Saturday, December 26, 2009

December 09 Food Distribution

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! I hope that your holiday season is filled with the love and peace of the Christ Child.

Distribution News--
Last week we faced one challenge after another ranging from a couple of our local the pastors double booking their churches during the distribution hours, to the grain for the distribution not arriving until 10 PM Friday night (the first distribution was set for 8 AM Saturday). BUT, in the afternoon distribution at the Central
Church, 15 children responded to the invitation to invite Jesus in their hearts. Oh, it was all worth it! What is a little opposition from the enemy when the Lord has gone before us and prepared the hearts of his children?

In total, there were 160 happy families with grain and some supplies for their holiday preparations. We are so thankful for each of our sponsored children. Thank you for caring for them and for giving us the opportunity to touch each of these families. The Lord has promised that His Word will never return void and He is a faithful God.

Love and blessings to you!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Back in Burkina!

Dear Family and Friends, 12 December, 2009

As I sit here and reflect on what to write my first thoughts are 'where did this year go'? It is almost scary to see that we are at the end of the year.

My recent trip home was quite outstanding! I am so thankful for the faithfulness of the Lord. He is so good!

I traveled with my mom to the East coast to see my sister and her husband, and my daughter, Stephanie, and her boys. We celebrated Thankgsgiving together, the first time in many years.

I traveled to the Northwest to visit with Adoption Advocates International and enjoyed meeting all the players there who are working on Burkina adoptions. I also greatly enjoyed touring Olympic National Park, driving along the coast, and passing through Forks, WA. . . . yes, the Forks, WA, the setting of the book series, 'Twilight'. :)

Then I continued on to Hawaii to visit with my Chinese friend, Grace, her husband, Pat, and their little boy, Josh. Pat took time off from work to take me sightseeing and to tour the island of Ouahu. It was great fun.

Between trips I had wonderful times in St Louis. The family there are all doing well and it was really great to have had time to go to a grandson's school play, attend ballet class with Lillian, visit with friends, and of course, sit an enjoy coffee at every opportunity.

Upon returning to Burkina, I found everything in the orphanage, school, and clinic working smoothly and in order. Our local leaders and all of the employees did a great job of seeing that everyone and everything was properly taken care of.

Although hoping for a slow re-entry into African life, when I arrived I learned that we had been invited to attend an international forum on adoption in Ouaga this past week. There were 20 nations represented from West Africa and from Europe, and 275 participants. The meetings were informative as we listened to speakers from Africa and from Europe and challenging as we grappled with how to meet the great need that poverty brings to the children of the world. Some of Burkina's staggering statistics are that almost 1 in 10 women die in childbirth and 1 in 4 children die before the age of 5.

While I was away Sarah and Liza stayed in Yako becoming more and more involved in the lives of our children. They are teaching English in our school, teaching German to some of our older children, loving on and caring for the babies, and interacting on many different levels with all of the children and our employees. I am very thankful for them and for all that they are bringing to daily life in the orphanage.

A Wedding Announcement--

This past Saturday, we attended the wedding of Pastor Salou's daughter, Tinbnoma. The wedding was held in Ouaga and the bride and groom will be soon be moving to Bobo where Eloi is employed as an accountant. The wedding was beautiful and here is a picture of the bride and groom.

The next two weeks will be full of Christmas activities. The sponsorship program will hold a food distribution and also a Christmas party for all of the children. The orphanage and the school will have Christmas parties. Our emphasis this year as in past years will be evangelism. Among other activities the children will be watching a child appropriate film and one of our local pastors will be explaining to them the glorious birth of the Lord, Jesus.

The children in the orphanage are all involved in preparing for the Christmas Eve service at church. The children will present special songs, special dance routines, and drama that they have worked on for the past few weeks. For us here in Burkina, the Christmas Eve service is the highlight of our celebrations. It is a time where everyone comes to church and everyone enjoys what the children have prepared.

