Thursday, September 06, 2007

News from the orphanage

Dear Family and Friends, Aug. 27, 2007
First, a quick ‘Jeanette update’. Her splint has been removed and a new x-ray shows that her leg is now healed. There is a lot of calcium build-up on the top and bottom of where the break was, but the doctor said that this should not keep her from walking. Her mother comes to the orphanage each day to care for her and we are working with the mother to help Jeanette to catch up on normal development for her age. She is now 22 months old. She is sitting up but she is not pulling up, crawling, or walking.
This past week we had a wonderful unexpected visit from Janine Jackson, the US Ambassador to Burkina. She was passing through town on her way to Ouayighuia and stopped by the orphanage to see our Peace Corps volunteer, Sarah. Sarah is working on developing our soap and weaving projects and has been with us for a little over a month. We spent 2 days frantically cleaning up inside and outside the courtyard and all of the orphanage buildings. The clean-up days went well and in fact, were much needed. Because of a really good rain the night before though, our courtyard was a virtual mud pit when the Ambassador arrived but she seemed to take this problem right in stride.
The Ambassador toured our facilities, played with some babies, and listened to some our primary school children sing. She brought a gift of 120 books for our school. This gift was from a joint project sponsored by the US Government and the World Bank. The books are beautiful and they are for grades 1 through 6.
Our Canadian friend, Christina, left last week. She was a short-termer who came to us through SIM. It was a joy to have Christina with us. She played with and cared for our babies, and made lots of friends with our older children who speak English. We miss Christina but wish her the best as she begins her studies in nursing.
Two of our babies, Aminata and Lassane, have returned to their families. Aminata comes from a village about 130 kilometers from here. Her mother died just a few days after Aminata was born. In the 18 months that Aminata has been here, her father has found a new wife and they came to pick up their daughter and take her home. Lassane’s mother also died when he was born. He has rejoined his family and will now be cared for by an aunt.
We are still waiting for news on the adoptions of Mathieu, Mariam, and Assya. Mathieu and Mariam are going to families in France and Assya is going to Italy. We expect that all of these adoptions will be finalized in the next month or two.
Thank you so much for your prayer support and your tangible monetary support. The Lord is good and He abundantly provides all that we need through faithful friends like you.
With love and blessings,
Ruth. . . Mom. . . Grandma

Monday, August 13, 2007

Jeannette update--

Dear Family and Friends, Aug. 13, 2007
This is a ‘Jeannette’ update. This saga continues but I think that we are getting closer and closer to knowing the truth of the story.
Jeannette’s leg seems to be better. She is immobilized in a splint and she does not cry even when she is moved around to change her diaper or to pick her up. This is improvement.
Jeannette’s father told us when he brought her to us, that her mother had left Burkina for the Ivory Coast with another man and that he did not have anyone in the courtyard to care for Jeannette. Well, we found out this past week that this is not true. Jeannette’s mother is in Yako living in her parents’ courtyard, not far from the father’s courtyard. We called the mother to come to the orphanage and talk with us and then took her to Social Action so that the agent that we are working with there could hear the other side of this story.
Jeannette’s mother found out about a year ago that her husband was being unfaithful to her. She confronted him on this but he refused to admit it and to stop seeing the other woman. Around this same time, her husband’s mistress approached the mother accusing her of spreading a rumor that she was pregnant by Jeannette’s father. Jeannette was on her mother’s back at this time and the two women started fighting. The mother fell backwards onto Jeannette, breaking both of her legs and scratching and injuring her face.
Mother took Jeannette to the hospital but they did not notice that her legs were broken. She then went to the police to file a complaint against her husband and the mistress. The police noticed that at least one of Jeannette’s legs were broken and went out searching for the husband. They found him in town and forced him to return to the hospital with Jeannette. The doctor said that the couple needed to take Jeannette to Ouayaghuia to the hospital for x-rays. But, the father refused to take her saying that he did not have the means and that he wanted to treat her with traditional methods.
When the family returned to their courtyard, the chef of the family kicked Jeannette’s mother out of the courtyard saying that she was the cause of all of this trouble. He gave Jeannette to her grandmother to care for her.
Now since Jeannette’s mother came to the orphanage to talk with us and also went to Social Action, she has been kicked out of her parents’ courtyard! Social Action has agreed to talk with the chef of her family to ask for forgiveness and to try to help reconcile the family. At the same time, we are looking into a couple of centers in Ouaga who receive young women like this who have been excluded from their family courtyards.
Please pray for wisdom and guidance from the Holy Spirit for us and for Social Action. Jeannette’s mother does not want Jeannette to return to her father’s courtyard. She wants to care for her child. The best solution would be for her to remain in her family courtyard. But, if this is not possible please pray that we will be able to find a safe place for them in one of these special centers in Ouaga.

