lady who gave me these clothes at a gift came by a few days ago,
and asked me about them. I told her I had worn them for the service,
but she hadn't come. She said she'd come this week if I put them
on. I said I would, but she didn't come.
went smoothly today, which was a delight. God gave me the message
to preach at the prayer meeting last night, and His anointing
was so strong on the words I spoke. I was amazed as the Holy Spirit
spoke, and saw a few people listen carefully, which is unfortunately
the end of meeting, I did an altar all, and as always, it's the
kids who came forward. I don't know how to get through to the
could see the hunger for more of God in some of their eyes, and
was glad to pray for them. It had been an awesome service.
took the people from our old neighborhood back there. Abdias took
his picture. So far things are going okay with him. He's now been
our driver for 3 weeks.
time for celebration wasn't over yet. We had Florentin's 14th
birthday to celebrate. I made my traditional cake, and stuck in
candles. Abdias took the picture on the left in the dark - and
it's Souleymane who's making the face, with Florentin behind him.
The other picture shows Florentin opening the gift I gave him
- nice, traditional clothes to wear for special occasions.
are all focused on the preparations for our first big conference
in two weeks. Our construction manager Kossi is doing great work
getting the grounds ready, and it looks nicer each day. This picture
shows his workers starting to build the platform for our conference.
this picture they have already made great progress, and the kids
test-laid the hole for the baptismal.
has gotten paint on credit from the seller so the outside of the
dining hall could also be painted and finished by the time the
conference starts. The workers have been working hard, and while
the walls are done, now the windows and doors have to be painted.
day there is a long list of errands to run, and Paul is constantly
driving around town with our driver. Some things are taken care
of quickly, other things take longer. This picture shows the banner
for our gate. It will be tied to the top, facing outward, welcoming
our guests. The writing is not straight, but what can you do...
completed our first week of fasting, and it went so so. Most of
the kids really struggle, but they're trying. I told them it doesn't
matter if they fail, as long as they try again.
we had our weekly prayer meeting, and we had a great time worshiping
number of street kids coming to spend the night at our place increases
every day now, and I'm amazed that we have new kids every day.
It's wonderful to see, and once again, we'll be baptizing a bunch
Saturday we took a new family picture - it was high time for that.
from left: Florentin, Boubacar, Bakary, Sarata, Hama, Amadou,
Jérémie, Fanta, Jonathan
from left: Claudia, Paul, Augustin, Souleymane, Joseph, Paul Jr,
I invited Paul and his fiancée Rokia out for lunch. Rokia
is very timid, and I haven't heard one word from her yet. There
have also been tensions, and I was accused of having something
against her. So it was high time to clear that up.
had to go to the other end of town to the big supermarket there
for quite some time; it's the only place where you can get cat
food. Finding out that they are open Sunday morning has been great
news. There's a lot less traffic on weekends, and my favorite
restaurant is around the corner from there. We rarely get to go
there since it's so far.
picked up Rokia who is living with Paul's family right now, and
started our long trip across town. Paul and I did most of the
talking, strategizing for our upcoming conference. There's a lot
to think of!
arrived at the supermarket and bought enough cat food to last
for half year, plus some other things. It was Rokia's first time
in a supermarket, and also her first time in an elevator.
there we went to the restaurant - finally a chance to talk. Paul
was our interpreter where needed. We had a good time talking.
It was Rokia's first time in a restaurant, and she watched Paul
to know how to use the silverware.
loves the restaurant for its famous milkshakes, and so they got
a strawberry one which they enjoyed.
it was time start our long trip home. I could tell that Paul was
really happy, and thanked me profoundly. I told him that I really
like Rokia. Of course, she has a lot of work ahead of her to become
a pastor's wife. She only did very little schoolwork as a child,
and is illiterate. School started two weeks ago, and she's still
not started. Paul said he's been so busy. I told him she needs
to get started...
is determined that she's the one he's going to marry. It's interesting
that she wants to do the marriage preparation course, but Paul
is the one who doesn't. I got one in French last year, and just
found out that that course is actually for married couples, and
not for those wanting to get married. Now I have to find a new
one. If you can recommend any materials, please let me know.
more new pictures:
just got glasses - more and more of our kids need glasses, and
it's another strain on our finances.
hadn't taken a new picture of Sarata in quite some time, so here
- a new picture of Fanta who is Sarata's, Hama's and Jonathan's
was crying yesterday because of her firstborn Hama who is handicapped.
He's now 8 years old and getting bigger, and it's hard on her.
