I don't think you need to know all the details of problem after
problem, crisis after crisis, frustration after frustration.
was told he no longer goes to day school, but we'd let him go
to evening school, and of course he didn't listen. He refused
to get out of the car that was going to school. Christian had
to literally drag him out of the car.
in the day we were called by a lawyer that he would take steps
against us. Paul knows this man. They are getting together - together
with our lawyer - later this week. Pray for a peaceful resolution.
only one of our three vehicles is working, we were not able to
go to the village of Goro today. One of our rules is "when
something breaks down, have it fixed right away", and still,
even after I told Paul to have it fixed, both vehicles weren't.
We just bought a new battery to put into our bus. This afternoon
the mechanic came - and put that battery into the pick-up truck.
Later Paul told me that both car batteries had been bad. I don't
know HOW many batteries we've bought this past year, and it drives
me crazy. They are saying they're gonna finish repairing the pick-up
today, and then the team is going to the village tomorrow. But
the bus will still not be operational.
those were some of the highlights of my day.
they couldn't go to the village, our visitors went downtown this
afternoon to do some shopping. They dropped off the kids at school
on the way, and then picked them back up when they came back.
they returned, it was up to me to cook dinner for our guests.
I made scrambled eggs for them. After we were done eating, we
had to make sure the kids were getting ready for bed. At 8 pm
we did our family meeting. Then Christian and Paul accompanied
Cliff to the hotel; Paul needed to pay Cliff's bill tonight since
nobody speaks English there. While they were gone, I stayed with
the kids as they were still showering and going to bed.
now I'm back in the office, hoping for an earlier bedtime.
I had every intention of going to the village with the team this
afternoon, but the events of this morning increased frustration.
Coupled with the tiredness, I didn't feel up to going to the village
and so I stayed home.
the kids came home from school at 12:30 pm today, I asked Abdias
to go to his room since he was grounded for his actions of the
past few days. He actually blatantly disobeyed me once again in
the middle of the celebration yesterday, which really shocked
me. Instead of accepting his punishment, he once again was only
angry and asking what he had done, refusing to go to his room.
That was the last straw. I told him he was out of the house.
everyone went to the village, I asked Abdias to leave the property.
In the evening he came back to sleep among the street children.
He went to sleep right away.
told Paul we would offer Abdias that we'll let him go to evening
school and sleep with the street children, as long as he doesn't
cause any more problems. That should be a good offer for Abdias
who wants to do whatever he wants to do. It's still sad, and this
plus some other things kept me from falling asleep in the afternoon
when I needed a nap.
took a advantage of the quiet afternoon doing some administrative
work. Time went by fast, and by 6 pm the returned from the village.
A short while later we had dinner together, and then Paul and
Christian drove our Austrian visitor Nicholas to the airport.
When they returned, we did our family meeting in my living room.
The first Sunday of advent was yesterday, but yesterday we couldn't
do our first advent family meeting. So we did it tonight.
lit the first of 4 Christmas candles, and we took communion together.
Then I prayed a prayer of blessing over each kid. It was a precious
Paul, Kibet and Cliff left in the car to return Cliff to his hotel,
and so it was up to me to make sure all the kids were going to
bed. They asked me whether I could read them a story from the
comic-book type teenager Bible, and so I did. I love those moments
hour after they had left, the three guys returned, telling me
they had had problems with our car. It looks like our new driver
never checks oil or water, and the engine had run out of water;
not a good thing!
it's 11 pm and my three teenagers have NOT returned from evening
school, and I'm worried like crazy. I went to wake up Paul, but
discovered that Paul was not even on our base. Nobody knew where
he had gone. I've asked him so many times to tell me when he leaves
called him and told him the kids had not come home. So he started
looking for them together with his friend and his motorbike. At
midnight the boys finally arrived. They told me that class had
lasted until 10 pm, and that it's hard to get a bus at that time
of day, and so it took them 2 hours to get home. You can't be
serious! I told them that I had been crazy with worry. They said
that they cannot walk that late as the police would pick them
up and take them to the station.
few minutes later Paul returned. As expected, he did not understand
me but got upset instead.
Saloum was the designated driver to take everyone to the village
of Dara which is 45 minutes away. The back of the pick-up truck
was full of kids, and there was no more room for any more. Our
non-resident kids that were there had to stay in Bamako - except
was told that they had a good time in the village. Paul led them
in a time of praise, then Kibet tried to teach them dances, and
then Cliff spoke. In the end they prayed for people, and God moved.
It was time for our sixth anniversary celebration. Six years ago
today - to the day - we did our first service, and Centre
Apostolique Malien was launched. It's now become a tradition
that we invite a guest speaker for an anniversary weekend, doing
a series of meetings, and then go to the villages. We did five
meetings these past three days, and today was the big final celebration.
was hard getting up in the morning, after another short night,
and I did get up later than planned. I then had all kinds of things
to prepare and manage for the celebration that was scheduled to
start at 3 pm. Because of that, the baptism preparation was on
after lunch, at 1 pm.
gathered the 6 candidates - 3 of them kids in our house, and 3
of them kids that are still on the street - and gave them my teaching
on the meaning of baptism. We had interviewed all of them before
to see whether they were really ready.
then demonstrated what the baptism would be like - with the help
of Barbie. I explained to them about the testimony they would
give, the questions I would ask them before baptizing them, and
everything else they needed to know. This picture was taken right
by the baptismal tank outside, as I explained to them how to hold
their nose shut.
arrived at our base late morning, and took advantage of our internet,
until we had lunch together some time after noon.
before the baptism preparation we had started to set up everything
for the meeting. Somehow it was hard to motivate most of the children
to help. Joseph has been the greatest help of all. We kept going
non-stop after lunch, and time went by very fast. I was still
able to have those two portrait photos taken after I had gotten
dressed in my new Malian clothing. I'm still trying to find the
perfect picture for my book cover, but the resolution is never
good enough for the publisher.
last picture shows me with pastor Kibet, Cliff's assistant who
came with him.
