week went by pretty quickly. Thanks to leftover money from Christmas,
we were able to buy a sheep to celebrate New Year's Eve. Paul
and the boys killed and butchered it, and this time the sheep
was taken to an oven somewhere where it was grilled for hours.
It was ready for a late-night meal.
the evening, we picked up Abdias and Jérémie from
their dance camp so they could celebrate the change of year with
us. Though Abdias left the house a few weeks ago, I let him go
to this camp one last time. I was hoping that maybe he would have
a change of heart there. Unfortunately I was wrong. Abdias secretly
left in the middle of our New Year's Eve celebration without a
word and hasn't come back since. How said. He lost his ticket
back into the house with that. (You might have to review previous
blogs to completely understand the situation.)
we were waiting for Paul, Saloum, and the boys, we looked at old
pictures. I was glad when they finally arrived at 9 pm; I was
told that the boys had not been happy to have to leave the camp
we finally started looking at the pictures of 2010, and some video
clips. Time went by fast, and it was 11 pm before we were done
with it. I was pretty hungry then, as I had not had dinner but
been waiting for the mutton. So they gave me my piece, and I had
just a little to silence my hunger and go on. In any case, I was
at a loss as to how to eat this big thing, and was glad when they
cut it into pieces for me.
then handed out the letters with resolutions and intentions they
had written a year ago. A few had theirs fulfilled, others not.
None of my 5 had been. We then wrote a new paper for 2011. Then
we formed a circle and held hands, and all prayed thanking God
for 2010. Then we prayed for the new year 2011. By then midnight
had arrived, and together we counted down from ten to one and
the meeting had not quite gone as planned - starting late, running
out of time. The biggest shock for me was that none of the street
children had shown up, and the whole evening I felt like people
were missing. We were so few! I even had letters for 2010 from
street children last year.
kids were eager to attack the sheep, and so we all ate and finished
it off. Then we started playing games, and even Paul participated.
We had a great time. At 1:15 am we called it a night and went
to bed. Well, I myself went to the computer, and fell asleep just
before 3 am.
Paul went to the village of Goro with a few of our kids to do
a service, and today it was time for our Street Kid Christmas
had bought a nice sheep yesterday that Paul and the kids slaughtered
and cut up this morning, and then handed to the kitchen to be
cooked for our big Christmas meal for the street children. We
also had preparations to make for the arrival of the street children
- get the benches lined up, the sound system set up, as well as
the computer and projector, and all the props for the games. Saloum
went with Paul to pick up the street kids from the bus station.
they finally arrived, our kids let them onto our property one
by one, giving them some candy each, as well as a number and a
black cross on their hand. They would need that numbered paper
several times throughout the day.
the kids gathered in the dining hall, and we welcomed them and
gave them some info. It was time for the first game.
that first game I hid candy somewhere in the flour on this plate,
and each child had to use a knife to make a line through the flour.
If they hit the flour, they were allowed to take the candy - with
their mouth without the use of hands. It was much fun.
game: We went outside where the cans were already waiting. Every
child had three shots of trying to get all those cans to tumble.
I wrote down how many each kid got. In the end, the 23 best went
on to the next game.
game: We had set up an obstacle course with obstacles to step
over, walk across and crawl under. Each child had a glass of water
in their hands with a mark, and the water level had to stay above
that mark. The 10 best went on to the next game.
game: The ten kids sat in a circle with their hands crossed and
had to tap around the circle. A double tap changed direction.
Those making a mistake were out. Two were left over pretty quickly.
One was a street kid, and the other our very own Amadou (11).
game: The first kid with three basketballs in won. When Amadou
did his third one, the street kid didn't even have one. Amadou
won a soccer ball - the best prize these kids can imagine.
all went back inside the building where Paul started leading the
kids in a time of Bambara praise. In the meantime I got the movie
read. It was the nativity story as an animated movie for children.