With love,
Ruth. . . Mom. . . Grandma

Sunday, August 12, 2007

August 7, 2007 update

Dear Family and Friends, August 7, 2007
Greetings from Burkina!
Life is moving fast and furious pace here in Yako but the Lord is in the midst of all and we are resting in His grace and favor.
The rains have continued to be good this year. Our peanuts and beans are now small plants and our corn is about 2 feet high. Our children have been very diligently clearing the fields of weeds after each rain. They have also been diligently studying French and math so we are hopeful that the 2007-2008 school year will be much more successful than this past year.
I introduced Jeannette to you the last time that I wrote. Working with Jeannette’s family has been a great challenge. Her father has consistently lied to us and even now we are not sure that we really know the history of this child. This past week, we took Jeannette to the hospital because of pain in her leg. She would not move it on her own and whenever anyone touched her she cried. Well, an x-ray showed that Jeannette’s leg is broken. We called the father again to the orphanage and he admitted that he knew that the leg was broken but he did not tell us about it when he brought her to us. He said that he did not know how or when the break occurred.
Jeannette’s leg has been set and immobilized in a splint. Please pray that her little bones will completely and quickly heal. Please pray also that her father will understand his responsibility to his child and see that she is properly cared for when she leaves the orphanage.
Another little baby, Nemata, was hospitalized in Ouayighuia and was diagnosed to be HIV positive and to have Noma. This little one was also severely malnourished. We received a call this past week that Nemata had died. As hard as it sounds, it is the grace of the Lord that Nemata is no longer suffering in the hospital. We are working with Social Action to see that her mother and father are adequately instructed about AIDS so that they can get care for themselves and protect others.
This week we learned that 2 of our babies have scabies. Yikes! We have been treating them for 2 months through our local hospital but they were not getting better. As it turns out, they were not correctly diagnosed and they were receiving the wrong treatment. We took them yesterday to see Dr. Zala in Ouayighuia who immediately diagnosed them to have scabies and prescribed the correct treatment for them. The treatment is not complicated and tomorrow we will wash and boil all of the babies’ clothes, sheets, diapers, etc., and then bath the babies with the medicine. Dr. Zala has assured us that this will kill all of the parasites and set our babies free from their terrible itching.
Lots of rather difficult things to tell you about this time! But, we also have been enjoying several special gifts from the Lord. We have been blessed this summer with several short-term workers who have come to us through SIM and SIL, other mission organizations working in Burkina. Some of the girls have come for just 2 or 3 weeks and one has come for 5 weeks. These girls have cared for, played with, and loved on our babies and the babies have thrived under all of this attention.
We also have received 3 visitors from the St Louis area. Sarah Torretta was with us for 2 weeks. Sarah teaches French in a middle school in STL. Each day Sarah worked with our primary school children strengthening their French and reading skills and teaching them to tell time. Jenny Griebel and Heather Romine are pediatric nurses and have spent two weeks with us. They also have played with and cared for our babies as well as helped us with medical needs. As nurses coming from the sterile and hygienic climate of American hospitals they have been very quick to adjust and adapt to some of our difficult situations here. We are thankful to the Lord for each of these visitors and for all the help and gifts that they brought to our children.
Josie and Bea, two of our girls, have finished their nursing training and have returned to the orphanage. We are so proud of their accomplishments and they are very glad to be finished with this phase of their studies. Dr. Zala has consented for them to do a 1 to 2 month internship with him at his pediatric clinic in Ouayighuia. This will give the girls invaluable experience and exposure to the various tropical diseases that they will be dealing with here. Already after just one week to rest and to visit their families in the village, they have taken over the distribution of our medicine in the orphanage. They have started temperature and growth charts for each child and a separate record for the medical treatment for each child.
Well, I must close for now. Thank you for taking the time to read my blogs. May the Lord richly bless you. Please pray for the protection and favor of the Lord for each one of us and for each of our children.
Love and blessings to you!
Ruth. . . Mom. . . Grandma