had announced that the meeting started at 3 pm, but it was actually
4 pm before we really got started. We knew from the beginning
that we would not start until 3:30 pm, but then the sound system
mysteriously refused to work. We could never figure out why. We
found a way around in the end to at least use 2 microphones at
the time. Cliff and Kibet had to speak without a mic, but then
nobody speaks English here anyway. And even without the mic Cliff's
voice was so loud, it actually hurt my ear when I stood next to
started off with about 45 minutes of Bambara praise that Paul
led. He had his (street) kid choir behind him, and they were singing
and dancing and did a great job. Those in white robes are the
was amazed when it was actually Fanta who started the dancinc
when she came forward dancing in the free space. Others followed
suit, and soon, a cloud of dust rose from the dry ground as people
were dancing for the Lord. This picture shows Paul's step-mom
Elisabeth and Fanta.
our time of praise, I welcomed everyone and briefly shared the
history of our church. Then it was time for the baptism. I had
the children come up one after another, and asked them three questions:
What was your life like before Jesus, how did you find Jesus,
and how has your life changed since. Their answers were very similar
of them had been involved in drugs, sex and stealing before, then
got to come to our center, heard the gospel, believed in Jesus,
and left all those acts behind them. What a precious time!
are the three kids that live in our house: Adama (15) just moved
in a week ago, then Boubacar (8) and Daouda (11).
they shared their testimony, we moved over to the baptismal tank.
Unfortunately people didn't keep their distance, but crowded all
after another the kids stepped into the tank. We asked them whether
they believed that Jesus was God, died for their sins, was resurrected
and went to heaven. The second question was whether they accepted
Jesus as their Lord and Savior, and the third whether they wanted
to serve Him the rest of their lives. They said yes to each question,
and then we baptized them. These are the same three kids from
above in the same order.
the boys changed into dry clothes, I was glad that Christian had
memorized a French song he sang for everyone. The kids had been
working on a skit, but didn't practice enough to be able to present
boys then returned and lined up in the front. We asked Cliff and
Kibet to come and join us to pray and/or prophesy over them. Some
of them had strong prophetic words, and we recorded them all.
Boubacar had the same prophetic word as last year, that he would
be a prophet. Cool. I prophesied over Daouda, and it even surprised
me how powerful the word was. Daouda is 11, and a very long way
from its fulfillment. These pictures show them in the same order
kids sat back down, and it was time to introduce Cliff. So I told
them how I met Cliff, and what he's doing today. Then Cliff and
Kibet came up. Kibet said a few words and then handed it over
started preaching on the rich young ruler, bringing out the most
important point. In terms of special guests, we had our construction
manager there, a previous driver we had to fire, and the school
director where most of our resident kids go to school. Our estimate
was that there were about 150 people in total.
the end, Kibet and Cliff had everyone stand up and prayed over
the microphone. Then they asked those who wanted to be prayed
for individually to come forward. So they started praying for
people, with Paul interpreting, while I was busy organisationally
and trying to keep order.
picture shows Cliff, Christian, Kossi (construction manager) and
was dark by the time the meeting was over, and I distributed tasks
to our children. We were about to serve the banquet that was not
quite ready yet.
I had everyone sit down - at least I tried - and then my boys
brought plates of food and handed them out. However, people would
get up and move around, especially the street children, or go
to the restricted area in the back, and it was a constant, tiring
struggle to keep control. I was on my own, with the guys praying,
and was glad that Joseph was available to help at least.
set up a table with chairs inside the dining hall for our speakers
to eat at. Finally they were done praying and came in so we could
eat together. Our kids were still outside handing out food, and
I was hoping things were working out. They came into the dining
hall later to eat as well.
then shut our gates, and started putting away all our chairs and
benches, and the street kids got their mattresses out to go to
I was managing everything, I noticed that one of the younger street
kids was upset. I found out that another street kid had tried
to abuse him sexually during the night on our base. I told our
night guard that he had to tell me stuff like that right away,
told the kid he could never sleep on our base again, and threw
him out. He was a kid that I had noticed negatively these past
few days because of his behavior.
then I noticed that Abdias was planning on sleeping with the street
kids. I was surprised, as we had talked this morning, and he had
asked forgiveness, listing the things he had done wrong. I thought
he would accept the consequences for his sin, and that he had
returned to our household. What was he doing in the dining hall?
In any case, he refused to come back into the house, which I thought
was strange. Later Paul was able to convince him to come back
inside. He was visibly angry. What's going on inside this boy
thought I'd get to go to bed earlier tonight, but it was once
again close to 2 am.
was a really crazy day. And it didn't start well at all, besides
me being very tired. More car troubles with the car not wanting
to start. They moved the car batteries around; now the bus does
not have a battery, and one of our two cars does not start. So
we only have one working vehicle. That really messed up everything,
and Cliff only got to our base at 10:30 while Paul started leading
worship at 9:30 am.
morning seems so long ago that I can't even recall what all the
challenges were. While the kids have been doing great the past
few days, I might have praised them too much because today the
good work was over. They were playing around this morning instead
of getting the dining hall ready for the meeting.
had to lead us in a time of Bambara praise for a whole hour, since
we were waiting for Cliff. There weren't many people besides the
street children. More came later. I don't know if everyone was
tired, but our praise time seemed relatively pathetic compared
to the last few meetings; it did pick up a little in the end.
Cliff arrived, it was his turn right away. However, he actually
had Kibet preach. Only in the end did Cliff come up and help with
the time of prayer. We closed the meeting at 11:30 am.
had to wait for quite a while before lunch was ready. Once again,
Cliff, Kibet and Christian ate in my living room. After lunch,
Saloum took Cliff back to the hotel. I was glad Elisabeth decided
to stay with us for the whole day, together with her kids plus
a few more. It gave us a taste of what it will be like when they
all move here in a few months. I think Christian was a little
overwhelmed when 18 kids crowded into the living room playing.
I got a movie out later that they could watch.
Meeting Of Six
I absolutely had to lie down again to be able to keep going; I
stayed down for 2 hours. When I got back up, I didn't have much
time left before I had to start cooking. I had to cook dinner
for our guests; pasta bolognese. At the same time I was managing
all kinds of things.
arrived in time for once, and the three of them had dinner in
my living room. I was too busy to eat.
meeting was supposed to start at 7 pm, but things weren't ready.
