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