Monday, July 16, 2007

July 16, 2007

Dear Family and Friends, July 16, 2007
Finally, the rains have started and everyone is happily working in their fields. The orphanage is planting two fields this year. One is a field of peanuts and the other is corn and beans. Our children are also working in one corner of our courtyard. Each child has a small portion of land where they can plant whatever they want. Some have planted corn and millet. Some have planted tomatoes, green peppers, and onions. One boy planted watermelon. . . how fun is that! Some have planted okra. Some have planted peanuts.
In addition to working in our fields, our children have been diligently studying French and math this summer. We have two classes of two different levels for each subject. We have hired two local high school teachers, one for French and one for math, for the more advanced students. Valentin and Ernest are teaching the children in the lower level. The children’s attitude towards all of this work is really positive and we are thankful for these children that God has given to us.
We received another new baby last week named Jeannette. Jeannette came to us through Social Action with the story that she was 9 months old and that her mother had abandoned her. After just a short time with Jeannette we discovered that physically she is much smaller than 9 months but developmentally, she is much advanced for 9 months. As it turns out, Jeannette is actually about 22 months old. She is severely malnourished. Social Action has attempted to contact her father but according to the extended family, he has left the area and they do not know where he has gone. Only time will tell the real story for this child but for now we are giving her a vitamin substitute called Ambrotose, and as much food as she will take.
Please continue to pray for Thérèse, our little one with the enlarged heart. We took her back to see the heart specialist and she changed most of Thérèse’s medications. She explained that for some of them it was only safe to be on them for a certain amount of time. Please pray that the Lord will heal Thérèse. The medical expertise that she needs is just not available here in Burkina but our God is the Great Physician who can heal her.
I went back to Ouahighuia this past week to see Nemata who is HIV positive and suffering with Noma. She is still a very sick little girl. Please pray that our merciful God will heal her or else take her to be with Him. She is suffering terribly and so is the grandmother who is caring for her.
While in Ouahighuia (OHG), my truck broke down. It started making a terrible noise and lost all power. Dr. Zala recommended a mechanic who is currently working on it. It is really hard to find a good mechanic here. We have a good mechanic in Ouagadougou but OHG is 180 kilometers from Ouaga. Please pray that this mechanic will ‘really’ be able to fix our truck and not just a patch which would continue to give us trouble.
We applied for and have been assigned a Peace Corps volunteer to work with our soap and weaving projects. There is a new program in the Peace Corps here in Burkina which allows volunteers to work in small enterprise projects and our soap and weaving projects qualified. Sarah arrived this week and is currently learning how to make soap and how to weave. She will be responsible for managing these projects and will be marketing the sales of our products.
Love and blessings to you!
Ruth. . . Mom. . . Grandma

