Saturday, May 1, 2010

Our First Few Days in Bamako

Sorry for the brief post before... this one will be better.

Galations 1:10
     For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.

We arrived in Bamako Wednesday evening. Imagine walking into a sauna, but never walking out. That is the best way to describe getting off the plane when we arrived and the scary part is, "they" say that we are in the middle of a cold front.... hence the couple of rain showers we have had. We are not going directly out into the villages like most teams do; however, these first few days here we are getting to visit old friends in Bamako and begin learning the language.... and hopefully help Rita (the missionary here) with some things.
Rita has a friend here who I got to know very well the last time I was in Bamako. For going on 8-9 years now Rita has prayed for her and visited with her and shared with her, but she has only become more and more indulged in her Muslim faith. Cass and I went to visit her Thursday morning and it was very evident that during these last three years, since I have last seen her, she has become much more committed to her faith. Maybe she is running from God and hoping that if she is "religious" enough she will get into Heaven. It's not about religion though. Pray that God puts overwhelming confusion into her heart and mind and causes her to question everything she knows and thinks about Islam and Christianity. Like Elijah and the prophets of Baal, let the TRUE God show Himself.
It is such a blessing to have community; to have people who care about you and make you feel welcome. Yesterday when we went to visit my friends at the Artisan (tourist market) I experienced that. The moment Cass and I walked in we were greeted with excited faces and a warm welcome; rather than the typical, "Buy this", "Come see my shop", "I give you good price", that normally comes with the market. My friends there were very happy to meet Cass and so happy we had returned to Mali to see them. Soon, my best friend in Mali, Omar, came running through the teeming market with a huge smile on his face saying, "Martan, Martan!" We embraced with a big hug, as we were both excited to see each other and then held hands (don't worry! That's what you do here, it's cool I promise!) I introduced him to, ne musso (my woman) and then he immediately took us to his shop. He pointed to all of the necklaces hanging on his wall and told Cass to pick one out as a gift. He then gave Cass a tour of the Artisan. It was cool to see how eager everyone was to make Cass feel welcome there. Pray that Cass and I have the courage to go and share stories from the God's Word with my friends at the market and that they too have confusion and questioning in their hearts of Islam and understanding of God's Word.
This next week will be sharing stories from God’s word with an ESL (English as a Second Language) class. Pray that Cass and I are able to learn these stories by heart and are able to effectively and passionately share them with others. 

Friday, April 30, 2010

We are in Bamako!

Hello! This is just a quick little update. We arrived in Bamako Wednesday evening and it is HOT here! However, it rained yesterday and stormed last night, leaving a cool nice day today. These first few days we will be visiting my old friends here and next week we will begin sharing stories to students in a English class.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Like every morning in Dakar we woke up drowsy, but not as bad as the four mornings prior. It seems that these five days in Dakar have been a good transition into the five-hour time difference from the States. Today was our last full day Dakar, Senegal; so it took a lot of discussion to decided how to spend it. We decided on a visit to Goree´ Island and dinner at the most western point of Africa.
Omar is the day guard for the guesthouse here and is the same age as Cass and I. He is a very nice guy whom we have shared several conversations and a Mango with. As he opened the gate for us today we told him of our plans and wished him a good day. The guesthouse is in a cul-de-sac at the end of short road leading to the ocean (every road seems to lead to the ocean as we are on a small peninsula). We walked to the end of the road where a man has a fruit stand. We have bought fruit from him everyday, today it was two bananas. Then on to the bakery to buy some bread, but just any bread – awesome bread with yellow stuff inside! I do not know what it is, but it is mighty tasty. We actually bought the bread just to get some small change. Most people here only use small change and can not break a bill over 5,000cfa ($10).
Cass still knows the Wolof that she learned when she was here before and she got us a taxi to the port of Dakar. After waiting a while we boarded a fairy heading to the island. The architecture in the city is simple square buildings made of sender blocks, but the architecture of Goree´ Island is much nicer! The buildings on the island are of a Spanish influence and beautiful.  There were plenty of tour guides offering their services once we got off the boat. We chose a guy named Julian. Julian had “Rasta hair” (dreadlocks) and seemed to be well like around the island. We saw several slave houses and the small, inhumane, places the people were kept. We learned how the slaves were selected and sold and even where in West Africa most of them came from, Mali (where we will be for the remainder of our trip) being one of the places. It was amazing to stand in the tiny rooms where literally millions of others where once held captive.
After our tour of the island we rested on the beach and watched all the people. Soon a boy who had noticed my chacos falling apart appeared and before I new it had my shoe trying to fix it. He insisted that there was no charge and figuring that the shoes needed fixing more than they did not, I let him continue. Being the wonderfully nice guy that I am I gave him a tip and now I am happy to say that the souls of my chacos are well intact again - well sort of well intact, there is only so much a toothbrush and glue can do.
We finished our day with a trip to the most western point of Africa and a nice dinner with Cass’ friend. Our trip to Dakar has been a great transition into the culture and temperature of West Africa. Tomorrow we will depart for Mali and trade this nice 80+degree weather for hot 95+degree weather. Cass and I can already see where God is beginning to work in our own lives and we are excited to see what the next three months have in store for both us, and the people of Mali.