It was well done.
the movie I asked questions to see how attentive they had been,
and the kids received candy for correct answers.
checked on the food but it wasn't ready yet, and so we decided
to hand out the drinks. We had coke, fanta, pineapple and apple
juice. They had to show their numbers and come one by one to receive
their drink, and everything was done very orderly. I've learned
over the years! We had close to 60 children.
the food was ready. Fresh mutton with rice and onion sauce. Everyone
extended their hands over the food as Paul prayed over it. Then
they dug in!
they were eating, I cut the cake we had received at the restaurant
on Christmas into 64 pieces. Then I carried it out, and the kids
came up according to their number to receive their piece. There
was enough for everyone!
we watched the MATTHEW movie in Bambara. I love this movie so
much, and it's word by word from the Bible. The kids listened
intently to the movie in their own language.
the movie, I explained to them the gospel starting in the garden
of Eden to the cross and eternity. I love sharing the pure gospel
so much, and always feel the anointing strongly doing so! I love
seeing some of the kids' faces as they're getting it, as they're
captivated by what I'm sharing. It's priceless!
ended by an invitation to know Jesus and had everyone stand up
who wanted to pray with me. Most got up, and repeated the prayer
after me. Hallelujah!
it was time for the gift drawing. I had candy and toys, and many
received a little gift.
final item on our list was to give each child a pair of shoes.
One by one they came into my living room, and we found the fitting
pair for each one of them. It was 5 pm when the last child left
my house, and the car took them back to the bus station.
a marvelous day it had been! No incidents, everything running
smoothly. It had definitely been a LONG day, and I was glad to
sit down and relax for a short time. My house was so dirty - especially
where the kids had tried on the shoes - and I was looking forward
to it being cleaned tomorrow.
told about one street kid who sleeps here most nights who was
overwhelmed by all we had given him today - a sheep we bought
just for them, food, drinks, cake, candy, gifts.... He said if
he could only be a resident kid for one night in our house, he
would die happy. Wow. And this is a kid who actually lived with
us for one week four years ago, and then got up and left by his
own choice. You only realize what you've got once you don't have
it any more.
service is always Saturday afternoon, so the timing for the Christmas
service was perfect.
was the first Christmas service that Paul preached. And it was
the first where the kids did two special songs, two Christmas
song. One turned out better than the other.
was dressed really nicely, and two of the three widows from our
neighborhood that we support showed up for the service. They danced
with joy as Paul led worship.
are a few pictures taken after the service. One shows Paul with
his fiancé to Paul's left, and Rosalie (one of our cooks)
on his right. The other one shows a few of our church members.
it was time for my personal highlight. A few weeks ago a lady
in Austria had contacted me. For her birthday she wanted for people
to give donations for widows in Mali, and so she sent us that
money, and I suggested we buy food for our widows for Christmas.
so it was time to hand out our special Christmas present to them.
Our third widow showed up after the service, and the fourth widow
is in the village and will receive it on Wednesday. Every widow
was given their monthly bag of rice (50 kilos), then 50 kilos
of millet, 50 kilos of onions, 25 kilos of sugar and 1.8 kilos
of milk powder. One widow was crying when she realized all this
food was for her. She could hardly believe it! What a touching
every year Christmas is the time for the whole family to go swimming
together. So I asked Fanta to have lunch ready as early as possible
so we could make the most of the afternoon, and she surprised
me when it was already ready at 11:30 am. After lunch, I handed
out the swim wear, and it just about worked out for everyone to
get one, though some were in pretty bad shape. Time for new swim
trunks for the boys!
decided to take two cars, since Saloum would have to leave early
and get the rest of the family for dinner later. Paul and I got
into one car, and Christian and Saloum into the other, with the
kids piling in and onto the back of the truck. Saloum still had
to get gas.
our way to the hotel where the swimming pool is - on the other
side of town - we passed by a gas station that has an icecream
machine, and I felt generous and got everyone some. Next time
everyone will want to ride with my car!
