felt pretty miserable when I woke up this morning. Once again
the mosquitoes had feasted on my blood - on those places where
I had not put the product to protect myself. I got up and ready
anyway, and at 7:15 we already got to our breakfast table - surprised
to see everyone already there.
we started with the time of praise, Paul leading it. After a while
I had to sit down, and even put my head on the table. Then Jérémie
did the teaching, and he did a decent job. We prayed, and it was
time for breakfast.
time I was the one putting butter and jam or honey on their bread,
and Eva distributed the hot chocolate. That took a while obviously.
The bread was freshly baked again, and simply delicious. However,
I was feeling so bad that I only managed a few bites. Then I excused
myself so I could get to my room and lie down.
as I reached the bungalow, it got so bad I couldn't help it and
vomited. I sure felt miserable. After I thought I was done I went
inside and lay down. Over the following hours I had two more vomiting
episodes, and the fever went way up. I was cold, though it was
hot, and covered myself. The members of my body started hurting,
and my head as well. There was nothing I could do, not even read,
which was boring. I felt some relief after vomiting, but then
the nausea would return, and I was crying out to God. After the
third and last vomiting episode the nausea subsided.
I was in bed, everyone else went canoeing. They put the four canoes
on the top of their little bus, and off they went to the river.
were 11 spots, and without me, 15 people, but not everyone wanted
to go anyway. Everyone was in their swim trunks, with life jackets.
They got the canoes down from the bus, and put them by the water.
instructor led one boat, and Christian, Eva and Saloum the other
three. The little kids sat in the middle and the "middle-aged"
ones in the front. In this picture you can see a traditional "pirogue"
in the background, and Christian's boat in the forefront.
can see Eva's boat in the forefront here, and then one picture
with all our four canoes.
the total, the whole trip (including bus ride) took about three
hours, but I'm not sure how long they were on the water. The ones
not in the boats got back into the bus, and then they drove to
where the boats would come back to shore. The first two canoes
arriving where the instructor and 20-year-old Saloum who's in
had had an awesome time, and the ones who had refused to do it,
now regretted it. They had thought it was kayaking, with rapids,
as that is what was shown in the picture on their brochure.
put the canoes back onto the roof of the bus and returned to the
campgrounds. I was glad to see some people again, but they left
minutes later for lunch.
I missed a great lunch - grilled meat with fries. Everyone loved
it. Eva and Christian had dessert afterwards, which is when this
picture of Christian was taken.
joined me in the bungalow so she could take her nap and soon feel
asleep. Eva decided not to take a nap today.
I had a a boring afternoon. I took medication against the intense
diarrhea I'd had all morning, as well as something to lower the
fever. Once that worked, it allowed me to read a little.
children all enjoyed the pool for one last time; for once it wasn't
raining. I heard they all had a great time.
time for departure was approaching, and Paul went to pay our bill
since I wasn't up to it. We only had done a half-day of rock climbing
because of the weather, but we had to pay the whole day anyway.
The botanical hike had only lasted half the time also, and we
had to pay the whole things. And no reduction for the wrong lunch
yesterday. At least he let the kids ride on the horse a few rounds
without paying. The three days had cost us 1000€ which is
$1300; any contributions are welcome!
5 pm all the kids showed up at my bungalow to pray for me. I got
up for my feet for the first time, and sat on the edge of the
bed, while they prayed for me. Then they went to put their stuff
into our cars, and I started packing myself. I wasn't in good
shape at all, and in no condition to drive. Christian would have
to drive the second car.
kids helped carry my stuff to the car, and we all got in and on.
Eva was driving the car I was in. I couldn't wait to get home
and into my own bed, without mosquitoes. It had become pretty
clear to me early on that I had malaria, and gladly I had some
medication with me.
home, I went straight to my bedroom - with my computer - and was
not seen again for the last few hours of the day, not even for
the family meeting.
first woke up at 5 am, and felt the mosquito bites all over. Looks
like the mosquitoes were "locked in" with us, inside
the mosquito net. Wonderful! We were both covered.
had a hard time falling asleep again, but did get a little more
sleep. My alarm went off at 7 am. It was time to get up, tired
woke up Sarata, we got her ready, and then we went to our big
table to have breakfast. Everybody was already there waiting,
with the table set. However, first we would have a time of worship
and Bible study.
did one Bambara song, and I did one French song, and then Joseph
(17) did the teaching. I knew he was good, and he really did a
wonderful job! He'll make a great preacher.
8 am it was time to eat. We distributed the freshly baked wonderful
bread - one each - and poured hot water into their bowls with
cocoa powder. They added milk and sugar themselves. Then the carnage
began. It was terrible. Spoons and knives went from butter, to
milk powder, to jam, to mouth, then to sugar.... Tomorrow, we'll
be the ones distributing!
breakfast was delicious! The only downside was that Christian
wasn't there because he was sick and in his room. He has diarrhea
and is not feeling well. We're praying he'll recover quickly.
