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February 27, 2010
every Saturday morning, Paul went to the village of Dara where
we planted a church a year and a half ago, and where he is the
pastor. Last week I forgot to tell you about the words of knowledge
Paul had, and people responded to them, and they were healed.
God gave him a dream during the night that they would find a lady
whose one side of the body would be paralyzed, and they'd pray
for her and she'd be healed. After their meeting, they went to
see that lady who had been unable to come to the meeting, and
it was her. They prayed for her, and she was healed. Praise God!
always they started the meeting with a time of Bambara praise.
This one old lady is always the first one to start dancing - amazing,
and then others join her.
preached, and then they prayed for the sick. I encouraged Paul
to take our little kids with him as well, and thanks to Eva being
there and watching them, that worked out nicely. Paul even had
Bakary (6) and Sarata (4) pray for the sick as well! Wonderful!
two pictures show two of my older boys praying for the sick -
Joseph (left, 16) and Souleymane (right, 15). I love seeing this!
They did great.
visiting the sick lady, they returned to Bamako. I love this picture
of these old ladies that Eva took! The village imam passed by
the meeting and was asked by one of them where he was going. He
said to his field. She answered, we're working in His field here.
quiet morning enabled me to prepare for the service in the afternoon
- though it wasn't that quiet. Anco finally came to install another
machine to make our solar power system run more smoothly, so I
was really happy about that. Unfortunately we're having some major
problem with the system, having far less electricity than we should
have, which has made life hard. Anco didn't find anything during
the short time he was here, but will be back to look at it.
it being the Feast of Purim tonight and tomorrow, I decided to
preach on the book of Esther and have us pray for Israel. As we
prepared the dining hall for the service, there was the usual
disorder and chaos and kids' inability to each do their tasks.
But it seemed worse than usual. A few times I was at the point
of letting them do the service without me. Looking back now, I
believe the enemy wanted just that for today.... but I decided
to look to God and do the service for HIM, whatever the kids are
nice computer then died... the screen is already broken, so we've
used it for the projection. The fan is not working, so it won't
turn on. Does anyone know whether that's easy to fix?
we didn't have any words up on the screen. Paul led Bambara praise
first, and then I led French worship. After the offering, it was
my turn. Even the worship time had been pretty discouraging, and
I still felt like just walking away. But I didn't.
preached on the book of Esther, drew lessons for ourselves, and
talked about modern day Israel and today's threats to its existence.
I preached my usual long time of 1 hour ;-). Paul was getting
felt we needed to end the service with prayer for Israel. So I
asked someone to come forward and pray for Israel first. Philippe
came and did (see picture). Then I asked for someon to pray for
Iran and the threat coming for there, and Paul did. The third
and last item was to pray for Mali's relationship with Israel.
My heart was already broken, and I was on the brink of tears.
I asked who wanted to pray for that, but I knew it was my turn.
so I knelt down on the floor, and let the tears flow. Suddenly
the microphone had so much electricity flowing through it that
I had to drop it. I tried a few times, and the street kids were
laughing hard. The enemy tried one more time to keep from happening
what God had planned. I asked them stop laughing and let God break
their hearts as well. I took the edge of my clothes to hold the
microphone, and started praying. I repented on behalf of Mali,
asking God's forgiveness for us turning against Israel, and asked
for God to intervene so we would be counted a friend of His people
in the last days. I paused a few times as the tears flowed, and
expected others to fall on the floor as God was breaking their
hearts. Paul was already next to me. But no one else followed.
Philippe's heart was very touched, as was Joseph's. But that was
it. Their hearts were too hard. We later talked and agreed that
God had wanted to break in and do much more.
finally got off the floor and had us do one last thing. We all
stretched our hands towards Israel, and they repeated a blessing
over them after me.
the projector was already up, we hooked up a DVD player and then
showed them the ESTHER film - to all those who stayed.
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February 26, 2010
pictures from this week. Like Paul who is teaching the street
kids every morning, holding his Bible in his hand.
Hama who is using his walker again a little bit every day inside
the dining hall. He's praticing with his crutches, which will
help him more on the uneven ground.
rare picture of Jonathan (1.5) smiling. And one of Abdias making
the traditional Malian tea.
kids are allowed to play with the Playstation one hour per day
- soccer of course. In this picture the older ones are playing
with it, and the younger ones are playing Memory with Eva and
other picture shows Eva with the three little ones that go to
the Christian kindergarten being picked up at noon.
accompanied Hama to the handicapped kids' center where he goes
once a week. I was disappointed to hear that they only worked
with him for one hour. That's not much. Thankfully Eva and one
of my boys work with Hama every day.
night we spent some time playing Monopoly together, since there
was no school on Friday. The other two pictures show me with our
is our dog Uppy the day before she had her puppies. And the other
two pictures were taken the following day - the day the puppies
were born; 8 of them. Now we need to find people to take them.
"Fortunately" 3 are already dead as Uppy doesn't seem
to care for them, and lets them go hungry. Maybe the problem will
take care of itself.
Thursday we have our weekly prayer meeting which is more a worship
meeting most of the time. I led us in a time of French worship.
In the end we share visions and words God has given us.
picture shows you my cat sprawled out because of the heat. Most
of the times she's looking for a cool spot in the kitchen on the
tiles. The other one is Souleymane who chose to brush his teeth
outside as someone else was in our only bathroom.
finally, our night guard Dami at our main gate. And Jonathan and
Hama sleeping outside because of the heat.
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February 23, 2010
Daily Life Pictures
older kids play with Lego, the younger with Duplo. I'm glad to
see that this generation of kids loves it so much. The first kids
I took in were older and couldn't get anything out of Lego. These
kids get to have their creativity encouraged, and are building
houses and all kinds of things. Wonderful!
that Eva is here, she's the one working with Hama together with
Joseph. Every day they practice walking with the canes, Hama practices
using his left hand, and doing some intellectual stuff. It's only
on Thursdays that Hama gets to go to the school for handicapped
children where they work with him.
morning, after our kids are off to school, Paul does a time of
praise & worship and Bible teaching with the street children.
Right now their number is pretty low, only around 20 per night.
picture shows our female goat Fifine - or I should say MY goat
since it was a gift for me. We want to buy a male one to have
now our dog is pregnant again (sigh) because they are unable to
keep our gates shut, and so she gets out. It also means that strangers
get in without anyone noticing, which is not good.
