Confessions of a Missionary

On occasion, I refer to myself as the “world’s worst missionary”.  What I really mean when I say this is that I am human and mess up like any other person. I struggle with people pleasing & jealousy, get mad and respond in my frustration, sometimes talk negatively about others, am selfish, don’t always want to help others and the list could go on.  On my most recent bush trip to drill wells, I found myself having one of these “world’s worst missionary” moments.

We had finished drilling the first well of the week and were making plans to return to a village about 20 minutes away to install the pump for a well that was drilled by a previous team.  Once that was done, we were going to head to the next village and set up to drill another well.  However, some leaders from a nearby village stopped in and asked if we would be able to come check out their well (that another organization drilled) because it was no longer working.  My response was one of frustration and irritation.  You see, everywhere we go (whether drilling wells, building hangars or something else) people come and ask for help.  And the truth is, sometimes it gets old and frustrating because it seems people always want something from you.  Thankfully, not everyone had the same response as me.  The FIA guys (our well drilling partners) agreed to go check things out and see what we could do.  So, after we installed the pump for the one village, we made our way to the village with the broken pump.

Before I go on, let me give you a little history about this area.  A couple weeks before, the FIA team had been in the village nearby where we had just installed the pump.  The Muslims there were not happy the team was there, were ridiculing the Christians and were not open to them using water from their pump to help with the drilling process. The team was there working on that well 5 days before they had success.  Fast forward a couple weeks and we were at a village down the road where God had given us an opportunity to show His love to this group of Muslims by repairing their well.   We were there for 2 or 3 hours while a crowd gathered and watched as the team worked to repair the well.  Some of us were able to pray for these people while the pump was being repaired and before we left we all gathered together and prayed that God would use this situation to reveal Himself to these people and open their eyes to the truth of His gospel.

It was dark by the time we finished and so we stayed in the village where we had just drilled the well for another night.  The next morning the same leaders came to thank the team for repairing their well and to see what it was going to cost them.  At this time some of the missionaries were able to explain that we did this for them because of the love of Jesus Christ.  They were able to speak words of truth that we are praying will lead to life change in that village.

Later that morning, we left for the next village and were able to complete 2 more wells this week and another 2 the following week.  So, even though God changed our original plans, He still helped us complete 5 good wells in 2 weeks.

After the incident with the broken pump, I had some reflecting to do in regards to the attitude of my heart.  It was not a good feeling to realize the pump wouldn’t be fixed and the truth of the gospel would not have been shared if I had been the one making the choice about whether to go check the pump out or not.

During this week, I was reminded of the verse in Galatians that says, “So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.”  The reality is that we cannot help everyone in a country where we are surrounded by need everywhere we go, but this was a good reminder that often God brings people to us who have needs and I need to see these situations as opportunities to do good and not just as an interruption to our plans.


When God Shows Up


Almost a year ago, after a well drilling trip, I wrote a blog about thanking God when there is no water and how He taught me that He could use dry holes to bring Him glory.   The same can be true in our own lives. It is often in the difficult times that God shows up in amazing ways and teaches us more about ourselves and our relationship with Him. Recently, during some really hard times, I went through the process of learning to trust God in a whole new way. There were days I didn’t know what to think or what I should do, but I knew that God was in control and that I needed to trust Him. I read a quote that said, “Where is the heart that is fully Mine – the one that will trust Me and not waver no matter the threat?”. This became something I prayed about and claimed for myself on a daily and more often an hourly basis. It wasn’t a fun season in my life, but I grew closer to God and learned how to trust Him like I never had before.

