Tuesday, November 27, 2012

To My Jaded Friends

Brothers and Sisters,
This world is a harsh place. After you've been burned a few times; after you've pushed away from the pain; after you've "learned your lesson"; what is left? Your heart becomes a barricaded fortress, cold as stone, impenetrable by the mortal's love. Sin no longer hurts, guilt has no access, and the Holy Spirit has lost entrance. You ger to the point where it doesn't matter what you do, because you've done it all before. Except this time, it doesn't hurt. You can dance to a thousand songs with a thousand lovers, but at the end of the night, they haven't scratched the surface of your heart, buried deep in a cavern of stone. Do you wonder if it is still sin, since it doesn't hurt? Do you wonder if it is still wrong, since you can't hear that soft whisper telling you to flee?

Let me encourage you, precious one, that there is still a heart that beats for your Savior, though it hasn't been touched in an age. Let me remind you that sin is relative to God who never chances, and not to how or what you feel. And let me admonish you to pursue righteousness just because you know it's there, regardless of all else.

You see, there are times when our feelings confuse us. Every one of the individuals of the human race has been duped by emotions at least once. These fleeting desires will grab at you, pull you, push you, and nag you until you break or go numb. The one and only way to determine which way is up is to find God. He is our true north. By Him you can decide what is good and right to do, though you can't feel it. And it is He who will melt your frozen soul or mend your broken heart.

Trust me; just take ten minutes out of your day to pray, or listen to a worship song.  When you do, offer up your cry for healing. Even if all you give Him is ten minutes and a genuine call for help, you will feel your soul begin to melt. The next day, return to Him and He will finish the work He has begun in you. Like raw new skin, you will feel the burn. It will hurt, yes, But at least you can feel it! The healing process begins right away, He reminds you He loves you still, and you can sense His radiant joy at your return.

So you see, beloved, all it takes is one step. The Lord is waiting, ever patiently for you to acknowledge His righteousness, and to admit that you have pushed Him out of your life. And really, thats exactly what happened. It's not like you said "Goodbye God". It just happened slowly, with each task you attended to, thinking "God is patient..." Do not be fooled into that process again! Allow God to be first in your life.

-CMB 2009

Sunday, August 5, 2012

What does that mean?

"But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
 Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith. For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law. Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, since God is one—who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith. Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law."

Reading this verse this morning, I finally understood the cliché. Being in Africa, I have felt true thirst, and have marveled at the relief provided by a glass of water. As my eyes drank in the verse chosen for todays sermon, my soul was quenched of a thirst I had never before experienced. I have prayed that I would desire God, and it is amazing what a couple months apart from good Gospel teaching can do to your soul. I didn't realize how much I missed the Gospel.

So what does it mean? Today in church, this small group of Christians did somewhat of an expository study, which means they asked just eactly that question. What does it mean? I think we as an educated American church could take a lesson from them. They did not seek to fluff up the passage, they just sought to understand the meaning. For faith comes by hearing. So, this is what I came up with as a paraphrase, listening to them:

     "Now, God has given us a cleanliness that is not gotten by following the Law; the Law just shows it to us. We are clean when we trust Christ, and anyone who trusts in Him can be clean. Everyone is the same, because none of us are perfect, yet are freely given Christ's holiness to wear as our own.
     God punished His perfect Son to show that He is a just God, and make it known that He is the one who judges and gives justice. So, we have no reason to be proud of our works, since it really has nothing to do with our actions. Our leanliness before God is determined by faith, and not the good things we do. Therefore, the race of a person does not determine his ability to be saved, nor does any other outward appearance.
    So does that mean we ignore the laws God has set forth? No, we should uphold them."

Friday, August 3, 2012


Here I raise mine Ebenezer
Hither by Thy help I'm come.
And I hope by Thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home.

"While Samuel was sacrificing the burnt offering, the Phillistines drew near to engage Isreal in battle. But that day the Lord thundered with a loud thunder against the Phillistines and threw them into such a panic that they were routed before the Isrealites. The men of Isreal rushed out of Mizpah and pursued the Philistines, slaughtering them along the way to a point below Bath Car.

Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, saying "Thus far has the Lord helped us." 1 Samuel 7:10-12

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Beyond the Sand and Sun

I think I owe you all some real insight. I've been providing some tidbits and peeks into life here at the Centre, but I haven't really shown you the big picture. I'm going to attempt this feat today.

I've shown you pictures of the classrooms and the students, but you probably saw that as what you would expect an African classroom to look like, if not better. That was my response when I got here. Let me try and expand this view a little. In each classroom there are blackboards that extend across both the front wall and back, not unlike what we have in the states (except here, they are actually black, not green). There is a brightly colored bucket on the floor below the chalkboard, filled with chalky water and twenty-ish small pieces of sponge and one big piece for the teacher. Lined up in 3 rows of 6 or 7, the desks can seat 2 students comfortably, although some seat 3. Do the math. The first grade classroom I spent most of my time in had 24 deaf students and 22 hearing students. There is no Kindergarden, so this is the first time any of them have had to sit still and follow classroom etiquette. Seydo, the first grade teacher, stands at the front of the clarroom and writes a sentence on the board. The students carefully copy the sentence onto their slates, copying every dip and curve of their teachers perfect penmanship. They have paper and pencils at the Centre, but not enough for each student, and certainly not enough to last the whole year. Consumables are just not practical here. Once the students have completed the copywork, they come to the front of the class in pairs, one hearing and one deaf student. Together, they read the sentence, while their teacher corrects pronunciation and sign. While they recite, I glance around the room.

I am struck by the blankness, or perhaps cleanliness, of the walls. In America, there is not a blank space that isn't filled with some instructional poster or collage. Here, except for a few paper decorations hanging from the ceiling, there is nothing but chalk to make color in this room. There are no shelves or cabinets to keep supplies in. The supplies can be totally stored in Seydo's desk, because he only needs one copy of everything. The students do not have workbooks or textbooks like we do. The teacher typically has the book and writes on the board (which the students then copy onto their slate).

The students have very little concept of property. The concept of "Don't touch something that isn't yours" is completely incomprehensible to them, because nothing is theirs. If you own nothing, you own the world. They value a perfectly drawn math problem above a correctly computed math problem, because it is easier to learn to copy your teacher than it is to learn why you write a 5 after you've written 2+3=. They seek perfection in all things academic because they have a better understanding of western achievements than westerners do of African difficulties. They work in the shadow of Europe and the US. Somehow, they must produce an academic achievement that can spar in this Western world. The limitation of resources does not hinder them as they spur their children to western size success. Burkina Faso has 2 athletes competing in the Oympics this year. One in Judo, and one in swimming. Someone please explain to me how a country with no more pools than I have fingers on one hand can produce an Olympic quality swimmer? As I've said, they are up for the challenge, and are not fazed by the cavernous differences I've shared with you. We hear stories of underdogs surfacing in the western world, carried on the shoulders of whole villages as they sacrifice home and well-being for the success of one. Well, let me remove the wool from your eyes- that is life here. The people are as in debt to their family and friends as we are to our creditors. The difference is, here it is understood that debts won't (can't) be repaid, but favors will be returned.

At the Centre, as I've said, there is an average of 40 students in a classroom. The private Christian school down the street has 100 in a classroom. That is a much more typical situation. Teachers are not paid on contract, they are day laborers. Often, in public and private schools, the teachers will not come to teach, because something else came up that day. The students arrive, wait a few hours, and then go home. At the Centre, there is a level of expectation placed on the staff, and the work ethic is remarkable. The teachers have pride in their work, care about the students personally, and come to work everyday. The grades at the Centre are above all the other school in the region, and we had a 90% pass rate this past year.

It is a difficult job, working at the Centre, because many of the students who come in are social cases, as well as disabled in some way. They come from an animist background, which means their families believe they are demon possessed, because they are deaf, blind, have a physical disability, or cerebral palsy. So often the students have been neglected or abused since birth. The Centre has a whole branch devoted to finding students and educating their families about physical handicaps and what resources are available. Sometimes it takes years of relationship building and education before the family consents to have their child treated and trained at the Centre. When the child finally arrives, any medical treatment needed is provided (such as physical therapy), and often they are enrolled in school for the first time in their life. If they are blind, they live in the dorms next to the Centre, so they have a safe path to and from school every day. If they are deaf or handicapped, they live with a host family in Mahadaga. The deaf students are given their first access to language when the arrive.

