Saturday, June 21, 2008

Banfora Falls, Burkina Faso

Up overlooking the valley
Great restaurant
Pools at the falls.

Gary likes the natural water massage

Some of the falls...

We (Arri, Gary and myself) made it to Bobo Dioulasso to meet up with my sister, Terry and her husband, Barry Newman. We made some great memories enjoying that southern city of Burkina with it's well-kept colonial era buildings and ambiance.

Sunday we decided to go to Banfora Falls, about an hour's drive south. As you arrive in Banfora, you must descend a plateau to the valley below, full of sugan cane plantations. When we came to the escarpment, we decided to pull over so Arri could get some shots. We all ended up climbing the ridge to the top, one way or another, and looking down on the valley. The view was breathtaking! We got pictures, had fun and then took off again, into Banfora. By then it was nearly lunch, so we pulled into a little Maquis that had been recommended by Bobo miss'ys. It had a grass roof and surrounded by plants, but at first it didn't look too promising. However, inside was very neat and we ordered brochettes (meat sticks like kabobs), rice and sauce, and avocado vinaigrette. It was all very scrumptious!!

Then off to find the falls on dirt roads finally leading into a lush forest. Paid a fee and then parked, and hiked into the area. The guide first took us to the bottom of the main falls, and then we hiked to the top. It was abit of a hike and hot, and we wondered if it would be worth the walk. Well, at the top of the falls the view was amazing. On further up the river we came to a series of falls, cascading down into pools. It was unlike anything I've seen before and we were all able to choose our own pools to relax in. Some were bigger for swimming in, and Gary and Barry liked the ones where they could sit under a falls and let it beat on their shoulders. I could have stayed there for days!
(Thanks to Arri for the 3 shots of the falls!)

God's Protection

Several Friday mornings ago, we left on a trip for Burkina Faso to takeour niece, Arri, over to meet my sister and her husband, so that she could spend some time with them in Mali. We wanted to get on the road pretty early. Up first, I was taking things out onto the terrace and noticed that Leah had killed a snake and it lay in the middle of the walking area. I walked by it several times, assured that it was dead since there was no wiggle in it at all. Ahhh! How foolhardy of me! As I came back out a third time, it was writhing its' head and upper half all over, lunging. I could see that its' back must be broken and so couldn't move anywhere. I called
Gary and he came out and killed it. Later, when our worker, Abdou, looked at it, he told me that it's a very poisonous snake.
On the road, well into our trip, I was reading in Psalm 91 and came across those verses that talk about "you will tread upon the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent. Because he loves Me," says the Lord, "I will rescue him; I will protect him..." and it all HIT me how the Lord had truly protected me! Praise God!!! How easily that snake could have jerked over and hit my ankle. We would have been driving to Niamey rather than to Bobo!!

Makalondi Church Builds

The Old church...
...and the beginning of the new.

Back in May we received an unusually early rainstorm, and when I say a rainstorm, I mean a Rain Storm! We had such strong winds during the rain, that it ripped the roofs off of many of the homes around us. We even feared that ours would be torn off as well!
Needless to say, with that wind, our church didn’t stand a chance. It was knocked flat and dispersed! I think that’s what our church needed to get us to MOVE. They decided to build a mud brick building, and bigger to accommodate all the people who come. So after a month of “planning”, they finally came to Gary and said that they were ready. One of our supporting churches in the U.S. had given to help a church build, so Gary bought them enough cement to be able to do the foundation, several rows of bricks as a base, posts and to cement their floor. The rest is being built by the members. A Christian organization in the States will bless them with a tin roof and some doors and windows.
So this past Thursday, Gary and many of the men turned out to pour the foundation. One can sense the unity and joy among them, as they work together to build their House of Worship of Jesus Christ!


While out in the bush looking at giraffes, I showed Arri the thorn trees that grow everywhere in this area of Africa. This is the same tree from which the soldiers took branches of thorns and twisted into a crown of thorns, which they put on Jesus’ head. When you see these thorns up close, they cut your heart as you realize what pain and agony Jesus went through having that “crown” forced down onto His head!
And then the Cross! And He did it for us!
Thank You Jesus! Thank you from the deepest part of my heart!!!

Birthday Girl!

Since Arri is a photographer, we took her to a special restaurant for supper. The name of this restaurant is the Tabakady, which means, Taste and See. Very appropriate name. You make reservations to come early. On arrival, you enter the dining area in which all the tables are set with linen, china and crystal. All around you on the walls are large pictures of the Sahara desert in Northern Niger and of the peoples who live there. You are seated and served your drinks.
Then they begin a “Spectacle”…breathtaking desert shots and of the beautiful Tamajek peoples living up there, all to majestic music. It is truly spectacular! Arri was transported into her dreams. “How far is it to get to the desert?”, she asked.

After the show, we are treated to our choices from their menu of original gourmet French dishes…magnificent! During our meal, the proprietor, a mustachioed portly Frenchman, came by to ask about our satisfaction with his dishes. He is also the photographer of the “Spectacle” which we saw, so he was glad to hear that Arri had thoroughly enjoyed his pictures!
We have to agree with our son, Joe’s, assessment of the Tabakady - It is the BEST one in all of Niger…maybe even in West Africa!

Arri's Arrival

Having our niece Arri here has allowed us to do some tourist-y things for a change. A few days after her arrival, we celebrated her 21st birthday. We drove about 40 kms out of Niamey and got out among the giraffes. These are the last surviving giraffes in West Africa, so they are protected. It’s an incredible experience to get to walk among them freely. The guide told us that they are very curious creatures and we saw that, as they in turn, watched us.