Countdown To Mali Ė Three Weeks In Vienna
Dr. Claudia R. Wintoch
August 29, 2003



ĒThere is nothing on this earth more to be prized than true friendship.Ē (Thomas Aquinas)

What is the most precious thing youíve got in this world?

Over the past few weeks, as I was saying good-bye in Kansas City, I realized anew that friendships are the most precious thing Iíve got. Only as children of God can we find that depth and closeness in our relationships. And they are truly to be cherished and thanked God for.

Before I go any further, I need to clarify something concerning my last e-mail ďLast Precious Weeks In Kansas CityĒ. Right after I had written it I thought it didnít come across right, which was then confirmed. I wrote about what I had left in Vienna two years ago, and what I was leaving now. However, it sounded like all I had left back then was material things, and now the friendships, which is not true of course. I left my natural family in Vienna (who doesnít know Jesus yet), and I left my church and friends, which I missed the most for the first few months. My point was that I found very unique and precious friendships in Kansas City on a level I had not known before, partly due to the fact that you are together every day, partly due to the way God has changed me, and partly itís simply a God-thing, and that there is really nothing material Iím leaving behind now. I hope you understand me now. Being back in Vienna, itís been awesome seeing my church and all my ďoldĒ friends again, who are very precious to me also.


My five weeks in Kansas City seemed so short, but I cherished every minute. I returned to praying in the Healing Rooms at the International House of Prayer (IHOP) every day I was able to, and spent as much time as I could in my beloved IHOP I will miss so much. I also had to say good-bye to one of my favorite teachers, Jill Austin, who I had had the honor to learn from over the past two years, which has changed my life significantly. And I was thankful for one last conference with her where I had the joy of serving one last time. And then there was graduation in my last week, which was an interesting experience, and I also got my doctorate of theology. In between, I was packing up my belongings, giving away as much as I could, until I was left with a few boxes, mainly books, to be shipped to Mali.
I also had the privilege of being there at the birth of a new church that really excites me and is very promising. And I had very special moments as I spent precious last moments with friends. But the last weekend was the most precious and extra-special. Up to that moment I wasnít quite ready yet to leave and sad most of the time, but God knew what was needed and He absolutely blew me away. I had a going-away party the night before actually leaving, and many friends came to send me on the way. We were having a good time, and then someone suggested to pray for me. So I stood in the middle surrounded by my friends, when they started praying and prophesying. It was the most awesome and holy time of commissioning and setting things in place. Wow!
So, while the five weeks were filled with much sorrow as I did everything and saw everybody for the last time, it was changed to joy on my last weekend, and I left Monday morning with joy and anticipation.


First of all, thank you to all who prayed for my trip to Vienna! I didnít know how important that would be.

I guess I have to share a part of the story about my getting in the US now that I hadn't shared before. I had told the INS officer that I would only be able to stay in the US for about three weeks, now that I had the job in Africa etc. When she stamped my passport, she said, "But make sure you don't stay a day longer than that." When I later checked my passport, it said "Oct 14" on the visitor's visa, which is the full three months you're allowed to stay in the US as a visitor. I was glad to see that and stayed 5 weeks altogether, until after graduation.

When I got to the K.C. airport Monday morning, I had a nice guy at the check-in counter who seemed rather new to this job. He had a hard time figuring out my ticket from Toronto to Vienna and typing in the right airport codes to go on the suitcases. I helped him a little bit. Also, he thought my Air France frequent flyer number was weird, which it wasn't. He finally got it. Then my one suitcase was 75 pounds (34 kg), but only 70 (32) are allowed. I told him that in Vienna I was told 35 kg are allowed, which they did. Another lady came to help him. Then he scanned my passport with the computer - and got an error message! EXPIRED. When I heard that, a rush went through my whole body and I told Dawn in the back to start praying which I did myself also. I was thinking of what the INS officer had said and wondering whether she had put a three week ultimatum in the computer. Would they now put me in jail after all? Would I now get banned from entering the US? He scanned it again - EXPIRED. He looked at the passport, and saw that it was valid until 2010. They wondered and started typing in the number manually, all the time wondering. Dawn was by my side now, and I talked to her. Then they suddenly handed me the passport back. And the guy said, he would let me go with my overweight bag, even though he had earlier said it would be US$ 80. WOW! The favor of the Lord!