Talk to you again soon.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

News - October 2009

Dear Family and Friends, 4 October, 2009

In the past 2 weeks we have said 'goodbye' to two dear friends, Miriah Hodgins and Liz Richert. Miriah returned to Canada on September 1st after spending 4 months with us here in Burkina. And, Liz returned to the States on September 15th after spending 11 months with us. During their time in Yako, they labored and ministered in caring for the babies in the orphanage, in teaching at our primary school, in tutoring children in reading, English, and basic math skills, in conducting a weekly Bible Club for children in our neighborhood, in a Vacation Bible School, in home visits of our sponsored children, in preparing home

studies for prospective sponsored children, in teaching English, in typing tedious French documents, in planning movie nights and fun activities for our older children, in praying with our children, in singing in the church choirs, etc., etc., etc.

Both of these young women left a legacy of love in the hearts of our children and our local church. Everyone from the youngest of our babies to the oldest of our secondary school children were impacted by your living Christian message, Liz and Miriah. Everyone loves you and misses you!

Preparations for 'Back to School'

My observation is that no matter where you are in the world, this time of year brings a flurry of ivity in getting children ready to go back to school. And, Yako is no exception to this phenomena. This year we have 27 school age children in the orphanage, 120 children in our primary school, and 190 children in our sponsorship program and 'most needy list' who we are sending to school. In total, that is 337 children to verify that they are enrolled in school, pay their school fees, order their school uniforms, and buy their school supplies.

The official first day of school here in Burkina is October 1st. For our primary school, teachers will be in place, school rooms will be prepared and school books and supplies will be in order. But, because we live in a rural area and harvesting of the millet will not yet be completed, most of our children will still be needed at home to work in the fields. School will actually start for us towards the 10th to 15th of October.

Raising the flag ceremony

New Children in the Orphanage--

Each year at 'back to school time' our orphanage family usually grows by 3 or 4 children. This year is not looking to be an exception to this trend. Georges is a vulnerable child who has come to the orphanage so that he can continue his studies. Georges parents are both living but his father abandoned his family many years ago. Georges' mother sells peanuts and sometimes wood in her village in order to try to provide for herself and her children.

Georges is a good student. He is 17 years old and he is in the 10th grade this year.

Abdoul Karim was born on Aug 21, 2009. Because Abdoul's mother is not well mentally, she refused to nurse him and even tried to kill him. When Abdoul's father realized that the child was in danger he took Abdoul to Social Action who then called us to see if we could care for Abdoul. We will keep Abdoul until he is 12 months old and then he will integrate back into his family. This will give his father time to get treatment for his mother and if necessary, find someone else in the family to care for Abdoul.

Soumaila was born on Sept 26, 2009. His mother also is not well mentally and is not capable of caring for him. Soum's father wants him and has assured us that he will find someone in the family who is willing and capable of caring for the baby. We will care for him until he is 12 months old.

Soum is very tiny, possibly pre-mature. When he came into the orphanage he weighed 1,450 kilos or just a little more than 3 pounds. We tried to get Soum into the neo-natal ward in Ouagadougou but they would not accept him because he is already over one week old. Today we took Soum to Ouayaghuia to a private pediatric clinic because he is not eating and is becoming dehydrated. Please pray for Soum. Dr Zala thinks that he is strong and that with good care he will survive.

New Short-Term Missionaries!

Sarah and Lisa are from Germany and they arrived in Yako on September 26th. They have come to work with us for 11 months and they have come to us through the mission SIM (Serving In Missions). Sarah and Lisa are settling into daily life at the orphanage very quickly and tomorrow will start working with our toddlers in a pre-school class.

Upcoming trip home--

In the midst of all the normal activities here I am planning and looking forward to a trip home. I will be home for 6 weeks and the purpose of this trip is rest and relaxation. I will be in the ST Louis area for most of my time home but am also planning a couple short trips here and there to see friends and family.

I will be leaving here on Oct 15th and will leave the States to return here on Nov 30th. I look forward to catching up with each one of you!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

More Adoption News!

Dear Family and Friends, 23 August, 2009

It is amazing how quickly things can turn around here. Sometimes it seems like we work and pray and work and pray. . . . and nothing seems to be happening. And, then there are times like these where things are falling into place faster than we can keep up. In all things, God is in control and I am thankful for this.

Adoption News--

We have been working with Adoption Advocates International (AAI) in the state of Washington for over a year now, hoping to place some of Burkina's children in American homes. But, without our even being aware of it, Burkina had suspended all requests for recognition of US agencies and all US requests for children. Their reasons for this suspension are lengthy and complicated and it has been very frustrating to suddenly learn that the path we were going down was not the path that we had expected it to be.