It took a lot of effort to get them ready and to get the kids
into the room so we could pray together before the meeting. Since
it was so late, the gates were already open and neighbors and
street kids coming in. At 7:15 pm Paul started the meeting.
of the big challenges of today was Abdias (17). Abdias has done
more stupid things in our house than any other kid. And his behavior
goes up and down; it's either very good or very bad. These past
few days it has been bad, and today it got REALLY bad. I sent
him to his room after lunch, but as always, he refused to go.
I had to send Paul to talk to him before he finally complied.
it was time for the evening meeting, the problems continued. When
he sat down to play the drums, I told him he was off the worship
team tonight. As a result, Saloum (20) refused to play the drum
set and played the Malian drum instead; in a very half-hearted,
pathetic way. I was not happy.
a while worship picked up; Paul did a great job as always. Everyone
was dancing again, and really getting into it.
Abdias sat down at the drum and just started playing. I was in
total shock that he dared to disobey me like that again. I tried
to stop him, but couldn't. So I told Saloum to stop; he had switched
to the drum set. Finally I succeeded in Abdias leaving, but something
wasn't right. He was dancing like crazy, and little Jonathan started
crying because of him; I don't know what happened. Then I saw
him going over the top with the way he was throwing around Hama.
I watched in horror as everything seemed to get ouf of hand, and
I knew I had to stop it immediately.
got Paul to stop, and proceeded to the piano for the time of French
worship. I did an offering in the middle of the third song. I
was finishing up, when Cliff came to me and said that he felt
that he was supposed to pray for six of my boys. So he asked me
to keep playing, while he called those six forward to be prayed
for. It was Jérémie, Amadou, Florentin, Karim, Abdias
prayed for them and prophesied over some of them, and half of
them went down in the Spirit. Then he asked who else wanted prayer,
and more of my kids came up; only Adama and Saloum didn't.
Cliff started preaching, and it was his best message yet. He talked
about loving God, and loving our neighbor, and anger and hatred
in our hearts making that impossible. I was hoping Abdias was
listening, amongst others.
the end, Kibet and Cliff prayed for people again, then we closed
the meeting, and started putting everything away.
wanted to talk to Abdias right away to find out whether God touched
him (he was on the floor) and he repented. Unfortunately not.
He still claimed he had not done anything. I told him I could
not keep watching him doing whatever he wants, letting him disobey
and be in rebellion. I was disappointed that he had not repented.
I told him he was sleeping in the dining hall with the street
returned to my living room where Cliff was. I heard Paul talking
with Abdias, trying to convince him to repent and ask forgiveness.
A minute later he was at my door in tears saying, "forgive
me", but then he walked away. I had a hard time taking this
seriously. I did not see Abdias again after that tonight.
went to do the family meeting with the rest of the kids. We all
hugged, and by then Saloum was back from dropping Elisabeth and
kids off. So Cliff got into the car for Saloum to take him to
the kids in bed, it was time for me to go to the office to write
my blog. It looks like it will be 2 am again before I get to go
a draining day it was! With the worst worship time, and best message,
and a kid being on the brink of being kicked out of the house.
It was really late before I went to bed, and when my alarm went
off this morning, I was absolutely not ready to get up. I had
had advertised the meetings starting at 9 am, knowing people arrive
late. We actually started our meeting at 9:30 am. Cliff arrived
close to 10 am, because Saloum had to take our kids to school
and then to pick up Elisabeth who cooks lunch on our base.
knew we wouldn't have many people on a Friday morning. Our own
kids were in school, and so we only had one widow and all the
others were street kids or neighbors' kids. Joseph was playing
the simple drum, and then Saloum took over. Paul was leading us
in Bambara praise, and the kids really joined in.
Cliff came up, and he did a great job bringing an easy-to-understand
but important message. I noticed that half the kids were falling
asleep; it helped that Cliff tried to make it interactive.
one point, Kibet came up to teach the kids some Kenyan dance moves,
which was a lot of fun.
the end, Cliff and Kibet prayed for people. And I found out that
the widow that was there has the HIV virus. They prayed for healing
were done by 11:30 am. Saloum left to pick up our kids from school.
The street kids and neighbors left our base.
went into my living room, and 45 minutes later lunch was ready;
the traditional rice with peanut sauce.
lunch, Saloum took Cliff to the hotel, and Elisabeth home.
Meeting Of Six
Poor Paul was running errands all afternoon, while Christian and
I both had opportunity to lie down and take a nap; so did Cliff
and Kibet. Our driver Saloum also had a busy day of driving all
day. I sure needed the nap as I was exhausted, and it helped.
picked up Cliff before the 7 pm meeting, but he got to our base
late, and dinner wasn't ready either. It would have to wait until
after the service.
kids all helped getting our dining hall ready for the meeting,
and at 6:30 pm we all prayed together for the meeting. Then the
kids went to have dinner, and we let the street kids in to eat
had to go pick up Elisabeth and her kids, while we started the
meeting at 7 pm. Paul did a great job leading us in Bambara praise
for 45 minutes. Once again, all the kids and adults were dancing,
with flags and without, having a great time. These are two video
clips from tonight:
was playing the drum set, while Abdias was playing the Malian
drum. The two are a great team, and are doing a great job! Well
I came up to lead us in French worship for three songs. Next,
Cliff came up to preach. He brought a great message. It was frustrating
to see people fall asleep, and street kids talking and doing all
kinds of stuff. At our family meeting later, though, all my kids
could repeat something that Cliff had said. Good job!
Cliff was done, he and Kibet led everyone in a prayer, and then
prayed for people. Some ladies who had come seemed to really be
getting into the Spirit; don't know if they really did. I asked
for testimonies after worship, and nobody had one.
put everything away, and once we were done, we gathered in the
living room for our family meeting. It was 10 pm once again. After
the kids went to bed, Christian and I joined Cliff and Kibet in
my living room where they were already eating.
Saloum returned from dropping Elisabeth off at home, it was time
for him to take Cliff home. So we said good-night. Christian,
Kibet and I kept talking, and had a really good conversation.
At 11 pm we decided to break it up, and I went to the office to
start picking pictures and finish writing today's blog.
hope to be in bed by 1 am. Tomorrow is going to be another long
and tiring day. (Well, I wasn't.)