So, I was in the middle of this trying time, learning to trust God and grow from the “dry” times in my life while trying to look at the difficult circumstances in my life as an opportunity to become more like Christ. During this time, I returned to Burkina and headed out for a two-week well trip. Over the course of these two weeks, we drilled ten good wells in nine different villages (picture above is from one of the wells). This was a record…it had never been done before!! I say that not to brag, because I can promise you I had nothing to do with it. I only tell you this to show how amazing and how big our God is. God taught me something during these two weeks. He taught me that yes, we need to give thanks for dry holes or difficult seasons in our lives and we need to look at those times as opportunities to grow & learn to depend on Him. But, he also taught me that sometimes He likes to show up in big ways to show us that He is good, that He is awesome and that He still does amazing things. He taught me that He doesn’t just bring dry holes into our lives, but that He brings great blessings into our lives. He taught me that though there are difficult seasons, He will still show up in huge ways to remind me that He is God and He is good.

Giving Thanks When There is no Water

There is nothing quite as discouraging on a well trip than packing up and leaving a village after drilling two dry holes, with a promise to be back next season to try again. After spending several days drilling in the heat, trying to give a village clean water all you want is to leave them with a well. When you end up with no well, it is discouraging, frustrating and leaves you with lots of questions.

I memorized the verse about giving thanks in all things many years ago, but sometimes it is hard to understand why we should give thanks in certain situations. What is there to be thankful for when you drill two dry holes and leave a village without clean water? Wouldn’t it be better for the village and bring God more glory if we hit water every time we drilled?

God opened my eyes to something on a recent well trip. The first village we went to was visited in January when a pervious team drilled two dry holes. When we showed up a couple weeks ago the local people started talking about us “white people”. They talked about how we (the previous team) showed up and prayed for God to bring water, but then also took time to pray and thank God even when we didn’t find water. Not only that, but now we were back. This people group is one of the strongest Muslim groups in Burkina and they were heard saying, “These people have a better way to Paradise” and they have also been asking the pastor in that area questions about this better way to Paradise.   It seems God is receiving more glory because two dry holes were drilled before we found water on the third attempt than He would have received if we hit water the first time we drilled.

The third village we drilled in had three previous dry holes. When the couple we were working with from our local church showed up, the village chief came and asked about sacrificing animals to the spirits so we could find water. They told him that we were not going to sacrifice any animals, to which he said was the reason no water was found the first three attempts. The couple proceeded to tell him again that we were not going to sacrifice animals and that if God wanted us to find water, we would. At this point, I must admit that as I prayed for water, I was also praying for God to help my unbelief. I know pretty much nothing about how to go about finding the best location to drill for water, but I trust the guys we work with and I knew from what they were saying that it was very unlikely we would find water in this area.   However, we prayed and asked God to give us water…and He did! Later that same day, we once again hit water. God made it very clear to us that He is the one who gave us that water. And, once again, I was shown that God received and will continue to receive more glory because it took 4 attempts to get water than if they had found water on the first try. I cannot wait to hear about what God does in this village because of this miracle well.

I tell you these two stories to say I now completely understand why I should give thanks for dry holes. It may be frustrating and not make any since at the time, but God has used and will continue to use dry holes to bring Himself glory.

Last week I went out to help drill in another village. When we arrived, I learned that there had already been two attempts at drilling a well. As I prayed we would find water, I also prayed that God would do whatever would bring Him the most glory, whatever would magnify Him the most, whatever would promote Him and make Him big. Initially, we found water, but it ended up not being enough for a well. We attempted a fourth hole in this village and again found no water. Though this is very frustrating and discouraging, I am trusting that God knows what He is doing and that He will ultimately use these dry holes to bring Him glory.

This has been a good reminder for me that even when we don’t understand what God is doing or why He chooses to do things the way He does, that I should always choose to give thanks. I may not understand what is going on, but God has reasons for why He chooses to do things the way He does and I need to trust Him.

God is still God and God is still good

This is what I know: God is still God and God is still good.

I don’t always understand why God chooses to do what He does or why things happen the way they do.   I felt this way when my brother-in-law passed away and I feel this way again today as a good friend and ministry partner was killed in the terrorist attacks here in Burkina. Mike loved the Burkinabé as much as any one person could. He was an amazing husband and an amazing father to not only his children, but to all the children at the orphanage he ran with his wife. AND more than anything, Mike loved God with all of his heart. He was doing amazing things in this country for widows, orphans & many others and I don’t understand why God would choose to take Him now. I can’t make any since of it, BUT I know that God is still God and that He is still good…if only I could convince my heart of this tonight.

