Right then, time to get cracking on the first blog entry from Burkina Faso. Unfortunately it seems that the internet connection here is too slow to be able to upload any video blogs that we would have liked to have done, so I’m afraid it’s going to have to be the old skool ‘words and pictures that don’t move’ approach to blogging while we’re here!
Anyway, we’ve arrived! I am typing this from a room in the Joly Hotel that’s situated in a relatively smart area of Ouagadougou – the capital city of Burkina Faso. It’s a really nice hotel and we’re being incredibly well looked after by the locals. It feels a bit mad to think that we have only been in the country for 17 hours as we’ve already done a whole load of stuff. The journey, however, was epic…
We left Trevethin at about 12:30 yesterday and arrived at Heathrow at about 3:30. There was a slight problem at check-in as one of our bags was 7kg too heavy and we were looking at having to pay a £140 charge in order to get all our gifts to the sponsored kids here. However, we were able to buy a bigger bag for £25 from the airport and after a bit of re-jigging we managed to spread the weight and it was all OK. The flight went well but was loooooooooooong! I had no idea how hard it was to get here – we flew from Heathrow to Casablanca where we changed planes and went on to Niamey (Niger) and eventually arrived in Ouagadugou at 4:30am this morning. As the picture above suggests – the airport is very, very basic and the unisex toilet I had to use would definitely give the one in Trainspotting a run for it’s money!! Upon arrival we were shattered, smelly, hungry and really not in the mood to be told that 2 of our bags had got lost in transit! Unfortunately James’ bag with ALL his clothes and 3 gift bags for our children had disappeared, as had my giant sports bag with 9 gift bags! We tried to find out what had happened but our lack of French didn’t help! However, praise God for our Compassion guide, Vivianne, who came to collect us and helped us to make ourselves understood. The upshot is that our bags could be in London, Casablanca, Marakesh, Niger, or still on the plane somewhere! We literally don’t know!! We have been told to check again on Wednesday as that’s when the plane returns. We are really hoping and praying that the bags show up as we are due to be visiting the project, meeting the children and distributing the gifts on Thursday. Please, please, please pray that the bags arrive. We genuinely don’t give a stuff about Jim’s stuff, but the children getting their gifts is what ultimately matters in all this.
My theology in circumstances like this is basically that God is always good and always in control!
Having done what we could to trace our bags Vivianne and her brother drove us to the Joly Hotel. It was very late, very dark and my eyes were very tired, but as I gazed out of the window it was clear why the UN has ranked Burkina Faso as the 3rd poorest nation on earth. The roads, the buildings, the vehicles, the people – the poverty was shockingly stark! We arrived at our hotel at 5:30, so stayed awake until breakfast was served at 6am, then crashed and burned until 1pm – and dinner. Straight after dinner we had a meeting with the leader of Compassion BF. His name is Palamanga, which means ‘Happy Heart’ and boy is it an appropriate name?! It was great to hear his gospel heart and his love for the children, and his joy and laughter was infectious! Also at the meeting were Ishmael and Kevin who are in charge of Compassion’s project oversight and healthcare respectively. Vivianne was also there. It was a fabulous meeting and we were able to really get the ball rolling on ways in which Hill City can practically help out in the areas of infrastructre and healthcare in the future. More on all that when we get back home. After the meeting Vivianne took us to town so that James could buy a few clothes – cos frankly – he needs them!!! Even though it was a public holiday there was about a billion mopeds (OK slight exaggeration) buzzing round the dusty streets as well as donkeys, carts, woman carrying huge bowls of fruit on their heads and men catching a cheeky life by hanging off lorries! Trust me it was more nuts than it sounds – I’ll be getting some photos don’t worry!!
The evening involved a lush meal (I had guinea fowl for the first time ever!) and then some time to chill, chat and blog, before hitting the sack. The cultural adjustment has already been massive and tomorrow is a big, busy day! We’re visiting the Compassion office and I’m going to be leading devotions for all the staff. Buzzin! Then we’re off to visit our sponsor children and their families. By God’s grace both of their gift bags were among the ones that made it safe, so we’ll be blessing them with those and I’m genuinely soooooo excited about meeting Karelle and her family! I think Jim is just as excited about meeting Franck. So grateful to the Lord for giving us this opportunity!! Me and Jim are going to sing “God is so good!” in devotions tomorrow morning – cos He is!
Right, better go cos me and Jim are going to spend some time in prayer before I get my head down and seek the Lord for a word for tomorrow morning. It’s a 6am brekkie, then a 7:15 start. Can’t wait. Please keep praying for us that we will serve Jesus, these awesome people and this beautiful nation well.
God bless you!