Nov 15 - Downtown & Prayer Meeting

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Gerhard's last day in Mali! After a long and intense week we were all tired, but it was high time to show Gerhard the town. Planned departure time: 9:30 am.

Again, I woke up pretty tired from this past week. Gerhard wanted to record a few minutes of video, and I knew it would be a challenge this early. And I do feel like I didn't do very well; I do much better in the afternoon. But Paul did a great job with his sharing.

We did a little detour on our way downtown to stop at

Elisabeth's house in our old neighborhood, and then passed at the house where we started the church and children's center, the rented house where we lived for 3.5 years. That little house is now being converted into a school.

 

121115aWe continued on downtown, crossed the river, and with much effort parked in the last parking spot in the paid parking area. Then it was time to get out into the heat and start walking. But first a street vendor sold us Bamako maps - and attacked Paul physically because he felt he could have gotten a better price without Paul's intervention. It was shocking to watch.

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121115cWe walked by a little park with this Africa map where we took a few pictures, though you have to be very careful taking pictures downtown as you actually need a permit. We entered the busy downtown market area, making our way through crowds and traffic and looking at goods sold, while guys would sometimes follow us trying to sell stuff. That's just the way it is.


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121115dWe finally made it to the artisans' place where they make their art and sell it. Gerhard found a few souvenirs to take home, and got this picture taken. Then it was time to make our way back to our car, moving faster through the crowds. This picture shows a little market restaurant - it was lunch-time after all! We were getting hungry as well.

121115gWe reached our car again - safely - and started driving towards the Broadway Café, a restaurant opened by a Malian who lived in the US for a while and that has a reputation for its self-made ice-cream. I think we were all pretty hungry and tired, but Paul was sick as well, with a runny nose and sore throat. The poor guy should rather have been in bed. But he had not lost his appetite, and enjoyed his meat and dessert.

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Gerhard enjoyed the free internet connection, took pictures, and uploaded them straight to the internet. And he loved the ice-cream!

It was time to get home as it had gotten pretty late, and we still had our weekly prayer meeting in the afternoon. Thankfully we now have the third bridge that allows us to get home pretty quickly from that part of town. It gave Gerhard the chance to drive across that bridge as well, completing experiencing all (3) bridges of Bamako.

There was about 90 minutes left until the prayer meeting. I got hung up at the computer, but knew I just HAD to lie down a little bit to make it through the meeting. I finally did lie down and actually fell asleep - when I woke up I felt like a bus had rolled over me, and it took me a while to really function again.

At 5 pm we started our weekly prayer meeting. I was looking forward to worshiping God and entering into His presence, and we had a good time praising him, and then entering into a deeper space of communion with him. Unfortunately no pictures were taken. Towards the end I gave Gerhard the mic. He said a few words, and then he started praying for each person; even those who usually don't come up did.

121115jWe had a little time then until the 8 pm family meeting when we'd have to say good-bye to Gerhard. We first took care of daily business, and then several children said a few words each to Gerhard thanking him and telling him how his visit had impacted them. Fanta also spoke, and Paul spoke last. It was a touching moment. Then we gave Gerhard our present before he got up, and all the kids surrounded him and prayed for him. Then it was time for hugs and good-byes. Paul, Gerhard and I got into the car, and we drove to the airport together.

They've been doing a lot of construction at the airport these past few years; every time I travel things are different again. Now the parking area has changed, and there is no more drop-off. So we stopped before and let Gerhard get out. The question was, how to get out now. I saw other cars simply driving back on the same road, so I turned around myself to follow them back out. However, they were stopped by the police, and so were we.

We were told that this was a one-way-street except for the president. So I asked them how I was supposed to leave the airport then. They said there WAS a road to take. I just wished it had been visible.

They took the car papers and told us to park at the police station where we'd have to take care of paperwork and pay a fine. I had not even brought any money with me! We were both tired and just wanted to get home!

I waited in the car, while Paul talked to the policemen, hoping he'd be able to get favor. When he returned a while later with the car papers saying we could go home, I was relieved. He'd convinced them to let us go. Thank God! Next time we'd know what NOT to do.

I was glad when I was back home, and just hoped for a night with electricity so I could get some sleep. Just 24 hours later I would take the same flight out of Bamako that Gerhard was taking tonight.

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