we took in the first of the new kids - Paul Junior. Paul first
came to our base a year ago, and was named Paul at his baptism
in November 2008. We've watched him over this past year, and have
seen him grow in his faith and be faithful in little things. Now
his day had come! The smiling picture shows him today, and the
other one is from the day he first slept on our base.
is his story:
born in Conakry, the capital of Guinea. He lived with his parents,
and started school there at the age of 10. In 4th grade, he killed
a sheep with two friends, and was caught by the sheep's owner,
who went to see his parents. Paul's parents wanted him to pay
for the sheep, and threatened him with beatings if he didn't.
So Paul ran away, and slept over at a village chief's house.The
following morning he started his journey towards Mali. He found
someone who was willing to take him to Bamako by car, where he
ended up at the bus station. One of the big kids there took him
under his wing, and together, they were surviving by begging for
money. He spent the following 3 years on the street. In Sep 2008
Paul first came to our base to spend the night; in Nov 2008 he
was baptized, and in Sep 2009 he became a member of our family.
If he can't become a soccer player, he'd like to be a mechanic.
gave Paul a mattress, sheet, pillow, sheet, tootbrush and paste,
and clothes, and we welcomed Paul into the family. Now we need
to find a sponsor for him.
also did a prayer meeting in the evening. I led worship on the
keyboard, and there was a beautiful prophetic flow. Afterwards,
the kids shared all they had received from the Lord.
was time for our surprise visit to Dio. We've had some major problems
with our pastor there, and we needed to verify some of the information
he had given us.
plan was to arrive at meal time, since we've been giving him money
to feed 50 people three times a week, and he was feeding them
Mon, Tue, and Wed. After a 90 minute uneventful drive, we arrived
there at noon - and found the compound deserted. Only the pastor's
daughter and one other kid was there. We were told that the pastor
and his wife and son were in Bamako.
asked the girl whether the boy who had just arrived would know
the five families who we feed and whose children we send to school;
he did, and so he became our guide as we started our walk from
house to house. In the picture, the boy is in the middle, Abdias
to the left, and Paul to the right. As you can tell, it's corn
season in Mali!
families were very happy to see me again. We wrote down which
kids go to school, and which kids go eat at the pastor's house,
and which ones were gone. One family had moved away four months
ago (and the pastor had never told us), and another thing we found
out quickly was that they're only eating at the pastor's house
twice a week - Mon and Tue - for the past 8 months or so!
returned to the pastor's house - and the pastor had arrived in
the meantime. His wife and son were still in Bamako. The shock
he was in because of our visit was very obvious. We sat down after
greeting each other, and he didn't say a word, neither did we.
They had prepared a simple lunch for us, and Abdias and Paul ate
(too many calories for me - I had a 'sandwich' with me). I was
wondering whether it was the right time to say anything about
our findings, but I decided it wasn't.
then told him that the last thing on our agenda was to go to the
village of Goro to take a picture of the church building with
the new roof we gave him the money for three months ago. He said
the roof was not up, and gave us the excuse that you can't build
mud brick houses during rainy season. I'll check with our construction
guy. He said they had purchased the sheet metal for the roof,
but could not produce a receipt or list of expenses which he knows
I'm expecting to get. So there was no reason to go to Goro. We
said our good-byes and returned to Bamako - with a heavy heart.
during the trip home I was already taking decisions as to what
changes have to happen. I just need to check with the German NGO
who has been providing a big part of the money for the food and
also discovered that the pastor's daughter now has to start "Lycée"
(last 3 years of High School), and there is no school like that
in the village. She needs to go to Bamako for that. I was disappointed
that he had not told us about that months ago, and asked the obvious,
whether we could take her in so she could go to school. He just
told us that he doesn't know where she could stay. The girl herself
asked us, though, to stay with us. Though I like her a lot, I'm
a little hesitant. She's nearly 18, and having a bunch of teenage
boys with sexual problems, I can already forsee some issues. Any
words of wisdom from you guys?
