the archives, vol. 4: joy.

we squeezed in the car and we drove.  
when the cotton fields were still littered with white snow and the rain had a way of sneaking up with a terrifying wind, we drove on the red dirt that snaked through the land.  
we drove to meet the people in a church that had been praising God through life, in another area of this country that has stolen my heart.

and the sound of their rejoicing reached my ears the instant my foot met the sunbaked grass.
worship in a language i did not understand, but i knew was filling God's ear with beautiful words that were for Him.
because as a pastor here reminded me, our God is bilingual he reassured me, "don't worry, God speaks english too… "  

and as i was sitting under a grass roof, surrounded by people sitting on everything from rocks to small margarine buckets, it made me think: how much do we honestly, honestly praise God through trials?
i mean really, how often do we lift him up and worship his name with a smile on our faces?
even when our heart is breaking inside?  

mom + i had noticed that a lady we knew was pregnant, and we were surprised that we hadn't heard anything about the baby yet.  
but maybe it was just a cultural thing to not talk about it because being pregnant + having kids is such a normal part of life here.  
she disappeared from church for about three weeks.
i imagined that she had probably had the baby + was recovering, but as the weeks passed and there was still no news we knew that she must have lost the baby.  

our pastor later confirmed that she had lost the baby…  along with her previous two pregnancies.
and it was a kick in the guts that left me heartbroken and gasping.  
why God?  
why let this woman's babies die again and again?  

yet the next sunday, there she was with a flashing smile, praising the Lord.  
dancing, singing and praising His great name with so much joy. 

and this is just one woman's story, we have heard countless stories + know of so much loss, i wouldn't even know where to start. 
but no matter the loss, no matter the pain, they still praise His name.  

how is it that we let trivial things steal our joy?  
the slightest inconveniences throw our mood in the gutter, and we justify it!  
we prop ourselves up with excuses of the complexity of our situation or the crutch of emotional hurt. 

how often do we really have to hurt?  
like really truly hurt, where our heart is ripped out of our chest and thrown into the bucket of hardship and pain, left to continue beating on…  

i've learned so much about joy from burkinabe.
these people, who are among the very poorest of the world, living in conditions that most deem impossible, they not only breathe, they live.  
really live. 
these brothers + sisters in Christ are a testimony to the Father's love, through thick and thin.  
because when our heart is breaking, how much more is His? 


let's go play on frozen lakes.

back when there was still buckets of snow and it was so cold your face hurt and your lungs protested every time you drew breath.  
-20 is no joke.
we went and froze and laughed and were thankful the the radioactive lake (we're 90% sure it is at least...) was a pure white palate for us to traipse upon.


the archives, vol. 3: this place.

he sits in the dirt and plays with sticks cause mama's in the field with big brother + dad.  
big sister cooks and cleans and brothers play in the sand with him, running in and out of the open wall in their courtyard.

his mama can't read cause she never went to school, and jula is the only language that warmly meets her ear.  
so my mama and his mama work it out with laughter, smiles and help from the little kids eager to show off the latest french they learned in school.  

national geographic has become my back yard.  
the conditions that these people eat, breath, sleep + live in are unbelievable. 
and yet, and yet they have joy.  
such amazing, breath-taking, beautiful joy!!  

and peace,
a peace that passes beyond all earthly understanding.  
because it isn’t, it is not of this world, and you can see it miles away like a lighthouse shining forth for all to see for those who seek it.
it's the joy that we are called to have as those who are found in Christ, and yet we don't.
how is it that it's easier seen on the face of one who has no Everlasting Hope, that the one who has the promise of eternal life?

and people ask what i love about this place.
what is my favorite part.

and my mind goes blank, because frankly there is not much to like about it.
my flesh doesn't like the heat + the bugs + the buggy water + the hurt + pain that stares at me at every turn.

what do i like about burkina?
nothing, i don't like anything about it.

but i do love it.
i love burkina.
i love this place and the people that live in it.

i've tried, i really have.
i've wracked my brain every. single. time. after someone has asked that impending but terrible question
and i always come up with a blank state,
nervous smile
+ most times, end up with a random food item.

so i don't like this place.
i love it + the people that live in it.
i love the food that they eat + the languages that they speak.
the clothes that they wear + the places they live.

i love the little boy in the dirt + his mama that works.
the people that surround this life + invade the cracks.
even when they take away the plans for the evening that i had.