street kids come on the property when the sun goes down, which
is arount 6 pm in winter. They had dinner, while I got everything
ready inside the dining hall, setting up the sound system, projector
and computer. I had wondered what movie to show them to start
with - it would have to be region 1 (US) movie - and decided on
THE CROSS AND THE SWITCHBLADE. The street kids usually love that
movie. I realized tonight, though, that they thought the gang
members in the movie were heroes, since they didn't understand
what was being said, and so they didn't understand either when
they got saved. Oh great!
the movie, we had a time of praising God in Bambara. This little
video clip shows you a few seconds - watch especially for 1.5
year old Jonathan.
the movie, I asked them what they were thankful to God for looking
back at 2009. A few said a few generic things; a question like
that is hard for them.
it was time to look back by looking at pictures. I thought we
still had plenty of time, but the pictures took longer than expected.
Everyone loved them though.
the pictures, I told them I had six prizes to give away in six
categories. I had talked to Paul earlier to agree on the winners.
The first category was what kid had grown most spiritually that
year. We always had a winner among the kids that are entirely
with us, and a winner among the street kids. Jérémie
was the resident kid who won this one.
next category was who had the most integrity, was the most honest.
Only one of the resident kids could get that prize - the only
one who had not participated in the July incident : Joseph.
last prize was for the one who is the most a servant, who works
faithfully. Unfortunately none of my kids qualify for that one,
and so I gave it to Fanta who is constantly working faithfully
street kids were already sleeping in the other half of the room.
Midnight was approaching, and so I moved on to the next thing
to do. As every year (but not last) I handed out papers to those
who know to write and asked them to write down goals and resolutions
for 2010. That took all the time we had left until midnight.
we counted down from 10, said "happy new year", and
prayed for a few moments dedicating this year to the Lord. That
was the end of our program. We packed up everything, and everyone
went to bed. Paul, however, left to visit his family and celebrate
with them a little. It was 1 am when I finally went to bed.
5:30 am loud persistent knocking woke me up. Being woken up in
the middle of the night is never a good sign because it means
something bad has happened, that there is a crisis to deal with.
Some kids had woken up as well, and Dami (night guard) was standing
stood at my door, looking distressed, his voice quivering, as
he told me he needed to talk to me. I asked him what was wrong.
He said he needed to come inside to talk to me in private. I asked
him again what this was about - it was in the middle of the night
after all. I kept insisting, but he wouldn't tell me. Finally
I said that if he can't tell me, I won't let him in. Then I went
the next hour I couldn't fall asleep, wondering what had happened,
whether Augustin had had bad news concerning his family, or a
hundred other things. I finally fell asleep again, but didn't
sleep well because of the worry. I finally got up, waiting to
talk to Augustin and find out what's going on.
waited for a while and finally had a chance to talk to him, with
Paul present. I was curious to find out the truth. Well, Augustin
told me that he just wanted to wish me a happy new year, and in
his country, you need to do it inside the house of the person.
I simply couldn't believe what I was hearing. I felt like he was
lying to me, and told him so. He didn't say anything else, and
I walked away.
talked to Paul later, who also didn't believe him, and said he'd
talk to him again. After that conversation Augustin came back
to me and told me that at the party he was at they had mixed alcohol
into the drinks without his knowledge. He had thrown up all the
way home, and it was the effect of the alcohol that had made him
knock at my door. That made much more sense. He apologized.
a start to the new year!
the way, I simply did not have to peace to have his family live
on the property with us, and since he didn't want to live in Dami's
house, I told him he needed to find some other accommodations.
So he relented and agreed to live in Dami's house. Now Dami wants
to improve his house first, which means that Augustin's family
is not moving up here right now after all.
it looks like we have a Canadian girl coming January 15th to stay
seems to be my kids' motto right now. I'm perplexed at their behavior.
These past few days they have destroyed, broken or damaged several
things, and it doesn't seem to stop.
they broke the second guitar - literally. The first one was aleady
broken. I found out when their music teacher came for their lessons.
He didn't have any words either. Of course nobody did it. That
was the last straw. There won't be any more music lessons for
anyone. It lasted for over half a year, and they did make progress.
Too bad it's over, but I'm not wasting the money people work hard
for and support us with if they don't practice and are too immature
to handle an instrument.
then I discovered today that the whole side of the dining hall
is covered in soccer ball and hand smudges - literally covered,
as if they had done it on purpose. Before Paul and I had to leave
to meet with our lawyer this afternoon, I told them to clean the
wall. In the evening I discovered they had used nearly the whole
big container of liquid soap for the FLOORS that should have lasted
for a month!!!
the list goes on - that was just today. These pictures show us
putting together their new soccer goals that I brought under great
sacrifice. They tore the net on the first day.
they all have to stay in their rooms, without toys, and I'll give
them a Bible passage to read and/or copy. They'll stay in there
until they tell me who broke the guitar. There won't be any more
pocket money either.
more positive pictures: Jonathan missed the gifts on New Year's
Eve, and so he got his the following day.
got a 750-piece puzzle for Christmas, and together with the help
of some other kids, they finished it in two days.
and I spent two and a half hours at our lawyer's this afternoon.
