"For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God." (1 Corinthians 1:26-29)

Thursday, October 22, 2015


Or, "How to kill a blog"

Step 1:  Make a New Year's resolution to get better at adding blog posts
Step 2:  Well, I'm pretty sure you get it.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

New Years Resolutions

Hi everyone!  I can't believe it's been so long since my last post!  I think I started my last post similarly.  This time I blame my chaotic life.  Oh, well.  I was tempted to make a New Year resolution about keeping up on our blog better, but I'm afraid it won't work.  I know.  I'm a coward.

Speaking of New year resolutions, my other would-be-a-New-Year-resolution-if-I-was-brave-enough-to-make-one is to lose weight.  There.  Now it's out there in black and white, maybe that'll motivate me more.  Probably not, though, seeing as how most of you reading this blog are very far away from me, but I had to try to find a way to get myself motivated.  I haven't even defined how much I want to lose.  I just know I haven't been happy with some of my pictures lately.  I know.  I'm vain.

But I knew there was a definite issue here that needed to be addressed when in desperation I grabbed Dale's bike to get down to the Center the other day (about 1km distance).  I was so winded when I arrived that even after 30 minutes I couldn't bring myself to actually ride the bike back to the mission station.  I planned to walk instead, but our guard heard I was walking and insisted on coming to pick me up on the motor bike.  I wonder how many other habits I've lost or laid aside because people insist on doing everything for me (think most house-keeping chores)!

But it's only January and I've got time to work on this, so hopefully, like with all other things in life, I can start to learn to take it one little step at a time rather than trying to reach my goal in one foul swoop (which is what I usually do and whey I'm such a coward about making resolutions).

Okay, so after that rabbit trail, I guess I should go back to the fact that I haven't blogged in forever and at least mention the highlights of the last few "silent" months so you can get the gist of what we've been up to.  Here it is:


After all the teams from this past summer left, we took a one-week vacation to Bobo Dialloso and Banfora (in the Western part of Burkina).  Our friends and SIM colleagues the Baeder family joined us for part of that time.  We also got to catch up with Ken and Anita Hoch - Ken is a Messiah College alum from our days as advisors with Dokimoi Ergatai and now he and his wife are also missionaries in Burkina.

The domes in Banfora, a cool natural rock formation.

The famous Banfora waterfalls.

In August we said goodbye to our good friend Liz Barr as her one year term in Burkina Faso was finally over.  But we also got to welcome another good friend, Brendon Earl, who also came to spend a year with us, covering a lot of Matt Walsh's responsibilities while he and his family are stateside on home assignment.


We started the new homeschool year in September, with Caleb doing kindergarten and Joel doing preschool.  Since then, I dropped the preschool with Joel (he was only 3 when the school year started and just didn't have the attention span even if he could grasp the concepts), but I do continue to include him for certain portions of school.  I had been pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed homeschool when I first started doing preschool with Caleb last year.  This year has proved to be a bit more challenging, though.

Learning about the early Egyptians.

King Cole and his sidekick working in their language arts notebooks.

Daddy teaches about soil.


After a quieter September, October started picking up again, especially towards the end of the month.  We enjoyed introducing our American "Fall Candy Day" customs to our Australian friends and missionary colleagues, who thought our obsession with pumpkin desserts somewhat strange.  Still, they humored us and while they might not admit it, may have liked a few those pumpkin pastries as well!:)

Mahadaga pumpkins ready to be carved.  Recently as we talked about the letter "J" I asked Caleb to color a picture of a jack-o-lantern.  He insisted on coloring it green because, after all, in his experience that's what color they are!

Joel and Tessa Walsh dressed up as kittens.

Our boys LOVED having so many other MKs around to play with.  At the end of a short hike up on the cliffs behind the mission station, the kids all show off their muscles "holding up" this big rock.