afternoon I wrote a desperate email update that went out to nearly
800 people. As I've witnessed in the past, when a big number of
people starts praying, things turned around. Things turned around
for us in a way that I can only call astonishing. Maybe the end
of the Muslim month of prayer and fasting has to do with it as
well (Sunday was the last day)?
night, things started changing. I decided it was time for action,
for order and structure to return to this household, and some
semblance of things going right. We hadn't done our nightly family
meeting in a while, and I let them know there would be one at
that meeting I told them the time of anarchy was over, now order
was returning to the house. I gave them some structure for their
personal time with good, and their corporate morning time, scheduled
a daily "soaking session" after lunch, and prayer meeting
in the evening. I told them that starting Monday, they would do
their chores again, and obey the house rules. To my surprise,
Paul was really happy about all this.
life was different when I got up this morning. The internet was
gone all day, not working 99% of the time, which restricted somewhat
what I could do in the office. It was also the first day of trial
week for one of the drivers who left with Paul to pick up Elisabeth
to come back to cook for us every morning, the way she used to.
I asked Paul to ask the driver to show him his driver's license,
but he gave an excuse to why he didn't have it right. When they
returned, and Paul told me about it, I told him that we could
not have him drive without a license; he had to go and get it
back. So we're waiting to hear from him. That meant that poor
Elisabeth had to return home using public transporation.
also meant Paul had to ask his friend to drive him on the motorbike;
I'm glad Paul has taken to heart the eye doctor's advice to not
drive a motorbike himself. Unfortunately they couldn't get any
errands done because everything was still closed because of the
end of Ramadan celebrations.
kids followed their new structure - probably glad to have structure
again, at least subconsciously - and this picture shows them pick
up trash on the property. They always tell me they've done it,
and so once more, I went ouside and walked around with them, pointing
out all the trash to them. Since it's normal in Mali to throw
trash on the ground, they simply don't see it.
kids have been helping with construction for a few days. Today
I walked into my future house, having a look. It's great to see
it come up. May it be completed swiftly! Another $65,000 are needed
kids the soaking session after lunch, and fell asleep; but that's
good, since they also get a nap in that way.
of the prayer meeting, we ended up doing the first lesson of the
HOLY SPIRIT course where they are taught how to hear the voice
of God etc. It was my kids plus the 4 street kids that have
basically been with us 24-7 these past few weeks. I recorded it
so we can use the recording in the future. However, in the course
of getting that ready, I found out that the tripod had been broken
during the "July incident", and that our little video
camera was gone. Great. I used my normal camera in video mode,
and put it on a barrel with a brick on top.
dinner, we set up the TV outside and watched a movie together.
It was great having Sarata and Bakary on my lap. In fact, Sarata
has spent some time in the office with me today, "helping"
me, and following me around. I love my kids!
did all the energy I had today come from? Will it last? How long
will people keep praying for us?
planning a surprise visit to the village of Dio on Wednesday.
I wasn't gonna go, but Paul has a cultural issue with "checking"
on our pastor there. But it has to be done. Right now I can imagine
going; pray I'll still be up to going on Wednesday. We need to
make sure what he's supposed to do and telling us he's doing is
we went to the store on Friday, I bought some trash bags though
they are really expensive in Mali. I'm tired of all the trash
just being thrown on a pile in a corner of our compound. So today
the kids had the task of putting the trash into the bags.
course, you wonder whether that's really worth. The guy picking
up our trash is taking it outside the city with his donkey cart,
and he might even empty the bags as they are pretty nice, and
use them again for something else.
children are also helping with construction right now, until school
starts in a few weeks. In this picture you can see one of the
street kids - Seyba, one of the candidates to stay with us - and
Joseph mixing cement with sand and water.
here Jérémie is on his way to pick it up and take
it to where it's needed.
construction workers and our kids are working on the foundation
of the house #3 that is much needed. With the money we have the
walls will be coming up. However, it takes another $65,000 to
picture to the right was taken out of my office window.
this is our kitchen right now. Today Fanta is doing the cooking.