Then this past week I was in Ouaga with Gay Knutson, a representative from AAI, and in a meeting with Social Action, we learned that AAI has been approved for accreditation with Burkina and that Burkina would now receive requests for children through AAI. How amazing that these decisions have been completely turned around in just a matter of a few weeks and that now we are free to again move forward on US adoptions!

In several meetings, Gay was able to offer the hope that AAI would be able to place some of Burkina's special needs children in American homes. Here the term special needs includes children with physical and/or mental handicaps but also children who are over the age of 6. Throughout the world, the majority of couples ask for a small child, usually under the age of 3. But, the heart is American is great, and many, many Americans have opened their hearts to the 'special needs' children of the world.

We will be placing healthy children but we are also excited and encouraged to see what God is going to do in the lives of these special children and their special God-chosen adoptive families.

Celine Has a Family!

And more adoption news is that our little one, Celine, has been referred to a couple in Italy for adoption. Celine is now an 18 month old toddler who is full of smiles and giggles. Celine's parents are 4th generation cousins but because of the customs here, she was not accepted into the family.

In times past, a child like Celine would be thrown down a well or left out in the bush to die. But, because of the work of Social Action and because of centers like ours, these children are now being rescued and are available for adoption.

Celine's papers are all complete and there will now be a 4 to 6 month wait for her parents while her case goes through the legal process of adoption here in Burkina.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

New land for a new school!

Dear Family and Friends, 8 August, 2009

These past few weeks have been filled with a whirlwind of activity. But, our God has been in the midst of it all. He has gone before us and prepared the way for us to have 6 acres of prime property just outside of the city limits of Yako on which to build our new schools.

The property was 'owned' by the village interpretation of ownership by four different families and two local friends did some expert negotiating with these family chiefs as well as the tribal chief of the area and the tribal king of Yako in asking for the land. The king gave us permission to have the land this past week and then he called the families together and told them that the construction of this school would be for their children and for their grandchildren and that they should give us the land. Thank you, Jesus!

This morning we completed the transaction of money, signed papers, and began to survey the land and to mark off the boundaries. When this work is done, we will submit papers to the state so that the property is registered in the name of Les Ailes de Refuge and can never be taken away from us.

The land is just outside of the city limits of Yako and is located about 100 meters from connections to electricity and to water. It is land that is not tillable so we are not taking fertile fields away from families who need them to feed their families. The land is slightly elevated so we will not have problems with flooding when the rains come fast and hard as they very often do here. There are no schools, primary or secondary, on this side of town. The nearest primary school is 4 kilometers away and it is terribly overcrowded with over 100 children in each room. The nearest secondary school is 8 kilometers away.

We are going to use a mud brick construction method which uses domed ceilings and uses no wood, iron, or cement in the construction materials. This is not really a new construction technique because people have been building adobe houses for centuries. The new part is the domed ceilings and the use of all natural materials that are readily available here in Burkina. This method of construction is much cheaper than traditional methods and it is cooler in the hot season and warmer in the cold season-- all positive benefits of using this method.

Because we will be building with mud bricks, we cannot begin making bricks or begin the actual construction of the buildings until after the rains have stopped and the dry season has begun.

We thank God for what He has done for us. We are thankful for the faithfulness of His people, especially Innocent and Jean, who have come along beside us and are laboring together with us to bring new schools to Yako. We are thankful for you because it is your faithfulness in prayer and your financial support that have make the dream of going to school a reality for hundreds of orphans and disadvantaged children in Burkina.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

A Tribute to Job

Dear Family and Friends, 26 July, 2009

I must report some sad news. Our little one, Job, passed away on Saturday, July 24, 2009.

Job is a factor that is not calculated in Burkina's infant mortality rate of 25% for children under 5 years of age. Job never received a birth certificate. Job never received a death certificate. He is one of many who is not counted in these statistics.

Job was abandoned in the bush by his mother, probably a young woman not well mentally, who possibly did not even know what was happening to her when she gave birth. Job was discovered by a little shepherd boy watching his father's goats. The little boy heard Job crying.
The boy ran to get his father and the father took Job to the nearest small town where there was a police department. The police called Social Action and Social Action called us asking us to come and get the baby.

