Monday, January 23, 2012

Paris

Again, I am so sorry (hakato) I didn't get yesterday's post up until just a minute ago.  We spontaneously lost internet in Bamako... apparently this happens all the time.  In Koutiala we lost power for a whole night.

Anyway, Mom - sorry skype cut you off.  That was right when we lost the internet.

We are in Paris and will be for the next several hours.  We are so ready to be home, but I think all of us are dreading the flight from Paris to Chicago.  If anyone is awake, please pray for an empty flight and large, comfy seats!  Oh and Fred had his wallet stolen in Bamako :(  Please keep him in your thoughts too.

I caught a picture of the city gate on the way out of Bamako:
Quite fitting I thought!

Not much to write I suppose.  Oh, but I swear our flight attendants were all drunk on the way here from Africa... one pushed red wine, white wine, a heineken, and a shot of conaq at me (all free of course) but I politely declined.  The whole time he was smiling, winking and nodding, haha.  If the flight attendant thing doesn't work out, I think that guy could make a pretty decent living in the drug trade!

I'll end today with a few more african sayings.

He doesn't have enough salt in his sauce.  (He's crazy)

Hali Nin dogo menna ji la a te sa ka ke bama ye - No matter how long a log sits in the water, it can't become a crocodile.  (You can't change who you are, also by their own accord: no matter how long Randy and Marsha are in Africa, they'll never be African)

See you all state-side soon!

On the road again

I am so sorry I didn't post anything yesterday.  I didn't mean to make anyone think that we'd died!  I comepletely forgot until late at night.  It takes so long to upload photos here I usually have to start that process hours before I actually write anything!  So today you get a two day chronicle.

We have only a few hours left here in Africa.  I am sad to see our time end, but am excited to be back in the arms of friends and family.  What an adventure we've had!

Saturday we drove to Bamako from Koutiala.

At our first military stop along the way we were pulled to the side.  Usually, being pulled over means we would need to get out our papers and prove our legitimacy.  The guy pulls us over, and in Bambara tells Randy "Give me a tent.  It is cold and the mosquitoes are bothering me, so give me a tent."  Randy said "I don't have a tent, I am not a visitor here, I live in Niena."  It was so funny, the officer replied: "How am I supposed to get a tent all the way here from Niena?!"  Uh, you're not dude.  That's the point... Randy and Marsha said in their 30+ years in Africa, they've never been pulled over by an officer demanding a tent.

The guest house in Koutiala.  It doesn't look this dungeonesque in the daylight.

This is a field of gourd-like veggies.  

The Malians use the gourds as bowls!


When we got to Segou, we stopped by the Mud Dye place to check out their process.  The story goes that one day a hunter went out and shot an animal.  He killed it and the animal fell into the mud as it was dying.  The hunter tossed the animal over his shoulder to carry it home.  When he arrived there his wife washed his clothes and the mud came off, but where the mud had been on his clothing was a black stain that never came off.  Thus, the invention of mud dye!  These people stain the cotton (made from cotton grown here in Africa) with leaves from various trees.  Then they paint on it with the mud and when they rinse it, the black stays!

In the villages, mothers use mud dye to teach their children the symbols of life... I bought a piece that shows them if anyone is ever interested in checking them out.


This guy is painting with mud... he's using a toothbrush as a paintbrush!

Rinsing the stain.

This is the yellow dye.  They make it from the leaves of a local tree.    

After the mud dye, we went into an artisant and did some shopping... man, what a haggling nightmare.  The people are relentless and all of them have "best price"  I got fed up with one of them and said "The best price is FREE!" He yelled back, "Its free, its free, just come look!"  Randy did all of our haggling for us and according to him, I got the best prices :)


The Niger river, at the end of the artisant.  I think that donkey cart is having some issues.

After lunch we were back on the road for a few more hours to Bamako. 

AYYYYEBENGAAAA!!!!  
These rocks remind me of Lion King and that song goes through my head every time I see them.

Tomatoes anyone?  
Pam - Ty said this is what your pickup looks like on the way to the stands :)    

A decent attempt at a license plate!

For dinner we tried a place called SFC...  Check out the picture below and see if any of the menu items look familiar...  Just so you know, it is nothing like KFC or McDonalds (aka MAC Donalds for those of you who don't speak proper english)... 




This was our first and only Malian "Fast Food" trip and it was quite unique.  We went in, ordered, and all of a sudden one of the guys behind the counter jumped on his moto.  After about 15mins he was back... from the market, with the ingredients to make our food!  They had one flame to cook over and made everything out of the same skillet.  It took about 2 hours for our food to be finished.  When we walked there it was daylight, when we left it was pitch black.  We got home only to discover that the chicken was raw on the inside!  It was quite a unique dining experience!

