Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Repercussions

We've been working with and discipling a young man named Joel for several months now. He is an African MK (missionary kid) from DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo). French is his first language and Julie has been helping him with his English skills so he can attend a university in the States. He comes over several times a week to talk with us and share about the happenings in his life. He was talking about wanting to give some Bibles to a couple of his friends but didn't have any. We had a few extra French Bibles that we gave him and he has since distributed them to his friends. One of his friends in particular has begun reading his new Bible and Joel has started to see some dramatic changes in his life already!! His friend's name is Ibou. Joel has asked us to pray for Ibou and pass along a request for others to pray also. Please keep Ibou in your prayers as he reads and ponders the Good News.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Rechargable Batteries

Our past week was pretty quiet...on purpose. With all of John's travels, guests continually staying in our guest room, and our busy schedules, we had really disconnected as a family. This weekend we decided to focus purely on our family and bond ourselves together again. We didn't answer the door or the phones...instead we spent the entire weekend together sharing and getting to know each other again. The results have been wonderful. We all feel very refreshed and re-energized. We've learned an important lesson in becoming so involved in our ministry and work that we lose our effectiveness. Family and rest are an important part of our ministry.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Watch Your Language

We've had a couple of new ministry opportunities come up this week. Julie just began working with a man named Adama who is one of our neighbors. He met us several weeks ago when we were showing the soccer games and Jesus film outside our house. He is taking English classes at the university here in Bamako. (There is only one university in the entire country!) He has approached us because he wants to practice his English and build his language skills. He and Julie met for their first lesson this week. Developing relationships like this with our neighbors is the first step in sharing the Gospel with them.

John spent several days this week at the old MAF office sharing time with a few of his Malian friends. One of John's friends named Lassine gave him a DVD called More Than Dreams which is a very powerful ministry tool. The DVD is the story and testimony of 5 different people from Muslim backgrounds from various parts of the world that have become Christians. It was originally done in Arabic, but has since been translated into French and English. Lassine has a vision of translating it into Bambara...the main tribal language for this region of Mali. The recording studio we are building in our house was originally envisioned as a place for music recording, however it will also be capable of recording sound for video productions. So John and Lassine are now in the planning stages of creating a Bambara version of the More Than Dreams DVD. If you'd like more information on this excellent DVD and/or read the stories and watch the videos online, please see: www.morethandreams.org.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Too Close For Comfort

Hot season is upon us in full swing. The heat inside our house has been over 100° every day and hasn't dropped below 85° even in the middle of the night. Unfortunately, our refrigerator has become a victim of the heat. We've been losing food almost every day because our fridge hasn't been able to keep up. In addition, it's shut down from overheating several times. We finally called a repair man to see if there was anything that could be done. He came over this morning and walked into our kitchen to see our fridge. Without even opening it, he immediately said the problem was it was too close to the wall causing it to overheat. He pulled it away from the wall, and sure enough, the wall was scorched from the heat of the fridge. No tools...no special diagnostic checks. He left his number in case we had any other problems.

Service men in Mali are amazing. He didn't want any money for a service call...he was just happy he could help. We gave him 1,000 CFA (about $2.50) for gas money which is a customary payment for work like this. It's so nice not to have to deal with outrageous service call fees and lots of extra added expenses.

We're happy to say our refrigerator is now running better than ever! We're able to make ice again (hallelujah!) and our meat is lasting more than one day.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

The Menagerie

We're beginning to settle back into our routine again in Bamako. It's good to be back home. A couple of days ago, we added a new feature to our home...a tortoise. He was originally given as a gift to our base from someone in Timbuktu a few weeks ago. The people at our base have had their fill of taking care of him and before we knew it, he was in the back of our car. He's now become our newest resident. So far, he's afraid of our cats, and they're afraid of him. We're sure it's all going to work out in the long run. In addition, John brought Cole some sea monkeys from the States...so our family zoo is quickly growing.

On a more serious note, we'd like to share an item of concern with you. One of our YWAM families in Bamako has recently taken in a 11 year old girl who was sent out of out her village because she's pregnant. We don't know many of the details but it's a tragedy no matter what. Please keep this little girl in your prayers.

Monday, April 07, 2008

There's No Place Like Home...There's No Place Like Home

We have arrived safely back in Bamako. Thankfully, John was able to complete all of the pressing jobs in time to leave together as a family yesterday morning. We returned with Leigh who will be staying with us in our home in Bamako for a couple of weeks as she works on some projects here in the capital.

Although we've already traveled the road to Koutiala a few times since our accident, this is the first time we've driven the road ourselves in our own car. John was very confident on the road and felt no apprehension about the drive. Overall Julie was okay, however her spirit was uneasy as we passed the area of our accident. Our biggest concern on this trip was the legality of our car. Although we've spent a lot of time getting the paperwork in order, there are still a few loose items to work out. Thankfully we didn't get stopped at any of the many police checkpoints between Bamako and Koutiala.

In all, the drive is 250 miles one way and takes about 5 hours. With the pedal on the floor and traveling downhill with a tailwind, our car tops out at 75 MPH. Although there's no speed limit, we really wouldn't want to drive much faster than that due to the road conditions. And we need to slow down whenever passing a village. They usually install speed bumps in the road to keep drivers traveling at a slow and safe speed though the village. TRIVIA: Speed bumps here are called gendarme couché - French for sleeping policeman.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Eye In The Sky

Our meetings officially ended at noon today. John then jumped into high gear to try and get everything finished so we can leave together tomorrow as a family. He's finished one house, the YWAM grammar school, and the main distribution antenna at the base. He still needs to connect one other house and install a new antenna on the tower. His installations will allow the YWAM base to distribute its Internet service via high-powered, high-speed wireless connections.

John has climbed the antenna tower in the past and was happy that a couple of other YWAM staff members volunteered to install the equipment this time while John supervised from the ground. In all, this project required three trips up the tower. There's still a lot of work left to be finished, but John's hopeful he can get it done by tomorrow.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Membership Has Its Privileges

Our YWAM meetings have been going well. We have spent the past 2 days hearing reports from various people regarding the many YWAM ministries in Mali. It's exciting to hear about all the things happening in different parts of the country. We've also reviewed administrative items including finances and leadership changes. At this meeting, the structure of YWAM Mali is changing from a single national leader to a leadership team comprised of 3 people from different bases to better represent our ministries. Today Jean-Patrick Perrin officially handed off his leadership to the team. He is now assuming the role of the YWAM West Africa Director full-time. Jean-Patrick has played an important part in our lives and our career with YWAM. He is a very good friend and mentor to us. We are going to miss him as our direct leader, but we're happy he is remaining in Bamako and we can continue our friendship with him and his family and continue to glean his wisdom.

We passed an important and exciting milestone at our meeting yesterday...we were officially accepted as full-time members of YWAM Mali!! Yes...we have been here with YWAM for over a year...but it's necessary to serve on a YWAM base for 6 months before being formally accepted as staff members. New members are accepted at the annual meeting. Because we had only been here 2 months at our meeting last year, we weren't eligible for membership until this meeting. We are very happy to report that we have been officially voted in and are now full-fledged members of YWAM Mali.

Besides the full-time schedule of the meetings, John has been overwhelmed with technical work. He has spent every break time working and has been up until 11 pm or midnight each night working to get everything finished. Because of the workload, it might be necessary for him to stay beyond the meetings to work while Julie and Cole return to school on Monday. We're hoping everything is going to work out so we can return together, but the workload is much bigger than John anticipated.