November brought a lot of meetings and visitors.  The Fuhlani milk season peaked in November and we got a bit carried away experimenting with making cheese, butter, creme fraiche, yogurt and other dairy products.  In the middle of the month we also spent a week in Fada for SIM Burkina Faso's annual spiritual life conference.  I (Florence) helped with the planning committee this year and led worship for one of the days of the conference.  After conference we enjoyed a short visit from a Canadian team as well as more of our SIM missionary colleagues.  We also celebrated Thanksgiving as a station a few days after the actual holiday.

Freshly pressed cheese!  See all those engineering textbooks in the background?  They come in handy for making a good, heavy cheese press!

We celebrated Thanksgiving as a family on Thanksgiving day.

A few days later we celebrated Thanksgiving as a mission station, sharing our American traditions with our Canadian and French colleagues.


December was the busiest month of all.  We kicked it off by saying goodbye to the Walsh family and splitting up their responsibilities as they returned to the USA for home assignment.  We made 2 one-week trips to Ouaga, which means we spent nearly half the month on the road!  We were thrilled to have my parents visit us for 2 weeks.  Just before Christmas we also celebrated Joel's 4th birthday.  Time flies!

My mom made a Fuhlani friend, Kumbo, who brought her a chicken as a welcome gift.  In total my mom was given  4 chickens, a guinea fowl, and a grass mat!

Joel is such an expressive little boy and he did not disappoint us as he opened his birthday presents!

Caleb helped decorate the Christmas cookies.

The boys enjoyed spending some quality time with Grandma doing different art and craft projects.

My mom had an accident while visiting the local market and injured her knee.  She spent 2/3rds of her time with us using crutches or a wheelchair to get around.  She was a good sport about it, though!

Our Christmas present to the boys was to build them a tree house.  My dad helped Dale get a good start on it and Caleb got the hang of the fireman pole pretty quickly!

Until next time!


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Summer Wrap-Up

It's been nearly 3 whole months since we last posted on our blog!  Ack!  I'd like to blame it on our internet problems, but I can't say it was entirely all the internet's fault, though it didn't help.  Regardless, we're back.  For the moment, anyway, as we are in the capital wrapping up a very busy summer and getting ready to go on a week-long vacation to Bobo-Dioullasso, a city about 365 kilometers west of Ouaga.  I could write a long narrative about everything that went on this summer, but rather than bore you with the details, I think I'll use pictures and captions (with a few short explanations interspersed) to tell about what's been going on the last few months.  Enjoy!

The beginning of rainy season always brings lots of dust as the big rain storms swoop in and stir up all the sand lying around from the last few months; we weren't prepared for this particular storm so we didn't get the windows closed up fast enough - 15 minutes is all it takes to get a layer of dust over everything!
One of the 2 huge trees next to Betty's house fell over during a big thunderstorm in June; it just came up by the roots!  Thank goodness it fell away from the house, especially as the guys from the West Shore E-Free team were staying there at the time.
The guys from the West Shore E-Free Team helped replace all the outdoor electric wire and plumbing for the SIM medical clinic in Mahadaga.  Here, Sam Brenize and Paul Mank are getting ready to run the wires from the main breaker panel to the maternity building.
Sam Brenize and Ed Arnold finish pulling wire.

The guys didn't exactly have the most ideal conditions to work in as they tried to cut and bend conduit.  They did an excellent job, though, and managed to finish all the work in their short 10 days in Mahadaga.

On our return trip to Ouaga to take the West Shore E-Free team to catch their flight we had the car stacked several feet high as we were carrying plenty of empty coolers and storage bins for transporting the next 2 teams' groceries back to Mahadaga.

Don't worry, folks, he's still alive and learning to hold his breath under water.  Our trip to Ouaga to drop off the West Shore E-Free team was the first we'd been in Ouaga in 4.5 months.

Both boys enjoyed reacquainting themselves with the pool and are well on their way to figuring out how to swim on their own.

Two little monkeys climbing on the car.

On the road again!

