Monday, June 30, 2008

Clinic News, School News, and Other News

Dear Family and Friends, 30 June 2008

Construction Update
The work on the clinic is finished! Except for very minor glitches the work was done quickly and efficiently. We give God thanks and praise for what He has done for us.

The last time that I wrote I promised a new picture. . . and I am sorry to say that as I write today, my camera is in Yako and I am in Ouagadougou. Sigh! But, I will be back here in Ouaga in a week or so and will show you the finished product.

Tomorrow, Tuesday, we will have the final walkthrough of the building with the contractor, head mason, and quality control person and if nothing is found that still needs attention, we will pay the remaining payment of 20%. There is 10% of the total which is held for one year as a guarantee of the work and this payment will be made in June, 2009.

Later this week, we will begin moving furniture and supplies into the clinic that were shipped in the container that we received in 2006. This will be exciting work and with many hands the work will be easy.

School News
The final grades are still not released for the primary school children and about half of our secondary school children! We do have through verbal information that all of our children in our primary school passed this year. Considering that the statistics in the public schools are that up to 50% of the children do not pass, the Lord gave us a wonderfully successful school year.

This was the first year for our school to have 6th graders taking the test called the CEP. This is a standardized test with a pass/fail result which allows the student to continue to 7th grade or requires him to re-do 6th grade. In Yako this year, only 30% of the students passed the CEP. But, 27 out of our 28 6th graders passed! The girl who didn’t pass is an older student but she has done well this year in school. She did well on 2 trial tests which were given but unfortunately, did not pass the ‘real’ test. We will encourage her to stay in school though and to try again next year.

We are thankful to the Lord for the results of this school year. The teachers worked hard. The students worked hard. And, the Lord blessed them all with success!

We had 3 orphanage children who took another standardized test, the BEPC. This exam is given after 10th grade and it also determines whether a student can continue to 11th grade or must re-do 10th. Two of our children, Evance and Lazarre, passed, but Augustin did not pass. Augustin is discouraged but says that he will continue to work hard and try again next year.

At the university level in Ouaga, there has been much unrest this year. Etienne has been enrolled in classes this year in the branch of sociology. Many of the university students have been striking/rioting/demonstrating for the past several weeks over the huge classes of students, inadequate resources and facilities, and the low standard of education that they receive. Two weeks ago the police used gunfire and tear gas to dispel the unrest and 3 students and one police officer were wounded. Several students passed out from the tear gas and one boy fell from a second story balcony.

Yesterday, because of the strikes, the university suspended classes until September 15th and all of the students were sent home. There is rumor that this year will be declared ‘annĂ©e blanche’ which means that there will be no credit given for this year of study to any of the students. Etienne’s studies were not scheduled to finish until August 15th. Please pray with us that the university leaders will be willing to listen to the students and take positive steps towards improving the living conditions of the students and their standard of education.

The Canadians are Coming!
I introduced Miriah, Nicole, and Sabrina to you the last time that I wrote and truly these girls were wonderful blessings to our children. Miriah was here for 2 months and Nicole and Sabrina were here for one month. Each day the girls worked from morning to night, caring for and loving on our babies and talking and playing with our older children.

The talent show that they organized was a huge success. All of our children from 7 year old Ferdinand and Therese up to 20 year old Emanuel participated and we had an evening to remember. The children are now asking whether we could do this at least one time each month.

The ‘Rainy Season’ has started!
Here is Burkina, we have only 2 seasons, the rainy season and the dry season. During the dry season it is really dry with no rain from October to May. During the rainy season it is really wet and this is when our local friends plant and grow what their families will need to eat for the entire year.

The rainy season has started late this year but it has started and we are thankful for this. Our local friends start looking for and praying for rain towards mid-May but this year our first really good rain was not until June 23rd. Many people, planted early in faith, hoping for the rain, and had to re-plant. But still, everyone is relieved to have received 3 wonderful rains this past week.

Under the guidance of Valentin, the orphanage has secured a field a few kilometers from Yako. Our children have planted a field of millet and beans (a small white bean similar to a black-eyed pea). They have planted millet in the corners of our courtyard and in a few weeks, they will plant a field of peanuts. Because of the drought last year and the terribly high prices this year, our local friends are suffering to provide even the bare necessities for their families. Because a bag of rice is now $45, we have temporarily removed rice from the children’s diet. Please pray with us that the Lord will continue to bless us with adequate rains and will give us an abundant harvest this year.

Summary of Prayer and Praise:
We thank God for the completion of the construction of the clinic. Please pray for our nurses as they begin this next phase in the development of our small ‘community clinic’ project.

We thank God for the successful school year for our primary school and secondary school students. Please pray for patience for the university students and wisdom and mercy for the leaders as they seek a solution to the unrest at the university.

We thank God for the rain. Even as I am writing here in Ouaga this morning, there is a steady rain that has been falling for over 2 hours. Please pray that the rains continue to fall over Yako both in the physical sense and the spiritual.

Ruth. . . Mom. . . Grandma

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

June 18, 2008

Greetings to Everyone!

I must take a few minutes to write. There is so very much to tell you and so little time. That is life, huh? Generally, the pace of life is much slower here in Burkina than it is in the States but for the past few weeks it seems that life has been on over-drive speed here.

Clinic News--

The clinic is nearly finished. I'm sorry that I do not have a new photo for you but I promise that in my next writing there will be a photo and probably the 'finished version' of the clinic. The men are doing finish work, painting inside and out, installing light fixtures, plumbing fixtures, etc. By the contract, they must be finished by June 25th or else pay a penalty so I feel confident that the work will be finished soon.