Our church papers have already been rejected twice, and now he's
going to file them the third time. All they want is money.
is also going to deposit our children's center's papers for the
first time. He said he wanted the first one done first, but since
this has been going on forever, he'll deposit it now.
I had to read through all the papers and see whether the changes
are okay, and then sign lots of papers.
pray for favor so that we'll have our papers soon, even without
Christmas! Everyone was looking forward to going swimming. We
had not gone all year because it's pretty expensive, and so some
of our kids had actually never gone swimming before.
handed out the swimming trunks, and had just enough for everybody.
Our ladies were cooking "fast" since I had given them
the task to have lunch ready at 11 am. That gave me enough time
to wrap the last few presents and get everything ready for the
Christmas celebration in the evening, once we'd come back from
the swimming pool
knew we'd be leaving after lunch at 11 am, but he was noever to
be found. That was annoying, but we couldn't wait for him any
longer; we needed to get going. The plan had been to drive across
town with both cars, since we were quite a lot of people. Would
they all fit into/onto one truck? They would have to.
car was full, the back of the truck as well, as we left our base
to drive to the hotel to go swimming. I was surprised at how bad
traffic has become downtown; we hardly moved for the longest time
as we tried to get across the bridge to the other side of the
Niger. It was tiring. It took us over an hour to get to the hotel,
but finally we arrived.
kids couldn't get their clothes off fast enough, and jumped into
the pool; nobody else was in there. I thought the water was a
little chilly, but it wasn't too bad.
handicapped boy Hama LOVES the pool, and I couldn't get his stuff
on fast enough for him to jump in. I got this swim vest at a thrift
store somewhere, and it's perfect for him! He can't go under any
more. In this picture Paul Junior is right behind him.
kids all had a great time. I'm glad we were able to give them
this gift of going swimming.
hour before we were supposed to leave, they told me that we had
a flat tire. Great! They also told me that the fifth wheel was
also flat. Even greater! I was annoyed with Augustin for not having
done his job as a driver and repaired the tire. What to do now?
They told me there was a place to put air into the tire not too
far away, and I should go there. How exciting! Paul and I got
into the car and drove there; I was not amused. We got air and
returned to the hotel where the kids were ready to go home.
hopped on, and off we went, another 1-hour drive back home. On
the way, I decided to make my kids happy again and stopped at
the gas station where they sell soft icecream out of the machine.
They all got icecream and loved it! For some it was their first
finally arrived home. Augustin was on his way to pick up Paul's
family; Paul's Dad doesn't allow his kids to go to the swimming
pool. While we were waiting for them to arrive, I relaxed for
a few minutes and got everything ready for the celebration - candles
on the cake, cookies on the platters, chairs moved, music on...
arrived, and the food was ready as well. We had been able to find
Western chickens - they are much bigger and have a lot more meat.
And so this was our special Christmas dinner since we never have
chicken - with couscous and a great sauce. It was delicious and
everyone loved it!
it was time to celebrate. I let them all inside the house, into
my living room. There was barely room for everyone. They were
all excited. All our sponsored kids - whether resident or not
- were there except three. Everyone was looking at the gifts and
started off by asking a few questions about Christmas and what
it's all about. Once we had established that it's Jesus' birthday,
I told them I'd made a birthday cake for Jesus, the way I always
make one for birthdays. So I went to light the candles, and we
sang HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Jesus when I came in with the cake. Then
they all blew out the candles together.
then cut the cake and Jérémie handed it out - not
easy when you have a little cake and over 40 people, but everyone
had a piece. Then we passed around the cookies I had made together
with the children; 99$ of them were gone by the end of the night.
then read the story of Christmas in Luke 2. I handed out these
little sparklers to everyone, and everyone watched them - little
Jonathan was afraid, and Sarata was also too scared to hold it
in her hand.
it was time for the gifts that everyone was waiting for. First
I handed out the packages to all the non-resident kids that I
had put together for them. For those in our household we had done
a drawing - each kid drew one other person to give a gift to,
and the adults drew two names since there are a few little kids
that can't give gifts.
had one child come forward and take one gift that he would then
give to the person it was for. Then we'd all watch that person
open it. Then another child would come forward, etc. Until all
the gifts were gone. It took quite some time, but was much fun.
highlights were when Fanta received a cell-phone from me; she
was radiating all over! Thankfully someone in Vienna had given
me a few old cellphones, and so I was able to give a few to those
who needed one.
I was most looking forward to the last three gifts that were for
ALL the children. One is a Playstation 2 - theirs stopped working
early this year. Unfortunately it is in France right now because
the visitor who was supposed to bring it canceled his trip to
Mali. Another was more lego - the smaller kids LOVE the lego,
and I enjoy watching them be creative; something that is unknown
in Mali! These kids are learning it!
third gift was the most challenging to bring - two soccer goals.
They just LOVE soccer, and I was so excited to give those to them.
