Friday, September 28, 2007

Between A Rock And A Hard Place

No...this picture isn't an announcement of a new family member. It's Julie's latest sonogram of her kidney stone. She has spent the past week resting and waiting for the stone to pass. Unfortunately, there has been no movement. The good news is that she's been relatively pain free.

We do have access to semi-modern medical facilities and western trained doctors. It's nothing like the services we have available in the States, but it's suitable for most situations. The doctor Julie has been seeing has been very attentive and proactive. He has had a couple of sonograms performed the past week to check the size and nature of the stone and to note any movement. At this point, he feels we have reached the limit of what can be done in Mali and he's advising traveling to London or Paris for further treatment. He's currently working with our insurance company to come up with the next step in treatment.

Please keep this in prayer. We are hoping the stone will pass naturally during this period of waiting and it will be a non-issue. The time and expense involved in another medevac for our family would be really trying...especially financially. We know that God is ultimately in control, but it's times like these that put our faith to the test. Thank you for your prayers.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Ladies and Gentlemen, Julie Has Left The Building

Thanks for your prayers for Julie.  After spending 3 days and 2 nights at the clinic, the doctor was able to identify Julie's sickness as a kidney stone.  Although not exotic and exciting like a tropical disease, we were very happy and relieved to know it isn't something life-threatening.  It doesn't make the pain any more bearable for Julie but she is now at peace.

Because Julie was so sick, she was unable to keep any of the medicine down.  This led to another overnight stay last night.  After giving her initial treatments and anti-nausea medicine via IV, things began to calm down.  She is now able to keep the medicine down and she began eating for the first time in 3 days.  The doctor released her from the clinic today to finish her recovery at home.

This episode was also a huge test of our French comprehension.  It's difficult enough to get through normal day-to-day situations in French, and the added challenge of medical terminology put things to a real test.  Thankfully, we communicated successfully and were able to make it through with our developing language skills.

Again, thank you for your prayers.  They played a pivotal role in her diagnosis and recovery.

Friday, September 21, 2007


Julie has been struggling with sickness for the past couple of months. She's been treated for parasites and internal infections. The past couple of days she's been very sick. She has been running a high fever, vomiting violently, and suffering a severe case of the chills. It sounded like a classic case of malaria and we began treating is as such. But she was unable to keep down the medicine. We took her to a Malian clinic today to have her put in an IV malaria treatment. But it turns out that 2 subsequent malaria tests came back negative. The Malian doctor we are working with specializes in tropical disease and he thinks she is suffering from one. He has a few ideas but it is going to take several tests to narrow things down. We spent 12 hours at the clinic going through preliminary treatments and testing. We ended up leaving Julie in the clinic overnight. She is currently feeling much better after receiving several IV treatments for her fever, internal infection and to re-hydrate her.

Please be in prayer for Julie. Whatever she is suffering from has been taking a big toll on her and her ministries. This weekend in particular, she will be missing the annual Mali missionary ladies retreat that she has really been looking forward to.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Missionary to the Stars

We learned a while back that our house used to be occupied by Tiken Jah Fakoly - a famous Reggae singer from Côte d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast - Mali's neighboring country to the south). We have people come to our door once or twice a week looking for Tiken Jah. He originally came to Mali a couple of years ago seeking refuge. Côte d'Ivoire is currently involved in a civil war and Tiken Jah's music was critical of the government who put a price on his head forcing him to flee to Mali. While he lived here in our house, he also set up a recording studio just up the street. Tiken Jah has since relocated to Paris, but his studio is still in operation and is a hubbub of activity in our neighborhood.

We pass by the studio daily and greet the people outside. Today, John stopped to talk with a man at the studio. He spoke English, so John had an opportunity to have an extended conversation with him. His name is Abou. It turns out that he's Tiken Jah's brother who is visiting Mali for a few days. Today is the start of Ramadan, the holy month of prayer and fasting for Muslims. Abou asked if John was fasting today for Ramadan. John said no, we are Christian. Abou went on to talk about being Muslim and how similar he felt Muslims and Christians are. He was quite confused on a lot of Christian beliefs and it was an open opportunity to share with him about the God of love and the importance of Jesus. He was open to learning more about Christian beliefs and getting answers to some questions he had. It was a wonderful time of sharing. John hopes to see him again soon and continue the conversation. Please keep Abou and Tiken Jah in prayer. Although John didn't meet Tiken Jah today, we think we'll see him eventually. Please pray that Abou and Tiken Jah can understand the truth of Jesus and understand the important differences between Islam and Christianity. May they both come to know the truth and hence be set free.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Lavese Las Manos

September 10th has been declared "Wash Your Hands With Soap" day by the Malian Health Ministry. Hand washing is common here, but using soap isn't. As a result, thousands get sick and die each year because of this simple lack of hygiene. So today has been set aside to help encourage people to use soap whenever they wash their hands. Just thought we'd pass this hint along to you too. Please wash your hands today with soap!

Many of you have been experiencing a heat wave in the States over the past couple of weeks. It's been just the opposite here. Being well into rainy season, our temperatures have been been quite low by Mali standards. The highs have barely been crossing the 100° mark and the lows have been dipping into the mid 70's. It's strange to think that the weather in California has been hotter than in Mali.

And speaking of weather, we have had a very abundant rainy season. Now we're reaching the point of too much rain. One village in particular named N'Jifina received unseasonably heavy rain that flooded and washed out a good portion of this village of 2,000. Please be in prayer for the people of N'Jifina who were left homeless and lost their few personal possessions.

Cole and Julie have been adapting to their new school schedule. Cole is really enjoying being in 6th grade with the "big kids". It's hard to believe he's in middle school now. We remember when he started his school career in kindergarten here just a few years ago. One of the things we are really excited about is that he's beginning to embrace French. We are getting very good reports from his French teacher and he's eager to work on his French homework each day. When we go out to a restaurant, he's now proud that he can place his own order in French. This is an exciting milestone for us.

Julie's classroom has been completed and she'll be moving in this week. She's excited to have a more permanent home and a room to call her own. She's also rebounding from a sickness she's been battling for the past couple of months. She went to the doctor this week and lab tests pointed out a parasite problem and intestinal infection. He prescribed several medicines and after a couple of days of taking them, Julie is feeling much better now.

John has wanted to take off his technical hat and focus more on other ministry, but it seems the Lord wants him to do both. He had a chance to preach at the Sunday Evening English Church last week. He has been very busy the past week helping restore several computers back to good health. He's also been busy planning a wireless network installation for several YWAM families and our base in Koutiala. He'll be traveling to Koutiala in a couple of weeks to begin the install.