Saturday, January 24, 2009

Leave The Driving To Us

Bon Voyage Norway This morning we said farewell to the Norway team as they head up to our YWAM base in Douentza.  They will be spending several weeks with Bex and her ministry with the Garibou boys.  They were originally scheduled to leave yesterday but two hours before their departure there was a change in plans.  The team wasn’t too happy about having to unpack and repack again.  But we did enjoy sharing one more day together.

Norway Bus Their bus was scheduled to leave at 7 am this morning, so John and Bex were up at 5:30 in order to get to the base and round up the team for the trip to the bus station.  Nothing really happens on schedule in Africa…especially bus departures.  The bus didn’t leave the station until 9:30 am.  And it was a long trip once they finally got on the road.  Their driver took a lot of long breaks at several stops and their trip which normally takes 9 hours lasted 13 hours.  We were happy to receive a text message at 11 pm that they had arrived safely in Douentza.

After Douentza, the team will be spending a few weeks in Tombouctou (Timbuktu) before returning to Bamako for their last week in Mali.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Rock-A-Bye Baby

Orphan Babies Today we visited an orphanage with the team.  We had a couple of hours to move from room to room picking up babies, holding them, and showing them some much needed affection.  Many of them needed changing and bathing and we helped with that along with feeding.

For the last hour, our family spent time on the first floor sharing and playing with older mentally and physically handicapped kids.  They really enjoyed playing and having someone show them some love and attention.  It was difficult when it was time to leave and they began asking when we would be back.

We were especially proud of Cole.  He was not looking forward to visiting the orphanage and was grumpy when we arrived.  However after being there just a few minutes, he was enjoying holding babies and sharing with them.  When we left, he was talking about how much he enjoyed the trip and would like to come back again.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Life In The Big City

For the past week, we’ve had the pleasure of having Bex stay with us again. Bex is currently serving at our YWAM base in Douentza…the last stop before entering the Sahara.  Douentza is a challenging location to work and live.  In many ways, life there is very similar to camping.

Bex was a member of a short term team from Norway last year.  It is exciting that God called her back and gave her a heart for work in Mali.  The next stop for the current Norway team is Douentza and Bex will be their hostess and leader while they are there.  Her trip to Bamako this week was initially to accompany the team on their bus ride to Douentza.  But she decided to come down several days early for some R&R in the city.  She has especially enjoyed the refreshment of running water, toilets, and other amenities we tend to take for granted.

Bex also shared in a couple of classes at Bamako Christian Academy.  She had a chance to thank the kids for some items they had collected for the Garibou boys a few weeks ago.  She also showed some pictures of the boys she works with and had a chance to answer a lot of questions.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Gen Y

We have often questioned why God led us to YWAM – Youth With A Mission.  In our mid-40s, we are far from the youth generation.  But now the reasons are beginning to come into view.  Over the past few months, John has had a vision of holding a youth conference in Mali.  Last night, he shared a video of a large conference in the States called Winterfest with our team.  It included some powerful worship, very thought provoking drama presentations, and an amazing speaker named Reggie Dabbs.  Reggie’s message and delivery was incredibly moving and thousands of kids at the conference responded to his call for repentance and claiming God’s promises to us.

Sharing this video was the first step in presenting this vision to our team.  Our goal is bring all the Christian youth in Mali together and use them to help create unity amongst the different churches and denominations in Mali.  We also want to help them realize they are the future of Christianity in Mali and to seek leadership positions in the church.

We are in the very beginning stages right now and we’re anticipating the conference will be in 2010.  This is going to be a huge project that will occupy a lot of our time, energy, and resources.  We’re going to be introducing some new concepts and ideas of presentation that will be a lot of work to explain and train for.  We are looking forward to sharing the progress with you as this moves forward.  You can really help us by lifting this conference before the Lord and praying for the various aspects of this project. 

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Boys Town

Today we visited Bamako’s juvenile prison with the team.  The Norwegian team did a drama presentation and one of the team members gave a personal testimony.  Then Clement, one of our YWAM Bamako teammates spoke about how God could help the prison boys turn around their lives.  It was a very powerful message and well received by the kids. Afterwards, we helped a local pastor distribute food, clothes, and soap to the prisoners.   He visits the prison regularly and it was an honor to share this ministry with him.  It was very sad to look across the group of prisoners and see many who are the same age as Cole.  Please keep these boys in prayer.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