It seems like Hama has taken steps backwards, suddenly dirting
his pants again when he used to be able to say when he needs a
bathroom. Plus a few other things. She's also concerned that she
won't be able to wash him any more with him getting bigger. I
told her that we are a family, and we're all here to help her,
that she's not alone in this.
has his appointment at the school for handicapped children a week
from today. I hope that that is going to work out.
that we have a driver, he's picking up Elisabeth again to cook
for us. That liberates Fanta, who helps me out in the household
for about two hours each day. But first, we do class. I've started
teaching her to read and write Bambara. Fanta has never gone to
school in her life, so it's extremely difficult for her. It takes
all the patience I've got, and it will take a long time for her
to learn it, but she will. We do about half an hour every morning,
and she wants to learn.
preparations for our conference and visitors are moving forward
at full speed. The list of things to do doesn't get any shorter.
Paul is the one running the errands around town, while I do what
can be done on the base and in the office. Our biggest concern
is that we don't have any money right now, and have no clue how
to pay for everything.
addition, we have to pay for the school uniforms now, and with
24 children in school, that's considerable expense. Lord, send
our construction manager came, and the list of things for him
to do had doubled since last seeing him. It's exciting to see
things getting done, and the place where the meetings will be
change slowly. I told him today that we need a platform made,
and so we talked about the details for that, including the little
baptismal. Only 18 days to go!
is the only day the kids don't have school in the afternoon. Paul
was informed that his nephew had died, and his funeral was this
afternoon, so he was called away, and our weekly prayer meeting
postponed to tomorrow (hopefully).
we started going door-to-door in our neighborhood to invite people
to our conference in three weeks. Two teams went yesterday, and
one team today. Some people chase them away, wanting nothing to
do with Christians, others say they want lots of food and meat,
and others ask whether we can give them money; finally others
say they'll come.
have two teams coming in November - the only teams of this year
- and the second one (from France) is literally coming on the
heels of the first one (from the US). We're housing most of them
on our base, and so Augustin (driver) and Paul need to move temporarily.
I've been thinking about how to do this the best way. We have
two bunk beds that are not in use - one in the living room on
the kids' side, and the other one is used by me. The top bunk
I use for storage, and I sleep on the bottom bunk. I realized
weeks ago it was time to give up that bed since we'll need it
for our visitors.
today was the day. I cleared off the stuff, wondering where I'd
put it, and called our carpenter to come over and take it apart
to put it back together in Augustin's room. He came, and it was
good to talk to Caleb again. He's a Christian, and I love him
dearly. He's married with two kids, but has some problems. Caleb
is going to move in with us, and work with us, in the future.
We need more room first for more people.
came to help me out with cleaning and putting away stuff. It was
fun working together with him. I then finished the rest myself,
putting the queen-sized mattress into my room that I haven't slept
on in a long time. It's the only good mattress on our base! It
will be wonderful to not sleep on that old, worn-out, cheap mattress
any more that I've been using!
we went outside. More trucks came to bring soil. We will be holding
our conference on the part of our base where the big, main building
is going to be. For that, soil has to be brought in to level it
out a little bit. We don't have the money to do all the leveling
- just enough for us to have more or less level ground for the
meetings. So far the truck has come 7 times - 16 more to go. And
it costs about $60 for every time he comes.
of my kids were involved in a fight earlier in the afternoon and
grounded. So I took these three kids with me to go over to where
we're holding the conference and do some brainstorming. We had
a great time together! You can see (from left) Jérémie,
Abdias, and Souleymane in the picture. They are standing where
we're gonna create a little platform. We decided where the platform
should be, and how big it should be. But cement is expensive -
been wanting to do a skit or other stuff, and as we were brainstorming,
the idea was formed to do a skit of what a day at CAM looks like,
like a parody. Abdias is going to play me, and Souleymane is playing
Paul. They are excited! Now we'll have to find the time to write
was upbeat as we returned to the house. Today in three weeks the
American team is arriving, and we're getting more and more excited
has been running errands... He's talked to the guy representing
the Christian media association who likes us (we've supported
them financially in the past). They're giving great rates for
publicity on TV and radio, and our big celebration on Nov 8 will
be broadcast on Christian radio live. Plus, national Malian television
is coming and filming. They are going to produce a half-hour program
that they will broadcast to everyone in Mali. Mali has only one
TV channel! Awesome God! A little daunting, though. And more expenses.
We sure need some money to come in.
I last checked our location on Google Maps or Earth quite some
time back, our base was not visible on there. There was only lots
of land nothing was built on. Today I happened to look again,
and was very excited to find the pictures updated. Now our base
is clearly visible, with the first house on it, but it's before
we started building the second house. Still, now you can check
it out yourself. In the search field of Google Maps, just paste
the following into it, and takes you right there: 12.618695,-7.906622.