we were there, we got a call from the other car that when they
wanted to start the engine again at the gas station, it wouldn't
start. I was in shock. We've repaired the cars over and over,
and only just repaired that car and its battery several times
over the past few days even. Unbelievable! Paul couldn't believe
it either. They were able to get someone to help them start the
car, and continue on their way.
was LOTS of traffic downtown, and we got stuck forever at one
extremely slow-moving intersection. The other car actually caught
up with us there, though they were way behind us. In the end it
had taken us an hour before we arrived at the hotel at 2 pm.
we were finally there, and the kids immediately jumped into the
water. I was glad that they made us a good price which is not
always the case. I joined the kids in the water as well. While
this winter is not as hot as last one, it's not as cold as previous
winters either. Some of the kids were freezing when they came
out of the water, but I didn't think it was cold at all.
had a great time, and there were few other people we had to share
the pool with. As for non-resident kids, we had Fousseni, Daouda
and Miché with us. Fanta wouldn't let 2.5 year old Jonathan
come with us, which was too bad.
fiancée Rokia was there too, and I was surprised that they
let her into the pool wearing normal clothes. Women in Mali don't
show their legs, so they have a hard time wearing a swimsuit.
had about 3 hours at the pool - an expensive time of fun at $7
per person, but everyone enjoyed it.
before 5 pm Saloum had to leave to go back to our side of town
and pick up Fanta, Elisabeth and her kids and take them to the
restaurant downtown where we'd meet up. Just after he had left
he returned telling me that the car would not start, and that
he had to take out the battery of the other car to put it into
that car and start it. I was so frustrated! That's exactly why
we keep repairing these cars, because they don't handle them correctly.
But I had no choice. There was no other way to start the car.
So he did, and left way too late.
was very discouraged by the car episode, as we repair them constantly
and spend so much money on them. The kids had another half hour,
but somehow they had all come out of the water and were dressing.
At 5:30 pm we all got into the car to drive to the restaurant,
where we arrived at 6 pm.
had told them in advance that a group of 30 people was coming
at 6 pm, and had asked the manager for a price reduction. We didn't
get it; instead they gave us a free cake.
moved all the plastic tables together to make one long table that
even went around the corner. Not easy to seat 30 people.
had already asked in advance what everbody wanted to eat, and
it was either chicken or pizza. So I placed the order right away,
and then went around to find out what everyone wanted to drink.
I basically did the waiter's job.
were still waiting for Saloum and the other half of our group
to arrive, when they started bringing the food. Thankfully Saloum
arrived a few minutes later, just after 7 pm, and everyone received
their food. They sure enjoyed it, and many took part of it home
with them in plastic bags.
the meal wasn't over yet, as there was dessert as well! I'm so
thankful for that church in Austria whose donation made it possible
to celebrate lavishly without having to worry about money. Not
only were our resident kids included in our celebration, but most
of our non-resident.
dessert the kids could choose between strawberry milkshake and
vanilla & chocolate icecream, and they sure loved it.
the boss's son (I think) came up to us and said they wanted to
give us a gift of a cake, and what to write on it. So I gave him
our center's name, and a few minutes later he presented us with
a nice cake. I kept it for the street kid party on Monday.
was time to move and drive back home. It was already pretty late
as we arrived back home at 9 pm. I was very tired, but the kids
were just excited as the gifts were about to be distributed.
got out the cookies we made together, wondering how anyone could
eat anything after our big dinner, but they were gone pretty quickly
the past few weeks the gifts have been piling up more and more
on the display in my living room, and this is what the display
looked like on the morning of Christmas Eve; only one more gift
was added after this.
of our non-resident family had not been with us at the restaurant
but joined us for the celebration now. So there were close to
40 people crowded into my living room.
was too tired for a long program. So I asked the kids about what
we were celebrating, and why the gifts, and we had a short time
of prayer, and sang a Christmas song. Then we lit the sparklers
I had left over from last year. The kids love them!
it was time for the gifts. I decided to first hand out the packages
to all 30 kids - non-resident and resident - that were filled
with goodies. For the non-resident kids that was all they would
get. Those packages were filled with school supplies, hygiene
articles, toys and candy.
it was time for the wrapped gifts waiting for their recipients.