It is not known for sure but Job may have been laying in the bush for one or two days before he was found. When he reached the maternity ward in his village, he was covered with crusted blood from his birth and was crawling with flies and insects. The hospital cleaned him up a bit but the flies and bugs had already had time to lay their eggs all over him, in his eyes, ears, and nose.

The first day that we had Job at the orphanage it became quickly very clear that we could not care for him. He weighed just 1.8 kilos (about 3 ½ pounds), was very weak, and we saw that little worms (larvae?) were crawling out of his ears and nose. We took Job to Ouagadougou where there is a neonatal ward, one of only three such wards in all of Burkina. They accepted him and very quickly placed an IV and were giving him antibiotics to fight the infections. They also tried to clean out his ears and nose.
Unfortunately, just 5 days later, the hospital called us to say that Job did not make it. So, just this morning (Sunday), Angie and I returned to Ouaga and brought Job's body back to Yako for burial. Jean and 3 of our high school boys dug his grave and we had a quiet burial service for Job.
Job was a sweet, sweet little baby. Although we only had him for a few days, we are sad that he is no longer here with us. But in all things, we say 'the Lord gives, and the Lord takes away, blessed by the name of the Lord”!
Thank you so much for your prayers for Job and for the many encouraging notes that you sent. Thank you so much for always lifting us up in prayer.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Please Pray for Job!

Dear Family and Friends, 21 July, 2009

I must take a minute to write to you and ask for prayer for a little one named, Job. We received a call early this morning to go and pick up a little newborn who had been abandoned in the bush.

Angie Butler, one of our short-termers, went with me to Grand Samba, a small village about 45 kilometers away from Yako. Along the way, Angie had asked whether the baby was a boy or girl and whether it already had a name. At this point, we did not even know if it was a boy or girl and I guessed that it probably did not have a name. So, Angie started thinking and praying about a name for the baby. When we arrived and found that he was a boy, Angie named him Job.

Job is a tiny, tiny newborn weighing 1.8 kilograms. He is a beautiful little boy but he was born prematurely.

Job had been abandoned by his mother probably immediately after birth. We are guessing that his mama is probably not well mentally and may not have even known what was happening to her. He was found near a water source by a little boy. This little boy went and got his father and they took Job to the police station in the nearest town. The police took Job to the local maternity ward and then called us to see if we could take the baby.

This evening Angie and I made the trip to Ouagadougou with Job and have admitted him to the neonatal ward at 'Five Friends Hospital. Besides being so small, Job is highly susceptible to infection because when he arrived at the maternity ward he was covered with flies and insects. This afternoon, there were small worm-like things crawling out of Job's ears and nose. Our local hospital in Yako gave us a referral to the neonatal ward here in Ouaga.

Please pray for Job:
- that this infestation of whatever he has will be cleared up
- that all of his little organs and lungs are completely developed
- that the formula available here agrees with him and that he begins to gain weight
- that either a family comes forward saying that Job is theirs and that they want him or that he is very quickly released for adoption

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

School Closing 2009

Dear Family and Friends, 10 July, 2009

Today was the official 'school closing' for the school year 2008-2009 for our primary school. The start of our day was hindered by hard rains but when the rain stopped, the children and the parents started arriving.

Here in Burkina, the end of the school year is heralded with a party for the children and their parents, recognizing those students who have done exceptionally well, and recognizing and thanking the teachers and school director for all their hard work throughout the year.

Our children worked very hard this year and almost all of them passed on to the next grade. It is very common here in Burkina for half or more of the children to fail and re-do the grade again the next year. In our sixth grade class, all except one child passed the standardized CEP exam and will be continuing on to the 7th grade.

For the closing ceremony, the children sang several songs for their parents, received 'good student' awards, and then everyone celebrated by eating riz gras, a traditional African dish of rice and tomato sauce with fried fish.

We are thankful to the Lord for his help throughout this school year. The children have all been healthy and they all worked hard.

Love and blessings to you!

Ruth. . . Mom. . . . Grandma

Saturday, July 04, 2009

June News--

Dear Family and Friends, 3 July, 2009

Happy July 4th! I often forget about American holidays but I am in Ouagadougou this week-end and the US Embassy and the American Rec Center are hosting a July 4th celebration complete with a BBQ and fireworks and lots of the 'red, white, and blue' flying.