This is what I know: God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, of love and of self-discipline.

With all that has happened in the last 24 hours I have started to battle with fear. I don’t want to allow fear to enter my heart. I know that God is in control and that He has our days numbered. I know that I could return to the States and though I may feel safer, it doesn’t mean that I would be protected from hard times or even death any more than I am protected here. I have to put my trust in God’s plans. I know all of this…now I just need to convince my heart to believe it as I face each new day.

This is what I know: We are told to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us.

After these attacks and the death of Mike, this is very difficult for me to accept. I know it is what I am supposed to do and somehow I have to convince my heart of this.

This is what I know: The Lord gives and takes away, but I should choose to say, “blessed be the name of the Lord”.

God really used this verse in my life when my brother-in-law passed away. I remember processing this and coming to terms with what it meant for me at that time. Today my heart is aching for Mike’s wife, 4 children and the rest of his family.  Mike was doing so much for this country and the Burkinabé.  He had so  many dreams of how God could use him to accomplish great things for the glory of God.  I think of this, of all the other people who lost lives, of their families and the Burkinabé and though I have so many unanswered questions, I can say once again with an aching heart, “The Lord gives and takes away, but I will choose to say, ‘Blessed be the name of the Lord’”.

and if the world hates me …


“But when believers live in the power of the Spirit, the evidence in their lives is supernatural.  The church cannot help but be different, and the world cannot help but notice.”  This is one of my favorite quotes from Francis Chan’s book Forgotten God. For years I have prayed that I would live my life in such a way that other people would notice something different. I do this not because I want to be noticed, but because I want people to see something different and desire the same thing in their own life. I want them to desire to know Christ and live their life for Him. I want to live a life so full of God’s love and power that other people cannot help but notice. In doing this I have worked to live a life of conviction, to be honest, to stand up for what I believe, to work hard, to serve others, to accept anyone God brings into my life and to love others no matter who they are, what they look like, what they believe or what they have done. I certainly haven’t done this perfectly and I’ve made many mistakes over the years, but I still try to live in such a way that others see Christ in my life…and my desire is that they will not only see something different, but will see something they want.

Over the last couple years I have realized that even if people do “notice” that my life is different, it doesn’t mean they will like what they see. It could mean they notice I am different and judge me for it, maybe even hate me because of the way I choose to live my life. This is hard for me to accept because I want people to feel loved, special and important because of the way I choose to live my life. However, I have been reminded that the Bible doesn’t say, “If you work hard, if you be honest, if you stand up for what you believe, if you love others, if you [fill in the blank], the world will love you or the world will understand God’s love”. The Bible says, “Does the world hate you? Remember that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you like one of its own. But you do not belong to the world. I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.” (John 15:18-19) “My brothers and sisters, don’t be surprised if the world hates you.” (1 John 3:13)

I still believe this quote from Chan’s book is true and my desire is still that others would see something different in my life, something they want. However, I now view this quote a little differently. Even though my desire is that people would notice something different and change because of it, I have to accept that instead, people may hate me because of it.

When 2 Worlds Collide

One of my favorite ministries here in Ouagadougou, is the handicap ministry. This is a ministry that was started by a local pastor to reach out to the handicap population. We consider this group of people an unreached people here in Burkina because they are basically discarded by society and most people want nothing to do with them. Over the last year, it has been so exciting to see how much God has been doing with this ministry. In addition to the many handicap bikes that have been given away, a restaurant was started so that the handicap people would have a place to go and eat (they are not allowed in restaurants).  Not only that, but this provides jobs for some of the people in the handicap association. Recently, this restaurant has really grown and others in the community have even become excited about what is going on and have contributed to helping it grow. The handicap association will also be starting a farm in Sector 30 in the next couple months, which will give even more people jobs.