Eva did a tour of the hills to our north. She found a great view
up there. You can see her sitting on a rock, with our base in
the background - the white houses and water tower. She also found
a place where there was water, and hence the green plants. In
rainy season kids love bathing there.
her way back she passed by Dami & Rosalie's house. They live
just around the corner. Rosalie is one of our cooks, and Dami
our night guard.
day our kids learn a Bible verse. They have learned 1.Cor 13 by
heart, and this week they are working on Psalm 91. Eva is helping
our little ones memorize the verse of the day - 6-year-old Bakary
and 4-year-old Sarata.
night at 8 pm we have our family meeting (picture on the right).
We talk about the day - the good and the bad, look at who did
their chores, see whether they have memorized their verse of the
day, and then I pray for them laying hands on each one of them.
The little ones have to be ready for bed already, the older ones
hit the bathroom afterwards. It's a precious time for our family.
after the family meeting, we have a team meeting. The six of us
sit down and exchange, and then pray together. Around 9 pm we
all go our different ways - Dami to start his shift as our night
guard, Paul and Philippe to bed (in the best case), and I to the
night the power went out at 10:30 pm already. Knowing it would
be possible to sleep inside the house, I joined Eva on the roof.
I was shocked that even outside it was 33°C (91.4 F) until
1 am or so - that's how long we talked instead of sleeping. By
the time I got up and went inside the house at 6 am, it had cooled
down to 27°C (80.6 F).
I won't touch the AC so that the power stays on until the morning.
But it's not going to be easy to sleep in the hot house. The heat
is definitely takings its toll on me.
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February 22, 2010
power went out at 4 am - that's when the night was over. It came
back on at 8 am. I was good for nothing all day, being very tired,
and having a hard time with the heat. It's not even March yet,
and it's hot as if it was the middle of hot season! Amazing.
the late afternoon we heard of rioting going on all over our city.
A public transportation driver was shot by a policeman because
he didn't want to show him his vehicle papers. So all the public
drivers plus taxi driver decided to rise up together and attack
all the police stations. The police abandoned their stations,
and attacked with tear gas. The drivers set up barricades, and
lit tires in the middle of the roads.
of our boys was out there at that time - our 19-year-old who had
gone to driving school to pay the second installment. He was going
to stay there to go straight on to school; he's going to evening
school which is from 7 to 9 pm every night. Our driver barely
made it home with our boys who finish school at 5 pm. He said
there were fires at the nearby police station. All public transportation
including taxis were on strike.
Tierno made it home safely. He said he started to run when he
saw the tear gas. We're praying and hoping this situation won't
stay like this for long.
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February 21, 2010
week is already over; it's been a very busy week, but a good week.
We implemented our new schedule on Monday, and it's worked well.
I'm sure more busy than before, though, but I'm loving it. The
heat has not made things easier, unfortunately.
has now been with us for a week, and it feels like she's been
here so much longer already. She's a great blessing, a wonderful
addition to the team, and her presence has already made a big
difference. I'm so glad she's watching the kids all day, and helping
them do what they're supposed to do - and all that without speaking
the same language!
also a great photographer, and thanks to her I'll undoubtingly
have great pictures in the weeks and months to come. Below are
some pictures from this week.
- 8-year-old handicapped boy who can't walk - and his little brother
Jonathan (1.5), plus our dog Uppy.
Mom Fanta is washing clothes.
(left) and Bakary (right) are playing with Duplo.
little ones coloring using coloring books - Patrice, Sarata, Bakary,
for homework! Every day the kids work between 45 and 90 minutes
one year without a Playstation, I bought a used one. They're allowed
to play one hour a day, and they're loving it.
the picture to the right, you see Paul Junior with the little
ones - from left: Paul, Bakary, Jonathan, Hama, Sarata. Paul Jr.
has been on probation, having to sleep with the street kids but
continuing school, but on Saturday we finally had to kick him
out. He refused to live by the rules, do his part, and show any
respect. While he was quiet, he was also short-tempered and violent.
We hope that he continues to spend the nights here, since God
has a future for him.
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February 20, 2010
our driver wanted a day off, we moved our weekly visit to the
village of Dara from Sunday to Saturday. Paul is the pastor in
Dara, and since I preach at our church in Bamako in the afternoon,
that works out fine. It's a lot for Paul, though, if he has to
do both services.
was happy to have a quiet morning to prepare for the service in
the afternoon, while Paul and the kids and our new family member
Eva from Austria drove to Dara, which is 45 minutes away (by car).
It was her first chance to get out of Bamako. A few days ago we
went to the supermarket, but that's all she had seen so far. So
it was an exciting opportunity for her.
started off praising God to let people know they were there, so
they could gather. Their usual place where they meet was too small,
so they had to move to a bigger place. There are now about 60
adults in that little village church.
new driver gave a testimony after the time of praise. Then Paul
preached a message. You see Paul reading the Bible in this picture.
they prayed for the sick, and many were healed. They returned
has been preaching on Saturday afternoon as well, and today was
my first time in quite a while. I didn't even know what to preach,
but decided on passing on what the prophets are saying regarding
before the service, it was time for a new family picture.
from left: Claudia, Paul, Philippe, Tierno, Eva, Joseph, Abdias,
Sitting from left: Florentin, Jérémie, Boubacar,
Amadou, Sarata, Hama, Bakary, Jonathan
was surprised at how few people showed up. Paul led a time of
Bambara praise to start with. Then I led worship in French. It
was the first service with me for both Philippe and Eva. Abdias
took care that the right words were projected onto the wall.
want to give my kids more opportunities to step out, and so I
had asked Souleymane to speak a few minutes for the offering.
He did a great job.
it was my turn to preach. I wasn't happy with what I had prepared,
but was surprised (as so often) to see Holy Spirit "hijacking"
me and bringing forth a wonderful sermon that inspired and encouraged
the people. I'm so glad he doesn't depend on me...
thanked me later for the message, and Paul always loves it when
I preach. Unfortunately Eva doesn't understand either French or
prayed at the end of the service, challenging people to stand
up if they wanted to respond to God, and then the service was
over. The kids had behaved decently well.
the service, Philippe took back the one family to our old neighborhood,
while we did not put away the sound system, projector and computer.
