Friday, August 10, 2012

Extreme Makeover

We’ve been quiet the past few weeks as we’ve taken a time of sabbatical to find God, process all that’s happened in Mali, and explore our future options.  The situation in Mali sadly remains unchanged.  Islamic extremists now control 2/3 of the country and there is still no functioning government in place following the coup in March.  Unfortunately, military intervention by other nations including the United Nations and US is eminent.  We are expecting a long and bloody conflict.  We’re weeping thinking about all that has happened in Mali and the grave things waiting on the horizon.

Bamako Christian Academy will remain closed next year as most missionary families have left Mali and won’t return until stability is reestablished.  This greatly affects our family’s ministry.  In light of these things, two weeks ago we were asked to relocate to northern California to serve at a YWAM base in Chico – a couple of hours north of Sacramento.  We will help lead a missionary training school for future YWAM missionaries and preparing them for mission trips to Guatemala and Fiji.  Although we were reluctant to accept the position at first, all the pieces have fallen into place, including finding a small Christian high school for Cole just fifteen minutes from the YWAM base, and we have adopted this new direction in our ministry. 

Although we were expecting to remain in SoCal for a few more months, our timeline has changed considerably as school begins for Cole on Monday and our training school starts at the end of August.  We’ve had to quickly pack our belongings (actually, we haven’t really unpacked since arriving from Africa) and make plans to drive to Chico on Sunday the 12th.

It is very hard for us to be leaving so quickly without a chance to meet with most of our friends and supporters.  We’ve been looking forward to reconnecting with everyone in person, and sharing all that’s happened the past couple of years.  But we feel God is asking us to go immediately and we are trusting in His perfect timing.

We are planning to stay in Chico for the next two years so that Cole won’t have to change schools again before graduating.  We will be living on the YWAM base in Richardson Springs, just outside of Chico.  Although our location assignment is changing, we will continue to be missionaries with YWAM relying on the financial support of individuals and our supporting churches.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Picture Perfect

Clark Family - Prayer Card Photo 2012It’s time again to update our family picture and make a new prayer card.  We have kept to the tradition of taking our picture 6892 Miles From Bamako at…you guessed it, the Disneyland Resort.  Can you guess the location?  As you can see, we’re getting a bit older and Cole is growing taller.  He has already outgrown Julie and now claims to be the same height as John.  Both of his grandfathers were 6’5”, so he is filled with tall genes.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Crying Game

As we continue to settle into life in the States, we’ve been watching Mali with great sadness.  The past few weeks have seen violent demonstrations both in favor of and against the junta government.  In theory, the junta has stepped down and a transition government has been been officially put in place to help establish elections and restore democracy.  The military coup leader has faded into the background, though he still appears to be pulling strings behind the scenes.  In recognition of his stepping back, he has been officially granted “former head of state” status, meaning he will now be recognized as and treated on the same level as Mali’s former presidents complete with perks such as a mansion provided by the government along with a monthly pension that is 50 times his salary as a soldier.  A fine example for young Malians to look up to and aspire for.  Meanwhile, last week Mali’s transitional President was attacked by an angry mob in the Presidential palace while the military guards looked on.  He is now recovering in France.

As all of this has been happening in Bamako, the situation in the north of Mali has been growing worse.  The two bands of rebels that have taken over have formally aligned their efforts and officially announced they have formed an Islamic state based on shari'ah law.  There are reports of TVs being smashed, people being beaten for smoking, and women forced to cover their faces with veils.  Schools have also been segregated and boys and girls are not allowed to be in the same classroom together.  The number of people that have fled their homes and are now living as refugees has risen to over 300,000.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

That Sinking Feeling

We are enjoying our time in SoCal.  Life here is so much easier and more convenient.  It’s also wonderful to be surrounded by so many friends and family.  We appreciate the warm welcome we have received from everyone.