8:30 the climbing instructor arrived, and our kids gathered to
leave. Only our 14-year-old stayed, and Hama, as well as Paul
and myself. Everybody else left to go up to that rock formation
where we had been yesterday, to climb up and down.
four of us who stayed went to the pool, where I sat down with
my computer to write, while Paul and the kids played some board
games. Time passed quickly that way. At some point we could actually
see the boys climbing on the rock from down here, which was cool.
They are the white dots to the middle and right of the pictures.
11:30 they came back all excited - they had obviously loved it!
Even Eva gave it a try though she had not intended to do it.
the instructor explained to them how it would work. Then they
each had their turn climbing up and coming back down. Even 5-year-old
Sarata and 6-year-old Bakary did it, and did a great job. Everyone
back, all they now wanted was to go into the pool, so I told them
they could go in for half an hour. That would leave enough time
to get ready for lunch at 12:30 pm. Christian's seat remained
empty, but the rest of us was surprised by a meal of chicken and
rice. We had ordered fries for every day?!? The cook came out
and showed us a sheet that said chicken and rice. So she went
to the boss and found out that there was a miscommunication, and
I was right. It should have been fries. She apologized, but we
had to pay the full price anyway.
lunch everyone lay down for a short while, including Sarata in
our room. But first we had dessert. In our room, Eva and I ended
up talking the whole time instead of sleeping. Oh well.
checked on Christian, and he was not doing well at all. So we
decided to drive home - only a 20 minute ride - and get some diarrhea
medication for him. The poor guy has been sick quite a bit, and
he's only been here for three weeks!
yesterday, it started raining again in the afternoon. The kids
afternoon climbing session was unfortunately canceled, and so
they dove into the pool, rain or not. Others were playing games
by the pool.
and I went on our way home. I was actually looking forward to
connect to the internet for a few minutes, and see how things
were going without us. Fanta was alone, with Paul's friend Oumar
acting as guard. Our night guard and the street kids were still
coming at night, but right now we have very few children coming
at night for some reason.
drove in the rain, with the streets being under water quite a
bit. That's rainy season! Everything was okay at home, and we
spent about an hour checking emails and Facebook and picking up
a few things to take with us. Then we said good-bye to Fanta again.
returned to the campgrounds at around 5 pm, and delivered our
goods to Christian. Then we joined everyone at the pool, and sat
down to play some games. I really love this game of strategy and
luck having to do with numbers, and we played it until it was
time for dinner.
dinner was served more on time than yesterday. We had spaghetti
bolognaise, and it was delicious. After the meal, we did our family
meeting, talking about tomorrow and praying.
had joined us for the meal - courageous - after the medication
had immediately brought improvement. After the meal, everyone
gathered around him to pray for his healing and complete restoration.
hugged all the kids, and they went to bed. Sarata stayed with
us, since she's in the room with us. Eva and I had dessert, and
one of the campground cats joined us. She was totally crazy about
the chocolate mousse, and determined to get some! I let her lick
the empty plate at the end.
three Austrians ended up playing the strategy game for a while,
but it wasn't fun as I won four out of four times, and easily.
They were obviously sick and tired... but we had a great time
finally went to bed, later than last night, and didn't bother
lowering the mosquito net. Instead, we put on anti-mosquito stuff,
hoping it would keep them away until the morning.
sitting in a comfy chair on a nice veranda next to a swimming
pool, surrounded by a few hills, in the middle of nowhere. No
internet, no noise, just the wind, birds, and frogs. If it wasn't
for the abundance of mosquitoes...
took my computer with me, hoping for an internet connection, but
I'll have to survive three days without - a first, I guess. Still,
I can write my blogs and upload them later.
time was 8 am, and so I had to get up earlier than usual to get
everything ready. There's a lot to think about when you leave
with all the kids on a 3-day vacation - 4 adults and 12 kids.
Swimming gear, games in case it rains,...
we don't have a day guard right now, Paul asked his friend Oumar
to stay on the base. Fanta and her 2-year-old are staying too;
Fanta would not enjoy it, and little Jonathan is still too young
to come along.
came on time, Saloum came as well, as well as the two kids of
our night guard who already spend all day on our base, but Fousseni
didn't show up. We were able to leave not long after 8 am - in
it's not very far. We had to go to the main, paved road first,
leave town a little, and then drive another 4 kilometers on a
little unpaved road. I was driving one car, and Eva the other.
All the kids were excited about our vacation.
arrived at the camp before 9 am, and sat down at the long table
that had enough space for all of us. Neither the tent for the
kids, nor our rooms were ready yet. So we sat down to wait, and
started our vacation with prayer.