When you walk through Mahadaga, you do not see the dirty, tear streaked faces of a culture desperate for needs to be met. You see the joy of a village that has been touched by the hand of God and given hope. The Centre for the Advancement of the Handicapped, the Medical Center, and the missionaries here in Mahadaga have brought the hope of Christ to those who had none. All of Mahadaga has felt the touch of God's love in these past 25 years.

If you are interested in learning more about the Centre for the Advancement of the Handicapped or supporting it financially, visit this website

Monday, July 23, 2012

Teaching- through the eyes of a child

We've been working on surface area, so this afternoon I had Diaboundi and Bapougini work the same problem on two different sections of the blackboard, to try and figure it out. It was a compound shape, a rectangle with a right triangle on the side. A trapezoid, if you will. Bapougini ran back to quickly fix the units, and wanted to look like he was working when i took the picture :). You can see the pride on Diaboundi's face when they finally came up with the correct answer :)

Meet Diaboundi. This is a drawing of his family. He tells me which ones are dead, which ones live in Fada, and which ones live near here. He tells me that the 6 at the top, with no names or faces are for the family members he doesn't know. He says its difficult to remember them all. He writes their names below the ones he remembers. Most are just an initial, because Diaboundi is deaf and uses name signs for his family. He can write the family names though. He is a very bright student, and learns quickly. He is still 100% boy though.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Guest house vs. Betty's house

This week, I am preparing materials and plans for tutoring. I'm also spending some time with the 6th grade teacher of the deaf, getting math lessons. I have relearned the metric system (for weight, height, and volume). Also geometry, calendar vocab, and computation (+,-,x,/) in the French methods. And of course, I learned it in French and Burkina Sign.

Please continue to pray for the items I mentioned in my last email. My French is improving, especially now that I can use it to converse. I have a new house mate for the weekend, Elen is visiting from Piela. She leaves on Wednesday I think. So I have a housefull at the moment, we're up to 5 people here and I love it. Next week, I lose 2 on Monday, 1 on Wednesday and 1 on Saturday. Then I will be alone again for awhile. Possibly (probably) until I leave.

Next week I will actually be switching houses, Lord willing, to a much smaller, 1 bedroom apartment, with a full kitchen and seperate dining room. And a working fridge :) I will appreciate the lack of space, because the house I am in now is perfect for 4-5 people, but really way to big for just one. Also, the little apartment has a porch with a bench.

The bench and porch set up is from Betty, a missionary whose name dates back to the first few missionaries that happened upon this village. Long before Mahadaga was the hub for medical needs of all kinds, it was just a regular village. Betty came in with one other girl (about my age, if I understand correctly) and bought a house. They lived in one side, and set up a birthing center/clinic in the other side. From that sprung the blossoming ministry found in Mahadaga today. About the bench, though... Betty still comes to mahadaga, for 6months at a time, even though she is in her 80's. When she isn't driving hours away to find distant family groups and share the Gospel, she is sitting on her front porch, where she accepts multitudes of visitors each day, to come and talk, and love, and learn about Jesus. She cares for these people, and they love her. It is said that Betty "birthed" the whole village, because she is a midwife, and was probably present at the majority of the births for the past 60 years.

What a beautiful legacy. And I get to live in Betty's house, for a time :)

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Some more pictures

It rained in Mahadaga today. Rain is so special here in Africa, but very hard to photograph. It's especially difficult to photograph people in the rain. In Africa, although it is a joyous thing to have rain, the people do not enjoy being caught in the rain. The American kids run out and stomp in puddles, but the Africans stay out of the rain. I am not sure why, except that being muddy bothers them. They don't like getting their clothes dirty, even the young children. It's an interesting thought.
We keep the windows open when it rains, and enjoy the cool wind that comes, but the Africans get chilled, and it is not uncommon to see them pulling on jackets, and even earmuffs after the rain. Today the students were shivering when the temp dropped to what felt like mid-70° These kids hung out with me while I got my hair done this last time. It took 3 and a half hours, to get my hair cornrowed into a ponytail. I really like it this way, I think it will last longer than the braids did. Hopefully long enough for me to chance in front of a camera and get the 'do on film :)

Saturday, July 7, 2012

A Day in the Life

Although this was not necessarily a "typical" day, its a fine example since I have yet to settle into a rhythm here.Since I'm here for ministry exposure, my opinion of a successfully scheduled week is one with great variety. Keep in mind, though, that I treated today as soalfmewhat of a weekend. Typically, Saturdays are half days, we work in the morning. You'd see more of a typical schedule if you looked at my schedule overall for this trip.