We’re continuing to grieve about the situation in Mali.  It’s hard not to second guess our decision to leave and wonder if we left prematurely.  Over the past couple of weeks, there have been signs that life is continuing as normal in Mali and the situation is improving.  However each glimmer of hope seems to be wiped away the following day.  Yesterday, a counter-coup attempt was launched by soldiers loyal to the former democratic government.  The past two days have seen bloody battles in the capital of Bamako where we live.  It appears this effort has failed and the junta forces remain in control.  The airport is once again closed – at least for a week in an attempt to keep peace keeper reinforcements from entering Mali.  It continues to be a very sad situation.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Guitar Hero

Guitar HeroA couple of years ago, Cole began playing the guitar.  Unfortunately, his guitar was damaged on our trip back to California.  Thankfully, we found someone at our church who could repair it – Adam’s Music Studio in Orange.  Adam is an accomplished professional musician who has toured with several top name artists throughout his career.  When we picked up Cole’s guitar, Adam had not only repaired it, but completely cleaned and detailed it too.  We were incredibly blessed when Adam told us it was all free of charge.  When Cole mentioned that he was saving his money for a new electric guitar and asked for a recommendation, Adam pointed out a new Fender Starcaster he just got in.  Cole said that’s what he was looking for, and Adam told him to take it at no charge.  Wow! Cole has been beaming from ear to ear, and our house hasn’t been quiet since.  We are extremely grateful to Adam’s Music Studio.  Adam and his staff specialize in music lessons for guitar, banjo, bass, dobro, piano/keyboard, drums, mandolin, dulcimer, and more.  If you’re interested in learning to play an instrument, or in the market to buy one, we would highly recommend Adam’s Music Studio.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Shaken Not Stirred

We’ve been laying low as we decompress and adjust to Western life.  Today as part of our re-integration process into life in California, we were subjected to a small earthquake.  It was a dramatic reminder of where we are.

We are experiencing reverse culture shock in many forms.  First there’s TV, with shows like Storage Wars and Duck Dynasty, to virtual coupon clipping with an iPhone app in the grocery store.  But the biggest shocker came this afternoon when a representative from animal services came to our front door conducting a dog census.  This is going to be a complicated process.

We feel like we’re catching our breath and ready to begin seeing friends and family.  Please feel free to give us a call and let’s arrange a time to get together.  Our cellphone number is 714-618-1184.  We’re looking forward to seeing you soon.  There’s so much to catch up on.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Safe And Sound

We arrived in California without incident on Saturday afternoon.  It was strange having to pass through a military checkpoint to get to the airport in Bamako, but after that, everything seemed normal.  John had some AA batteries confiscated going through security.  When he questioned why, the policeman said they could blow up the airplane.  In reality, they fit the policeman’s radio.  Ugh!

It was very difficult for us to leave Mali on such short notice.  There are so many people we didn’t have a chance to say good-bye to.  We’re also grieving over the loss of several of our ministries, including Bamako Christian Academy.  It was hard to pack everything into 2 suitcases each and leave the rest behind, including our home, furnishings, and car.  We are very thankful we found a home for our monkey Jac the day we left.  But the cat and turtle were left on their own.

We are very thankful that the situation in Mali has begun to stabilize, including the lifting of economic sanctions and opening of the borders. But there is still a very long way to go. The former president of Mali resigned to allow the head of the National Assembly to become the new interim President paving the way for elections. Unfortunately, the coup leader is still insistent on maintaining his power. We fear it is going to be a long, complicated, and probably bloody process to eventually remove him.

Because of the power vacuum created by the coup, there have been huge changes in the North of Mali over the past week. All three major towns, including legendary Timbuktu, have fallen into Tuareg rebel hands and they have declared independence from Mali. In addition, Islamic extremists have imposed Islamic shari'ah law, an oppressive and often barbaric legal system. We are weeping as all Christians have fled the northern towns leaving the area void of any Christian witness.

