Thank You – Burkina, Africa 2016

Dear friends,

I am already ten days back from a second mission trip to Burkina Faso.  Some of you may remember that two years ago I joined with Emsimision, a medical mission group from Spain.  There were 42 of us, doing many different things, and I was told we impacted over 2000 people!

This year in light of a terrorist attack and political unrest, it was decided to do smaller, less high-visibility projects.  So this time it was just our small audiology team, as pictured above.  I’m on the left, Paul Lindberg on the right, and next to him is Nick Frank.  We three are from Bethlehem Baptist.  Next to me is Damaris Vidal, a nurse, and David Armada, the logistics person.  Both are from Barcelona and have been to Burkina Faso many times.  I think our team worked very well together!

Our first visit was with Zida Latifa and her mother, who live very near where we were staying.  Latifa is in the Oumarou Program, so she is sponsored to attend the deaf school, and she was one we fit with a hearing aid last time.  I reprogrammed her hearing aid, and she was hearing better.  She had also had a broken leg, and it hadn’t set properly, so she was in need of surgery.  David Armada put out a call for help to the donors in Spain, and a few days later was excited to report that someone had pledged to cover the costs!

Last time there was a medical student, Ezechiel Sanou, that we trained in audiology.  He has followed up with the kids in the Oumarou Program.  He was able to call their parents so that over the next three days we were able to see almost all of these kids.  We cleaned out their ears, cleaned, retubed and reprogrammed their hearing aids, and in many cases, took earmold impressions for better earmolds.  These I have brought home with me, and will send them back to Ezechiel when they are ready, so he can put them on the hearing aids.  I was very happy that most of the children came with parents, and even siblings, so we could share with all of them a PowerPoint I made about ears, hearing and hearing aids.  Since the official language is French, and some speak only tribal languages, and others only sign language, much translating was required!  Still, I felt that we did ultimately communicate well.

We spent one day at the village of our last trip, finding only one child with hearing loss.  She turned out to be fully deaf and unable to be helped with a hearing aid, but she will be put on the waiting list for a sponsor to send her to the deaf school.   An answer to prayer that day was that I found Bintou, the woman who wove the fabric that I bought last time.  I showed her the jacket that I made from that fabric, and I met her husband and now three children.    She was not currently weaving, as she had broken her arm and the doctor said to wait six months until resuming.

I still had 20 new hearing aids from the ReSound company that needed to find homes!     David Armada suggested a village called Yagma where some of the Oumarou Program children live, and where he knew a pastor named Ramzonga.  We called and went quite suddenly, praying that it would work out.  It did!  Pastor Ramzonga had a loudspeaker and began calling out for people with deaf loved ones to come.  At first it was just lots of curious kids, and team member Nick Frank put his ministry skills to use with Frisbee and soccer, and general loving on them.  We had a couple of hours delay because there was no electricity, but eventually we had a working generator, and could test hearing and fit hearing aids.  Over three days word spread, and we were fully busy with babies through adults.  In the end I had one hearing aid left over (which Ezechiel needed for practice) and about ten more children on the waiting list for a sponsor.  I felt it was a very productive time, and clearly God’s provision.  Here are some more photos from Yagma:

Note the curious on-lookers through the window!

The last story I want to leave you with is about a 23-year-old young man named Ismail.  He was referred to us by a woman named Maria who runs another ministry in Burkina Faso.  He has a severe hearing loss, but had made it through grade school and high school by laboriously copying other students’ notes.  He still has a dream to go to college, but has been unable to get accepted.  I fit him with hearing aids (the best pair I brought), and he was hearing well and so happy!  You can see Ezechiel explaining things to him and Maria.  I trust he will make it through college and have a bright future!  (By the way, Ezechiel is a full doctor now, learning the ENT specialty.)

It was rewarding to bring physical hearing to 44 people, about half follow-ups and half new.  However, the most important thing is that they would hear the Gospel.  We have gotten to know a number of brothers and sisters in Christ there, and they tell us the church is growing.  Many are coming from Muslim backgrounds.  We must rely on them to share the Word, trusting that our efforts help reveal the love of Christ.  It was great to worship in two different churches the two Sundays we were there.  I was particularly touched during the Easter service when the choir included an English song, Give Thanks with a Grateful Heart.  Of course we were trying to minister to those in Burkina Faso, but I felt very ministered to.  Both services included communion and we surely felt that we are one body, despite the distance and the language barrier.

Thank you so much for giving and praying so that I was able to go.  May God bless you abundantly!

Love in Christ,

Martha Takata

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