It was a challenge to transport them, though, even though they
were taken apart. The pipes just about fit into my suitcase. Unfortunately
one had torn a whole into my faithful bag that's been with me
on EVERY trip these past 13 years; so that hurt. But the kids
were excited! (Note: The kids damaged one goal the first day they
used it.... that was discouraging.)
was the one drawing my name - what a lucky coincidence - and he
had two special gifts for me. He always has great ideas. He gave
me a T-Shirt that reads, "I love my family in Mali. We love
you olso Maman kampo." I spelled it the way Paul did on the
T-Shirt :-). I haven't tried it on yet.
other is 10 identical T-Shirts that have a picture of the kids
and the following text, "We live in Mali, not Malawi."
in English and German. Paul said he needed to explain that. He
wants me to sell those T-Shirts when I travel and use the money
to go do the fitness camp in LA again that I so loved in July.
Wow! Great idea! However, I'm not a good sales person, and I'm
not sure whether I'll be able to sell them. Anyone want to help,
or buy one?
was happy, and they were ready to leave. It was somewhere after
9 pm, and our poor street kids were waiting to be let in. We had
told them in advance that it would be late tonight.
living room looked like a war had taken place - paper, cookies,
cake crumbs... it was a mess! I swept the floor right away - still,
I would not want to work out on that floor! I was tired but very
content overall with the way things had worked out. I allowed
the kids to stay up longer, but went to bed myself pretty soon.
It had been a long day.
the day before Christmas, and I haven't even baked any Christmas
cookies yet! It was today or never. The kids were motivated, and
so we simply went to work. Since those wanted to bake were too
many for my little kitchen, I split them into two teams.
1 went first; I still had a baking mix I'd had forever, and was
happy to use that. I made the dough, and rolled it out for them
to cut out the different shaped cookies. They did it with a passion!
It was Sarata's first time since she and her family had been apart
from us last Christmas. I was doubly thankful to have her around.
the first batch of cookies was done, I melted some chocolate to
decorate them. I still had some sugar stuff to put on top of the
cookies. So I smeared chocolate on, while the kids chose the different
colored and shaped sugar variations to put on top. Everyone had
team 2 came, and we did all of this all over again. I then saw
that another old cookie mix I had used Hershey kisses as a variation,
and decided to make that as well, since it was well overdue to
be used up. So we made peanut cookies, and then put a hershey
kiss on each one of them. They turned out very well! The picture
shows the kids showing off our cookies!
For Street Kids
for the street kids, we continue opening the six advent calendars
with them before they go to sleep. I draw six names each night,
and those six get to open the door and eat the chocolate that's
inside. The kids love it! Jérémie helps me with
it every night. He has such a leadership gift!
day the kids had been looking forward to had come! Those who had
spent the night stayed, while Augustin went to the bus station
to pick up more kids. There were about 50 in total once he'd come
back with a full load of kids.
was done with the preparations, and so we started playing the
first game while waiting for the car. It was an obstacle course
the kids had to master blind, following the directions of the
other kids. One after the other tried, some failing later than
others. Time passed, and I started wondering why the car wasn't
coming back. We played the game for an hour at least. Many got
to have their try; only two succeeded.
the car arrived, we stopped and went inside. We gave out the ID
cards to the kids that had arrived and wrote down the names of
the new kids. All their names were put into a box for the drawing
later. Then Paul did a few Bambara songs for worship, and kids
joined in wholeheartedly. I love listening to their voices!
showed them two little musical video clips having to do with Christmas,
and the beginning of the Jesus film so they could see the birth
of Christ. I then asked questions to see who had watched and listened
carefully. Many were able to give the correct answers to the basic
I started explaining the whole gospel to them. The anointing was
actually tangible as I did! The kids were glued to my words! I
had a picture of Jesus on the cross that I always use. In the
end, I asked them who wanted to follow Jesus and had them stand
up. They then repeated a prayer of commitment after me.
I asked them who had prayed that prayer for the very first time,
and three raised their hand. Praise God!
had another game to play - thanks to our last visitors we still
had lots of Hershey Kisses. I had unwrapped them and put 30 each
in two buckets of water. They sat on the bottom of the bucket.
Then I split the kids into two teams of 25 each. They had to kneel
down and with their hands on the back, put their heads into the
water and grab a kiss with their mouths. I stood by to watch they
followed the rules, and got wet in the process myself. Thankfully
it's been very hot! It was one big mess, and we had to keep adding
water. The kids had a heard time, but in the end we had one winner.
we did the drawing, and about 20 of the kids got little gifts
- chocolate or toys. They loved it!
was already 1 pm and time for lunch! The ladies had been cooking.
The kids sat down in groups, and the bowls of food were brought
into the dining hall.
they were done eating, it was time for the gift they'd been waiting
for - the shoes. Thanks to a church in Augusta we were able to
buy 50 pairs of shoes. All the kids always want shoes! One after
another they stepped into my living room where they tried on the
shoes to find their size. ALL of them were able to get a pair
that fit - though for the last few kids they had to take bigger
shoes since their size was out.
kids left happy and content, having had a great time on our base.
