Tag Archives: Burkina Faso

Missionary Fellowship and Recognition Banquet

by Tim Dyck

Blumenort, Man. How do you celebrate a lifetime of service in cross-cultural ministry? What is an appropriate response to those who have sacrificed so much in service to the mission of the Church? This September, EMC Missions attempted to do just this, as we recognized Paul and Lois Thiessen for their ministry of Church Planting through Bible Translation for the Siamou people in Burkina Faso. Continue reading Missionary Fellowship and Recognition Banquet

Burkina Faso: Tubabu Salesman

by Paul Thiessen

I roam through the bustling crowds of the Saturday market and listen for someone calling my name, “Bwallon Kén!”We exchange all the necessary greetings, then he says, “Ma tè” (What’s the news?) So I tell them that I’m selling Siamou calendars.

I pull out a blue calendar and explain the attractive features, especially the five days of the Siamou week, and show them how they can find which is today. They love it. This is, indeed, a Siamou calendar.

The men are making china green tea with their tiny enamel teapots and charcoal burner. The aroma of hot tea and glowing coals fills the air. They offer me some in the middle of my presentation. Very sweet. Very strong. Very delicious. 

I read them all the names of the months in Siamou: “Cold Weather Month, Hot Weather Month, Very Hot Weather Month, Pick up the Daba Month, Seeding Month….”

Next, I show them the Noah story. Each month has a short paragraph of this story. I begin to read the first two paragraphs in Siamou: Noah was a righteous man. He walked with God. But the people were evil and rebelled against God. So God told Noah to build a large boat.

By now a small crowd has gathered. Here is a Tubabu (white man) reading Siamou out loud. They have never seen such a thing before. I read extra loud to attract attention. More people are coming to listen. Siamou people are hearing a Bible story in their beloved language for the first time.

Then I tell the rest in Siamou, because reading it all would take too long there in the middle of the market. I emphasize that it rained 40 days, using the Siamou word for “forty” (kpélnkrô). This number impresses the listeners, because young people say “binani” (in Jula, the trade language) even when they are talking Siamou. Hearing the genuine Siamou word for the number 40 gets people excited. This story is being told in pure Siamou.

I tell the story pointing to the pictures on each page. Then I get to the end, where Noah is lifting up his hands toward God to thank Him for saving his family.

About halfway through the story, someone is digging in his pocket for change. He hands me 300 fcfa, and I give him a calendar. Someone else says, “The price is too high. Lower the price.” I answer: “We paid the printshop in Ouagadougou 500 fcfa for each of these. You are already getting a good deal.” Out comes 300 fcfa. They know this is a good deal.

They love hearing their language and they love the prestige it gives Siamou people and the Siamou language to hear a Tubabu reading it.

After selling a few calendars I go home and pray that God will use this story of Noah to lead people toward the Truth, toward God, and toward Eternal Life.

Paul Thiessen (Blumenort), currently living in Canada, has served in Burkina Faso, west Africa, for many years.

MCC: Reasons to hope this Easter

 Compiled by Rachel Bergen

“Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen” (Luke 24:5).

He is risen, indeed!

Resurrection is the ultimate sign of hope. Christ’s rebirth plants hope in people of faith, and we regularly see this hope blossom in the lives of the people that MCC supports around the world.

 MCC responds to famine in South Sudan

At a point in time where Yemen, Somalia, South Sudan and northeast Nigeria are affected by what the United Nations calls the worst global food crisis since the Second World War, it may be difficult to see signs of hope.

The United Nations has declared a famine in Unity State, the northern region of South Sudan. It’s the first famine declared by the UN since 2011. Famine is a term the UN rarely uses, reserved for the most dire situations that meet specific criteria for rates of malnutrition, food shortages and death.

MCC is providing a two-month supply of food materials in Unity State. Two hundred and forty-five households will receive sorghum (grain), beans, cooking oil and salt. The distribution will be carried out by MCC’s partner, Sudanese Development Relief Agency.

In addition, we are supporting South Sudanese refugees living in refugee camps in the Gambella region of Ethiopia. A shipment of MCC canned meat recently left our warehouse in Canada, and will help supplement the diet of people in the camps – mostly children, pregnant women and nursing mothers.

Conflict-affected families are receiving humanitarian assistance in Ukraine

For much of the world, the conflict in eastern Ukraine seems to be forgotten, but the Nesterchuk family continues to live through it. Though Ukraine might not be making headlines, MCC has partnered with local organizations there to help deliver humanitarian assistance for the internally displaced people and others who are vulnerable since the conflict began in early 2014.

MCC is sending relief kits, canned meat and comforters to those who need it most. MCC has also provided US $1.7 million, including $1 million from the Canadian government in emergency funds. This assistance helps subsidize the costs of heat and rent, and funds psychological support, trauma healing and locally purchased food and other items.

Latrines are reducing rates of cholera in Haiti

Last year, Hurricane Matthew hit the rural community of Wopisa-Gabriyèl hard. Beyond the damage to animals and crops, there was also an increased risk of cholera caused by the intense rains washing cholera-infected human waste into the streams and rivers that are used for bathing and drinking.