Let me know if you checked it out, and what you think!
have two children that need sponsors right now.
is Neema (17) from Dio. She's finished 9th grade in the village,
but now she has to go to Bamako to study as there is no High School
in the village. We said we'd pay tuition and whatever else she
needs for life - that means, we need to find a sponsor for her.
She's staying with a Christian family in the neighborhood of her
school. Neema's father is the pastor in the village of Dio who
we've been working with for the past 3 years.
other one is Paul junior (17). He'd been one of the streetkids
spending the night at our place for over a year, and was baptized
last November. He's shown himself faithful, and so we've given
him this chance. He helps on the base during the day, and goes
to evening school.
had some kids reappear recently. I already told you about Moussa
coming back. He slept 2-3 nights on our base, and we haven't seen
week Dramane reappeared. He had lived with us for nine months
when one day in June he suddenly left us, not taking anything
with him. I talked to him and asked him if he regretted having
left us, and he said yes. He's lost weight obviously, but now
he sleeps on our base every night again, and gets two meals a
greatest surprise was to see Abdiel again. We took in Abdiel in
October 2006, a few months after having taken in the first kids.
He seemed mentally challenged, but then, he had never washed himself,
didn't know what soap and shower was, and we had to show him.
After one week he decided he didn't like this kind of life and
just left, returning to the street he grew up on. After three
years, Abdiel has shown up again. What a surprise! You can see
how he's grown up!
three weeks our American visitors are arriving, and the preparations
are in full swing. Our biggest challenge is that the start of
school has cost us A LOT of money, and we don't know how to pay
for all the preparations for our meetings.
had a 100 chairs made to seat our visitors, and 79 have been delivered.
Now we still needed to paint our logo on there, especially since
we will also need to rent chairs, and that way, they won't get
we got some leftover paint, and I made stencil with our logo.
A few kids joined me to help. In the picture you can see Bakary
(5) and Sarata (4) who showed a lot of patience helping with quite
a lot of the chairs. We had 84 chairs to paint the logo on in
took quite some time, and the paint was sticking to my fingers.
Hama helped stir the paint so it stayed liquid, and got the paint
all over. He was so proud, though, to be helping. He's asking
constantly when he gets to go to school. He has an appointment
at a school for handicapped children in 10 days.
week they finished painting the inside of the dining hall, and
this week they are working on the outside. The pictures show the
building as/after the first layer was applied.
once I was looking forward to attending our service and preaching
again. I had left that to Paul these past few weeks since, since
my first service back was a disaster. I decided I'd only attend
and preach again if God told me to do it. This week, God gave
me a message to preach, and so I obeyed.
decided to take action to prevent the typical pre-service disaster.
So last night, I delegated all the pre-service tasks to specific
kids - and it worked. 95% of things went smoothly, and everything
was ready in time!
an hour before the start of the service we prayed for the service.
And I also intervened there, telling them the different things
we needed to pray for for the service, and having volunteers to
pray for each one. That also worked very well.
new driver Augustin came back on time with Paul's family and a
few others from our old neighborhood of Banankabougou.
was our first service since they finished painting the inside
of the dining hall. It looked nice and shiny - probably won't
stay that way for long.
started off with Bambara praise led by Paul. I took a little video
clip of that:
it was my turn to lead French worship. It's really hard since
we don't have monitors and I can't hear either myself or the keyboard.
Hopefully that issue gets fixed in the weeks to come.
took some time for the offering today - more than usual - to help
the congregation understand the importance of giving. After the
announcements, telling them more about the upcoming conference/celebration,
it was time for the sermon.
I felt God had shown me to preach on was on how to pray when you
spend your time with Him in the morning. I had the impression
that most had no clue how to pray at all. So I gave them some
basics, giving them 6 steps of different prayer to follow in their
personal prayer time. Most everyone stood up at the end of the
service, saying they would commit to praying, and try out this
model this week.
was a great service, and Paul said he was inspired as well.
the family meeting in the evening I was shocked once again that
two of my kids had no clue at all what I had preached on. At least
as a group they were able to reproduce the 6 steps, and I wrote
it on the board, so they could try it out in the morning. I told
them how proud I was of them today, of how they had all done their
part and behaved well during the service. Well done, kids!
been a good day, getting things done, and realizing I like my
life in Mali. As the afternoon progressed, I thought it was about
time to do a prayer meeting again. I found out that none of the
kids have schoon Thursday afternoon - perfect. Our prayer meeting's
gonna be on Thursdays then.
was already rather late, and so we only had 35 minutes for the
meeting - but better than nothing. I was also looking forward
to seeing our new driver as part of the meeting, to see his reaction.
today they finished painting the dining hall, and the smells were
quite strong. It's so great to see it all look so nice!
set up the keyboard, and everybody came together to pray. We did
a few upbeat songs, and it was great to see Augustin (driver,
red shirt) join right in.
atmosphere was great. Paul and I were really getting somewhere
in the spirit. I asked him to pray towards the end, and he prayed
a passionate prayer.
