Report from Burkina Faso
In April, a small Global Ministry Team from Hershey Free Church traveled to a village in Burkina Faso in West Africa. Hershey Free has begun a multi-year partnership with the village, and we are looking at what that will look like and how we can aid local transformational development initiatives in the areas of water, food, wellness, education, and income. The following is a trip report we received from team member Dave Sheppard.
I returned one week ago from Burkina Faso. The prayers and support of Hershey Free and of our friends and family were felt during the entire time the team was in transit and on the ground. Thank you for this; it was vital.
Our travel to and from Burkina Faso was uneventful and safe. We were delayed by one day coming home because of airline delays in Burkina Faso. However, it did afford us the opportunity to tour Istanbul.
A word about our team: They were outstanding! Bringing the right gifts and background for what we wanted to accomplish, flexible, caring, loving, willing to function in the extreme temperatures all day long. They were a great blessing.
While relationship was critical (more about that later), there were some other things that were part of our mission.
First, we wanted to gather pictures, stories, and other items that will help inform and inspire our congregation. We returned with many experiences and stories, hundreds of pictures, and numerous videos.
A second major component was considering what role we might play in partnering with the village for transformational community development. Immediately our support will help with a goat loan program and providing a grain grinder. Longer term we may assist with water projects and ways to get students from the village to school during the rainy season. We are waiting on the village to get back to us for direction regarding the role we might play.
And finally to relationships. Yes, the language was a barrier—except that a pastor there was fluent in English, French, and the tribal tongue of Mossi. He was able to skillfully enable us to communicate during our stay. Did we develop any deep relationships on this short trip? No. However, just being there was a beginning.
Our presence brought encouragement to the people of the village. I am not boasting in that, but that was the response from two Burkina Faso countrymen. The pastor I previously mentioned wrote the following: “The chief and the community of the village … and myself express our sincere thanks to you and the congregation of Hershey Free for the love you have shown to us by visiting us during this difficult and hot season.” Another man (whose young son received assistance with medical care from a family at Hershey Free) wrote this: “We appreciate what your organization is doing for people in Burkina Faso.”
So as Hershey Free begins this long journey in our relationship with Burkina Faso, the presence and willingness to engage, to show that we care is the beginning of relationship. I am not certain where all of this is headed. But God knows. And that is what gives me comfort and confidence as we move forward.