less than a week. 4 days. 100 hours. 
thats it. when the time runs out i will be heading back to america. 
i can't yet grasp the reality of leaving. its like it can't even process it in my mind. of course, there have been plenty of times that stress has caused tears to flow, but i just can't imagine not being here, not seeing africans. it's rather strange, because from past experiences once i hit this point of being so close to departing i step so far away from all of those that truly matter, even to the point of drawing offense or hurt feelings [i promise its not intentional, just a different coping mechanism]. 
however, it has been the absolute opposite. i have found that i want to spend every moment with africans, with my team, anything that encompasses my time here i want to be right there. i wonder if this is a different mechanism that God is trying to teach me? i am not too sure, but i am going to be honest.... it scares me. i can just imagine losing it as soon as i get on the plane; and all the emotions that i have tried so hard to face- roll out in one big ball. absolutely horrible. 
wow. this is sounding more like a private diary entry...but i feel better that i be completely vulnerable to the situation. 

despite this battle of emotions, i want to leave you with a few key things i have learned from the african people

#1. actions speak louder than words. yes. this is quite the common phrase and my mother even still directs me with this advice. however, due to the fact that language is not a reliable reference, a lot of my time spent with africans was observation [as well as making an idiot out of myself when i try to speak Bambara or French]. it doesn't take long to realize that these people are hard workers, servants, caring and relational. they spend time. they are event-oriented. life is family. they simply take the time to be with people. 
example: i recently had the privilege of heading out to a field owned by my sweet Ivorian family. the day was wonderful and filled with laughter and plenty of food. but at the end of the day, this Ivorian crew and one toubab walked from surrounding village to village to merely greet people. the greetings are so simple. it is not any huge engagement, but a kind heart reaching out to let someone know that you care. do we understand what it means to care? "care.. it means to feel concern or interest; attach importance to something." this action of traveling to meet someone where they are at in order to for them to feel 'known', worth something...it's an action that doesn't need words. 
1 john 3.18 Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; 
let us show the truth by our actions.

#2 dance like david danced. what would an africa be without its reputation of colorful music and demonstrative dance! boy i love it! but in all honesty, the africans dance because it is an expression of who they are, where they came from, what they are doing, what they want to say... its delightful. so many times we place our focus on outer attention and how we may be perceived if we act in this way or that. now i am not saying that all of us need to start dancing up and down the aisles while one by one get escorted out to the foyer.. no... but express your love and joy to the Lord in a way that is actually 'expressive'. [ i may be stepping on people's toes on this one] really folks, you know what the Lord has done for you right? you see where he has brought you from? the faithfulness he has demonstrated throughout your life? he at least deserves a good hand clap and smile. there really is no specific example besides the fact that the african people express their praise to the Lord through dance and in the same attitude should we clap, sing, shout, jump, spin, dance... whatever it is... when you truly express the joy of the Lord, you too [in your own way] will dance like David danced. 
2 Samuel 6.14  Then David danced before 
the LORD with all his might. 

#3 faith in prayer. believe it or not these two actually go together. & no this isn't some new concept to me, but if you could see & hear these people pray, you would then gain a different perspective, perhaps a more serious perspective on one's prayer life. 
example: i was embedding with a family from the church and they had the lovely ritual of rising at 5 am to pray, sing songs and share a short devotion. well, it was a friday morning [i had already embraced the early riser prayer] and Mama comes in summoning me quickly to come with her to the church for prayer. all right, i am thinking to myself. i can always use a good prayer meeting. we arrived at the church around 10 am and you could already here the raised voices from outside the church. we enter and sit down on the right where the majority of the women sat. a lot of african prayer meetings have a structure of numerous short prayers for different needs and then breaks of singing or testimony sharing. & that is exactly the structure being executed. however, there was a point that we stopped, like took a break. it didn't take too long for me to finally come to the understanding that this was a 'fasting' prayer meeting. to make a long story short.. after 7 hours of praying for everything and everyone i could think of and a rumbling empty stomach, we all together broke fast and parted our separate ways around 5 pm. now i know that length of prayer means nothing, BUT the dedication of these people to come for a majority of the day to pray for their families, their country, their church was astounding. africans pray with determination. africans pray with zeal. africans pray with faith. a faith that literally echoes their belief in the High God, the Healer, the Provider, the Faithful Father, the Loving Savior, the One True Living God. 
without faith in prayer ... prayer is nothing but a persuasive speech. 
1 john 5.14-15  And we are confident that he hears us whenever 
we ask for anything that pleases him. And since we know he hears us 
when we make our requests, we also know that 
he will give us what we ask for.

