Monday, September 28, 2015

Shoot For The Moon

There are plenty of awesome pictures of last night’s combination super moon and lunar eclipse on Facebook, websites, and news programs.  We had a beautiful view of it here in Bamako.  It was a cloudless night and we watched it reach full eclipse at 2:43am.  In Mali, another dynamic is added to a lunar eclipse.  Local superstition has it that it is the result of a cat (which are believed to carry evil spirits) swallows the moon.  Kids run around banging on pots and pans, pounding on their neighbors doors, and yelling and screaming for the cat to let go of the moon.  We experienced this for the first time during a full lunar eclipse in 2007.  Unfortunately, we didn’t know what was going on.  We thought there was a protest or riot going on and we hid in our house hoping things would blow over.  We didn’t find out until the next day that it was just people harmlessly acting out their local folklore.

This year we were prepared for the brouhaha, but it never came.  Because of the late hour of the eclipse, most Malians weren’t aware it was happening and the kids were all fast asleep in bed.  So the cat quietly swallowed the moon and coughed it back up like a hairball without anyone noticing.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Candle In The Wind

LED Candles (2)We have a wonderful woman named Mamou that helps around our house a few days a week.  Yesterday, she stayed later than usual because she had a few extra things she wanted to do.  When we came home last night after teaching English class, she came running up to us as she saw us approaching our house.  We were confused why she was still there as she should have left hours ago.  She was franticlly talking about bougies, which is a really fun sounding French word for candles.  We calmed her down to the point where she could explain the problem.

We brought several LED decorative candles back with us from the States – the kind that mimic a flickering flame and turn on and off each night via a built-in timer.  Mamou has never seen them working as she is gone by the time they come on.  Last night, they came on automatically after we left, but while Mamou was still in the house.  She was quite confused and scared.  She didn’t see us light them before we left so she didn’t know who had lit them.  She tried blowing them out, but they wouldn’t go out.  She was afraid to leave our house with candles burning unattended, so she stayed until we got home an hour and a half later.

She was eager to get home, so we didn’t have a chance to go in the house and show her how they worked.  Hopefully, she won’t be too scared to come back on Monday and we can relieve her fears of our house being haunted or possessed by spirits.

Sunday, September 20, 2015


Appaloosa RestaurantAfter church tonight, we visited a “TexMex” restaurant in town called Appaloosa.  We’d heard mixed reviews over the years and decided to give it a try.  Like many of the “upper scale” restaurants in Bamako, it’s owned and operated by the Lebanese.   The restaurant d├ęcor certainly had shades of the Southwest, including pictures of Native Americans and license plates from many US States on the walls.  They even had wagon wheel light fixtures.  It was hard not to laugh as waiters were dressed in stereotypical uniforms including cowboy hats, bolo string ties, and even toy sheriff badges.  Now let’s add in the juxtaposition of people smoking hookah water pipes at the bar.  It was a strange cross between Knott’s Berry Farm and a hookah lounge.

The food was interesting.  We were courageous enough to try “chicken enchiladas”.  We also ordered a side of tortillas.  The waiter said they were out of tortillas, but they had “enchiladas”.  This was our first clue that this wasn’t going to be your typical SoCal Mexican restaurant meal.  When they arrived, the “enchiladas” were filled with chicken and some other mystery ingredients rolled inside of crepes and covered with lettuce.  They were quite tasty, but certainly not what we we would consider traditional Mexican food.

The restaurant also operates as a bar (yes, there are bars in a Muslim country).  As the sun began to go down, the atmosphere changed as bartenders and prostitutes began arriving for the evening crowd.  This is when we felt it was time to bid Happy Trails to the Appaloosa.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Do You Speaka De Inglish?

We started working with a ministry this week called Go Global Mali.  It was set up by some friends of ours a few years ago to reach out to Malian college students and working professionals.  Currently, Go Global is focusing on teaching English to Malian adults and providing opportunities for people to practice English and advance their language skills.  There are currently 150 students enrolled.

We have each started teaching an English class on weeknights.  Julie is teaching a level 3 class while John is teaching level 4.  Our classes are made up of university students, doctors, lawyers, bankers, business professionals, and others.  We’re looking forward to developing relationships with our students and finding opportunities to share the Gospel in the process.

Because Bamako Christian Academy is currently closed, Go Global is using the school building for their classes and activities.  This makes it very convenient for us as it’s just a short 10 minute walk from our house.  In many ways, it just like old times, but with a whole new twist.