the morning, Paul went to Dra, the village he is pastoring, after
a short break to prepare for his exams. Things are going well
the afternoon, it was time for our weekly service. Today's sermon
was probably more for myself, as I spoke about "hope".
In fact, the service was one of the most frustrating we've had
in quite some time, very disouraging. I was wondering whether
it's even worth continuing "church", and if we could
even call this a church. I was shocked by people's and kids' behavior.
talking about hope, I also talked about fixing my eyes on what
God has shown me things would look like for us a few years down
the road, rather than looking at today's circumstances. I shared
some examples of hopeless situations from my life, and holding
on to God's promises over years. I also mentioned Paul's visa,
that if God told me for him to come with me on this trip, then
God is the one who will issue the visa, and we have no reason
it worked for Paul, but not for me. When I prayed at the end of
the service, God's presence really touched Paul who had to kneel
down on the floor. I was very surprised. After the service, he
asked me to give him a suitcase so he can start packing!!! While
he's convinced he'll have the visa, I'm convinced he won't, even
after my own sermon. It probably has to do with my spiritual life
being pretty much on the bottom right now, far from where I'd
like it to be. I'm looking forward to the upcoming needed break,
and hope I'll return to Mali invigorated and encouraged for the
the service a widom came up to me - she had actually missed the
service and had just arrived. She's one of the ladies we've given
rice to to help them out, and she's so thankful, she's come to
our services a few times. But today she came to give me a gift
(she's a tailor). She gave me beautiful Malian clothes. How precious!
two and a half years with me, Fousseni moved back in with his
Dad on January 1st. I knew it wouldn't be easy for him, but that
it would be a great test of his faith.
passed with flying colors! He's been a light, and has been standing
firm in his faith, even when the pressures from his Muslim family
were on. But now it's come to the point that he cannot stay there
any more, as his family won't accept his resistance to do Muslim
rituals any more. Fousseni is 18, but that doesn't mean a thing.
told him he's welcome to move back in with us, and he told me
he's afraid because his family threatened to harm me, if he did
that, as well as take Fousseni to the police. I told him not to
fear anything, Jesus is more powerful and they cannot harm us.
the latest twist is that his family insists on him joining the
military. His uncle is in the military, and has already set everything
up, including paying money to make it happen. But now Fousseni
wants to be a pastor, and not go into the military. So his family
told him he would have to pay back what they have already spent.
time later Fousseni came back telling us that he would have to
start in the military on Monday, if he doesn't bring them the
money. He's 18, and still cannot refuse. Makes me think of him
as a modern-day slave! And it was up to us now to buy his freedom!
bugged me how much power his family has over him, an adult now,
and being pressured into giving them that money. Fousseni actually
told me that his family HAD taken him to the police station, but
gave him the money, and told him to move back in with us as soon
as possible. He's still feaful of taking that last step. Please
pray for him!
embassy had told Paul they'd inform him within the week whether
he's granted a visa or not, but today it was 10 days, and no word.
So Paul went to the embassy where he was given a phone number.
explained to the officer that he needs to know either way since
we have preparations to make before the trip, and the officer
just told him to be patient while they do their investigation,
and that that was why people need to come a few months before
their travels to apply for the visa. They would inform him next
week - which is the last week before our trip.
frustrating to have to keep waiting! I've lost all hope for him
to get the visa, while Paul is more confident.
we had several hours of fun time, myself with 11 of my kids. We
played OUTDOOR ADVENTURE on the Wii, a very active, fun game.
It's a little hard with so many players, but it worked out very
well, and we had a great time together. We need to do that more
of kids finally got their glasses - after months of waiting because
we didn't have the funds to pay for them. For Abdias (right),
this is his fourth pair in a year or so, for the others, it's
are all happy to have glasses now. Jérémie (12)
is on the left, and Amadou (9) on the right.
also hadn't taken any pictures of Hama and Sarata this year yet.