Our school year is finally coming to an end. School starts late here so it also runs late in closing. All of our sixth graders except one pass the standardized CEP exam and will be continuing to 7th grade this Fall. For the older orphanage children, the exam results were not so encouraging. Out of 8 children who took the BEPC exam after 10th grade, only 2 of them passed. The other 6 will need to re-do the 10th grade. And, out of our 3 boys who took the BAC, the final exam of high school, 2 of the 3 passed. Emanuel and Mathieu passed but Pierre will need to re-do the 13th grade. Please pray for Emanuel and Mathieu as they prayerfully consider this next phase of their lives.

Almost all of our older children have gone to their home villages to visit family and to help in their family fields. The children will return for the beginning of school around October 1st.

All of our babies are thriving and here is a picture of some of them in hand knitted hats that a friend from California, MO made and sent with the team. It is too hot right now for knitted hats but before long at all it will be cold again and our babies will be decked out in their winter clothes.

We recently had a wonderful short-term visit of a team from California, MO. The team ministered daily to our babies, our older children, and to Liz, Miriah, and I. The two guys, Todd and Scott, were instrumental in building a chicken coop which is the start of a chicken project to produce eggs for the orphanage.

The rest of the team held 4 days of VBS for the children in our primary school and the Lord wonderfully met with us and blessed. In total, during the 4 days, 23 children responded to invitations and gave their hearts to Jesus.

At the very bottom of this blog is a video of some of the children praying and asking Jesus into their hearts.

This past week, the director of our school, Innocent, and I met with the Department of Education for our region to show him the plans for new schools that we would like to build in Yako. The plans consist of a domed construction technique that does not use cement, wood, or iron. . . . the three most expensive items in the construction of buildings. The plans are not the standard building plans that are generally used for the construction of school here. But, without hesitation, the Inspector approved our plans and gave us an open door to build a school complex wherever we would like in Yako. We talked about 2 areas in town where either there are no schools or else the existing school is very overcrowded and we will begin looking for a large piece of land in both of these two areas.

Please pray with us as we begin the next phase of choosing a parcel of land, getting the land registered in the name of Sheltering Wings, and the beginning conversations with the builders.

It has been a while since I have talked about our 'animal raising' project but this past week we went out to the village to visit the animals and to see a new baby calf which was just 4 days old. We now have 11 head of cattle, 6 females, 4 males, and the calf. We are raising the males to sell for their meat and the females to reproduce. This is the first calf that has come out of the project.

The other females are still too young to reproduce but maybe next year. And, the males will mature and be ready for market in the next 2 years or so.

Please pray with us for the blessing of the Lord upon this project. The goals of the project are to provide meat to the orphanage and also income as the animals mature and are ready to be sold at the market.

Last but not least is the upcoming visit of Angie Butler from St Louis. Angie was supposed to arrive this past week-end but her flight out of St Louis was delayed because of bad weather. Please pray that the Lord will give her favor in re-scheduling her flights and bring her quickly and safely to Burkina.

Love and blessings to you!

Ruth. . . . Mom. . . . Grandma

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

More Adoption News!

These past two week have been filled with great joy. This is Ibrahim and he is on his way to Spain with his new parents.

And, this is Rachel being introduced to her new parents and leaving for Italy.

Please pray for these new families as they begin their life journeys together.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

June 6, 2009

Dear Family and Friends, 6 June 2009

Wow! There is so much to tell you. We seem to be in a whirlwind of activity right now and it is hard to keep up on everything. But, I will try to fill you in on some of the highlights.

The 2008-2009 school year in Burkina is almost over. Final exams are over but the standardized exams after 6th grade, 10th grade, and 13th grade will be occurring in the next 2 weeks. We have 17 6th graders in our school this year who will be taking the CEP, 8 children in the orphanage who are taking the BEPC, and 3 orphanage children who are taking the BAC, the final exam of high school. Please continue to pray for our children and all of the students taking exams this year.