We have not posted recently because we’ve been resting and recuperating from the evacuation.  We have a beautiful home in Tustin, CA provided by our home church.  We’re going to continue staying in seclusion for the next week or so as we continue to process all that’s happened.  We will then have some debriefing time to talk about it with others.  We are looking forward to reconnecting with a lot of people now that we’re in the States, but we ask for your patience the next several days as we transition and begin to acclimate to life in the Western world.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Closing Up Shop

It’s been a whirlwind past few days as we transitioned from a regular daily routine, to quickly packing to evacuate the country.  Along the way, we’ve been second guessing if we’re making the right decision, expecting things to get better.  In fact, they continue to spiral downward.  Yesterday, the leader of the coup announced he wants to bring high treason charges against Mali’s deposed president.  His outrageous plans each day never cease to amaze us.

The American Embassy is now recommending all non-essential personnel in Mali to leave as soon as possible.  Also, for the first time in 41 years, all members of the Peace Corps are being evacuated.  This is a pretty strong message to us that it’s time to go.  Thankfully, we’re just 24 hours away.  Yes, it’s going to be very sad leaving, however we’re not going to miss the conditions of the past couple of weeks where we’ve been experiencing 10 hour power and water cuts each day.  Pretty miserable with the daily temps hitting 100-115­­­° F.

It’s amazing how we’ve been surrounded by your thoughts, support, and prayers.  Thank you for helping us through this.  Within hours of announcing our evacuation, friends and churches have stepped up to provide for us.  We have housing and transportation completely covered from the day we arrive.  Thank you!!

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Emergency Exit

The situation in Mali does not look good and there doesn’t seem to be any good news on the horizon.  The coup leader is really digging in and it looks like it will be a long and ugly process to restore democracy in Mali.  In the meantime, there will be a lot of Malians suffering as a result of the embargos.  This has brought us to the most difficult decision we’ve made in our lives.  We have chosen to leave Mali and return to California.  Because we’re leaving under emergency evacuation conditions, we are forced to walk away from the lives we’ve built in Mali over the past eleven years.  We’re now obliged to say hasty good-byes to many good friends, our ministries, and Bamako Christian Academy, which will most likely be closed for the remainder of the school year.  Now we must walk away from our house, our car, and most of our personal belongings.  At this point, we don’t know if we’ll be back in Mali in the future.  It looks like this chapter of our lives is drawing to a close which can sometimes be a painful process.

This entire situation has taken a huge toll on our family.  The ups and downs have been overwhelming at times along with the struggle over the decision to stay or go.  This was further exasperated by a travel agent who was unresponsive and seemed oblivious to our dire situation.  We started the process of trying to get our tickets changed last Friday, and it’s just today when the changes were booked.  It’s a wonderful feeling to finally have made a decision to leave.  Today, we received confirmation that we did the right thing as most of the remaining missionaries in Mali have also made the decision to evacuate in the next few days.

We will be leaving at midnight on Thursday. This leaves us just a little over 48 hours to sort and pack the few belongings we can bring with us.  We have been getting very little sleep this week and are nearing the point of exhaustion.  We just keep chanting a quote from Finding Nemo, “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming.”  It’s extremely difficult to swim when you’re in the middle of the dry and arid desert.

Monday, April 02, 2012

Should I Stay Or Should I Go Now

Just when you think things can’t get any worse…Over the weekend, the Tuareg rebels advanced in the north and captured 3 key cities including Timbuktu.  In addition, the rebels intend to establish Islamic sharia law in the north with the ultimate goal of imposing it throughout Mali.  One of the  most dramatic elements is that it will outlaw Christianity.

Down in  the south, where we live, our junta rebellion continues on.  The junta leader promised he was going to step down and re-establish Mali’s original constitution and the nation would return to as it was 2 weeks ago.  Unfortunately, these turned out to be empty promises to try and avert the threat of sanctions.  This backfired, and the embargos against Mali began today.  All the land borders have been closed and the central bank has shut off the money supply to Mali.  We are effectively cut off from the world.  In anticipation of this, there was a mass exodus of missionaries by road on Sunday – some traveling to Senegal and some to Burkina Faso.  Several more are planning to leave by air this week.  We have chosen to remain in Mali for the moment, however we are weighing our options about leaving.  We have been going back and forth on this decision.  This ordeal has been extremely challenging as we’re riding on an emotional roller coaster.  Considering our Disneyland background, you’d think we’d enjoy roller coaster rides.  Not this one!  We are going through huge shifts each day and the events in Mali are literally changing from hour to hour.  Please be praying for us as we process everything happening around us.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Go Away