I stopped playing the keyboard, but we started a chorus of shouting
"Jesus". Everything was getting into it, and we started
dancing and jumping and shouting. It was great! I took a little
video of it; it's a little dark but it still gives you the idea.
I went to help my kids with school stuff again, especially Souleymane
in 8th grade who has a hard time with math. This time we took
the street kids arrived, and we gave them their ID cards. We have
a good number of new kids now. A whole group of kids left for
Burkina Faso a few months ago, and they even called Paul to let
him know they'd be back by the end of October.
time to start a new literacy class with them; hopefully next week.
heat is rising, and for the first time it was over 30°C is
my bedroom again. I turned on the AC for a few hours, until going
to bed. We have additional batteris for our solar power system
on the way, and they should arrive in a few weeks. Then we'll
have enough power to run the AC all night.
last three days have been interesting. These past two days I have
not had internet - except for an hour yesterday - and it still
morning our construction manager Kossi brought a young man from
his country with him (Togo). Augustin is 25 years old and came
to Mali three months ago to find a job and send the money back
home to his family in Togo. At that time I did not know he had
a wife and two kids in Togo.
has a Togolese driver's license, and I did a test drive with him.
He's eager to make money - so he didn't really meet the requirement
for his motivation to be to serve God rather than make a lot of
money. However, we were desperate enough to give him a try. Another
disadvantage was that he wanted nearly double the money the previous
driver had received. Unfortunately, people here don't count the
non-money stuff they receive, like lodging, food, and medical
expenses. I told him not even Paul received that kind of salary.
I relented, though, and agreed to give him 43% more than our previous
driver had received. Because of that, I also had to raise everyone
ironic thing is that I'm doing this at a time when we don't have
any money anywhere. Additionally, I was informed that we have
filed a form late with the IRS and have to pay a fine of nearly
$2000. It just made me laugh since we have no money whatsoever.
Our CPA is trying to make them reduce it or cancel it all the
to Augustin. He moved in with us Sunday night, and on Monday was
his first day. Paul went with him to show him the way. His handicap
is that he doesn't know Bamako at all, having just moved here.
He has a lot to learn. He did well on Monday.
night I talked to him for a few minutes. It was an "interesting"
conversation. He seems somewhat over-ambitious, eager to climb
the ladder and make more money. Since Paul told him I would not
be happy that he abandoned his family in Togo, he told me he could
have them brought here, etc. etc. I told him to take it easy since
it was only his first day. Let's give it some time first. So,
we'll see how it goes. Augustin is catholic, but seems open to
whatever; he told me, "whatever religion you want...".
I wondered if he meant denomination; I hope so.
With My Kids
no internet restricts somewhat what I can do. My kids come home
from classes in the afternoon at 5:30 pm. I decided to go see
find out how school has been so far. Plus, Souleymane had told
me on Monday that he knows nothing when it comes to math, and
I offered to help him.
so I spent a lot of time last night helping Souleymane with math.
I was shocked that being in 8th grade, he can't even calculate
3 times 2, or 4 times 3. No wonder he has so much trouble.
other kids were around as well, and they joined in with the basics
of multiplication. I ended up doing a math game doing multiplications
with them. Teaching school is my passion, and so I had a lot of
fun. I also helped Flo with French. Flo went to school years ago,
when he was small, and after years on the street, he's picking
up school again. Seeing his level, I thought 3rd grade was too
high for him, and told him to go join Amadou in 2nd grade.
worked together for so long, that it was time for the nightly
family meeting. The kids went to bed, and then I went outside
to take care of the street kids. It was the first time our car
had gone to the bus station again to pick them up, and so we had
more kids than we've had since the summer break, including five
new ones. I handed out the ID cards we make for them, then we
gave them the house rules, and they spread out on the mattresses
inside the dining hall. I prayed for them, and said good-night.
surprise of the evening was that Moussa had come to spend the
night. I didn't see him for the longest time, since it's pretty
dark on our property at night, but then he came up to me. I was
glad to see him, and sad to see him back on the street because
of his actions during Paul and my absence. He was our day guard
who was responsible for all the stolen stuff and damages. Moussa
didn't say much, only "I'm sorry".
