Greetings from Ouagadougou! It feels good to be able to finally write that. Many of you who followed our work in Benin and the move to Boston know that we have been looking forward to returning to West Africa. After one major delay we now feel blessed to have finally arrived to Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. This is new for us since our base in previous terms was Cotonou, Benin, but after three years in North America we are pleased to be back. So this is a short update with more to come later.
Where is our new assignment?
We are living in Ouagadougou (pronounced wa-ga-doo-goo) the capital of Burkina Faso. You can see it on the map north of Benin, Togo, Ghana and Ivory Coast and south of Mali and Niger. The capital where we will be living is in the middle of the country.
We flew from Martinsburg, PA on Tuesday August 7 and arrived the next day after catching flights in Washington DC and Brussels, Belgium. We have made a commitment to be here for 6 years. We will serve for 3 years, return to North America for a couple of months and then go back for a second 3-year term. After 6 years, we will need to see what makes the most sense for our family and for our ministry. We are open to staying longer, but are also willing to move on if that is best for all concerned.
We see our role in West Africa as being one of resourcing and partnering with churches in order to help them achieve their goals. In Benin Nancy worked with the Benin Bible Institute, an institution that provides training for leaders of African Initiated Churches. She participated in the teaching ministry as well as assisting with the administration of the institution. Bruce taught at BBI but also worked with Mennonite leaders in Ghana and Nigeria. While we are both very interested in the area of biblical and theological training, our main goal is to empower our partners and to assist them in setting and achieving their ministry goals. Therefore, we did a variety of tasks in Benin that the above description does not begin to address!
In Burkina Faso our primary role will be to partner with the Mennonite Church. In the coming months we expect to discern with church leadership how we might best contribute in ministry here. We expect, for example, to be involved in the ministry team at the local Ouagadougou congregation. As well, we will likely work closely with the Mennonite university student group and contribute in initiatives of biblical and theological training. Beyond that, there are many other possibilities that they and we will explore together.
While in Ouagadougou, we expect to travel. Steve Wiebe-Johnson, Africa Director for Mennonite Mission Network, has reduced his Africa role to be able to increase time working at church relations in the US. Therefore, we will pick up some of the administrative visits that he normally has made. We hope to get back to Benin to teach from time to time at BBI. Since all the courses there are offered in an intensive seminar format, we will be able to teach a full course in a 2-week visit.
What about Jeremiah and Deborah?
They will attend the International School of Ouagadougou, http://www.iso.bf. We trust they will get a good education there. Jeremiah is going into 7th grade while Deborah will go into grade 6. The school is a K-12 school; the teaching is done in English and follows basically a North American curriculum.
We covet your prayers. Join us in thanking God for:
- Safe travel to Burkina Faso as well as the fact that all of our luggage (12 bags) made it with us intact.
- The Mennonite Church in Burkina Faso and the dynamic young congregation that we are learning to know.
- The reception we have experienced via church leaders here and for temporary shelter at a guesthouse while we find a place to live.
- Jeremiah and Deborah get off to a good start at their new school which began August 16.
- We continue to learn our way around the city as we set up house and get to know people with whom we will be working.
- The university students with whom we will work in the coming months, currently on summer break, will travel back safely to resume studies in the next weeks.