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I don’t consider myself dramatic. Others might because I’m emotional and animated. I’d like to think that I keep cool in high stress situations (Excluding the time we were held at gunpoint for over an hour…another story for another blog post)…ok, maybe I should rephrase the first sentence and say I keep focused in high stress situations. I don’t think I over dramatize situations and break down into pity party tantrums. I must admit, however, that’s exactly what I wanted to do after our last meeting with leadership.
We returned to West Africa, after having stayed an extra 6 months in the US, expecting to get the green light to move back into our village. We have a house waiting for us in the people group God has called us to reach. Simple, right? Let me pull back some layers of this onion for ya.
When we first arrived in Burkina Faso in 2013 the country had enjoyed a very peaceful past. Until…
Over the last 3 years things have heated up with the rise of Al Queada offshoots seeking to gain more and more territory in West Africa. Burkina Faso just happens to be lodged between Mali and Niger…two countries that have extremists controlling certain parts of their territory. In 2014 a popular uprising caused Burkina’s president to flee the country after 27 years in office. This political instability allowed for terrorist insurgents to begin infiltrating Burkina Faso. There have been two major bombings as far south as the capital city (which we’re 9 hours from) and several kidnappings, the last of which was only 35 miles from our house. There’s more…but I’ll stop there. You get the point.
Our meeting with leadership wasn’t a RED light…but more of a YELLOW light. They are completely on board with our desire to reach the B**** people. They do, however, want to lay down some parameters and protocol for day to day living and worst case scenario situations. So…the plan WAS to return to Burkina after our field conference and start making security upgrades to our house while living IN TOWN. Once those upgrades are done…theoretically…we should be able to move back into the village.
We have felt like it’s been one hurdle after hurdle, one tired punch in the enemy’s face after another since we left the US. During conference Daniel tore his calf muscle in several places trying to play with the young boys 😉 It’s been 3 weeks and he’s still limping. The healing process is slow. We were ready to hit the road to Burkina, then JoJo got sick with some kind of intestinal bacteria (we think). She had high fevers for a whole week before her antibiotic kicked in. We were getting really worried. Then she was finally better! We were ready to leave on this past Monday to drive across Senegal and cross into Mali on Tuesday! We had to be out of the country by Wednesday due to car paperwork. We said bye to everyone and told Fassou we were sad that we’d miss his thesis presentation (this past Friday) but what could we do? It’s not like we can drive out of the country and back in JUST FOR HIM! Little did we know…
All piled into our old 1990 Nissan Patrol (no AC), complete with new puppy beside Micah, we made the 14 hr trip. Day 1 of 3 in the books. It’s important to note that inside the National Reserve there is a 30 mile section of HORRIBLE road that took us 2 hours to drive through. They’re supposedly repaving this 😉 The car did great…attitudes weren’t too bad…we made it. We arrived at our guest house, got settled in and had supper at 10 pm. Despite the dilapidated state of our accommodations, we all slept well.
Day 2: No one wanted to drag themselves out of bed, but we did. After getting a late start, we arrived at the border around 10 am. Border patrol seemed like they were in a good mood. This was gonna be easy…right?!
After some casual conversation, Daniel showed the guy our passports. He calmly asked…where are the visas? That’s when it dawned on Daniel. They were in our old, expired passports. But where were those old passports???? Were they in one of the suitcases on top of the car that had been carefully tied up on top, full of miles of dust? Surely not! Let’s check the carry ons and book bags in the back of the car!
So, that’s what we did. I ended up getting sunburned standing out in the noon day sun desperately searching for the stamp in our passports that would allow us to continue our trip. The boys were sweating their guts out in the car. JoJo was screaming to get out. And to no avail…the passports were MIA. There was nothing to be done. No bribe was gonna get us out of this sticky situation. I must admit my missionary heart wouldn’t have blinked twice at paying on this occasion!
Back we drove to Dakar…560 miles to reapply for visas that we already had. And the worst is…we couldn’t get the 5 year visas like we had before. Nope. Not in Senegal. They only give 1 month visas. Single entry/exit. Then I got food poisoning along the way. Sigh…
There were some highlights of this round trip in the wilderness…JJ got stung by a bee IN our car while driving down the road (ok, that’s not a high point necessarily but at least it wasn’t Micah who is deathly allergic), we saw many different wild animals in the national reserve, a huge monitor lizard at our guesthouse, got to see more friends in Dakar since we had to come back, took a quick trip to the local “zoo” and we were able to attend Fassou’s graduation after all!! He must’ve have been really praying 😉 He did a great job! He gave his thesis and the judges donned him a genuine chemical engineer. I was the proud Momma crying and praising Jesus in the back 😉 Africans show emotion but usually not tears. We had a good time at the reception recounting memories over the years and sharing details of God’s goodness. Fassou basically preached and wasn’t ashamed to give God all the glory in front of his Mus**m friends. (PIX AT THE BOTTOM)
So, we’re back at square one. We have our visas. We plan to hit the road again in the morning. The next hurdle will be crossing Mali again. Our paperwork is in order this time, but they are having presidential elections today. I know. WHEN IT RAINS, IT POURS. We’ll stay glued to the news and pray that elections will happen peacefully.
PRAY WITH US that we will be able to make this trip in 3 days, with good attitudes, and a cooperative car. Time is ticking. We need to be ready to take Micah to school in Kenya around August 15th. We’d hoped he’d have been able to spend some time in the village before leaving us…but that’s not gonna happen. All we can do is trust in God’s timing and in the calling He’s given us. He’s faithful to complete His promises and He walks this road with us. Thank you all for standing with us and holding us up when we don’t have the strength to stand!!
Animals above: zoo Animals below: roaming wild in the reserve we drove through
Fassou’s thesis presentation and graduation