I have come to realize that everyone’s “normal” is going to be different. Even if you live in the same country, state or city what is normal to one person may not be normal to someone else. The thing about going to another country, especially a third world country, is that the “normal” is extremely different instead of just a little different. There are many things in Burkina that have become normal to me that I don’t even think twice about now. There are other things that have become normal to me, but at the same time are things I may never understand.
One of the things I love about when someone comes to Burkina for the first time is to see things through their eyes. I love to hear them say, “Oh, look at that!” or “oh my goodness, that is crazy!”. Seeing Burkina through someone else’s eyes helps me to appreciate some of these unique things about Burkina…or maybe appreciate the US a little more:
- In the US, our schedules and routines are very important to us. Here, it is all about relationships. Relationships are more important than getting your project done or being on time. This is something we Americans can learn from, but something that can be frustrating at times.
- It isn’t weird for me to go up to random strangers in the bush or at church and take their babies from them to hold for a while…OK, so maybe even at the go-kart track I grab other people’s babies.
- I can give candy to the neighbor children or other random children and I’m not considered a “stranger” that the children should not take candy from.
- Children, and I mean small children, play in the road or run across the street. Yes, we see this as dangerous and yes, it can be dangerous. But, I love to see the kids playing outside and having fun playing games with practically nothing instead of always on an electronic device or watching TV.
- Every. Single. Day. I see donkeys pulling carts with a load of something someone is transporting. People work so hard just to survive and make a living here. This guy had a small load … you would be surprised how much stuff one donkey can pull.
- It is normal to have people call after me every single day saying one of the following: “Nassarra”, “La blanche” or “tubabu” – 3 different languages to say the same thing – “white person”.
- It is absolutely normal to see a semi-truck (or Burkina’s equivalent) with anywhere from 1-25 or so people riding on top. Or something like this:
- It is also absolutely normal to see someone driving their moto down the road with 50 live chickens hanging on the handle bars or maybe a couple of live goats.
or maybe carrying something like this:
- I see this every day because this is how women carry things around…they are such hard workers and servants, but they are always so full of joy and very giving.
- And, I am very blessed to get to do things like this, which I would never get to do if I lived in the US:
These are just a few of the things I experience regularly. They have become part of my “normal” and so sometimes I forget how unique God has made each of us who make up this world He created. I forget to focus on the good and the unique things instead of focusing on the things that frustrate me. I forget how blessed I am to be part of what God is doing here in Burkina. And so, I love to see Burkina through the eyes of those who are seeing it for the first time.