Augustin took them back to the bus station - those that wanted
to return. The others stayed in our neighborhood.
had been a busy morning. Still, there was work to do. Later in
the afternoon Caleb brought over the second "bookcase"
I had ordered so that our little storage room can be transformed
into a bedroom for our white visitors. One lady was supposed to
arrived today even, but I haven't heard anything from her in a
while. I just wanted to be on the safe side anyway and got it
ready. I had stored all the clothes in that storage room, and
got them all out to organize them on the shelves. I was shocked
for two reasons: first, to find out that the kids had stolen all
the adult-sized T-Shirts and pants during the "July incident".
And then, when we had thrown all the clothes on my living room
floor, the amount of clothes was still daunting. It would take
me forever! Thankfully, four of the kids came over to help me,
and so it was done much faster.
we had to put the remaining stuff into our one big storage room
where everything else is stored. This picture shows the stuff
plus the kids in front of the door to the storage room. It was
lots of work, but my kids were great helping, and we got it done!
thought I'd be busy like crazy getting things ready for the Christmas
Party tomorrow, but I was all laid back wondering what else I
needed to do. I actually took time with my kids. We played with
the Nintendo Wii together for some time. It was great fun!
the afternoon we decorated the dining hall together for the Street
Kid Christmas Party tomorrow. We had a great time, and the end
result is decent, I believe. We'll see for how long the street
kids will let the decorations stay nice like that.
did another serious thing.... he left the property together with
the street kids, and only came home with them at night. We were
shocked. I asked him whether he wants to leave our house entirely
and become a street kid again. He said no. What else to do with
this boy (sigh)!
been a week since I last wrote a blog; and it's been a week of
battling sickness. My working out held the cold at bay at first,
but later in the week it finally broke out fully. I spent most
of Friday and Saturday in bed - with my computer. Today I'm feeling
better, and I can tell it's in the last stages. Paul claims to
be fine again as well.
happened this week?
Augustin refused to move into Dami's house - because it's too
basic, without water or electricity. That puts us in a dilemma.
I told him we cannot have a second kitchen on our base. He said
they would try to eat the Malian food. His wife does not speak
any French or Bambara, only her own tribal language. And she has
no skills. We already have 3 ladies working here, and I don't
know how to occupy a fourth one.
in all, I have a bad feeling about Augustin's wife and two kids
moving in with us; I'd have preferred them living off-base. They'll
be arriving beginning of January. Any insights from you guys?
Hama went to the weekly teaching time at the handicapped training
center. He loved it! Paul took Paul Junior with him who did great.
In the future he'll be the one going with Hama.
The Christmas gifts in my living room are starting to pile up.
I'm the designated gift-wrapper - no small undertaking with gifts
for over 30 people! But I enjoy it. We'll see if all the gifts
fit on there... I'm sure most will come these next few days, since
only a few have given me their gifts.
kids continue to open their advent calendar every morning to find
some chocolate in their. They love it. I shot this picture of
them holding up their chocolate of the day!
Fitness Challenge - A week ago Friday I started the 6-week fitness
challenge where I can either win as the one having burned the
most calories or the one having lost the most weight. Some of
the participants are actually right there, at the camp, and burn
3000 calories a day, so no chance there. But I hope to have a
chance when it comes to weight loss. Comparing the results after
the first week, I'm hopeful. I lost 3.4 pounds (1.5 kilos) this
past week, which is a good result. And that with being sick!
had a good time with the kids today. We watched a movie together
- them sitting comfortably, while I was on the treadmill.
there were also a few clashes in the afternoon. One had to do
with Augustin, our driver, and it's not the first one. In our
family meeting tonight we had to address some issues. It was a
long and serious meeting, but I hope everyone got the message.
All in all I'm happy with the way it all ended.
seen much fruit from the many TPM sessions I've had, and one I've
noticed over the past few months is that I don't get angry any
more the way I used to. When the kids do something, I don't get
angry; when others are angry, I diffuse the anger. And when I
notice I'm about to get angry, I simply shut my mouth. I'm honestly
amazed as I've been in many situations where I would have become
very angry in the past.
incident(s) did not faze me either, and there was never a trace
of anger - while everyone else was angry. Abdias has been our
greatest trouble maker, and he's also the kid that has been with
us the longest. His list of offenses is longer than any other
kid's. And he keeps doing serious things; one this afternoon.
Paul got very upset with Abdias and lashed out. I encouraged Paul
to walk away and zip his mouth.
any case, all the punishments and things we've tried with Abdias
have not changed anything. Recently, a prophet from France visited
the dance team that Abdias and two other kids are a part of. The
guy called out a few of the kids - and Abdias was picked. He prophesied
exactly what I just said, and that God is just waiting for Abdias
to draw near to him and leave all that nonsense behind. Even that
didn't make a difference.
been praying and wondering for a few days what other consequence/punishment
could make a difference for him. We learned this week that Abdias
would already have been kicked out of school if he wasn't a part
of our center. He's a major trouble maker at school!
today I had the inspiration of having Abdias sleep with the street
children in the dining hall for a week. I thought it was a great
idea! I gave him a big box to put all his stuff in, and told him
to move it inside. I told him if I'd see him inside the house,
it would add another day to his time with the street kids. The
reason being that he's been taking other people's stuff, like
Bakary's soap who ended up not having any.
then Abdias left the property - without asking, without authorization.