and Paul (both 16) went to evening school for the first time in
the evening. Our driver dropped them off before picking up the
street kids, and they took public transportation to come back
home, arriving at 9:30 pm. They are both in first grade. They
said it went well, and showed me their notebook.
day without internet. It severely restricts me, at the same time
I don't even care much. It was working for one hour in the morning,
so I was at least able to receive my emails.
one of my kids had school in the afternoon, and so it was time
for the Wii game I still owed Amadou for his birthday. The kids
joined me in my living room, and had a great time playing. I had
Sarata (4) and Bakary (5) on my knees, watching the others play.
so the day ends being cut off from the rest of the world, being
in this little world here only. It's time to go take care of the
street kids, do the nightly family meeting, and then go to bed
more thing. On Monday morning I asked on Facebook who would pray
for me and us that day, and I was surprised how many people responded.
Also, a friend of mine asked more people to pray for me/us. I
can only say that it made a huge, tangible difference. If only
we always had a big group of people praying for us!
had two prospective drivers who were both going to do one trial
week each before we'd make our decision which one to pick.
first one came Monday morning, and when we asked to see his driver's
license, we found out he didn't have a valid one. So we sent him
week later the other driver came to start his week. He did one
errand with Paul, who came back to tell me this guy does not know
how to drive. Not only had the car died constantly, but he had
also touched a little boy with our car, and we had to take the
boy to the hospital and give the family money. We sent him home
was one week before the start of school - on Monday - and I was
starting to panic. I sent out emails to the missionary community
and denominations to let them know we're looking for a driver.
Emma sent a friend of his. Yesterday he came for an interview
- and we found out that he is a student and has classes during
the day, so that he can't drive the kids. Why did he even come???
Wednesday we found out that the government had decided to start
school on the first of October - Thursday - instead of next Monday.
What to do? As the realization that I was it hit me, it brought
a flood of negative connotations due to the situation from 3 years
ago when I had to be the driver for 3 months. Tears came to my
eyes as I realized I'd be driving for at least 6 hours a day every
day from now on, having to get up very early. It was devastating.
got up at 6:30 am Thursday morning, ready to take at least the
3 little ones to school. However, Paul had forgotten to let Fanta
know, and so Sarata wasn't ready. Rosalie wasn't aware either,
and so Patrice wasn't ready either. Bakary was the only one ready.
And so school was off, and I went back inside and got some more
sleep. I was somewhat relieved that I had one more day of respite.
today was the day. Up early again, and ready to do my duty. Today
ALL the kids would be going. All except Fousseni who hadn't come
by and didn't know school had started.
so 11 kids got into and onto the truck, ready to be taken to their
2 respective schools. We left on time at 7 am. The little ones
were crammed on the back seat, while the older kids were on the
bed of the truck in the back. As expected, Hama was crying like
crazy because he was being left behind instead of joining the
others going to school. I knew it would happen, and it already
broke my heart in advance. I tried to explain to him that in a
few weeks he'd be going as well, to a school just for him. He
has an appointment at the end of the month at a school for handicapped
we went to the school that's farther away, which is the Christian
school that refused to take our kids. They only accepted our 3
kindergarten age kids into the kindergarten - Bakary, Sarata,
and Patrice. We dropped them off, and 2.5 year old Patrica was
suddenly not so excited about school any more. He did some crying,
even when I picked him up, and was glad to go home.
then turned around and took the older kids to their school. Then
I passed by Paul's family's house to drop off the school supplies
for another 8 kids in their neighborhood who go to another school
was glad when I got back home, but knew, in just 3 hours I would
be doing this again. Sigh.
picked them up on time, and enjoyed hearing how their first day
was. The older kids already had class in the afternoon, but I
told them I would not do the tour again today. Monday.
was pretty exhausted the rest of the day. Our construction guy
Kossi told me he might know of a possible driver and would bring
him tomorrow morning. We'll see if he's the right one.
few months ago several of my kids started taking music classes.
We found a very gifted Christian music student, who comes once
a week to teach them. Some kids have dropped out because they
weren't practicing, but about half the kids are still at it.
learn the guitar, others the piano, and Souleymane the drum set.
Tonight I wanted to hear them play, and so they played together.
I can tell they've made much progress - so they still have to
work on the rhythm. If you're not sensitive when it comes to musical
correctness, you can watch this little clip of them playing.
anyone would like to support these music lessons, it's $100 or
70€ per month.