Now, either the INS officer had put in a date and it was not the passport but the visa that was expired, but the Lord "blinded" them to see that, maybe even that it still said so after typing it in manually. Or, the enemy simply wanted to scare me by creating a computer glitch. I don't know. Either way, I went away praising the Lord and thanking Him - I know all of this is just "practice" for the days ahead.

The enemy wanted to put fear on me by suggesting my passport would be scanned again, and that time I wouldn't get away. But again, it was God's providence that I went through Canada, Toronto, so that it was not scanned again (contrary to Chicago, which is where I usually go through). Even so, I rebuked the enemy and stood on the promises of God, so that the fear left.


After four planes and a long journey, I arrived in Vienna Tuesday afternoon. My Mom picked me up and dropped me at my friendís house who was so kind to take me in for the time being. I couldnít wait, and a few hours later I was at my churchís weekly prayer meeting, seeing many of my friends again, which was great. In the next few weeks I will have opportunities to share about Mali, as Vienna Christian Center (my church since 1994) is considering supporting me and sending me out.
My time in Vienna will be filled with preparations for the move to Mali Ė medically, purchases, visa, meetings, studying, etc. Ė and Iím sure it will pass quickly again. Iím leaving Vienna September 18.

Click here to read MALI INFO & VISION

Over the past few days Iíve received some answers to my questions concerning what life is Bamako is like, so I can prepare appropriately. One of the big surprises came as I found out how much housing costs Ė about $600 (!), especially if you want electricity and running water, or even a telephone line. Of course, white people are charged twice or three times as much as the Malians. My missionary friend suggested a monthly budget of $2000. While Iím not aiming at such a large amount, Iíve certainly come to realize the importance of monthly supporters. Would you pray whether you could be one who sows into Mali?
Iím also thankful for every one-time gift, as Iím still thousands of dollars away from what I need now, and not yet able to do any of the purchases yet.
Isnít it awesome that I can totally rely on my glorious King and Lord to provide everything necessary? I havenít worried once, since this is all about His kingdom and His purposes for Mali, and not about me at all.

I have been trying to get into contact with missionaries in Mali, but havenít been successful at all, except for my long-term friend who doesnít live in the capital. I donít know yet where Iím gonna stay when I get to Bamako, but the director of the school, Alassane, is going to help me find a place to live when I get there. I know the Lord has already prepared everything, including the perfect place. Iíve been praying for Alassane and the school, that the power of God would come down to heal and change lives. Iíve been seeing the day when one of my kids walks in sick and I pray for himÖ.

Iíve just had reports on Mali from the UN which are not too good. Earlier this year, they had no harvest in some areas Ė including where my friend is Ė and needed aid from the government. Now, theyíve had record rains which caused flooding, including in the capital city. Read for yourself:

The grain eating birds in Mali "are reported on about 205 hectares of crops in the Office du Niger zone. Army worm attacks are also reported in the Office du Niger and treatments have been undertaken," the report said.

According to the report, small-scale breeding of desert locusts was expected with the onset of the summer rains in Chad, southern Mauritania, northern Mali and Niger.


Mali, Burkina Faso's eastern neighbour, has so far enjoyed an abundant rainy season in some parts of the country. However some of the rains that have fallen since early July, when the rainy season started, have caused flooding, notably in the district of Tominian, 480 km north of the capital Bamako.

On 10 August, Tominian lost among other things over 700 storehouses; over 2,000 hectares of inundated fields, and hundreds of inundated houses.

The capital Bamako and surrounding neighbourhoods have also suffered from damaging rains. In Missabougou, flooding damaged 95 houses, including 54 which totally collapsed, while in the neighbourhood of Niamaroko, one man drowned.

Bamako has suffered floodings in 1999 and 2001. According to Bamako's mayor, Ibrahim N'Diaye, many of the houses have been built in the bed of water currents, putting residents at risk of flooding. Another major problem is the town's malfunctioning drainage system.

So far the authorities have provided medicine, milk and numerous other food and non-food items to those affected who hope to be relocated to news homes.

H2TN Prayer Cover

If you havenít received an e-mail with this subject line, youíre not on my Prayer Cover e-mail list. If youíd like to support me in prayer on a regular basis, simply send me a mail and let me know, and Iíll put you on the list.

Thank you for standing with me in this crucial time of my life. May the kingdom of God come to Mali like never before!

In HIS service,


Ask of Me, and I will make the nations your inheritance. (Ps 2:8) ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
until Sep 18 Tel. (+43)(0) 676 / 517 4008 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Dr. Claudia R. Wintoch
Wurlitzerg. 50/19
A-1160 Vienna

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