Friday, July 06, 2007

Week of June 27, 2007

Dear Family and Friends, June 27, 2007
The past month has passed so quickly! There is no way that I can write about all that has happened but I will try to give you a condensed version of our activities.
We have received news a couple of times from Tene and her adoptive parents in France and they are doing wonderfully well. They sent us two beautiful pictures of Tene playing at school and in a field of flowers with two of her new friends.
I recently returned from spending a week in Ghana where I took a course entitled ‘Sharpening Your Interpersonal Skills’. The course was excellent and we were a class representing 8 nations. The discussions were interesting and were seasoned with various cultural backgrounds and perspectives.
Last week was really hard in that several families with very sick children came to us asking for help. The first were 15 month old malnourished twin boys, Seni and Lassane, who weighed just 8 and 10 pounds respectively. We took them to Ouahighuiya where they were hospitalized. They will be treated with IVs and antibiotics until they are well and then will transfer to a Cren, a special clinic for malnourished children. At the Cren, they will receive good nutrition and their mother will be trained in how to continue the care of the children.
Then 2 days later, a grandmother came by with a little girl, Nemata, who was also malnourished and was suffering from noma. Noma is a disfiguring disease caused by poor dental hygiene. The disease is easily treated with antibiotics if it is diagnosed early but Nemata’s case is advance and has already started eating away parts of her gums, lips, and nose. We took Nemata to Ouahighuiya also where she was hospitalized. Blood tests at the hospital revealed that Nemata is also HIV positive so she has been transferred to another clinic to see if there is medicine available that can help her.
Then 2 days later, our little Therese fell to the ground, unconscious. We rushed her to the Yako hospital where the nurse inserted an IV and started treatment for malaria. I was not comfortable with this diagnosis and again made the trip to Ouahighuiya. Blood work there indicated that she had a bacterial infection and she was treated with antibiotics. This next week we will take her to Ouagadougou to see the heart specialist to be sure that the dosage of her heart medicine is still working properly for her.
We have been blessed with some wonderful visitors this past month. Nichole’s brother, John, has been visiting for 3 weeks and will be returning to the States this evening. John was an absolute joy to have with us and the children all love him. He played soccer with the big boys, played games with the little children, played with and packed around babies, participated in the widow’s distribution, ate tô, and opened his heart to see and experience everything that he could.
Arienne, from Canada, and Rebeccah, from the US, are also visiting right now for a period of two weeks. These girls are doing internships through their universities and have come to us through the mission organization, SIM. Arienne speaks French and Rebeccah is studying French so these girls have slipped right into daily life with us and are playing with and caring for our children.
Lynn returned from a 3 month visit home and it is great to have her back with us. The school year for the primary children is almost over and our school ranked first out of the seven primary schools in our community. This ranking is based on standardized testing that is given three times a year.
And, Ami Galaske joined us two weeks ago. Ami is from Columbia, MO and she has been to Burkina 4 times now. This time she has made a commitment to work with us for one year. Ami has finished her undergraduate work and is doing an extended internship with us through her university. Ami will have the opportunity to work in all of our projects and she is especially interested in continuing her studies at home to work in international adoptions.
We have received three new babies this month. Dieudonne is a little newborn boy whose mother is not well mentally. She gave birth in Gourcey, a small village nearby, and Social Action called us and asked us to take the baby. Social Action will do an investigation to try and find the family of the mother and to identify the father but if these efforts fail, Dieudonne will be available for adoption. We named him Dieudonne because this name means ‘given by God’.
Ibrahim is a little 12 month old boy who is the product of cousins within the same family. The mother is very young and the father is already married with two children. Because of the shame and embarrassment of this situation in the Mossi culture, Ibrahim does not have a place in either of his parents’ families. After a thorough investigation by Social Action, Ibrahim will most likely be available for adoption.
Another newborn, Harounna, came to us this month through Social Action. Harounna’s mother died shortly after giving birth and there is no one in the family who can care for him. We will keep Harounna for 12 months or so giving his father time to adjust and either find a new wife to care for the baby or else someone else in the extended family who can care for him.
So these are glimpses of daily life in Burkina.
Love and blessings to you!
Ruth. . . Mom. . . Grandma

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Our 5th Adoption--

Dear Family and Friends, May 27, 2007
Since last writing, our little Téné has met her new family and has left for France. Téné’s parents and her older brother, Eloi, spent a wonderful week with us in Yako getting acquainted with each other and learning a little about Téné’s culture and life-style. It was hard to say ‘good-bye’ to Téné but we are thankful for this family and for the new life that the Lord has given to her.
Thérèse, our little one with an enlarged heart, is still with us and is still doing well. Her heart medicine is helping to stabilize her heart and the congestion in her chest is under control with cough medicine and decongestants. We are in a holding pattern regarding Thérèse because we do not have any news from the States regarding her visa.
The 2006-2007 school year is almost over and our children are looking forward to a little break from their studies. They will take about 10 days to go and visit their families and then they will return for additional help in French and in math. We are hiring teachers this year to come to our courtyard to tutor our children in these subjects. Most of the problems that our children have in school are in math and because of poor French skills. We are hoping that by working really hard this summer everyone will have a better chance of success next year in school.
Valentin and his wife, Monique, and their baby, Wendpanga, have returned to spend the summer vacation with us. Valentin has completed the first year in a three year course of Bible School. Valentin will be teaching math and will be responsible, with the help of our children, for the planting of two fields. This year we will plant a field of millet and beans and a field of peanuts.
We have a small construction project in process. Thanks to a very generous gift from some friends who visited us in March, we are constructing an iron fence around the back terrace of the orphanage. This will give us expanded and safe crawl space for our babies which will also get them out of their rooms and out in the fresh air.
We have had 2 good rains already this year and everyone is very happy about this. Some have already started working their fields in preparation of one more good rain and then planting will start. The temperatures have been unusually high recently but as soon as the rains start we will have cooler and much more tolerable temperatures.
From time to time someone reads my blog and then sends me a note or comment. I appreciate this very much and enjoy hearing from you. But, if you want a response, please include your email address when you write so that I can write back.
Blessings to you!
Ruth. . . Mom. . . Grandma

