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Moments of recent days here in Mali

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Ca va?

Ca va? How’s it going? It is the common French greeting here in Mali. My favorite is when I’m also asked how my family goes? Ma famille va tres bien.

I want to touch base again on language learning. Did you catch on my last blog that the couple is taking 4 hours of French 5 days a week? 20 hours of straight language class. The second family I’m with are doing the same thing. One is learning French and one is learning Bambara, the common native spoken language.

Those who are in language learning will take lessons and tests until they are proficient enough to speak it well. This can take 5 or 6 months! It is hard for adults to learn a new language. Add this language learning dynamic to adjusting to a new culture, making all new friends, being away from family and not being able to work your new role for the first half of the first year you were hired. How would you fare? Would you keep the faith? Persevere? Quit?

In 2 Thessalonians 1 it says, “We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brethren, as is only fitting, because your faith is greatly enlarged, and the love of each one of you toward one another grows ever greater; therefore, we ourselves speak proudly of you among the churches of God for your perseverance and faith in the midst of all your persecutions and afflictions which you endure.”

That verse is my reminder to proudly share the lives and work of these friends I’m with here. I am thankful for these people who don’t give up and persevere to further God’s kingdom in whatever role God has called them. They know the hardships, like learning a new language, they are enduring in the beginning have a blessing coming.

And now I ask you to pray for our fellow believers living and working in Mali and around the world. Remember them daily. And ask yourself what are you enduring to further the gospel and bring glory to God?

A Day in the Life

On this trip I will be spending time with four different families. I thought I’d post a little bit from each on what a day, or part of a day, in their life is like. Each of them will be different due to where they live here, family sizes, time in country.  Many people do not have an idea of what an ordinary day in a passport country looks like. They either have a grandiose idea of a glamorous life led in an exotic culture or they believe it’s a life of hardship without modern conveniences or luxury. Honestly a lot of it is similar to your life in America. It is not glamorous but it is certainly far from a boring, no frills lifestyle. Some things are the same but require a different or lengthier process. There are modern conveniences and technology. They have friends to visit and see. They build friendships with the local townspeople.

I’ve been staying with the first family, a couple, who have been here less than a year. This is their life. In the morning they have French lessons for four hours Monday thru Friday. They have been doing this almost 5 months! They have homework every evening as well. In the afternoons the husband does the work he has been assigned to do here. He also manages relationships with the house guard who is here in the evenings.

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His wife has a new house helper whom she has to communicate with through French and some of the local language. Trying to explain to her the tasks for the day can be quite challenging. House helpers are the norm here as culture demands. While the house help does many chores, the time it takes to communicate, teach and monitor the work can sometimes be quite exhaustive.

Yesterday we walked several blocks to purchase fruits and vegetables at a couple of local outdoor stalls. She also purchased bread nearby. We had to stop many times to greet those who were sitting outside as is the custom here. Fruits and vegetables have to be washed in a solution to sanitize them before being eaten. American stomachs cannot eat these without that cleaning. Some items like lettuce have to soak for 30 minutes to be fully cleaned for consumption. (Now I know some of you wash your fruits and vegetables thoroughly at home so this is not new to you.) Bread is French loaf style and fresh and must be eaten within a day or two because there are no preservatives.  Meat must be thoroughly cooked. Water is filtered and water bottles filled daily.

That is just a small picture of their daily life. Tomorrow I move on to stay with another family who have 2 small children. I will write about their lives in a few days.