I had one kid come up and choose one to give to the person, then
that person would open it with everyone watching, and then that
person would pick the next gift and give it to that person. We
had done a drawing a month ago so every person picked one other
person to give a gift to. Plus, I gave a gift to every person.
There are a few pictures of kids opening their presents.
also had a gift that was outside the drawing - this Korah from
Paul. It's a traditional Malian instrument (that I can't play).
kids were pretty excited about their gifts. I think the highlight
for me was when non-resident Fousseni found the money inside his
package. I had put money into the packages of those kids that
were 18 and over. I enjoyed seeing his joy.
the gifts were distributed, the party was over and everyone left.
It was already 11 pm. With the living room empty, it looked like
a disaster zone. Thankfully a few stayed to help me clean up the
worst of the worst.
with all the frustrations, it had been a beautiful day of celebrating
Christmas as a family. I had hoped that this year's Christmas
celebration would take place in my new house, but unfortunately
it's still not finished. I'm confident though that next year we
will celebrate in there, with more room for more people.
was glad when I finally fell into bed. The Christmas service was
on the next day.
far my picture resolutions have not been good enough for the cover
of my book, so we gave it another try today, putting the camera
on its highest setting. Unfortunately the resolution is still
not very high, so I don't know if they are good enough. Which
one is your favorite? Mine the ones to the far right in each row.
the morning Paul had the honor to meet with the Minister of education
who said he'll talk to the Minister for children and women and
have him visit us on our base in February. I hope it works out.
was extremely tired all day, and tried to get a nap in several
times, but was unable to sleep. I guess all the events of the
past few weeks have affected my body as well, which can be seen
in other ways also.
thankful I spent time with God before turning on my computer,
which is not always the case, because I needed His grace for the
devastating news that our stateside secretary has stepped down.
I was baffles. I was hoping we'd be able to find a solution for
the issues at hand.
the devastation was made worse by somebody's words, and I pretty
much broke down for a while. I did not think I'd be able to lead
the prayer meeting in the afternoon, or even come out of my room
the rest of the day. Thank God I was wrong. I jumped on my treadmill
and ran for 30 minutes again - so that was good.
lost my appetite, and so I ended up fasting, and listening to
worship music all day, not able to really concentrate on any work.
I ended up translating a song into French I had wanted to translate
for a long time, so that was good. By the time 4 pm came around,
I was ready for the prayer meeting.
introduced the new song at the prayer meeting. Then I shared what
had just happened, and we all prayed fervently for God to intervene
and provide a solution. We continued praising and worshiping God,
and I was amazed at what a great time we had.
the time it was evening, I was so tired physically, I kept our
street kid and family meetings short. While the day had started
horrible, I can't say it was a horrible day. It sure was different,
but God's presence ended up being near. And I was encouraged that
there was a already a possible new secretary who was still praying
over a week before Christmas, it was time to start baking with
the kids. I put them into three groups.
started with the smallest ones - handicapped Hama (9), Bakary
(now 7) and Sarata (5). I had prepared the simple dough in advance.
All I had to do was to roll it out and cut them loose. I had to
help Hama a little since this is hard for him. The other two did
a pretty good job. Then they used the colors I had brought from
the US to start decorating the cookies. Unfortunately Hama had
to leave for this part, as he's simply unable to do it.
this is the end result. We put the cookies in the oven, and 13
minutes later we had beautiful Christmas cookies - to eat at Christmas!
the next group came - Amadou (11) and Karim (14). They did the
best job decorating the cookies.
final group was Jérémie (14), Florentin (15) and
Daouda (11). This is the first Christmas ever for Karim and for
Daouda. Daouda was like a little boy, enjoying himself greatly.
We definitely had a good time. But I - old 37-year-old - was exhausted
after 3 hours in the kitchen with my kids. But it had been worth
it! Why does the box of cookies look so small though?
left for Goro in the morning; a 2-hour trip he makes every other
week. He had two boys with him. Everybody else stayed home.
