A LITTLE FURTHER...
joy of blessing hundreds of children during Christmas season
even made me forget our financial woes. We'd appreciate any
help to get out of our deficit through one-time donations or
becoming a monthly donor. 6000€
or $7000 to go! Thank you!
& ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION
past few weeks have been so intense - and wonderful
- I could write a separate email about each event we put on. Instead,
I'll try to keep it short and will give you links to look
at all the pictures that speak volumes.
first event was our Christmas & anniversary celebration
on the 22nd. This year we decided to cancel our anniversary celebration
earlier, and do it together with our Christmas celebration instead,
and it was a great success.
short-termers Nadia & Olga went into our neighborhood
with our children a few times to hand out invitations, and posters
were also put up all around us. A few hundred people
- many children - came to celebrate with us. We slaughtered a sheep
for our banquet that morning, and the ladies cooked it, a sauce
and many kilos of couscous for the meal at the end of the day. We
put up our tent and welcome banners, and had last
preparations with the baptism candidates.
started at 3 pm with Bambara praise & worship
that Paul led, with our kids being the choir. Since it was our 14-year
anniversary celebration, I told our history and what we
do, and then Randy prayed a prayer of blessing over
us. Next it was time for the baptisms. We baptized our very own
Hama (9) and Patrice (10). They
first gave a testimony, then we asked them a few questions and baptized
them. After having changed, we gave them a certificate and prayed
and prophesied over them.
it was time for the children's Christmas play.
Nadia & Olga had worked hard with them to make it happen, and
they did a great job. It was the introduction to my message,
which was simply the gospel from Adam & Eve
with a focus on Christmas. I looked at hundreds of faces listening
intently which was exciting. In the end, I gave an invitation
to start a life with Jesus, and hundreds of hands
went up. Praise God!
enjoyed their festive meal and drink and went home
happy. It had been a wonderful celebration!
here to look at all the pictures from our celebration.
Christmas Eve it was time for our family Christmas
celebration. First, we invited every sponsored child and all our
workers to the restaurant for a meal of chicken
with fries and a drink. We were nearly 40 people
as a few people were missing. It brought so much joy to
me to see and spend time with some of our non-resident kids we rarely
see. How they have all grown! We took lots of pictures, and greatly
enjoyed our meal. As some children were not able to join us on the
base for the rest of the evening, we handed them their gifts
in the restaurant and sent them home with our blessing.
put together gift bags for all of our 33 sponsored kids,
filling them with candy, toys, school supplies, clothes, and hygiene
articles. We give those bags to them in the name of their
sponsors who enable them to go to school, eat and have
on our base, everyone piled into our living room where all the gifts
had been gathering for weeks. All those living on our base
drew one other person's name to give a gift to, which I then wrapped
so nobody knew who it was from. We also had the 33 gift bags for
the sponsored kids sitting under the Christmas tree,
which was full of chocolates (an Austrian tradition).
first spent some time talking about the significance
of Christmas, sang "Happy Birthday" for Jesus, prayed,
and ate the Christmas cookies the kids had made.
I also lit one sparkler who then lit the sparklers
everyone had in their hands, showing how the Light of the world
becoming flesh has lit us all up and spread His light.
finally what they had all been waiting for - gifts!
One by one everyone came forward to open his gift and choose who
would open the next one. That takes a while, but it's so
much fun to watch everyone unwrap their gifts and rejoice.
the very end, I opened a piece of paper from Paul and
it had a word on it that I did not understand. While I stood there
wondering what it meant, Saloum came in with a huge turkey
in his hand! I was truly in shock seeing this live turkey
in our house! I had not known the Bambara word for turkey! What
an amazing (and expensive) gift! We sure enjoyed eating it, and
still have some in the freezer!
me, Christmas Eve was very special and filled me with joy,
mainly because I got to reconnect with so many of my kids, many
of whom I miss because I see them rarely. Especially Paul's
2-year-old daughter Salomé who I had only seen ONE
time right after her birth. It was wonderful having Paul's whole
family with us (they skipped last year).
here to look at all the pictures from Christmas
last few times we've been amazed to have a record number of 200
children show up for our parties we do at Christmas and Easter.
Imagine our amazement while handing out a paper with a number
(and candy) to each child walking through our gates, when we passed
200, then 250, then 300, scrambling to get more papers with numbers,
until we reached 350 when the last child walked
through the gates. WOW! Our dining hall barely had room enough for
them all. Praise God!
put them in groups of 10 for the first game. Each
group was given a sheet, and then Olga threw a balloon filled
with water at them that they had to catch with the sheet
without it bursting. They had a lot of fun, and a few of us got
narrowed the kids down from 350 to 60 or so with this game, and
the 60 went on to the second game, getting an apple
out of a bucket of water without using their hands. The
first team of 30 to have all done it went on to the third game.
The third game was our version of "Simon
says" called "Jesus says". It did not take
long before we had one winner, who later received his prize
of a soccer ball - the best gift you can give a boy in
scrambled to get into the dining hall, where Paul led them in a
time of Bambara praise, singing and dance. What
a sight that was! Then our kids played their Christmas play
one more time, before Paul shared the gospel
with the children, from Adam and Eve to the crucifixion and Jesus's
return. He did a Q & A time and prayed a prayer
of salvation with them. What a wonderful sight!
the meal wasn't ready yet, we put on the Matthew film of
Jesus in Bambara for them, and they all watched and listened
intently. Then they all ate, and now all that was left was to come
to our house for their gifts.
children handled the logistics as each child - starting with number
1 - walked into our living room where hundreds of shoes,
toys, clothes, drinks and chocolates were waiting for them.