This morning, I went with Dale and his 2 little boys to take the American team up to the waterfall. Its about a half hour hike from the road, I think, but thats a really rough estimate. It might be longer than that. I went swimming at the upper falls, with my housemate Robin.

When we returned, I made a tomato sauce to go with the meatballs I made yesterday, and Robin, Angela and I had meatball subs. Then I crashed for about an hour and a half. I love sieste. Americans should take a hint, sieste is a beautiful thing. At 4pm, all the girls (from both teams, plus Flo and myself) went to the pastor's house to learn how to make Toh. We had some great girly conversations, comparing French, American and Burkinabe traditions for weddings, etc. It was so fun. Around 6:30, the guys all arrived, and sat just apart from us. They do many things in segregation like that, including eating meals, sitting in church, etc. I helped serve the guys (basically, bring the food and water to their table). When I and the other girls placed the food on their table, though, we were not acknowledged. We just came, delivered, and left, without any verbal interaction at all. Just after, I had the opportunity to bring water to each of the guys, to wash their hands. Again, they continued their conversation (as is culturally appropriate) even while I poured water over their hands. What a remarkable experience! I can't even put it to words. I wonder if I have ever truly served, since gratitude is so openly and often expressed in the US.

We had more delightful conversation as we ate Toh and sauce (flavored with Potassium-who knew it had such a great flavor!). I have become pretty fond of Toh and sauce, I've enjoyed it every time I've had it. I don't have it that often though, just because I cook for myself and didn't know how to make it. Still not sure I could make it on my own, even after helping with it tonight.

Anyways, as we were finishing up dinner, a storm started to blow in, so we bid everyone farewell before the African sky opened up on us. Now we sit in our living room listening to the rain, while reading or blog posting :)

Sunday, July 1, 2012

A quiet Sunday afternoon...

In church today, the pastor preached on the topic of endurance. God has been teaching e about a specific aspect of endurance: the kind required when what we are accustomed to is taken away, yet we still must serve Him. I think we depend on many earthly things to enable us as we sere Him, and in no way do I suggest that these things are bad. They can, however, become habit forming and cripple us when we do not have them.

Coming out here, I expected to do without many things, like pedicures, air conditioning, and ice cream. On the mission field, I have learned to do without many things, like clean feet, personal space, and a working freezer. The Lord has been teaching me, though, that even more than that be taken away; and still He is enough. In the past few weeks, I have lost self image, self confidence, self righteousness, self identity, self worth, etc. God has shown me that when I am nothing, He is all.

I wrote the following in an email to a friend, and I wanted to share it with you:
God is changing me, helping me grow and become stronger. But it hurts. He's showing me what it means to have all things stripped away. He's pressing me to face the reality that I depend on the things He's given me more than I depend on Him. When all this world falls away, what will you have left? There was a man who was fairly wealthy; had a great family, beautiful home, etc. Then, all on one day, his investments collapsed and a catastrophe killed all of his children in one fell swoop. Shortly therafter he was stricken with a terrible illness. As he lay, terribly ill, his wife told him to "curse God and die". His response to her was "Will I accept only good from his hand and not bad?" In all that happened, the man did not sin. He recognized that even when all things pass away, the God he served is a good God, and so long as he still had God, he had enough. True story.

I pray that God would create that heart in me. That I would recognize that my relationship with Him is enough to sustain me. It is all I need.

PS- the story ends well. Last I heard, he was back on his feet, was blessed to welcome a few more children into the world, and was financially stable as well. The most important thing, though, is that his faith was stronger, his comittment to the Lord was stronger.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

What I've learned: Week 2

This afternoon I took some time to climb up the rock face and sit at the top of the cliffs behind Mahadaga. I wrote this while up there.