I was really tired this morning and had a hard time getting going.
I actually lay back down at 11 am because I was unable to get
any work done. While I didn't sleep, the rest did help.
was in town together with Cliff and Kibet, to take care of putting
their visas in the passport, withdraw money, and then they already
returned because they were worn out. Shopping was postponed.
had lunch in my living room, eating what all the kids are eating.
I was in my office doing some necessary work, still being way
too tired. Paul, Christian, and Kibet left, and only Cliff was
left. Unfortunately the car was running errands, and so we had
to wait for it to return before our driver could take Cliff back
to the hotel. It was nearly 3:30 pm before they left.
was really glad to be by myself again, and soon lay down to get
some much-needed sleep. I had a good nap that I wished could have
been longer. When I got back up, it was time to get things ready
for the first meeting.
the guys were eating dinner, I was running around taking care
of things, and making sure everything was ready. The kids did
a great job helping getting everything set up. What a difference
to just a few days ago! Then, they all showed their worst side.
Right now, their behavior is quite the opposite - I'm proud of
was ready in time, and then we started praying together before
the meeting. At 7 pm we opened the gates to let people in.
always, few are on time. It was primarily the street children.
As time progressed, more and more people showed up; some of our
widows, as well as neighbors.
started with Bambara praise, singing for 45 minutes. Again, I
brought out my flags. And then, we just had an absolutely amazing
time of praising God with dancing, flags. Everyone participated!
I was amazed to see the widows and female neighbors and girls
dance around the pillar. That's a first! Even Fanta danced - AND
with flags! Wow. The kids all had a great time dancing like crazy,
and I joined in - which they enjoyed a lot. I wished you guys
had been there. This video clip gives you a tiny taste:
I came up to take us into a time of worship for about 15 minutes.
It was good.
I introduced Cliff and handed it over to him. He did a great job
bringing a message they needed to hear and could understand.
the end Kibet came up and said a few words, and sang a song with
everyone. Then I prayed a prayer of dedication to Jesus, and of
forgiving anyone they needed to forgive.
Cliff returned to pray for people. I translated at first, but
then let Paul do that job, while we started to put things away.
It was relatively late, and the kids have school tomorrow morning.
We got everything put away, and put the mattresses for the street
driver took Cliff back to his hotel, and I went to do the family
meeting. It was about 10 pm already. I was amazed at how awake
the kids were, since they usually sleep by this time. But then,
we've been doing soaking every day after lunch - which is really
"sanctified nap time", as I call it. It definitely helps.
had a nice family meeting where I praised the kids for the good
work, and found out that half the kids couldn't remember anything
that Cliff said tonight. We all hugged, and they had to go straight
to bed. They're going to be tired in school tomorrow! But we'll
be tired too. The second meeting is in just a few hours, at 9
I'm so tired, but I want to keep you up to date with how the meetings
with Cliff are going.
morning we were pretty busy with last minute preparations to get
things ready for our speakers' arrival. Paul was running errands
in town, while the rest of us worked on the base. Time was going
and Kibet were scheduled to arrive at 12:45 pm, coming from Uganda
via Nairobi. 40 minutes before arrival time they could not tell
me whether they were on time. 5 minutes before arrival they were
able to confirm that the plane was on time.
Paul and I left the base immediately, while Christian stayed to
take care of the daily operations. Thankfully we're not far from
the airport. We parked the car and went to the arrival terminal.
I could see Cliff at the door right away, and he was asking for
the originals of their entry visas that we had made here in Mali,
scanned, and emailed to them. A while later Cliff and Kibet came
back out. I had never met Kibet before. Paul met Cliff 5 years
ago when Cliff was here for the first time. Joseph was also with
then drove to our base, where the kids were picking up trash and
washing the walls in our dining hall. They all came to greet Cliff
and Kibet. We gave our visitors a little tour of the base, and
then settled into my living room. I made coffee for everyone,
and we sat down to talk, including Christian.
got very tired after a while, and knew I needed to lie down if
I wanted to be able to function at the prayer meeting. Today is
the first day I'm starting to be able to breathe through my nose
after 7 days of being sick. Thank God it's finally over!
decided to do the prayer meeting already at 4 pm - and hour earlier
- to have more time for the meeting, and less waiting time until
the meeting. I finally was able to lie down for about 30 minutes,
leaving our visitors in my living room to rest themselves. I fell
asleep, and was rudely awakend by my alarm clock ten minutes before
got the dining hall ready for the meeting, and it took nearly
until 4:30 pm before we got started. It was time to praise and
worship God in French. We started off with MY REDEEMER LIVES (in
French). I got my flags out again, and the kids love them.
were quite a few street children, and some curious neighbors'
kids came as well. We had a great time worshiping God, and the
kids were free to dance and having a good time praising Him.
also sang I'M TRADING MY SORROWS, and UNDIGNIFIED - all in French.
I was hoping those familiar songs would help Cliff to worship
even though he doesn't know French. At two points we did some
intercession, praying for the upcoming meetings.
we went into slower worshipful songs, entering into the presence
of God. It was great to see many children with their eyes closed,
truly worshiping God. I did a tiny bit of prophetic singing which
I love doing. We went on for quite a while, before we stopped.
asked Cliff whether he wanted to share anything, and so he gave
a little teaching. Some of the kids were falling asleep, others
seemed to have a hard time following.
about 20 minutes, Cliff asked Kibet to come up, who led the children
in prayer. They did some singing as well, and Paul did a great
job singing in Bambara what he was singing in English. Cliff walked
around praying for a few kids at the same time, and I had the
challenge and opportunity to translate him into Bambara, which
went on praying for a while, and then I closed the meeting. A
few more kids still wanted prayer then, and so they prayed.
was 6:30 pm, and three of my boys needed to leave for school.
We decided to take our visitors out to eat, and were able to drop
the kids off on the way. Christian stayed with the kids, and Paul
came along for the ride.
went to the only restaurant that is relatively close, and were
the only ones sitting inside. Our visitors enjoyed the place and
the food, and talked to the owner who had never talked with us
before. Kibet (from Kenya) had the first ice cube ever in his
was already after 8 pm before we left there to drive Cliff to
his cute hotel; the place where we went with our kids for 3 days
last summer. It was already dark, and a challenge to see the sign
posts telling you where to leave the main road, but I succeeded.