Today we went to Sector 30, where the handicap ministry is, to distribute a couple of handicap bikes. There were many people from the handicap association and widow’s ministry there for a meeting in regards to the new farm. As exciting as all of this is I was even more exited when I realized that the grandmother of the Compassion child I sponsor is part of this group.

(here is a photo of one of the guys who received a bike at the distribution)


While at the bike distribution, my Compassion child came up to me… Let me interrupt my story here and just say that it brings me joy whenever I happen to be at Sector 30 and I randomly get to see my Compassion child. How many people get to experience something like this?????  In this picture, Amed has a much different facial expression than the pics from the first time we met almost 7 years ago.


OK, so as we were talking he told me his grandmother was there and I asked him to take me to her so I could greet her. There she was sitting with the group of widows waiting for the meeting. It brings me such joy to realize that she will have a job to help provide for her family.


After greeting Amed’s grandmother I snuck over to the car with Amed to give him some snacks even though I tell every team member to not even think about handing anything out in Sector 30 (yes, I broke my own rule).  That is when he introduced me to his little brother, Samadou.  Of course, this meant I also shared some snacks with this adorable little guy.


Amed was about this size when I first met him.  Just for fun, here is a picture of Amed back then …


I just love how two ministries that I am involved with in one way or another collided on this day.  It brought me great joy!

Being Thankful When I Want to be Miserable

I remember writing a blog before I moved to Burkina about the things I would miss the most after leaving the U.S. You know, things like my family, friends, good food and Chick fil a. It wasn’t long after moving to Burkina that I realized it was things like electricity, running water and cooler weather that I would miss the most (besides family and friend of course). It is in the middle of hot season (March-May) that I miss these things the most.

May is a miserable month here in Burkina. Temperatures get up to 110-115 or hotter most days with it being over 100 degrees in my house pretty much every day. There are also frequent power cuts (I had one for 14 hours the other day) and water cuts. Typically I just want to get through hot season as fast as I can because it is so miserable. It was during a recent power cut when I was drenched in sweat and wanting to complain about how miserable I was that I was reminded of how much I have to be thankful for. I live in a country where most of the people never have electricity or running water.   Not only do I have both most of the time, but I have a backup water tower so that I basically never run out of water (this wasn’t the case my first year here) and I have a generator I can run when the power cuts get to be too long (or I just need power). I also have an air conditioner I can run at night to sleep or when I need a break from the heat. I am blessed with a nice house and never run out of good food.

Too often I am quick to complain about the things that make life uncomfortable and I am way to slow in giving God thanks for all He has blessed me with. This is something God has convicted me of before and has once again brought to my attention. In the middle of a miserable situation I need to learn to look for those things God has blessed me with and choose to be thankful regardless of the situations I find myself in.


This is by far my favorite word in the bible.  To me there is an amazing amount of meaning wrapped up in this one word.  It is the Greek word Jesus used when He was dying on the cross and said, “It is finished”.  However, there is so much more meaning to this word when you know a little history behind it.  This word was used in New Testament days when someone paid off a debt.  Once the debt was paid in full this word was stamped across the record of the dept.  This word was also used when a servant had finished the work he was supposed to do or when a shepherd found the perfect lamb for passover.  I cannot completely grasp the significance of all that Jesus did for me.  He came to earth to fulfill a specific purpose, a specific job.  He came to become the perfect lamb, to become the ultimate sacrifice, to become sin & die on the cross to pay OUR debt…and He paid that debt in full.  There is nothing left for us to pay, our debt was completely paid off when Jesus died on the cross.  This is something that I try to consciously think about each day….each day I try to grasp this and thank God for my salvation that I have because Jesus paid my debt in full.  No matter how long I think about this or how long I try, I cannot truly and completely grasp this.

It is because of this amazing truth that Jesus should be what my life is all about.  I was recently reminded of this when I received some missionary friends’ newsletter.  They stated that, “Our first calling is not to the ‘work of the ministry.’  There will always be work to do and needs all around us everywhere we turn and it would be easy to burnout.  However, our ultimate call & purpose is to be with Jesus!  Jesus is our first calling.  Period!”  I was convicted when I read this because it can be so easy to get caught up in the ministry and what I am doing for Jesus.  I was reminded that I need to take time to just be with Jesus and that my first calling is to Him…that my life needs to be all about Him.