I thought this would be a good time for the bike ride. Eva, myself
and the little ones stayed behind, while Christian and Paul left
with the rest of the kids. They had enough bikes for them all,
though Christian (who's nearly 2 meters tall, i.e. 79 inches)
had a hard time with the "small" bike. After an hour
and a half they already returned. It seems that not all of them
really knew how to ride a bike, and some of them were simply out
the meantime those who stayed behind first moved all the kids'
stuff into their tent once it was ready, and then we went to the
swimming pool. Our two rooms - Eva and myself, Paul and Christian
- were not ready yet.
little ones couldn't wait to get into the pool. So we all changed,
and I started blowing up all our swimming pool "goodies".
didn't take long before the bike ride people returned, and quickly
changed to join us in the pool. Soon it was total mayhem - so
many kids, with so much stuff, all in the pool that wasn't that
big. Unfortunately the area where little ones could stand was
an hour before lunch we all got out, got dried up, changed, and
met back at the big table. It was time for us adults to finally
get to go to our rooms. They have these cute little bungalows,
and they put another bed into our room so Sarata could be with
us - the only girl. The bungalow is not tight, so bugs can fly
in easily. At least they had the mosquito nets.
arrived at the communal table before it was time, and went to
the kids' tent. Unfortunately we found that they had left (handicapped)
Hama and 6-year-old Bakary in their all alone. Bakary still had
his wet swim trunks on! We weren't happy. The kids had gone
off to discover the campgrounds. Great. We told them that was
not acceptable, and Paul moved into the tent with them, leaving
the room entirely to Christian.
was finally meal-time, and we were all very hungry, ready for
something good to eat. Thankfully they brought out self-made bread
first that the kids enjoyed.
we had grilled beef with fries and salad. It was absolutely delicious!
The kids loved it, and we could all have eaten more.
children then went to their tent for a short siesta. I was totally
exhausted myself, and so I left Christian and Eva there to have
desert and went to our room. Sarata was already there, trying
to sleep, and I did likewise. It was pretty warm, and it took
me a while before I fell asleep, but I did sleep a little.
3 pm we had to be at our meeting place for the botanical hike.
They have a lot of different plants in the camp, and somebody
was going to explain them all to our kids. Not a cheap endeavor,
but I was hoping it would be worth it.
the supposedly 3-hour hike lasted just half that time. Two guys
were with us, and we stopped every couple of meters at a tree
that they explained to us; especially their medicinal purposes.
was totally amazed when we found this lonely rose in the middle
of nothing. What a beautiful picture!
clouds started to gather, as we continued walking towards the
hill. Finally the first droplets of rain fell from heaven. We
ignored them and continued.
started climbing up the hill, and the rain increased. We reached
this beautiful platform up there where we had a good view from,
and now it was raining pretty hard. Eva was concerned for her
camera, as she hadn't brought its case with her.
we still had much ground to cover and continued up the hill. The
rain subsided a little, but then increased again.
were close to this rock formation when the rains started pouring
down from heaven. We were running towards the rocks to find some
cover. We stayed there for not very long before the rains let
continued on our way; now we were close to the peak. The lessons
had Hama with us, and the poor guys alternated carrying him. At
one point I asked Hama jokingly whether he was tired. First he
said "no", but then he corrected himself and said, "a
the time we were back down the hill, we were all soaked. The guides
asked us whether we had any questions, but nobody didn't. Suddenly
the rains got worse again, and so we ran towards our rooms.
kid wanted to go into the pool - I guess the best thing when it's
raining and you're wet already. A few decided not to. I changed
into something dry and joined them by the pool. While a few were
in the pool, a few us played games under the roof that kept us
dry. We still had 2 hours until meal-time.
had told them we wanted dinner at 7 pm. We were all gathered before
that, being very hungry. I decided to play a group game with them
- Bible Outburst. That way time passed nicely. 7 pm came and went,
7:15 pm came and went, and 7:30 pm came and went. We finally asked,
and they had thought we were eating at 8 pm. Great!
was pizza night, but still, it was nearly 8 pm before the first
pizza came out. Most everyone was starving by then. I thought
the pizza was absolutely delicious, but interestingly the new
kids didn't like them.
adults we decided to get a bottle of wine together, and it was
also very good. Paul tasted it, and liked it to all our surprise.
of the kids were very tired - Bakary had a hard time staying awake
before the meal already. And Hama was in a hurry to go to bed.
So we did our family meeting right after the meal. We talked about
the meeting, and then I went around the table, placing my hand
on each kid and praying. Then the kids went off to their tent
to go wash up and go to bed.
stayed with us. We talked a little longer, and then went to our
respective rooms as well. Sarata changed, brushed her teeth, and
went to bed. I was extremely tired, but got the computer out anyway.
Instead of writing the blog, I ended up showing Eva pictures from
the beginning. She enjoyed seeing Sarata as a baby, and Hama when
he was still little. At 10:30 pm we both said it was high time
to go to bed.
was Christian's first time to preach - ever. First time, and having
to deal with double translation. He did a great job though.
beginning was as always - Bambara praise led by Paul, then French
worship led by me, followed by the offering. It was a little disappointing
to see quite a few people missing.
preached on a story from the life and David. People didn't seem
very attentive, as so often, and the kids (especially small ones)
didn't remember much at night. That is why Christian is going
to start a kids' program for when the adults listen to the sermon.
the evening I had to say good-bye to Abdias (17) who was leaving
on a 3-week-tour through Senegal with the YWAM kids dance team.
I was surprised at how sad I was for him to be gone this long.