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Another day from Burkina--

Dear Family and Friends, April 30, 2007
I had set a personal goal to blog once a week. . . but it has already been more than a month since I have written. Ah well, time passes so quickly. Sometimes try as I may, it is hard to keep up.
The 2006-2007 school year is almost over. Somewhere around mid-May, depending on when the rains come and on whether the student is in a standardized-exam-year, classes will be over. In our primary school, the children are still diligently studying and yet at the same time there is the feeling in the air that everyone knows that school is almost over.
It has been a hard year for several of our older children in the orphanage. Some have worked hard and some have not. The public school system is not well organized and does not offer much help or support to a student who is struggling in his studies. It is looking like several of our children will not pass. We are still waiting for the final grades, of course, and we are praying that they have all done well enough this 3rd trimester to allow them to have a passing grade for the year.
On April 16th, Téné’s adoption case went before the judge here in Yako and she was officially declared adopted into the Alonzo family in France. Téné’s parents have already bought their air tickets and will be coming for her on May 19th. Téné will be integrating into a beautiful family where she will have 2 older brothers.
Also in April, Dieudonne, was officially adopted by a local Burkinabé couple. Dieudonne came to us as a newborn who had been abandoned outside a Catholic sisters’ home. When he was just 6 months old the couple asked for him and at 8 months of age, they took him into their home as one or their own. Dieudonne, which means ‘given by God’ is now almost 2 years old and he is living in a family with one older brother and a new baby brother.
Another of our little ones, Perpetue, is 16 months old and her case will go before the judge on May 14th. Perpetue’s mother is just 17 years old and still a student. Her father is a married man with 3 children. Because of the circumstance of her conception and birth, there is no place for Perpetue in either of her parents’ families. We expect that the judge will release Perpetue for adoption but we must wait for the final decision before we can say that she is available.
Many of you have been very involved in the story of little Therese. I had hoped to be able to tell you the final chapter of this story but we are still waiting and praying for positive responses from the States. Therese is a little 6 year old who has an enlarged heart which cannot be treated here in Burkina. We have been in contact with two organizations in the States which bring children from all over the world to the States for medical care. One organization has responded that they believe Therese needs a heart transplant and they cannot write a letter of invitation or guarantee free medical care for a case as serious as this. We are still waiting to hear from the other organization but we are beginning to lose hope that medical treatment will be the avenue of help for Therese.
For several weeks Therese has been doing very well. But, in the last few days she is coughing a lot, has congestion in her chest, and is having trouble breathing.
Please pray for Therese. We believe that Jesus can perform a creative miracle and give Therese a new heart.
We received a new baby this past Tuesday. His name is Ousmane and he was born on April 27th. Ousmane has 4 older siblings. His mother is still living but she is not well mentally. She was fine before but sometime during her pregnancy she started talking strange and doing strange things. When the baby was born, she refused to care for him and even tried to kill him. The father contacted Social Action and they asked if we had room to care for one more baby.
Ousmane weighed almost 6 pounds at birth which is huge for a newborn baby here. He is already taking 2 to 3 ounces of milk at a feeding. We will take care of Ousmane until he is around one year old and then he will integrate back into his family. His father told us that even if his mother is not yet well, there will be an aunt or a grandmother who will take care of him.
I thoroughly enjoyed the trip to Mali last month with Soniya Carvalho and her daughter, Lara, and Lara’s friend, Cleo. We drove to Bangdiagara where we spent 2 days touring Dogon Country and then flew to Timbuktu. Both of these areas are very developed for tourism and were very interesting. And yes, I bought a T-shirt that says I’ve been to Timbuktu and back!
This past weekend was the monthly food distribution for our sponsored widows. All of our widows are doing well. Outside of aches and pains that go along with old age, no one had specific complaints. One woman had huge ulcer on her ankle that we have been treating for months. But she showed us that the sore was now completely healed. Several women said that after we prayed with them last month, their pain or their sickness went away. Praise God! It is a joy to visit these ladies each month, to give them a hug, to pray with them, and to give them the tangible love of Jesus in a basket of rice and some vegetables.
Well, I must close for now. Please pray for us whenever the Holy Spirit brings us to your mind. God is doing wonderful things in our midst everyday. We rejoice in His love and mercy.
Blessings to you!
Ruth. . . Mom. . . Grandma