We need to have a driver before Elisabeth can come again and help
her. You can see Hama sitting on the benches.
was woken up by the construction work going on outside my window.
It was 9 am - and early in the light of jetlag, but a good time
really to get up. Especially since we had plans to go downtown.
So at 10 am I forced myself out of bed, and then time went by
rapidly, and suddenly it was 11 am - time to leave.
and Souleymane came with me. There were several things that were
not right, and with each situation my frustration grew. By the
time we were driving downtown, the discouragement was great, and
the tears were flowing down my cheeks.
first stop was the supermarket, where I bought some groceries
and household items. Then we went to the restaurant nearby - it's
where we go most of the times. Everyone enjoyed their meals, and
we did some talking.
we went to the SIL center where I had to pick up two things, and
deliver somebody's mail I had taken with me from the US for her.
I also went to my friend's office, to see whether she was there,
and talked to her for five minutes, which was nice.
we returned home. I was glad to be back, and quite tired. The
afternoon went by quickly, taking care of different things. And
then it was time for the prayer meeting.
the morning I had been unsure whether I'd be able to do the prayer
meeting, and doing the service tomorrow was out of the question.
But I asked God to just give me grace to do the prayer meeting,
to help me do it, and I felt I had that little kernel of grace
that was sufficient to make me do the meeting.
thing I was excited about was that it would be the first "event"
on our new tiles. No more dirt floor. And I was curious to see
whether things would be different now compared to before the outpouring
of His Spirit. And I had a glimmer of hope that we'd have a great
time once we'd start praising God.
had the drum set up, and I set up my keyboard. Besides our resident
kids, there was one other adult - Paul's only friend Oumar - as
well as 5 street kids, and our night guard's kids.
started off with LORD, YOU ARE GOOD, and then we sang HOSANNA.
I noticed the difference in the dining hall - everything was hollow-sounding,
like in an empty house, and nobody could hear me at all. Next
time we'll have to set up the sound system.
played the drums, and I felt like God wanted us to dance around
the dining hall in a victory dance, trampling the enemy under
our feet. I had already gotten the flags out (without knowing
why). So I prayed for Souleymane to be released to play in the
Spirit (see picture), and then we started dancing to his drum
beat. I took this little video clip:
was filled with joy and dancing before the Lord. It was great
then 3-4 kids were kneeling down. I felt a pull to join them,
and suddenly everyone was on their knees, and then facedown. Abdias
had taken the African drum and started to play in the Spirit.
I gave Souleymane a sign to stop playing the drum set. Abdias
had his eyes closed, and it was so obvious he was playing in the
Spirit. What a testimony, to see Abdias like that! He was our
"most difficult case"! He said later he had a vision
and saw an angel play the drums with him.
stayed on our face for a while, and several kids had visions and/or
heard from God. I was the first to get up to discern the situation.
I finally sat down at the keyboard and started playing softly.
I started playing a few simple songs of adoration for some time.
Then I stopped, and encouraged everyone to gather together for
the past, when I'd ask whether anyone had heard from God, nobody
would answer - maybe except for Paul. Today was different. Souleymane
shared a vision, as did 7-year-old Boubacar, one of the street
kids, and a few other boys. Wonderful! How encouraging!
then shared with them that I had been under severe attack with
discouragement all week, and that I felt like God gave me a message
for the service tomorrow, but I didn't even know how to do the
service. And I told them how God had given me a strategy during
the prayer meeting. Tomorrow, from 8 am until the service at 3
pm, we'll have constant prayer going. Every child/adult is taking
a half-hour slot to pray for me and for the service. That should
be sufficient to break through in the spirit!