New developments today.  Presidents from 5 different West African countries representing ECOWAS, the African regional bloc of nations, were scheduled to meet with the coup leader today to negotiate a resolution.  Protestors supporting the coup blocked the runway of Bamako International Airport and the plane was forced to turn around.  As a result, in 72 hours, Mali will be cut off from all imports and the money supply from the central bank will be blocked.  Because Mali is landlocked, the country relies on imports of everything from food to fuel.  These are powerful sanctions that will cripple Mali.  In addition, peacekeeping troops are standing by to enter Mali.  There were also other protests around Bamako today that turned violent as supporters and opponents of the coup faced off.

In other news, because the military is focused on controlling Mali with the coup, their attention has been drawn away from the original problem of a separate Tuareg rebellion happening in the north of Mali.  Today, the town of Kidal came under heavy attack and is in jeopardy of falling into rebel Tuareg hands.  Kidal is considered a key town in the fight to take over the north.  This will give the Tuareg rebellion a considerable advantage in the fight.  Ironically enough, the coup that overthrew Mali’s democracy was waged because the military felt they weren’t given enough resources to fight in the north.  The low ranking, inexperienced leader of the coup felt he could do a better job defending the north of Mali.  Now because of his actions, the north is in serious jeopardy of falling to the rebellion due to the military’s focus on the coup and all outside aid to the military being suspended.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Grieving Process

When we arrived in Africa 11 years ago, Mali was considered a shining star of democracy in West Africa.  The country was peaceful and an active government “for the people, by the people” was in place.  In the last 5 days, we’ve seen that all come crashing to an end.  As a result of the coup, we are now living under military rule.  A new constitution was hastily put together and revealed last night.  Although it contains many elements and freedoms of the original constitution, it has replaced democratically elected officials with a military leader and committee appointed by him.  The new constitution also grants immunity to all committee members – a very frightening provision.  The coup has been condemned by every nation we’re aware of and calls are ringing out from across the continent and globe to restore democratic order.  Several sanctions are now being prepared to pressure the junta.

We were devastated today that a group of thousands marched downtown today in support of the military coup.  We are grieving the loss of the country we have known and loved for so many years.  There is still a lot of political bantering going back and forth.  It’s difficult to say where the loyalty of the majority of Malians lies.  The African Union, ECOWAS, United Nations, etc. all want to see democracy restored immediately.  But many Malians are speaking out about this and call for the international community to back away and let the chips fall where they may.  This ping pong match is sure to go back and forth for quite awhile.  In the meantime, we continue to pray for God to intervene and restore Mali.

Things remain calm in Bamako and life is carrying on as normally as possible.  We remain safe and secure and are in no immediate danger.  As such, we won’t be updating our blog daily as there isn’t much news to report other than political issues we’d rather avoid getting involved in.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Bank Holiday

Thankfully we had another quiet day in Mali.  But we’re still waiting.  One of our colleagues in Mali summed it up well today, “Things seem as normal as can be – but that is a mask, for sure…stuff is going on”.  The whereabouts of the deposed president are still unknown.  The airport has opened for limited flights and the land borders are open again.  But we still remain under curfew.

Mali shares currency with a bloc of 8 countries in West Africa.  There are rumors the Central Bank of West Africa is going to limit the money supply to Mali to pressure the junta.  Today, all the banks in Bamako closed at 1pm.  ATMs dried up quickly.  This could have serious consequences.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Put Another Irony on the Fire

March 26th is a Malian national holiday known as the “Day of Democracy”.  It commemorates a coup 21 years ago which ended a military dictatorship and formed the democratic government.  It’s also commonly referred to as the “Day of Martyrs” because a group of students protesting the government were gunned down by the military on March 26, 1991. Now here we are 21 years later and just 4 weeks away from the democratic election of a new president with the tables completely turned – democracy has been taken away by a military leader.