We then had another 4 kilometers on a dirt road, and it seemed
like we'd never get there. Our visitors were very tired after
a long trip from Uganda, plus the 3-hour time difference.
walked to the reception, and got the key for Cliff's bungalow.
Unfortunately the French owner was out of town. We walked to his
bungalow, which was at quite a distance, but it was really beautiful;
much nicer than our bungalows in the summer, as the bathroom was
on the inside, more private, and bigger. Cliff also had an air
condition; he's already been repeating how hot it is.
could tell he was pretty tired, and so we said our good-byes and
returned to the car parked at the entrance. Kibet fell asleep
in the back seat during the 15-minute drive home.
had told Christian to wait for us with the family meeting, and
so the kids were all up, though ready for bed. We did the family
meeting as quickly as possible as it was already late, and we
still had a good time. Today the kids really did a good job with
everything! I blessed them, praying over them, we all hugged,
and off they went to bed. For me, it was off to the office as
I had not been online for hours. And time to write this blog.
I can tell you that I'm very tired myself and hope to go to bed
at a decent time.
I knew today would be a crucial day, and decided to make it a
day of prayer and fasting. It was the last day of our 3-week fast
anyway; not easy for most of the kids though they're only asked
to fast one meal a day.
night I emailed our legal advisor Daniel who is an older Malian
gentleman who has been a Christian for a long time and who I appreciate
greatly. Paul respects him a lot as well, and he would make a
great spiritual Dad for him. One other time Paul was angry with
an enemy of ours and not happy with my decision to go the path
of humility and blessings, and I was so thankful when Daniel confirmed
my actions as the right ones when talking to Paul. Of course,
it's sad he needs to hear it from someone else to be in agreement
I was glad when Daniel replied that he was in town and could meet
with Paul in the afternoon. He said he would call Paul in the
morning, which he did. I'm glad that happened before Paul lost
his phone later in the day (I hope he finds it again). Paul was
asked to come to Daniel's place (not too far away) at 2 pm.
talked with him for a long time. When he came back home, he asked
to talk to me. We were able to talk, the way I would have wanted
to talk with him two days ago. He asked forgiveness, and shared
how hurt he was by Jérémie saying Paul didn't love
him, when Paul loves Jérémie more than the other
children even. We talked about Jérémie's need of
healing, but also Paul's need for healing, and he agreed to do
TPM sessions regularly again. I wished we had done one right away.
told him that I was very concerned when he said yesterday that
he didn't know what there was to talk about. I also told him I
needed him to truly make an effort, as I was not willing to simply
keep on going with him not changing. He understood. If only he
could listen like this all the time.
was glad in any case that this situation was over. Now we can
concentrate on doing God's work again. I believe that much of
what has happened recently is due to spiritual warfare. When the
enemy launches an attack us, he attacks us where we are weakest
- the unresolved, unhealed, unredeemed areas in our lives. That's
why everyone showed his worst side. This intense warfare can only
be a good sign that the upcoming meetings will be off the charts;
though I myself have a hard time imagining that right now.
have not even heard from our guest speaker in about two weeks,
which is strange. At this time he should be in a plane on the
way to Mali, as he arrives tomorrow at 1 pm.
talked with Jérémie today to let him know he loves
him. Jérémie said that Paul had stopped talking
to him, while Paul was not even aware of it. I'm glad Jérémie
has no more reason to leave us. Praise God!
night at our family meeting, I end it with reading a chapter of
blessing over the children. I was amazed at the timing of tonight's
chapter (the 37th or so). It was about the spirit dominating over
the soul and body, and talked about true love from 1.Cor 13. Paul
smiled when it talked about love not being easily angered. Thank
you, Lord, for the timing!
else did we do on this last day before our speakers arrive? Put
up the Christmas decorations! I needed to do work with my hands
today, do something just like that. Since Cliff doesn't leave
until the first of December, I decided the decorations should
be up before he comes. So with Joseph's and Christian's help,
we put the Christmas pictures on the windows and doors, put the
two advent calendars up, and the chains of light. It turned out
beautiful. I've never put up the decorations this early!
this day ends, I'm feeling exhausted but well. I feel like I've
come out of an intense battle. Unfortunately there is no time
to recover, but it's time to keep moving forward. Time to focus
on the upcoming meetings!
we did a few interviews with kids that want to be baptized to
determine whether they've really understood what a Christian is
and to see whether they really love Jesus. It's exciting to see
the list of people to baptize this Sunday grow.
What a day! On top of everything that happened, I'm sick, and
I've had hardly any chance to lie down and take care of myself.
has not returned. Paul called his father today. The father told
us that Jérémie came back to his house saying we
had refused to take him back. We were shocked! Paul told him that
that was untrue, since Jérémie had never come back
to us. So his father said he would send him to us again. I'm curious
if and when he gets here.
had a lot of issues with our new driver. Today he demanded malaria
medication from me, and I gave it to him. He was not happy. He
said we have to pay for him to go to the hospital. Oh really!
Now I was the one not happy.
only that, he keeps not doing his job, and not attending our services
or prayer meetings. On Tuesday he simply did not show up for work.
Yesterday he said he can't come to the prayer meeting. Today he
came back from picking up the kids very late, and, without picking
up Christian's birthday meal that we had ordered on the phone.
He gave all kinds of excuses, left to drive there to pick it up,
and came back empty-handed again, with lots of excuses. It was
the last straw, and I fired him on the spot. I had intended to
do so for weeks.
8-year-old son Yacouba spends the day at our place and goes to
the Christian school where our kids go. He's part of our sponsorship
program, and we'll have to keep him on until the end of the academic
called Saloum (20) - our current day guard - and asked him to
be our driver from now on. He's afraid to drive our little bus,
so I'll have to do a driving session in our neighborhood with
him; once I'm on my feet myself again. For now he can drive the
means we need a new day guard. We could either take in one of
the street children - there is one that deserves that chance -
or have Joseph (17) fill that role.
ran errands in town today. I asked him to put the special sun-protection-hat
on that I bought him, and wear a long-sleeved shirt, but he refused.
