Kayes (pronounced like kite without the "t") is a town of about 90,000 people. It is in southwest Mali on the Senegal River close to the border of the country of Senegal. It is considered one of the 3 hottest places on earth and is often referred to as the "pressure cooker of Africa". In 1892, it served as the capital of the French Sudan before Bamako replaced it 6 years later.
The base for our evangelism team is a grammar school in Kayes. We're broken into several groups sleeping on the floor in various classrooms. There's no running water, and only latrine toilets...which is a tiny room with a small hole in the ground. This also serves as the shower area when you bring a bucket of water along. God has shown us some mercy and provided a house for our family a couple of miles away.
Although we're in a house separate from the camping conditions at the base, our living conditions are not without their challenges. There is another family plus some singles sharing the house with us. In all, we are 13 people living under one roof. The real challenge is that the house only has one bathroom. This has been really tough. And to add to the problems, the water here in Kayes has been very unreliable. On many days, we've had water for just a couple of hours a day (usually while we're gone). We're doing our best at keeping a couple of barrels filled with water when we do have it to be able keep the drinking water filter full, to hand flush the toilet, and to take bucket showers. It is nice to have the privacy of our own room and a bed to sleep in, however the water and bathroom situation are wearing on our spirits.
The Summer of Service is an evangelism outreach for anyone who wants to participate. We've spent the past few months recruiting people from Bamako. Although it's a YWAM event, it's really designed to involve people from outside of YWAM and work side-by-side spreading the Gospel in Mali. It also involves several seminars and teaching sessions to bring people closer to the Lord and give them a better vision of what we hope to do during the Summer of Service. Most of the teaching mirrors what we learned in our Discipleship Training School. This is a way to expose others to some of the great things we've learned and help them grow in their walk with the Lord. It's been encouraging to see the variety of people that have come from other countries to be part of this event.
This first week will be strictly classes and seminars. The next two weeks will be classes and workshops during the day and outdoor evangelism events around Kayes at night.