So this is a new picture of Hama. He's 8 now. I'm glad the teeth
finally start coming out, as he lost the first ones a long time
couldn't get a good picture of Sarata, but it will come.
feel overwhelmed right now by the important decisions up in the
air - those I have to take, and those others are taking for us.
includes Paul's visa - today it's a week that he went for his
interview, and he was told they'd inform him within the week whether
he gets it or not. If they don't call him by Friday, Paul will
one out of our hands is the Christian school. The director told
me today that he can only offer me 1-2 spots per grade, and that
all the kids have to take a test to see what level they are at.
What if there are more than 2? The test is on July 10th - very
inconvenient, as we won't be here.
difficult decisions I have to make have to do with our village
pastor primarily, but also some other things.
week we had our service on Sunday because Paul had his last day
of exams on Saturday. He said his exams went well. He'll get the
results in a month or so.
doing a series on Christian vertues, after integrity and courage,
today was about moderation, and generosity, and the chasing after
riches. It worked out really well.
week Saturday, Rosalie's fourth child was born - their first girl.
Dami told me they'd announce the child's name in the service.
Paul told me before the service already that they would name their
girl after me - Hawa. I was touched being honored that way.
service starts at 3 pm. Before it started, I took this picture
of our youngest children. From left: Bakary (5), Jonathan (1),
Sarata (4), Hama (8).
started with leading Bambara praise, and did a great job as always.
The picture shows part of the congregation - mainly street kids,
and our own kids in the first row.
it was my turn to lead French worship. I came back from my last
trip with software to project the lyrics of the songs we sing,
which has been great. We had an above average time of worship,
which was great.
it was time for the baby dedicaton of little Hawa. Dami &
Rosalie came forward, and their three boys as well. I then prayed
for little Hawa, and for her parents, and we all congratulated
them. What a joy!
it was time for the sermon. We concluded by praying together,
asking God forgiveness for where our heart was with earthly treasures
rather than heavenly treasures, etc.
we've been using the projector during the service, we started
showing a movie after our services. Tonight it was Narnia, and
the kids all loved it, of course.
had some pictures taken with my new dress - I really like it.
I've now reached my lowest weight since starting my weight loss
journey two years ago, and am excited that there are two more
weeks to lose weight before my US trip (9 weeks US - that's scary,
weight-wise). My goal is to leave the "obese" camp for
the "overweight" camp before leaving (though I won't
stay there long, eating American food...).
keep praying for him to get the visa for the US. This week we'll
be informed of their decision. The uncertainty is really weighing
me down big time - I don't want to have spent the money on his
tickets for nothing, as they're not refundable. I'm also concerned
for Paul's health, if he doesn't go to the clinic, and a whole
other list of things. The other night I dreamed about the trip
to the US, and Paul was at my side. May it be so!
Last Few Days
Hama and Sarata had a "party" at their school, to celebrate
the end of the school year. The teacher allowed for other kids
to come as well and enjoy the swimming pool, and so three of my
other kids - younger ones - went as well, and enjoyed it.
was my first time at the new school location, and it's quite a
bit farther away than where they were the last few months. The
prices have gone up too. I don't think either Hama or Sarata will
be there next year. I want Sarata to go to the Christian school
with the other kids, and Hama to go to that school for handicapped
children. We need to try to find it this week and check it out.
for the Christian school, I was told they won't have room for
all my kids. Please pray that at least our resident kids get in.
That's another decision that will be taken in the days to come.
thing that happened was that we found out once again that our
village pastor has deceived us. We warned him very clearly last
time, and I'm at the point of separating from this deceiving,
dishonest pastor. The sad thing is, if we do, we will also "lose"
the 5 churches we have in this area, 4 of which we planted. But
I really don't know what else to do. Please pray for wisdom, as
this is also weighing me down.
Dramane (16) - He's obviously left the house and returned to the
street he came from - after 9 months with us. Dramane always had
some kind of mental problem, being extremely slow of understanding.
The other street kids told us that Dramane has gone downtown.
Fousseni (18) - Fousseni has shared the problems he has with his
Dad before. Fousseni moved out of our house on January 1st, and
back in with his father. His father is Muslim, and has been very
insistant on Fousseni doing the ritual washing every morning,
and giving him more and more of a hard time, telling him he is
disgracing him by not doing him, and dishonoring him and the whole
family. That's hard for Fousseni, but he's stayed true to his
faith, which is very impressive. He's become such a fine young
man of God!
glad every time I see him, and I knew one day he would be back
with us. I immediately invited him to move back in with us, and
Paul was in total agreement. How ironic that we now have a free
bed because Dramane left.
