Sunday, May 30, 2010

Pomp and Circumstance

Cole's Graduation from 8th Grade This year has been filled with many milestones for our family.  Yesterday marked another as Cole graduated from 8th grade with his three classmates!  We are so proud of him and were beaming with joy as he gave his graduation speech.   Time has flown by as we remember Cole starting kindergarten when we first arrived in Africa.  Most of his school years have been spent here in Mali in small missionary schools.  He is thriving and is happy going to school in this environment.  Next year he will return to the same school with his friends to start the adventure of high school.  Interestingly enough, as freshmen, they will be the upperclassmen next year unless more high school students arrive.

Our video this week is a special BCA Friends Forever memory video John put together for the graduation ceremony.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Lifeboat Drill

Many times we see things in Africa that often leave us scratching our heads and sometimes cause us to laugh hysterically.  Of course, a picture is worth a thousand words, but even with current technology, sometimes you can’t even get a camera phone out fast enough to catch that priceless Kodak moment.  One such incident happened a few days ago.  As we were driving, we came upon a road construction crew.  There was a flagman (with a red cloth tied to a stick) cautioning people of the approaching work.  Instead of wearing an orange construction vest, he was wearing an orange boating life vest.

Monday, May 24, 2010

If My People Pray

Day of Prayer 2010 Yesterday marked the International Global Day of Prayer.  For the past 10 years, churches around the world have gathered together on Pentecost Sunday to pray.  This year marked a big milestone for Mali.  In years past, the Day of Prayer has taken place at the Cultural Arts Center.  This year, the Day of Prayer event outgrew the 3,500 person capacity of the Arts Center and was held at one of Mali’s soccer stadiums.  It was so encouraging to see a 25,000 seat stadium 1/4 full!  The most optimistic statistics put Mali’s Christian population at under 3%.  How amazing it was to see all those people gathered in one place to lift our voices to God in prayer.

Day of Prayer 2010 Choir The Day of Prayer event included a lot music and dancing including a 300 voice choir comprised of local Bamako church choirs.  Our video of the week is one of choral performances.  There were also special presentations and prayers marking Mali’s 50th Anniversary.  Over a course of 3-1/2 hours, we prayed for 7 major prayer subjects ranging from thanksgiving for Mali’s democratic government, to prayer for the national church, to prayer for the nations of the world.  2 Chronicles 7:14 is the theme verse of the Day of Prayer and sums everything up so well.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Pedal Power

We never know what each day is going to bring.  There is always a new surprise waiting around the corner for us.  Yesterday, John received a phone call out of the blue from a young man named Luke who was looking for the YWAM Guest House.  He is English speaking and not familiar with Bamako.  John gave him directions to a landmark close to our house where they could meet.  As he was waiting, John was trying to figure out how he knew Luke.  Once they got together, he discovered he had never met Luke and by a set of strange circumstances, he had gotten our phone number as a point of contact.  He doesn’t speak French and was lost in Bamako.  We were happy to get together with him and help him get oriented and find our YWAM base.

Luke’s story is very interesting.  He is riding a bicycle solo from England to Ghana.  Yes, as incredible as it seems, he has ridden his bike thousands of miles alone including through the Sahara Desert to reach Bamako!  Wow…talk about an adventurous spirit.  Luke is on a missionary trip to explore mission options in Ghana.  He is continuing his journey tomorrow.  All together, his trip is 3150 miles by the way the crow flies.  What an amazing guy.  It was a pleasure to have crossed paths with Luke and help him along his way.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Dum and Dummer

Tweedle Dee Tweedle Dum Bamako Christian Academy put on a school musical last night called Wonderland.  It is a continuation of Alice’s adventures in Wonderland.  Practices have been going on for weeks and Cole was nervous as the program drew near.  He played the part of Tweedle Dum with his best friend Jonny accompanying him as Tweedle Dee.  They both (actually everyone in the cast) did a smashing job and the musical was a great success.  We are especially proud of Cole for learning and performing several song and dance numbers.  Julie and Jonny’s mom designed some creative costumes for the twins.  We don’t think Cole is going to be breaking down any doors in a rush to the Broadway stage but we are glad he participated.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Closing Ceremonies

Our YWAM 50th Anniversary Celebration for West Africa has drawn to a close.  Events will continue to happen throughout the year at various YWAM locations around the globe as we celebrate our Jubilee year.