It was time for a movie! Many street kids had already shown up
to the service, and now they got to watch the Christian movie
FACING THE GIANTS. We showed them with English subtitles, so Eva
could also understand what's going on.
more picture - this is one with all our three ladies who cook
for us (at different times): Rosalie, Elisabeth and Fanta.
had been a long day, but a great day. Since tomorrow is a day
off, we allowed the kids to stay up for an additional hour, which
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February 15, 2010
was scheduled to arrive in Bamako at 1:30 am this morning - with
a North African airline I did not even know did fly to Mali. We
were all excited about her arrival - especially little handicapped
went to bed after the family meeting, while I stayed up. I've
been trying to go to bed early to get over jetlag - well that
night would counteract those efforts. I had no problem staying
up till 1 am. When I called the airport, I was surprised that
their arrival time was still not confirmed, and they didn't know
anything. Still, I woke up Paul and at 1:15 am we left home to
drive to the airport - not more than 15 minutes away. Paul was
very tired - he's a morning person, while I'm an evening person.
So he had a hard time functioning.
parked at the airport, and went inside the hall to look at the
screen with the arrival times. While other flights had their projected
arrival times, there was nothing on Eva's flight. It was now past
the projected arrival time, and no one knew anything about the
flight. That was really weird!
were wondering what to do. Had the flight even left Tunisia? What
if she'd arrive many hours later? We sat down to wait a little.
Paul was so tired he was in no shape to think or make decisions.
2 am came around, and still no word on the flight. I did not want
to spend the whole night at the airport, and Paul had errands
to run in the morning. So I decided we'd go home. Our night guard
could call the airport regularly until they'd know the arrival
got back home before 2:30, and tried calling them one last time
before going to bed. And - surprise, surprise - they had a confirmed
time! It was 3:25 am, just an hour away. Paul went to bed, while
I sat down in my office. I had to keep myself awake somehow. The
heat's been really getting to me, since it's 34°C in my office
during the day (i.e. 93.2 F), and it wasn't much cooler at night.
I thought watching 24 should keep me awake, but I still had a
3:15 I woke up Paul, and we left for our second time for the airport.
Our smaller car is being repaired right now, and I was driving
our bigger and older car, and it was also in pretty bad shape;
the driver had already told me so. When the small car comes back,
the big one will go to the shop... so many expenses to repair
those old cars (sigh).
parked at the airport, and went to wait for Eva. I saw how tired
Paul was, and told him to go lie down in the car which he did.
I continued waiting by myself. At 4 am Eva came out, and we were
happy to see each other.
is what happened: For some reason we don't know, her plane did
not go from Tunisia to Bamako, but to Abidjan (Ivory Coast). That
means, it passed over Bamako and went further south. Since she
didn't know she had NOT arrived in Bamako, she got off the plane
and started the process of leaving the airport. It was at immigration
that she was told she did not have a visa for Ivory Coast and
she finally figured out she was not in Mali! She was rushed back
to the plane, and got back on before it left. Thank God!
it must have been this unexpected stop why nobody knew when this
plane would arrive or what is going on.
we were finally on our way home - with Eva and her luggage. Paul
was sleeping in the back, and we were talking. At 4 am, there
are few cars on the road, and there is some weird stuff going
on. There was a huge truck that had fallen over, and then suddenly
this pick-up truck pulled up in the middle of the road, nearly
blocking us. It had a motorcycle in the back. I was able to get
by and continued on my way.
the truck came back, overtook us dangerously, turned on all the
lights, slowed down, which made me try to get by on the right,
but I couldn't. The car stopped and policemen came out. I was
surprised, and wondered what was going on. The one officer made
me pull to the side of the road, leave the engine on, and have
me get off. I was puzzled, but obeyed. He asked me to come towards
him, and he showed me that my left light was not working. I told
him I had not noticed.
Paul joined us. I don't know why, but I then turned on the distance
light, and that one worked, and it looked like everything was
fine now. To my great surprise that satisfied the police officer,
and he told us to go on our way. What a first adventure for Eva!
was glad when we arrived home before 4:30 am. Since Paul had to
get up at 5:30, we decided we'd let Eva sleep in his room, and
Paul would sleep in the living room. That way Eva would have some
quiet and be able to sleep as long as she wants to. Eva's room
is right next to the kids', plus she has no window, so it would
not have worked.
showed Eva the most important stuff, and by 5 am I was in bed.
was 11:30 am when I got up. I felt like a truck had run me over.
I'm definitely not 20 any more! Eva did amazingly well all day
found her with the little kids in the living room, having fun.
Sarata is the next to have gotten sick, so she wasn't in kindergarten
it was Eva's first day, she already got involved quite a bit,
and did great. It's a lot to take in, of course, all those names
to learn. She has a Bambara dictionary, and will have to let the
kids teach her, since she knows neither Bambara nor French. I
hope that won't get frustrating for her. It can be hard not to
understand the language of the country you're in.
we implemented our new daily schedule, and it went well. The kids
did their Bible reading/listening plus audio explication in the
morning, and in the afternoon we had time set aside for homework/schoolwork
and that proved very beneficial.
greatest moment for my kids was when I gave them their remaining
Christmas gift I had tried to get here for the last 5 months -
a Playstation 2. Their old one stopped working early last year.
They were literally jumping in the air when they saw it! They
can play one hour a day, and made good use of it today! What was
the first game? Soccer, of course.
night we have a family meeting with our children. We had a good
time tonight. But then, we did something new:
had a team member meeting! We were 6 people gathering in my living
room, as the kids went to bed. There was Eva and Paul, then our
driver, Fanta, and our night guard. I explained to them that I
wanted time just with the team to talk about things and pray together;
just a few minutes each night. Vroni, you should be happy! :-)
we did just that, and it was great! It should make a big difference!
talked with Eva for some time before she went to bed, and I went
to the office to get some more things done. How on earth am I
going to fall asleep at a decent time tonight! It's midnight now,
and I'm going to give it a try.
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February 13, 2010
it's been an intense few hours of dealing with situations. I've
had conversations with different people.
Junior - Things are back to going bad with him... been there,
done that. We might not have another option than to kick him out.
- our new driver - talked to me about getting a day per week off.