I guess he wants to have skin cancer. I've told him numerous time
he won't get any compassion from me WHEN that day comes.
had some problems with his errands, and called me quite a bit.
Unfortunately I left the phone in the office, and went to bed
because I was sick, and had to get up and go back and forth a
few times, which was tiring and annoying.
was also a big fight involving all our kids. It seems that 11-year-old
Daouda is treated very badly by our own kids once they get to
school. He stutters, and so kids are very cruel to him. We need
to talk about this in our family meeting tonight, as that behavior
is totally unacceptable for our own kids.
hard to imagine that Christian is only turning 21 today. I made
this chocolate cake for him. We gathered everyone in the living
room, and then it was time to celebrate. We sang HAPPY BIRTHDAY
to him twice when he came into the house, and then he blew out
his candles. Great job, Christian!
ate the cake, and then we handed him our presents. I had asked
Paul to pick up Christian's lasagna on the way home, so I could
surprise him that he'd get his birthday meal after all. The surprise
of the kids drew pictures for Christian, some bought him pastry
or bananas. Paul had a very special gift of a Malian key ring,
and of a typical Malian instrument, the Korah. Awesome!
Mali birthdays are not celebrated, so we're going against the
culture in our household. Maybe that's also the reason why our
birthday celebrations are over very quickly.
our weekly prayer meeting, I tried to have a nice picture with
my little kids taken, so I could put it on the back of my book.
This is the result. While the kids look great, I don't like myself
on it, so I ended up using one with only me on it after all.
changed the layout of our meeting place, and decided to use the
sound system so I could actually be heard above the kids' singin.
It worked out pretty well.
I was getting into the fast praise music, I suddenly thought of
my flags back inside that I had not used in quite a long time.
So I left to go get them, and I'm so glad I did! The kids loved
using the flags! I actually got new flag material earlier this
year; just have to get a sewing machine to make them.
a time of worship, I had them go into groups, and they prayed
fervently for the upcoming meetings with Cliff. I love this picture
of the kids praying on the floor!
is coming up, and it was time for the children to make their Christmas
drawings for their sponsors. They have a hard time drawing freehand
here, thinking it's not good enough. I don't know how to make
them understand that everything they produce is good!
for the little ones, I decided we'd do hand- and foot-prints.
This is 2-year-old Jonathan who enjoyed doing it. As for 1-year-old
Hawa, she screamed as if we were hurting her! It was quite a challenge.
8-months-old Casimir didn't know what was going on, and didn't
make much fuss.
I can only hope that the drawings arrive in Europe in time, and
that my friend can forward them to the sponsors right away. In
any case, I scanned all the pictures in case the envelope gets
lost in the mail. I never mail anything out of Mali!
picture shows Fanta doing the dishes in my kitchen. It's a daily
job of hers.
filmed Hama walking by himself, and I put a series of little clips
together and uploaded it to YouTube. Enjoy! He can now walk the
whole length of the dining hall all alone!
What a day! The challenges continue, but at least I wasn't all
discouraged today. Yes, a lot of things are discouraging, but
I just continue on doing my best, and that's all I can do.
been having problems with the night guard forever; in terms of
his apathy and passivity. He's not doing his job, and it's taking
his toll. Paul often does his job, or nobody does, and then it's
chaotic. I spoke to him clearly tonight (once again), but if he
doesn't change, we'll have to find someone else. Not easy with
his whole family so integrated into our family.
problems with the driver continue also. Yesterday he filled the
car up, however, it was only three fourths full. We do not trust
him, and now Paul always has to be present when he gets gas. Poor
Paul, one more thing on his plate.
wished I could find trustworthy people, but it seems a total impossibility.
We'll just have to raise up our own kids!
was doing the exercises with Hama this morning, and watching 8-month
old Casimir at the same time.
got a lot of administrative work done today which I love doing.
I think administration is one of my strongest gifts, if not the
also had a good time with the Lover of my soul this morning which
is my number one need right now. I long to get out of this spiritual
desert and back into fullness in Christ; I know it's up to me
really. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak. I'm on the
right track, though. Please keep praying.
the kids started drawing pictures for their sponsors at Christmas.
Since I'm not traveling again this year, I have to figure out
a way to get them to the sponsors. Maybe scan them?
8 pm we gathered first with the street children, and I read a
martyr's story from JESUSFREAKS to them. Unfortunately the kids
don't even listen!
we went into the living room for the family meeting. I write down
who did their chores and who didn't. Then I do a little Bible
quiz with them; another way to get points. I also pray a blessing
over them all, and lay hands on each one of them. Then I hug each
kid before they go to bed.
a day Friday was! Abdias was provoked by a kid in school, then
ran after him, and the kid stumbled, fell, and broke his arm.
Paul was called to police because of it, and then went to the
school, and had to take the kid to the hospital. We have to pay
all the medical expenses - at a time when we have no money.
then the school director put fear of the child's father into us,
telling us how he's already taken teachers to the police and accused
them. However, him and Paul dropped the kid off at home after
the hospital and profusely apologized, and the father accepted
the morning, Paul went to the car paper office to see whether
the permanent papers for the bus were there. They weren't quite
ready yet. In the afternoon, the temporary bus papers were seized
by police because they were expired. Paul was able to get them
back without paying.
was a LONG day of not knowing how things would work out, and really
overwhelmed me. Not only that, but also finding so many things
broken or dirty or out of order... it's time for some OLDER helpers
instead of teens and twens! And the same old problems as ever...
think after 7 years of repeating myself, I have nothing left in
me. Unfortunately I was not "restored" or rejuvenated,
re-envisioned or encouraged on this past US trip. I simply do
not know what the solution is. Though I expect a lot of good changes
when the American family moves here in April. I guess I'll have
to survive until then.
the upside, I enjoyed playing a new card game with the kids.
of our service, everyone went to a YWAM worship event in town
- that is except for me. In the morning we mounted the two new
magnets I brought back with me onto the bus. Now everyone can
see this is our bus; hopefully that's a good thing.
group arrived at the worship meeting on time - and filled up all
the chairs (see picture). In the course of the meeting all the
other chairs filled up as well. I was told they enjoyed it, and
Fanta even danced. That's unheard of!
