
In just the past 3 weeks, 3 of our children have been adopted. Jacques (18 months) and Paul (3 ½) are being adopted by French couples and they will both be coming in July to pick up their children.

The construction on the staff house is moving really quickly now. The doors and windows have been installed and the masons are applying the final finish to the concrete block construction. The plumbing and the wiring are all roughed in. The contractor is still saying that it will be finished this week. . . and it will be very close.

Yesterday I told the ladies who work in the newborn baby room that when I move out of my room in the orphanage that we will move them into my big room. They were thrilled, to say the least. There are now 8 babies in a small room just 3 meters wide and 6 meters long. My room is 6 meters by 6 meters so they will have twice as much room as they have now. We need some more cribs because there are 2 or 3 babies in a crib right now. But, we have already found one crib on the container and I think that there are one or two more in there that we have not yet uncovered. We also found a baby swing on the container which Mark put together and this will be available for them in their new room.

The rains have started and everyone is out preparing their fields for planting. We also are going to plant this year. Valentin has found a field for us which about 2 miles from the orphanage. It is a little far but with the bicycles and the truck we will be able to get children and food back and forth to the field. We’re not exactly sure what we will plant this year but most likely it will be either a field of millet and beans or a field of peanuts. A portion of the harvest of our field will be dedicated to the building fund for our new local church.

Four of our children received special awards at school this year for ranking in the top three in their class. Augustin, Marcel, and Ange were all first in their classes of over 100 students. Pierre ranked second in his class of 86 students. Each of the boys received a backpack and some school supplies and we are now waiting for the results of a regional evaluation based on their grade point average. The top three students in the region will be invited to Ouayaghuia for a recognition ceremony where they will each receive a new bicycle.

This week there is a very critical exam for Pierre, Matthieu, and Emanuel. They are finishing 10th grade this year and there is a pass/fail exam which will allow them to continue their education or force them to change school and re-do 10th grade. The exam is this Thursday, the 15th.

Etienne is in his last year of high school and he also must pass a standardized test in order to continue to university or to a specialized school. Etienne’s exam is July 5th. Please pray for these boys and for all the children taking these exams. They are very hard and the children are under a lot of pressure knowing that if they do not pass, they cannot continue their education.
Well, I must close for now. Thanks for taking the time to read my blog. Thanks for your prayers. A sister gave me a word of encouragement this morning at church. She said ‘Be strong and courageous because the Lord is in the midst of what we are doing here’. It was a very timely word and encouraged my heart. The Lord does know all things. He sees our hearts and He knows our needs. I find much comfort in this truth.