He also wants to go other churches as well as he feels like he's
not being fed here. I can't blame him. I reminded him that he
came 3 days before I left for the US, and now I've been sick since
my return. He has not been in a prayer meeting with me, nor heard
me preach. Next week things will be back to "normal"
also explained to him that we had put some things on ice because
Paul and I are already stretched to the limit, and we are concentrating
on the children now. Paul told me that Philippe was part of several
weekly prayer meetings, since he was without a job and had time,
and he misses that now.
asked Philippe to give it a little more time and be patient. I
told him we'd rearrange things so we could make it one day a week
without a driver. I told him that being part of two churches might
become a conflict of interest at one point... he wants to go to
another church Sunday, since our service is on Saturday. Talking
with Paul about it, I told Paul that I can trust God with that,
that at the right time Philippe will choose, and make the right
decision. He told Paul that he's not comfortable in our service;
he's now been in 4 services with Paul preaching each time, and
he's a fiery preacher. Philippe is from non-charismatic background.
please pray for him and for us. Going to the village and having
our service the same day is more tiring for Paul primarily; especially
if I'm traveling and he has to preach in both services. I'd like
to see both Philippe and the kids step up to the plate more.
told Philippe about our Bible school, and that I'd wish it would
start up again. Honestly, at this point I don't even see where
we could put that in our schedule! But it would be really good
for Philippe, and some of our older boys, and other team members.
that's some of the issues I've been dealing with.
kids still get sick, so that quite a few are suffering right now.
I don't think we've ever had that many sick at the same time!
have tried to rest some so I'll be back up to speed by the time
our new member of the family arrives from Austria tomorrow night.
This afternoon I spent some time playing with the kids, and I
did feel that physically later.
my most productive time mentally was from midnight to 2 am! I
simply could not fall asleep. My mind was so active, finding solutions,
being creative, to the point I needed a paper to write things
down. Once again, it took me forever to fall asleep. So I set
my alarm to go off early this morning... the only way to get over
this jetlag. I'm tired tonight, so I hope I'll fall asleep more
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February 11, 2010
I've been pretty miserable since arriving late night the day before
yesterday. It started on the plane, and by now my nose is all
red and in pain. I've barely moved around today, though I really
want to get on the treadmill. However, I still got lots of necessary
not the only one sick. Tierno went to get tested while I was gone,
but was too scared to follow up when they told him to go to the
hospital. I convinced him to go today; he was given medication
but has more tests to undergo.
also concerned for Abdias; he says that he's turned blind on one
eye. He went to the eye center today. He also has more tests to
undergo to figure out what's wrong.
Paul also has a cold, as has Souleymane, and today I was told
that Hama has joined the club. Please pray for us!
was wonderful to see my kids again yesterday - sick or not. I
decided I wanted to be with them, however miserable I felt. It
was great to be able to hold them in my arms again.
gave them the lego and duplo pieces I had brought from my trip,
and soon they were enthralled in playing. I love seeing these
kids be creative - something that is not encouraged in this culture.
family meeting at night was less encouraging. I found out that
they had not done their chores nor memorized their Bible verses
during my absence. It's time to have a more scheduled day again,
the way we did in the beginning! Once Eva arrives Monday morning,
we'll be able to carry through with that since she'll be supervising.
It will be the beginning of a new chapter!
it's not Monday yet; today I felt more miserable than yesterday,
and it bothers me that I can't be more productive, especially
just having come back. I told Paul he might be the one preaching
on Saturday; we'll see.
cold plus jetlag has also made the first two nights less than
profitable; I hope tonight will be better.
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February 9, 2010
landed in Paris at noon local time; it had been a very short night.
It took a while, including a train, to make my way to where my
plane would leave from, and I had to go through security once
again. Then I headed straight for the frequent flyer lounge. I
found a nice spot, and got some tea and internet for my computer.
I would have over 2 hours of waiting time here.
through that time the tiredness caught up with me. At 3:20 pm
I left the lounge to go to my gate. At the gate, they kept delaying
the boarding; we ended up leaving with a delay of nearly one hour.
For once it didn't matter!
enjoyed the 5.5 hour flight with my last good meal and movies,
and was glad not to have anyone sitting next to me even though
the plane was pretty full. It was chilly, but I knew I was freezing
for the last time in quite some time.
landed at 9:20 pm local time. I got through immigration quickly,
and waited for my luggage. This time I decided to have my own
cart and not take a porter - nobody ever even asked me whether
he can help me, which is shocking. I was glad when my two bags
came out quickly, then heaved them onto the x-ray machine, and
was not stopped by customs. Thank God! Everything had gone extremely
walked outside, where Paul and Philippe came up to me right away.
Half an hour later we were home, where our dog Uppy welcomed me
the most enthusiastically, as always. It was late, and the kids
were asleep, and Paul and Philippe went to bed, with only our
night guard up and working.
decided not to unpack - usually I do - but checked emails and
soon headed to bed. I had started noticing a sore throat on the
plane, and it was getting worse. That plus the time differenc
plus my cat kept me from falling asleep for a while. I was glad
that my cat had not turned into my enemy as she does most of the
time, but she was not super-friendly either. I finally did fall
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February 8, 2010
morning I woke up in tears, having dreamed that I was reading
notes my spiritual Mom Jill Austin had made about me, and I was
grieving over having lost her, being in tears. I woke up with
that grief; being in the US - especially in Pasadena - so reminds
me of Jill, and I miss her.
woke up half an hour earlier than planned, but that was okay.
I went to have my last good American bagel-breakfast, and then
finished packing. At 10 pm someone from Bible Pathway picked me
had one hour at their offices, telling more about Mali. It was
a good time. I returned to the hotel at 11:30 am, through the
side door, not knowing that my friends were already in the lobby
to pick me up. 15 minutes later we figured that out.
were so kind to stop at the bank, and then we continued on to
a very special place - Hotel Opryland. It's the most amazing hotel
I've ever seen! Huge indoors gardens that look like outdoors,
with little streets that could be in Europe. It was beautiful!
It was hard to find an affordable restaurant though and so we
left to go to my favorite restaurant - Applebee's. I enjoyed my
favorite dish, and spending time with my friends.
they dropped me off at the airport, and it was time to say good-bye.