I told Fousseni that our carpenter Caleb might soon move in with
us, and he could be his assistant, he was overjoyed. Fousseni
is currently working a little at a carpenter's shop, and just
loves the work. Hopefully it's all gonna work out the way I'm
Moussa (18) - Moussa is our day guard, and for these past few
days I've been thinking about sending him to driving school. We
asked him today, and he really liked the idea. Maybe he could
be the one becoming our new driver after the summer break. That
would also enable us to give another one of the older street kids
the chance to stay with us as day guard. We have two boys in particular
in mind. It all seems to come together perfectly!
had his first day of exams today - English. Tomorrow he has exams
all day, two subjects, and then he has the last subject on Saturday
morning. Please keep praying for him.
glad he listened to me today and lay down in the afternoon, because
he was pretty tired.
ended up spending more time with the kids, playing games with
them as well. Unfortunately I also had more opportunity to see
what they do and be shocked at their actions, and frustrated.
Three kids were grounded in their room today - and still, as soon
as I left, they would be outside or do what they're not supposed
to do. They don't seem to care.
other day I asked how to make them do their stuff - we already
have a system of rewards and punishment. For example, how do you
make them flush the toilet? They don't, and it smells really bad
in the bathroom all the time. I can hardly stand next to them
and watch them pee! Tonight I told them I'd install a camera to
see who doesn't do it....
morning we had to leave the house at 7:45 am since Paul had his
visa interview at the American embassy at 8:30. We barely made
it there on time, since it was quite far, and there was lots of
first stood in line outside. The gard had a list of people whose
interview was scheduled today, and he let in two people at the
time. We then had to go through security where we had to leave
our cellphones, water, and camera, before moving on.
we got inside, there was a huge crowd of people waiting. We soon
found out that most of them would be ahead of us. Paul deposited
his papers, and then we had to sit down and wait. Half an hour,
an hour, two hours, then three, and four. Would we ever get out
of there? I had nothing to read with me - how stupid - and we
didn't do much talking.
time went on and it got quieter, we were able to listen to the
interviews. They had like bank tellers, with the guys behind glass
with a microphone, and so we had the American on the other side
pretty well, and could also hear what the Malian on this side
we watched, one person would leave with his visa, while another
would leave in tears without it. It seemed that there were more
denials than visas, and my heart started to sink.
four and a half hours, it was finally Paul's turn. I went with
him, and the American officer asked who I was. I told him I was
Paul's employer, and that Paul was going to travel with him. Then
he told me to leave and let him speak alone with Paul. Great!
I was hoping Paul would give the right answers.
could hear most every word both of them were saying, as I was
waiting. Sometimes I cringed at Paul's answers, but on the whole,
it was okay.
times we'd had the words, "I'm so sorry..." in the previous
hours. I didn't hear them this time, but was totally shocked when
Paul walked away with his passport in hand (if you get the visa,
if you have to come back the following day to pick up your passport).
I asked him what had happened.
he neither got the visa, nor was it denied. The officer told Paul
they wanted to investigate "something" and would let
Paul know next week whether he gets the visa or not. He also returned
the two references to Paul!
do they want to investigate? How are they going to investigate?
No clue. But please pray for a positive outcome. I'd be in shock
if Paul doesn't get his visa, and would doubt ever having heard
from God to take Paul on this trip with me.
we got back home, the kids thought we were kidding when we said
that Paul hadn't gotten his visa.
the embassy, we were both pretty much in shock. I had wanted to
go to the grocery store, but it was after 1 pm and the store was
closed for lunch break. We still went to the restaurant as planned
- though not to celebrate. We went over the interview, talking
about all kinds of things. While we were both disappointed, it
seemed to me that Paul had more confidence than me that he would
get the visa.
pray with us!