Paul returned at 3 pm, I found out that a few neighbors and policemen
had been at our gate in the morning, asking to see me. Fanta talked
to them and told them that I was sleeping, and they left. They
had come on purpose while Paul was away. I have to say I'm thankful
Fanta responded as she did.
they said they'd be back in the afternoon. And so I prepared myself
mentally for the encounter, hoping it would not take place.
my knowledge, Paul sat down in front of our gate to wait for their
arrival. And they came - but without the policemen. He found out
that some neighbors' kids had severely beaten up one of the street
children this morning. The children's parents paid for the kid's
medical care, but now they blamed us and wanted us to pay those
expenses. AND, they called the police who took all the street
children with them.
explained to them that we had nothing to do with this incidence,
and that we're not responsible for the street kids. He was able
to appease the neighbors sufficiently for now so they would let
go of it. We still have the possible police investigation looming,
but thank God we have nothing to hide and the allegiations are
of our cooks who lives around the corner was scared when she saw
the neighbors get together for a meeting where they discussed
how to get at us. We also have an immediate neighbor who likes
us, and who is being attacked by the other neighbors because of
that. My heart goes out to her.
the end, there is only one reason they do not like us, and that's
Jesus. We are hated because we're Christians, and that is reason
to celebrate. I know that one day I'm going to prison for my faith.
May it not be any time soon.
the afternoon, our whole family watched a Christmas movie together
- even Paul who doesn't like movies.
it was already time for our nightly family meeting. As it was
the third Sunday in advent, we stayed in my living room and I
lit the third candle. We then took communion together; a precious
time. Then we went to the kids' living room, where we did the
logicists of every night and closed out the meeting. It was definitely
later than usual when they went to bed (because of the movie).
through the changes the editor had done through my book was way
overdue. I worked hard on it Wednesday, but got so frustrated
that I did not touch it Thursday and Friday. However, I knew had
to finish it; I had the last third of the book still ahead of
today was the day, and I got it done. The Lord really gave me
grace for it today. It was still hard to see all my stories -
even key parts - deleted, but I simply reinserted them and told
them I insist those passages stay. It seems to be their number
1 priority for me to stay at a certain word count. I told them
if it's THAT important, then I'd delete my appendix (which they
made into a chapter - which is not working anyway in my opinion).
I got my book mailed back to them, and can only hope they respect
my wishes. I really hope it still gets released in February or
so as planned. We're a little behind schedule.
I was working on the book, Paul was doing our weekly church service
which I heard was good.
in our family drew the name of a person to give Christmas presents
to, and my kids have started bringing me those presents. Most
of them give candy - or these remarkable cookies! Crazy!
the service we took our three birthday boys out to eat. The restaurant
next to the supermarket is their favorite. We had a great time
together. But the great time got even better when Christian's
birthday present for them turned out to be dessert. They don't
usually get dessert.
you can see, Bakary picked out an interesting little cake, and
was very happy to eat it.
the restaurant, we went to the supermarket to buy some groceries.
Though it was late, I had to take them upstairs where they have
these cool Christmas trees. They loved them. I wished we could
paid for our food and drove back home. The kids were full and
happy, and the 18-year-old even fell asleep in the car.
home the rest of the family was awaiting us impatiently, and we
did our nightly family meeting right away.
we celebrated four birthdays at once. Miché (non-resident
but always with us) turned 8 on Monday. Bakary turned 7 today;
the second anniversary of him living with us. Joseph is turning
18 tomorrow, and Jérémie is turning 14 tomorrow.
These last three moved in on these dates, and so we picked them
for their birthdays, estimating their ages.
made two cakes instead of one, which was a lot of work. I baked
them yesterday, and put the icing on today. After the kids got
home from school at 5:30 pm, it was time for our birthday celebration
Christian helped me carry the cakes out.
all sang HAPPY BIRTHDAY for them, and then they blew out the candles.
