Semper Reformanda

...some days even my lucky rocketship underpants don't help.

[Thursday, April 29, 2010]

The Next Step

A good friend of mine is finishing up some time in Burkina Faso, Africa. She posted this today... I'm quoting the whole entry.

September 12, 2008 — “God, I am continuing to pray about this year and the upcoming year. Lord, I want to be your vessel I want to help further your kingdom. I desire for people to know about you. People that don’t already know about you. God, I pray that you would reveal to me what it is you have in store for my life, specifically post-grad plans…God, I have this desire to teach abroad. I have a heart for Africa, the poor and children…God, I want to do bold, courageous, beautiful, amazing, wonderful things for your kingdom.”

I wrote this prayer before God had even placed Burkina Faso on my heart. Fast forward to today and I find myself praying the same prayer, except now, instead of post-grad plans, I am asking the Lord, “What is your will for my life post-Burkina?” As my time begins to come to an end here, I have a constant battle going on in my head. I could find so many reasons to stay in Burkina and yet, I could find so many reasons to go home. Today is another day where I find myself saying, “God, I trust you. Really, I do and I’m at peace not knowing what it is you have in store for me next…whatever it is Lord, I will go where you send me.”

This morning I woke up with every intention of working a lot on finishing writing first grade curriculum and preparing school materials for next school year and while there is still time to get work done, I can’t help but have a heavy, saddened heart. This morning I had the opportunity to help a local pastor and a few others (including some of the teachers from school) make mud bricks for the pastor’s new church in Yako. It was a great time and pictures will definitely be posted the next time I am in Ouaga. After working for a while under the strong African sun, I returned back to my house to give my clothes to Maimounata, so she could wash them.

After Maimounata was finished, I walked her to my courtyard door and said goodbye. Seconds later, I heard a sweet, little voice down the street shout, “O-lee-vee-a, O-lee-vee-a.” I turned my head to see my 9-year old neighbor Nadia smiling and waving at me. I motioned to her to come over. In my not-so-fluent French, we made a little small talk.

I explained, “Nadia, I want to play games and color, just like we did a few weeks ago, but I have a lot of work I have to get done today, but I will invite you over another day, especially because I only have one month left here. Did you know I am leaving to go back to the United States at the end of May?”

After hearing this, Nadia became very quiet and her big, beautiful brown eyes welled up with tears.

I asked, “Are you crying because you are sick?” Nadia shook her head.

“Did someone say something that hurt your feelings?” Again, she shook her head.

“Are you crying because I am leaving soon?” to which she replied yes by nodding her head.

Trying not to well up with tears myself, I gave her a kiss on the cheek and a big hug.

“Oh Nadia, my pretty girl, you are so special. I think you are so special and God does too. I love you. Don’t cry, I will be here for another month. We have lots of time to spend together,” I explained.

She continued to cry. I invited her into my courtyard and brought a cup of Kool-Aid outside for both of us and we sat on the porch. Nadia started to come around and talk to me a little. This sweet, little 9 year old has quite a story, which I had heard from Lynn, but after finishing our Kool-Aid, Nadia personally shared her story with me. While holding Nadia in my arms and rocking her back and forth on my front porch, she noticed a calendar on the table next to us. She picked it up and I began to say the name of each month.

When I got to June, she said, “That is the month my mother died. She died on a Tuesday.”

Nadia continued, “My mother was in a fire, her clothing caught on fire, and she caught on fire. We were at my grandmother’s house, which is not too far from here. Boris (my friend and also an employee of Lynn) was there. My Mom died at the hospital.”

“Were you at your house when this happened?” I asked.

She responded, “Yes.”

“Oh Nadia, I am so sorry. That is not easy. How old were you when this happened?” I asked.

“I was 4 years old,” she said.

Tears began streaming down her face and mine as well, as I listened. Crying is a symbol of weakness in this culture, and holding Nadia, watching her cry, I felt as if these were tears that had been held inside for 5 years. After her mother died, her father, who lives in the same town, opted to send her to live in another courtyard near me to be cared for by a friend of the family. In Burkina, a child is considered to be an orphan if one or both parents are not present in their life. So, this sweet, little girl at the tender age of 4 lost not only a Mom, but also a Dad and she became an orphan. The family whom she was sent to live with has provided the basics for her- shelter, food, and clothing, but her emotional needs have been neglected and from the sounds I hear at night in my courtyard, beatings have become a frequent occurrence in her life. My heart breaks for children who are mistreated and seeing Nadia grow up without anyone to really care for her is no different. If only I could take children in these types of situations home with me and care for them. After Nadia shared her story with me, we had a good conversation about Jesus, who he is, how much he loves us, and how if we ask him to live in our heart, we can spend eternity with him. While I can love Nadia during my time here, I know that Nadia needs and longs for a greater love, a love that can only be found in Christ.

Based on the day’s events, it is so hard to think about leaving, but I say again, “Lord, I trust you and am at peace with not knowing what the next step is. Your faithful and I know that in your perfect timing, you will show me where it is you desire for me to be.” So, with one month remaining of my time here in Burkina, I am clinging to Him- to His promises, to the hope found in Him, to His love, to His faithfulness, and to His strength.


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