These past few days Abdias's behavior has been exemplary - probably
so he would get to go on this trip. I gave Abdias pocket money,
a water bottle, and a camera to take with him. He's going to see
a real city (Dakar) for the first time in his life since this
is his first time leaving Mali, plus the ocean for the very first
time. I know it's going to be an unforgettable experience for
also had to say good-bye to Mustafa, a kid we wanted to take in
now. I'm glad, though, that he has chosen to return to Burkina
Faso, to the center where he lived there, where his Mom used to
visit him regularly. So we bought him a bus ticket, and he's leaving
early in the morning.
has been with us for over 5 months, and she has done amazingly
well with the Malian food. Christian has had a much harder time
from the beginning.
time last week I had a lot of pity on them, and wondered how to
help them, when I suddenly remembered the box of American army
food that I still had. I was excited, and showed it to them. They
tried it out and liked now. Now they come at night every couple
of days, when the kids are sleeping, to have a "wonderful"
army meal... something different than the daily rice.
you, Ryan, for leaving those with us! I'm sure they'll be gone
before Christian leaves us in one year's time.
has been taking beautiful, artistic pictures. These are a few
great weather pictures he took:
much exactly four years we started working with a village pastor
- Enoch - who was broke, spiritually dead and hopeless. Over the
months he came alive again, got a vision again, bigger than before,
and we provided food and tuition for his family as well as other
needy families in his village. People started getting saved and
healed and the news spread so that we were called to come bring
the gospel to other villages surrounding his village. We ended
up planting five more churches in the region.
was in charge to visit those churches weekly, and we provided
gas money for his motorbike. Enoch came to town once a week for
two years to do our Bible School, though he only listened as his
written French skills was insufficient.
didn't take long before inconsistencies came up in the reports
he gave us during his visits to the city. Things were one way
this week, and different the next. Finally it affected our partnership
with a German NGO to the point that it fell apart since everything
I passed on to them from him turned out being a lie later.
years ago he was caught in a really bad lie. He was sorry he was
caught but not repentant. Time showed that nothing changed. Over
the past two years we reduced our partnership more and more because
nothing was changing. He was still being caught lying and still
didn't see what was wrong with his different moral shortcomings.
Needless to say, our relationship deteriorated, and I've been
troubled and very unhappy.
didn't entrust to him any more money, but still wanted to help
the widows with a bag of rice per month. Plus, we paid tuition
for those widows' children to go to school. We also gave Enoch
money every month to visit the five churches. We could always
count on him showing up at our base the first of the month to
collect his money.
told Paul it was time to visit Enoch's village again, the widows,
and the village churches, to see how things were going. Enoch
had just been with us, and we expected him there. Paul called
him and learned that Enoch would not be in the village for the
whole month. Why did he take the money to visit the churches?
told Paul to go visit anyway, whether Enoch was there or not.
So Enoch told Paul now that he would be there. When they got there,
he was out of town.
Paul and two of our boys left early this morning to drive to Dio
- about 80 minutes away. What they found surpassed even my greatest
visited the widows in Enoch's village, as well as three village
churches. Paul wasn't able to find his way to the others. Since
it's rainy season, our little car got stuck quite a few times,
but thankfully the boys were able to push it free every time.
Bamabougou they have no relationship with our pastor any more
at all, and couldn't tell us anything. We established a church
there - or so we thought - in November 2007.
had the biggest church of 200 people (picture of village chief).
Enoch simply stopped visiting them, abandoning the new believers.
They haven't seen him in a long time.
was the strongest church. Maybe you remember how they built a
church building, and then wanted us to pay for the roof. Today
we found out that it had actually been Enoch who had pushed for
them to build that building - not the villagers as he had told
us. And the money we did give for the roof later as disappeared
- in his pockets.
To top it all, Enoch stopped visiting them a few months ago. The
village chief (picture) is very unhappy with Enoch. What is the
most heart-breaking is that they REALLY want to follow Jesus,
grow in their faith. It is their village that was protected supernaturally
by God while the surrounding villages lost their fields a while
that we're ending our partnership with Enoch, do we have to abandon
all these new believers as well? I don't have a solution. We cannot
go pastor this people as well, since it's nearly 2 hours from
our base, plus we'd still be in Enoch's region.
they returned to the main village, Enoch's village, to visit the
four widows (picture). They were speechless to find out that in
the past half year or so they've only had one bag of rice in total,
instead of one a month. Even though Enoch had given us a receipt
from the local merchant every month as "proof" that
they had received their rice. To steal from widows and orphans?
May God have mercy on him!
I wished we didn't have to abandon these beautiful ladies, but
I do not see how we cannot just make a clear cut and move on.