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Please pray for Therese--

Dear Family and Friends March 24, 2007
The hottest part of the dry season has been slow in coming this year and we are very thankful for this. The temperatures reach 100+ in our house each afternoon the but the evenings are still cooling down so that we are able to sleep well.
We have received news from the family who is hosting Grace and she is doing very well. She is gaining weight, gaining strength, and growing; she can now turn from her stomach to her back and then back to her stomach again; she is laughing and smiling and trying to talk; she is reaching and grabbing for toys; all of which she was not doing at 8 months of age when she left here to go to the States for medical care. Because of being premature, Grace was not growing and gaining weight because her little body was not able to digest protein. She also has developed asthma which also is rather normal for premature babies. But, with special formula and asthma treatment, Grace is growing and thriving.
Right now we are fighting for the life of another of our little ones, Therese. Therese came to the orphanage in January with a ‘heart program’ but because of limited technology and expertise here, we did not know just how sick Therese was. About a week ago, Therese came down with a fever and needed to be hospitalized. Within just 2 days, Therese was having difficulty breathing and had become very weak. We took Therese to see Dr Zala, a pediatrician that we know and trust in Ouayaghuia who confirmed that Therese has an enlarged heart that he feels is treatable by surgery but that this surgery is not possible here in Burkina. He also stressed that Therese would not live much longer without this surgery.
We had tried to send Therese to the US in January for treatment but because we cannot get a clear and accurate diagnosis, it is difficult to get a doctor to write a letter of invitation for a case like this. But, with renewed urgency we again contacted Lending Light Ministries in the Boston area and asked whether there was any chance of getting Therese to the States.
God is in control and His timing is perfect! In just one week, we have secured letters from a doctor and a hospital in the States, we have a signed parental consent from Therese’s parents and Therese has received her Burkina Faso passport. The only remaining things needed are her US visa and the money for air tickets for Therese and an escort. With the grace and favor of the Lord, Therese will be in the States within a week or 10 days from now.
We received a call this week from the national office of Social Action asking whether we had room for 2 more children. These children have lost both their mother and their father and the aunt who is caring for them works in a bar. She works from 1 in the afternoon until 2 or 3 in the morning. The aunt takes the 18 month old baby to work with her and leaves the 5 year old boy at home, usually alone. The little boy was found on the streets by a Social Action Agent and that is how they became aware of the difficult situation of these children.
Our house is already full but how can we turn away these children? Even though my head says that we do not have the room, my heart cannot turn these children away. So, next Tuesday, our family will increase by two more children.
The work of processing adoptions, both international and national, continues to consume a good portion of my time. We have 4 adoptions still in process, 2 to France, 1 to Italy, and one to a local Burkinabé couple. We have received requests for a child from 2 new Burkina couples and one couple from the States. What a joy it is to prepare a child for an adoptive family and then to see them introduced and integrated into their new family!
We received a note and photos from Paul and his parents in France this week. Paul is 4 years old now and by his photo he looks like he has grown 6 inches or more. His mama wrote that he loves to study, to color, and to ride with his bike. He is speaking fluent French and learning his letters and numbers.
We also regularly receive notes and photos from the parents of Jacques in France and Stephane in America. Both of these boys are also doing well in their families and have grown a lot.
I must close for now. The mechanic just came by to pick up my truck for some minor repairs. Some friends from Washington DC are coming in this evening and we are leaving tomorrow for a 5 day trip to Mali. We are going to visit Dogon Country and then continue to Timbuktu. I am looking forward to a little time away for rest and also to seeing these tourist sights.
Blessings to you!
Ruth. . . Mom. . . Grandma

