"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)

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Where in the World is the Johnson Family?

I know it's been forever since we posted anything. I've been a little frustrated with some of the glitches on our blog site, and super busy the last couple of months (not to mention all the illnesses we had to get through), so it's been hard to motivate myself to sit down and post anything. But today, at least, I have something "easy" to say.:)

For those of you who have not been able to follow us otherwise (i.e facebook, prayer letters, newsletters), we have been doing a lot of travelling/transition recently. We were in Ouagadougou (the capital) last week for meetings and to pick up supplies. It was, actually, a pretty insane week and I was glad when we were done with it. We did, as usual, have an "adventure" on our way there. Couldn't avoid it, seeing as how Liz was travelling with us and "adventures" are just par for the course with her.:) But, we've already done the whole "blown tire" story back in August, so aside from the fact that it was a WAWA (remember that post from a long time ago? WAWA = West Africa Wins Again) experience (hence the title), there's not much to tell. We were fortunate to have some of our colleagues travelling to the same destination in a separate care just 5-10 minutes behind us, so they stopped and helped us out of our predicament. We were in a "less remote" area, apparently, and our poor boys became the object of much curiosity as the local kids pressed their hands and faces up against the glass and jabbered and pointed at them, like at fish in an aquarium, as they were "trapped" inside our car since I would not let them out for fear of the highway traffic.

Just tried uploading some pics to show our above adventure, but, as I already complained, having problems with the blog site...so you'll just have to picture it. On to other ramblings...

We moved to Diapaga this past Monday. Diapaga is the provincial seat for the province Mahadaga is located in. It's the closest thing to a "city" we have anywhere near us, but it's really more of a small town... So, anyway, SIM used to have full-time missionaries stationed in Diapaga and still owns the property (and houses) where the mission station in Diapaga was located. It's been about 13 years since anyone from the mission has lived there, but the structure, anyway, is still in good shape. So with a little elbow grease and a big sense of adventure, we've worked at making ourselves a temporary home in one of the old mission houses in Diapaga. Why? Because we're trying to learn another language. I know, I know...how many tricks can you teach an old dog? But we're gonna give it a try anyway. While I (Florence) have been able to pick up some Gourma (slowly over time) while living in Mahadaga, Dale has found it next to impossible to dedicate the attention and time necessary to really be able to learn another language while being in his current ministry role. It was necessary for him that we "get away" to do the study. Being the director of the Centre for the Advancement of the Handicapped, though, finding a good block of time where he could just "step away" from his responsibilities was not easy. In the end, we managed to find a 3.5 month block of time (February - mid-May) that our colleagues were willing to "let us go" while they shouldered the extra burden of us being away. In an effort to compromise and make the transition away from and back to the responsibilities, we chose to do our study in Diapaga, which is only 35 miles away (but takes about an hour and fifteen to drive due to the road conditions). This allows us to come back to Mahadaga once a week (usually Wednesdays) to check in with the team here. Dale can attend the leadership team meetings at the Center and stay appraised of any major happenings, and as a family we can attend the station prayer meetings in the evenings and stay connected with our team.

So, the big day has finally come to actually make this move. We've been able to pick up basic furnishings from random guest house surplus to use in Diapaga, so we haven't had to move too much out of our house. The house in Diapaga still needs a bit of TLC, but it's livable. And so, in two days we managed to move and settle into our new temporary home. So far our impressions of Diapaga are as follows:

  • Lots more traffic and more concentrated population, so more noise

  • There is a mosque in Diapaga, so we're getting used to the regular calls to prayer our colleagues in other parts of Muslim Africa are so familiar with.  We've experienced this before when we spent 6 weeks in Ouaga for Joel's birth in 2007, but the muezzin in Diapaga doesn't seem to "sing" quite as well...last night I awoke to what sounded more like a long diatribe or lecture than a sing-song call to prayer.

  • Dust.  Lots of it.  Mahadaga is more "bush" than Diapaga, so you'd thing it would be dustier.  But Mahadaga has more sand.  Diapaga just has red dust and it clings to everything.  Sand feels nice under your feet (unless it's too hot).  Dust...not so much.  And the boys get dirty even faster than they do in Mahadaga (if you can imagine that!).

