PARTY FOR STREET KIDS
22nd it was time for our yearly Christmas Party for Street
Kids, including our neighbors' kids. We had a total of close to
100 people show up to hear the good news, have
fun and be blessed.
started off with a fun game - catching an apple
in a bucket of water with your mouth, without using your hands.
Every winning group was split again until there was one winner -
a little neighbor's kid that was happy to receive a stuffed animal
we had a time of praising God together, singing
and dancing, before it was time for the teaching. I put up two flannelographs
to tell the Christmas story. Malians love stories.
I shared the whole gospel, God creating man, and longing to have
a close relationship with him, our sin separating us from Him, and
His solution. They were captivated by the flannelograph, and I had
them put the sheep on there, which they love. I shared about a loving
heavenly Father, who would never leave them nor forsake them, and
who was longing for them to come to Him that day. In the end I gave
an invitation to start a life with Him, and many
stood up to pray with us. After the prayer, I gave them a few instructions
how to go on in their new life, and then we prayed for those who
needed physical healing .As always several were healed.
a first this year, we had Jessica - our new western-trained nurse
- who was able to treat children medically. What
a blessing! For now Jessica is not moving in with us, but will be
available at all times.
The sun had
gone down, and it was time for our special meal
the kids had been eagerly waiting for. Fanta and Elisabeth had been
cooking all day, and the food was gone within no time at all. We
also had juice for them that they loved.
final, long, and tiring, but also joyful, part was the clothes
distribution. Thanks to a big donation from a church in
Vienna we were able to not only serve a Christmas meal, but buy
120 pairs of shoes and lots of clothes. For that reason every child
received a pair of shoes and a clothing of his choice. Many street
children had showed up without shoes, and many chose a blanket over
the clothes since it's "cold" season now when it cools
down at night. It took us hours to distribute but seeing the smiling
the children leaving our house was sure worth it!
broke my heart to see all those small children, on their own on
the streets, exposed to all kinds of dangers. I talked to some of
them to find out more about them. I can't wait for the day
when our base will be built to give those little children a home,
hope and a future.
details and pictures from this day in the blog for December
IN THE VILLAGE
we arrived in Dio, the kids were already waiting
for us, and more gathered so that there were 60-70 children
by the time we started our Christmas program for them. But first
we had a meal together. Three times a week we provide a
meal for about 40 people, most of them poor children, who
we also pay schooling for, thanks to family sponsorships established.
If you would like to support a poor family on a monthly basis, contact
started leading a time of praising Jesus, before
it was my time to tell the Christmas story again,
as I had done at the street kid party. The children and gathered
Moms listened carefully as they heard why Christians celebrate at
this time of year. I invited them to start living for Jesus, and
at least the kids seemed eager to do so.
Then it was
time to distribute gifts that were made possible
by the same donation from Vienna. Each child received a notebook,
pen, pencil, eraser, and candy, as well as a T-shirt. The joy was
great that day, and people started even coming to get in on the
distribution. The pastor told me that the news of us giving out
clothes would spread all over the village and beyond in the days
If you'd like
to see more pictures and read more details about our day in Dio,
read the blog for December 26.
thanks to the same donation, we were able to have a wonderful, special
Christmas day as a family. We all went to a restaurant
for lunch, and then to the swimming pool. In the
evening we had pizza (yes, there is an Italian
guy who opened a pizza restaurant!), then we prayed
and sang HAPPY BIRTHDAY for Jesus, before opening our many gifts.
Each person had drawn the name of another person to give a gift
to, and some people had gifts for more people, so the gifts for
the 20 of us abounded. The German NGO managing
our kids' sponsorships also contributed so that every child received
a little package of useful things - thank you!
To see pictures
from our special day and read more details go to the blog for December
special thanks goes to FOUR CORNERS
church in Vienna, whose generous donation enabled us to have three
special days of celebration, for the street children, the children
in the village, and as a family.
wasn't only a time of joy, but also of sadness as we saw two of
our family leave.
13 months, Solomani left us on Dec 23rd. He had
had chance after chance, we had given everything to help him, but
he only had disdain for us and God, and kept stealing from us, which
was only discovered when he left. There was relief in the house
that we FINALLY knew who was the thief among us, and peace returned
after his departure. We wanted to help him find his family in Ivory
Coast, but he had no interest. Street children told us that he stole
stuff from people at the bus station, before leaving town. Please
pray for him.
If you want
to find out more about the circumstances surrounding his departure,
other person we had to expel was Simeon. This story
is especially sad, as he was the first person who came to know the
Lord just two months after my arrival. However, things with him
went from bad to worse, and several of his actions by themselves
would have been sufficient to expel him. Again, chance after chance
was given but not taken. For the good of our church, and his own
good, we finally had to make the tough choice.
Simeon has not taken it well and is seeking revenge.
He went to pick up our church papers before "disappearing".
He has some influence on the government level, and I believe him
capable of anything. Please pray for protection
for us, that he won't succeed in hurting us. Pray also for him.
If you want
to read more about Simeon's departure, click here.
has been progressing, though not as fast as hoped because of lack
of funds. We're moving in a month, but are still $27,000
short to finish. We also have to pay the remaining money for the
solar power system which is $15,000.
Since the money
is not sufficient to put in the tiles and finish the walls, we will
probably be moving into tents in the courtyard on February
1st. Good thing it's not rainy season ;-).
picture shows our boys and Vroni in our future living room. The
other one myself and Kossi (construction manager) in front of our
Health - These past few weeks I've been battling malaria,
an eye infection and toothache,
and it seems that maybe none of these are resolved yet. Please
pray for my health to be restored before I leave for the US. I
have also lots to get done these remaining three days.
Churches - We have tried to see how many committed believers
there are in the village now, after having seen hundreds come
to the Lord this past year. We now have 4 village churches
with about 200 believers. The challenge is still
to disciple them properly, as our main pastor there is overwhelmed
by that task. As soon as we have the capacity on our new base
in Bamako, we want to choose future pastors and have them join
us in Bamako to be trained and prepared and sent back to their
School - My teenagers had exams before
Christmas, and they all failed 3 or 4 out of
5 subjects. It is rather discouraging that I spent more time preparing
their exams than they did studying. Partly it's because they are
not used to it, and lack concentration and motivation.
They have the month of January to review and will retake their
exams when I return from the US. I'm still looking for
a good teacher to replace me and free me up to do other
America - I'm leaving for the US Thursday
night. I'm going to Ann Arbor, MI,
Abbotsford, B.C., Augusta,
GA, and Pasadena, CA, and will be
back in Mali on Jan 29th. My cellphone number
in the US is the same as always: (714)
675 8015. Trip details on the left and on my CALENDAR
in Mali - Vroni, our visitor from Austria, is staying
in Mali until the middle of January. After her departure, Paul
and Firmin will be alone with the kids for two weeks, with Paul
being at school during the day. Since Firmin
is challenged when it comes to dealing with teenagers, please
cover them especially during this time. I have also asked
Emma to help out, but nothing is certain yet.
But the LORD is with me like a mighty warrior;
so my persecutors will stumble and not prevail.
They will fail and be thoroughly disgraced; their dishonor will
never be forgotten.. (Jer 20:11)