We'll be focusing more on the region where Paul is already pastoring
one church, and will be expanding there.
my heart is breaking over the people in those abandoned villages,
I have to say that at the same time I feel such a great relief
that we're not tied to Enoch any more. It's maybe a little too
strong to say, but it's like a tumor that has been removed. Enoch
has had so many opportunities to repent and turn around - every
time he was caught in a lie - but somehow he never understood
why lying was wrong or integrity needed. How very sad.
once again come to the same conclusion I've come to before - the
only way to change culture is to raise up the children. They're
growing up knowing the importance of integrity and holiness and
the consequences for sin. May they be a new generation of pastors
and leaders who'll be very different from the rest of the church
in this sick nation!
the bus owner came by with his bus as I had not seen the bus with
my own eyes yet, and as I wanted to test-drive it.
can tell it's 18 years old, but I can only pray that it will last
a couple of years. I immediately noticed that the one seat belt
was not existent and that the speedometer wasn't working. I couldn't
tell whether it was telling me how much gas was inside since the
bus was empty.
kids were all excited about the test-drive and got into the bus
- from the small ones to our white helpers. Paul was in the front
with me and the owner.
pretty obvious that the bus is very old, but the engine seems
to run nicely. We'll only find out with time all that's wrong,
we got back, we looked at the other stuff to be repaired. A window
needs to be put into the one opening where they've taken it out,
and the barrier to the front needs to be taken out. It's there
because it's used for public transportation right now. Finally,
we need to paint it all white, as only public transportation is
owner said he'd take care of all the issues, and then bring it
buy for us to complete the purchase. I'm curious.
afternoon they came. Paul said the speedometer was working. The
barrier was also removed, but the seat belt and window were still
not fixed. The owner said he needed our money first to be able
to buy the window.
we decided to complete the purchase. This picture shows me filling
out the sales contract (that we had to buy at the magistrate's
office). Then I handed the $11,100 over to the owner. A big stack
of bills as the biggest bill in Mali is $20. And they actually
counted it all!
we have bus! We're actually still $1,800 short to pay it off.
And now we have to have it painted white. We also have to get
left with the bus and the previous owner to have the sales contract
certified and supervise the installation of window and seatbelt,
and then bring the bus home to us to stay. Praise God!
decided to name our vehicles according to the donor who gave the
most money for each one. So our little truck is Ryan, our bigger
truck is Wolfgang, and our bus Renate :-).
is nothing more exhilarating than taking in a child off the street,
giving him a home, family, life and future. It's an amazing feeling,
and I wished we could rescue more children!
one at the time. Today it was Daouda's turn. We estimate him to
be about 10 years old, but are expecting to get his real birth
certificate from his relatives soon.
interviewed him first to hear his story, and this is it:
Daouda was born
in Bamako (Sirakoro) as his parents' youngest child, and both
his parents died while he was still very little. He stayed with
his aunt at first, until completing first grade. However, she
had nothing but contempt for him and took him to live with his
uncle. Daouda thought he was his Dad. Daouda stuttered and so
he suffered a lot at the hands of other people, including his
uncle and teacher who both beat him up because of it. During his
second year at school he stopped going because of that. He stayed
with his uncle another month before running away from home.
Daouda ended up at the bus
station in Bamako where many street kids hope to find money, but
find drugs and sex. However, Daouda claims to never have taken
drugs or stolen from people. After over a year at the bus station,
he finally came to our base to sleep in a safe place at Christmas
2009, and came back pretty much every night after that. Now he's
given his life to Jesus, and is going back to school. He's excited
to have a home, family, and future.
morning Eva and Paul and Daouda drove to Daouda's family's house
so Paul could talk with them. Daouda and Eva stayed at a distance
to keep Daouda safe, just in case, while Paul went to talk to
the family. He found out that it wasn't Daouda's father, but his
uncle. And the man said that Daouda wasn't good for anything.
We've heard that so many times! In any case, the uncle was very
willing to let Daouda stay with us and signed the paper.
came back happy and stayed right away. He has such a beautiful
big smile. I told all our kids not to make fun of his stuttering,
which isn't actually that severe. Unfortunately I know nothing
was amazed to see that it was Bakary (6) who immediately took
to Daouda and showed and explained him everything. Maybe he has
found a new playmate.
was time to give Daouda his moving in kit - a mattress, sheet,
pillow, ... Daouda was radiating. He chose to sleep on the top
bunk. Then I gave him a toothbrush, paste, soap, and towel, and
explained to him how to use them. Finally I found a pair of short
pants and a T-shirt his size and pyjama pants. He was so happy,
it was wonderful!
our family meeting in the evening, it was time for his first night.
He was excited to sleep in his own, beautiful bed. When I turned
off the lights, he said he was scared of the dark. I asked him
whether he believed in Jesus, and he said yes. Then I told him
that Jesus was right there with him, and he had no reason to be
afraid. It seems like that's all he needed to hear.
Daouda grow up to become a might man of God! Hopefully things
work out with him.
told Daouda to pray that God gives him a sponsor to be his Western
parent. If you would like to be that person, to be in email contact
with him and see him grow up, and send $60 or 40 EUR per month,
please contact me.
of subject - Eva had her hair redone. First, all the kids helped
her open up the braids, and then she had it redone. Courageous
girl! (It hurts bad!)