We all lived through the SFC disaster and made it to church this morning!


Grateful for your church building yet?

How about now? 

 They pack 300 people into this church every Sunday.  We couldn't move!  You are kindof forced to dance with the crowd otherwise everyone bumps you!

Each person comes in and sits to pray for a moment before engaging in services.

I don't know if I've mentioned it before, but the women here are all beautiful!  And dressed in their Sunday best today!

Praise and worship among the African people was outstanding.  It was interesting to me that each person had their own rythm.  Not like our services where everyone tries to clap to the same beat.  I don't think I saw a single person clapping or moving to the same tune, but all together it made beautiful music.  (I have videos if anyone wants to see them.  I'll try to upload them when I'm back in the states with better internet)

In services the men, women and children all sit separately.  After praise and worship, the kids left for Sunday school and the preacher started his sermon.  It was ironic and almost comical how similar the message was.  It made me laugh because the pastor preached on being on time for services and how important being there for the beginning praise offerings was... a message I have heard more than a few times from Pastor Mark...  He even touched on the fact that some people only come for Easter and Christmas!  

We were so blessed to be a part of their worship and got to stand up and introduce ourselves as newbies.  Actually, the girl sitting next to me was new to that church as well.  I was glad to have been able to shake her hand and welcome her (as much as I could not knowing the language).

On our way home, we saw people flying kites.  Funny that we pay for them, and this one was working perfectly, homemade from a garbage bag and some sticks...


Hope all is well back home.  Pray for our safe travels!  I may or may not write from Paris... we'll see how it goes.

Friday, January 20, 2012

CMA Women's Hospital / Bethel Bible College

Mr. (or Mrs., I’m not sure which) sheep had to die today.  An African guy killed it with a dull kitchen/steak knife!  I have never watched something bleed out only to eat it several hours later.  It was the weirdest thing.

We traveled to Bethel Bible College, just up the road today.  The people of Christ Community Church have blessed Bethel in so many ways, allowing them to build a water tower, improve their solar power, garden, and helped them with their radio station/tower among other things such as new roofing on some of their buildings, etc.

We took a tour, tried to play dodgeball with the kids, got to broadcast over the radio, and watched women work.


It was a baaahh-d day for this guy. 

Church building at Bethel.  Marsha said the MKs used to use it as a roller rink back before it became the chapel.
Water tower at Bethel.
Washing dishes! 
This pole is super heavy and she heaves it down into the corn to knock off the sheath.
Then she pours it down into another bowl and lets the wind carry the outside parts away.
Just chilling in the bowl
Radio station
Solar panels
Daniel Coulibaly
 Daniel’s first wife is the reason they started the CMA women and children’s hospital.  She died in child birth several years ago.  His child survived.  He is now remarried; we met his lovely wife and in fact, he is coming to Omaha in March.  When Randy asked his wife what she would do while he was gone, she replied “I am going to pray that he doesn’t freeze to death!”  Apparently the Africans worry about these things.  (We promised to let him borrow a big coat)

Maternity ward named after Daniel's first wife.


After Bethel we went to the hospital.  They are moving into the two new buildings today so it was pretty hectic.


Baby and Mom at the hospital
If you gave money for mosquito nets or beds last year, here is your donation in action!
The OR.  This woman was losing her fingers today. Look at that bedside manner! 
And I don't think I've put up a pic of these yet... like razor wire over your walls, but broken glass bottles instead to keep people out.  They're decorative and functional!
Building 1 (see story below)
Building 2:  They are just starting to work from this building today.
Building 3: Also starting work from this building today.  
Funny story:  Our church helped with this building and somehow the wrong beams were accidentally purchased. They were double the length they were supposed to be.  No one knew what they were going to do, its not like you can just return them after they've been shipped across the globe on a container so they came up with the idea to build a second story.  Now they have a school for nurses up there!


We headed to the lab so a few guys could give blood.  I found out I’m B+, who would’ve guessed it! Ha  I didn’t give blood, too afraid I would get sick or pass out and Nicole wasn't feeling well so she headed home.  (Keep her in your thoughts!)



Dale graciously giving!
Below is the story of how our churched raised the 1 million dollars.  Pretty neat if you'd like to read on.