My first thought as I reach the top and sit down is "God, thank you for giving me arms and legs to do this". I can also thank Him for placing me in a town with cliffs such as these, and for cool  weather on my afternoon off, so I can actually exhert myself.

West Africa is a magnificent place. Just being here creates a more thankful spirit. A glass of cool water can be life giving, to say nothing of the magic bubbling from a bottle of Cocoa-Cola! The value and impact of a smile is not fully realized until used to jump a manguage hurdle. The sweet melody of a laugh is not recognized until it is the only utterance you recognize. One's mother tongue is not comforting until it is scarcely heard.

To be honest, I expected more of an emotional reaction to the differences in culture. But to be sure, my heart beats strongly for the moments of similarity. Having dinner with the Combari family last week, I was able to hear, through double interpretation, their testemony. They shared in their language of God's work, and their daughter interpreted into French; and Christine interpreted into English. I almost wept with joy as it dawned on me that in all the cultural and linguistic differences, they love the same God as I do.

On a slightly different note:
I've been reading through Psalms, accompanied nicely by "My Utmost for His Highest". It's neat how profoundly the Holy Spirit can speak through the simple- when we do not demand the complex. The two books make a great pair for my work out here. In Psalms, I am shown how to pray for these people. (ex. Psalms 79:9-11) In Chamber's book, I am learning how to serve them. (ex. "Never  reserve anything. Pour out the best you have, and always be poor. Never be diplomatic about the treasure God gives. This is poverty triumphant.")

Regardless of how I failed or Christ succeeded the day before, each morning I am able by grace to begin again with prayer and love. God hasn't called me here to bring some innovative resource or to do a great, culture-changing work. He has called me to serve Him from and in Mahadaga. Although my tendancy is to yearn for a glistening job description, I am learning to follow Christ and love His people. I do that just one day at a time, by His grace.

For those of you who want to financially support me or the Centre go to this website.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Tutoring- First day

Today I worked with Angela, who came from Messiah college to tutor the blind students in math and english. I learned so much about how the blind students learn, practically. In this picture, you can see Mattieu and Kounjoi working on math. They use tableaus and dice-like braille cubes. They were making calculations faster than I was!

Cliff View

Check out how green the trees are! All this in just the few weeks of rainy season. Its so exciting to see the green leaves :) This picture was taken a few evenings ago when I went up on the cliffs with Christine, her last chance


Here is a great photo from the waterfall we went to yesterday. This is as close as I've ever been to paradise.

Some photos!

We have these amazing cliffs right behind the village, and yesterday we went hiking with a group of friends. Here is a great shot of what I enjoyed at 6:30am with sweat literally dripping off my face :)

Thursday, June 21, 2012

What I learned this week: #1

After just one week in Burkina, here's what I've learned:
1: Appropriate greetings in both French and Gourmachima and when to use them.
2: 500cfa equals 1dollar
3: Passion Fruit looks really nasty inside, but can take the edge off a hot day when eaten cold.
4:Mango trees make the best shade
5: The Mahadaga birthing center handles around 250 births a week, in a one room building smaller than my apartment.
6: The Centre has an average of 50 students in a classroom, while the private Christian school fits 100 students in a class.
7. Laughter is better than knowledge.
8. Burkinabe women DO work as hard as the ants, and are often seen carrying a basket more than half their height and weight on their head.
9: A smile can lower the language hurdle.
10: Nothing tastes sweeter than cool, clean, water

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Mangoes and Rain

Two things I brought with me from Virginia. Mangoes and Rain.

I seem to have found myself in the Mango Center of the world, and my special sweet treat from the US doesn't even compare to the delicacy that I have found here. And to them, its about as special as an apple. They laughed when I told them I brought mangoes with me. Oh well :)

The rain, however, has been most enjoyed. I tease when I say I brought the rain, of course, because we have prayed for rain in Burkina. Many of you have joined ,e in praying, and I'm happy to report that we had a nice down pour last night. It makes it more humid during the day, but what is momentary discomfort when compared to the life giving rain God has sent!

Many of you have asked about the sign language used here in Mahadaga. After just 2 days here, I'm surprised to report that the sign they use here is very similar to the ASL I have been using in America. By no means is it FLS (French) as I expected: it really can be termed nothing more that Burkina Sign Language. They have made it their own.