The plans for the clinic are that it will serve first the children in our courtyard. These are the 45 children in the orphanage and the 90 children in our school. After our nurses have these routines down, we plan to open the clinic one or more mornings a week to serve the orphans in the area. Our nurses are young and inexperienced but we will be working hand-in-hand with a local doctor in Yako and also Dr. Zala who is located 70 km away in Ouyaghuia.

Truck Update--

Once again the truck broke down this past week. This time it is the alternator. We had the alternator 'repaired' a few weeks ago but it seems that it was just a temporary fix and it died completely last Sunday.

Today I am back in Ouaga and the truck is in the hands of my faithful mechanic, Jean. Jean just called me with the news that a used replacement part would cost $200 and a new part would be $500. Ouch! Needless to say, I felt obligated to tell him to go with the used part. He said that there is a limited waranty on the part and that if we continue to have problems we can return it.

Please pray with us concerning the purchase of a new vehicle. Our truck will continue to be very usefull for hauling sand, rock, wood, and grain in and around Yako but we are very much in need of a more reliable vehicle for trips outside of Yako.

Orphanage News--

Our children are all relatively well and we are thankful for this. We received 3 little newborns in the span of 10 days about 2 1/2 months ago. I am happy to report that each of these babies are now thriving and are doing great.

This past week, we received twin girls whose mother died about a month ago. The twins were being cared for by an elderly grandmother and they are very sick. The twins are named Fatimata and Mariam and they are much smaller than our other 3 babies of about the same age. Please pray that Fatimata and Mariam will quickly adapt and adjust to our way of caring for them and that they will start gaining weight.

School News--

All of our primary school children passed this year!!! This may not seem like a great accomplishment to you but here often 40% or more of the children do not pass from year to year. The public schools are terribly overcrowded with 100+ children in each class and only one teacher. They also do not have adequate books or resourse materials. We have less than 30 children in each class and each child has his own desk, his own books, pens, notebooks, etc.

We are thankful for the material supplies that we are able to give to our children but we are also thankful to the Lord for the opportunity we have to sew Godly principals into their hearts and their lives. We are also thankful the He helped our children to study hard and to finish their studies.

We had 24 sixth graders take the standardized test given by the government this year. This was our first year to have 6th graders and of course, the first year to take this exam. In pre-tests that were given, our children scored very well. But, the grades from the exam have not been released yet so we are waiting to hear that everyone passed. This exam is a pass/fail exam which allows the child to continue to 7th grade or to re-do 6th grade no matter whether he passed his 6th grade work or not.

The orphanage children also did very well this year in their studies. All of the final grades have not been released yet but several reports have been released and these children all passed. We had 3 boys who took a standardized test given after 9th grade and 2 of the 3 passed on the first try. The 3rd boy qualified for a second try at the exam and we do not yet know whether he passed or not.

The orphanage children will again stay at the orphanage this summer to study and to work our field of millet and beans. After the planting is completed they will be allowed to go and visit their famlies for a couple of weeks but then they will return and stay focused on their studies. We did this last year as a trial and feel that the extra work and effort paid off for our students this year. The children are all in agreement to keep working on their French and their math skills.

Well, I must close for now and publish this. I am attaching a photo that I just received from Assya's mother in Italy. Assya has grown taller and has gained weight since moving to Italy with her parents last September. She is adored by her 2 older brothers and will be starting pre-school this Fall. This is a picture of Assya and her mother at the beach.

Love and blessings to you!

Ruth. . . Mom. . . Grandma

Monday, June 09, 2008

The good news and the bad news--

Dear Family and Friends, 8 June 2008

Construction Update
The work on the clinic continues to move forward at a very acceptable pace. The men worked both Saturday and Sunday this week-end making up for time lost while our contractor was trying to negotiate a new contract. According to the contract, the work must be finished by June 20th or else a penalty will be in effect for each day that the work is not finished.

Most of the remaining work is finish work. The suspended ceiling is in place and the wiring and plumbing is in place. Interior and exterior paint still needs to be applied and the electrical and plumbing fixtures still need to be installed. Interior doors need to be finished and hung and glass needs to be put in the windows.

We are thankful to the Lord for this new building and for the hope and healing that it will bring to the children in our orphanage, our school, and the surrounding area.

School News
The final grades are still not released but I must write with some very unfortunate and sad news. One of our little second graders became sick this week and his family came to us on Thursday to say that Ibrahim was in the hospital. Ibrahim didn’t come to school on Wednesday and there is no school here on Thursday’s for the primary school children.

The nurse at the hospital placed an IV and started the treatment for malaria and then on Friday they started the treatment for meningitis. We visited Ibrahim on Friday afternoon and then again on Saturday morning and it was very clear to see that he was a very sick little boy. On Saturday afternoon, Ibrahim died.

Ibrahim was a sponsored child and we paid for all of his treatment. The nurse was doing all that was possible in this case. Ibrahim was in good general health but meningitis is a disease that can take a life very quickly if the treatment is not started early. It is very rare to see meningitis this late in the season so the family was caught very much by surprise.

Please pray for this family. Ibrahim’s mother and father have both died. He has an older brother and sister still living in the courtyard with extended family. They are a Muslim family.

The Canadians are Coming!
We have three delightful Canadian girls with us right now, Miriah, Nicole, and Sabrina. Miriah is a university student, Nicole is an Occupational Therapist, and Sabrina is in business. The girls are here for one month and they have already been a tremendous blessing. Each morning they love and care for our babies and they pass the afternoons and evenings talking with and playing games with our older children. This evening all of the older children are here watching a film and next week we are going to have a talent show. Everyone has signed up to participate and there will be prizes given for the various categories.

Well, I must close for this evening. Thank you for your faithful prayer support. Thank for your notes and words of encouragement. The Lord is hearing and answering and helping the children of Burkina through your faithfulness.

Ruth. . . Mom. . . Grandma