The community has long known of a relatively low-cost solution to protect its water source and its health: the installation of latrines. For subsistence farmers though, the materials to build latrines are too expensive.

MCC is partnering with the community in addressing their needs and will provide materials to construct 450 latrines that will meet the needs of 90 per cent of the residents. MCC will also be working with other remote communities at high risk for cholera by building a total of 630 latrines serving more than 5,000 people. 

Students are attending school in Cambodia thanks to a hot breakfast program

Attendance is up at Proom and Angkearhdei primary schools in Cambodia’s Prey Veng province after a new hot breakfast program was implemented.

Each morning, children like Meth Peaktra and Nyum Sophim, who attend Proom Primary School, start the day with a bowl of piping hot rice porridge which includes pork and vegetables. In this highly vulnerable Cambodian village, 90 per cent of residents practice small-scale, low-yield rice farming. Many families are poor and have trouble meeting all their nutritional needs. Now the children in the programs are healthier, have more incentive to go to school and can focus on their studies.

Farmers in Burkina Faso have better crop yields

Step into the fields of Etienne Tiendrébeogo in Yé, Burkina Faso, and you’ll see large half-moon shapes dug into the soil.

Tiendrébeogo learned about these half-moons and other new agricultural techniques through the work of MCC partner Office of Development of Evangelical Churches and they have changed his life.

Half-moons help capture rainwater during storms. These conservation agriculture techniques help control erosion, improve soil fertility, and increase water retention in the soil. Tiendrébeogo now saves food in case of emergency and grows enough to feed his whole family. 

Syrian refugees access trauma counselling in MCC-supported schools

In Beirut, Lebanon, refugee children from Syria often struggle at school. In addition to overcoming past trauma, they find it difficult to succeed academically and fit in socially. MCC’s partner House of Light and Hope provides informal educational support and other services for refugee girls and Lebanese peers growing up in vulnerable life situations. In partnership with House of Light and Hope, MCC funds after-school academic support, home visits, trauma healing camps, and more for girls ages 8-18.

MCC sees hope inspired by people and partners like these, who live the power of the resurrection in their daily lives.

Rachel Bergen is a staff writer for MCC Canada


Burkina Faso: Puzzling Over the Meaning of the Word ‘ki’

by Paul Thiessen

BURKINA FASO–The Siamou language was not a written language when we started learning it 30 years ago. Along with the task of Bible translation came the job of linguistic analysis. We had to study the consonants and vowels in order to develop an alphabet.

The tone was even more complex. If the Siamou people were going to benefit from the written Word of God, they would have to learn to read their language. In order to read fluently, with good comprehension, the writing system would need to be well done.

We learned at first that there were three basic tone levels: high, mid and low. Then we noticed that there were also falling and rising tones. Eventually we discovered that there were two kinds of high tone, two kinds of falling tone, and three kinds of mid tone.

But there was one elusive word that kept slipping out of our grasp, in defiance, refusing to be caught. It was the word “ki.” This tricky little critter sometimes showed up as high tone, sometimes as mid tone, and other times as a falling tone. Not only that, sometimes it caused the tones that followed it to change.

The result was the beginning of a treasure hunt. I began wondering whether identifying the underlying tone of the word “ki” would help people to be able to read the Siamou language more fluently. I became convinced that it would.

We had already discovered that a falling tone word causes a following high tone to be lowered, but a high tone does not cause a following high tone to be lowered. For analysis purposes, we mark very high tone as a number one (1) and a lowered high tone as two (2). Sometimes “ki” causes a following high tone to fall from very high tone (1) to a high tone (2). Sometimes it doesn’t.

Solo and I were correcting our Luke translation, working at a distance using Skype. We were looking at Luke 13, reading the parable of the vineyard. In verse 8 the man, referring to the fig tree, says, “Sir, leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it.” The word for fertilizer, núkwá, has high tone on both syllables. In this verse, the word ki comes just before núkwá.

All three syllables are very high, so I marked those as 1-1-1. But when I asked Solo for the meaning of the sentence with the high tones of núkwá lowered to level 2, he said that would make it into an event that had already happened instead of a plan for the future. But our tone marking system doesn’t differentiate between those two meanings.

And so, tone analysis continues alongside Bible translation. Our goal is to help Siamou people to read the Word of God, to understand it and to listen to the Holy Spirit revealing the meaning of the text. Having a good orthography with the correct consonants, vowels, and accurate tone marks helps reading comprehension and helps people to hear what God is saying to them.

The treasure hunt continues.

Paul and Lois Thiessen (Blumenort) live within the village of Tin and serve in literacy and Bible translation.


Microloans: beneficial to me and my family

By Fabe Traore

Burkina Faso—Souleymane Traore was in great difficulty. He had a wife and three daughters to support, but he was seriously ill, and he was living in the capital city of Ouagadougou, the most expensive place in Burkina Faso.

He decided to return to his home village, Samogohiri, where most of his larger family resides and where he thought his immediate family would be taken care of while he continued to fight his illness.  When they arrived, they joined the local Mennonite church.

Continue reading Microloans: beneficial to me and my family