A Village Celebration in Gomi

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We finally arrived in Gomi, and then continued another 15 minutes or so on bumpy dirt roads to the village of Binabougou, where the whole village had turned out to greet us, lining the streets. Mike Clayton was trying to get there with the bus of expedition people by 1:00. We got there first (it was about noon), so we got the big welcome with 100s of children lining the bumpy dirt road.

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They had banners that said “Welcome to Binabougou! Happy to Meet You!” at the school and down the hill in the mango grove where they led us. They all followed and we were introduced to the village chief and his son, the town mayor, the griot (the town singer who is supposedly very famous) and the village drummers and dancers.

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The Binabougou School where our church meetings are held on Sundays.
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All the important village leaders and school authorities.

For the next 1.5 hours they entertained us there under the mango trees. It was shady and nice. I counted more than 20 very large mango trees in the grove and there was a small stream behind us. This was the village gathering place. They sprinkled the dirt with water to keep the dust down, and the dancers came and did tribal traditional dancing. 2 or 3 men were in the scary masks and grass skirts and did crazy acrobatic dancing which sometimes scares the little children. I think there were about 300-350 people there, mostly children. They don’t see many white people that far out.

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I was seated next to the village chief. The other 2 Elders arrived in another taxi and we all had the seats of honor. They were so happy to have us there.  John and I were even pulled out into the center to dance while they beat their drums. It was fun. But an hour and a half was a long time to keep the excitement up.

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Finally Mike and the others arrived. I think they had to leave the bus behind and walk into the village (bad roads), and then the dancing began again with new fervor.
Mike and his 2 nephews want to do a water purification treatment system in this village. They also want to help with the school in someway. Our group meets for church in the school, which was up the hill from the grove.

Mike and the doctors brought a donation of food for the village–they unloaded several totes and bags of rice and beans and maybe corn for the villagers. Good will. Right now we have 4 members Nouman, Shaka, who is the director of the school, Julien Doussou, and Maria Imbile. Then there is Rose’s family of 5 about 15 minutes away. And the Elders are teaching a Balo family of about 5-10 in the compound.

We met a wonderful man named Joseph Diarra, who teaches at the school. He was so kind and helpful the whole day. The Elders were able to set up an appointment with him for when they come next Saturday.  I hope he’ll be interested in learning.

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The community drinking pot:

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Elder Lewis found a little friend:

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After Mike’s group left (they only had an hour to be there, heading next to the Artisan’s Market, then to Amadine’s), we said goodbye to all our new friends in the school yard and we walked up the hill to visit and teach the Balo family in their compound.

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The Road to Gomi

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Today was a good day full of fun experiences.  We traveled to Gomi, a village where the missionaries are teaching some families.  We have about 10 members out in that area.

We went north, across the river, towards the Presidential palace up on the hill, then we went around the hill and kept going. It took us about 1 hr 15 min to get there.

It was a wild and crazy drive, through some of the most congested market areas I’ve seen here.  We also had a taxi driver who drove like a bat out of hades–and we had to stop a few times to put more air in the tires!  We weren’t sure we’d make it in one piece.  We traveled with Elder Usoh and Elder Tshiamala.

We passed through market areas that were solid traffic and people jams with motorcycles, donkeys, women with full headpans and children in the streets. The vendors came right out to and into the crowded streets with every imaginable market item. One area we passed through had onions–trucks, carts, bags, vendors and large headpan bowls of onions. Some were being loaded onto big trucks to go to other markets. What we see is indescribable and unbelievable.

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We passed a city dump that came right to the street. Donkey carts were emptying out there and people were swarming over the mounds looking for anything edible or usable. It went on and on. There are so many black plastic bags that never go away.  I can see why so many other African countries have outlawed plastic bags.  They just never go away.

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We kept driving on and on, until we were off the paved roads and into village areas that were still very congested. Rose and her family lives out in that area, about an hour from Bamako. I wonder how she found the church. She’s stalwart and good.

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Below are a few more window pictures.  Sorry I can’t get out and take better ones.  It wouldn’t be culturally right, so this will have to do for now.

This was an interesting transport solution–tie some pallets under your truck and it’s better than a rack up on top!

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Furniture stores line the roads:

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Beauty and trash:

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Motorcycles and little mechanic shops are Everywhere!

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The plastic bags that never go away:

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Cool as a warm cucumber!