pray for me and us; I'm preaching on the gift of tongues, and
the baptism in the Spirit. Only one of my boys has this gift so
the prayer meeting was good, it didn't do as much for me as for
them. I sure need all the prayers I can get to continue on here
great to see the tiles laid in the dining hall; I still have to
take the pictures.
to a misunderstanding, the money that should have been used to
pain the dining hall and get it done was used to continue work
on the next house. As you can see in the pictures, the bricks
are ready, and they're preparing raising up the walls. And the
walls will be coming up these next few weeks - that's how far
the money will reach.
we'll at least try to paint the inside of the dining hall so it
looks nice, especially in light of the two teams that are coming
I also spent considerable time with Kossi (construction manager),
discussing all that needs to be done to be ready for our big conference
in two months. He'll be leveling the ground where the big building
is going to be a little (we can't afford doing it all the way),
and bring some electricity to that part of our base. And we're
going to get a big plastic tarp to protect us from the sun, and
have 150 chairs made. All these are a lot of expenses that are
ahead of us.
was my first day back in Mali. And the cold that had announced
itself just before my departure from the US now manifested itself
fully. The descent into Bamako had actually been very painful
for my one ear as it couldn't take care of the pressure difference.
But now my throat was also aching, as was my head, and I always
had to have tissues nearby. I ended up not doing much in terms
of putting away stuff I had brought. However, I did all the accounting
for the last two months. I now have numbers. Besides all the damaged
stuff we had to repair (like vehicles), the cash that was stolen
was about $550.
the afternoon we all sat down together, and I wanted to hear from
my boys directly all that had transpired during our absence. So
one after another the kids told me what they had done, and most
asked for forgiveness. I found out more (shocking) details, and
the longer I am in my house, the more I find out or find missing.
I then told them I had forgiven them, and I told them they would
help with construction work the next few weeks until school starts.
of this meeting we didn't have a prayer meeting, though we prayed
a short prayer at the end. We wanted to do it today, but Paul
went to the village of Dra, and then we celebrated Souleymane's
birthday, so it's postponed until tomorrow.
couldn't sleep the second half of the night (jetlag), and then
slept until late when I finally did fall asleep. My health wasn't
too great. Still, I kept going. I did some exercise in the afternoon
which energized me and helped me get more done. I even did a TPM
session with Paul at 10 pm!
was Souleymane's 16th birthday. So sick or not, I baked a cake
for him, which is our custom, and put candles on top. They all
love cake, and it's the only time they get it! Souleymane blew
out all the candles at once, and then he received his gifts.
the kids have not had pocket money since "the incident",
I encouraged them to draw something for him, which they did. I
gave Souleymane a water bottle, and will take him out to a restaurant
(maybe tomorrow). I also told him he could pick what he'd like
to do (with me) tonight. He chose a board game.
we sat down to play a French version of MONOPOLY. I couldn't find
it, until one of my boys told me where Moussa had hidden it. Weird.
had a lot of fun playing for about 3 hours; it was a great family
arrived in Paris at 1:30 pm local time - which was still early
morning in the US. It was good to be back on European soil. It's
become a custom for me to call my Mom and my brother in Austria
when I fly through Paris, but today I could not get a hold of
made my way to the frequent flyer lounge to spend the 2+ hours
waiting time there. I was able to connect to the internet for
free, and so time passed quickly.
flight to Bamako left at 4:30 pm. FINALLY individual screens,
and they even offered good movies. I ended up watching two good
ones, though I was fighting to stay awake.
landed in Bamako early - at 8:05 pm local time. The typical smells
hit me when I got off the plane. I went through immigration, and
my luggage came out very quickly. No hassles with customs.
then Paul wasn't there. We had agreed that he'd come by taxi;
I probably just should have taken a taxi home instead of having
him come. I needed to call Paul, but had to buy credit for my
prepaid phone. Some guys lent me their phone to call Paul, but
of course they wanted a lot of money for that afterwards. They
really kept bugging me, and annoying me, while I kept waiting
for Paul, and I got annoyed that the taxi driver refused to just
stop at the curb but wanted to go on the parking lot... Finally
they showed up, and I got in. And another guy wanting money....
my, I have not missed this. We were talking in the car, and the
first few answers Paul gave me to my questions discouraged me
even more... things not done, or not working, or damaged, etc.