At Bus Station
afternoon the kids asked me whether they could leave the property,
and I said no. I found out later that they had already asked Paul,
who had given them the same answer. And still, three of them decided
to go outside.
played soccer outside, and then Abdias - who's been with us the
longest - said he would go to the bus station. They know it's
strictly forbidden to do that. Joseph went back inside, and then
it was Dramane who actually did leave to go to the bus station.
Abdias stayed in the neighborhood.
were shocked when we heard that. They know not to do that! And
Dramane didn't come home, but is spending the night back out on
the streets we got him off from last September. I wonder whether
he's going to school tomorrow - it's exam week - or if he wants
to return to the street. I guess we'll find out more tomorrow.
was extremely upset about their behavior, while I stayed calm.
Abdias has been pushing it for quite some time, as he feels like
we would never kick him out. He thinks he can get away with anything!
you have any idea how we can effectively punish the kids, I'm
all ears. Staying in their room or not giving them pocket money
doesn't seem to have a big effect.
the evening, I spent some precious moments with the street kids
and my kids. It had done me good to leave the house today, rather
than sitting at my desk all day. I don't know why it's so hard
for me to go outside and be with the children, rather than working
in the office. I appreciated every moment of being with the children
- and so did they.
several of my kids and Paul had a cold, it was now my turn. Sick
or not, a Mom has got to make a birthday cake for her kids, and
so I did. It's Hama's 8th birthday today, and it was Jonathan's
1st birthday a few days ago.
tonight, we got together for cake and gifts, and Hama loved it!
Jonathan is still too small to understand. Hama got underwear
and a teddy-bear, and kid's toothpaste, and some sweets from other
Last Few Days
haven't heard much from me this week. There hasn't been that much
to report, and the same-old frustrations and discouragements have
resurfaced. Paul and I are both pretty much worn out. We really
need more people, new people, to come help us, before we're gone,
with nothing left to give.
interview for his US visa is on Wednesday - please keep that in
your prayers. He just NEEDS this US trip so badly right now, especially
for His health!
week our Christian carpenter Caleb came over; I hadn't seen him
in months, and so it was really good to see him. He shared with
me that his wife has decided to divorce him; they have two children.
It looks like she's not willing to give it another try, and it
breaks his heart. She wants to keep the kids, and so does he.
I told him that when the day comes that he has to move out, our
doors are open with him - with or without kids. He'll then set
up his workship in our courtyard, which was planned all along.
for our driver, more negative things are coming to light, and
I can't wait until school is out soon, and he's gone. Please pray
for a new driver!
keep praying that the Christian school has room for our kids -
another challenge in that is how to transport 20 kids to school
with our pickup truck! It's one thing transporting the street
kids, and another transporting our children - many of them young
- back and forth to school. We need a bus!
husband is a bus driver, but he's had a bad experience working
for a mission, and that's why he doesn't want to work for us.
Instead, he keeps looking for a job and not finding one. Jeanette
comes to our house twice a week for a few hours to do cleaning
- she was trained by Americans, and does a great job. If her husband
came to work for us, it would be perfect. They have two children.
morning it was time to go to Air France and get Paul's plane ticket
to the US. It is paid with my collected airmiles, but still expensive
enough because of all the airport taxes. And unfortunately there
is more to pay for the flights within the US, since I wasn't able
to pay those with miles.
France moved some time back, and I had never been to their new
location. We only knew what part of town it's in. As we approached,
we tried calling them, to no avail, and then I saw a signpost
which was a relief. In the end we did have to ask one time, but
we found it.
first the lady couldn't find the reservation, but in the end she
did, and we took care of all the formalities. I had to give up
92,000 miles and a few hundred dollars, and Paul has a plane ticket
to the US! He was so overwhelmed, he could barely speak. It's
a dream come true for him. Now let's pray that he gets his visa
on the 17th of June. I'm going to the interview with him.
there we drove to the big supermarket that I rarely go to because
it's such a long way from us. But it's the only place you get
cat litter, and I desperately need some for my cat. I don't know
what they do when I'm not here, because they use up so much -
much more than I do!
was shocked to find that they didn't have any. I asked one of
the managers, and he said that possibly some will come in in a
few days, but they don't know for sure. Oh great!
took advantage of being there buying some other stuff, and then
we started on our long way home.
