Thursday, January 1, 2009

Departure Day & Arrival Home

Even after only two months, it was not easy to say good bye to the people we got to know during our time in Bamako. Early in the afternoon of December 21 we took our suitcases over to Air France. They allow you to do early check-in. That was wonderful. When we took the taxi to our flight that night, all we had to worry about was our carry on luggage. We had a good flight. All our luggage arrived with us in Chicago. Brenda's parents and brother were there to meet us at the airport and transport us home. It was good to be home. We sure enjoyed the time in Bamako. We thank God for allowing us that opportunity to minister. Our church family had several meals and goodies at our house to welcome us home. They had even set up a small Christmas tree at our kitchen table. Thanks so much Village Bible Church family! And thank you to each one who has been with us on this journey to Bamako. We thank you for your part in our going, whether through prayer, finances or encouragement. Thank you!

It's Takes Many to Get the Job Done

We didn't do all the work ourselves at the guest house. We had four wonderful workers to help us out. Let me introduce you to them:

ADAME - (lady with Andy) She was the helper in our building and the apartment. She did a great job cleaning the rooms, washing towels and sheets, and making sure all the basics were in each room (Kleenex, toilet paper, soap, etc.). She also cleaned the rest of the living area. It gets so dusty. It wasn't uncommon that she would mop the floors daily. She was also willing to work for us, so she cleaned our rooms, washed our clothes and linens, and ironed. She was a huge help. She loves to cook so she made us bread a couple times, sweet rolls, and three African meals. That was really special. She shopped at the market for us some as well. She's a mother of three. We really enjoyed her.

EMMANUEL - (man with Andy) He was the helper in the other building. He would clean the rooms, wash towels and sheets and make sure all the basics were in the four rooms in his building as well. Andy often went over to his building and helped him sweep and mop the floors. Emmanuel is also a father. On the side he does photography work. He said that at some special holidays it would not be uncommon for him to take pictures of 100 families.

JEREMY - (in the blue checkered shirt) He was our day guard. Not only was he a guard, but he helped fix things around the compound. If you needed something done, Jeremy was the man to talk to. He had lots of connections, whether it be plumbers, wood workers, cement workers, etc. He was a huge asset. Jeremy also was a buyer. If the guest house needed something, he would go and get it on his motorbike. No one could get into our compound without first going through Jeremy. He was also married with children. We enjoyed many conversations with him about many topics.

MUKORO - (in the orange shirt) He was our night guard. Mukoro is about to retire. He didn't speak French and we didn't speak Bambara, but it was amazing what we could communicate!! We really enjoyed him. He is a father of about 14 kids I believe!!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Tea Time

Tea time is very important here in Mali. It's a time to visit, to counsel, to share ideas, etc. We have had the privilege of having tea a number of times with our friend, Etienne. The way they make the tea is quite an art. They brew tea throughout the day; each box of tea making three pots each. There is 1st tea which is very strong and is said to represent the bitterness of death, 2nd tea which is a little weaker represents the sweetness of life, and 3rd tea which is the weakest represents the goodness of love. There are many different brands and strengths of tea. Each person develops a taste for their favorite. The tea is flavored with quite a good amount of sugar. When they make their tea they put in three shot glasses of water. They boil that with the tea until only two shot glasses of tea remains. Then they add about 1/4cup of sugar to that. It's quite an experience sitting alongside the main street making tea and talking. Our guard always has a pot of tea going under the tree where he sits inside the gate of our property. Many people come to him for counsel and information. Anyone for tea? We have lots we can talk about.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Shopping in Bamako

Shopping has been a fun experience in Bamako. We find if we just need fruit and vegetables, we go to the corner lady who has those things. She has been very friendly. Then if we need things like butter, flour, rice, oatmeal, etc. we go to the little shop across the street run by Segou. He has a small little store but it's full of all sorts of diverse items. He has been very kind. He is helping me to learn Bambara (I'm a bit slow I must say). Yesterday when I went to his store and greeted him and then used his name, he was so excited that I would remember. Segou's items might be a bit more expensive than the larger stores, but it sure is convenient. Then, when all else fails, we go to the big grocery store (Fourmi is one of them) and can get things like ground hamburger, cheese, yogurt and juices. We usually take a taxi since it's easier than navigating through the traffic here.

Monday, December 8, 2008


Over the past several weeks we have been seeing more and more sheep in town - truck loads of sheep, sheep on motorbikes, sheep being led down the street, etc. We have even seen people sharpening knives. What was going on? Well, today is a major holiday here. Even non-Muslim friends respect the celebration of the biggest Muslim holiday of the year, the Feast of Sacrifice, or Tabaski. According to the Koran, Allah asked Abraham to sacrifice his only son. Though Abraham was deeply troubled by Allah’s request, he agreed to perform the sacrifice as a sign of his obedience. But just before Abraham began the sacrifice, Allah told him to offer a sheep instead. To remember Abraham’s offering, every family sacrifices a sheep on Tabaski morning. Beforehand they feed the sheep and make sure it has plenty of water. They groom it and keep it clean. On Tabaski morning, they give the sheep a special bath. After services at the mosque, the men in the family slaughter the sheep. After the sheep has been sacrificed, they clean, cure and tan its skin so it can be used as a prayer rug. The women will roast and grill the sheep. The rest of the day is spent in prayer and celebration. Everyone wears new clothes. Parents give their children presents and money. People feast on the roast sheep and share the meat with others. They will receive meat in return. They take meat and other food to those who are less fortunate. The Koran reminds them that it is their duty to support those in need. They visit family and friends, and give thanks to Allah.  All the stores, big and small, are closed.  What a great reminder to us of the perfect Sacrifice that was given for each one of us on the cross through the Person of Jesus Christ. There is no need to continue sacrificing. The final, perfect Sacrifice was given.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Waraniene (Part 2)

Another fascinating part of the weaver's village were the necklaces and bracelets they make. The village has done a good job of expanding their products. The man took a clump of clay. He fashioned it into a ball. He poked a stick through it to make a hole. Then they bake it for 24 hours. The next day he paints the ball by spinning the stick like a top on his foot. He makes designs on the ball using the feather of a chicken as his paintbrush. The paint colors are made from various leaves, red clay, etc. The work was so intricate. How do you repeat that design over and over to make a necklace and bracelet of balls that match? It truly takes practice. This trade was also something that was passed down from father to son. Was really fascinating.

Stop #5 - Waraniene

Waraniene is a little village about 5 kilometers from Korhogo. It is a weaver's village. It was fascinating to see the process it takes to make the yarn and the yarn into material and the material into an outfit. The process begins with the older ladies taking cotton and spinning it into thread. Due to the time it take to make the thread by hand, they also get thread made in factories to help keep up with the demand. You could really tell the difference between the two threads. The thread is then used to weave strips of cloth which will be used to make shirts, tablecloths, dresses, purses, etc. Weaving is a trade that is passed down from generation to generation. A child begins to weave when he is about 6 years old. The longer you weave the more patterns you can learn to weave. Men were the weavers. The young ladies crocheted seams into the dresses. Some strips are sewn together on the sewing machine.