Wednesday, November 28, 2007

A Politically Correct American Thanksgiving Celebration

Today we attended a Thanksgiving party at the American Embassy here in Bamako. We have a new embassy complex that is only about a year old. We'd been to the old Embassy in the past, but this was our first visit to the new compound. It was BEAUTIFUL. An Embassy is literally U.S. property despite being located on foreign soil. We really felt like we had left Mali and entered back into the States.

We had to go through quite a screening process to get into the Embassy. We had to pre-register, have copies of our passport made upon arrival, have all bags x-rayed, pass through a metal detector, and go through a separate hand search. All cameras, telephones, and electronics had to be left at the security desk. It's actually easier to enter the U.S. directly then get into the embassy.

The Thanksgiving Party was for the kids. They were the only ones officially invited, however they had to be accompanied by a parent. It was open to U.S. citizens only (parents of other nationalities could attend if their child held a U.S. passport.) The purpose of the party was to educate the kids (many of them Malians with U.S. citizenship that have never visited the States) and tell them about the origin and history of Thanksgiving. Unfortunately, they missed the entire point of the holiday as being a response and thanks to God for taking care of the Pilgrims and we should spend the day thanking God in our modern celebration. Instead, they presented: "Thanksgiving began in 1621 when early settlers of the Plymouth colony in Massachusetts organized a feast in honor of the Native Americans who taught them how to successfully farm in the United States. Today, Thanksgiving is an opportunity to show our appreciation to others and remember our past."

It's sad that our country cannot acknowledge God...especially on a national holiday that was created expressly to honor and thank Him for His provision. That helps renew our purpose for being here...not just for the Malians, but for the American community as well.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Play Me A Song You're The Guitar Man

We'd like to introduce you to Daouda Dou. He is part of one of the worship teams we've been working with. He is a music student and attends the Mali Conservatory of Music. His passion is music and his desire is to serve the Lord as a Christian musician. This past summer, he and 5 other students were selected by the U.S. State Department to travel to the U.S. and participate in a 5 week music program. A trip to the States is nothing but a dream to most Malians, so this has been an amazing opportunity for him. He returned a couple of weeks ago and stopped by our house to share his experiences. He was very excited about everything he saw and did...especially the worship music he witnessed at a couple of churches. He also gave us a demo CD he recorded while he was in the States. Here's the sample song he recorded: Keep On Your Light.

He is eager to record a CD album of worship music. He's currently raising money to do so. He is selling handmade greeting cards to earn money. We bought several from him to help him pursue his dream. Then the Lord laid a new ministry idea on us. We brought over a lot of music and sound equipment to work on some personal recording projects. Most of it hasn't been unpacked yet because it hasn't been a priority to us. But now God has given us the idea of setting up a small music studio at our house in a room we currently use as an office. With all the equipment we brought and John's background as an audio engineer, it seems like a natural fit. We know of several Christian musicians that want to record CDs like Daouda. We're very excited about this new project!

Here's a way you can help. Daouda is an accomplished guitar player, but he can't afford a guitar of his own and can only play when someone lends him an instrument. We know of several Malian musicians in the same position. We would love to provide Daouda and others with their own personal guitars. If you have a guitar that is currently unused, or if you know of someone who would be willing to donate an old guitar to a Christian musician that can't afford to own their own, please let us know by emailing us at: jclark@ywammali.org. For more information on Daouda, please visit his blog at: http://daoudadao.wordpress.com.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Pulling an All-Nighter

Last night the Magnambougou church gathered with several other area churches for an all-night prayer vigil. The goal of the meeting was prayer for church unity. This is an area that God has placed upon John's heart and he was happy to participate in the prayer meeting. The churches in Mali are beginning to experience disunity and separation has started to occur. John is hoping to work with the pastors and churches to overcome the issues causing division.

Last night's prayer meeting was encouraging. It's wonderful to see that some of the churches have recognized the division and are hoping to work on correcting it. There were about 50 people in attendance. The meeting was very well organized and had a well laid out schedule for prayer subjects along with times of praise and worship. The meeting started at 9:00pm last night and ended at 5:30am this morning. People were beginning to fade around 4:00am, but remained diligent continued on despite the tiredness. It's been many years since John's been out all night...and it was usually never been for the right reasons. It was exciting for him to have focused so much concentrated time and energy on prayer.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Power To The People

We experienced a couple of exciting victories this week.  First, the electric company came to our house yesterday and finally did our power upgrade!  We had originally ordered and paid for the upgrade back in May.  Five months is a pretty quick response.  But we're now in "cool" season.  We don't kick on the A/C at night unless it's above 95° in the house.  We've been staying in the high 80s and lo 90s...believe it or not, these are comfortable temperatures for us.  In fact, if it gets below 85° we're pulling on blankets!  So we won't get to enjoy our upgrade for a few months when it gets warmer.  But it's certainly nice to have it finally completed after working on it for so long.

As an added bonus, we also received the paperwork on our car this week!  WOW!!  Two major projects completed in the same week!  Again, we began processing our car back in May.  Since then, we've had to go to the Transportation Ministry once a month for a 30 day temporary permit.

Julie continues to feel well.  Unfortunately, Cole has been sick all week and has stayed home from school.  John had started attending an excellent workshop at the YWAM base at the beginning of the week about the love and grace of God.  He was really getting a lot out of it.  But with Cole home sick, he missed a majority of the teaching this week.