Choose Love

Recently I have been reflecting on all God is doing here in Burkina and I am blown away by how blessed I am to be part of so many amazing things God is doing through Envision Burkina.  As I have reflected on the ministry here, I see how God is using teams to reach the people of Burkina.  Because teams come out we are able to come alongside the Burkinabé and build church structures, drill wells, minister to the hurting, feed the hungry, provide handicap bikes to those who would otherwise be crawling on the ground and much more.  Recently, someone said something to our Envision team about how in all that we do, we share Christ and the Gospel message…THIS is what gives us the passion to do what we do.  Yes, it is awesome to be able to provide clean water for a village or to help someone who has been beaten and left for dead.  Yes, it is important to help meet the needs of others and to show love to everyone, in fact both are Biblical.  But, our ultimate goal is to see people give their lives to Christ.  Teams giving up their time to love on the people here through smiles, touch, time, gifts and meeting their physical needs opens up many opportunities for Burkinabé believers to share the message of Christ.  I could tell you story after story of people who have given their lives to Christ as a result of a team coming out and loving on the people in one way or another.

One of the missionaries we partner with tells groups they just need to love the people and leave the rest up to God.  Loving others looks different everywhere you go.  Loving others could mean taking time to play a game or teach someone English.  Loving others might mean drilling a well or distributing handicap bikes.  Loving others might be something as simple as holding a baby or taking time to smile and shake someone’s hand.  I have seen many teams come to Burkina and take time to love the people here and as a result I am seeing God do amazing things here in Burkina.

Here’s some of what’s going on:


Handicap Bike Distributions.

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Wells providing clean water to villages in Burkina.

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Church structures teams are building in the bush.


TOMS shoes distributions with Sheltering Wings (orphanage we partner with).


Loving on babies (and kids) at orphanages.

May we never forget in the middle of busy weeks and endless reports and projects that God has called us to love people.

Lost in Christmas


I love Christmas … I love the decorations, the music, the food, ugly Christmas sweaters (or at least making fun of them), time with family, Christmas Eve services and everything about it. With this being my first Christmas in the U.S. in the last few years, I have really been enjoying all the Christmasness all around me. However, I realized the other day as I was listening to some of my favorite Christmas music that I was getting lost in the middle of all this Christmas greatness.

I was listening to lyrics that say,

“Come, Thou long expected Jesus

Born to set Thy people free…

Born Thy people to deliver

Born a child and yet a king”




“I know You came to rescue me

This baby boy would grow to be

A man and one day die for me and you

My sins would drive the nails in You

That rugged cross was my cross too”


along with other similar lyrics, when I was convicted of how “lost” I had become in the middle of this Christmas season.

I have always known the true meaning of Christmas and I have never forgotten the true meaning of Christmas, but somehow it got pushed to the back of my mind. Hearing these lyrics helped bring it back into focus. Christmas is a time for us to celebrate the birth of Christ. But that isn’t the end of it. Christ came to bring us good news of great joy. He came to be our Savior, to die for us, rescue us and set us free. THIS is why we celebrate Christmas.

As I have listened to these songs over and over again, I keep reminding myself that in the midst of all the “Christmassness” not to lose sight of what is most important. I am not saying that all the lights, decorations, goodies, time with family and gifts are bad…these are all fun, but if I am not careful they will become the main focus instead of what really matters. And what really matters is Christ and my response to Him.

My favorite Christmas song is Little Drummer Boy. Part of that is because I have a weird obsession with drums, but it’s the message of this song that really makes it my favorite. It is about a little boy who is going to see a new baby king, but doesn’t have money to buy him a gift. So, he decides he will play his drum for the baby king and he plays his best for him.   This song is a reminder of what my response to Christ should be. It doesn’t matter what I have or what God has called me to do. What matters is that I give my all and do my best for my King.