tears of ignorance.

The SaFER’s recently delved into another week long course. 
Taught by our beautiful missionary colleague, Linda Arzouni, we were challenged with understanding 
and appreciating the various social games played out in different cultures. 
We fought and wrestled with the idea of contextualization and repeated many times to ourselves that 
“different is not wrong.” Pulled from our text, Transforming Culture by Lingenfelter, 
Linda composed questions for each chapter, that we were to have completed before the next class session. 
I am sure that all of the girls would agree that our brains were fried by the end of each chapter. 
Nevertheless, by the graciousness of God, we still somehow obtained enough information to provide thorough discussion. 

Now for me, this class was counted as university credit, so it was crucial that 
I bump my attentiveness up a notch. With that being said, by the end of the week 
I couldn’t help but  imagine if I would have chosen to take this course back in America. 
Now not to say that the course would be taught at a lower standard or not offer quality material; 
however, the benefit and value of being able to encounter culture and put into action the 
principles learned is incomparable. I was able to sit in a room with seasoned missionaries who 
shared story after story of the very instances that were mentioned in the book. ‘Alright’ you say, 
‘a guest missionary can come in and teach the same course and provide the same examples’; 
well, yes, true. The difference lies within the application of the student. 
So I have sat in class and contended with the many culture struggles that missionaries face everyday, 
I now can apply it immediately to my very own life and experiences. 
I am living out contextualization at that very moment. 
Let me share with you an entry from my journal discussing my own personal convictions concerning the class: 

“I am on the verge of tears. I feel ashamed and the embarrassment of my ignorance has swallowed me. My worldview has been more narrow than what I thought and perceived it to be. If I am this narrow minded and ignorant as I have come to realize, I can’t imagine the suffering of the individual who has never been face to face with difference. I am finally understanding what it means to truly die to yourself.  If you are truly committed and devoted to understanding and embracing culture there is NO room for selfishness. You cannot afford it. Culture is so complex and grueling at times and the moment that your perspective focuses back on you, you have then lost sight of what is around you. You must always be aware of the other person. I have found myself ignorant in the aspect of unawareness of what I was doing or not doing, which in my frame of mind: it is better to do something wrong than not do something at all, and that is exactly what I was doing. My ignorance lead me to silence and I was not asking questions...may I be transformed from ignorance into understanding, awareness, compassion.”

I truly believe that these convictions came from the result of fairly 
recent experienced mistakes. If I had not been present in this setting and already 
had some background in interacting with different culture, I hesitate to believe that 
my response would have been the same in am American university environment. 
It was crucial for me to be in this exact place at this exact time learning this precise 
information. Information that has now been weaved into my being, my worldview, my attitude. 
Information that will forever effect how I chose to respond to the world and its many colors.  

john 4.22 - matthew 8.10.12
matthew 24 - mark 13 
john 4.21-24- luke 10.29-42
matthew 15.21-28 - luke 19.1-10


i smell & itch.

i love mali. 
(5.15 am) i woke up this morning, no running water for the fourth day, go outside across the way to meet a taxi driver i have never met before, somehow make it to the boys caritas (6.15 am)--the taxi man has no change so i trust that he will bring me back change (as he proceeded to drive off to go find change or small cfa). i stand outside of the not normally locked door and wondering if anyone is even there. i search and finally find an older gentleman, whom i am not sure what position he even holds at the organization, he climbs over the wall to unlock the door and there inside i find thirty sleeping boys sprawled out on the floor. seeing that i had arrived, the man on duty abruptly woke all of the boys up. (i felt bad, they looked in a dead sleep). some shuffle their feet to morning chores, while others scurry off to go buy bread and beans from the local boutique (7.00 am) 