I stayed silent for most of the trip, in anticipation of what
I'd find in my house.
think the dog was most happy to see me - I couldn't even keep
her from jumping at me. My cat is angry with me and won't let
me touch her.
bigger kids were still up, and I hugged each one of them. They
seemed a bit apprehensive and were pretty silent. I was shocked
at how few street kids were spending the night. Paul told me they
want us to pick them up at the bus station the way we used to,
but of course we don't have a driver at this time.
did not say much to the kids, telling them we'd talk tomorrow.
Then I went and started to unpack, and look around the house.
weren't as bad as I had feared they might be. But, there was one
big shock: our only working computer - and there are some things
only this computer could do - is gone. I thought it was the one
Paul had been using for emails, but it wasn't. No wonder Paul
had such a hard time with emails, since none of our other computers
work properly, which is really annoying.
no more computer in the service, no more songs projected, or Bible
verses projected, or music/videos used... I saw some other damage,
but the computer was the primary thing. I'm sure I'll find out
more in the next few days.
in the taxi driving home was extremely hard. People say that there
are those spirits of oppression and discouragement over this city
- even compared to other cities in Mali. I can only say that this
has been my hardest return to Mali ever.
pray for me as I transition back into life here. These next few
days will be crucial.
midnight, and I'll see whether I can't get a good night's rest
in. It's very humid since it's rainy season, and relatively hot,
plus lots of mosquitoes. At least my cat won't keep me from sleeping
since she wants nothing to do with me.
talked to Paul a few times over this past week, and want to pass
on some news:
tiles in the dining hall are done! Praise God! After one year,
it's done! Now comes the painting, inside and out, and installing
two sinks. Instead of starting on my house, though, we need to
use the money to flatten the ground where the big building is
going to be so we can use that space for our big conference in
of my kids returned from their YWAM dance group tour through Mali
today; looks like they had a good three weeks.
have two possible new drivers; they are issues with both of them.
Please pray we'll find/pick the right person.
week Sunday Paul went into the village - finally - to minister,
but ended up helping at an accident scene instead, transporting
wounded people to the hospital.
he tried again - with one of the new drivers showing if he can
drive - and they had a great time of ministry in the village.
On their way back, a bridge was destroyed, and they had to drive
through the river and damaged the car. They were stuck, and prayed.
Three hours later, the car suddenly started again, and they made
it back to the city. Now the car is once again in the shop to
be repaired (sigh).
is very excited about my return - more than I am. I will need
your prayers these next few days.
was close to 4 am before I went to bed, and I got back up at 9
am. I finished packing, and wrote some important emails. Time
went by fast.
1 pm my hosts & friends and I left to go to my favorite restaurant
for lunch - Applebee's. I had spent a week with them, and hardly
seen them. That way we got to at least talk a little bit. Then
Bill took me to the airport, where it was time to say good-bye.
was glad the check-in went more or less smoothly. I could really
tell a big difference in the amount of luggage since Paul had
already taken one bag back with him. I went through security,
and had 90 minutes left to wait. I'm glad they have free wifi
internet at the KC airport. I wanted to transfer some pictures
to my computer and realized my SD card has decided to quit working.
I hope I can buy one at the airport in Atlanta!
flight to Atlanta lasted only 90 minutes. I had just the right
amount of time in Atlanta. But that time ended up being quite
a "nightmare" thanks to weird and unfriendly people
- one after another that crossed my path, causing a lot of frustration.
It was sure weird.
finally sat down at the gate, glad to not have to deal with people
there anymore; usually people in Atlanta are nice. I was hoping
to get an upgrade, but my name was not called. And when I got
onto the plane, there was another disappointment when I realized
the flight was Delta-operated. Most of the times it's Air France
- a huge difference. All I could do was accept the situation.