50th Loren & Darlene It has been an honor to be joined by Loren and Darlene Cunningham who founded YWAM back in 1960.  They have passed on some amazing stories over the past few days and encouraged us with news of what is happening with YWAM around the world and where YWAM is headed next.  We feel very blessed that in our short 3 years with YWAM, this is our 3rd chance to see Loren Cunningham in person.  This is pretty amazing considering that YWAM has over 17,000 full-time staff members in 160 different countries.  John was given the task of confirming Loren’s flights out of Mali and making sure things were in-line for the next leg of their travels.  This was a special treat for John to have a chance to look at Loren’s passport.  Loren Cunningham is no stranger to travel.  He says that he has not been off jetlag since he was 19 years old.  He holds a place in the Guinness Book of World Records as being one of the few people to have traveled to every country on earth.  His sense of geography and knowledge of every country is amazing.

50th Cote d'Ivoire Presentation To mark our final day of the Jubilee Celebration yesterday, every country in attendance had a chance to do a special presentation.  Most countries did song and dances.  It was really great to see the variety of celebration styles from various countries.  We have included a song and dance from the YWAM team in Togo as our video of the week.  There was also a fascinating dance performed by Brazilians serving at various YWAM locations throughout West Africa.  Click here to see an excerpt from the Brazilian Fighting Dance.

We have been focusing on preparing for the Jubilee event for several weeks.  It’s going to be nice to work on something else for a change.  We have only 3 weeks left in Mali before we head to the States for the summer.  We have a lot to do before then, including our next celebration which is Cole’s graduation from 8th grade.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Higher Education

50th Tamou Graduation One of YWAM’s ministries is operating a school called University of the Nations.  UofN offers full academic and university degree programs.  One of the unique traits of UofN is that it operates as a global campus.  Credited courses are offered in 101 nations on all continents.  Many of the YWAM training classes around the world are eligible for UofN course credit.  Tamou, one of our Malian teammates, recently completed his final course and received a BA degree from University of the Nations.  He is the first person in West Africa to receive a UofN degree.  In honor of this occasion, Loren Cunningham presented him with his diploma as part of our 50th Anniversary Jubilee Celebration.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Gentlemen, Start Your Engines

50th AttendeesToday marked the start of our YWAM 50th Anniversary celebration for West Africa.  Lynn Green, YWAM’s International Chairman, was the keynote speaker for our opening night.  Tomorrow we will be joined by YWAM’s founders Loren and Darlene Cunningham.  They are in Bamako for a few days as part of their 40 stop world tour to celebrate YWAM’s Jubilee year.

We have over 200 people attending our celebration from YWAM locations all over West Africa.  We’ve met many new people and had the opportunity to reconnect with several people we met a at previous YWAM conferences.

50 Flame Goes Forward John has been very busy creating a PowerPoint presentation about YWAM’s history in Africa and another one highlighting all of the YWAM ministries currently operating throughout West Africa.  He has also been in charge of designing our 50th logo, welcome cards and name badges for all the attendees.  To make things more interesting, we have three main languages represented at the conference so everything including the presentations and printed materials have to be done in French, English, and Portuguese.  The French has been challenging enough but Portuguese has added a whole new layer of adventure.  John is also responsible for the all the technical aspects of the celebration including sound, lighting, video, and computer presentations.

Our Anniversary Celebration is happening at a location called Cité des Enfants which is very conveniently located just a 5 minute walk from our house, which is sure to become Grand Central Station this week as people drop by for various things including internet access.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Alpha Omega

Alpha Omega On Wednesday night, our Alpha for ESOL Course drew to a close.  We had 14 people complete the course.  The Alpha Course went very well.  We saw several lives transformed and a lot of growth in the people who attended.  We’ve already scheduled our next course for September after we return from the States.  A few of our Alpha guests have expressed an interest in helping out with the next course.  Thank you for your prayers.  We look forward to sharing about our upcoming course.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

BLT on Wheat

This week our YWAM base is hosting a special leadership conference called Base Leadership Training (BLT).  Our base has been talking and preparing for this conference for several weeks and our mouths have been watering each time we hear mention of the BLT.  Unfortunately, BLT sandwiches are not part of the conference so we’ll continue anticipating a BLT sandwich when we arrive in the States next month.

We have been serving on a worship team for the BLT event, but besides that, we aren’t really involved in the conference as we put our energies into preparing for the YWAM 50th Anniversary Celebration which immediately follows the BLT.

One of the main speakers for the BLT is Lynn Green who serves as YWAM’s International Chairman.  It was neat to have a chance to meet him.  He’s also been stopping by our house periodically to check his email so we’ve had an additional opportunity to get to know him.