LOST

Today John lost his phone while taking the bus into town.  Unfortunately, it’s more than just a phone – it’s his PDA also and had a lot of information on it.  He uses it for everything including his Bible (with several versions and languages), French translation dictionaries, accounting, currency conversion, personal information management, and many other tasks.  He also has a full version of the Jesus Film in Bambara to share with people in one on one situations.  He tried to call it many times, however he had turned off the ringer this morning for our daily YWAM meeting and hadn’t turned it back on yet.  He normally has the phone attached to a leash tied to his belt to keep from losing it.  The leash broke on Monday.  He thought it was just an extra precautionary measure and things would be okay until he got a new leash.  Hindsight…

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Team Norway

Norway Team The Norway team has been keeping us pretty busy…or is it the other way around?  Although the team is from a YWAM base in Norway, each team member is from a different country.  Bradley is from the U.S., Miriam is from Norway, Veronika is from Finland, Annika is from the Faroe Islands, and Tito is from Ecuador.

On Sunday, we visited the local church in Magnambougou, which is just a couple of doors down from our YWAM base.  The team had a chance to sing a song for the congregation.  The service was 3-1/2 hours long, which was a good introduction and example of church services in Mali.  It was also a stretch for John, who translated the service for the team.  In the afternoon, we went to a local play area where the team shared some stories, did some drama presentations, and played games with neighborhood kids.

On Monday, John took the team into downtown Bamako to look around and do some shopping.  This is always an exhausting experience.  Today, we went to a preschool for orphaned kids.  There were about 30 kids at the school.  The team shared a Bible story and played several games with the kids.  The school then shared their needs with us so we could pray for them.  The primary need is for meals for the kids.  Next, they shared a need for individual chalkboards so the kids could practice their learning skills by writing on their own chalk slate…like kids in the States used to use a hundred years ago.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Busy Bees

French & Norway DTS Whew!  We’ve been really busy!  Several visitors and short term teams have arrived this week to work with YWAM Mali.  It all started on Tuesday morning when John picked up a girl at the airport who arrived on a 2:30am flight.  She spent the “night” (4 hours) at our house before we took her to the bus station to catch a bus for Koutiala – our YWAM base in east Mali where she will be serving for the next several months.

Tuesday was a very long day…on Tuesday night, John returned to the airport at 10pm to pick up 2 teams who have come to serve in Mali for the next few months.  They will be working at several of our YWAM bases in Mali including ours in Bamako.  A team of 11 people are here from YWAM France and a team of 5 people are here from YWAM Norway.  Both teams are DTS (Discipleship Training School) students who have just finished 3 months of classroom training.  The next 3 months are spent applying what they have learned and ministering to the people of Mali.  This is similar to the trip our family took to Guatemala as part of our DTS time.

Thursday was our monthly YWAM global day of prayer.  YWAM bases around the world gather once a month to pray for a given subject.  This month’s subject was reaching out to “unreached people groups”, people that have never heard the name of Jesus or the message of Salvation.  It was really cool to gather teams from three different YWAM bases (Bamako, France, Norway) to pray together.  After our prayer time, we shared a traditional African meal and had a good opportunity to get to know each other.

Following the meal, John gave an orientation presentation to help the teams better understand Mali, the culture, and people they will be working with.  Besides the orientation, we’ve spent several days helping the teams acclimate and get ready for their ministry here.

The French team left to travel to one of our other bases this morning.  The Norwegian team is going to stay at our Bamako base for the next two weeks and help out with several of our ministries and projects.  They are English speaking only so John is accompanying them for all of their ministries to translate and serve as a liaison.  We have a very busy schedule with the team the next couple of weeks, but we’re looking forward to the work we’re going to accomplish and people we are going to reach together.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Bonne Annee

happy_new_year

Happy New Year from Mali!!  We wish you and your family a wonderful 2009.  May the Lord bring you many blessings in the New Year.

We got to bring in 2009 several hours before most of you did.  We decided to stay home last night and bring in the New Year just within our family.  We listened to Big Ben strike midnight live on BBC radio.  We stood on our roof and watched as fireworks went off all around us.

On New Year’s Day, it is traditional in Mali to greet your neighbors and wish them blessings and prosperity in the coming year.  We went out as a family and visited with several of our neighbors.  They were surprised and quite happy that a white family would follow the local holiday practice.  We had a wonderful time meeting new people and getting to know our neighbors.  We also tried to watch a streaming video of the Rose Parade on the internet.  It didn’t start until 4pm our time so our day was already winding down.  Our connection here is very slow so we only got short snippets of most of the activity.  But it was fun none-the-less to peek into the activities we used to celebrate.