We had more gifts to hand out than ever, thanks to the people of
VCC-Jesuszentrum in Vienna who gave us a van full of toys and clothes
on our last trip. A BIG thank you to you as we
couldn't have done it otherwise!
took us a full 3.5 hours for every child to come
in, get a pair of shoes (if we were out, a toy or T-shirt instead),
a drink and a chocolate off the Christmas tree. We were completely
worn out in the end - but in a good way.
big thank you also to CCARA and Nadia &
Olga who helped us buy the 200 pairs of shoes,
and all those of you who have sent donations so
we could buy food and drinks. Your heavenly reward is great!
to look at all the pictures from the children's
IN THE VILLAGE
very next day we filled the car up with all the remaining
shoes, toys and shirts, as well as all our children, and
headed to the village of Dara where we started
a church 10 years ago. And they were sure expecting us! Nadia &
Olga handed out balloons to the children, who patiently
stood in line to get theirs, while the rest of us set all
our gifts up in a courtyard where they then stood in line
to come one by one to get a pair of shoes or toy or T-shirt. I wished
you could have been there with us and see the faces of these children
as they received their very first own toy in their
lives! It was so beautiful!
took a while as who knows how many hundreds of kids
came for a gift. Paul then led us in a time of Bambara praise and
preached a short Christmas message, and we prayed
for several sick people who were either healed
it was time for something we had never done before - show a big-screen
movie with everything being battery-powered.
We had received the gift of a battery-powered small projector and
bought some Bluetooth-speakers to put up in different locations.
We connected our computer to the projector to show the movie. Once
it was dark, we started showing the Matthew Jesus film.
And it worked, praise God! The only annoying issue was that we were
right next to the mosque (whose imam is totally
against us), and the mosque blared loudly out of its speakers for
at least an hour, making it hard to hear our movie. It sure seemed
like it was on purpose!
then, after only one hour, our fully charged projector was already
out of power. We had to show the last 20 minutes
by holding up the computer. Thankfully, the crowd wasn't too big,
so it worked. In the end, Paul prayed a prayer of salvation,
and then we headed home. It was after 8 pm, and our kids were all
tired and hungry, but I hope it impacted them as well. We sure loved
every minute of it!
to look at all the pictures from our village Christmas
was exhausted after all our events, and spent days looking through
all the pictures, picking the best and editing
each one of them before uploading them. Especially since I needed
to be done by New Year's Eve, when we look at ALL the pictures
of the past year.
all gathered in our dining hall with the projector and enjoyed remembering
the year through the pictures and videos. Our kids reacted
with laughter and much talk at some pictures, as they had never
seen themselves in these pictures before. It took us quite some
time before reaching the end of the year.
we talked about the last year, the high and low points,
before I handed out the little notes we had all
written to ourselves a year ago, containing our dreams and hopes
for 2018. As for me, I had 10 items on my paper with not
one of them having come true (same for Randy and Paul).
I then handed out new papers to everyone, so we
could do the same for 2019.
had made a "New Year's Eve cake", and
we also finished off the rest of the Christmas cookies. The last
hour before midnight, we gathered in a circle to pray, thank
God for the past year and pray for the next, as well as
to praise Him in song. The last ten seconds we all counted
down, and then we cheered once the new
year was here, all hugging each other and wishing
a Happy New Year. Before going to bed, we played one game
together, which had become a tradition, and enjoyed having fun together.
But then everyone was eager to fall into bed. Ready
for the New Year!
here to look at all the pictures from our New
Warfare - Right after our Christmas events we could feel
the intensified warfare. We need intercessors
to hold us up in prayer!
& Contacts Lost - Yesterday, suddenly all my emails
(of many years) and contacts were simply gone.
Even though I have 2 backups, nothing I tried worked. That's a
disaster, as I have a lot of important information
in those emails I need to have access to. Please pray!
Helpers - Nadia & Olga are half-way through their
time with us, and they have been a tremendous blessing.
It will be hard to let them go! This Sunday, another Belarussian
lady is arriving for two weeks. After the 3 of them leave,
we are expecting the arrival of two Americans,
and then a German Bible student after that. Please
pray for them and us.
Update - Our construction manager was really sick and
is now picking up work again. We are still waiting
for the walls to go up. Believe with us for the
remaining 56.000€ or $64,000 to come in
so we can finish it and start our school.
Teacher - We are still looking for a French-speaking
first grade teacher to join our team next September.
There is such a need for a good, Christian school where the children
are treated with dignity and learn something.
Many of our Muslim neighbors would send their children to our
school. Please pray we'll find a teacher!
Director Paul - Paul's wife Rokia has
been sick and is currently undergoing treatment.
Please pray for her complete healing.
Situation - Mali is becoming more and more radicalized
by jihadists. Also, the population is rising up against the government,
still not accepting the president's election. Please pray for
peace, and for protection from
& France - We have started planning our next trip,
and need to hear from you to make better choices where to go and
where not to go. We're planning on being in the USA late
March and April, and in France in May.
Please contact me if you'd like us to come, especially now that
I've lost all my contacts.
Baby - Keep praying as we are not ready to give up on
our promised child.
- Do you want to come change an orphan's
life? Do you want to heal the sick? Preach
the gospel to those who've never heard? Come to Mali
for a season and let God change your life. No language skills
needed, but French skills are helpful.
[..] The goodness and kindness of God our Savior and His love for
mankind appeared in human form as the man, Jesus Christ. (Titus