Before our current pastor started at our chuch and while we had no lead pastor, the church elders had come to Mali.  They saw the hospital and felt a calling from God to raise money for it.  The elders told the people running the hospital that in one year they would be back with one million dollars for the hospital.  The hospital leaders nodded and smiled but didn't believe that a church from Omaha, Nebraska (a po-dunk, nobody town), could possibly raise that much money in such a short amount of time.

Well, several months into our church's commitment, we'd only raised about 30k.  We hired Mark Ashton, a pastor from Chicago who, by his own accord and that of the elders was unqualified for the job, but everyone felt God's push to hire him as our lead pastor.  The OBGYN explained to me that everyone at the hospital here in Mali thought that the new pastor would let the elders continue to raise the money and keep himself out of it since it wasn't really his project.  However, Mark took on the project as his own.

During a sermon at CCC, Mark preached on the talents, a story told in Matthew and Luke where a master leaves and proportions his wealth among his servents and asks them to be good stewards of it.  Some of the servents multiply it, another buries it in the ground, etc.  Its a great parable if you haven't read it.  Anyway, Mark preaches on the talents and takes CCC's 30k that they'd raised, splitting it up into envelopes of 20, 100, 200 dollars and so on.  At the end of the sermon he calls the people up who are interested in helping the church multiply the funds that they'd raised thus far.  Hundreds, maybe thousands of people went up as Mark passed out envelopes with varied amounts of money, not knowing how much was in each envelope or who got what... no way to track what a person received.

The people of our church responded in amazing ways, taking their envelopes and doing great things with the money inside, multiplying it over the summer.  What God given courage to entrust the people of CCC with ALL of the money they had.  At the end of the summer the congregation came back, pockets full, and supplied the church with the money that had been multiplied.  It turned out that the money raised, along with a couple of large donations was enough to provide the church with the million dollars we'd promised to build these buildings.  What an amazing gift, only God could have provided.  What great faith by our church's leaders to follow God's path.

Now if I missed a few parts of that story, I'm sorry.  It was retold to me by the man who runs the women's hospital here.  The people of Koutiala are so grateful to the people of Christ Community.  Every one of them is full of gratitude for our church and is excited to tell us about it the minute they find out where we're from.  I just wanted to be able to try to retell the story and I hope I did it justice.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Kouri

Today we drove out to Kouri (cooli), only about an hour away and on nice roads this time.  Randy said that that in all of his thirty years in Mali, that was the worst road he had to drive on.

Again we had a hot day... but we are in Africa so what else would we expect?!  We vaccinated 2,728 cattle and 82 donkeys today!!!!!!!!  We are all so so tired its unreal.  I have never been so filthy, so hot, so cut up and bruised or so sore in my life but I am SO happy too.

The first thing I did today was walk up, grab a cow by the horns and take all of the skin off of my elbow... those mud chutes were a little easier on the skin! (today's was cement)

My biggest battle was the teenage kids getting in my way.  I'm pretty sure that I would've been arrested in the states for pushing kids like I did today.

Lunch was such a production.  They brought out all the tricks with separate rice, peanut butter sauce and grilled sheep and veggies.  They even served it on little tables with tablecloths and gave us our own bowls to eat out of and spoons!!!  They treated us like royalty, it was awesome!  Oh and the village chief had a cat which is strange because they usually don't keep pets... its name was Moose.

No gifted sheep today though.  I think the fantastic lunch was gift enough!

We had a photographer out today... I don't know how to spell her name but it sounds like Eeween, she is from the Netherlands.

Headresses common among the men.

I completely sweated my face off, but the Malians were cold!  Beanies and jackets!

The pastor during his sermon... I think his name was Mark?

Gearing up!

Don't they look excited?

Today we had a cow try to jump the bar at the end of the chute and flip itself onto its head.  Ty jumped in and flipped her over and pulled her our by her feet.  I was positive that she broke her neck, but she got up, a little wobbly at first and took off. Pretty scary and none of the local people knew what to do!

Want to see a Malian run?  Pretend to shoot him with a 16g needle!  

New joke among us missionaries:  I was grabbing a bandage for a guy today and asked Nicole to take it over to him... she asked me what the guy looked like, I responded uh... the he was the black guy over there.  Ha.

Thats Dale going after a cow.

Our 'family'  and a couple of rouge africans.  I'd tell you who everyone is, but I doubt you'd care :)

We were so filthy, I took off my bandaid and realized how dirty I was!

I'm off to bed.  Stayed up way too late tonight!  Good night!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Torosso

Ee Nee Sogama/Ee Nee Che/Fan Biey/Ca va/Hello!