We did the family meeting without him, and I prayed for his safety.
I wasn't worried at all. I knew he'd be back in the morning. However,
he showed up at 9 pm and asked forgiveness for having left. He
had visited his aunt. Paul and I both hugged him and told him
we loved him, and I made sure he was comfortable in the dining
hall with the street kids. Let's hope this will make a difference!
of October Hama had a check-up at a local NGO's office, an NGO
helping handicapped kids. Handicapped children in Mali have a
cruel fate - being hidden away, neglected, mistreated, and having
the only future of becoming a beggar. Last year Hama went to an
international school which he loved a lot, but at the beginning
of this school year I was at a loss again how to give Hama the
best schooling. Malian schools don't take handicapped kids.
we took him there for the check-up, and the follow-up meeting
didn't happen until last week. The NGO is lacking money, and so
kids can only come once a week to their center to be taught. Once
the kids reach a certain level, there is the possibility of schooling
for them in an integrated school that they have. Hama is still
far from that.
on Friday it was time for him to go there for the first time.
When I told him on Thursday that he'd be going to school on Friday,
you should have seen his eyes light up! He's always loved school
- more than any of my other kids, and it broke his heart when
everyone else was going to school this year but him.
Paul went with him on Friday; unfortunately the center is on the
very other end of town, and during rush hour traffic it takes
a long time to get there. A white lady worked with him, plus some
other Malians, and Hama loved it. Paul watched and learned.
asked the director whether he could recommend us a teacher we
could employ ourselves, so he could come to our center every day
to work with Hama. He said there wasn't anyone. But then he offered
to come himself. But he can only come once a week - on Wednesday.
So starting Wednesday, this guy is coming to work with Hama.
for Hama's one day a week there, we asked for it to be on Thursday;
that's the only day my kids don't have to go back to school in
the afternoon, and so our driver will be able to cross town and
pick Hama up. Paul Junior will be going with Hama every week,
so he can learn and do a better job working with Hama the rest
of the week at home.
all in all, that's good news!
morning, Paul took all my boys to the village with him; only the
little kids stayed. So I invited them over to my house to watch
HEIDI... the animated series I grew up with. They really enjoyed
it. In the picture from left: Hama, Bakary, Jonathan,Sarata.
the afternoon I wanted to spend time with my other kids, and Paul
had go somewhere. So we sat down to play Monopoly. As you know,
that game goes on for a long time, and some of the kids didn't
quite understand the purpose. Even Augustin played with us. We
had a great time together, but the longer it went on, the more
I had a headache. After about 2 hours and 15 minutes, I decided
it was time to stop. It had sure been worth it!
- our new driver - has now been with us for two and a half months.
He has a wife and two children back in his home country of Togo,
and wants to bring them over to Mali to join him. He complains
a lot about our Malian food, and says his wife would be cooking
for him, and so I knew problems were preprogrammed since we can't
have two separate kitchens. So I prayed what to do, and had a
nightguard Dami and his wife who's cooking for us plus their four
children live right next to our center in their own house. All
the four kids are sponsored. We talked to Dami, asking him, whether
he and his family could move in with us, so that Augustin and
his family could live in his house. He took some time to think
and pray, and agreed.
I made that proposition to Augustin on Friday, and suggested he'd
go look at Dami's house. I assume he's done that by now. So we
might have the addition of 3 more people soon, and 6(!) more people
on our base. True, Dami and his kids already spend a lot time
on our base. When they move in, Paul will have to start sharing
his room with Tierno, the latest addition, the 19-year old who'll
start driving school soon.
the young lady from Austria is arriving on Feb 14th. And a Canadian
girl is planning on coming before Christmas even, to stay indefinitely!
However, I'm still waiting on final confirmation on the latter.
With the white helpers arriving - praise God - we need to make
one of our storage rooms into a bedroom for them, and find space
to put the stuff. So it's getting tight space-wise! What a great
more birthdays - today is the day when we took in Jérémie
and Joseph one year ago. Joseph turns 17 today, and Jérémie
13. So I put 17 candles on the cake, and they blew them out together.
cake was gone in a few moments, with about 20 people present,
and then it was time for the gifts. A few kids had made drawings
or bought candy. I continued my tradition of giving traditional
Malian Sunday clothes to my boys, though they are expensive. They'll
look great in our next service!
our celebration they had to leave right away to get back to school
for afternoon classes. We had done it during lunch break, because
we already had little time for the prayer meeting in the evening.
Usually it's on Thursday, but Paul wasn't feeling well yesterday.