#4. possessions are fruitless. this may sound obvious considering mali is the fourth poorest country in the world and the majority of the population is sleeping on a dirt floor within four mud walls, nonetheless, although the people are poor, you would never know based off of their warm genuine smiles and jubilant personalities. after discovering giving to be one of my spiritual gifts, i decided to intentionally put it into practice. i then realized the position of the african and the majorities current status. you have so little but give so much. 
example: i work weekly with a couple guys from Sierra Leone whose business is in tie-dye. thankfully, they speak English, so the relationship has been able to extend a little farther than the Bambara-speaking african. these men have families. they have houses to pay for. resources to be in stock. transportation fees to pay. let me just say: they don't have money. business is not booming. they make make make, but sell way to short. pi would love to help their business by bringing some of their products to the states]. HOWEVER, despite the financial situation and penny to your name lifestyle, these men have furnished us with gifts...tablecloths, napkins, table-runners, aprons... their hard work given in friendship. the africans have reminded me not only of temporary excitement material possessions and money can offer, but of the danger it can bring to your spiritual walk. 
my possessions will not produce the fruit that God intended. 
Matthew 16.26 for what will it profit a man if he 
gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? 

#5. God's specific people include africans. its so easy to get caught up in your own culture and unconsciously believe that God called your people to reach everyone else. its alright. i am guilty of this very thought. but let me inform you that God has called a specific people to follow after Him and call on His name, but that people does not consist of all anglo-americans. God's 'team' is beautifully patterned with hispanics, asians, arabs, indians, africans... 
example: within the last couple of months of my time here i was given the opportunity to spend 4 days in a village a few hours outside of Bamako. the trip was incredible and God did many miracles from healing major head and leg pains to delivering witch doctors to encouraging the local believers. our team worked with a very special young couple, Pastor Moes & Ester. This young pastor is a spitfire for spreading the gospel and has truly dedicated his life to serving and reaching the people in the surrounding villages. We were told that before he began the church on his property, Pastor Moes did a 90 day evangelism strategy, where he traveled from village to village preaching the good news [never returning home]. He has begun multiple annexes in the villages, which has served as follow up and discipleship for that distinct area. Moes is one of many examples of God using his specific people for his specific plan. the africans have showed me that foreign missionaries can do the job well, but it is the africans who will reach the africans [well]. God is raising up leaders all across this globe to reach the nations... and africans are very much a part of that. 
Acts 8. 37.38 As they rode along, they came to some water, 
and the eunuch said, “Look! There’s some water! 
Why can’t I be baptized?” He ordered the carriage to stop, 
and they went down into the water, and Philip baptized him.

the african people are truly a hand-crafted gift from the Lord. 
i thank Him everyday for allowing me to be apart of their culture & their lives. i know this is not the end.... it is simply the beginning of a beautiful kinship that will last through eternity. 


blood that counts.

"i should have known we would have no luck finding a taxi this morning." 
gloria and i chuckled with each other as we found ourselves walking ALL the way to church (which is really not that far) and admiring the numerous sheep that were being slaughtered right before our eyes on both sides of the street. no i promise thats not a typical sunday in bamako. however, today is a Muslim holiday. tabaski. 