With all these regular 8-hour trips to Ouaga, our boys have learned to be great travelers.

And Dale has learned to be a great Burkina Faso driver.:)

I always wonder how they manage to keep their balanced perched up their for any length of time!

Intense artists!  Grandpa & Grandma Johnson sent finger paints for the boys to enjoy, so we found a book on finger painting ideas at the CAH library and did all the projects in it over the summer.

We celebrated the 4th of July the Saturday before with the Walsh family.  The kids had fun running around with their American flags and I walked out to find them planted in the middle of the main path through the station.

Caleb and Thomas Walsh wave their flags from the play house in the Walsh family's back yard.

Stephanie Walsh watching over our 4th of July picnic spread.  We found real hot dogs in Ouaga!

The 4 older children ate their picnic up in the play house.

Matt and Dale attempted to create a Cincinnati fire kite.  It almost worked.

We decided to give gardening another good try.

Last year we had trouble with Africa squirrels eating all our green bean plants, so this year we fenced them in separately from the other plants.

Every Tuesday morning Caleb and Joel go to the CAH library to read books in French with their friend Boureima.

On Monday, the 4th of July, the French team arrived in Mahadaga.  We had a big meal together to welcome them, and Liz Barr baked a delicious 4th of July cake!  When it came time to cut the cake, we serenaded our new French friends to with the Star-Spangled Banner.

At the peak of the summer, we had up to 26 adults for one of our station meals; nobody's house is big enough for everyone to eat inside, so we ate on our screened-in porch instead.

One of the highlights of the summer was the CAH end-of-school-year field day.  There were nearly 30 different booths with activities for the kids to try, like the ring toss.

Caleb and Joel were invited to participate in the field day festivities.  Each child was given a tag with each booth numbered on it so they could keep track of how many they'd been to and which ones they "won".

Two CAH students battle-it-out in a sumo-style wrestling match.

Caleb was good at knocking over the tin cans with the ball.  Guess he's had plenty of practice!

The CAH staff had a Welcome party for the Messiah College and French teams.  For one of the games, whoever was left holding the "hot potato" when the music stopped had to do a challenging activity, like finding a specific page in a book without using your hands.

Ben from the French team had to pick the ball up off the floor and place it on the chair without using his hands.

The French team shared two songs with us.

The CAH school closing ceremonies were held on July 7th.  The ceremony gives us a chance to award those students who passed the primary school exam (CEP) and showcase the progress of many of our handicapped students whom the community often doubted would be able to succeed in school.  This 3rd year student read a short composition in braille for the parents and community representatives assembled.

Namoussa, a 5th year student, solved some long addition and subtraction problems presented by volunteers int he audience.

The graduating class of 24 (100% pass rate!) sang 2 songs about God's faithfulness.

The audience.

Dale (Director of the CAH) handed out graduation gifts.

Mondu, a primary school graduate from a previous year, is deaf.  He showcased his tailoring skills during the closing ceremonies, putting together a button-down men's shirt in the time it took to get through the whole ceremony.

More food and fellowship!

We enjoyed many cultural activities with the team, including learning how to make rice toh.

Little 2-year-old Evodi shows us the right way to eat toh - sitting on the floor and eating with your hands.

A rainy adventure to the waterfall with the Messiah College team.

The rain storm only lasted an hour or two, but it was enough to  make the waterfall enormous (and not climbable).  Keep this picture in mind later on.

On the way back from the waterfall, we found one of the wash-ways was  flooded  too deeply for the car to get across.

Everyone was soaked thoroughly and waiting outside in the cool breeze was making little boys' lips turn purple, so they crawled in the back with friends Kathy and Linnet and cuddled up under the towel to stay warm.

Matt and Dale came to the rescue, but there wasn't much they could do except continue to wait for the water to go down more.  After about 2 hours we finally decided it had receded enough to cross on foot.

Grandpa and Grandma Bomberger sent new, much-needed underpants with fun Disney motifs.  The boys love to "match"!