Blessings to you!
Ruth. . . Mom. . . Grandma

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Hello Family and Friends!
I am so happy to tell you that I am completely recovered and back to my usual ornery self. :o) The final diagnosis was a bacterial intestinal infection and we’re assuming that the fever was the cause of the pain and swelling in my joints. Everything is strange here but all of the symptoms are gone and my strength is back and I am thankful for this.
We are continuing to work through the container and are probably about half-way through now. So many wonderful treasures and gifts that were lovingly sorted, packed and sent to us! Several people sent us microwave noodle and rice packets. And, do you know what? Just 2 weeks ago a microwave was given to us by a missionary family who are leaving Burkina! Now, the container was packed in August, 2005 and arrived here in May, 2006. Is it just chance that people thought to send us microwave dishes and food or did our Father know what was coming and prepared everything for us? I prefer to believe the second choice and am amazed at the detail of His care for us.
Our little baby, Grace, who is in Ouaga in a neo-natal facility is doing well. She has gained 400 grams, almost a pound, in one month. The head nurse said that she can be released when she reaches 2 kilos. If she continues to do well and to gain at the rate she is now, she could be released in just 2 or 3 weeks. I’ve been trying to figure out how to include photos in my blog but have not yet mastered that part of the technology. I have a cute, cute photo of Grace that I would like to show you.
The construction of our staff house is almost finished. The contractor has said that we will be able to move in by June 15th. We are very anxious for this, of course. Since the orphanage opened I have been sleeping in one of the rooms in the orphanage. On one side of my room is the newborn baby room where there are 7 babies and on my other side is the 6 to 12 month room where there are also 7 babies. And, as you know babies cry during the night. Our staff house is in the orphanage compound but we will be on the other side of the compound and I am looking forward to a measure of privacy and quiet.
We have six bedrooms in the staff house. Mark and Connie will be occupying one and I will have one other. That leaves us four rooms to receive friends and visitors. So, if accommodations were holding you back from making your reservations, please don’t wait any longer because we now have a place for you. :o)
The rains are a bit slow in starting this year. We have had one average rain but the ground was so dry that the very next day all of the moisture was gone. But, this is the time of year where families are beginning to prepare their fields for planting. We have asked for 2 fields this year in an area about one mile from the orphanage. If we are given use of this land, we will plant a field of millet and a field of peanuts this year.
The plans for opening the school are progressing quickly. This month we will be interviewing and hiring teachers. A group of five students in France have been raising money for school books for some of our older children and they will be sending these to us in July.
Thank you so much for all your support. . . prayers, letters, packages, e-mails, telephone calls and financial support. The work here is a labor of love from the heart of our Father and you are partners in everything that we do.
With lots of love,
Ruth. . . Mom. . . Grandma

Monday, May 29, 2006

Welcome to my Blog! Blog-writing is a new thing for me but I suppose it is time to enter the 21st century, huh? I would appreciate your feed back on what I write and also on what you would like to hear about.
This past week has been unbelievably busy and interesting. On Monday, Mark returned from his trip to the States, safely, on time, and with all of his baggage, and with all his news from home. I was really not feeling well because of a fever and serious pain and swelling in my joints. On Tuesday morning, Mark and Connie took me to see a doctor in Ouaga and he immediately hospitalized me. Yikes! We still don’t have a clear diagnosis but he is treating me with antibiotics and an anti-inflammatory. He released me on Thursday. I still have just a little swelling but the pain is gone and I can walk again! Thank you, Jesus!

Then, on Friday, our container arrived! Oh what joy! We have been waiting and waiting in anticipation of this event not really knowing what to expect or how we would feel. It was a wonderfully overwhelming experience to see this huge container moving through the air by a massive crane and coming to rest on the concrete pad that we had prepared as its resting place. And then the container was opened and love literally tumbled out! We’ve only gone through a small portion of the container but we have already found treasures that you lovingly packaged and sent to us that came from the very heart of our Father. Thank you so much for all of the work involved in gathering and organizing, packing and shipping these goods to us. The Holy Spirit was leading and guiding your hands in the selection and placement of each precious item.
Just the week before last, we had four babies in the hospital. This was a really hard time for us. Besides the stress of having a critically ill child and the expense of medical care, we also have to send a full-time worker with each child in order to care for the child. This stretched our resources and our personnel to the max! But, three of these four babies are home now and everyone is doing really well. We have a few slight colds and lots of teething going on but nothing more serious than that and for this we are thankful.

We received a new little newborn that we named Grace. She was born about 4 weeks pre-mature and she weighed less than 3 pounds at birth. Her mother is not well physically and mentally and was abused by someone in her family courtyard. Connie and I tried to take care of Grace ourselves in our room but Grace needed special neo-natal care. Thankfully, we were able to find a place for her in one of the two neo-natal units in all of Burkina. Grace has been at a hospital called ‘Five Friends’ for 3 weeks now and she is thriving and gaining weight. Thank you, Jesus!
So this is Sunday morning and I am looking forward to going to church. We have been given so much and I long to be in the House of the Lord and to join with our local body of believers to thank and praise the Lord.
Thank you for the myriads of ways that you partner with us in the work. Thank you most of all for your prayers. Our God is a faithful God and He hears and answers.
Laboring together, in Him,
Ruth Cox