Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Blame It On The Rain

Concert First NiteThe concert tour kicked off today.  The capital city of Bamako (where we live) is the first stop on the tour.  The concert was held at an outdoor concert venue.  Our turnout was about 100 people.  We’re hoping for more at our future concerts as news gets out.

Today there were 4 separate groups that performed:  A youth group called “Shine”, a group from the Magnambougou church, a group from the Bethel church, and the YWAM team that John is playing with.  All of the groups did a wonderful job.  Unfortunately, halfway through the concert, we were hit with a torrential rainstorm.  We scrambled to get all of the sound equipment onto the stage and out of the rain.  At same time, the audience rushed the stage trying to keep dry.  After about 15 minutes, we realized the rain wasn’t going to stop and we reconfigured the sound system and continued the concert with the audience on stage with the performers.  It brought a  special feeling of intimacy to the concert.

John leaves tomorrow morning for the second stop on the tour.  He’ll be gone until a week from tomorrow.  Please continue to pray for the concert tour and all the people we’re hoping to touch in the process…and oh yeah, pray for no rain during the concerts.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

National Concert Tour

Concerts de l'EsperanceIn celebration of both Mali and YWAM’s 50th Anniversaries this year, YWAM Mali is sponsoring a special Concerts of Hope worship tour.  On Wednesday, John embarks on the 2 week national concert tour.  YWAM has teamed up with churches in 9 different towns that serve as stops on the tour.  John is going to be playing piano and keyboard.  The worship team is being led by Rolf Schneider who is coming in from Switzerland.  Rolf is the godfather of worship music in the French speaking world.  He is responsible for officially translating most of the popular English worship music into French and is a leading writer of French worship music.  He is the French speaking equivalent of Michael W. Smith.  John considers this a very exciting yet intimidating opportunity.

Rolf will be leading on acoustic guitar, Daouda (our Malian musician friend) is playing electric guitar, another man is coming from Switzerland to play bass, Cole’s friend Emmanuel is our drummer, and John will be on keyboard.  We also have a group of singers from Mali.  The team will be traveling on a YWAM bus for the approximately 1,000 mile trip.  As we’ve already experienced first hand, Malian road travel can be very challenging.  Please be in prayer for safety on the trip.  Also remember Julie and Cole who will be holding down the fort in Bamako.

Monday, October 18, 2010

How Many Stamps Does It Take To Mail A Letter To The US?

Ballot Envelopes Living overseas, we still have the ability to vote in local and national elections in the States.  We pay income tax every year, so it’s nice to know we still retain our voting rights.  We just sent off our ballots for the upcoming November election.

One of the advantages of living in Africa is that we’re not constantly bombarded by telephone calls and TV campaign ads.  But believe it or not, we do occasionally receive campaign mail for a couple of local SoCal candidates that pay international postage rates to send their literature to us.  But it’s nowhere the amount that’s stuffing a  lot of your mailboxes every day.

BTW:  In answer the the question, it took us 8 stamps to mail each of our ballots back to the U.S. at a cost of $3.50 each.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Don’t Forget to Wash

GHD_signat_lockup Today we received the following message on our cell phones from UNICEF, the Ministry of Health, and Orange (our mobile phone carrier):  Des mains propres pour sauver des vies.  Translated it means “Clean hands save lives”.  In case you didn’t know, today is Global Handwashing Day.  This is the third year Handwashing Day has been held.  Events are planned around the world.  For more information, visit: www.globalhandwashingday.org. Tens of Thousands of people get sick and die every year in Mali from something as simple as lack of proper hand washing.  It’s amazing what we often take for granted in the Western world. 

Monday, October 11, 2010

Independence Day

cinquantenaire On September 22nd, Mali celebrated its 50th year of independence.  Locally, it’s referred to as the Cinquantenaire.  Unfortunately, we were preoccupied with the death of Julie’s mother which precluded us from taking part in any celebrations or talking much about it at the time.  We received the news about Julie’s mom on the morning of the 22nd.  The timing turned out to be bittersweet.  Although we missed many of the celebrations we wanted to see, the declared holidays gave Julie time to step away from school and other distractions and focus on processing her loss.

Mali’s 50th Anniversary has been incredible.  The amount of work that has gone into Bamako, the capital city, has been nothing short of amazing.  Everything has been repaired and freshly painted.  We have a lot of new amenities including a huge new government office complex, a new bridge crossing the Niger River (a welcome addition as the 2 current bridges are gridlocked during rush hour), a new interchange that bypasses one of the busiest traffic circles (preferred over intersections in this part of the world), a new airport terminal, new street lights, an amazing National Park complete with GRASS!! and the list goes on and on.

While we didn’t get out to any of the events, we did watch the national parade on TV.  The parade was filmed from a special viewing area set aside for the President and his special guests.  The guest of honor was Muammar al-Gaddafi.  This has a lot of political implications that we won’t go into.  We enjoyed the TV coverage.  While it wasn’t the Rose Parade, we liked watching Mali celebrating in grand style.  There were several airplanes that performed as part of the parade and when we saw them fly over the parade route on TV, we’d run outside and watch them fly over our house moments later.

Mali gained independence from France in 1960.  For the first 30 years, Mali was under a dictatorship.  Then in 1991, a coup resulted in Mali’s current democratic government.  We are grateful to be living in a peaceful country – a rare occurrence in Africa.  Click here for more info on Mali’s anniversary.