Normally when we plan an event, I try to imagine how everything is going to work out. Usually things come up a little short of what I imagined; pastor’s camp this year far and I mean far exceeded my expectations. This camp is a time for the pastors and their families to be challenged biblically and also a great time of fellowship. Of all the pastor’s camps we have held, this one was by far the best.
A few months back, I was with a few pastors discussing the camp. I had an idea of what I wanted to do, when one of the pastors suggested that we talk about marriage and family. Recently, he had translated some premarital counseling sessions for me and said, “My wife and I never have heard that.” The other pastors joined in and said that it would be helpful.
It is hard to explain how much of a struggle the relationship between an African man and his wife is here in Burkina Faso. Most of them grew up in polygamous homes. They never saw much interaction between the dad and mom. One pastor told me, “I have often wondered how I am even here because I never saw my dad and mom together.” They aren’t affectionate; kissing, handholding, and hugs are VERY uncommon or just about non-exsistent. At church a man doesn’t sit with his wife but with the other men. Many men have told me that they have never told their wives “I love you”.
With these circumstances in mind, missionary Vicente Garcia, his wife Gaby, my wife, and I went to work planning. The closer the time came to leave, the more excited I became. It was clear rather quickly that God had arranged the teaching and plans.
We decided to have competition between the couples. Many of the couples have never been involved in couple’s games. In between all the teaching and preaching we had games where the couples had to work together. The first place, second place and third place teams would all get a basket full of goodies.
For three days they competed together. You can see some of the games in the pictures below. I have also uploaded a video of two different game. One was to see who could eat the donut the fastest and the other is a game we call “rooster.” It was a blast to watch the pastors try to pop each others balloons as their wives cheered them on.
Wednesday night we decided to have a special meal to honor the pastors and their wives. I believe they are more important than the president of this country. Their calling is greater and their purpose far exceeds that of a president. I told them that if the people knew their value then they would be the richest people in all of Burkina Faso.
I had asked them to wear their best clothes, and we decorated the straw hangar that we used for our meals. Then, we had a special candlelight dinner. We had a completion with the men. They were to pick out three to four verses from the Song of Solomon and read/act out them to their wives. It was hilarious. Then we asked the woman to share five to ten positive things about their husbands. Wow, were we ever shocked! The woman told their husbands how wonderful they were and how proud they were to be married to them. As I stated, kissing isn’t something most couples do here but I had a last and final game to see which couple could kiss the longest. I figured some wouldn’t even start and most would last a few seconds. Boy was I wrong. 8 of the 10 couples stayed lip locked for 10 min. I finally had to tell them to quit. During these three days, we witnessed God do things that most could never imagine happening here in Burkina Faso.
We had a special time of renewing of our vows. I have never done this in the past and have never been a part of a service like this, but it was so special to watch each pastor and his wife openly promise their loyalty to one another. Their vows were just as strong as and stronger than on their wedding day. I was also touched to be able to renew my wedding vows before my Burkinabé brothers and sisters and also my children. If I could go back in time I wouldn’t change a thing. God gave me the best helpmeet in the whole world.
I am sorry for rambling. I could have given much more details but wanted you to see a little glimpse of what God is doing. I wanted you to see what a huge step forward this is for our couples in the ministry. Many of the pastors told me a few days after that they felt like they were married all over again and that they had a new start. We are thankful to all of those who make it possible for us to be here and to the Creator of marriage for enabling us to impact the lives of such wonderful men of God and their families.
Trying to be the first to finish a donut.
Musical chairs and the wife had to sit on the husband’s lap.
Water balloon toss was fun to watch.
The kids had a great time also.
Trying to open and eat a pack of cookies without using their hands.
The game called rooster. Pop the other man’s balloons before he does yours.
The women have a time watching their husbands try to win rooster.
The pastors trying to put lipstick on their wives while blindfolded.
The woman trying to tie a tie on their husbands and the man can’t touch it.
The quality of the photo isn’t great but it is a great photo.
Pastor Salif reading out of the song of Salomon to his wife.
Our special meal together.
The winners of the week.