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Building Construction

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It’s interesting to watch construction here.  We see it every day, everywhere we go.  One friend explained to us that because there are no bank loans or mortgages, when a family or a person has extra money, they buy cement blocks and enlarge their homes or buildings.  When the money runs out, they stop.  It’s a stop and go process that may take years.

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Thanksgiving Day in Bamako

This evening before we went to our dinner feast, I read a few more chapters in the book, Insights about Pres Nelson. This was interesting to me:

When later asked what he learned from the assignment to open the countries in Eastern Europe for the preaching of the gospel, particularly in light of the many stops and starts, failed meetings, and ups and downs, Elder Nelson replied simply: “The Lord likes effort. He could have said to Moses, ‘I’ll meet you halfway.’ But Moses had to go all the way to the top of Mount Sinai. He required effort from Moses and Joshua and Joseph Smith and from all of the subsequent Presidents of the Church. He requires effort from bishops and stake and Relief Society presidents and elders quorum presidents. There is always a test. Are you willing to do really hard things? Once you’ve shown you’re willing to do your part, He will help you.” (p. 197).

I am grateful to be here.  I am grateful for my family, for our missionaries, and for our new friends here.  We are blessed beyond measure.  There is really no place I’d rather be that right here right now.

And the Thanksgiving pizza was delicious!

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Visiting Friends on Thanksgiving Day

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We love going to visit friends here.  In many parts of the world, the term “investigators” is not used.  Instead we have “friends of the church” or “amis de l’eglise” which is perfect.  Today we went with the Elders to visit Valerie.  I feel like she is my sister and friend.  Her husband, Trinita, is a member of our Branch.

Our Elders Quorum President, Romaric Kouakou lives in the same building, downstairs.  We stopped by to see him and were lucky to find his brother, Igor Konan in town, just arrived from Senegal.  Tomorrow he is leaving for Nigeria for work.  We met Igor and his dear wife, Marina, when we were here last year.  Both of them served missions in Nigeria, my other home.

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Sis Lewis, Igor Konan, Romaric Kouakou

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Fixing Up Our Apartment

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This week the church sent a physical facilities lady from Abidjan to help us finish furnishing our apartment.  The church will take responsibility for it now that we’re here (we’ve been renting it for the last year).  We spent 2 days shopping for a few things we still needed (dressers, nightstands, a few things for the kitchen, and a carpet).  It’s NOT easy to find things here.  But every little addition is nice and every day it feels more and more like home.  We Love it here!

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Our kitchen is equipped with a refrigerator, a stove with an oven, and a microwave.

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Now we have 2 nightstands and we also bought rods to hang the curtains we sent over.

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Our new dresser.  We still don’t have a closet rod or a place to hang our clothes, so we’ve been using my dresses as curtains in the guest room!

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We can’t get enough of our beautiful view every day!

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District Meeting 26 November 2019

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Tuesdays are District Meeting Days!  Elder Sulu taught a great lesson on service and serving one another. We met until about 11:00, then we showed them the new Christmas initiative video and some of the Light the World videos. That was fun and the Elders loved it.  It’s hard to imagine that in some parts of the world (like our home) it’s snowing and cold and carols are playing everywhere.  We don’t see much evidence of the holiday season in Bamako.

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We also showed them the new Missionary Handbook and let them read some parts of it.  This was all new to them and it created quite a stir!

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This afternoon Elder Lewis met with Frere Mbaya to update the membership records.

We found a supply stash upstairs that needs a little attention.

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When we were finished at the church, we bought a case of water bottles on our way to the main road, then hailed a taxi that was in such ill repair we almost didn’t make it home in one piece. Most of the inside of the car had fallen away. Door handles were wires. He had to use a stick in the keyhole to open the trunk to put our box of water in there. It was as bad as they get and filthy dirty. If the car went too fast (not that fast), it started to wobble back and forth. We weren’t sure we’d make it home in one piece, but we did.

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The Bus to Bamako and Got Shade??

