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 :)