Lots of people have asked me over the past few years what a typical day looks like for me here in Burkina Faso. I haven’t been able to answer because every day is so different. But let me give you a glimpse into what this Monday looked like, since it shows some of the joys and struggles of life here:
7:00 – Get up and get ready for the day, including putting on sunscreen even though it’s currently cloudy.
8:00 – Pray with Jen and get ready to head out the door. We have called Charlie* and Sam* from Our People Group, and they are planning on accompanying us to the Dandelion* and Kangaroo* villages. We are looking forward to this trip!
8:20 – Before we get to the end of our block on our motos, we notice the water company guy walking down the street. Oops. He’ll be to our house soon, and someone should be there to let him in the gate so he can check the meter and give us our bill. Jen turns around and heads home, while I go ahead. I stop at a little store and buy some soap for Sam, since he just had a baby and that’s what you get as a baby present here. Then I stop along the main road and buy some bread for the village chiefs of Dandelion and Kangaroo. It’s an appropriate way to thank them for their time. I call Charlie to let him know that we’re on our way. No answer, but he’ll at least see the missed call. I then sit down next to the bread seller and wait for Jen to catch up.
8:50 – Jen catches up to me, and we head off! On the open road through some beautiful country that is nice and green this time of year.
10:00 – We arrive in Sam and Charlie’s village, only to find out that Charlie, the one we planned the trip through, isn’t there! We find out he forgot we were coming and is back in the city, visiting a new baby there. Change of plans! Sam offers to accompany us to Kangaroo, so after asking which road is the least bad, we head off.
12:00 – Was that the best road? Yikes! Water, puddles, mud, sand, rocks, hills, a druggie standing in the middle of the road, and other such obstacles made for a challenging ride. I’m glad that my moto skills have improved greatly over the past 3 years, otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to make it without falling off the moto or sending Sam flying. We sit down and talk with Mike*, Sam’s friend in Kangaroo village. We ask questions, and also enjoy a chat. One question in our mind is whether this is the village where we may end up living. Shortly into our chat we find out that this probably isn’t a good option, since there is a huge gold mine very close by that has brought many unsavory characters (hence the druggie we drove around) to the area.
1:00 – We head off again, grateful to take a different road. These roads that we’re taking are only passable because the month that is supposed to be the rainiest of the year, the month when the crops are supposed to grow beautifully to give food to the villagers for the year to come, hasn’t seen a drop of rain in the area. Not good for them, but at least for us it meant we could go greet Mike in Kangaroo village.
1:30 – We arrive in Bellybutton* village, a short distance away from Kangaroo. We greet the people there, who should be out working in the fields but can’t because of the lack of rain. We go to say hi to one of the guy’s mom’s, and she and two friends are together. One of them starts talking about how we’re going to come and do all sorts of wonderful stuff for them. So that they don’t think that we’re going to build a hospital and a school and drill 5 wells, I tell her that what we’re planning on doing is teaching them, even the old ladies like herself, how to read. (We’ll get to the God part later.) She is super excited and says that she can’t wait and she’ll help us with whatever she can so that we can accomplish that goal quickly. So sweet! She’s an old lady and has never learned how to read in any language.
2:00 – After a short visit, we continue on. We were still hoping to visit Dandelion village, but I can’t convince Sam to stop. I forget that it’s not on the way home, but would be a few miles down a different road. He also says that he doesn’t know anyone there, and without calling ahead they’ll have all gone to the fields anyway so we won’t find anyone in the village that we could talk to. It’s true. It was Charlie who was supposed to call them to let them know we were coming, and he forgot all about it. We leave it for another day and head back to Sam and Charlie’s village. It’s now quite sunny and I’m hoping the sunscreen I put on this morning hasn’t totally worn off yet.
3:00 – We get back to Sam and Charlie’s village and sit down. After just a few minutes we overhear Sam sending someone to the store to buy some spaghetti. Yes, he was talking in the language of our People Group, but it had enough borrowed words from French and Jula that we understood at least that much. “Spaghetti packet 2.” We know we’ll be staying at least long enough to eat, so get comfy. There are some teenage boys around, so I start teaching them English the way we learned Jula. “This is a tree. This is a house. Where is the tree? Where is the house? Where is the tree?” They catch on pretty quickly, and after a bit are willing to switch roles and teach us a little bit of their language. Yes!
4:00 – Food is ready, so we go inside and eat. Not being a fish person, I’m grateful that they didn’t serve us fish today to go with it. Spaghetti and French bread. I can do this!
4:30 – We’re done eating and want to head home before it gets dark, but it starts raining. Then it starts pouring! No use heading out now on the motos, so we sit and chat. Sam says that there isn’t as much work this month, so if Charlie is free later in the week maybe we can head to Dandelion then. Sounds good to us!
4:45 – The rain slows down, but I remember that even though we gave Charlie the gift for the baby, we haven’t gone to see it. So we go over to their house and say hi to mom and baby.
5:00 – We head out. It gets dark at 6:30 now and it takes about an hour to get home, so we should have a few minutes of wiggle room and still be able to get home before dark.
5:45 – As Jen stops for gas I buy some fruit and veggies. It’s less weight that I’ll need to carry home from the market tomorrow on foot, and also cheaper out here.
6:15 – Welcome home! Now I have to call the people that we visited to let them know we made it home safely. I also have to call the people whose villages we went through but weren’t able to stop at to tell them hi, too. That way they’ll be happy, even if they saw us pass and not stop. Jen and I also record notes about our trip today and what we learned so that we won’t forget and I can type it up tomorrow.
7:15 – Ahh, calm at last. Time to take a shower (riding through puddles and mud and sand and rain and such made me a bit dirty!) and eat dinner. Then there’s even a little bit of time to read a book before I crash.
Well, there you go. A typical 9-5 job, right?
* Not their real names.