Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Tree of Life

Guava TreeLate the other night one of our African neighbors came to our door wanting to see a Guava tree in our yard.  Someone in his family was sick with Giardia (a parasite).  Apparently, the leaves of a Guava tree act as a medicine for Giardia.  He had seen the tree in our yard a few weeks ago and came by to ask if he could pick some leaves.  I guess this is the Malian equivalent of borrowing a cup of sugar from one of your neighbors.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Meeting of the Minds

It's been a very busy couple of weeks with meetings and conferences.  The past week, John attended a conference about pastoral care and crisis management.  Even though the topic dealt with trauma situations, it was a much smoother conference than last week.  It was nice not to be dealing with controversial subject matter.  He learned some good techniques for relating with people and dealing with several different kinds of situations.

Over the weekend, Julie attended a Christian women's conference that comes to Mali each year to provide renewal and spiritual enrichment.  A team of women from Palmcroft Baptist Church in Arizona came out to host the conference and minister to over 80 English speaking women who came from all parts of Mali and a couple of surrounding countries.  They spent time studying God's holiness and sovereignty out of the book of Isaiah.  There was also good fellowship and food.  The conference is held in one of the nicer, upscale hotels in town, so the women were pampered and treated to a weekend full of refreshment.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Numb3rs

It's amazing to see technology sweeping the world.  Mali is no exception.  Even though Mali ranks as the 5th poorest country in the world, the juxtaposition of the availability of technology is astounding.   When we first arrived in 2001, there were less than 10,000 telephones in the entire country.  As cell phone technology has grown, the number of telephones has grown at an astronomical rate.  In 2003, it was necessary to change from 6-digit to 7-digit phone numbers.  Today, there are over 2.5 million phones in Mali (for a population of 14 million) and the number is growing every day.  We currently have 2 cell phone companies with a 3rd on the way.  All of our phones are pre-paid and people selling phone cards to recharge a phone are on every corner...it's one of the biggest businesses here.  The average Malian lives on less than a dollar a day.  The smallest phone card currently costs $4.  It's hard to see people's priorities shifting and it's now becoming more important to "feed" one's telephone before one's family.

With the continued growth of telephones, our phone numbers are quickly running out.  Today, Mali switched to 8-digit phone numbers.  It's very confusing to remember what number to add to each phone number as it varies depending on what phone company the person you're calling is with and what part of the country they're in.