One was a white cake, and the other a chocolate cake. Now I only
have one cake mix left!!! Is that going to be enough until my
next trip west?
cut up the cakes and distributed them among everyone; about 20
people were present. A little bit was left over for tomorrow's
it was time for the presents. Everyone had a present for each
kid, and so everyone received a coke or fanta. The hope of getting
a soda is driving them to give the birthday kids gifts.
gave much-needed clothes to Bakary, Miché and Jérémie.
Since Joseph is turning 18, he got a special present: going to
driving school and getting his driver's license. As well as a
passeport, as I'm going to try to take him to the US with me later
next year. It's going to be a miracle if he gets a visa anyway.
But Joseph is right now our most spiritual child, most behaved
and faithful child, and I'm very proud of him.
giving them their gifts, I handed out the drinks. Then the party
was over. People in Mali don't celebrate birthdays, so our celebration
never lasts long.
wore a pin all day that said BIRTHDAY BOY. At our family meeting
tonight we all surrounded Bakary and prayed a birthday blessing
over him. Now that he's 7, he will join the older boys in the
chores they have to do. So far, he did the "little kids"
chores together with Sarata (5), which is turning the lights on
at night, giving the flashlight to our night guard, and emptying
the little trash can every day.
an intense day it has once again been, with an unpleasant encounter
diverted at the last moment. I'm proud of Paul who is handling
all these crises and attacks from people. He told me today that
he is called an enemy of Malians and asked why he helps me. The
problem with our neighbors is that they think all the street kids
around our base during the day are our kids, and so they hold
us responsible for their actions, whether it be stealing from
them or doing drugs. Paul has already talked to a few neighbors
trying to let them know that that is not so, and also talked to
the street children, asking those who do not spend the night on
our base to leave our neighborhood.
didn't come home on Monday, and was not seen on Tuesday. Paul
drove to his mother's house, but she had not seen Florentin. On
Wednesday Florentin showed up. He had spent the past three days
in the hills around our property. He told us he was leaving our
house for good because there were too many rules and he wanted
to be free. The plan was to drive him to his mother's house today
and transfer him to a school close to her house.
Paul still wanted to talk to him and change his mind, and I asked
Saloum (20) to talk to him who did not live with us for 1.5 years
and has great insight. He realized what he had with us and regretted
this afternoon I was told that Florentin had decided to stay,
and was in his room as he was grounded. What changed?
asked him at the family meeting. He said he was staying because
Paul told him so, and because he likes school. Hm. Is that going
to last? In any case, he's grounded for a few days.
had our weekly prayer meeting today, and it was actually pretty
good, thank God. Abdias showed up halfway through the meeting.
It was the first time I saw him in a while; he left our household
two weeks ago and started evening school a week ago. For that
reason he's not there when I read a Bible story to the street
children at night and let them open the advent calendars.
the prayer meeting I asked him to talk with me. I told him I wanted
him back in our family. He said he wanted that too. So I asked
him whether he was ready to submit to the house rules and obey
us? He didn't say a word. Finally I asked him whether he wanted
to think about it, and he said yes. I told him I was always available
if he wanted to talk, that I loved him and wanted my son back.
latest situation to sort out concerns our ministry in the US.
Our secretary is unwilling to carry the responsibility of signing
papers for the ministry, and I'm at a loss of knowing how to alleviate
her fears or sort out this situation. Please pray.
I worked hard all day going through the changes the editor made
to my book and became more and more frustrated. Whole stories
deleted, even key stories, just to get the word count down, but
5 summary points added at the end of each chapter that I asked
them to remove, but they are unwilling. I have one more third
to go, and I intend to be firm on not allowing those passages
deleted. What's the big deal if it's 50,000 or 53,000 words! The
book is becoming more and more a nighmare rather than a blessing.
we celebrate the birthdays of 4 of our kids, and so I'm making
two cakes. The kids love helping me, and so this morning I had
Jonathan (2.5) and Hama (9, handicapped) since the others were
sure were a great "help". Oh boy. I put a chair there
so Jonathan could see, and we held the different things together.