In honor of the Day of Democracy, a protest of over 1,000 people marched downtown calling for the junta to step down and restore constitutional order to Mali.  Believe it or not, there are currently 38 political parties in Mali.  Today they all announced a united front against the coup.  In addition, the current government officials being held hostage by the junta, including the prime minister and foreign minister, have started a hunger strike in protest of their imprisonment and the overthrow of the government.

We are happy to announce some major progress was made today when the coup leader announced the airport will be open limited hours tomorrow.  Hopefully this is the start of the surrender of power.  There is still a lot of uncertainty as anything can still happen.  BCA has decided to remain closed this week.  We’ll be taking our Spring break a week early and hopefully recommence school next week.  The students are pretty disappointed about this as most of them have been going stir crazy with the curfew and are anxious to get back to school with their friends.  Please continue to pray.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Eat, Drink, and Be Merry For Tomorrow…

Whew!  Another quiet day.  The embassy gave the clear to run small errands in our neighborhood during the day.  We were able to stock up on some more food and make a pharmacy run to ensure we have enough medicine to see us through a few weeks.  Unfortunately all the ATMs appear to be out of money.  Thankfully we’ve stashed away a large sum of cash to get through several weeks.  While we were out, we stopped for ice cream at the local bakery – talk about a surreal moment – eating ice cream in the midst of a military coup!

The rebel leader’s arrogance continues to escalate.  In his talks with negotiators from the African Union and other international bodies, along with interviews for international media, he has been declaring his is in complete control of the country.

There is a large pro-democracy protest planned for tomorrow.  This has the potential to begin a counter-coup and fighting may begin again.  We’re waiting on pins and needles.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Eye of the Storm

Thankfully, things were quiet again today.  The situation was calm enough for Anne-Marie’s dad to pick her up and take her home to Fana.  Anne-Marie was very happy to be back with her family in this time of crisis.

Some stores in our neighborhood were open today and people were out on the street.  There was a general feeling that things are “normal”.  We took the opportunity to stock up on food and supplies.  The airport and borders remain closed meaning it’s only a matter of time before food begins running out.  Fuel supplies are also running very low which will have a big impact soon.

There have been reports of soldiers looting around the city.  The leader of the rebellion went on TV today to assure people everything is under control.  He gave quite an interesting explanation of the looting problem.  According to him, people are dressing up like police and soldiers to create havoc to discredit the mutineers.  Speaking of TV, we’ve nicknamed the national TV station “Rebel TV”.  Some programming has returned, however it’s often interrupted by messages from the junta.  (We’re learning all kinds of new terms).

There is still a lot of uncertainty in the air.  We remain under curfew and confined to our homes from 6pm – 6am.  There are conflicting reports on the whereabouts of the deposed president, and no one is sure what the breakdown of loyalties of the military are.  In the meantime, the rebellion in the north of Mali, which prompted this coup, is advancing and taking more territory because of the disunity of the military.  Please continue to pray for a peaceful resolution.  We’re treasuring the peace right now, but we feel the pot is getting ready to boil over and havoc is on the horizon.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Fall of a Rising Star

MALI-SOLDIERS-STREETYesterday, gunfire could be heard throughout the day all around Bamako.  It was unnerving when soldiers fired off their machine guns several times right outside our front door and behind our house.  We are happy to report a much quieter day today.  We did hear sporadic, distant gunfire, but nothing close to our home.  We continue to be under an indefinite curfew.  Most shops remain closed and food and other essentials are running scarce.  The price of gasoline spiked today to $11 a gallon.  There is a lot of uncertainty in the air as no one seems to know what's going to happen next.  The rebellion is being led by a low ranking officer who doesn't seem to have much of a plan.  No one seems to know how much of the military is loyal to the government and how many are actively participating in the rebellion.  The overthrow of the President is especially heartbreaking because presidential elections are less than a month away and a transfer of power was due to happen naturally as part of the democratic process.  We continue to pray civil unrest will not be the next step.

