Wednesday, January 14, 2009

a big carbon footprint, but an even bigger heart.

Since I was a little girl, there was something about Africa that always caught my eye. I specifically remember reading a book in 5th grade called Zink the Zebra which told a story about a girl who met a Zebra in her dreams and he took her to Africa to show her how he lived etc. I loved it, but I wasn't always vocal about my liking of Africa, I just really liked learning about it. 
As I got older my interest doubled, we stared to read more books in school about the country, and more and more awareness about the problems of Africa were being raised. As my junior year came around I was convinced I would some day set foot on African land. 
And I did.

On December 2nd, 2008 I traveled to Burkina Faso, West Africa. According to an update from The UN it is the 2nd poorest nation in the world, next to Sierra Leone which is the 1st. South Hills Community Church took their third team this past December and I was lucky enough to be a part of it. We spent 12 days in West Africa, and before you say anything I am not one to support short term mission trips that make huge carbon footprints, but after arriving back home I think every American, South American, European, Asian, etc. should take a trip out to any third world county in the world. Not only was it a privilege to be there, it was an honor. I learned so much, only to realize how little I really know. 

It's one thing to watch the infomercials about the starving children and simply change the channel, and another to hold their hand knowing their kidneys are failing and they wont live to age 10. Little girls and boys, like the picture above would swarm the work site just looking for a little fun, luckily we were able to provide some.  Every day the same kids from the surrounding villages would gather around us, and because of the strong language barrier we did the only thing we could do; use the universal language of love. There were days were we played games like duck, duck, goose, and the hokey pokey. And there would be times where we would just sit down with them as they compared skin color, hair and teeth, naming everything in their language as we named ours. One of the most rewarding occasions was when we sat them down to watch a skit that we had prepared the previous evening. We showed them the differences between a God of love and a god of hate and distrust(the god of the religion that is strongly influenced in the country). Afterwards we handed out bananas, just as God promised exactly enough food to feed 5,000, He provided exactly enough to feed each and every one of those kids on the site that day. 

This little girl's name is Asseta, I don't know her age although I would guess around 9 or 10. She was on site every day that we were. Definitely a leader amongst the others and what seemed to me a pretty good sense of humor. She was always making the kids laugh even if it was about me. Like most girls in Burkina Asseta probably didn't attend school, when I asked the children to write their names down on a piece of paper, she had to ask another to write it. On our last day, I packed up most of what I had brought into my back pack; skirts, a bar of new soap, 2,000 cfa (about 4 american dollars) which is a lot to a young village girl, and other things. Praying she would be there on our last day, and she was, I gave her my back pack. While saying goodbye to all the children she played with my earrings, so I took those off and placed them in her hands. Of course she was delighted, and immediately placed them in her ears. I don't look for much recognition when I tell this story, I just know that it's things like that  that Jesus wants us to do every day of our lives. I miss Asseta every day knowing that there is the slightest chance that I might see her again, but from the abundance of things I learned in Africa I know that anything is possible. 

With plans of one day returning to Burkina Faso, I am more than excited to see what God has planned for His people there and all over the world. God extremely blessed our team, and I pray He continues to build and prepare more teams to seek out and help the poor, but more importantly to love His people.
 If you want to know more about what the Christian and Missionary Alliance is doing in Burkina go to:
If you want to know more about what South Hills is doing in Burkina just send me a message and I will fill you in with all the details.

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