I checked in, and went to security. I had forgotten to move my
little locks from my bag to the suitcase, and so I got pulled
aside. Oh well. I had plenty of time.
security I made my way to the Delta lounge, where I'm enjoying
free tea and internet right now.
pray for an uneventful, smooth trip to New York, then on to Paris,
and then on to Bamako. The greatest prayer request is customs
upon arrival in Mali.
for your prayers, and more from me from Paris!
was surprised at how empty the little Delta connection plane to
New York was - definitely the emptiest plane I've been on in a
long time. The trip was about 2.5 hours long. As soon as I sat
down, I was gone; I was so exhausted. When she came with drinks
and peanuts, I came back to the land of the living, and read a
book and just reflected on things for the rest of the journey.
loved looking down at the lights of New York; one day I will visit
this city! It was my very first time arriving at JFK airport.
arrived at Terminal 1 at 9:30 pm, and everything was pretty much
deserted. It was totally unclear where I was supposed to go to
get my connection. Thankfully I knew from my boarding pass that
I was leaving from Terminal 3. So I asked a few security people
who were sitting around. I could hardly believe it when they told
me I had to leave the airport building, and walk outside over
to the next building.
I did - walk by the check-in and leave the airport, walking on
a tiny sidewalk over to the next building. Shocking - and cold.
I entered that other building, and was in the arrival area. Now
I had to make my way to departures, and found the security checkpoint.
I made my way through security, and wondered whether there was
a frequent flyer lounge. I asked a few employees, and they were
pretty unfriendly. I finally found it - and it was closed. Great;
I had another hour before boarding.
sat down at my gate and made a few phone calls before leaving
the country; I'm glad I did.
they called a few names to come to the gate, I rejoiced since
that means you get an upgrade. Well, not this time. They just
wanted to check my passport :-(. And when we boarded, they checked
was sitting further back than usual, but was glad that there was
no person in the middle of the three seats; I sat at the window.
I watched a movie, had dinner at 1 am, and when I got too tired
around 3 am, I decided to nap a little. It didn't last very long,
as the flight is less than 7 hours, and they wake you up with
a small breakfast a while before landing.
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February 7, 2010
had a hard time getting up this morning, having gone to bed late
and having had a hard time falling asleep. I set my alarm for
9 am, not knowing when Karen would pick me up. I had a voicemail
saying she'd be here at 9:30 am - not much time. I quickly went
to have breakfast and got ready. I was ready before she showed
had dropped her brother off at the airport, and our next stop
was her home. She got her stuff done, and we continued on to her
little country church. The building is 200 years old; the church
used to be Baptist and is now unaffiliated. They have Sunday school
from 10 to 11, and service from 11 to 12. We walked in while they
had Sunday school.
they were done, I was introduced to the pastor. We tried to get
my video presentation to work, but the player would not play it.
I then set up my stuff on a table right in the open area.
was a 1-hour service. We sang two hymns about God, they shared
prayer requests and prayed a prayer for all those people. The
pastor gave a 2-min sermon to the chidlren, and there was an offering.
introduced me in a very moving way. Then it was my turn, and I
had about 20 minutes to complete the hour. I had no pictures to
show, but just started sharing about what God is doing in Mali,
and it really flowed very well this morning. I was very happy
with the way the words came out, and the time frame was perfect
to get everything said.
I was done, the pastor invited the congregation to surround me,
and a few people prayed for me. That was the end of the service.
People then took my materials, and talked to me, and left checks.
Everyone was very friendly.
packed up the stuff, and we moved to the fellowship hall nextdoors,
where everyone was already eating. Once a month they all stay
to eat soup and sandwiches. Some of the food I saw looked unfamiliar
to me, but it was good. I had a chance to talk a little more with
people, but most left after they were done eating. Karen and I
left after 1 pm ourselves.
Last Few Activities
returned to Karen's house, and from there went straight to the
movie theater. I had heard of the movie AVATAR, and that it was
3D, and had already become the most successful movie ever, and
I was curious - especially after other people speaking highly
of the movie. I was glad that Karen was willing to go watch it
were few people in the movie theater, and we had great seats.
The movie was sure long, but definitely fascinating. I love technology,
and loved the effects, and the fantasy world they've created.
I was less excited about the story plot, and the new agey parts.
All in all, it was definitely worth watching - and watching in
3D, rather than on a plane half a year from now.
got back home around 5:30 pm, ready to pack for my return to Mali.
Or somewhat ready. I had been very tired all day, and knew it
wouldn't be easy. When you have that much stuff to take, it's
a major undertaking to pack wisely in a way Malian customs won't
give me any trouble, and with the weight being okay. I made good
progress, and enjoyed TV and internet at the same time.
so time passed quickly, and it's after midnight now. Time to go
sleep one last time in the US!
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February 6, 2010
I could finally sleep in - unfortunately I didn't realize I would
have had another hour to go to breakfast since it was the weekend,
and didn't have to set my alarm. I had gone to bed too late, as
enjoyed the treadmill in the morning, and had some of the groceries
I had bought at Walmart for lunch. At 2 pm Karen came to pick
me up. I still had a shopping list for Walmart, for stuff to take
to Mali, and she was so kind to take me there. I pretty much got
everything and more, which was exciting. I got more lego and duplo
for my kids; it's been a joy to see them play with that every
day, and they sure needed some additions. They had asked me for
some female people to add, but Walmart was limited. So we stopped
at Toys R Us, and they were out. But I got a little set where
there was at least one lady in there. I can't wait to give them
the shopping was done, Karen drove me to her house that is out
in the countryside a little bit. We picked up her brother and
the lasagna, and left again to drive to the church that allowed
us to use their gym for tonight's meeting.
ladies had already set up the tables, and as people arrived, they
brought the food - Italian was the theme. I had not had lasagna
and pizza yet, and was looking forward to reverting to that unhealthy
food for just one night ;-).
sat down to eat first, and I talked a little with some people.
Some people that had come had already been to other meetings.
But tonight we had 3 hours - enough time to tell the whole story.
was only a very small group of people - two tables with about
10 people. I had my laptop with me and showed them the presentation
to start with. Then I told them the whole story of how I ended
up in Mali. Then they had questions, and Karen encouraged me to
share certain specific things. We had a great time.
3 hours had passed quickly, and it was 8 pm and time to say good-bye.