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

February 28, 2007 News from Yako

Dear Family and Friends, Feb 28, 2007
Greetings from sunny Burkina Faso! We are in the midst of the dry season here. Burkina has only two seasons; a dry season and a rainy season. We have not had any rain since October 8th and the temperatures are starting to daily climb to 100+ degrees in the afternoons. The evenings are still cooling down though and that makes it much easier to get a good night's rest.
Already this year we have been blessed by two visits from wonderful teams of friends from home. This past week a team of 8 came from Victory Fellowship in St Louis, MO. It was a short visit of only one week but the Lord wondrously arranged our time and allowed us to see and accomplish all that He had pre-arranged for us to do. Every member of the visiting team was impacted by what the Lord is doing here in Yako and our local team was greatly blessed and impacted by the visiting team.
Julie Rondeau has been living and working with us since October, 2006. Julie is a native of France so she was able to jump right into the daily activities of the orphanage and the school. She has been a tremendous help to us. About two weeks ago, Julie suffered two seizures and since then she has suffered severe pain in her back and in her abdomen. She has seen a local doctor whom we trust and he has recommended that Julie return to France for medical care. She was prepared to stay with us for one more month but the Lord is calling her home early. Please pray for safe travels for Julie and also that Jesus and the doctors in Paris will completely heal her.
We have three new children in the orphanage since I last wrote to you. One of them is a little boy of 5 years of age, named Ferdinand. Ferdinand's mother left him in the care of a local Yako woman when he was about 18 months old. The mother has not been heard from since she left. Ferdinand has not been well taken care of and neighbors have testified that the care-taker often sent him out into the streets to beg when he was hungry. He was often seen late at night sleeping at the bus station.
The first thing that we did for Ferdinand was to change his name. He came to us with the name of KooKoo. KooKoo is a meaningless and silly name which many people name their dogs. We did not want him growing up with this name. Ferdinand has settled very easily into our family. He studies and plays everyday with our other pre-schoolers and he is learning his numbers and letters and basic French.
We are in the process of handling five adoptions right now. If all goes well three of our children will be going to France, one will be going to a family in Italy, and one will be going to a local Burkina couple.
Assya is a little girl of 14 months and she has been matched with the family in Italy. Well into the adoption process, Assya's birth certificate was lost. We went to the prefecture in Yako to ask for another copy of the birth certificate to send to the Italien agency in Ouagadougou. When I received the copy I noticed that they had incorrectly indicated that Assya was a boy!
Assya's adoption proceedings are blocked right now because our local office is asking that the original paper be returned before they will make the correction and give us a new one. Please pray for us that the papers for each of these children will pass quickly from official to official, that all papers will be properly signed, and that no papers will be lost.
During the last rainy season our mud-brick house for the chickens fell down and we sold all of our chickens and our goats. For the last month or so we have been working to rebuild two houses and two pens for our animals and this work is nearly finished. We are again going to invest in chickens for their meat and eggs for the orphanage. Instead of goats though, we are going to try raising sheep. We will use the meat for the orphanage and also sell it for profit for the orphanage.
Lynn and the school are doing very well. We have 75 children enrolled in grades 1, 3, and 5. They have fallen into comfortable patterns of study and recess and study and lunch and activity changes are managed by the director blowing a whistle. From the orphanage we hear the children singing, reciting their lessons, laughing and playing, and it is a joy to hear them. Our school did very well on their first round of standardized tests that were given in that we ranked second out of all the primary schools in Yako. We are encouraged, our teachers are encouraged, and our children are encouraged by these test results and we look forward to even better marks on the next test.
I close with some really good news that our online problems in Yako seem to be resolved. The problem was diagnosed as 'noise on the line' which prevented us from connecting and/or keeping the connection. The phone company did respond and they did repair the line and we are thankful for this. We also got some really bad news about 3 weeks ago that the hard drive on our laptop was dieing. But, the team who just left brought us a beautiful new laptop so now we are all desperately trying to catch up with family and friends everywhere.
Blessings to you!
Ruth. . . Mom. . . Grandma

Saturday, February 03, 2007



Already it is the first of February! I cannot believe how quickly time is passing!

We are all doing well here in Yako. Our children, especially our babies, are all doing well. You know. . . we do have a winter season here and although this will make you all smile, we feel the cold very much. Our local friends suffer much in our cold temperatures of the mid-60's and low-70's. :o) We are very thankful though because our babies have done very well throughout the cold season this year. We have struggled with some pretty serious coughs and colds but in general, they are all doing well and they are growing fat.

