Dear Family and Friends, 30 March, 2008
Late Happy Easter greetings! I hope that all is well with you on your side of the world and that spring thaws are allowing the flowers to pop up and reflect the glory of our God. We had a week or two of spring-like temperatures and now we are in full-blown summer with afternoon temperatures of 110+ degrees.
The flu epidemic that I mentioned last month has passed through and now we are in the meningitis season. Sometimes I feel like here in Burkina we experience plagues similar to what God sent on Egypt to soften the heart of Pharaoh. Our plagues are somewhat different but still they come in swarms of insects, dirt, frogs, and sickness that leave the people suffering and helpless. Our God is in control though even in the midst of our suffering and lack of understanding so we stand firm and we trust in His un-measurable love.
I wrote to you last month about the loss of two of our babies to the flu epidemic and mentioned that Balguissa was still in the hospital. Just this past week, Balguissa passed away. Balguissa was born on January 2 and her mother died a few days after she was born. Balguissa’s birth weight was small and when the flu symptoms of fever, vomiting, and diarrhea started at about 2 weeks of age, she very quickly got very sick. We sent Balguissa to Dr. Zala’s clinic in Ouayaghuia in February and then again in March but she just could not fight off the infection. Losing a baby is always hard to accept but because of Balguissa’s long hospital stays we were full of hope that she would completely recover. The Lord knows all things though and He decided to take Balguissa to be with Him.
Thank you so much for standing in prayer with us concerning the civil unrest that was occurring here last month. The prices of grain and basic necessities of life continue to increase almost weekly but the rioting and demonstrating by the university students and general public has calmed. Please continue to pray for solutions to the high prices. Burkina is listed as the third poorest nation of the world and the people are suffering from the increased prices.
Hmmmmm, it seems that I have a lot of negative things to report to you today. There are some happy things but first I must give you an update on the land situation for the church. As a summary, the village of Yako had given our local church the piece of land just north of the orphanage to build a new church. The taxes had been paid on the land and the church was seeking God for the money to begin construction. In the meantime, it seems that the village also gave this same piece of land to the CNSS, the division of the government that equates to our Department of Social Security.
The national church hired an attorney to fight for the land because the church holds valid papers of ownership for the land. The attorney hired to do the work and others hired to help the church fight the case have literally dropped the ball and have not done their work. The reality of life here is that an attorney or a judge could sign the paper to end their career by taking a stand against the government. Although it appears that corruption is going to rule and over-ride justice in this case, we know that our God will have the final word against those who raise their hand or their voice against His church. The local church is discouraged but at the same time, after having done all, they are standing firm in the Lord and they are blessing the construction of the walls and buildings that are going up on what was ‘their land’.
On to wonderfully good and positive things—
The children at the orphanage are all doing well. We have several new babies who are all well and we have several toddlers who have recently integrated back into their family structures. A short-term team who recently visited us bought paint and all the necessary supplies to paint the toddler room. It has been almost 5 years since we last painted the orphanage and as you can imagine the walls are badly in need of re-freshing. The team scrubbed of layers and layers of dirt from the walls and applied 2 coats of fresh green paint. They put colored hand-prints around the windows and wrote ‘Jesus loves the little children’ in French and in Mooré as a border around the room. The room is beautiful and clean and will serve as an inspiration for us to do the same in the other two baby rooms.
The older children have been on Spring break and most of them have gone to their villages to see their families. Most of our older children are doing well in school this year. The hard work of last summer with French and math tutors has paid off and we are all thankful for the blessing of better grades this year. There are 2 or 3 children who are still really struggling to pass. Please pray that the Lord will help them to learn how to study so that they can completely understand the material in their classes.
We broke ground this past week on the construction of a small clinic that is being built in the Sheltering Wings compound. The primary goals of this clinic are to serve the 45 children living in the orphanage and the 90 children attending our primary school. The design of the clinic is multi-functional but there are sick rooms, a consultation room, a lab, a pharmacy, and reception and storage areas. I will try very hard in the next week or two to include photos here in my blog so that you can rejoice with us as the walls of the clinic start to go up.
We have hired Josie and Bea, two of our girls who have completed nurses’ training, as nurses. They have already been a tremendous blessing to the orphanage and the school children and they will lay the foundation work of our clinic. After the clinic is established we hope to open the clinic to the children in the community for one or two mornings a week.
March 22nd was the day of the quarterly food distribution for the sponsorship program. As usual, this distribution day was a day of rejoicing. All of the children in the program came with one or two family members and their family donkey carts to carry home a 100 pound bag of corn and other small food items. We assured everyone that even though Lynn Peters has left Sheltering Wings, the sponsorship program will continue to function just has it has since it was started in 2000. Many of the local pastors of the region of Yako attended the distribution and were asking how they can become involved and help in this wonderful project. After the distribution we met with these pastors to begin talking and praying about how the local churches can participate in weekly meetings with the children to evangelize and to more closely follow their progress in school. No final decisions were made at the meeting but we will continue to meet and to pray about incorporating the churches more deeply in this work.
Our primary school continues to be a great blessing and joy to everyone. When you consider that Burkina has a literacy rate of only 18%, you can understand why a child sent to school here in Burkina is a privileged child. Our teachers are working very hard to prepare the children and the children are working very hard to succeed. Please pray for all the sixth graders in our region as they prepare for a standardized test which will be given in July. This is a pass/fail test which will permit the student to continue to seventh grade or force him to remain in sixth grade. This test is very difficult and many children take this test 2 or 3 years before they pass it. In pre-tests that have been given, our children have done very well. Please pray that 100% of our sixth graders will pass this year.
Well, I must close for now. Thank you so much for your prayers, for your love, and for your tangible support which allow us to continue to help and to bless the children of Burkina. Without your support the work could not continue. You are here with us, touching, healing, and loving the children of Burkina.
Love and blessings to you!
Ruth. . . Mom. . . Grandma