Friday, August 14, 2009

Bonne Année 2007! Happy New Year 2007!


Here in Ouagadougou, signs have been springing up in front of stores and businesses wishing everyone a happy new year–"Bonne Année 2007!" or "Joyeux Nouvel An!"  This is the common greeting in Burkina Faso, a country of many ethnic groups and religions.  While Christians celebrate Christmas, Muslims are celebrating Tabaski,* and others are just enjoying the festive mood and vacation from work.  Since everyone, regardless of religion, celebrates the New Year, "Joyeux Nouvel An!" is a courteous greeting for all of one's friends and neighbors. 


Since we came here this fall, we have been impressed by how well people of different ethnic and religious groups get along in Burkina Faso.  In a country composed of 10% Christians, 50% Muslims, and 40% various animist religions, there is amazingly little sectarian conflict.  Everyone seems to respect the religious beliefs of others, and people are free to follow their faith traditions.  A taxi driver we know, who is Muslim, has two Bible verses pasted to the dashboard of his car:  "It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord," (Lamentations 3:26) and "Love is the fulfilling of the law," (Romans 13:10b).


There are some sixty different ethnic groups in Burkina Faso, a nation which is approximately the size of Illinois and Indiana put together.  There are the semi-nomadic, fiercely independent Tuareg in the north, the dominant Mossi in the center, and groups such as the Gourounsi in the south, who are known for the beautiful paintings on their mud-walled homes.  In the long history of Africa, these groups have not always gotten along together, but now they live peacefully side by side, respecting each others' traditions. 


Sometimes when we see the poverty of countries such as Burkina Faso, we are tempted to wonder what their contribution to the world could be in terms of economics or political influence.  Yet Burkina Faso's example of peaceful co-existence among people of different faiths and ethnic backgrounds puts much wealthier and more powerful nations to shame.


As we celebrate the birth of the Prince of Peace and look forward to a new year with prayers for peace, let us, too, remember that "love is the fulfilling of the law"–between individuals, peoples, and nations.


With best wishes for a blessed Christmas and a peace-filled New Year, "Joyeuse Noël et Bonne Année 2007!


Joe, Deborah and Christa Troester

Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso

December 2006


*Tabaski is a Muslim feast which commemorates Abraham's obedience to God in taking Isaac to be sacrificed.  As you may recall, an angel appeared to stop him, and Abraham and Isaac sacrificed a ram instead.  Many Muslim families celebrate this day by sacrificing a sheep and eating it.  People wear new clothes, and sometimes gifts are given to children. 


Prayer Requests:  thanksgiving for a good harvest in Burkina Faso this year; (They have produced enough grain for approximately 50% of their own food needs, which is better than average for this country); for an end to hostilities in the Central African Republic, and for the well-being and safety of the church and missionaries there; for continued good health, patience, and diligence as we learn French; for the right teacher for Christa next year, and her continued adjustment to life as a "missionary kid."  A big thank you to all those who are praying for us and for the people of Africa.

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