I had heard about the Malian zoo was negative. Some missionaries
said it's so pathetic that it's funny. It was time to see for
decided to stay home, as I felt I was way behind on office work,
and needed the quiet afternoon. So Paul, Eva, Christian and 11
kids left in and on one car. They crossed town and found the entrance
to the zoo after a while.
first animal they saw was the little elephant the zoo was given
a while back; I'm amazed it was still alive. Hama was terrified
of the elephant!
Joseph and Abdias took turns carrying handicapped Hama - that
was very nice of them. He was terrified of quite a few animals.
picture does NOT show an animal, but the reason why the animals
are dying of hunger and neglect. It's really sad to see the personnel
not doing their job.
kids made their way through the zoo, from cage to cage and house
to house, whether the case was empty or not. Hand-written signs
were everywhere, like to warn of danger, and sometimes you wondered
whether the cage would hold.
leopard was quite impressive (contrary to the old lion), and the
kids didn't even come close to the cage - also thanks to the big
like this picture because it gives the impression it is the children
that are in the cage - no, they aren't!
the end, Eva took a picture of the group, and then an outsider
did. Half of the kids look angry, but they are just tired! I was
amazed at how exhausted they were at our family meeting at 8 pm!
you see the difference between the two pictures?
months we've been talking about taking our kids on a family vacation,
and the plan was to go north to Dogonland which is a beautiful
place. We finally had to abandon that plan because of lack of
transportation, and other practical reasons.
I had been made aware of a camp ground that was not even too far
from us, and been told that it was really great. I checked out
their website and realized that it could be a great place to have
our family vacation at.
needed to check it out, and so that's what we did, right after
looking at another bus for sale (but it was out of the question).
Eva and Paul were with me.
to good signposts we found it easily. We had to take a little
road for 4 kilometers that led us into the middle of nowhere.
But it all looked very idyllic, especially now that everything
is green thanks to the rainy season.
parked the car, and a few employees gave us a tour. The bungalows
were beautiful, rustic, and the big tent with 20 beds perfect
for our children. The swimming pool was nice, and the available
activities great: kayaking, mountain climbing, a botanical garden
to visit, soccer, badminton, biking... In short, the perfect place
for a family vacation with our kids!
decided to have lunch there to test the restaurant which we would
have to depend on during our stay there. I just loved the cats
- especially the kitten that looked just like her Mama. This picture
shows the two of them playing with each other!
food took forever, and we were starving. The prices were high,
but my pork ribs and potatoes were good. The chocolate mousse
was disgusting though... better for me anyway.
our meal, we sat down with the owner - a Frenchman - to talk about
details regarding our 3-day stay there. He was giving us good
group prices, but it still amounts to about $1500. That's a lot
of money for a 3-day-vacation, but we're 15 people (at least).
I told the kids to pray that the money comes in. We're planning
to start our vacation the 26th of July.
the afternoon we had our weekly prayer meeting. We had a great
time of entering into God's presence, especially Paul.
finally, a new picture of the house, with the finished roof on
the top room.
have a Nintendo Wii to work out with, and sometimes Eva joins
me. Today we thought, why not let the little kids join us as well,
and so Bakary (6), Miché (7) and Sarata (5) did. It was
much fun, and funny, and I couldn't help being the teacher a little
bit and correct their posture.
the longest time the kids have been bugging me about teaching
them English - primarily because of the American visitors we have
from time to time. So I decided the summer break would be the
perfect time for that English class.
started last week, and today was our third class. The kids are
between 5 and 17 years old, and it works out surprisingly well.
I have great materials I used in Austria with elementary school
kids a long time ago. We're having much fun, and the kids are
generator has only just been returned after 10 days of being repaired,
and the second time we used it it started acting up again. The
repair guy came today, but he'll have to take it with him tomorrow.
it's now cooled down sufficiently that we don't need power to
be able to sleep. Last night the power went out before midnight
- because it had rained all day - but it was still so cool (26°C
i.e. 79 F) that I needed a blanket.
actually got a cold now - sore throat, fever... Not much fun.
was a crazy day, with the kids acting up (which they did today
as well), but the day was crowned by the bad news at 10 pm that
our speaker for our 6th anniversary conference in November was
canceling, i.e. not coming. Paul was also very disappointed when
I told him today. Now we need to find another speaker - no easy
thing, as this search is something that usually takes many months.
It will take a miracle.
first picture is from June 27, the second from July 9, and the
third from July 13.
was time for us to go to a restaurant again. I recently discovered
- thanks to another missionary - that there was a restaurant and
hotel not too far from us. In fact, if it was decent, it would
be the closest to put visitors up at, so I was curious to check
picture shows the bungalow the restaurant is in. There's a swimming
pool, courtyard, conference room, and rooms for guests. Unfortunately
they would not show us the rooms as they were renovating them,
and the swimming pool was empty because of rainy season. The prices
went into the restaurant to have lunch. It was empty, but looked
nice - maybe except for the dirty and old looking tablecloths.