I got to play another new ( Christian) game with the children,
and enjoyed our time together.
I was hit with many frustrations throughout the day. For example,
our night guard not doing his job.
back to Mali is always difficult, and it takes me time to settle
back in. On Wednesday we started our 3-week fast leading up to
our conference and 6th anniversary at the end of the month. I
don't know how much that plays into my (no so) well-being. In
any case, I have strong doubts I can keep it up to the end.
kids fast a meal a day, unless they want to do more. For some
of them it's really hard, but I'm proud of them for trying.
Another day like the previous ones. Paul went to Goro this morning,
our village church 2 hours away from here. He took a few of our
boys with him.
the afternoon, everyone except Paul and myself went to the worship
meeting again. It was the last one.
the morning, Abdias asked me to show him how to iron, and so I
decided it was time for him to learn. I also called Fanta over,
so she could learn it as well. Abdias did a got job, however,
it took him HOURS to iron 4 piece of clothing! Some of the other
kids were also watching with curiosity.
picture shows Sarata (5) and Jonathan (2) getting on our little
pray for ALL of us. Paul is sick once again (he's not taking care
of himself), and Christian is sick far too often as well. I feel
like we're just barely surviving, trying to make it through each
day, but we're a far cry from thriving.
mentioned to Paul today that just maybe this new family coming
is meant to REPLACE me for a season. Someone actually suggested
that to me before returning to Mali. The thing is, it's hard being
here, but it's also hard not being here, so there doesn't seem
to be a way...
We took off from Detroit around 10:30 pm, but only after the police
had come on board and excorted a lady off the plane. What was
that all about?
was excited when I saw that they had the movie on board that I
had wanted to see in the theaters, and didn't get to - INCEPTION.
So I immediately started watching it - and I really liked it.
I also enjoyed my Air France meal.
movie was quite long, but I still started a second one out of
curiosity. I soon got pretty tired and turned the screen off,
trying to get a nap in.
the seats in this new class are bigger and quite comfortable,
they do not tilt back, just slide down a little which doesn't
help at all when you want to sleep. So it wasn't that easy; however
the seat to my left was empty, and so I could make good use of
the armrest. I barely slept though.
hour before arrival they served us "breakfast". At 11
am local time we touched down in Paris. I had over 5 hours until
my next flight. I went through security once again, and went to
the frequent flyer lounge where I settled down for the next few
hours. I tried to connect to the internet, but it simply would
not work. The lady told me to sit in a certain area where the
internet is better, and I eventually moved there when I found
an empty seat - still not internet. A while later the crowd suddenly
disappeared, and then the internet finally worked. I guess too
many people had been connected at once.
also talked to both my Mom and my brother - the traditional calls
I always make when in transit in Paris. I found out that my second
nephew due Dec 13th has a name already - Christopher.
I'm off to my gate to board the plane to Bamako! Keep praying
for FAVOR upon my arrival; no hassle from customs or anyone else!
I was the first in line to get on board the plane. They gave me
a new boarding pass; once again I was sitting in the new premium
economy class, better than economy but not as good as business.
And once again I gave my posters to a flight attendant for save
time I sat by the window, with a person next to me. The flight
was just over 5 hours long. I watched a movie, enjoyed my last
meal, and got a little nap in. At 8:40 pm we landed in Bamako.
last time I heaved my carry-on down from the overhead bin, and
recovered my posters. I then had to carry everything down the
staircase they had rolled up to the plane, and into the bus that
took us the few meters to the terminal building.
always fill the immigration form out in advance, and take a new
one when I leave or arrive for that purpose, but this time I simply
could not find it. So I had to take the form there at the terminal
the same way everybody else did, and fill it out standing there.
I was still pretty far in front of the line when I went through,
and had another stamp added to the many in my passport.
was standing in a totally new arrival hall. They've been working
on improving the airport, and things change constantly now. There
was plenty of room, and a long baggage carroussel. I knew I needed
a porter this time, and found one who spoke only Bambara with,
and so I complied. I had to wait for a while, but then all my
three bags were among the first ones out; one of the advantages
of being a frequent flyer.
was happy that I was among the first to leave the airport. But
first, the dreaded customs.
my amazement, they have not put up the x-ray machine in this new
building yet. Wow! So the custom official pulled me to the side
just because he saw the box. He asked me what was inside, so I
started listing a few things. He asked me to open it. I then said
it's for a children's center, and suddenly he told me to just
go. Praise God!
was happy that everything had worked out so well; thanks to quite
a few people praying for this trip!
saw Paul and Christian right away, and together we made our way
to the car. The porter was not happy about the amount I gave him,
though it was more I usually give them.
was the one driving us home, and we had a good time talking in
the car. It was so good to be back home!
dog Uppy greeted me with more enthusiasm than anyone else, and
my cat was really happy too. The kids were all asleep unfortunately,
and I knew I had to wait until they'd get back from school tomorrow.
I had a lot of chocolates in my bags everywhere - for my kids'
advent calendar and for Christmas - I asked Christian to help
me unpack, and he did. That way it got done much faster, and everything
that melts or needed refrigeration was put into the fridge.
was really hot - I always feel it more when I first arrive - but
it was bearable, and I was looking forward to a long night of
got up after 7 hours of sleep this morning, and was pretty tired.
I had my last cup of tea over here, and my last breakfast, and
got to talk to Christian for a few minutes. I went to the post
office to mail receipts to our office, and wrote my last emails.
I finished up packing, and took this picture of all the stuff.
box of 51 pounds - $200.
A bag of 52 pounds.
A bag of 72 pounds - expected $100.
A very heave carry-on bag.
A computer bag.
A huge rolled up world map.
is much more than I usually take with me, and I knew it would
not be an easy trip because of all the carry-on stuff. I'm glad
my host loaded it all into his van - thank God!
11:30 am I left the house for the last time, and drove to Lee's
Summit to meet a good friend at Applebee's. It was our only chance
to get together. I had my "last supper" and greatly
enjoyed it. I also enjoyed talking to my friend, though time was
had to leave just before 2 pm to get to the local rental agency
by 2, which wasn't too far away. I returned the car, and my host
and friend Bill was already waiting for me in his van, with all
my stuff inside. We then drove about 40 minutes to the airport.
