Nov 11 - 8th Anniversary Celebration

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121111-00Today was our big day - our anniversary celebration that we celebrate every year. This year our speaker was Gerhard Kisslinger, pastor in Vienna, Austria. After two days of meetings, this was our big finale, and it was to start at 3 pm.

Thankfully, because there was lots to do until then. The first thing to do in the morning was to kill the sheep that would be dinner, and all the kids

help with that. As for me, the most important thing to still do was to do a short baptism teaching and instructions on how it would be done. It took a while to find the 2 street kids who we had actually told to stay nearby. Hama - our handicapped boy - was SO ready. For years he's asked to be baptized but this is the first year he actually really understood it all, so his day had finally come. Yacouba, an ex-street kid who moved in a few months ago, was fourth, and then we had two people from our village church who wanted to come, but it was unclear when they'd actually be able to find a bus to come.

 

So I got the barbie doll and basin out, and showed them how it worked. Then we went to the baptismal that our kids had already cleaned out and filled, and Boubacar volunteered to get in so I could show them.

The kids were busy doing all kinds of things - arranging chairs and benches, cleaning up etc., and you get to really see who works a lot and who is rather lazy. But on the whole I have to say that this weekend they did better than any other year before! Of course there are moments when things don't work out or get done that are pretty frustrating as well, but there's no time not to move on.

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This year was the third time we broadcast our celebration live on Christian radio. Last year the radio arrived an hour into the celebration which was disappointing, so I was especially happy to see them arrive in time to set up and be ready right from the start. They broadcast the whole 3-hour celebration into Mali.

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121111-07Just before it was time to start, we all gathered in our dining hall (which was off-limits to visitors) to pray for the celebration. In the meantime, the ladies we hired to cook plus our own had already been working on cooking lunch as well as the feast for after the celebration all day. This picture shows our kitchen area with the ladies plus other ladies who came for the celebration.

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121111-10I made sure everything was ready and in place, and as you can see, our baptismal candidates had changed and taken their seats of honor - including the lady from the village who had come especially for this. Amazingly we were able to start on time at 3 pm.

121111-17All the kids had taken their places since they all had different tasks to do - from parking, to greeting, to handing out water... this picture shows Jérémie at the "water station". However, our celebration started with two songs with our "kid choir" that Paul was leading; many of the songs they were singing Paul had written himself. So many of them had to come to the front to sing - and they did an awesome job!

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121111-20I then greeted everyone, welcoming then, and Paul prayed an opening prayer. Then they did two more songs. This time joy took a hold of everybody, and people just started dancing and dancing, coming to the front for it, and Paul was doing his dance steps on the stage, as well as our kids. I've got a video clip that I'll upload on our Youtube channel.

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Next I shared the history of CAM and what we're doing. As always I spoke French, and Paul did the Bambara translation. I had certain people who are part of our history stand up to acknowledge them.

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Looking around, most chairs and benches now had people on them, though it still seemed there were fewer people than usual. No guests of honor had shown up - our carpenter came though. I have to say too that we didn't do as much inviting this year either.

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After sharing our history, Gerhard prayed a prayer of blessing over our church for its anniversary. Then it was time for our children to do their danse. Jérémie is part of the YWAM dance group, and one of the teachers there was so kind to give us an mp3 of the once song that he would teach our children to dance. He stood in the front, the little ones were behind him, and the older kids in the back. They did a good job! Again, video clips coming soon.

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121111-13Next it was time for the baptism. As I said, there were five candidates, and handicapped Hama (11) came first. I told his story (since he's also mentally behind), and the entered the water. I always ask three questions they need to answer with yes, before we dunk them in the water, baptizing them. It was a beautiful moment to baptize my beloved Hama who's been with me for 7 years now.

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121111-39Then they came one after another, giving their testimony first, then entering the water. As every year, all the street kids cheered when they listed their past ways of life, and they continued even when we told them to stop it. In any case, the boys - and the lady from the village - had powerful testimonies, and it was a joy to baptize them.