Bakary came up to me again, saying that tomorrow he would go visit
Anita (his sponsor). I told him that she lives in a country that
is very far away, and that he could not go there. But Anita could
come visit him, and so I told him to pray that God would give
her the money to come to Mali and see him.
the prayer meeting, Bakary told me that during the time of prayer
in groups of 3, when they could pray for anything on their heart,
he had prayed for God to give Anita the money to come. It touched
my heart. I know the Lord listens to the prayers of His little
prayer meeting nearly didn't happen. Two of the kids decided they
wanted to stop at the market on the way home to buy stuff, and
our driver let them, though they had not asked permission. All
the kids knew that time was critical tonight to fit in the prayer
meeting, so it was doubly surprising. The two are grounded tomorrow.
we started the prayer meeting half an hour late, and the three
boys that go to evening school plus the driver missed the second
half of the meeting. Just before the meeting Paul got upset, as
did some kids, and so everything seemed threatened. I used my
authority to speak up and make them realize the devil doesn't
want us to pray, and is trying to distract us, steal our peace,
joy, and love... We were finally able to get started, but it was
a rather tough-going meeting - not very typical for us. A lot
of the street kids were present as well.
the afternoon I had started to not feel well at all, and after
the prayer meeting it was even worse. I dragged myself through
the rest of my responsabilities of the day, and informed Paul
to get ready to preach tomorrow in case I'm out of the picture.
was the first day of a 6-week challenge that I joined. The challenge
originates with the fitness camp that I did in LA this last July
- I loved the place, and would love to go back there. The two
winners of the challenge win a $1000 each towards a stay at the
camp! There'll be one winner for the most calories burned during
the 6 weeks, and another winner for the most pounds lost. I'm
excited, and think I have chances!
wondering whether this is the reason my US trip Jan 5 fell through.
I'm now leaving on Jan 21st - when the challenge is over. The
only thing I'm sad about is that I just learned that the conference
starting Jan 7 I was going to attend is now labeled a Jill Austin
memorial conference. I miss Jill a lot.
had missed Michée's birthday on Sunday, and today was Bakary's
6th; today a year ago we took him in, and so that day is now his
birthday since nobody knows the real one.
was excited. Before our celebration, I told him he could now talk
to Anita, his sponsors. He came to my office with Paul, where
Anita was already on skype. She could see us on video, but we
couldn't see her. Bakary was so shy, he hardly said anything.
It was a precious moment.
it was time for the celebrations. I made a cake, and had brought
a 6-sized candle from Austria. Michée turned 7, and so
I added another single one. Together they blew out the candles.
we ate the cake - it was gone right away since we were about 20
people. Then it was time for the gifts. I gave Bakary traditional
Malian clothes for Sunday and a water bottle, and Michée
got a backpack for school.
- Michée's Mom - was with us, and so we have a new picture
of little Hawa who was born in June.
else did I do today? I started wrapping Christmas presents, and
get the table ready where the gifts will be gathering until Christmas.
As you can see, there are already quite a few on there, but by
Christmas it will be overflowing.
do a drawing every year where every child draws one name and has
to give that person a give, while the adults draw two names since
the little kids can't give gifts yet. I usually try to give every
person a gift.
love my kids, love being in Mali, and love Christmas season! I'm
glad some of tensions/intpersonal problems of the past two days
have also been worked out, and so life is joy!
had a wonderful first day home! While most of the kids were at
school in the morning, I decorated their living room with Christmas
decorations, and the two advent calendars. I couldn't wait for
them to come home!
expected them and hugged them all as soon as they came in the
door. They eyes lit up at the decorations. Then they emptied the
advent calendars for the day. I have to put 13 little somethings
each day! Good thing that I brought a lot of chocolate from Austria
then played the new MEMORY together - and Jérémie
won. In the afternoon, they had to go back to school.
the evening, Bakary told me that he would go visit his Mom tomorrow.
I was puzzled, since he is an orphan. I and several of the other
kids asked him who that was. Finally he said "Anita";
that his sponsor in the US. I was surprised. I told him that wasn't
possible but that he could talk to her on the computer. Since
it's his birthday on Thursday, it's planned for then.
went to bed pretty late, and then I couldn't sleep because of
the toothache. I had already taken the maximum amount of painkillers
for the day. So when the alarm went off at 6:30 am, I felt like
I hadn't slept at all. I got up, finished packing, and had breakfast
with my grandmother. At 7:15 am my Mom arrived.We loaded my three
suitcases into her little car, plus the carry-on. It was all heavy.
I wasn't happy that I'd had to add a third suitcase, but I didn't
want to leave anything behind. I said good-bye to my grandmother,
and off we went.
drove to the airport where I loaded everything onto a cart to
go check in while my Mom left to park the car. It was a lot of
luggage! When I went to pay the third suitcase, I was shocked
to find out they have raised the fee again - it costs 200 EUR
Mom and I went to sit down in the café until I had to leave.
My plane was already delayed by half an hour, which gave us extra
time. At 9:30 am I said good-bye to her.
went to my gate, boarded, and two hours later we were in Paris.