Monday, April 26, 2010

So far in Dakar!

We arrived in Dakar early Friday morning.  That day we slept and then went to eat with a friend.

Saturday we went to visit my Senegalese family, the family that I lived with during the Summer of 2007.  This visit went well.  They have even started eating with spoons, so no meals with hands yet!  I was sad to realize that my closet friend had gotten married and no longer lives there.  We called her and she said to come back on Monday.  We stayed about 6 hours....this is very different than visits in America.  Here, you sit, sit some more, eat, eat some more, and then take a nap on the floor.  They also hold men in high regards, so Martin got special attention all along.  They told me to get up from the seat and sit on the floor so Martin could lay down.  They insisted he rest as they fluffed a pillow for him.  Then everyone set on the floor around one large bowl to eat except for Martin, they brought him a special stool.  While eating they told me that I was a bad wife and that they would find him a Lebou wife due to the fact that I was not cutting up his food and putting it right in front of him.  I just laughed!

Sunday we went to church and then had lunch with some of the field missionaries here.

Monday, today, we went back to see the family.  This visit was great!  I helped cook, which was fun.  Then something happened which brightened my day.  One of the little boys who lives with the family, but is not directly related, and who gets very little attention;  would not talk or interact and had a sad face showing no emotion.  I asked him to come sit in the room with Martin and I.  He hardly acknowledged that I had spoken to him, until the women began to command him to do what the "white" woman had asked.  He sheepishly came and sat down.  I took a ball and rolled it to him.  After a long time of trying to get him to play, he had a smile on his face and seemed mesmerized that someone would take the time to play with him.

This visit was also special because Cole', my close friend from the Summer of 2007, came by the house. Because she speaks English we were able to communicate very well.  After the visit with the family, we went back to her house to have a coke.  Cole' has been heavy on my mind since my last trip due to a dream that I had about her.  I dreamed that I was in inside of Heaven and she was outside the gates yelling out to me, "Cass! You came, but you never told me! Cass, You came , but you never told me!" This has broken my heart ever since.  When I was there in 2007 we did try to tell the family, but it was very hard to communicate clearly.  This time, while drinking Coke at Cole's house, I was able to ask her if she knew why we come to Senegal.  I told her, "to learn the culture and to explain that Jesus is the only way to Heaven."  Though Cole' did not come accept Jesus as her Savior, I was able to plant a seed in her life.  It is my prayer and I hope yours too, that God will work in her life and continue to show her truth.  We did exchange email, facebook, and skype info, so hopefully I can continue to talk to her and encourage her.

Later today we had a good talk with the day guard at the guest house.  He is a 24 year old young believer.  He shared with us about the recent, tragic loss of his grandmother and also the loss of 4 other relatives in the last few years.  He also talked with us about his desire to find a wife who is a believer.  This is hard considering most people here are Islamic.  He asked us to continue to pray for this!

Please pray for Cole' (Co-lay), Omar and us for the Spirit of God to be at work