A short-term team from California, MO is coming to visit the orphanage this week and will be staying with us for 3 weeks. Some of the team members were here last year and some of them are coming for the first time. We have all kinds of activities planned for the team from caring for babies (imagine that at an orphanage!) to prayer walks, to mini-VBSs, to possibly building a chicken coop. Please pray for the team as they travel this week and as they seek the Lord's will for their time here in Burkina.

Our baby, Rachel, will be meeting her adoptive parents this week and will be leaving soon to go to Italy. Rachel came into the orphanage when she was just 3 or 4 days old. Her mama was not well mentally and Social Action called us to see if we had the space for a new baby.

Rachel is now 14th months old. She is lively and engaging. And, we are so looking forward to introducing her to her parents.

Please pray for Rachel and for her parents in these next days and weeks of adapting and adjustment in their family.

We received a very special and unexpected visit from some friends from the US Embassy this past week. They came to visit the orphanage but also brought us new backpacks for each of the children in our primary school, and small hygiene kits for each of the children in the orphanage. The gifts were contributions that have come in through the Embassy and they thought to bring some of them to us. Very sweet! Very thoughtful!

We also received notice that we have been granted $2500 from the US Embassy. This money is going to be used to build a small 'Chicken Raising/ Hen Laying' project to help feed our children.

New school project--
Last but not least is the excitement and anticipation of building one or more new school buildings for the children of Yako. We have been looking for a large piece of land and thinking and dreaming about what our new school complex is going to look like.
This past week, Liz, Brittany, Miriah, and I made a trip to Boromo and then on to Dano to do some research on a company who is doing construction using mud bricks. We saw a church and a school made out of mud bricks and then visited some friends in Dano who has built their home using this construction method.

Using mud bricks, we can build a school building about the same size of our current school building for about ¼ the cost of our existing building. The work is guaranteed and the exterior of the building is covered with a stucco-like substance which will protect it from the wind and the rain.

One huge advantage of the mud brick construction is that the building stays much cooler in the hot season and is warmer in the cold season. Our friend's house that we visited in Dano stays from 10 to 15 degrees cooler than the outside temperatures. And in this climate, this is very appealing.

Well, I must close for now and I will try to write again real soon.

Love and blessings!
Ruth. . . . Mom. . . . Grandma

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Moringa Trees!

Dear Family and Friends, 21 May, 2009

We received a wonderful visit this week from a missionary family, the Richters,who are preparing to live and work in Dano, a small village between Ouagadougou and Bobo. The Richters visited the orphanage last February and then called us offering to bring us some Moringa trees. The Moringa is being called the miracle tree in that its leaves are very high in vitamins and nutrients, oil can be pressed from the seeds, and the seeds can be used to purify water. It also thrives in a semi-arid climate such as ours.

In February the Richters offered to start some trees for us and would bring them to us in May. This past Monday, they arrived with their 4 children pulling a trailer with 350 Moringa trees in it!

Jean had organized our children and we had 350 holes dug all around the walls of the courtyard and holes for 3 small 'gardens' of trees.

Some of the tiny trees are still under a bit of stress from the transplanting but most of them seem to be doing very well. With all the excitement going on in the courtyard, our primary school children really couldn't study very well so we brought the older ones outside of the classroom for a practical course in tree planting. As you can see by the pictures, many hands make light work. Everyone worked hard and 350 trees were planted in about 3 hours time.

Francois – Broken leg
We went to visit Francois last week and he seems to be doing very well. Francois is the little 5th grader from our school who fell from a tree and broke his leg. The mother preferred that we not take him to the hospital so Francois has remained at home and is receiving traditional treatment for his leg.

We thank the Lord though that the break was not a compound fracture and that it does seem to be healing. Francois is still not putting any weight on his leg and the pain has subsided. Also the swelling that was in his right wrist has gone down and he is now able to eat with his right hand.

Mariam – the mother of Estelle
Mariam's blood work came back with normal results and the sonagram indicates that the baby also is doing well. She is carrying a little boy and he should make his entrance into our world in just a few more weeks.

Mariam is living in the courtyard of the father of the baby but the situation is very tense. The father does not have the means to provide for Mariam and the soon to be born babe. And since Mariam, just 17 years old, still a girl herself, and rather immature even for 17 years of age, is not ready to be a wife and mother.

Please pray for Mariam and the soon coming birth as well as the father trying to take responsibility for his actions.