Good thing that the baking mixes don't take long to do.
got word in the course of the day today that Florentin was not
at school. That was sad and disappointing. I was wondering whether
he would come home tonight, but he didn't. I guess he left us
after all. We think that he went to his mother's house, but do
not have a phone number to confirm. I hope he'll be back.
(17) - another one of our rebellious kids - started evening school
tonight. I still haven't had a chance to talk to him since he
left our house.
not much more to say. I read the story of the Israelites leaving
Egypt to the street children tonight, they opened day 6 in the
advent calendars, and then we had our family meeting, where I
blessed our boys before they went to bed. With 3 kids at evening
school, and 2 out of the house, the living room seemed really
empty with only 8 or 9 children.
brought a beautiful teenage comic Bible with me from America,
and every night the boys want me to read a story to them, so I
do most nights. I translate it into French which means that most
kids don't understand anything. They still love it. Tonight it
was Job's story.
(17) still hasn't repented and returned to the house; he's sleeping
in the dining hall with the street kids, and was gone over night
on the weekend. He's starting evening school on Monday. I'd like
to see him return to our household, and start an apprenticeship.
past few days Florentin (15) has been causing problems. He's always
been a good kid, so I barely recognize him this way! I guess it's
the age. He was grounded all day today, as was Karim, and Bakary.
needed to leave the house at 5:30 pm to go downtown for the Christmas
program we attend every year. It's the missionary kids that put
on that program. Fanta decided to stay home, but Jonathan (2.5)
was going with us. Adama - our new day guard - was going with
us as well, since our night guard (supposedly) arrives at 6 pm
Florentin was still in rebellion mode and didn't want to come;
I told him he had no choice. However, he went outside without
shoes, I locked up the house, and then he said he could not come
without shoes. So I left him there, with Fanta. Whatever happened
to my model kid?
new driver and ex-kid Saloum (20) drove our pick-up truck, and
I sat next to him. It gave me an opportunity to talk to him. And
I was pleased with his driving skills, as it's been quite some
time since I last saw him drive.
was a few minutes after 6 pm when we arrived there, and the program
had already started. The room was also pretty full, so that we
had to split up to sit down. I had the little ones with me, Jonathan
sitting on my lap, Bakary and Sarata on one side, and Daouda on
the other. Daouda was leaning against me, and I realized again
how much physical affection these little ones need. They're definitely
not getting enough.
program was in English, but the kids enjoyed it anyway. They played
a Christmas drama with lots of Christmas songs. The whole program
lasted two hours with one break. I got to talk to one missionary
friend I hadn't seen in a while, and was disappointed to see that
another one wasn't there.
it was done, we left right away, and this time I was the designated
driver to take us home.
though it was later than usual, we did the family meeting in my
living room since it was the second Sunday in advent, and I lit
the second candle. We took communion together, and Florentin and
others chose not to participate rather than to repent and ask
forgiveness when I gave them the opportunity. We still had a precious
two weeks ago - on Sunday - Adama moved in with us. We counted
517 nights that he slept in our dining hall before then, which
is most nights over the past 2 years that kids have been able
to sleep here.
the arrival of Cliff and everything else that's been going on,
it was only today that we did the interview with Adama that we
usually do BEFORE a kid moves in. In the process we figured out
that he was actually 18 (not 15), and it was the first time that
I heard that he had given us a wrong last name back then. So today
I first heard his real last name.
just baptized Adama last Sunday. It's been wonderful to watch
his transformation over the past two years. Adama has a gentle
spirit and loves Jesus. This is his story:
Adama does not know when he was born, only that it was in Sikasso,
in the south of Mali. As long as he can remember, he lived with
his mother's brother who was married to one wife and had two children
of his own. Over the years, Adama saw his mother a few times,
but never his father. His mother died when he was in 12 years
old, and he was told that his father has died as well.