The heat is not unbearable, in fact I don't ,ind it at all. Granted, it is the wet season, and has rained here twice since I arrived, but I honestly think it is no hotter (or more humid) than Virginia in the dead of summer. So, I'll survive it, haha!

 Thats all for now,
Thank you for your prayers!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

To-Do list for today.

Take malaria meds
Print Insurance card.
Put Face wash and Contacts in suitcase.
Put all Fluids in sealed bags.
Copy of passport in suitcase.
Everything else in carry on.
Close bags.
Put in van.
Go to the airport.

June 12- The big day!

On Wednesday, I got an email saying my VISA had arrived at the NC SIM office. Praise God! Many thanks to those of you who prayed!
On Friday, I got an email with a possible itinerary, checking for approval before plane tickets were purchased. After sending verification that the itinerary was fine, I didn't hear anything.
I spent the weekend in good fellowship with friends and family. It was a very relaxing time, and although I didn't have my travel plans as set as I would have liked, I was reminded by my mom numerous times that this is where trust in God becomes tangible. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."  Philippians 4:6-7 

Yesterday I confirmed with my travel agent, and today the FedEx guy came with my passport, visa, and tickets! I'm leaving today! 

For prayer:
Please pray for Gods grace in my day to trust Him with the details (big and small) about travel plans.
Please pray that I would respond graciously and with flexibility as the unexpected comes my way.
Please pray that I would be faithful to present my requests to God, and that He would fill me with His peace.
Please pray for God's strength as I get over jet lag upon arrival, and jump quickly into life in BF.
Please pray that this summer I would be used of God to encourage and support the missionaries. 
Please pray for the hearts of the Burkinabe people, that they would be open to hear the Gospel.

Thank you!
Cortney Berryman

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Letter #2

Dear Friends and Family,
Many of you may recall the letter I sent out at Christmas time, highlighting my   anticipated plans for this summer. In December, those plans were just beginning to take form. The process since my last letter has been one step of faith after another. God has opened doors for me to travel to Burkina Faso for two months and serve at a school established by SIM, an international mission organization. All praise must go to God for the coordination of it all.

“Man plans his ways, but the Lord orders his steps.” Proverbs 16:9

;Burkina Faso is a beautiful country located in western Africa, bordered by Mali in the west and Niger in the east. The last time Burkina Faso was international news was probably a few months ago when West Africa was hit with a devastating drought. Although this country tends to fly under the radar for most of us, I am thankful that the Lord brought this country into my life. It is truly remarkable to now be praying fervently for a country and a people I did not previously know existed.

“Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” 1Corinthians 10:31

By God’s grace, on June 12, 2012 I will head out to serve at the Center for the Advancement of the Handicapped in a little village called Mahadaga. I will be volunteering with a few other “Short Term Associates” (STA’s) for the summer months. Although the school will be on break, there will be summer camps and activities available for the students. I will be working with the students and staff for two months, returning in mid-August.
           Thank you for your prayers these past few months, and your continued support as the summer approaches. Please be praying as I prepare for this mission, and while I serve in Burkina Faso.  Pray that I will glorify Him in all I do; in fundraising, planning, learning, working, and traveling. To Him be the praise and honor and glory and power forever!
In His service,

Letter #2

Dear Friends and Family,

It is with great joy that I write to you with news of an exciting development in my life. Since my family’s summer mission trip to NYC, God has been working in my heart. He has been developing in me a new desire to share the gospel with unreached people groups. And I am so thankful to have heard His call on my life. Matthew 23:19-20 reads:
”Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Through God’s provision and guidance, I will be connecting with an international ministry called “Serving in Mission” (SIM). Thankfully, God has placed me in an occupation which allows me two months off each summer. During that time in 2012, I will be traveling to Burkina Faso where I will serve a school called “The Centre for the Advancement of the Handicapped”. I will have opportunity to use my skill with sign language to teach the deaf and signing students at the school.
“Burkina Faso is a small but densely populated nation in western Africa. Islam and local fetishism serve as the religion of choice for most people. Burkinabe and SIM missionaries partner together in seven locations. In addition to providing short-term Bible schools in each region, SIM is also committed to the task of translating the Bible into local languages, reaching youth and street children, clean water development, and developing HIV- and AIDS-related ministries.” –SIM
In that part of the world, the children I will be working with have handicaps and disabilities that are viewed as demon possession, and the work of evil spirits. As a result, many of the students are neglected by their own families. The center works to rehabilitate, educate, and support the students and their families.
As with any work that God does in our world, it will require the support of a network of disciple. I do depend on you to pray for the spiritual strength it requires to bring the Gospel to those darkest areas of our world. Thankfully, God has me in a place where I do not need to depend on the generous support of the church body to serve in Africa. I do, however, want to bring a monetary gift to the ministry I will be working with. Any amount that I can raise with your help will be added to the amount I am saving to further the spread of His Good News. 