The rebellion has also caused all aid agencies and international partners to halt aid to Mali - something that's desperately needed - especially since Mali is currently suffocating under famine conditions due to an insufficient rainy season.  We are grieving that just 48 hours ago, this nation was the rare example of a peaceful and successful democratic African country, and the crown jewel of West Africa.  Now the entire house of cards has come crashing down.

We are currently safe and don't feel we're in any impending danger and have no immediate plans to leave.  However we are unsure what the future holds.  Please continue to keep us and the nation of Mali in your prayers.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

You Say You Want A Revolution

To make a long story short, the Malian government toppled this morning.  In coupe d’etat, the Malian military has taken over and established a new government called the Committee for the Re-establishment of Democracy and the Restoration of the State.  The Presidential Palace has been overrun and the former President is now in hiding.  The old government and constitution have been dissolved and all the government ministers are being arrested.  Bamako is now under a curfew and all businesses are closed.  The airport has also been closed.  We are hearing a lot of gunfire as the military is establishing order under the new regime.

For the time being, everything is focused on the government and civilians are not being targeted.  We will continue to remain in our house.  We have enough supplies to see us through several days.  We’ve also been informed to anticipate utility outages.  This could limit our updates in the immediate future.  We’ll try to keep you informed when we can.  For now, rest assured that we are safe but your prayers are desperately needed for Mali.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

A Shot In the Dark

A couple of weeks ago, the rebels in the north of Mali took over a Malian military base.  It’s been relatively quiet since then.  However, today more protests started in Bamako because people are discontented about how the government is handling the rebellion.  In particular, the military is frustrated and feel they have been held back and are ill equipped in fighting the rebels.  Today, some in the military have greatly escalated their show of discontent.  Violence broke out in a small town just outside of Bamako.  In addition, the national TV station was overrun by the military and shut down along with several radio stations operated by the government.  Sporadic gunfire can be heard around Bamako as the military takes to the streets.  We’ve heard several outbursts of gunfire from our house tonight.

There are a couple of major protests planned for tomorrow including a march on the Presidential Palace.  The Presidential guard has surrounded the Palace with armored military vehicles in an attempt to protect it.  The American school, French school, and our school will all be closed tomorrow and we are advised to stay in our homes.  We are getting regular updates from the U.S. Embassy.  Also, we were expecting someone to arrive in Mali tonight via Air France.  But the flight was turned around halfway to Mali, yet another sign that unrest is in the air.

We are taking extra precautions and have hunkered down at home, however we continue to feel our family is safe.  We do appreciate your prayers for a quick and peaceful end to this situation.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

E-Ticket Ride

We received our plane tickets to the States!  It’s been over 5 years since we’ve had a furlough and we’re really starting to feel it.  We will be coming to Southern California this summer and staying through January.  It has been a big decision for Cole to attend a high school with more than 8 students.  He was apprehensive at first, but now he’s really looking forward to it.  It’s also been a difficult decision to leave teaching at BCA for our furlough time.  But we’ve come to the realization that we are well on the road to major burnout and need an extended break from Africa.  We also have several serious medical issues to pursue and some exciting new ministry opportunities to explore in the U.S.

We’ll be arriving in late June via Casablanca and London.  It’s going to be a long, 2 day voyage, but we’re looking forward to our arrival at LAX.  We’ll be spending July in Orange courtesy of one of our supporters who has offered their condo while they’re on vacation in Europe.  The remainder of the time we’ll be living in one of our church’s mission houses in Tustin.

We’re very excited and have already begun counting down the days.  We’re looking forward to having some extended time to see everyone.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Living Like a Refugee

Things remain quiet here in Bamako, however the situation in the north of Mali continues to deteriorate.  It is estimated that 120,000 people have fled their homes and are now living as refugees in neighboring countries or other parts of Mali.  The Malian military is now responding with a lot of force…sometimes too much force.  Yesterday, a Malian helicopter gunship mistakenly fired on a refugee camp killing a little girl and injuring ten others.