I didn't care about the delay, since I had a couple of hours in
Paris. I went through security again, and went to the frequent
flyer lounge. I tried to connect to the internet but had a hard
time; I couldn't take advantage of it. Finally it was time to
leave; I should have taken a nap. I sure felt the sleepless night!
went to my gate where the boarding had already started. I always
sit pretty much to the front of the plane, thanks to my frequent
flyer status, which is a big bonus when you arrive in Bamako.
I noticed right away that we were not walking straight into the
plane, but that a bus was taking us - oh great. I was glad when
I sat in my seat. Time was passing, and finally we were told we
had a half hour delay. Then it was an hour. And then my seat wouldn't
come back up to be upright. I told a flight attendant, and they
told me I had to sit elsewhere. I wasn't happy, but I had no choice.
I moved 10 rows back. The plane was really full.
finally took off with that one hour delay. I was thankful that
the video system was working this time, and so I ended up watching
two and a half great movies. I also enjoyed my last good meal.
I was still very tired.
10 pm local time - 11 pm Austrian time - we landed in Bamako.
It took a while before I got off the plane, and I could tell the
difference in being further back. Something was new though - they
measured every passenger's temperature upon arrival!! Do they
really think they can keep the swine flu out that way?
asked a porter to help me with the luggage, and started waiting
for my three bags. It took a long time - the crowds around me
- but finally I had all three. Thanks to the guy I didn't have
to lift them up so they could go through the x-ray machine. There
were so many people! I was praying all along, and was relieved
when they didn't pull any of my bags aside. Thank God!
they had verified I had the right bags, we left the terminal.
At the end of the walkway, there were Paul and Augustin. I greeted
them, and we continued on to the car. I sat in the back seat with
Paul, letting Augustin drive us home.
our conversation turned bad quickly - I was shocked and disappointed
at Paul's reaction, and was unwilling to react the same. No way
would I get angry about anything! I tried to point out to Paul
how ridiculous this was. He was tired.
we didn't talk much after that. Our night guard greeted me warmly,
but nothing beat our dog's reaction to my arrival. I thought he
had gone crazy! Amazing! I don't even like dogs! My cat was the
opposite - she won't let me touch her.
put my bags into my house, and then left to go to sleep. I set
up my computer, and downloaded my emails I hadn't done in 24 hours.
I thought I might as well write my blog... it's 1 am Malian time
now, which is 2 am Austrian time. I just took some painkillers
again, so I hope I can get some good rest tonight.
started my last day in Vienna with my last trip to the gym, which
I enjoyed. I was a little bit more rushed, as we had plans for
lunch. My grandmother - who I'm staying with - invited me out,
and I wanted my father's wife to be there as well, since my father
himself was not available. The two separated two years ago. I
was glad she was able to come.
went to a very nice restaurant with great Austrian food; I had
only been to an Italian restaurant this week, so it was extra
special. I had some great Austrian food that I greatly enjoyed;
as well as the company as my father had a great wife in this lady
- it's sad that they're not together any more.
dropped her off at home, and then continued on to my brother's
house to celebrate Saint Nicolaus Day together. My Mom and her
husband also came. We had coffee/tea and cake, and made small
talk. I saw my nephew for the second and last time on this trip.
took lots of great pictures. Time passed quickly, and at 5 pm
we left to drive back home.
was glad I had already done a lot of packing earlier in the week.
Still, I had a long evening ahead. I was frustrated as my bags
were too heavy, and had no choice but to add a third suitcase
- which is going to cost extra. Tonight is going to be a short
pray for favor at the airport, at check-in, a smooth trip, no
problems at customs, a safe journey, and all bags there....
Friday I was looking forward to meeting Eva - a young lady who
was about to come to Mali to help us out. We spent two hours together,
talking, and I got more and more excited. She's coming in February
to stay for 6 months. She's the first of several individuals who
are coming to help. Thank God!
was set apart to the Lord, to prepare for the service at 5 pm
I was preaching at. Last Saturday I had the opportunity to go
to the same church, and the Lord showed me to preach on the fire
of God today. All week I felt anticipation of what God would do,
and all day today I was all excited, feeling like a little girl
who is about to watch her Dad do something really exciting. Time
went by fast, and before I knew it, it was time to leave home.
my grandmother's car I was at the new location of the church in
no time at all. I set up my stuff, and gave my USB stick with
the pictures I'd show to the guys at the computer. Half an hour
before the service there was a time of prayer - a lot of people
participated. The pastor was in the country of Georgia, but the
pastor's wife was there. She stood right next to me, and put her
arm around my shoulder. The longer we prayed, the more I could
feel His presence. His joy filled me, and His glory started to
weigh me down. It was awesome! I thought I'd have to kneel down
right there and then. But it was time to go back into the sanctuary.
had a great time of worship, and I enjoyed being with Him, and
that the new church has a carpet rather than cold tiles. After
announcement and offering, it was time for me to come up. I was
very humbled by the way I was introduced, and had to make sure
people know I'm just like them, and God can use them the same
way. I first showed them pictures and just shared all that's been
happening since the last time I was here.