on this day of 'sacrifice', men, women, and children are expected to dress in their finest clothing to perform prayer in a large congregation in an open field or mosque. Those Muslims who can afford, sacrifice a sheep as a symbol of Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his only son. 
According to Islamic tradition, one of the main trials of Abraham's life was to face the command of God to devote his dearest possession, his only son. Upon hearing this command, he prepared to submit to God’s will. During this preparation, Satan tempted Abraham and his family by trying to dissuade them from carrying out God's commandment, but he drove Satan away by throwing pebbles at him.
When Ishmael was about thirteen, God decided to test their faith in public. Abraham had a recurring dream, in which God was commanding him to offer his son as a sacrifice, which God had granted him after many years of deep prayer. Abraham knew that the dreams of the prophets were divinely inspired, and one of the ways in which God communicated with his prophets. When the intent of the dreams became clear to him, Abraham decided to fulfill God's command and offer Ishmael for sacrifice.
Although Abraham was ready to sacrifice his dearest for Allah's sake, he could not just go and drag his son to the place of sacrifice without his consent. Ishmael had to be consulted as to whether he was willing to give up his life as fulfillment to God's command. This consultation would be a major test of Ishmael's maturity in faith, love and commitment for Allah, willingness to obey his father and sacrifice his own life for the sake of Allah. Abraham presented the matter to his son and asked for his opinion about the dreams of slaughtering him. Ishmael did not show any hesitation or reservation even for a moment. He said, "Father, do what you have been commanded. You will find me, Insha'Allah (God willing), to be very patient." When both father and son had shown their perfect obedience to Allah and they had practically demonstrated their willingness to sacrifice their most precious possessions for His sake — Abraham by laying down his son for sacrifice and Ishmael by lying patiently under the knife – Allah called out to them stating that his sincere intentions had been accepted, and that he need not carry out the killing of Ishmael. Instead, Abraham was told to replace his son with a ram to sacrifice instead. 

According to the Biblical story, Abraham sets out to obey God's command without questioning but does not state in front of isaac that he is the intended sacrifice. After Isaac is bound to an altar, the angel of God stops Abraham at the last minute, saying, "now i know you fear God." At this point Abraham sees a ram caught in some nearby bush and sacrifices the ram in Isaac's place. 

obviously, we see the differences in the story pulled from the Qur'an and the one taken from the Bible.  

Abraham never believed God wold take a human sacrifice. It just wasn’t consistent with His nature.. And even if God let the knife touch Isaac- I truly believe God would have resurrected him. 
Our (Christian perspective) God is a God of love and compassion. Whereas in Islam they can't even gather any sort of proof that Allah even cares for them, much less love them. 
to the Muslim: Tabaski is there time for forgiveness- 
but for the Christian this story is a sign and reminder of obedience. [hebrews 9.26] 
to the Muslim- this annual event gives them 
some sort of hope that one day they will have relationship with Allah. 
for the Christian: God has already sent the only sacrifice, Jesus the only human in all history who has ever been asked to be a sacrifice and shed blood for forgiveness, that now brings us into relationship with God. 

i know this blog was long, but i felt it necessary not only to provide interesting and factual information about our muslim neighbors, but also to serve as a reminder of the One who did shed His blood for us. & in that we are free. yes, we as christians still sacrifice on a certain level our lives to God, but it is no where near or on any level of that of what Christ Jesus did for all mankind. because of his ultimate sacrifice we can now be in relationship with our Creator, just as He intended it to be from the very beginning. 
His is the only blood that brings freedom from all sins.  


Keru Yakaar.

hello all! i have made it back from Dakar safe and sound and have many many stories to share! i will put up a few posts over these next couple of days to update you on my recent adventures. :) 
& for those of who did not know. i took a short trip to Dakar, Senegal to work in a medical clinic, Keru Yakaar (house of hope). i am quite interested in working medical overseas and wanted to take a look at how different centers operate and how that may work into my future ministry. 