Standardized tests--
The month of June is the time for standardized tests given after 6th grade, after 10th grade, and then after 13th grade to finish high school. This year we have 17 children in the 6th grade at our school, 7 children from the orphanage in the 10th grade, and 3 from the orphanage in their last year of high school.

Please pray for these children as well as all the children in the community who will be taking exams this year. The exams are very hard and in general, the students are not well prepared for them. They are pass/fail tests which allow the student to continue to the next grade or force him to repeat the same year again.

Love and blessings to you!
Ruth. . . . Mom. . . . Grandma

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Back in Burkina - May 2009

Dear Family and Friends, 9 May, 2009

Must try to report on a whirlwind trip home for two months. What a wonderful trip it was! I know that I say this each time but really, this was the best trip home ever! It was wonderful to connect with family and friends again and with the Body of Christ in St Louis. We had special times of laughing, crying, and praying together that will hold me through the rough times that will come during these next months that I am again far away. The physical distance between us is far but my heart is there with you.

The Lord did miraculous things this time of putting his children together in the right time and at the right place. His ways and His timing are completely perfect. Through new friends and then the introduction of more new friends, the Lord gave us a matching funds offer of $30,000 and an outstanding fund raiser evening in St Louis where almost all of the matching offer was given. Truly, God is so good! He has blessed us beyond even what we could imagine.

I have returned to Burkina, rested and refreshed, and ready to return to the work with all my heart. Only our God can work in our hearts like this.

This year, I left the projects here completely in the hands of four local workers who have been working with us for several years now. Liz and Brittany were here and they are both great helps, but since they are still new, I left all of the decision making responsibility in the hands of Adiara, Jean, Ernest, and Innocent for the orphanage, the school, the sponsorship program, and the clinic.

I want to report to you that on my return I found everything completely in order! In the orphanage, the children have been well cared for and well fed. In our school, the teachers, and the children have continued to thrive. The sponsored children have been cared for and looked after. And, the clinic project has continued to move forward. The money that I left for the two months of operating expenses completely balanced. And, the grounds had been properly cared for and maintained.

I am thankful to the Lord for the progress that He has helped us to make in training up these young leaders who carry much responsibility now in our projects. Please continue to pray for them and for me as we move into this next phase of working together and moving the work forward.

Just yesterday we received the news that one of the little boys in our fifth grade class fell from a tree and broke his leg. His mother refused to send him to the hospital because she knew that she did not have the money for any treatment that he might need. Instead, she sent him to her home village about 10 kilometers away for 'traditional treatment'.

In the past we have had several severely handicapped children come to our gate asking for help. In talking with the parents we learn that many years ago, their broken bone was treated by traditional methods and it had left the child unable to walk or to only walk with much difficulty.

So, tomorrow we will go out to the village of Francois to see if the family will allow us to at least bring him to Ouayaghuia for an x-ray. With that, we can determine what can and should be done so that the bone has the best chance of healing properly.

Also this week, the mother of one of our little ones, Estelle, age 20 months, appeared at our gate, about 8 months pregnant. Big sigh! The mother's name is Mariam and she is now 17 years old and nearly ready to give birth to her second child.

Mariam has been working in the gold mines about 10 kilometers from Yako for some time and most recently has been sleeping at the bus station in Yako. Mariam is sick and was asking us for help. She identified the father of this new baby and Adiara began to use her negotiating skills and persuasion skills with the named father to get him to take responsibility for Mariam and this new baby. And, the man said that 'yes' this is his baby and allowed Mariam to move into his courtyard. He is a young man but he made some huge steps towards maturity and adulthood in accepting his responsibility in this coming child.

On Monday, we will be making a trip to Ouayaghuia to get x-rays done on Francois' leg and a sonogram and blood work done for Mariam because this is a high risk pregnancy.

I am sorry that I do not have some photos to show you of these stories but I will try to give you the next chapter in each story real soon and include photos.

Love and blessings to you!
Ruth. . . Mom. . . Grandma

Saturday, February 14, 2009

So much news to report!!!

Dear Family and Friends, 13 February, 2009

So long and I have not written. So much to do and so little time! But, in the midst of all our busyness the Lord is good, loving, and kind and He is working on our behalf.