Time With Kids
all honesty, I'm an office person. I love doing administrative
stuff, and there is lots to do. This past week, I spent so much
time in the office, and hardly any with my kids, that I was really
annoyed about that by Sunday night. Why is it so hard for me to
get out of the office? Would that ever change? Was there any hope?
Monday, it was planned to pick up the literacy class for street
children again - however, there was some event somewhere, and
only one kid from the class was here, so it was canceled. Hopefully
we can do it tomorrow.
I took the card game I had brought back from Austria and asked
my boys whether they wanted to play. A good number of them said
yes, and we had a great time playing together.
then told them about the educational games I had brought back,
including software to learn typing with the 10-finger-system.
I had bought it before, but the CD was lost. Souleymane was eager
to get going again, and so I set up the computer and the software,
and off he went. He did a great job! Then we put in another one
helping with math, French, and English. The other kids were watching
a movie at the same time.
then it was already time for the family meeting and bed. I hugged
each child before they took their mattresses to go to the top
of the roof to sleep.
had spent hours with my children, instead of being in the office,
and it felt good!
we got home from Air France, our boys were already back from school
- that is all but one. They told us that Jérémie
had left school during break-time, and had not come back. His
backpack and all his stuff was still at school. Nobody knew where
he had gone and what had happened.
Paul nor I thought that Jérémie had left to leave
our house - not him. Why hadn't he come back? Had something happened
to him? We were hoping he'd be back for the afternoon class.
Jean came back after 5 pm, bringing the kids home from school,
Jérémie was with them. We were relieved. We sat
down to talk to him. He told us he had gone outside to buy something,
and then just decided to go visit the bus station - the place
where all the street kids are and where he used to live. When
he got there, he met Moise - the boy who lived with us for half
a year, and then simply left the house to return to the street.
Together they decided to go visit Moise's family. On the way there,
they had to pass by the school, and Souleymane happened to see
him and stopped him. That's how we found him and brought him back
said that he had planned to come home in the evening, when Jean
picks up the kids at the bus station. He had acted very innocently
in all this, but understood that it wasn't right. He asked forgiveness,
and as punishment cannot leave his room for three days, and the
property for longer (except for school).
the way, now that Moise has been back on the street for a few
months, he wants to come back to live with us! We haven't seen
him since the day he snuck out.
on Saturday that we have our service, and I was actually looking
forward to it. The first service after a trip, I'm always still
motivated and encouraged, and full of hope. That then wanes over
the weeks when nothing's coming back.
couldn't remember whether the service is at 3 pm or 4 pm, since
we've had seasons of both times. When nothing was ready at 2:30
pm, I assumed it was 4 pm. I was shocked to find out later that
3 pm was the right time. Why had they not prepared anything, or
said anything? Had anyone turned around and gone home when there
was no service at the usual time?
wasn't doing well, having a headache and vertigo. I gave him some
medication, because he wouldn't have made it through the service
in the state he was in. I'm so glad he'll be going to the clinic
Belgium I was given software to project songs and verses onto
the wall, and today was the first time we used it. It worked great!
I love it! Abdias had the honor of operating it, and did a great
also had Souleymane accompany me on the drum set for the first
time. He's made a lot of progress! Once a week a music teacher
comes into the house, teaching them guitar, piano and drums.
was raining pretty hard outside, but I was glad to see so many
people show up. The building was pretty full!
started a series on Christian virtues - a very needed topic -
and started today with the topic of integrity - also very much
needed here. I didn't feel I did a great job, but it was still
good. I could tell that everyone started listening up when I shared
a story from my life that so illustrated what I had been explaining.
That's when I got their attention, and got them thinking!
the end I had them stand up, if they wanted to ask God to search
their hearts, and show them where they needed to make things right
in their lives. Many got up. I prayed, and the service was over.
introduced me to a new lady - a widow - who had brought her son.