At least the person next to me moved away, and so I had two seats
to myself. That really helped as I was able to lie across the
two seats. The flight lasted 8 hours, and I got a little sleep
another short night, getting up was not at all easy. But I was
very much looking forward to this day.
started at Christ Triumphant Church, a church very dear to me.
During my two years in Kansas City Jill Austin did all her conferences
there, and so I got to love the church and its pastor. The church
has helped me with receiving donations these past few years until
we got our IRS status, and it has been home when I'd come back
was good to be there one last time before my return to Africa.
The pastor gave me the opportunity to give a short testimony of
what's happening in Mali. At the end of the service, he asked
me to come forward to pray for people as well. I was so very tired,
it was definitely not on my mind. But I prayed for a few people,
and the Lord ministered to them. Then I asked for prayer myself,
and my friends Lee & Doris prayed for me, as well as the pastor.
I was very thankful for that. I then enjoyed a few more minutes
of talking with the pastor before it was time to leave.
CTC, I went straight to World Revival Church. I walked in just
as people were standing before the final prayer. Perfect timing!
It was 1 pm. I went forward to receive prayer, like everyone else
in the church. I was very tired, and received some good prayer.
I talked to a few people, saying my good-byes, before getting
into the car to drive to the next stop. I went to my good friends'
house and got there 45 minutes earlier than planned.
was so very tired, ready for a nap. I rested a little bit while
talking to my friends, and at 3 pm I started my TPM session. I
had high hopes to find some more healing before going back to
Mali. The session lasted four and a half hours, and while I didn't
get complete resolution, I did find some.
had dinner with my friends, enjoying my last moments with them.
These incredible people are way up there on my list of favorite
people. And so it was not easy to say good-bye and leave them.
I hate good-byes.
returned home where I continued packing and getting ready for
my departure tomorrow, as well as spending some time talking with
my hosts I had hardly had time with.
more, it's very late as I go to bed, spending my last night in
been an interesting week - and unusual since I haven't written
any blogs all week.
returned to Kansas City on Monday night, being very tired and
much in need of rest. So I took Tuesday off, not going anywhere,
but staying home and catching up on administrative work for the
ministry. On Wednesday my busy schedule started up again, primarily
consisting of meeting with people. And the busy-ness hasn't stopped.
Nights have been short, but my last few days in the US have been
rich and wonderful.
surprised me this week was the feeling of discouragment in the
light of my soon return to Mali. Much of it was definitely due
to the tiredness. This US trip has been a time of constant pouring
out, more than any other previous trips. I usually have some conferences
during my trips where I get to receive as well, but this hasn't
happened on this one. I love pouring out, but I could also tell
how tired I was, and how much in need of a vacation. Not a good
thing when you go back to lots of work. I felt like I hadn't had
time to just be with God and converse with Him about my return
to Mali, and what He was up to, what He wanted to do or change.
So by Friday, I was somewhat concerned. And I was very much looking
forward to ...
Nights At World Revival Church
I wasn't disappointed. As I lay on the floor in God's presence
at the end of the service, He ministered to me deeply. It was
so precious to just be with Him. I kept praying, "consume
me", offering myself completely to Him. I thought of the
verse, "Don't grow weary in doing good," which is what
had happened to me, and it made sense to me at that moment to
repent for that, and ask God to refresh me and invigorate me.
a difference today! I was amazed at how different I felt! God
had also talked to me about my return to Mali during the service,
and I now have some excitement about what's ahead, and direction.
The discouragement had decreased big time; of course there's still
some uncertainty about what I'm going to find in my house - or
rather what not, since I don't know yet all that's been stolen.
then tonight, I went back for more prayer, and again, I was lying
in God's presence, just so hungry for Him, and crying out for
more. It was a very precious time.
I'm ready to come home and start a new season!