People picked up my brochures and DVDs and signed up for the email
newsletter. We packed up, cleaned up, and left.
dropped me off at home, where I enjoyed the rest of the evening,
and went to bed too late once again.
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February 5, 2010
9 hours of sleep! Nearly, as it was the maid that woke me up 30
minutes before I wanted to get up. Very annoying. I didn't think
she'd show up at 8:30 am, otherwise I would have put the don't
disturb sign out.
I went for breakfast at 9 am; this time the breakfast room was
full of people, lots of families. After a good breakfast I returned
to my room and ended up talking with Paul for a while. The car
IS repairable after all, but we don't know yet how much it will
cost. I guess that's good news.
then went to the fitness room to run on the treadmill - it felt
great! I had lunch in my room, eating the groceries I bought when
I arrived in town. In the afternoon I spent precious time with
God, getting ready for the evening meeting. I had a message to
preach, without knowing whether I'd get to do so. I also had physical
healing on my heart, having seen lots of sick people the last
still hadn't connected with the pastor who was so kind to let
us use his facility for the meeting tonight. I was told he wanted
to have dinner with me before the meeting. At just before 5 pm
he called, saying he was on his way and would be there 15 minutes
later. So I quickly got ready to leave for the meeting. Good thing
I thought this might happen.
5:10 pm I met the pastor and one of his daughters in the lobby.
The rest of his family joined us at Ruby Tuesday's. I really don't
like eating before ministering, so I just had a baked potato.
I enjoyed getting to know this family. They are closer to "my
stream", knowing a lot of people I know, including Jill Austin.
was a quick dinner, since we had to get to the church. It was
a beautiful building. Tara Jackson - the singer - was already
there. She donated her time and talent to draw people out to come;
unfortunately that plan didn't work. Nobody had come because of
her, and very few people showed up.
did a sound check, and they also made my video presentation work.
Wonderful! A few minutes after 7 pm we started. Tara sang songs
for half an hour; she has a great voice. She also told about her
ministry, and encouraged people to help her there.
decided to spend time with God during that time, and knelt on
the floor seeking His face. I was somewhat disappointed that so
few people had shown up.
she was done, Karen came up to introduce me. She did great. Before
I came up, everyone watched the video presentation.
came up, adjusting my microphone until it worked. The few people
that had showed up were so quiet... it's always hard to get started,
and it takes me a little time before the atmosphere changes.
started giving a quick version of my story, telling them how I
ended up in Mali. Karen had wanted me to do ministry, so that's
why I was ready to preach. When I was done sharing, people started
asking questions, which was great, but time kept passing. It was
already 9 pm when the questions ceased. I looked at Karen and
knew she wanted ministry done; I was a little at a loss as to
how to proceed, but decided to do a quick message and then pray
I shared on this healing message faster than I had ever done before.
It didn't feel anointed at all; too quick to get anything out
of it really, and too short to really get people ready to receive
healing. Oh well. I then started praying - that was a good choice.
I took my time drawing us closer to HIM. I also prayed for healing
right there from the front, kneeling on the floor.
I asked people to come forward if they wanted me to pray for them.
Many came, most for healing. So many needs! In this picture I'm
praying for Karen's brother who has terminal cancer.
praying for people I started talking with them; many were wonderfully
sweet people. Some of them put checks in my hand. Next time I
come I expect more open doors.
pastor took me back home. He told me they have a guest room, and
even a treadmill, and I can stay with them next time.
after doing all this writing, it's now going on 1 am, and I should
get some sleep. God is good!
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February 4, 2010
6-hour night; I'd had a hard time falling asleep. My alarm went
off at 6:40 am; it felt like the middle of the night! A few minutes
later I went to the breakfast room, where I was the only person.
7:40 am my friend Karen arrived. I've known Karen for 10 years
or so, but had never met her in person until this morning, so
it was an exciting moment.
somehow got connected with Karen back then and ended up being
the German translator for the ministry she was working for - Bible
Pathway. It took me about two years to translate their devotional
which is a commentary of the whole Bible, and quite a big book.
I stayed in touch with Karen after that, since she has such a
huge heart and would always try to help me, connect me, and get
people to pray for me.
she picked me up to take me to the Bible Pathway offices. When
I decided to go to Nashville, I didn't even know that this is
where Karen lived and where Bible Pathway was located! Since it's
a suburb of Nashville. Amazing!
were a little late, and everyone was already waiting for us. They
have a half hour devotional time every morning at 7:55 am, and
this morning I was the chosen one to speak. First they had a time
of praying for needs, and then it was my turn. I'm not a morning
person, so I didn't feel like I did a very good job. And they
even videotaped it! At the end they asked a few questions. Then
they prayed for me.
it was time to meet all those people; they were all very sweet.
They wanted to take some pictures - like this one with Al who
is the second in command, and the pastor at whose church I shared
last night. Then they had me share on video what the Bible means
to me - in three different languages. I started in English - the
French version was better, and my third time (German) it was best.
I should have started over there!
one of the ladies asked me some more questions because they are
going to put the work in Mali into their next monthly mailing
letter, and she's gonna write the article. Praise God!
were done, and Karen took me to the dollar tree store since I
wanted to buy all kinds of cheap stuff for my kids. I had a great
time picking up toys, and tooth brushes, and who knows what. The
cart was pretty full, and I ended up paying $70 - only, really,
with all I got for that!
there Karen and I went to Olive Garden, where the other ladies
from Bible Pathway would join us for lunch. We had a great time
talking, fellowshipping and eating good food.
ladies told us that the founder of Bible Pathway wanted Karen
and me to come back to the office. He hadn't been there in the
morning, but only walked by me at one point.
Hash is a remarkable 87-year-old man. He wanted some pictures
taken, and had put up this huge Africa map. He had me point at
my city, and he held one of my brochures in his hands. Then we
sat down, and had a few more pictures taken, before we started
said he had looked at my brochure and noticed how much we fall
short in our budget with our regular supporters, and wanted to
help. He asked me more questions about what I do in Mali, especially
in terms of training. Then he made a suggestion that confirmed
the idea I'd had in the morning.
been frustrated in Mali with the lack of training materials, and
the feeling of not doing a good job training them. This morning
I was reminded of the Bible Pathway devotional, and thought of
how I could use with with my kids for their daily devotional time,
having Paul translate the French in Bambara.
now Dr. Hash suggested the devotional/commentary to be translated
into Bambara - orally, recording it on mp3, since so many people
can't read or write. And then put the Bambara NT and the commentary
on a solar Bible unit, and get it to our village churches. Wow!