She had received a bag of rice from us a few weeks back, and now
has come repeatedly to the service. She has 7 children, and is
all alone, and was very touched by the gift of rice.
was so glad to see one of my sons again who doesn't live with
us any more - Fousseni. He's really grown, and I'm so proud of
him! I gave him a Bible since his had been stolen, and he was
so happy, telling me how much he's wanted a Bible! I was sad to
see him leave again, and am looking forward to the day when he'll
be back with us.
the service, we took a much-needed new family picture with everyone
(except our driver). Here it is!
from left: Claudia, Paul, Moussa, Joseph, Dramane, Souleymane,
Fanta with Jonathan
Sitting from left: Jérémie with Bakary, Boubacar,
Florentin, Amadou with Sarata, Abdias, Hama
was still raining outside, and I offered the street kids to watch
a movie tonight. I brought back WALL-E with me, and they loved
it! After the movie was done, I finished showing the pictures
from Austria, and they loved seeing the Malian president with
me! Souleymane then told me that I was seen on Malian television
with him as well. Wonderful!
Thursday we had our weekly prayer meeting. I felt the so well-known
feeling of discouragement come on and fought it off. Nobody was
there at the time of prayer, and they all reluctantly showed up
one by one, obviously not very keen to pray.
went into a time of worship and then did some intercession for
different subjects. It was all rather hard-going, and we didn't
do the typical 2 hours. I really don't know how things can change,
unless God shows up.
is a new picture of Fanta with one-year old Jonathan.
two days have passed, and I'm catching up on writing blogs. The
heat and fasting have gotten to me, and decreased my productivity.
afternoon Paul and I went to the Christian school where we're
hoping to place our kids next year. The director was late, and
when his assistant called him, she found out from his wife that
he was sleeping. So we waited a while longer until he showed up.
found out more about the school, and are both excited about this
opportunity. I didn't know the school was initiated by a group
in Europe, and therefore needs to keep certain guidelines, like
maximum number of students in a class, and even in the school.
For that reason, there are not many spaces available, and it's
not a given at all that they will have room for our 20+ children.
The director told us he'll let us know in about two weeks. Please
pray - it's either all the kids or no one since we can't be dropping
off kids at three schools every day, with Hama already going to
is a picture of Amadou and our dog Uppy with her puppies nursing.
since the beginning both Paul and I have not had a good feeling
about our driver Jean. We've even tried to find a new driver,
but without success so far.
Saturday he got married, but he has no intentions for his wife
to come join us here! Live separate lives? None of my kids even
wanted to go to his wedding; they're saying he's become strange.
there are some weird things going on, and in all honesty, I just
want him to leave as soon as possible - but not before school
is out in a few weeks. We'll just have to make it through the
summer and hope we have a new driver by the time school starts
again in fall. It's definitely not easy when I'm the only one
with a driver's license around - and I've already paid driving
school for 4-5 people!!!
kids were eager to see the pictures of my trip - especially the
ones with the Malian president. In fact, I heard that I was seen
on national television with the president, on the news. Cool.
set up the projector, and I got my computer out. Everyone was
there. I was nearly through the pictures, when it started to rain,
and we quickly had to get everyhing inside. Two pictures before
the ones they'd been waiting for!! So we need to do it another
was great to see Fanta and her baby this morning; she had brought
their stuff over yesterday, and today she came to stay. Praise
Hama and Sarata came home from school, they ran to me for joy.
I love these kids so much, and was so happy to have them back!
All day long they wanted to be with me, but that wasn't possible
all the time. The third boy in the picture is Bakary, who is no
longer our youngest now. It's interesting though, how his behavior
has changed. I haven't spent as much time with him yet, and he
suddenly came over to me, copying the other ones.
also saw our little puppies; they are now 2 months old, and we
still need to find owners for 4 of them.
spent a lot of time with the kids today, rather than unpacking
and catching up on work. We set up this "jumping castle"
for the little kids to have fun on. In the picture it's Boubacar
who is on there. The kids really enjoy it.
then I wanted to set up the swimming pool, knowing how much my
kids love the water. We put some sand on the ground first, and
then starting to pump up the swimming pool.
and Sarata tried as well :-)
was excited! Hama, Sarata, and Bakary went into the water right
away, enjoying the little slide. Then the others wanted to get
in also. I allowed Florentin and Boubacar to get in. And finally
I relented and allowed the big kids to get in - but only one at
the time. We had much fun!
was glad not to have to get up early, but woke up earlier than
planned, which was just fine. I finished packing, had breakfast,
got rid of all the trash from the removed packaging of stuff I
had bought, and went online one last time. I weighed my three
suitcases and they were 32 (the max), 30 and 25 kilos. That meant
18 kilos over the limit, and I'm allowed 20 extra kilos as a platinum
carried them all downstairs to the main entrance - my last workout
in Austria, I guess. At 10 am my Mom came to take me to the airport.