Several family birthdays occurred over the summer.  We were able to send a few small gifts home with the Messiah team, including this dress for cousin Lilia.  I wasn't sure it would fit her, so I made Caleb try it on first, since he's just 5 months older than her.

Making a birthday card for Grandma Johnson.

Each of the teams that visited us this summer led prayer meeting at some point.  Here, Jeremy from the French team tells a children's story about a snake who kept stealing the farmer's eggs.

Joel and Tessa Walsh.

Some of the crafts made and sold by the local Fuhlani women.

The kids eventually found a good use for the fallen tree by Betty's house.

Our French missionary colleague, Francoise, also celebrated a birthday this summer.  The kids helped her blow out the candles.

Two boys, two big toy trucks, and a mud puddle.

One of our summer art projects: we made cardboard cut outs of each boy's profile and painted them.

Add a cotton ball eye and pipe-cleaner hair and you've got two cyclops!

On her last weekend in Mahadaga, we took Liz Barr to the "Upper Falls".  When the "Lower Falls" (called Boundi) are not flooded, you can climb up above them to access this 2nd, bigger, more private waterfall.

Liz decides she must try for an adventure on her last weekend in Mahadaga - she must go stand under the waterfall.

Almost there...

We've made contact with the water, but that's not good enough.  We must get completely under it.

The rocks are slippy, so our fearless adventurer decides to try scooting out under the falls on her bottom.


But no, sitting under the falls is not good enough.  We must now try and stand.  It works...

...for about 2 seconds before she went sliding into the pool.  Adventure had and photographically documented!

French short-term associate Nicolas, who joined us on this epic waterfall hike and witnessed Liz's last Mahadaga adventure.

Remember the picture of the "Lower Falls" that were swollen by rain when we visited it with the Messiah College team?  This is the same waterfall two weeks later.  That's what 2 weeks of no rain can do!

Caleb and daddy driving the Yamaha Rhino.

Mahadaga sun sets behind the cliffs.

Two weeks later, this is the same wash-way we could not drive across in the Terrano with the Messiah College team because it was flooded

More gardening.  We've had to do a lot of watering ourselves this summer as we've had very little rain.  Most of the local grains are only waist-high when they should be 5-6 feet tall by now.

When there's no rain, little boys make their own mud puddles!

Messiah students Dena and Jo invited us over for some epic monkey bread!

The Yamaha Rhino takes on the Mahadaga Grand Canyon...and wins!

Tessa Walsh is not to be outdone by the boys; she told me she was "washing off" in the water.

We had a ladies night with the woman from the local French church.  They taught us to make toh.  Dena tries her hand at crushing the spices that will be going in the sauce.

Burkinabe stove.

Our sauce.  It had potassium, bullion, dried fish flakes, white (navy?) beans, a local spice called tsumbala, some rock slat, and some sort of local leaf.

Time to mix the toh: sorghum flour soaked overnight and poured into boiling water.

Beta shows us how to stir the toh so that it'll cook to the right consistency.

Messiah student Jo gives the toh a stir.  It's hot, tiring work!

The fruits of our labor: 2 pots of toh and 2 pots of sauce to share amongst 15 women!

Gathered 'round the table.

To eat toh, you first take a small ball of in your fingers, then dip it in the sauce and eat.

For those of us who are not used to it, it can be a bit hot on the fingers and a bit messy to eat!
That about sums it up!  A big thank you to the West Shore E-Free Church, Messiah College, French, and Grace Point Church teams, as well as the short-term associates (Jozi, Sarah, Liz, Nicolas, Dena and Jo), for spending the summer with us!  From wiring and plumbing, to investing in the education of local children, to playing with the kids, to cutting out summer VBS materials, to eating and playing games, to great in-depth conversations, to teaching new therapy methods, to learning about our culture - thank you all so much for sharing life with us!  It means a lot, not only to us, but to our community.  We hope to see you all again some day!;)