  • Reforging boundaries and relationships.  The local church runs a private elementary school on the mission property behind our house.  The children at the school are not used to little "white" kids, so during lunch breaks and after school they tend to all come over for a look-see...  I expect it won't be long 'til we start having a few curious neighbors show up as well.  Much as some days are "frustrating" in Diapaga for the constant "interruptions" at the door, we've gotten used to our Mahadaga community and who most people are.  And they've gotten used to us.  Now we have to "start over".  But this should be a great chance for us to practice our Gourma and a great refresher course on culture!

  • Critters.  We have plenty of those in Mahadaga, but I hadn't realized how much we've actually begun "winning the war" against the worst of these until now.  Our first night in Diapaga, I swept the whole house out, then mopped it before I would let the boys go to bed.  So I KNOW their room was bug free, clean, etc.  We got their beds in place, made them up and put them to bed.  Joel woke me up several times that night with various incoherent requests, so I KNOW I was in his room in the pitch black several times checking on him.  But it wasn't until the next morning when he came into our room and woke me up with a "Mommy, the dirt pile just bit me" that we discovered what was going on.  I walked into Joel's room to discover that there were two termite mounds, each about 8 inches tall surrounding the two bed legs closest to the outer wall.  In ONE night!  It was incredible!  Apparently Joel had dropped his toy car and reached down to retrieve it and that's when the "dirt pile" "bit" him.  I've had nightmares of invading termite monsters ever since... (really wish I could upload pictures so I could show you!).

  • Other animals.  Along the same lines as the previous point, we've finally managed to keep out the majority of unwanted animals from around the village in Mahadaga.  This is not the case in Diapaga where all the fences are broken down and animals have taken to foraging freely.  I had known from previous visit to the house in Diapaga that there was a flock of guinea fowl nearby that used the back yard as their direct path to wherever they go to graze.  They don't stay there all day (thank goodness - they are REALLY loud and annoying), but they do pass through.  And we found out the last two days that they generally make this trek in the early morning hours (of course).  What we were surprised by, though, was the flock of guinea fowl that "climbed" the tree just outside our bedroom window, then made it's way up onto the roof.  Next thing we know, we hear them scrambling loudly across the length of our tin roof house, just to get to the other side and realize that's not where they had intended to go.  Back across they go, their claws clicking and scratching all the way before they decided to get off and be on their merry way in exactly they same direction they had just come from...  I'm pretty sure they are at LEAST as dumb as donkeys...

On the upside, we have enjoyed some aspects of "the city life".  It's been so nice to be able to hop in the car and run down to the local grocery store when we forget our toothbrushes, or the local bakery when we want bread for lunch, or the local restaurant when we want a quick meal of rice and sauce, or the local hardware store when we need a new shower head, plumbing parts, or even a fan.  Diapaga is now "on the grid" and has city water.  Not sure how reliable it will prove to be, but so far we've not had any problems.  The only "modern convenience" I miss for the moment is my internet!

So, until we either find a way to access the internet from Diapaga, or until our next trip in to Mahadaga, fare ye well!


  1. Poor Liz! No wonder she has a complex when everyone picks on her. But hey, she's following in her father's footsteps. The bugs sound nasty, but the fowl on the roof has got to be annoying. Maybe after your there for a while--they will go around you--instead of over you. Reminds me of a kids song--lets go on a bear hunt! Have fun! Study hard!

  2. Glad you're getting settled in! It does sound like quite an adventure and ew, ew, ew about the critters! I know how loud those guinea hens can be. Nate's mom has two and they are so loud. It's amazing where they choose to roost too! How annoying that they travel during the early morning hours, but hey, they probably take care of a lot of pests too. I know that's why Nate's mom has them - she says they eat a lot of bugs. So, maybe they're part of an answer to prayer so you don't have even more buggie critters...?
    We're thinking and praying for you and hope it goes well.
    Love, Rachel E.