it is a challenge to talk to the director who speaks no English. we attempt to figure out how much bread and beans to buy. not really too sure if the whole conversation was actually successful, but all i know is i gave money to hopefully cover the breakfast that morning. i then found myself sitting in this office in awkward silence with another gentleman i have never seen before. the boys finish up around 7.20 am and i cut the bread and place the bowls of beans on the ground in five sections. the center tries to teach the boys respect and social norms, so they wait for their bread until i call their name from the book. well it's more like a distorted rendition of their name; it tends to come out in some butchered form that hardly resembles their real name. nevertheless, they could care less and are happy to get their breakfast. before i leave to head off to BCA (Bamako Christian Academy), i ask them what they want me to bring next week. all i hear is "poulet!!!!!' "she!!!!!" (chicken). lol i laughed... but in all reality it is sad that when we bring sardines its a treat for them, imagine them receiving chicken. although it costs a fortune, i am strongly considering it. man i love this place. 
(8.15 am) taxi's are always an adventure. i had never been to BCA before so i was hoping that i could find it perfectly fine from the directions i had heard. well i did arrive safely and then had no idea where to go... so i open the gate and my (assuming at that time) precious little kindergarten class stood there waiting for me. it was a nice introduction to my new little missionary kid friends. : ) brazil.america.scotland.africa. they are from all around. i lead them outside to the grassy area. at this point my mind is racing because i have no idea what to do with these children, so i look inside this shed and find all of these hockey sticks. alright. (9.00 am) we can play field hockey. apparently, they had never played hockey with a ball and soccer goals before, so they got a big kick out of it. that 45 minutes was hilarious. they were panting as they headed off to Bible class. haha. (9.45 am) my second PE class was third, fourth and fifth graders. that class was filled with scratches and tears. lets just say they are little bit more competitive. maybe hockey sticks weren't the best idea. if you have any ideas, let me know.. their attention span is like 2 seconds so i need to keep the moving at all times!! 
(10.45 am) well at this point my feet are killing me. i am just as tired as the kids and its not even 11.00 yet. once again i head out to go find another taxi to stop by the apartment to pick ariel up to go to tie-dye. the five hours of sleep and no shower are beginning to hit me. Lord please just give me strength. (that is a common prayer that i have). i close my eyes for a little bit until we arrive at our destination. in all reality this place is an outside african "bar". seriously. this little place serves as a bar for the whole community. you should see their store room: filled with wine and beer, as well as their own personal system of making it right in their courtyard. anyways, (12.00 pm) we ended up only staying for a couple hours, plus it seemed that their business has been rising to higher demand over these last couple weeks so they had numerous orders to complete for people.
we leave on low fuel (our bodies that is) and grab a bite to eat. (2.30 pm) the ride back home we are praying that our water is turned back on. but it wasn't. i don't even want to fill you in on the parts of our apartment that have been affected by the lack of water. yah.. lets just leave it at that. 

anyways. i share this day with you to wish everyone a happy monday and week!!! 
be open for God to use you in all sorts of ways. He wants to!! so so bad! 
keep that heart, head and hands ready to be used. :) 
even when your hair smells and mosquito bites itch, keep pressing on! 
& don't forget to praise and bless His name. just for the mere fact that he is God. 
bless you all and love you all. 

Have your roots planted deep in Christ. Grow in Him. Get your strength from Him. Let Him make you strong in the faith as you have been taught. Your life should be full of thanks to Him.Colossians2.7



my apologies for the lengthy pause in writing. today i will share a few of the many incredible moments that God has blessed me so much in witnessing and being a part of. keep in mind the title of this blog & how it applies to each instance. 

monday seemed to have started as a drab day. it rained all night and in the early morning, which made trekking to find a taxi not the most enjoyable activity. on top of that this rather annoying cold virus sort of thing has been traveling around the apartment, and it decided to grace me with its presence this morning. nevertheless, i made my way to bambara and carried onto the grocery store to pick up weekly groceries. after returning home and taking a rather long nap, ms ariel, our little artist, most kindly offered each of us to join her on the roof to paint our own canvas. now i am by no means an artist of any kind, but hey its all about community, so i joined. it was a beautiful afternoon. cool after the rain. the sun barely peeking through the clouds. quite lovely. so the painting began and the creative juices were 'trying' to flow. we all began our paintings and even though we were getting more paint on ourselves than the canvas, the company of these sisters was a grand affair. after about thirty minutes, we finished our creation projects and headed out to the streets of our neighborhood to each find someone to gift our paintings to. it didn't take too long for children to be everywhere and wanting to see what we were holding. we all eventually found a certain woman or child to give our paintings to: natali to a young boy, ariel to a young adult woman, gloria to a completely covered Muslim woman and I to an older woman. the best part about giving a gift is that the receiver is so caught off guard. they have no idea how to respond. the combination of shock and gratitude flood their face and it's in those moments you thank the Lord for his goodness. why is it so often we miss God in the moments that scream his love and kindness? that woman may never understand why i gave her a painting, but she does understand the sense of value and love that she felt at that moment. paint transforms

