Burkina Faso, Africa 2018
Rosa & Maristela
Rosa and I live in the same neighborhood, just blocks away from the church and each other. When we committed to answering the call for help from Burkina Faso there were four of us, but on the day we got in the plane to Africa just two of us made it. Rosa and I were just glad we had each other to lean on. I had traveled abroad extensively over the years but this was the second time outside of US for Rosa. We were both excited and anxious, not knowing exactly what was expecting us in Africa, and how we were going to bless our brothers and sisters without speaking their language and knowing so little about their culture.
An Old Muslim & A Baby Girl
In 2018 we had visited a 92-year-old Muslim who had recently married his second wife. The new addition to his family, a lovely baby girl had been given my first name, Maristela. In the African tradition this is a great honor to the bearer of the name. For the family of the child the meaning is that she will be blessed with a good character and spirit that they see in the person from whom they took the money from. We were blessed to hear from the elderly man that for the first time in his long life he had gone to a church where he heard about Jesus.
Muslim and Christians living and working together in relative peace – this is the impression we had of Burkina Faso. “There was just one time when the neighbors called the police because we were praying for Israel. The police came but they could not do anything, they just asked us to be more discreet,” told us the pastor. So, we hold two conferences on Israel, one in a public government building and another one at the church, when we spent most of the time praying for Israel, as the church desired.
Carlisle Avenue Baptist Church
We started our journey to Africa by asking people to pray for us and raising the funds. Little by little, serving meals after service on Sundays, Rosa started to see her piggy bank to fill up. People would come to us to tell us they were praying, and many sent seed offerings to the Mission Fund; others send it directly to us. Children participating in the VBS contributed with crayons for us to take to the children in Burkina Faso. There was no doubt that CABC was 100% behind us on this journey.
61% of the people in Burkina Faso call themselves Muslins. Terrorism attacks are becoming more frequent in the country as radical groups began using Burkina Faso as an entrance to other countries in Africa.
When the pastor from our host church, a former Muslim himself, took us to visit a senior member of his family whom he had not been in contact since his conversion to Christianity decades before, he was concerned if his relative would agree to speak to us.
We could see a Mosque in the other side of the street. A young woman wearing an abaya (robe-like outer garment) and hijab (head covering) opened the gate to the house for us. Inside the front garden there were a group of girls looking no older than 6 years-old also wearing their abaya and hijab.
Another young woman dressed alike ushered in the house. A few minutes later a very distinguished and elegant woman entered the room. She took my hands on hers and hugged me like she was seeing an old friend.
Riding in the car we would notice the women always dressed like they all were going to a party. All riding their motorbikes, and many of them carrying their young children strapped in their bodies, without losing their elegance.
What can you do when your husband passes away and you live in Burkina Faso? Widowhood changes the status of women, undermining their insecurity. The practice of Levirate is still common in many regions, but there is no agreement on how long the brother-in-law or the closest male relative of the deceased should wait to marry her, leaving her with the impossible task to take care of herself and her children. Rosa sat with a group of widows, and shared her own experience on depending on the Lord for her survival. The care of the widows falls on the women of the churches, and there is not much they can do as they face many challenges themselves.
We were invited to speak at a missionary training center, on the outskirts of Ouagadougou. We rode through bump dirty roads and saw goats, chickens, and cattle roaming freely on the roads. We were surprised to see the rustic beauty and cleanliness of the missionary compound in the middle of a devasted place with no source of water, energy, or food. Like everywhere else we went, the students and staff women at that place would not look at us directly, assuming a submissive stance and leaving all the talking to the men present. But they are the ones behind the massive help the most needed widows in Ouagadougou receive during Christmas time. Last year there were 700 widows, and their goal is higher this year.
Women in Burkina Faso
Being a woman is not easy in Burkina Faso as the culture is very paternalistic. However,
We were captivated by her gentleness and intelligence. Proudly she told us she was a
We stayed at a Christian Training Centre, founded by Europeans (the first Christian missionaries arrived in Burkina Faso, then known as the Republic of Upper Volta, around 1922) and enjoyed the company of many Europeans and few Africans attending a conference. It was there, during the meals that we had our first lessons on African culture and the relationship African-European-Other cultures. She sat at our table and used every opportunity to sharp her English skills while explaining to us the complicated interactions that culture and who-you-appear-to-be plays in the relationships in the African culture. She has a sharp mind and a gentle way of saying truth, and we were grateful we met her. We were saddened that we parted ways without saying goodbye or exchanging electronic addresses. The barrier of language played a trick on us and one day we looked for her and she was gone. She was also very educated, and a business woman.