Our children are all doing wonderfully well. . . the orphanage children are well, the school children are well, and the sponsored children are well.

We recently sent a little boy, named Norbert, to the hospital in Ouayaghuia with a terrible wound on his head. He is not a sponsored child but he is an orphan and showed up at our gate with a very serious need. Norbert’s mother is not well mentally and one day in December she decided that she did not want Norbert to go to school. In a physical struggle, and purely by accident, the mother bit Norbert on the top of the head. The wound was not treated and Norbert now has a very large wound and a terrible infection on the top of his head.

Knowing that this case was beyond the scope of our nurses, they referred Norbert to Dr. Zala in OGH, who then referred him to the general hospital. Norbert has been hospitalized for 2 weeks now and has undergone one surgery. The recovery will be slow, up to 2 months, but we are hoping for a complete recovery. Norbert is in the 6th grade this year. Because of missing so much school, he will need to do 6th grade again next year. But, he is a good student and we are thankful that he will be okay and will be able to return to school as a healthy boy.

We recently sent a young girl, Sylvie, just 17 years old, to a center in Ouagadougou who receives un-wed mothers who have been kicked out of their family courtyard. Sylvie is an orphan who has made some bad choices and was scared and hurting. She had been living on the streets of Yako, begging and stealing to survive, for several weeks before coming to the orphanage and asking for help.

We cannot receive a girl in Sylvie’s condition into the orphanage long-term but she did stay with us for a few days while we worked out placement for her in the other center. Sylvie still has not delivered her baby but she is doing well. After the baby is born, Sylvie and the baby can stay up to one year at the center in Ouaga and the center will work towards reconciliation between Sylvie and her extended family.

Water Project –
Phase 2 of our water project is well under way and nearly finished. This past week, Russ Green from Friends In Action came and worked hard to install the plumbing to bring water from one end of our courtyard to the other. The water tower was built locally and was delivered and installed this past week. Thought that I would let pictures tell the story of this 2 year project.

First Drilling Third Drilling - SUCCESS!

Russ Green from Friends In Action working with several of the orphanage boys to install water pipes from one end of the courtyard to the other. Liz is in the background, also assisting.

Left. Installation of the hand pump.

Water tower and tank have arrived and a crew of many are beginning to install it.

Can't go any higher without help! Help has arrived!

Tower is installed!

In a week or so, the FIA team will return to install the electric pump in the well. We will fill the tank and then turn off the local water access. Yeah!!!

Thank you so much for laboring with us in prayer to see the realization of this project and to each of you who so generously provided the funds. God is faithful and He has made this dream a reality.

School and Clinic news—

We are about halfway through the second trimester of this school year and our teachers and students are doing very well. We currently have some very special visitors to the school with us. They are a team of 5 girls from France who are from the same town as Jacques, one of our boys now adopted and living in France.

Shortly after Jacques moved to France these girls formed a local association called Yako-Trièves. (Trièves is the name of the region where they live.) Since then they have been corresponding with several of our older children, have several times sent gifts to the orphanage, and have been planning and preparing for the day that they could come to Burkina and visit the orphanage.

The girls arrived February 11th and they will stay with us for 2 weeks. They came with 200 kilos worth of books for our primary school and for our older children. One of the goals for their time here is to inventory all of the books and to create a system to loan the books out. They are already busy in their work.

Our clinic is looking more and more like a clinic and each month we are touching and healing more and more children. Our clinic serves the 46 children in the orphanage, the 130 children in our school, the 154 children in the sponsorship program and the 75+ children on Social Action’s list of needy cases in our area.

Here is a picture of Josie, one of our nurses, treating a wound on the leg of one of our school children.

Our teachers have commented that with the clinic open, when they notice that a child is not feeling well, they send him directly to the clinic for treatment. Usually when the treatment is started early, the child does not have to be sent home, and he does not have to miss valuable school days.

This picture is of Josie treating a student complaining of stomach pain.

Trip home—

Last but not least. . . . I am planning a trip home very soon. I will leave here on March 1st and will have 2 months at home. . . . time to rest, time to hug grandchildren, and, time to visit with friends.

Please pray for me while I tie together last minute things in preparation for leaving for 2 months.

Love and blessings to you!