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Here’s a bit from my journal about our bus ride back to Bamako:

Ozzie helped us flag down a transport bus on the main road this afternoon, and we headed back to Bamako. It was probably once a nice bus with A/C and posh seats. This country is not kind to anything clean or nice. We got loaded into 2 of the last available seats at the back of the bus. There were all sorts of people on the bus–mothers with crying babies, old men, I heard chickens under seats and the man in the back seat had a dog in a box that kept whimpering. Someone had thrown up in the aisle, which we had to step over. People had bags and goods and wares filling all the spaces. I sat next to a quiet young girl who was trying to watch the TV way up at the front (we had a speaker right over our heads). It was a very dramatic Malian TV program with lots of yelling and fighting and a bewitching girl with long straight hair, the dream of every girl here.

We had water bottles and we endured a 2 hour drive over speed bumps and stopping here and there to let people on and off. At some stops, vendors came on the bus selling things like sweet breads, hard boiled eggs or water pouches.

The first hour of the trip, we had a salesman on the bus who was trying to sell his wares. He started with bottles of a green potion that he was spraying on his head, his neck, his throat, in his mouth, and on his stomach. A cure-all. Then he went up and down the aisles spraying it on who ever wanted some. It smelled like menthol. John said, “He must be from doTERRA!” Then he had little pouches of a powder and he’d give the sales pitch, then go up and down the aisles, putting spoonfuls of the powder in people’s palms and they’d lick it up. No one bought any of those things. Then he had bars of soap and tubes of aloe vera. He finally sat down or went away or got off or something. I think he sold a couple of bars of soap.

We got into Bamako at about 4:00 and were dropped off at the place where the busses turn around to go south again. It was a crazy dirty place. We stepped off the bus by a vendor that had some animal skins on the ground that looked like cats, newly killed.
The whole trip, I watched out the window, wishing there were a way to capture this country and the sights here. It’s really unbelievable. I saw things like a large old bus filled floor to ceiling with flattened cow hides, by the hundreds. There were semi trailers piled beyond anything safe with bags of coal from the coal fields where they burn the wood. There were huge trucks filled with long-horned Brahma bulls. The main road is lined with people trying to sell things and shops and dead cars and mechanics and fruit stands and it’s all hot, tired and dirty.

Then we hailed a taxi for the ride home. The cost of the ride from Ouelessebougou was 2,000 cfa each = about $3.25 each. The ride from the bus to home was the same price for both of us, together– 2,000. Not bad for that much driving today.

We were happy to be home in our clean pleasant place.

Here are a few photos I took out the window as we went along the way today.  As you see the shade trees and umbrella stands, you get a feeling for just how important SHADE is in a hot country like this!

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This is the “cool” season here.  It’s only around 100 degrees every day.  This “nice” weather will last for a couple of more months, then we move into the “hot” season.

The Days for Girls Enterprise in Ouelessebougou

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Because of the medical expedition being here this week, or Days for Girls sewing team took a little break from sewing feminine hygiene kits.  Teningnini is our Enterprise leader.  She showed me the 400 Beautiful kits the ladies have made since I was here last year!  They are doing a wonderful job!

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We are planning some big distrubutions in January when Judy Hut, Executive Director of the Ouelessebougou Alliance comes to town!

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The Medical Team at Work in Ouelessebougou

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For the last several years, a team of doctors and technicians has traveled to Ouelessebougou to help with eye care.  This year’s team included Tom Johnston, a dentist.  He’s been here before and has grown to love his Malian friends.  He had 20 extractions scheduled for each day here.

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This is where the local dentist does his good work.

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We enjoy reuniting with our translator friends each year!

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This young man has been seen by the team the last 4 years.  His old glasses allow him to see.  This year he got new ones!  Mike Clayton is the expedition leader.  He is also our neighbor in Orem and he has been our faithful home teacher!

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The anesthesiology room for those having cataract surgery:

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Our son, Adam has come with this medical team twice.  Because of that, he is now in medical school, hoping to be an eye surgeon someday.

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The local eye doctors and their nurses work with our doctors.  It’s a wonderful exchange.

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People from the 25 villages we serve wait all year long for the eye expedition to arrive.  The local teams pre-screen the villagers to find those who most need surgery or glasses.  These good people wait in these long lines to be seen.

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This dear little boy had a horrible infection in his jaw bone.  He did not survive the surgery.  We were all so very sad.

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This medical team would have an incredible week in Ouelessebougou, celebrating Thanksgiving away from their families and loved ones, to be with people who needed them even more.  They did 100 cataract surgeries and fit hundreds of people with glasses.

We talk about “Lighting the World.”  Here are some who did just that this week.