The restaurant manager was very nice - a north African - and made
a lot of effort to serve us. The menu was quite big - but a lot
of food had to be pre-ordered, including my favorite dessert,
mousse au chocolat. Definitely better for my waistline.
ordered some of our typical dishes. They were decent, more or
less. In any case, we had a good time of fellowship - Paul, Christian,
Eva and myself. We were surprised when they served us complementary
tea after our meal - very nice.
walking around the hotel to have a look at it, we returned home.
now goes to "his" village to do ministry every Sunday
afternoon; that's what the villagers wanted. This time Christian
went as well as all our kids and Eva. He loved it. They sang and
danced to the Lord, preached the Word, prayed for the sick and
saw them recover. A typical Sunday in the village!
a new family picture, with Christian, and without the several
people who've left us. I'm hoping for a new picture with a few
new faces soon.
been months since I last preached in Mali. It's so discouraging,
and I didn't want to do it any more, plus, Paul is doing such
a great job that it doesn't seem necessary anyway. True, Paul
needs to get some input too, since I can't get him to read any
always, Paul led the time of Bambara praise first, and everyone
got into it. They sure know how to praise!
it was my turn to lead French worship - something that is much
harder for them.
the offering, I introduced Christian and asked him to tell us
a little about himself, which he did. Then I started to preach.
At that point I was pretty discouraged again about a couple of
things, but I just kept going.
as I talked, the anointing grew more and more, and I grew more
excited, very aware I was sharing God's heart. I got people's
attention at times, and felt like I was getting through to them.
Time will show (probably that it didn't make a difference).
was preaching on the value of a human being - something that hardly
exists. I was shocked when they said that a kid in my house has
more worth than a street kid, and a healthy kid more worth than
handicapped Hama. I started my sermon with these questions. I
hope that by the end nobody thought that any more. I ended up
preaching for an hour -typical for me - and really regretted not
having recorded it.
gave an altar call in the end, and a few kids - ours as well as
street kids - responded; no adults as always. May the Word take
root in their hearts!
the end, I WAS encouraged thanks to the sermon. But the rest of
it... and several people were missing again.
recently asked the missionary community about ideas on what to
do with kids in Bamako, and got some good feedback. One was that
there's an amusement park in Bamako. I had kind of heard that
before, but never knew whether that was for real. Well, it is!
we found out where it is, and since the sun was shining, we decided
today was the day!
for a change both cars were working, everyone got into both cars,
with Eva driving one, and myself the other one. We had to cross
town, taking the worst streets, which was taking forever. I had
an idea where it was, and it was in fact easy to spot. We had
to pay to park our car in front of the "Luna Parc".
Obviously the first part of the sign fell off some time in the
inside wasn't much better. Several rides were broken down and
closed. Few people were there since it opens at 4 pm, and we arrived
half an hour after opening. Security basically doesn't exist -
no seat belts, and the rides look like they didn't meet Western
standards any more and so they were donated to Mali.
system is weird - every ride has a different price to pay (plus
you pay to get in), and you get those tickets at one central place.
So you have to tell the person which ride you want a ticket for,
and then you learn the price.
are a few rides for little kids, and then a few for adults. The
middle-aged kids had hardly anything they could do.
started with the little carousel for the little ones. Then these
flying seats for the little ones. It was really harmless, and
so I was shocked when Daouda got really sick! Wow! He stayed sick
for the rest of our time, though he did do a few more rides.
little video clip of this horrible sickening ride ;-):
something the middle-aged kids were allowed to do - sit in these
carts and move up while it goes round. It was pretty slow, so
that even Fanta did it! I was shocked! Jonathan (2) also went
up there, together with Eva and Hama. Now Hama (handicapped) loved
it all, even though he got sick after the ferry's wheel. And Jonathan
also seemed to have a great time.
last big ride was the ferry's wheel. Quite a few kids went, though
some were really scared. In terms of speed there was no reason
to be scared. But in terms of security.... the guy started the
engine, and the simple chain just rattled in a circle to make
the wheel spin. It was definitely scary. I don't know if it comes
across in the video clip... it was really loud as well.
last ride were the teacups, more for little ones. Some middle-aged
kids did it too, and it added to them being sick. Florentin (14)
rode home in the back of the truck, for fear of vomiting once
before we left I just had to buy some candy cane for them - none
of them had ever had it in their lives, including Paul. I think
they liked it; it was gone in a minute.
think they all had a wonderful time, and I'm glad we got to go.
It was definitely a very unique experience for everyone.
birthday was in the middle of May, and Eva's birthday present
to me was lunch at a restaurant, and an afternoon at the swimming
pool. A great gift! It was time to cash that coupon.
went to both our favorite restaurant first - it's a very long
way from our base, but not far from the swimming pool. We had
great food, and then continued on to the swimming pool for a quiet
afternoon. Well, kind of, since there was construction going on
I had a book with me, but still, I'm not very good at just lying
around for hours and not doing anything. I somewhat good bored,
and was glad when it was time to move. Still, I had enjoyed the
swimming pool, and we were lucky to have such a nice, sunny afternoon,
since it's rainy season after all.
didn't go home from the swimming pool, but went to another restaurant
- the only real pizza place in town, with an Italian owner. We've
ordered those pizzas before, but Eva had never actually been there
yet. She was amazed at how beautiful the garden was... you could
actually make yourself believe you were in Italy!
shared a wonderful pizza, with a glass of wine. It had definitely
been worth coming.
the way home we stopped at the big supermarket that is close to
the restaurant, way on the other side of town for us which is
why we rarely go there, but it's the only place where I can get
cat food. Unfortunately I only got one out of four items on my
list that I was hoping to find there.
was pretty late when we got home; Paul had had to do the family
meeting without us. We were tired but happy.
was scheduled to arrive at 5 am, leaving Casablanca at 2:30 am.
