Friday, October 29, 2010

First week back in Burkina--

Welcome Becky Schroeder!
Becky arrived in Burkina on Oct 24th. She is from St Louis and is planning to live and work with us for one year. Becky is a college graduate who has come with a big bag of skills and a big heart to learn and to serve.

Becky will be teaching English to our 5th, 6th, and 7th graders and she has already started tutoring a couple of our older orphanage children in English. She is working with our toddlers in pre-school classes and is spending 4 or 5 hours a day working in the baby rooms.

Becky has been busy making friends both with our children here at the orphanage and with our local workers.

Please pray for Becky as she continues to adapt and adjust to her new life here in Burkina.

New School Year 2010-2011
School started for us here in Burkina on October 4th. In our primary school this year we are running 1st, 3rd, 5th, and 6th grade classes. And, in our new school building we are starting a middle school with a 7th grade class.

In visiting both of the schools this week, I found that everything is in order. Our students have all settled into the new school year and our teachers are happy with the progress that their students have already made.

New Children in the Orphanage
Each year at 'back to school time' we have observed that a couple of children move out of the orphanage and a couple of children move into the orphanage. And, this year is no exception.

In watching over our sponsored children we made the decision this year to invite three of our primary school age boys into the orphanage so that they could continue their studies. We do not have very many primary school age children in the orphanage because usually they can stay with their families and attend a primary school near their home. But each of these boys were in very vulnerable situations so we appraoched the families asking whether they could come to the orphanage for the school year and then return home in the summer to help the family with the farming chores. And, each of the families readily agreed.

Jonas Illy
Jonas is an adorable little 6 year old who has been sponsored since he was a infant. His mother is not well mentally. Jonas is her oldest child and he has two younger siblings. Because his mother is unstable, she stays home with her husband sometimes but she also leaves home sometimes and randomly roams from village to village, sometimes with her children and sometimes leaving her children at home.

Jonas is now old enough to start school, so we talked to the family about the possibility of him coming to the orphanage. We are not completely sure whether Jonas is 'normal' or not. We have no way of testing him to determine his level of development. But, we are hoping that with a change in his environment that Jonas will succeed in school.

Zidane Sankara
Zidane is a young boy of 11 years old. We have been working with the family for 2 years now on behalf of Zidane but his situation at home has not improved. Zidane has been under the care of his aging grandmother who does not have the strength or the mobility to adequately take care of him.

Zidane is failing in school. His marks at the end of last year were 1.3 out of a possible 10. He was in a 4th grade class but could not speak or understand French.

Zidane is very small for his age so we are hoping that with a few months of good food and some vitamins, he will put on weight and grow. We have put Zidane back into 3rd grade and have set up special classes in French to help him come up to the level he needs to do 3rd grade work.

Idrissa Tebda
Idrissa is also 11 years old. His father is very old and he is blind. His mother has died. The family gave his father a new wife but she is very young and is not well mentally. Essentially Idrissa was the care-taker of the family.

This past year, Idrissa dropped out of school. In talking with the family and his teacher, Idrissa dropped out because of discouragement. He often missed class because of problems and responsibilities at home.

We talked with the head of the extended family as well as Idrissa's father about the possibility of Idrissa coming to live at the orphanage during the school year and everyone was in agreement for this to happen.

Because Idrissa has also done so poorly in school and because his French is not at the level that it needs to be, we have put him back 1 grade into the 3rd grade class.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Safe Arrival Back in Burkina!

Arrived back to my 'African Home' early this morning, October 23rd. The flights were all good. Left pretty much on time and arrived pretty much on time. Not bad for international travel.

Thought that I would give you a general summary of my time at home. My calendar was full and it was a very blessed two months of time with family and friends and work related activities all mixed in together.

Attended the Festival of Nations where Small Rain hosted an 'American Food' booth as a fund raiser. Attended a Small Rain board meeting and a strategic planning meeting.

Made annual visits with my dentist to get a crown. . . . yuck! And visited a general surgeon to have a growth removed from my arm. . . . another yuck!

Had two opportunities to visit my home church, Southgate Church in Crestwood where I was able to greet the people, give a 10 year summary of the work in Burkina, and host a sponsorship drive.

Attended a craft night at Southgate where a group of ladies made bibs and burp towels for me to bring back to our babies. At this event, it was great for me to meet some new friends and to share their joy and entheusiasm in making these things for our children.

Attended 2 of the Southgate home groups, one in the home of the Joggerests and one in the home of Vince LaRusso. Great fun to meet and get acquainted with Southgate folks.

Had numerous lunches and dinners with new friends, old friends, high school friends, and family. Enjoyed the time immensely over coffee and cheescake but have returned to Burkina with a little excess baggage around my middle.

Made a trip out to Pennsylvania to meet with a church there thinking and praying about drilling a well on the new school property for us.

Met with several different people thinking and praying about making a trip to Burkina. . . some for a 2 or 3 week visit and some for a longer length of time.

Made a trip to Columbia, MO to visit with friends and the church there.

Made a trip to California, MO to visit with friends and the church there.

Celebrated with my mom on her 87th birthday.

Between various parties and get-togethers, this celebration was about a week long!

Celebrated the 18th birthday with my grandson, Nathan. Nathan will be graduating from High School in May. Nate's dad, Aaron, is on the right.

Attended a week-end retreat in Branson, MO with the Sheltering Wings board of directors.

Was grateful for the opportunity to speak at two local St Louis Rotary meetings where I was able to personally thank them for the generous gift of medicine, lab equipment, and motorcycles that they provided for us this past August.

Had a great time apple picking and picking out pumpkins with Amy, Lillian and Claire at Echert's.

Visited Goshen Fellowship in Edwardsville, met some old friends and new friends, and shared the burden of the Burkina project with them.

Attended the 2nd Annual Run for Relief in Fenton, MO where the proceeds this year will go to Sheltering Wings. It was a little cold this day for this African Mama but a great day for the 220 runners.

Attended my grandson, Nathan's, high school musical 'You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown. Nate was Pigpen and he did a great job!

Left to return to my 'African home' on Oct 21st. The flights were all good and I arrived here in Burkina around 5 AM on the 23rd. My taxi driver needed to go straight to a gas station where he put about $2 worth of gas in the tank. We had a near miss with a moto. Yikes! But, I am safe and sound in a nice room where I slept about 8 hours today.

Love and blessings to you!