thursday was a beautiful day. the cold was eventually leaving me, but unfortunately began its work in natali. it had already been quite the busy morning and noontime, and afternoon was approaching fast. it always seems that the busier you are the faster the day goes by. anyhow, i had just walked into the apartment when natali asked if i wanted to accompany her to the streets to test out her talibe ministry. natali adores the talibe boys and frequently throughout the week works with a specific boys center on the other side of Bamako. she has built quite the relationship with them. anytime we eat on that side of town, she normally packs up her leftovers and hands them out before catching a taxi. her passion is inspring. mat, action kids bible, balloons, figurines and candy are what is compiled in this trial run of reaching the boys at a deeper level. we decide to set up camp right next to a local grocery store and pray that it's a good spot to NOT get run off. before we could even lay the mat down a few boys were already crowding around. their initial response i'm sure was what food do you have for me. however, when natali sat down and opened up the action kids (comic) Bible that she translated into Bambara and began to read the creation story, their faces changed. they were enthralled with the pictures and inquisitive about the characters. the next couple hours was filled with games, balloons, bread, candy and a personal photo session. these boys are precious. you could see the hunger in their eyes for just a little bit of time. they treasured this time that we took to hang out with them. this picture is a perfect description of how the scene appeared..like a party!! however, past the smiles and laughter, our hearts ached for these boys. once again, a moment of complete and utter gratefulness for a God who has an infallible  and unconditional love for each and every human being overwhelmed me. balloons transform

sunday was bright and early. rainy season seems to be taking a break and flashes of hot have emerged once again. but who am i to complain. i am in beautiful africa and about to be blessed by the national church and it's lovely congregation. gloria and i make it to sunday school. a little tired but we made it. in between sunday school and end of worship we glance over our youth lesson. the last few weeks we have taught on prayer, the word and faith and we are now finishing up on salvation. let me just tell you i love these kids. ya at times they look like they are bored out of their mind but that is when you make them get up and role play the story of the prodigal son or participate in a relay race. (you have to be quite creative here considering you are teaching your lesson in the pastors courtyard). alright. so we begin our second session on salvation and ask the kids if any of them had a chance to share their faith and want to share it with the rest of us. two of them answered.
one girl told us how she had excelled well on her test and her muslim friend asked how that could be. the girl told her she had prayed and God helped her in remembering the things that she had remembered. the muslim girl asked if she would pray for her to do better on her next test. the girl of course agreed and prayed for her friend. after the next test, the muslim girl came back and shared with the girl her test results. they were higher than before! the muslim girl was shocked. the girl proceeded to tell her, see my God is a God who always hears our prayers. He answers our prayers. the muslim girl ended up accepting Jesus into her heart, but could not take a Bible home with her because her father would forbid it. what a story of faith! one boy told us how he has a muslim friend who continually comes to his house. apparently, the boy's father had told the boy that you must read your Bible everyday. so one day when this muslim friend was over it was time for the boy to go read his Bible. the friend asked what he was doing and the boy told him he was reading his Bible. the muslim friend wanted to read with him. for weeks now the boy has been sharing bible stories with his muslim friend.. who says that he accepts the word and Jesus but can not take a Bible home or let his father know that he is reading the Bible. 
if these stories aren't encouraging i don't know what is! gloria and i were so joyous to see that these kids were taking what the Lord had placed on our heart's to teach them and actually using it! these stories reminded me once again, that no matter if i master the native language, my efforts in reaching these people will never be as effective or successful than that of their own people. they are the greatest tool. if we can simply play a role in help disciple the believers that exist in mali, they can then be equipped to go and preach the truth! salvation transforms
in the same way let your light shine before others so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. Matthew 5.16