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121111-53While the last ones were changing into dry clothes, Joseph came to sing his own song that he was written himself. He was too nervous to play his guitar at the same time, so he sang a capella with drums only. He did a great job.

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121111-55Then the 5 returned and ligned up in the front to receive their baptism certificate. Then we started praying and prophesying over each one of them, which is always exciting since we get to hear the great plans God has for them.

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121111-59About two hours had passed already, and before Gerhard came up to preach, our children had prepared an evangelistic sketch. This past summer four of our older children had done a 3-week evangelistic outreach with YWAM, and they learned a few skits there. This was one of them. So those who went taught the others, and Joseph was in charge. Karim played the main character, and I was absolutely blown away at his acting skills. Video will be uploaded to youtube.

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121111-61Then it was finally time to introduce pastor Gerhard, and for him to start preaching. Some people had a hard time listening and not talking, but then, that's often the case. He did a great job preaching on the danger of being friends with sin, illustrating it with a story. In the end he gave a clear call to people to commit their lives to Jesus.

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First he asked who already knew Jesus to raise their hands, then he called those forward who wanted to start a life with Jesus - for the very first time.

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121111-69Then they repeated a prayer, before Gerhard prayed for each one of them. I knew some of them and knew they had already given their lives to the Lord before; one just yesterday.

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121111-72While Gerhard was ministering, people were dispersing, probably thinking it was over. However, Gerhard wanted to do a second call, so we asked people to come back, and after a few minutes we had actually succeeded. Then Gerhard gave a call for the baptism of the Spirit. A number of primarily kids came, but while he was praying, more showed up to receive prayer. Among those getting prayer was a few of our kids, as well as the day guard who recently left us because he was caught taking drugs. Then a potential church leader from one of our village churches, and there was also my 3rd kid I had taken in (Fousseni).

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Then the meeting was over. Gerhard prayed a quick prayer for Paul and me, and then it was time for the banquet.

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The kitchen was ready to serve the meal, which was great to hear. Instead of rice people eat constantly, we served couscous which is more special (and expensive). The ladies were dishing it out, while our kids took the plates to the people who were ready to receive them.

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121111-77We also had drinks for everyone that we put into our freezer. The rest of the freezer was filled with water in plastic bags for people. Some always burst and so the water on the bottom froze the bottles there, and they had to leave it unplugged for a while before handing those out.

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121111-78Right now it gets dark around 6 pm, and even while we were still praying, the people we rented the tents from already wanted to take them down. So they started in the back and got to the front when we finished up. By the time everyone started eating the tents were pretty much gone.

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While the kids were faithfully doing their part in distributing food, Paul, Gerhard and I sat down inside the dining hall to eat and talk, and later Joseph joined us. We had a good time reflecting on the celebration. Later the kids came over, and I had the opportunity to tell them how proud I was of them, and how great the dance and skit was.

It was time to wrap up, clean up, close our gates. Some things could wait until tomorrow, others couldn't. The younger kids got to go shower and go to bed earlier, but many seemed to still be all wound up. Finally I was able to get them all to bed, and go to my house. I copied Gerhard's pictures and started picking out the ones I wanted to show you, putting them in order and editing them. I was nearly done when the power went out just before midnight. It was 1 am before I attempted to sleep, but it was way too hot in my bedroom. I'm glad it's a day off tomorrow.

I nearly forgot... before I went to bed, Paul came over all excited that he's receiving a lot of phone calls of congratulations but also people who want to come by and meet pastor Gerhard. This is the third time we broadcast the celebration, but the first time we're getting phone calls. Praise God! Looks like Gerhard will have a busier day tomorrow than we thought.

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H2TNI is a non-profit organization incor-
porated
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tax-exempt status. H2tNI is a part
of the
apostolic networks of Che
Ahn, Randy
Clark, and Bill Johnson.