Thursday, March 31, 2011

Haunting Memories

We're currently in Koutiala for our YWAM Mali annual meeting. Each year everyone at our 6 bases gets together to review the past year, talk about new ministries, and look towards the coming year. It's interesting to see friends we don't see very often and hear about everything happening at our different bases.

Because our car accident a few years ago happened on the way to Koutiala, the road trip is always very difficult for Julie as she is haunted by memories of the accident when we're on that road. She spent several days psyching herself up for this trip and reached a point of being okay to travel. We left yesterday traveling on the YWAM bus from Bamako to Koutiala. On the bus, the travel time is about 7 hours. About a third of the way through our trip, we came upon an accident that had just happened. A bus and a car hit each other head on at high speed. The bus fell down a small embankment. As we arrived on the scene, people were wandering around dazed and confused. There was flaming debris on the side of the road. We stopped to help and they began loading injured people on our bus so we could take them to the nearest hospital which was about an hour and a half away. As we were making room for the injured, a bigger bus arrived with a lot more room and they transferred the injured on it. Julie was overwhelmed with the situation and the parallels with our accident. The memories came flooding back to the point she became physically sick.

Thankfully, we arrived safely in Koutiala a few hours later. Julie was still shaken, but recovered from the incident.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Visa – It’s Everywhere You Want to Be

Wow!  Have we really been gone that long?  It seems like just yesterday when we received our first passports.  Here we are 10 years later with our passports about to expire.  Thankfully, it was easy to get new ones from the U.S. Embassy here in Mali and we received them last week.  In doing so, we realized our Malian visas had expired in January.  So we went about renewing those too.  Americans have a special 5 year visa available for the same price every other nationality pays for a 90 day visa.  What a huge blessing that is.  Unfortunately, the penalty for letting our visas lapse was close to the same price as the 5 year visa.  Ouch!  It’s weird to have passports with only one page marked.  It’s also sobering to think that this could be the last Malian visa we get for Cole.  He’ll be 19 when his expires and who knows what he’ll be up to then.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Peace, Love, and Worshipmania

Worshipmania FlashbackTonight we led a worship service at the English Fellowship downtown.  We decided to take a different approach and have a little fun while resurrecting some songs that haven’t been sung in years.  We called it Worshipmania Flashback and all of our songs were circa the 1960s and 70s.  It included timeless classics including Kum Ba Ya, Pass It On, Seek Ye First, and They’ll Know We Are Christians By Our Love.  We also had a Keith Green tribute and finished the service with Day By Day from Godspell.

We wanted to create the full mood, so we brought along a lava lamp and even dressed for the part.  If only we could have arrived in a VW bus.  It was scary how realistic the look was.  It took a few moments for some of our friends to recognize us when they walked into church.  We also had a few visitors this week who will probably forever think of us as those crazy hippies who never left the 70s.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Traffic Stop

We just entered into a new ministry.  There is a huge problem with sex trafficking in West Africa.  In Mali, it’s estimated that 20,000 young girls are brought in from Nigeria alone and forced to work in the sex trade.

We have some Nigerian Christian friends we’ve been working with since we arrived in Mali in 2001.  Recently, together with their church, they began reaching out to some of these girls and helping them find hope and freedom through Christ.  They’ve even invited several girls to live in their home to care for them and help them leave prostitution by teaching them viable job skills.  They have approached us for help.  They’ve asked Julie to help teach them to read and John will be sharing messages from the Bible and helping them find their value in Christ.  This weekend, we invited several of the girls to our house to watch the movie Les Misérables – a powerful film about redemption and grace based on Victor Hugo’s classic story.  They were very touched by the movie which had several parallels to their lives.  We are looking forward to helping these girls, and others find a new life after such tragic circumstances.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Seeing 20/20

Cole’s glasses broke a few days ago as he was playing with some friends.  We were able to patch them together temporarily until we can order some new ones.  He’s been complaining that his glasses aren’t powerful enough, so today we took him for an eye exam at a new eye doctor in our neighborhood.  It turned out to be quite an African experience.  The was exam was delayed several times due to power outages.  Cole was also challenged reading the eye chart that was being projected on the wall because it was out of focus.

The doctor didn’t have the big binocular looking device that’s used in the States to test different lenses.  Instead, Cole wore a special pair of glasses that the doctor inserted different lenses into and could adjust the focus of each lens.  After 2 hours, Cole completed the exam and we left with a new prescription in hand.  In all, the bill only came out to $12.

When we got home, we ordered new glasses online.  We have been using a site called  Their prices and selection are amazing.  If you are in need of glasses, we highly recommend giving them a try.  You can get glasses from as low as $7.95 complete with frame AND lenses!  If you order glasses, be sure to use coupon code IF93EXDN37 for a 15% discount on your order.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Family Reunion

We are happy to report that Julie was discharged from the hospital today!  It appears to be the same thing that sent her to the hospital a few weeks ago – an internal infection coupled with Malaria.  She also passed a kidney stone in the process.  The doctor feels the Malaria preventative she’s been taking has been doing more  harm then good and causing a host of health problems.

It’s good to have Julie home again.  Cole is also feeling better too and will be returning to school tomorrow with Julie.  John on the other hand, has gotten progressively worse.  He’s having a full battle with the flu – an ironic sickness to have as hot season has just started.  He’s been doing most the family care the past few days despite his sickness and is looking forward to a couple of down days to rest and recuperate.  He’s anticipating being back on his feet shortly.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

The Waiting Is The Hardest Part

Julie continues to be treated in the hospital.  The doctors ran several tests today including a sonogram, x-ray, blood tests, etc.  We are still waiting for the doctors to analyze the test results and determine what treatment is needed.  Nothing will probably be decided until tomorrow.  Right now, Julie is resting a little easier and is being kept on IVs to help with her nausea and other issues.

John and Cole are about the same – still very weak, groggy, feeling icky.  Hopefully a new day will bring some positive changes.

Monday, March 07, 2011

General Hospital - The Sequel

We've had a busy weekend. We hosted a new girl in our home and did an introduction to Mali orientation with her. Her name is Anna and she will be living and working at our YWAM base in Fana.

Unfortunately, as we were finishing up with Anna, our whole family took sick. It's very difficult for all three of us to be down at the same time. Julie seems to have gotten the worst of it. We took her to the doctor tonight and they immediately checked her in to the hospital. They'll be running some tests in the morning to figure out what she has. Right now she is miserable and in need of your prayers. Hopefully our next update will be better news.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

A Thief In The Night

We had someone break into our compound last night.  When we woke up this morning, our front gate was unlocked and wide open and our outside lights had been turned off.  We also noticed a couple of things missing from our front porch and someone had rummaged through a storage box.  We didn’t lose anything of value and we are grateful that no one got into the house.  But it’s still a disconcerting feeling that we had an unwanted visitor.  It appears that our guard tortoise wasn’t quick enough to apprehend the thief.  Perhaps we should investigate something quicker on its feet.