It was nice to get to talk finally, since he only got back yesterday.
unloaded everything at check-in, and he was so nice to leave to
go park the car and come back and help me. A few minutes later
he came back - with the car. To my amazement, the short-term parking
right there was FULL. Wow. So he was so kind to carry my stuff
inside right to the check-in counter, while I waited at the car.
They don't want cars to park there, or even stop for longer. He
then said he would wait in the car, and circle if necessary. I
wanted to add the receipt for the excess baggage to an envelope
ready to be mailed to our office. Since Bill has lots of experience
taking boxes with him, I was also hoping for his help at the check-in
was the only one at the frequent flyer check-in - and that included
the agent. Thankfully someone came a while later. The lady looked
annoyed and not very friendly. Great! She barely talked and just
went through the motions. She told me immediately that the third
bag was $200, and I paid for it. Then I heaved the other two bags
up to the scale, and she simply put the tags on. She never asked
for more payment for excess baggage, and didn't even say anything
when the bag was two pounds over with 72 pounds. I guess she just
wanted it over with. I received my boarding passes, and was done.
went back out to the curb to say good-bye to Bill, and give him
the envelope. Thank God for people like him!
went to security where there were hardly any people. That's Kansas
City! I was thankful to be the only one at the security on my
side, as I have two laptops, and the rolled up wall maps, and
it's quite a hassle. I had to heave the heavy carry-on bag up
onto the security band.
I proceeded myself, I noticed that this was actually a body scanner.
I had to take my watch off and lift my arms up and stand there
for 5 seconds. This was my first time!
I got out, the lady there told me she needed to pat me down. I
don't know WHAT she saw on there! She padded me down, and went
with her hands all around the rim of my jeans. Maybe it looked
suspicious on the screen?
didn't really care. I had two hours until my flight, and was just
glad this was all working out fine. I had to buy some water -
no water fountains after security - and sat down at my gate. They
hardly have any outlets at this airport, but I got lucky. So I
plugged in my computer to take advantage of having time and having
a free internet connection. And that's where I am now.
amazed to realize that my arms are hurting ALREADY because my
carry-on is so heavy. And I haven't even taken one flight yet!
plane left Kansas City on time to go to Detroit. I have not seen
a domestic flight this empty in the US in a long time! My whole
row was empty, two seats on one side and five on the other. At
first I was reading a new book, but then I got tired, and lay
down across the two seats. Finally, I moved to the other side
with the three seats. Unfortunately by then there wasn't much
time left. Still, I was thankful.
in Detroit, I realized that my gate was not too far away, AND
I had plenty of time, about 90 minutes, until boarding. So I made
my way to the Delta lounge where I settled down, at first to read.
Then I talked to Dawn in Wichita to find out how her second day
at the clinic went. That way time was passing by fast, and I was
not bored even without turning my computer on.
walked to my gate, and thought I'd ask whether there is any way
I could get an upgrade to business class, maybe in return for
miles. He said no, but I was given an upgrade to the new class
Air France has implemented; it's between economy and business
class, and I sat in there on the way to America as well, but I'm
not very impressed honesty. Too bad I don't get business class
updates any more.
did not have to wait very long until boarding started. I gave
my rolled up wall posters to a flight attendant to put in their
closet where it stays in good shape. Then I found my seat - the
first row in that new class. I don't like first row, because you
can't keep your bag with you since there is no seat in front of
had the challenge of putting my very heavy bag in the overhead
bin. I was worried when I saw how high the bins in this big plane
(Airbus 330) were. It took all my strength to put the bag on my
head, but the bins were still quite a bit higher, and I gave it
my all. A guy standing there helped me heave it in, and I was
thankful. I don't think he really realized how heavy it was.
settled into my new seat with a complementary TIME magazine that
I had finished by the time we took off from Detroit airport -
It was 2 am before I went to bed last night - too late. My alarm
went off at 8:15 am. I had a hard time getting up, made myself
some tea and breakfast, and packed back up. I had to say good-bye
to my friend Karen, and at 9:15 am I left her house to drive to
found my friend Dawn in her hotel room, ready to go to the clinic.
I tried to help her getting connected to the internet, and while
it didn't seem to work, it did. Then we slowly walked out the
exit closest to her room, crossed the street, and walked into
was great being back at that place where both Paul and I have
found so much help. Dawn had some paperwork left to do, and sat
down to take care of it. She wasn't doing so great, but I can't
wait to see her doing worlds better in two weeks' time!
David came out and I got to say hello; unfortunately he didn't
have time to talk any more than that. I took care of the payment
details, and then it was time to say good-bye again.
It was about 10:30 am when I got into my car to start the 3-hour
drive to Kansas City. Thankfully I had some teaching CDs I hadn't
listened to yet. I got really tired after a while, but the CDs
helped. At 1:30 pm I arrived at my hosts' house in Lone Jack.
minutes later I had to leave again to meet with Jerry. A mutual
friend connected the two of us, because he's an electrician and
could possibly come to Mali to help us. The conversation was very
positive, and there is a good chance he'll come to Mali before
the end of the year. Hopefully it works out.
then had my last errand to run - going to the bank - and returned
home. I continued packing. The challenge was to get my one suitcase
under 50 pounds, and the other one not over 70 pounds. I finished
the third one - a 50-pound box - and closed it up. The third bag
costs $200 at the airport, and the 70-pound bag $100. I didn't
get the suitcases finished by the time I left the house to go
to a prayer meeting.
meeting was from 7 to 9 pm at somebody's house. Most of the time
was spent praying for the American elections tomorrow which is
understandable. A few prayers were spoken for me as well.
drove back home, and talked to Dawn on the phone. She had a good
first day, and sounded really great and upbeat. I'm excited for
her. If any of you would like to help with the expenses for Dawn
that we as a ministry have committed to taking care if, that would
be very much appreciated. Right now, the ministry has a debt of
a few thousand dollars as donations have been low, and expenses
high, and there are more on the horizon.
hoping to get to bed before 2 am tonight, as I'm traveling tomorrow.
That's only an hour away!