 Ayiwa! monday, october 24 was my first day at the clinic. i was a little nervous only for the reason that being in a different country i had no language and walking to a place i have never been to go meet people i have never met made me feel a little uneasy. nevertheless, i used the whole morning for prayer and left on this journey with confidence that God would get me there! in following the directions given to me, i was to arrive at the center at 7.40 am. i would see a large line of people lined up outside and i was to push my way through and say the name 'Beatrice' (the name of the lady who runs the place). and supposedly they would let me in and i would then get some sort of introduction and run down of the day. 
7.40 comes and i have made it to the clinic. step one complete. there are two gates. a larger one and then a much smaller one, where the people were lined up. i decide to go over to the larger one because i saw some africans standing on the inside of the gate and i assumed that they worked there. so i walked up and asked the guy for 'Beatrice', he looks at me rather strange and by hand motions and the little french i know... i make out that i must wait until they finish praying. (at this point i was thinking, well the point of me coming up to you is so i could join them for prayer, but alright i will wait). around 15 minutes pass and i all of a sudden find myself being led by this African girl, who i am pretty sure does NOT work there and probably just used me to cut in front of all of these people. but we make it in and she leads me through one waiting area to a line of benches outside in front of a separate building. it didn't take me long to realize i don't think this is where i was intending on going. so i call Becky Tarr (the west african AG area directors who we were staying with). i hand the phone over to the girl and becky explains to her that i need to see 'beatrice'. the girl gets up and leads me to another african girl (this one i was positive was a worker, but still not beatrice). she passes the phone off to her and so now i am standing in this hallway wondering if i am even allowed in this area. she finishes up on the phone and leads me to a door that reads the word 'pharmacy' in French, of course. we walk in and i am greeted by this short, spunky and quite friendly African woman. 'i am vivian' she says. alright, so still haven't found Beatrice, but hey someone who speaks some English-- i'll take it. she goes on to tell me that beatrice is sick and would not be coming in today. lol of course. 
so Vivian, who is Congolise, pulls up a chair for me and orders me to sit there. i dare not obey. about 20 minutes pass by as i am sitting there observing her walking around taking care of business. finally, she motions me to come with her and she takes me on a tour of the facility. 
-when you walk into the center: you enter facing a large waiting area with lines of benches. that is where the people get their ticket and pay for the visit (around 500 francs). they then sit down in the area according to their needs. they have with them a small blue paper book that contains their records. they will carry that with them to each place they go. 
-there is a two areas that serve the purpose for Pharmacy. the one i was in was also used for offices (administrative). 
-on both sides of the waiting area are two consultation rooms where the patients will go in and talk with the doctor to talk about their needs and what type of medicine they need. they leave their blue book with them and go outside to wait again to see the person who will give them their medication. the nurse will then take the books to the pharmacy to get the medicine. he heads back to the room and begins to call out one at a time the patients to come in and get their medications. 
-also in the main building they have room for lab work and also a separate waiting room that plays the Jesus film in Wolof (the local language). 
-outside the main building is another small building where people go to get wounds 'dressed'. 
-if  you walk through the main waiting room, on the other side is a separate building for dental work. 

After we finished up the tour we head back to the office to grab me a gown. Vivian asks me where i would like to work for the day. i did not hesitate in saying that i would love to go bandage people up! we head outside to the small room. a huge line of people was already forming. i walk in to see a happy African man by the name of Carlos (typical African name right lol). he has Christian music playing in the background (in Wolof) and gave me the hugest smile in discovering i would be working beside him for the day. 
lets get to work! patients start coming in one by one. tore up ankles, fingers, toes, lips, chins, arms... you name it. now you are probably thinking, ok chels, its bandaging- a cut toe or cut finger, i could do that... yah i am sure you could, but let me inform you that these open wounds have not been attended to in weeks and they have now reached past the infection stage. so not only do they look absolutely disgusting, but they have quite the vile smell and are going to hurt ten times worse now.  
 ok so Carlos bandages a few people (oh and carlos speaks a little bit of English....see God's looking out for me (:) and then he motions me to come over and tells me 'ok your turn'. 
let me just tell you, i love africans. first because they do things however they want and second they for some reason have this confidence in you that you know how to do something after seeing it done maybe two times. 
there i am, i find myself bandaging up these people and from time to time discover that no one else is in the room besides me and the patient. (see i am already working there)! 
this first day's experience was wonderful. now to attempt to get home. 
suppose i wil walk, its a nice ocean breezy day. 

thank you jesus for your faithfulness and being El Roi in my life.