I keep laughing because we were given some words to learn in Bombara, but we've been traveling to villages that only speak Mianca so I keep having to learn new ways to say hello/how are you!

Today we drove to Torosso... we hit three birds on the highway, got lost 2 or 3 times in the brush, drove right through the middle of someone's yard/stable/awning/village, and got the van stuck once... so not a bad start to the day.

We vaccinated 800 cattle today.  Again a slow day.  People brought cows from 3-4 villages and some took awhile to get there.  We started using the injectable which was interesting.  We had a few bulls try to jump the chute and had one break off the last few feet of it... thats the problem with mud chutes :)

The set up was quite a bit better today though, the chute was long, they filled it and emptied it properly without confusion and the chute was off of the corner of the pen which made getting cattle in it a lot easier.

No pastor out for a message today.  Marcel gave prayer and we were informed us that they already had 70 christians in this village!  

Today was WAY hotter than yesterday, in the upper 90's. We all burned pretty bad despite the fact that we all put on sunscreed and wore hats.  

This is Marcel, a local pastor.  Today we were in his home village.  They have a saying in africa when you're visiting your home village that you're going home to taste the breast milk.  I don't really get it, but thats just what they say.
In fact, they have a lot of proverbs...
 - The little chicken in my stomach is crying (I'm hungry)
 - An empty sack cannot stand (Also means I'm hungry)
 - Spilt milk cannot be picked up (Don't dwell on the past)

I'm sure I'll think of others.

Oh, I almost forgot that Marcel has tribal markings on his face.  Apparently these are illegal now, but they are cut into his skin on either side and make him look like he was attacked by a tiger or an angry wife.  I cant believe that they used to do that to people.

SOOOOO many africans are wearing Obama shirts... its hilarious.  They don't even know who he is and Randy boos them.

If you think I take a bunch of pictures of africans, you should see how closely they follow us around with their cells.   Speaking of cells, how is it that we are literally in the middle of nowhere and the guys have cell phone service, but I can't get service from my backyard in Omaha?

Nicole is in the left corner of this pic holding a bottle of pour on vaccine.  Ty is doing an injection and Fred is next to him holding the cow.  Oh! Abel is next to Fred.  He is the local veterinarian.

That's right people, I can hold a bull and inject it at the same time!  Too bad I have to pretty much jump up and balance on the chute walls.  Some days short people just can't win.

On a break for a little sling shot competition.  Randy is in the blue with the white hat.  He and his wife have lived here in Mali for 30+ years.
We traveled to the chief's village for lunch.  This is how they cook it, in a big pot over a fire.


The village chief and his two wives.

The bathroom... this one is VERY clean, and is only for #1

The candy was a big hit... thanks mom for sending it.  They were a bunch of stinkers... they'd stick one hand out and then pocket the candy and act like they hadn't gotten any!
And if you were wondering who heards these sheep, you're looking at them... kids are heardsmen around these parts.



This was cute, ring pop put on the finger and all.

Apparently these women hadn't seen a picture of themselves either.  Nicole showed them one and they were SO excited.  If you want an aprehensive african to soften up toward you, take their picture and let them see it... you'll be best friends. 
I know what you're thinking... that those guys were following us around with cameras so these women should have seen a picture before, but you seriously have NO idea how insignificant these women and children seem to the men.  I doubt they've ever even touched their phones, let alone had a picture of themselves taken!

This baby is two years old... no wonder she's not getting very big... it doesn't look like a whole bunch of food is coming out of that thing!

Got another gifted sheep today!  Its going to be a big dinner on Friday!


This makes me think real hard about the last time I proclaimed that I "needed" new shoes. 
I know what you're thinking... Audrey, where did you get such a sexy outfit? Or dang, you should use that face more often.  Let me just tell you, I know how amazing this looks and I wish you were here to see it in action.

A first hand look at the madness of the chute filling.  This was after the bull took off the last foot or two.  And once again their method of moving cattle was to beat them with sticks until they bled.
I have to say, this trip is changing me in so many ways.  Its helping me be more aware of my attitude, the way I act, the things I say, and is making me realize the type of person I want to be.  I know these people think we are here to bless them, but in reality we are taking home so much more than they can see.  I am so grateful to everyone who contributed to this trip, prayed for us, and who have supported my decision to come here.  You are all responsible for what we are doing and on behalf of everyone, we thank you.

I'm going to try to update yesterday's post here in a bit with some better commentary.  I remember things that I want to put on the blog as we're driving or eating or whatevering and I can't seem to get them to come to mind when I sit down at my computer! But I digress... hope all is well back home!