Today it is one week that I am in my new apartment
here in the south of Bamako, the capital of Mali. The sun is burning down
hot, and coupled with the high humidity because of rain showers every 2-3
days, you soon find yourself covered in sweat, especially when leaving the
house. How nice to have a shower you can use several times a day! While cold
water comes out, it's often pretty warm since its temperature always
corresponds to the temperature outside.
Just now I'm sitting in this cooler internet cafe, after having ventured out
to go to the market for the first time. I've been asked about food. Where I
live, people sell what is being "harvested" at this time of year,
which is corn, bananas and watermelons. So, during my first week here, I've
been eating corn and bananas, every day. Every day I buy them. There is also
a guy who sells eggs on the way to school - outside, in the soon - but I have
to get there before 11, which I don't when I'm at school. Since I don't have
a fridge, I basically have to buy and eat food every day. "Give us today
our daily bread" gets a new meaning that way.
There is also a little supermarket a little further away where I can get jam,
mayonnaise, pasta and tuna in oil. So I've been having a lot of pasta with
tuna also. Last time I went there, I decided to buy myself a special treat,
and had a diet coke. Mmmm! That was SO good!
And today I decided it is time to find some tomatoes and cucumbers which I
know you can get, and so I started walking towards the market which is quite
a distance. It was still pretty hot, and after asking a few times, I found
it. What a wonderful experience a Malian market is! And what a sight I was to
them! You would think a giraffe was walking by with its shopping bags - well,
that's the way they look. But it doesn't bother me. I enjoy greeting people
and see their surprise and delight when I answer in Bambara, and interacting
with them and the kids who are always especially delighted to come and say
hello. So, I did find cucumbers and tomatoes and ognions, and will have a
wonderful salad tonight. Then it will be back to corn and bananas I guess. I'm
also glad that I found a place very close where you can get bread in the
So that is what I've been eating. I have an electric cooker for two pans, and
a water kettle. Of course, when the electricity is gone... So, if any of you
would like to send some food, go ahead :-))
What I love most is being with the people, using my Bambara, and building
relationships. My immediate neighbors are the two other white teachers, both
from France, Alice and Jean-Louis, plus Alassane's (school director) nephew. I'm
becoming friends with Alice, who feels a little overwhelmed with everyhing
here, and I'm helping her understand the culture and language. I told her I
was praying for her, and I'm very open about my faith, and I'm praying she
will leave this country together with Jesus.
I don't know the French guy who only just arrived a few days ago very well
yet. He's 30, teaching physics and chemistry, and Alice 24, teaching French.
Next to them, with a separate entrance (we are all on the second floor (US),
first floor (GB, A)), lives Bakary, a guy who is high up the hierarchy with a
cotton company, and he makes sure everybody knows that. Honestly, I don't
like him at all, it makes me sick even talking to him, but last night I had
to repent about judging him because Jesus loves him as much as the other
In the courtyard, there are three more Malian apartments. Two of them have
people from the Ivory Coast in there who work on renovating the biggest hotel
in town. They are only here very little. But the third apartment has a couple
of students with family in there, and they are the ones I've gotten to know
the most so far. Early in the week, the electricty was gone for 2 hours or
so, at night. Since there is nothing I could do (I only have a tiny
flashlight), I thought I might take advantage of the situation and go down to
them. Because when the electricity is there, they always watch TV. I always
greeted them but hadn't spent time with them yet. So I sat with them in the
moonlight talking, learning their names, and then they invited me to dinner,
which was great. I then learned that they were Christians - well, from the
"Unification" church. Does anybody know anything about them? I need
to look in my books of cults; I believe I remember that name in there. They
are very nice people. The guys are all students. The female head of home is
Elouiche, who is from Benin. The other night I sat with them again, and I'm
hoping they will accept an invitation to come up and worship Jesus and study
the Bible one day soon.
Leaving our apartment complex, I turn right 8 out of 10 times - to go to
school or the internet cafe. There is a family in the house next to us, who
is very friendly. They don't speak any French, and we've had fun trying to
communicate. They always ask where I'm going, and enjoy my trying to speak
Bambara. I intend to take time soon to sit down with them, which I haven't
And then Aisha - I mentioned her last time, but I don't know what happened. A
few days ago she spent many hours with me. We played together with a balloon,
we looked at a book together, and when she told me she was hungry and she
never had food at noon, I gave her some. I haven't seen her since, so I'm a
little worried. I've tried to find out more about her, but it's confusing. I
was told she's part of an Ivory Coast family - which would explain why she
would speak French with me, and why I could hardly get her to speak Bambara
with me. She also told me that her Father was dead, and she lived with her
Mom who was at work all day, which left her all alone all day - in African
communities, however, children are never all alone. So, I hope she will be
coming back and that she's alright.
Last night it was far too hot to sleep - so what can you do? I decided to
spend time with God and a few wonderful hours. I ended up going to the roof
for some time. All houses here are flat, and this roof would make a great
place for having services. I love going up there, because you have a good few
of the neighborhood. At night you see the lights near and far, and every time
I'm up there my heart just breaks in intercession. So I prayed under tears
last night, looking out there, at all those houses, all those people who are
so close and yet out of reach. I feel like somebody standing on one side of
the river, seeing the other side, but not knowing how to get there. I had to
think about all those street kids out there who have nothing to eat, nowhere
to sleep, and who are abused night by night. How I long to go to them! How I
long to love them with the love of Jesus, bring them food, invite them to
come sleep the night at my place - there is plenty of room on the roof, as I
said. So, this is the time to pray, this is the time to seek His face, and
this is the time to wait on Him - because He knows when the right time is,
and He will do it.
What I'm planning to start very soon (next week?), though, is my Saturday
night "service". Whether it is only me, or people from downstairs,
or others, Saturday night I want to praise the Lord, preach the Word, and
have an open place for anyone to come.
Last time I told you about my computer adaptor (power supply), how the fluctuation
in voltage destroyed it, hours after I had moved in. How I told Jesus again,
that He is all I needed - if it's only Him and me, and my Bible, I would
still praise Him and take the good news to the people here.
Praise God, by Wednesday I had a replacement! Thankfully the missionary
community here - small as it is - is like a family, holding together, and
helping each other. One mission organization who fixes technical equipment,
found a replacement for me and adapted it to fit my computer. Praise God!
More good news: I'll have my own phone line still this week! I have even got
the number already.
And, there is a carpenter around the corner who makes furniture for a good
price. On Tuesday I get my table and chair - much looking forward to it! -
and he'll also make some shelves and a cupboard. Praise God!
School has started, and it's certainly interesting. I will tell you more next
time, since my time in the internet is up for today.
The Lord bless you all! Thank you for your prayers and e-mails!
s/c Ecole Biya
Tel. 636 6727
Ask of Me, and I will make the nations your inheritance. (Ps 2:8)
Dr. Claudia R. Wintoch
Catch The Wind Ministries
P.O. Box 11962
Kansas City, MO 64138
Talk to me online - I'm "healing2thenations":
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