Rick Gregory, Writer

Translating Messages From Heads To Hearts


This is the first day I’ve had internet access since Thursday evening . . .


Today has been a wonderful day. The night cold (70+ degrees) was really comfortable at 4:45 am when I rolled off (not out-of because I was on-top-of) my bed. Nothing better than a cup of instant Nescafe on the patio! Pastor Daniel collected us at 7 am and chauffeured us an hour and a half west of Ouagadougou to the Bethel Bible School, in the town of Koudougou. Jeremy is the director of the school and a wonderful host. This is one of the places our church has bought roofs for some of the outdoor “kitchens” used by the wives of the students. These kitchens are each approximately 6’ x 4’ built of stone, exposed to the wind and dust – of which there is no shortage of either! There are two small holes built into the nearly flat top of a small stone cavern in which the coals are placed from the front, like a front-loading stone oven. During the rainy season (about 3 – 4 months a year), they can’t cook and have to eat the food raw or share one of the kitchens that does have a roof. And saying they have a roof doesn’t tell the complete story. These kitchens are built in a sort of pod, 6 in a row on one side, with the back wall serving as a common wall for 6 more mirroring them on the opposite side. A galvanized roof, sloping only one direction covers only the tops – with the sides still open to the air, wind and dust. All the cooking for each family is handled at one of these kitchens.

I spoke at the chapel service today on imitating Christ (from Ephesians, Philippians and I Corinthians) and attempting to use illustrations of how God has sustained Sherry and me over the past 35 years walking with Him. At the end, Jeremy asked me to pray for some of the students who are already out of food and supposedly the famine won’t be until later this summer! Clearly for these students, the famine has begun. Josh spoke well again at the 2 morning class sessions.

Lunch today was far more suitable to our wimpy American palates. We had more noodles, cooked with entire chickens in it – including heads and feet! Along with the noodles was another dish of “pental,” or roasted guinea fowl. It was delicious, far better than chicken. Veggies and bread rounded out the meal, along with Fanta (orange) and Coke. Here’s what is so tough. I had just heard that some of the students had no food – and we were treated to a complete feast. Moore culture requires that even if they have nothing, they must immediately go and borrow to provide exceptional hospitality to a visitor and then repay what was borrowed some time in the future! And it would be an affront not to accept. And it broke my heart to accept.


Saturday was a day for visiting . . . first stop was Pierre’s church in Koubri, where we were treated to Nescafe from plastic bowls because Pierre had no cups. But Pierre DID have a Renault “Rapid,” a sweet little french version of a minivan, which he drove and we followed – to show us the barrage or dam that feeds a government-constructed system of irrigated plots where about 70 families grow various small crops. This was no small sacrifice for the man who had no cups, as gasoline costs over $6 per gallon! They were growing rice, cabbage, corn, onions, and an herb that didn’t translate to English. When other foods become scarce, they use this herb as an extender for any meat or other vegetables or boiled to make a soup. Because the land here is irrigated, the people generally have enough money and food all year round. The key to their subsistence is water. Previously they used pesticides every two weeks for pest control, but now they are experimenting with a spray concocted from crushed leaves of the NFme (pronounced “neem”) tree. It seems to work well to prevent pests from consuming the plants and is completely safe for human consumption. These 70 families are well-provisioned on about 25 hectares of land.

I wondered about the security of the produce. Why, for example, wouldn’t it get stolen at night? Pastor Daniel said it is very common practice for animists to place curses on the plots so that anyone attempting to steal would be prevented from leaving until the owner arrived in the morning. I thought he was joking . . . but he was dead serious. He said this isn’t done so much any more in the cities because it would cause the deaths of too many children who have grown up on the streets not knowing right from wrong and would get caught in the curses! In the bush, it is still common practice! People apparently do die from the curses!

Before dinner, Daniel escorted us to the home of Abdul and Husga, one of his married daughters and her husband. Daniel had asked us to come pray for their oldest son Ismail (11years old), who is facing the possibility of death due to a kidney disease, which I believe they called glomerial nephritis (it was a tough translation of French, Moore and English). What I understood clearly is there isn’t a single pediatric nephrologist in all of W. Africa. Abdul and Husga have petitioned the government for financial support, which would allow them to take Ismail to France for treatment. Without the government approval, and unless God intervenes, Ismail will not live.

Daniel and Elizabeth Delma treated to us to a meal at their home, which was by far the finest meal we’ve had in Ouaga. African couscous, rice, noodles (what’s with the curly Italian noodles? We’ve had them at every meal!), chicken and guinea hen, an incredible salad of shredded carrots with cucumbers and cabbage covered with a home-made vinaigrette. Six of the Delma children were there along with spouses of the married ones. It was wonderful evening with grandchildren running everywhere

However, the crown of the entire evening was hearing Sherry’s voice . . . and her handing the phone to Carrie, who announced the grand entrance yesterday of Violet Grace Prince, my third grandchild and first granddaughter! While I’m sad I missed it, I thank God for little Violet’s safe arrival!