Some of you may have heard that through the ministry of Lending Light Missions we were able to send little Grace to the States for medical care. Grace was born pre-mature and has struggled for life since her birth. At 8 months of age, Grace weighed only about 8 pounds. She would gain a little weight and then get sick and lose a little weight and it became apparent that without some serious help, Grace would not survive here.

We recently had a wonderful team visiting from Columbia, MO and the team agreed to take Grace back with them. Someone met them in Detroit and then Grace continued to a family in Maine who is now caring for her. The doctors reports have all come back negative and we are thankful for this and already Grace has gained more than 2 pounds! We don't know what the Lord has in store for this little girl but we do know that His plans for her are good and we rejoice in this.

We have another little girl, Therese, who has a serious heart problem and we are looking into the possibility of sending her to the States for care. It is very hard to get an accurage diagnosis of medical issues here but it does seem that Therese's problem is very serious. Please pray that the Lord will lead and guide and give us wisdom concerning how to proceed with this case.

We are in the process of finalizing 4 adoptions at the same time right now. It looks like 2 of our children will be going to France, one to Italy, and one to a local Burkinabe family. This also is a subject for great rejoicing!! Each of these children available for adoption have either been rejected by their families or taken away from their families by Social Action. But, the Lord has hand-picked a family for each of them and we are walking through this process with each of them and with the Lord. It is hard to let go of these children. Some of them have been with us for 2 or more years. But, when the day comes that their new parents come to get them. . . well, this will be a bittersweet day of tears and great rejoicing in what the Lord has done for them.

I mentioned earlier the visitors from Columbia. . . what a wonderful time we had together! We laughed together, prayed together, experienced Burkina life together. . . and then cried when they had to leave. I am always amazed at what the Lord does in and through short-term mission teams. He knit our hearts together immediately as though we had known each other for years and then He moved and worked through each member of the team. Dr. Jack ministered and healed the orphanage children, the children in our school, several sponsored children out in villages, and several local friends. Teacher, professor, educator Howard ministered and encouraged Lynn and our teachers and workers at the school. Pastor Mark ministered and blessed our teens and preached at our church. Debbie and Mary ministered and blessed each one of us by their servant hearts and loved and blessed each one of our children. Ami. . . on her 3rd visit here fit right in as though she had never left us and brought smiles and comfort to each one that she touched. And, Catherine, loved on, played with, cared for, and spoiled our children as though an angel were ministering to them. What can I say, huh? May the Lord richly bless you, Columbia Team. You touched our hearts. You touched our land. Our hearts are forever knit together. Blessings to you for all that you brought and poured out to us!

How we love short-term mission teams!

I know that there is so much that I am forgetting to tell you about. Nichole Ditillo is doing very well and she is a tremendous blessing to us. She is working very hard on her French classes and also has a strong desire to learn Moure. She works morning, noon, and night with our children helping with everything from changing poopy diapers to reading with first and second graders to tutoring English with our high schoolers. She also helps with various administrative things in the orphanage office, does sponsorship home visits, widow's monthly distributions, etc. Her love for the Lord is visible in all that she does and her joy is contageous. Thank you, Jesus, for Nichole.

Julie Rondeau is a beautiful young French girl who has been with us since October. Julie is also a joy to have here with us. She also works much with the orphanage children and with our school children. She plays with the children, she reads to the children, she studies and tutors the children as well as helps Lynn with sponsorship visits and administrative work. Julie and Nichole are planning a trip to Ghana next week and they are looking forward to this new experience. Julie has made a 6 month commitment to work with us and then she will be returning to France and then to Sweden to begin her university studies.

We have not had email access in Yako since last October. Please pray for solutions to our technical problems. Now our online provider is saying that the problem is with the phone lines and only the phone company can find this problem and fix it. I have talked with several friends who live in remote areas of Burkina and they are all experiencing the same symptoms that we are with email access. This has been very hard for us but we are trusting in the Lord. He is the Master of everything. . . even technical things. Please pray that He will stir our local technitions and give them the expertise needed to fix the problem.

Well, because of limited time here in Ouaga and because there are 2 other people here wanting to use this computer, I must say 'goodby' and close this note. I wish that I could talk to each of you individually. Please don't be offended by this mass letter but please pray that our email starts working real soon in Yako. You are all constantly in my heart and my thoughts.

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