I have just returned home from a 10 day trip to Burkina Faso, Africa. I saw hunger, disease, hope, joy, generosity. I felt hot, dusty, thirsty, loved, appreciated, encouraged, hospitality, inspired. I was filled with heart-breaking experiences that consumed my heart with compassion. I wish I could put it into one simple post and tell you what what all this means. But I cannot.
We went to visit a village chief one day! In a village where corn seemed to be their main crop, we passed a small house on the way that had a machine grinding away at corn. We peeked inside and were told this marvelous machine could cut the time to grind in half. Meaning, instead of six hours a day it would be more like three. It also was a way to provide a little income to the owner as they could then grind their neighbor’s corn too.
A short walk from where we stayed the night, we crossed a dusty road and entered a “neighborhood” where the mud and brick houses were pretty close together. And it wasn’t long before the kids came out and crowded the paths between them! Corn was strung on the outsides of the houses, in what we could call “decorations” for the fall. But it was hanging there to dry out, getting prepared to be planted in the next rainy season.
The children followed, or guided ?, us to the village chief. I’ll be honest and say I expected some beads and feathers and a painted face. But he looked like anyone we’d meet on the street! He was kind and welcomed us. And remembered Pastor Herb from his visit last year, asking why he had not brought a photograph of that visit for his collection! He even went inside to get an envelope of photos to show that he really did hang on to them.
We visited for a short time, as he would “tsk!” at the children crowding in on us. They would scootch back a bit…and then eventually creep closer. To have the chief “tsk!” at them again. It seemed to be a game at which he ever seemed patient.
On our short walk back, we passed huts like these. They would be close to a house; they would be standing alone or in groups close together. This is where they store their corn, or other crops, and save it for their year’s supply. They are covered to keep the hot sun off the grain.
Using what they have available: mud, stone, straw. They protect what they have available: grain. And hope to have enough until the next harvest. Once again, we saw a place much different from what we know, yet the smiles and welcoming spirit brought the same sense of joy and contentment we all can feel. No matter where we live.