We loaded up the car, and I said good-bye to my grandmother. And
off we went.
went straight to the business check-in with a young lady who hadn't
dealt with additional luggage before, it seemed. I had to tell
her how it worked, and that I have to pay for the 3rd suitcase,
but do have 20 extra kilos for free. It all worked out fine.
Mom and I then had half an hour for our traditional last few minutes
sitting down in a coffee shop at the airport. Then it was time
to say good-bye for another year - or until I come back to celebrate
my wedding, since that should be before then, if the prophetic
word is true.
boarded my plane to Paris, where I had less than an hour to be
in the frequent flyer lounge, have a snack, and check mails. When
I got to the gate, I received an upgrade to business class, which
was a great surprise! I've never been upgraded flying from Paris
flight is five and a half hours - not very long. There was a nuisance
though with the one flight attendant who had something against
me for some reason, and who shocked me with his behavior towards
me. I had to address other flight attendants and avoid him! Unbelievable!
still enjoyed the ride, watching movies, and eating my last Western
meal - though I actually prefer the "normal" meal of
economy class to the classy meal of stuff you never eat and don't
was excited to get home, and a little anxious of what news Paul
would have for me since I hadn't talked to him in a few days.
We arrived, and this time they didn't give us the immigration
forms to fill out on the plane. Thankfully, I always bring one
myself and had filled it out back in Austria, so I was able to
go straight to the immigration officer.
changes had been made since my last arrival in Mali. Now they
check your vaccination passport even before immigration, and they
look closely. And then, there were no more carts for your luggage!!!
I asked them, and they said they're outside! All the porters were
gone too! Would I have to haul my three suitcases, carry-on, and
handbag myself? Of course, it's a lot more pleasant for the arriving
tourists this way, since we used to be bombarded by masses of
people and porters wanting to help you.
then I already saw my three suitcases - they were the first ones
out! That has never happened before! I ran to get them all off
before they disappeared again. I had no cart, and carried them
individually over to the x-ray machine. Now to the challenge of
lifting them up! I put them all on the belt, and went to the other
side. I had been praying that they wouldn't stop me, and so far
most people were still filling out their immigration forms, and
I was the only one there with her luggage! But there wasn't anything
they considered worth stopping me for, thank God!
then a guy came with a few carts, and I asked if I could have
one. Thank God! The officer at the exit checked whether I had
the correct luggage, and out I went.
were lots of people, and I simply kept walking to the end of the
"hallway". I was expecting Paul to appear in front of
me any second, but he didn't. Oh great! Where were they? I stood
there, with all my luggage, looking around, having several Malians
target me for different reasons. What to do? I didn't have a phone
card to recharge my phone, and even all the card sellers were
gone! The airport had done a good job getting rid of every service
they used to have! (Or nuisance?) Thankfully, I always have Malian
money on me, and one guy agreed to go and buy me a phone card.
He came back a short time later, I charged the phone, and called
Paul. He was right there! They hadn't seen me come out.
guy who had bought the card for me wanted Euros, and I told him
I didn't have any. I asked Paul to give him some Malian money,
but he didn't have any either, and the guy left. We loaded up
the car, and went on our way home. Paul hadn't brought any children,
since they have to rise early to go to school. There were only
him and the driver.
the way home we talked in the car, and there weren't any horrible
news for me - thank God! Back home, all the kids were already
sleeping. I walked into the house, where the heat greated me,
as well as my cat who was all friendly (not a given!). I didn't
do much unpacking as I was rather tired; in Austria it was already
two hours later.
was good to be home, and sleep on my mattress again. I turned
on the AC, hoping it would last through the night. It would take
a little time to get used to the heat again (34°C in the house,
i.e. 93°F), and my cat who wanted attention even while I sleep.