The latest UN map shows a dire situation in the north.  Mali is in desperate need of peace.  Please join us in praying for our country.

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

The situation here in Bamako, the capital of Mali, has been pretty quiet the past couple of weeks.  People have a lot of grievances with the way the President of Mali is handling the rebellion and questioning his loyalties.  He met in a televised town hall meeting with the wives of several soldiers to address their concerns.  The meeting has appeased many of the problems for the time being, but there’s still a lot bubbling under the surface.

In the meantime, the rebellion is continuing in the north.  The battle has really heated up the past week as the military has been aggressively advancing against the rebels.  The rebels are armed with shoulder fired missiles and heavy artillery they obtained in the war in Libya.  Hundreds of people have died and thousands have fled to neighboring countries including Algeria, Niger, and Mauritania.  It has created a huge humanitarian and refugee crisis.  Please join us in praying for peace and an end to the rebellion.  We are currently safe, but our country is on the brink of chaos.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Same Song Second Verse

The security situation in Mali has deteriorated the past few weeks.  The focus has shifted from Al-Qaeda kidnappings to a rebellion and civil unrest.  A rebel faction is fighting for independence in northern Mali.  Over the past couple of weeks, they have attacked and taken over 6 towns.  To add insult to injury, many Malians are angry at the government’s response to the attacks and have been protesting in several parts of Mali including Bamako, the capital city where we live.  This week, roads have been blocked, tires set on fire, and police have used tear gas to break up some of the protests.  Because the rebel group are Tuaregs, who originate from North Africa, many people of North African descent are being attacked and their houses and businesses vandalized.  Westerners are not being targeted, however we have been advised to keep a low profile and avoid leaving the house whenever possible.

Malians are not happy with the government or the president.  Although elections are only 2 months away, people are calling for immediate change.  When turmoil erupts in Africa, it is not easily calmed and many times leads to civil war.  Please be praying for the situation in Mali.  We are begging for peace.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Open Heart Surgery

Heart TransplantProfessor John and his Biology class completed their first successful dissection.  The project called for sheep hearts.  Thankfully, we have two sheep butchers within 500 feet of our house.  John was able to pick up a heart for each student at a total cost of $3.00 – much cheaper than ordering them from a science supply company in the States – and having them still warm added to the authenticity.  In the interest of being “green”, we were thinking of recycling them for Valentine’s Day, but they were pretty mangled by the time they were finished – a broken heart isn’t the best Valentine gift.

Sunday, January 22, 2012


Global warming…yeah, right.  Like Alaska, we’ve been suffering an unusually cold snap lately.  Temps have been dropping down into the low 60s at night.  During the day, we’re donning jackets as the temps hover in the low 80s.  We have really acclimated to the heat in Mali and the lower temperatures send us seeking any kind of warmth.  Keep in mind that our home has no heater, our car has no heater, and the warmest jackets we have are hoodies.

Happy StarWe were downtown on Saturday night and stumbled upon a new restaurant.  We were so excited to see the Carl’s Jr. Happy Star beckoning us from across the road.  But alas, disappointment set in when we realized it was a pirated version of the logo and the restaurant resembled nothing of an American fast food restaurant.  Yes, we could have gotten a hamburger complete with fried egg and french fries inside – nothing close to a Famous Star hamburger.  Reality bites.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Bonne Année 2012

New Years Eve 2012Happy New Year from our family to yours.  We are doing fine.  We’re sorry if we left you hanging with our lack of communication since our last post about security issues.  There have been no further incidents and we consider our situation relatively safe.

We had a rockin’ New Year’s Eve celebration on the rooftop of a friend’s house with a great view of fireworks at the Presidential Palace along with skyrockets all over town.  We’ve also enjoyed sharing the Holidays with our fellow YWAMer Lorna, who’s been staying with us since being evacuated from Northern Mali.  Anne-Marie returned today from Christmas with her family in Fana so our house is full again.  Together, we wish you a wonderful 2012!  (Two thousand twelve or Twenty Twelve? – you be the judge)