Friday, June 1, 2012

My girl in Kenya

(Not) Only In Kenya: This is my theme song for the next two months :)

At Orientation, you might recall I met an awesome chick named Kathy. She got to Kenya on Monday. She posted this video on HER blog, and I love it :)

Thursday, May 24, 2012

STA Orientation Day 2

Today has been so informative. I honestly wish I were heading out today, instead of in a few weeks. I feel so ready, mentally and spiritually. Being around these people who have served God in countries all over the world makes me realize how unfounded my fears are. Burkina Faso is just a piece of land with people made in God's image, just like the USA. Another photo of my Burkina Faso sign, reminding me that I will soon be 5,136 miles from home. But, home is where your heart is, right? Well, my heart is with my Lord, so I guess in one sense, I'm always home, and in another sense, I won't be home till He comes back or He brings me to Him :)

Here is the chapel, where we started our mornings. I tell you what, I think life runs much better when we can worship and pray every morning with other believers. If I could sing better, I would sing during my devotions every day. (But I pity my parents, who might be wakened by the awful screeching below them at 5am!).

Here is the coffee, and the Kuerig, although its picture is sideways. These have been very important to me this week!

The beautiful decorations in the SIMUSA center. 

This is Kathy, who I got to have lunch with. She served in Burkina Faso for 20years and was able to pray with me and share with me about her time. What a blessing!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Orientation: Travel and 1st Day

UPDATE: All pictures have been removed until further notice.

This week I have STA (Short-Term Associate) Orientation, followed immediately by the NEXT conference. Praise the Lord :) On my way out on Tuesday, I stopped at Carousel for my first (and possibly last) Funky Monkey of the season. I used my gift certificate from Teacher Appreciation Week :) 

I ran into a nice young man named Gary a few times going through security, and he ended up walking me to my gate, "spinning yarns" to pass the time. He was a delightful fellow. He was departing from gate B78 (pictured below), while I departed from gate B76. It was a lovely convenience, allowing us to sit together and pass the time quickly. 

These are the chairs we sat in. I thought it would be too forward to get a photo with him, after our half our of acquaintance (plus I didn't think of it!). But a photo of the seats we sat in are good for memories!

Since I will be severely limited in the amount of media upload I can do while I'm in Burkina Faso, I figure I will go a little overboard now, to get it out of my system. 

Ahhh, the classic Coke and Peanuts. What is an airplane ride without peanuts?

This is the gate at which I stood, shivering from the thunder, while I waited for Stuart to pick me up in Charlotte. 

And this is the sign under which I stood. 

As part of our orientation, we are taken to a multicultural dinner. This was an Ethiopian Restaurant, and eating from a communal dish with our hands (really, just the right hand- the left hand is traditionally used for other purposes) was not anywhere near as strange as I imagined. And the food was amazing. I wonder if I will ever be satisfied with American food again!

Because there were 5 of us, we sat at a normal table, but for parties of 2, this is the traditional table for an Ethiopian meal. The cone shaped top comes off and they set the tray or platter in the center. So cute!

At the SIM USA office, they have signs all around pointing to the various countries. They list how many miles it is to that country. This is a picture of Kathy. She will be serving in Kenya.

This is Lindsey, who will serve in Malawi.

And this is me, posing awkwardly with my Burkina Faso sign :)Well, that's all I have for you now. Tomorrow we will be meeting missionaries who have served in our respective countries. I can't wait! 
Please pray that the three of us will have energy and attentiveness tomorrow. Pray for an eagerness to learn and the ability to do so.