Adama was first sent to a Quranic school for a few years, though
he does not know how many. At the age of 10 he starts first grade
in a regular school since his uncle saw that that was more beneficial.
In the fourth grade he starts skipping school, walking around
on the streets, and staying away from home. For a whole year,
again and again his uncle would look for him and take him home.
However, Adama did not want to go to school, and did not want
to be beaten by his uncle any more. So at the age of 14, he finally
left Sikasso and went to Bamako to get away from his uncle.
In Bamako he is on the street for about 3 months before he first
comes to our center around Dec 2007. When we started opening our
doors for the street children to spend the night in a safe place,
Adama is among them, and one of the most frequent visitors. He
comes to know Jesus and starts a new life with him. In November
2010 Adama becomes our day guard, and is baptized in water.
Adama has one younger brother who still lives
with his uncle as far as he knows. He hasn't seen him since leaving
his uncle's household.
picture is from when Adama first came to sleep on our base two
We had our weekly prayer meeting, and it was exceedingly discouraging.
I asked for testimonies from this past week, and there was none.
I asked whether God had done ANYTHING, and no answer. I told them
that we were wasting our time, money and effort of inviting speakers
if that was the result.
finally handed the prayer meeting over to Paul, because I couldn't
take any more. I stood in a corner, tears rolling down my face
while praying and feeling like giving up.
always, the room wasn't ready for the meeting in time, and half
the kids were absent. Our cook had to be asked a few times to
come join us, and our night guard never showed up. The latter
shocked me the most after last night's discussion! I asked Paul
to talk to him and make him realize that he missed a meeting once
again which will reduce his salary at the end of the month. I
hope Paul did.
the kids are having their weekly music lesson. The teacher asked
if he could come twice a week, but I had to tell him that once
a week is already a struggle for us financially.
I've got to go do our family meeting... not that I feel like doing
it tonight, but I'm doing it anyway.
read the story of Jacob and Esau to the kids tonight. It breaks
my heart to see Abdias sitting among the kids (bent over boy in
blue pants in the forefront). He doesn't look at me. I wished
he could overcome his pride, humble himself, repent, and be restored.
How many weeks will it take this time?
the story, and asking questions to see whether they listened (many
didn't), it was time for the advent calendars. Every street kid's
number was in my box, and I drew one number out after another.
The kid with that number was then allowed to come up and open
the door for the day and get his candy.
knew their numbers would increase with the advent calendars, but
they already doubled from the first day to the second! We need
to buy more mattresses for them, but they are too expensive. It
would be nice to be able to do it though.
in the living room, we did our nightly family meeting, before
I retired to my office.
is a picture of one of our widows who received her monthly bag
of rice today. She has HIV, and is our most faithful widow in
terms of coming to our meetings.
Paul, Cliff and Kibet left early in the morning to drive the 2
hours to Goro to do ministry there. So I was the one person left
on our base to supervise the children. The started pretty normal,
and I was very thankful for that. I was hoping it would end without
incidence, but no such luck.
the first of the month, and at night I had to give our night guard
his salary. Two weeks ago I had a serious conversation with him
since he's not doing his job properly, never comes to the prayer
meeting, and is only there for the second half of the service
if at all. I told him that I would be taking off a certain amount
of his salary for every missed meeting. He said he understood.
And did not come to the two prayer meetings since.
he received his reduced salary - and minutes later an angry night
guard stood at my door. He acted as if he didn't know, and did
not want to accept it. I reminded him that he signed a contract
that he would be at those meetings, and that I had warned him
two weeks ago.
incident really got to me. I was disappointed by his reaction.
I grabbed a little story book, five advent calendars, and went
over to the dining hall where the street kids were. I read them
the story of Abraham, and then we drew which kids could open the
advent calendars and have the goody inside.
in the house, we had our family meeting, I read them a story from
the teenage comic Bible, and they went to bed.
returned from the village at 4:30 pm, which gave our visitors
one hour before having to leave for the airport. They stopped
at a restaurant on the way back from the village.
heard that it was a good meeting in the village. These are a few