I checked their website - even getting up in the middle of the
night - and it always said that the plane had left, but not when
it was scheduled to land. At the airport information nobody picked
up to tell me what time his plane was arriving.
so we had no choice but to go to the airport, even if he was a
few hours late. I woke up Paul and Eva, and off we went.
we got to the airport just after 5 am, nobody was standing outside
the exit to wait for loved ones; not a good sign, but how had
other people found out? We finally succeeded in finding someone
who could tell us that he was one hour late - that was not too
we headed back to the car to wait in there, and watched the sun
go up. Paul took a nap on the back seat, while we talked in the
front. Finally we returned to the terminal to wait for Christian.
We were all very excited about his arrival; I was the only one
who had met him in person before, but the others knew that he's
had her camera ready, and so she was able to take this great picture
of Christian walking out of the building at 6:30 am. After years
of him wanting to come, he had finally made it! And his luggage
took him home - and all the kids were already up to welcome him.
The kids had made him a welcome banner last night which we had
hung on his door. As you can see, the little ones immediately
clung to him.
stayed up for a while, having fun with the kids, but I soon crashed.
I'm definitely not 20 any more! I paid for the sleepless night
the rest of the day, not being able to accomplish anything! Christian
also lay down for a nap at some point. But you can tell he's tired
in this picture; Hama (handicapped) is very happy to have a new
morning Paul spends some time worshiping God with the street children,
and studying the Bible together, before they return to the street
for the day.
the evening, at 8 pm, we all gather - street kids and resident
kids - in the dining hall where the street kids are sleeping,
and I read a story from JESUS FREAKS; real stories of people who
either suffered or died for the sake of the gospel.
we go into the house to do our nightly family meeting with our
resident children. We talk about the day, clarify and rectify
things, and we talk about the next day. In the end I pray a prayer
of blessings over them from a book with a different subject every
day. We all hug, and they go to bed.
For Our Kids
owner of this bus brought it over to our base to show it to us.
While several people want to buy it, we have favor with the owner,
and he wants to sell it to us for a better price, and we have
I was sleeping so well, I did not hear the doorbell and knocks
and missed the bus. So all I had was the pictures Eva took.
Mercedes bus is 18 years old, and we need $11,100 to buy it. It
would be so exciting to all be able to go places together, and
to take the kids to school in safety, since no one can fall off
is flying by, and I'm way behind on the blogs, so a quick recap
of my second week back in Mali.
is a picture of a resident kid, non-resident kid and street kid
at the service.
Saturday we played math scrabble together - good training for
the kids, but I think I enjoyed it much more than them! Love it
a lot more than with letters!
months ago I had purchased some furniture from a leaving missionary,
and most of it was for the kids' living room. We only got it all
a few days before my return, and now it was time to integrate
it into the living room. I had lots of fun doing so.
desk on the left against the wall with shelf space is new. So
is the little table with little benches for kids in the forefront.
I think it worked out perfectly, the way we arranged the furniture.
It's actually nice for the first time!
Tuesday we watched a movie together in our new couch & TV
corner. Very comfy! Just have to buy some blankets to protect
brought this thing to make huge bubbles with with me from the
US, and we had such a great time! I had no clue how much the little
kids would love them! They chased them around, trying to be the
first to catch them. Thanks to Eva for some great shots.
NGO in Bamako had received this kids' slide and asked organisations
that were interested to write a letter why they should get it.
And we won! Praise God! On Thursday we picked it up, and had the
challenge of putting it together without a manual. It was no easy
thing to do.
finally realized that they had made a manufacturing mistake, and
so we sawed that piece off. Then we were finally able to complete
little ones loved the slide, as you can also see in the little
video clip. But for how long?
Thursday we also had Elisabeth's kids over for the first time
since Paul's Dad died two days earlier. We thought it would be
a helpful distraction for them, and they did have a great day
- playing with lego, and watching movies.
Sunday Eva drove Paul and the kids to the village of Dara again,
where Paul is the pastor, to do a service. I just love this picture
of Eva and the village kids!
was also the day before the long awaited arriveal of 20-year-old
Christian from Austria. Time to make everything as beautiful as
possible! And Time to FINALLY put up the posters on the wall.
It's only been two years since we moved in ;-).
was very happy with the result of our home improvement. Beautiful
posters with French Bible verses, as well as maps of the world,
the US, and Austria, and educational posters. Our family meeting
that night was much more fun!
that Fanta was sick - but the kids prayed for her healing.
were ready for Christian's arrival in the morning, and a new chapter
of Centre Apostolique Malien to start!