Praise God! I love it!
was amazed when Dr. Hash said he wanted to give us money to help
us with the translation. He also asked about Bibles in Mali, and
so I told him how we've had the need to buy Bambara Bibles for
a long time, but the shop had moved, and the Bibles are expensive.
However, my kids have recently been asking for Bibles. So I was
able to tell him all that, and he wanted to help with buying Bibles.
He added more money to help with daily expenses. Praise God! I
was very excited after our meeting! He also said he'd like to
help get the word about Mali out... I felt very blessed, and honored.
He's quite an amazing man of God.
the way, I had a text message from Paul this morning that he needed
to talk with me. One of our two pick-up trucks has broken down
terminally - it's beyond repair. That's not good news, as we need
two vehicles. I guess it gives us all the more reason to pray
for a bus now - a vehicle to fit in all the kids. With all the
other areas where we need money, that's going to be hard... but
not too hard for God.
Bible Pathway we went to the bank so I could deposit all the checks
I had collected, and then to Office Depot to continue buying the
stuff on my list of things to take back to Mali. Then Karen dropped
me off at the hotel. I was so tired, I was really glad to be "home"
and have nothing else scheduled the rest of the day.
I really wanted was to go to the fitness room, but I felt too
tired for that. So I started working on the computer and getting
off the packaging materials of all the stuff I had bought. Later
I had some food, and after that I felt a little more awake and
capable of running on the treadmill. So I went to the fitness
room, and enjoyed their treadmill for half an hour.
the afternoon and evening have passed quickly, and I'm really
tired. It's 11 pm, and I'm heading to bed soon. The good news:
I get to sleep in tomorrow! PRAISE GOD!
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February 3, 2010
6 hours of sleeping I got up to have breakfast in the hotel restaurant.
I was amazed that I was the only person in the restaurant! It
took them forever, but I finally got a really good breakfast.
I ate really quickly to get out of the hotel "on time".
I went back to my room and finished packing, then went into the
lobby to catch a shuttle to the airport.
lady that had been in the same boat with me last night was also
in the shuttle; she seemed to have calmed down a little. We got
to the airport, and I went through security - there were no lines.
I got to the gate pretty quickly. I was not going to miss this
flight was only 45 minutes; I was very tired and rested the whole
flight. At 10:30 am I landed in Nashville.
I walked towards the baggage claim, my friends were suddenly standing
in front of me. It was good seeing them again; last time was a
year ago at Jill Austin's funeral. She's the one who connected
got my bag, and started on the 40 minute drive south of Nashville
to Murfreesboro. We got to the hotel and I checked in; I was glad
to find my boxes there, waiting for me. The lady was very friendly.
I was glad they already let me into my room this early in the
day. I liked the room that would be my home for the next few days.
then left again to go to the closeby Walmart; I would have to
take care of several meals myself, which was possible thanks to
the fridge and Microwave in my room, and so I needed groceries.
It was great to be grocery shopping again!
there we went to Cracker Barrel for lunch. It's a unique southern
restaurant, with different kind of food. I was sure tired, but
enjoyed the company and food. After our meal we returned to the
hotel, and I had to say good-bye. It was 2 pm.
the restaurant I had finally been able to connect with the pastor
of the church I'd be at later in the evening. I was glad to hear
we'd have dinner AFTER the meeting, which gave me an additional
hour of rest.
I unpacked and got things ready for tonight. Then I lay down and
set my alarm for 90 minutes later. I slept wonderfully, and could
have continued sleeping. But I had to get up. I got ready for
the meeting, and was barely done when the pastor called that he
had arrived to take me to the meeting.
was the first time I met the pastor - a local Methodist pastor
who loves the presence of God and Holy Spirit. We had a half hour
drive south to get to his church. He's actually pastoring two
churches that are close to each other, and tonight the people
of both churches would come together to hear me speak.
liked the little country church when I saw it - it was cute. It
was really nice inside as well; they had just expanded and renovated
it. Slowly the building was filling up. We got the TV and DVD
player so I could show my presentation, but it refused to work.
Great! There would not be a video presentation.
the pastor started the meeting, and asked everyone to come forward,
and asked for prayer needs. One person then prayed a prayer for
everything. Then the pastor introduced me and gave me the word.
I simply started sharing my story, and what is going on in Mali
today. The whole meeting was only to last one hour. The time was
just right. I did a Q & A time, and a few questions were asked.
I'd had a great time sharing, and there was a good atmosphere.
the pastor asked everyone to come forward and surround me, and
he prayed a prayer of blessing over me. The meeting was over -
and the pastor encouraged people to give an offering, and take
talked with a few people, as they were leaving. Everyone was really
sweet - real sweet southern people.
left at 8:30 pm to go to a restaurant for dinner - a new one for
me: Charlie's. There were 6 of us - the pastor and his wife, and
their son and his family. We had a great time eating good food
and talking. They are really sweet people! It was a great first
contact, and I'll be back here for more.
pastor then took me back to the hotel, another half-hour drive,
where I arrived at 10:30 pm. Now I'm trying to go to bed by midnight,
since I have to leave the hotel at 7:30 am to go to an 8 am meeting.
That's awfully early for me!
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February 2, 2010
went to bed far too late last night, and had no clue what time
we'd leave for the airport this morning. So I set my alarm clock
to go off early, and was ready by 8:30 am. I had a wonderful breakfast
of bagel and cream cheese, and then I got to talk to Paul over
skype. The good news: Paul already got his visa - after the very
first interview!!! PRAISE GOD! Now all it takes is money for him
to go to his best friend's wedding in Topeka in May, and then
on to the HIM leaders conference, and Augusta in June, and possibly
my own wedding. He might get a 5-year visa now.
left the house at 9:45 am - once more good-bye to LA! This year
I might get to come to LA three times, though! I enjoyed my last
hour, riding in the car, talking with my wonderful host; it was
already the third time I stayed with them.
arrived at LAX at 10:45 am and checked in. When I reached security,
I was surprised at the masses of people. Good thing I was early!
