Saturday, February 27, 2016

You Get What You Pay For

We went out with some more students from our classes last night.  We really enjoy spending concentrated time with them and getting to know them better.  One young man is currently in high school – attempting to graduate for the 3rd time.  He is bright and smart, however the Malian education system is very corrupt and broken.

In order to graduate from high school, students need to pass an exam at the end of the year.  Last year, the national passing rate in Mali was a staggering 18%.  This means 82% of the students must repeat their senior year and try the test again the next year, or drop out without graduating.  Most of the time, it is not for lack of learning, but rather corruption in the system.  Students are often required to provide monetary bribes or sexual favors to their teachers in order to pass.  The passing rate did increased by almost 2% last year, but there’s obviously quite a ways to go.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Goodness, Gracious, Great Balls of Fire

Julie's 53rd BdayEach night after English class, we treat two of our students to a meal at a local restaurant in an effort to get to know them better.  It’s been a great way for us to build bridges and begin developing relationships with our students.  It’s also a big treat for most of them as they usually can’t afford to go out to a Western style restaurant.  A recurring theme is that almost all of them are excited to have a hamburger.

Last night happened to be Julie’s birthday, so two of our students had the added bonus of a birthday celebration complete with cake with a Roman birthday candle.  It was epic.  All the restaurant employees joined us in singing Happy Birthday in French.  It was just like Applebee’s except the cake was spewing out sparks and the employees were more shell shocked as they took part in their first American style birthday celebration.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Hmmm…That’s Interesting

Our current Alpha Course got off to a bit of a rough start.  The first class was scheduled for the week Julie was medevaced to Tunisia.  We had some team members that helped launch it while we were gone.  Unfortunately, only 2 people showed up the first night.  We rebooted things and started over again the following week and had 8 people show up.  Last week, we had 12 people, then last night, 17 people came!  It’s been exciting to see the numbers growing.  The first couple of weeks are critical, so we’ll defer any additional people to the next course in May.

We’ve had a few people return after taking the Alpha Course last time.  It’s exciting that even though they are devout Muslims, they continue to be drawn to the truth they find each week in Alpha.  Please continue to pray for everyone attending.  There is a lot of interest and they are eager to come each week.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Safety First

Update on Julie:  She is doing VERY well.  She is feeling healthy and free from pain.  It’s like nothing ever happened. Thank you for your prayers.

When we returned from Tunisia, we hit the ground running and jumped into our ministries.  We are both teaching one English class and hosting the Alpha Course.  In addition, Julie is teaching a pronunciation class, and John is teaching a business class.

In John’s English class last week, his students were learning about the automobile.  The following question was part of a quiz last week:  “What should you always wear when you are in a car?”  One of the students answered “seat belt/chastity belt”.  Guess you can never be too careful.

Monday, February 01, 2016

God Is Good…All The Time

We arrived home from Tunisia this morning at 2am.  We were tired, exhausted, and glad to be home.  We’ve had a lot of time the last couple of days to reflect back on everything that’s happened.

Last week began with a series of trials centering around Julie’s illness. But as the week progressed, the trials were replaced tenfold with blessings and acknowledgment of God’s goodness. We want to thank everyone for your prayers. They really did make a difference!!!

Here’s a summary of the testimonies we’ve experienced:

LOGISTICS  It was a big decision to travel to Tunisia, a country we were unfamiliar with and had no friends or contacts in. The day before we left, we were frantically researching doctors, clinics, hotels, and transportation which probably raised our blood pressure by 30-40%. But upon our arrival in Tunisia, we were met at the airport by a full-service medical concierge who took care of every detail throughout our stay, including personally taking us everywhere we needed to go in his car. He also interacted with all of the doctors and clinics, coordinating every test and procedure. He has been to medical school and is very knowledgeable about medicine and patient care. He even took care of all the billing. We didn’t need to pay for anything in-country. We will be billed upon our return to Bamako.

MONEY  A major concern was finances. This incident is considered a pre-existing condition and not covered by our insurance. Several generous people stepped forward and provided financial assistance. The total cost of Julie’s medevac and treatment was far below what we had expected. In the end, with the help of others, ALL expenses have been fully paid! Thank you for your generosity.

QUALITY OF CARE  We weren’t sure what to expect with the level of medical care in Tunisia. This can often be subjective, based on culture and personal views. We were amazed at the quality and professionalism of the doctors and clinics we visited. The main clinic we were associated with rivals most hospitals in the U.S. and their facilities meet or exceed international standards of care. The doctors are very knowledgeable and well trained, with an excellent bedside manner.

HOSPITALITY  Tunisia is a beautiful country and the people are extremely friendly and hospitable. Every person we met and worked with treated us like a close friend and ensured all of our needs were met.

SURROUNDINGS  It’s not often that one is referred to a resort destination for medical care. Although we were not on vacation and didn’t have time to tour the amazing sites in Tunisia, we did get to experience a slice of Mediterranean life and enjoy the beauty of staying on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea for the duration of our stay at unbelievably low rates.

HEALING  The point of this medevac trip was to receive treatment for Julie’s kidney stones. The treatment steps were not always easy or comfortable – sometimes they involved a lot of pain. But at the end of the week, Julie was a different person. She is now free from the pain and suffering she had been experiencing for several weeks. Her joy is restored, her personality animated, and her face is glowing with restoration and refreshment.

MINISTRIES  All of this happened just as we were starting new classes at Go Global and launching new ministries. We are thankful for the people that jumped in to fill our shoes for the week we were gone. Now it’s back to English class, Alpha, Rastafari, and church planting.

PRAYER SUPPORT  We did indeed feel your love and support. This trip would not have been possible without your prayers. We are eternally grateful to you. Thank you for standing with us. Please don’t take this lightly. We want you to share in the victory and testimony of this situation. God does care and He wants to be an active part of all of our lives – yours included. Please take some time to celebrate with us and thank God for hearing your prayers and responding in goodness.