I asked the worship leader to come back up and play softly, while
I started to pray, and simply enter into His presence. I had only
meant to go for a few minutes before starting to preach, but we
went longer, and it became more intense, than I had planned. People
stood up and raised their arms to the Lord, expressing their hunger
for more of Him. It was great!
hearts were ready to receive! I started preaching on the fire
of God. God had given me a great illustration earlier today. I
brought three flashlights of different sizes with me, and pictures
of fires of different sizes. Jesus said we're the light of the
world. However, many of us are like flashlights - safe light,
not dangerous like fire, unable to light another light, not able
to cook or do anything but give some light. A copy of the real
deal; in Jesus's day there was only the real deal - fire. What
are you - a flashlight or fire? How much fire burns in you?
fire needs three components - a spark to get it started (our conversion),
fuel (ourselves - our will, flesh, etc.), and oxygen (Holy Spirit).
If we only have a little fire burning inside of us, as we start
running towards the Lord, the wind will fan the flame and it will
are just a few tidbits. I'll upload the whole sermon (in German)
to the AUDIO page soon. It's hard for
me to preach in German, and it's never as good as in English,
but God gives grace to do it.
the end of the sermon, I made a salvation altar call, and then
had those who wanted more of His fire to stand up. The worship
team was back, and we sang about the fire of God, and I prayed.
I finally asked those wanted to run to the Lord and fan their
flames to come forward. I then had a word for the church itself,
and finally I started praying for people, for more fire, and the
Lord came and touched them. I loved it!
the service, I started talking to people, and stayed for quite
some time, being part of the last ones to leave. I'd had a great
day, and a great time at church! I love being His extension! More,
was time to go to the dentist the second time. He exchanged the
fillings of several teeth on the bottom of the same side he did
the dentist I went to one of the shopping streets in Vienna, to
make a few last purchases. At 3 pm my "old" friend Charlotte
showed up; it was great to see her again since it had been years.
We had reconnected thanks to cross.tv and Facebook. I was looking
forward to spending a few hours with her.
first went to the "Christkindlmarkt" - the Christmas
market in downtown Vienna that is quite famous. I really wanted
to go - and would have liked some snow with the experience, but
unfortunately I've not been blessed with snow this trip; it's
still too early.
and I had a great time walking around and talking; she asked me
lots of questions trying to catch up with my life, and I enjoyed
thing I love about winter in Vienna are the chestnuts they sell
everywhere - and so it was mandatory to have some. We also bought
some typically Austrian Christmas cookies (Vanillekipferl) for
the movie theater later.
walked inside the Rathaus and saw the crafts they were doing with
the children there. I wished I could take my kids with me! They'd
had this huge advent wreath at the entrance to the market - with
the first candle lit - and we had these pictures taken.
picture shows the traditional "Lebkuchen" with different
writings on them. From the market we walked towards the movie
theater, and walked by this beautiful Christmas tree. I had not
eaten lunch and was getting hungry. We debated where to have some
food, and ended up at MacDonald's. We kept talking and talking....
we continued on to the movie theater where we arrived just in
time for the 5:15 pm movie - "2012". I was looking forward
to watching it, and was not disappointed. It was a great movie!
After the movie, we were able to continue on together for a little
more time, before it was time for good-byes. It had been a most
wonderful several hours!
continued on towards home, and was lucky to catch a bus at the
subway right away. Back home, I was able to enjoy the rest of
the evening with internet and TV.
it was finally time to go to the dentist; I had already been taking
painkillers for days, and had been having pain since May when
he did one filling. This dentist is a God-sent - a Christian who
knows I don't have insurance, and treats me for free. Thank God!
exchanged the filling, not able to see any reason for the pain.
So I can only hope the pain is going to stop now. I have another
appointment on Thursday.
then had a few hours before my appointment at the hairdresser's,
and tried to find some clothes, but I didn't. My appointment was
at 4:30 pm, and it was a new place where my Mom now goes; it's
cheaper than the last one. The owner was very nice. She said she'd
photocopy my flyers and lay them out for customers to take. Wow!
She also bought some chocolates to give to my kids!
there I went to my Mom's house where I spent time with her and
her husband, and had my favorite meal for dinner.
I had an appointment to speak about Mali in a High School in Vienna.
Recently my Mom reconnected with a friend from her years at university,
and that friend invited me to come speak at her school. Three
different classes came to listen; the picture was taken before
most of the students had arrived. My Mom's friend is to the left.
showed my 10-min presentation, and then shared. They also had
lots of questions. Time flew buy. The class representative gave
me a card with a little money - that was really sweet. A few students
signed up to receive my email newsletter, and the teacher took
a few extra flyers. She said she'd like to come to Mali to visit
with her sister who's a doctor. She told my Mom to go with them,
but my family refuses adamantly to come visit me in Mali.
the afternoon I visited with a friend at her house, and then I
went to visit with another friend, and have dinner at the best
pizza place in town. It's been a beautiful day!
one thing that bothers me right now is that I haven't heard anything
from Paul since leaving Mali. I've sent him text messages, and
an email, and haven't heard anything back.