And good thing I have certain privileges as a frequent flyer,
which meant shorter lines. After the passport and boarding card
check, I stood in line at security forever. They were seriously
short on personnel, and because one bag had to be checked, and
no one was available, we had to just wait.
was a body scanner right there, but they only sent very few people
through it. In fact, I only saw one person go in there. It' s
the first time I've seen one of those scanners.
security, I went to my gate and waited for boarding. Everything
seemed on track. We got on the plane, and were ready to leave
- but didn't. They then told us that maintenance had to check
something, and they were waiting for the green light! Great! I
already had a very short layover to start with!
ended up leaving one hour later than planned - and are scheduled
to land five minutes AFTER my connection to Nashville leaves.
I just hope I make it to Nashville today - the hotel is already
paid, and that's just one factor.
I'm sitting on the plane writing, since there are no TV screens
on this 3h 15min flight. At least I make good use of my time :-).
landed at 6:47 pm; my flight was to leave at 6:55 pm. Thankfully
the gate was in the same terminal, but I arrived at the gate at
6:58, hoping the plane would be delayed - it wasn't. I was not
the only one on my plane who wanted to catch that connection,
and was second in line.
had been the last flight to Nashville of the day. The lady in
front of me was mad, talking to them really bad. She was right
with one thing - not one person had apologized. I was actually
very surprised because usually the pilot or superior flight attendant
apologizes for the delay as you land. Not this time.
took them forever to take care of that lady, but thankfully they
were faster with me.
course the gate I arrived at and the gate I would have left at
were as far apart as possible. I was at the very end of the terminal,
and had to walk back all the way. I had been given a $7 voucher
for dinner, and one for breakfast. That's ridiculously little
when you look at prices here. I picked up something to eat - not
even much or anything special - and paid twice that.
I got to the hotel shuttle, it was there but already packed with
people who had missed their connection. So I had to wait for the
next shuttle. By the time it came, it was full again.
hotel was nearly in walking distance! When we got off, I was lucky
to be the second person to walk into the hotel where there was
already a long line of stranded people needing to check in. I
waited for a while before it was my turn. I was given my key card,
and found my way to my room.
first thing I did was turn up the heat, and then I remembered
it was Tuesday night, and turned on NBC to watch THE BIGGEST LOSER.
I was excited that I got to see it live for once! (Instead of
online two days later.) So I enjoyed watching it and eating my
simple dinner. I also called the hotel in Nashville, and Travelocity,
and was happy to find out they would refund what I paid for this
night at the hotel in Nashville. At least this saves me money!
was excited to see the bathtub and could not resist taking a wonderful,
hot bath. Heavenly!
I should not go to bed too late. Thankfully the flight is not
too early. The disadvantage is that I get into Nashville later,
and won't have that much time before the evening meetings tomorrow.
also miss the gym... I had hoped to use it tonight! I was going
to ask whether they have a fitness room at this hotel, but then
I realized I don't have any workout clothes, since my checked
bag is at the airport.
funny to close with: After skiing yesterday I had taken out my
contacts to give my eyes some rest. This morning the bright orange
contact case was gone - it was mysterious. I was then told that
my hosts' two cats take things and hide them. They told me how
they took a pair of glasses once, and it took them forever to
find them. Thankfully I had backup lenses with me - two of them.
Now all I have to do is buy a new case.
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February 1, 2010
went to bed at 9 pm last night, knowing I'd have to leave the
house at 6:30 am - very early. I had a cup of tea in the morning
before we left a little later than planned.
summer my host here in Pasadena invited me to go skiing with him
this January, and so we did. Another local HIM pastor joined us.
We drove a total of about 90 minutes to the skiing resort. Our
first stop was the rental place you see in the picture. They had
their equipment, but I needed boots, skis and poles.
continued on to the skiing resort, and finally snow started covering
the landscape around us. I was starting to get excited! I love
it's Monday, there weren't a lot of people at Mountain High, and
we got a good parking spot. We put our shoes on, and were ready
to get started. I was excited!
walked up to the ticket counters to get my ski pass. Then it was
finally time to put the skis on and go up! The first thing I noticed
was that the ski lift looked old. When we got on, I was shocked
that there was no security bar. You could have easily slipped
off the seats! In Austria you won't find a single chair lift without
security bars! They're mandatory!
the first easy slope, we went to a harder one, and continued on
from there. I ran ski races as a child, wanting to become a professional,
and later a ski instructor, so I ski very well. The HIM pastor
was amazing - skiing at 78 years of age, though he wasn't that
good at it. We got separated from him, and he was perfectly happy
skiing on his own the rest of the day. My host skied very well,
and so we speeded down the short slopes only to be back on the
mountain is 8000 feet high, and the view on top was amazing. Especially
in the direction where the desert lay - it's all flat and brown
back there. Amazing!
thing that's different from Austria is the color coding for the
slopes - green is easy, blue intermediate, and black diamond hard.
The slopes are not numbered, but have names. 90% of people were
snowboarders! Probably because they have lots of ramps for them
11:30 we met up with the pastor for lunch. How I wished for
some typical Alpine food like what we'd eat skiing in the Alps!
I was another reminder I was a long way from the Austrian Alps.
Lunch was cheeseburger (a good one).
amazed me was that they have a check-in where you can drop of
your skis for free. They give you a number, and you can be sure
nobody is going to steal your skis.
the short lunch break we hit the slopes again, and went hard,
up and down. It was getting a little boring to me to go down the
very same slopes over and over. It's a small resort.
weather was pretty decent, with the sun partially out, and the
snow was perfect. At 3 pm the fog started moving in. We stopped
at 3:30 pm and went to get some hot chocolate while waiting for
the pastor. It had been a wonderful day!
4 pm we connected with the pastor, and went to the car to get
changed and leave. We dropped of the equipment, and went on our
way. I was pretty tired!
dropped off the pastor, picked up some food on the way, and got
home at 6:30 pm, where we had a nice meal. I was very tired! I
should be sleeping well tonight, though it's going to be too short
as I'm leaving for the airport in the morning. That's why I did
my packing tonight, as well as catching up with emails and just
relaxing. I'm glad I had this fun day today - in the midst of
my very busy schedule this trip.
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