On the street where we live

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This is our street in Bamako.  It’s a lovely place, peaceful, respectful, and full of kind people.  The prayer calls from the mosques are heard several times and day, before dawn and at dawn.  The callers sing/chant reminders to us to pray and remember our God, which is rather a nice thing.

I’ve been wondering for a long time about what we would do with our trash here.  There are 10 units in our apartment building.  We live on the very top level (65 steps up).  We have no garbage disposal in the apartment, so all of our wet garbage and all of our trash needs to be brought down stairs.  But where would we put it??

We were told to bring our trash here, at the base of our building:

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Throughout the day, kids and adults sift through our trash, knowing that there could be something edible there, or something usable.  You’ll notice that there is never anything that will burn left in the pile.  Burnables are quickly taken to be burned under cooking pots.

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This is our trash man.  He comes by every morning to haul what’s left away.  I’m not sure where it goes from here, but we see these donkeys and carts all over town hauling trash away.  There are huge trash piles on the outskirts of town.  People swarm them, looking for things they can make use of.  We would do well to learn from the frugal people here who don’t waste.

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This sign taught us where we live–our area is called Badalabougou, by the 2nd bridge.  That’s how we tell people (like taxi drivers) where we live.  We don’t really have an address.  We’re in the tall building by the big mosque.  There is no mail delivery here.

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This home for rent is right across the street from us.  We’d love some good neighbors if any of you are interested.

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Zone Conference in Bamako

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We met all day today in Zone Conference with these good Elders.  The discussions and discourses were similar to those we had in the Ivory Coast zones, but tailored to this place and time.  We started at about 10:00 and went straight through until 4:30 without a break.  It was a full day!

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I loved that our discussion began with D&C (D&A in French) 82:14 where it says “For Zion must increase in beauty and in holiness; her borders must be enlarged; her stakes must be strengthened; yea verily I say unto you, Zion must arise and put on her beautiful garments.”

President Binene talked to us about what he called, “The Frontier of Zion.”  We are the Pioneers and this is the Frontier. And there is a great work to do here. He counseled us to be especially obedient and to work hard to establish the church here on this frontier.

He finished that segment of his remarks by having us read D&C 64:29-34: “Wherefore, as ye are agents, ye are on the Lord’s errand; and whatsoever ye do according to the will of the Lord is the Lord’s business. And he hath set you to provide for his saints in these last days, that they may obtain an inheritance in the land of Zion. And behold, I, the Lord, declare unto you, and my words are sure and shall not fail, that they shall obtain it. But all things must come to pass in their time. Wherefore, be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work, and out of small thins procedeth that which is great. Behold, the Lord requireth the heart and a willing mind, and the willing and obedient shall eat the good of the land of Zion in these last days.”

As we read that, it seemed as if the Lord were talking directly to us today. He has sent us to these people, to help them obtain an inheritance in Zion. And they shall obtain it, in His time, so we must work hard and keep going to lay the foundation and great good will come.

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We talked about fortifying the local members, establishing and strengthening them, because out of them will spring great things. Sekou was with us today, along with Brother Mbaya, the clerk. They are bright and good.

2019-11-15-4.jpg We talked about the salt keeping its savor, we watched a Safety Zone video, we had a discussion on preparing for and holding baptismal interviews, we talked about appropriate ways and church policies for working in Muslim cultures, and we had a good discussion about Elder Asay’s statements below:

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After our conference, we recognized birthdays (Sis Binene), and these Elders received certificates for outstanding work this last month.

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Here we are, our mighty Bamako group!2019-11-15 (20)

By 5:00 or so, we were finished (and Starving!).  It was a full day with no breaks!  The Binenes announced we’d all go have dinner at Amadine’s!  We enjoyed every bite!

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We were surprised that almost everyone ordered two meals!  Maybe they were making up for missing lunch!   We had plenty of food and the Elders ate everything in sight!

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A great end to a great day!

Our Bamako Apartment

Here are some of the sights we drove by this afternoon on the way to our apartment in Bamako.  This is a colorful, vibrant, busy city.  You can see that the people here are industrious, everyone is trying earn a bit of money by selling what they can out along the streets.

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This is a gas station for motorcycles:2019-11-14 Mali (85)

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Here are our Elders and Sekou up on our 4th floor balcony.  We have a beautiful view out over the city.  This apartment building was just being finished when we found it last year.

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After helping us unpack and assemble a few things, we said goodbye to the missionaries and we went to work unpacking and sorting out belongings.  These boxes and things have been sitting in a container at the chicken farm for more than a year!  We had a little termite damage, but everything looked great!

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We took a break from the unpacking to have dinner at Amadine’s with Anounou.  Amadine’s is a favorite local restaurant run by a Lebanese family.  They have great pizzas, burgers, sandwiches and local food.

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After dinner we went back to work at the apartment.  It was like Christmas opening the boxes and remembering what we packed a year ago August.  We only had 3 days notice to get things into the container, so I never took the time to write down what we sent.  John was happy to find that his M&Ms have survived!  When I asked him what food supplies he wanted me to pack, all he said was M&Ms!

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After being away from home for 3 years on our last mission, I emptied much of our food storage into the container, so it wouldn’t sit at home for another 2 years, untouched.  I figured we might as well use it here!

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I also thinned out our kitchen at home and packed some boxes of things left from our kids’ BYU apartment living.  We had plenty to set up this a new apartment.

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During those 3 days of packing things in the container, we bought beds and some tables and chairs at Costco, we found a used sofa online, and we packed enough toiletries to last us 2 years here, along with the food storage items.  What a gift it was to send a few things over so we could hit the ground running when we got here.  Tonight we made our beds and then fell right into them to try to sleep.  It was hard because we were So Excited to Be Here!  We love this apartment.  We love being surrounded by mosques and prayer calls several times a day.  All are evidence of a loving Heavenly Father watching over us here.  We are going to be so very happy here!

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Our Bamako Elders

These are our Bamako Elders!  They are a small but mighty force!

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Elder Lewis, Elder Tshiamala, Elder Oulei, Elder Usoh and Elder Sulu

Our first stop was at the branch meeting place in Bamako where we rent space for our meetings downstairs and our missionary apartments upstairs.  The first 4 Elders arrived in Bamako August 7th.  Two of those first four Elders have changed since then.  It was fun to see their missionary apartments and feel their excitement at our arrival.

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Here’s a look at their apartments:2019-11-14 Mali (64)

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The 2 apartments are very similar, with 2 Elders in each apartment.2019-11-14 Mali (58)

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Here are their study areas:2019-11-14 Mali (57)

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What’s in the fridge??2019-11-14 Mali (54)We are going to be great friends!2019-11-14 Mali (59)

From Abidjan to Bamako!

This afternoon we said farewell to Abidjan for awhile.  The flight to Bamako takes about an hour and 45 minutes, plus transport and airport time, so much of our day was spent getting to Bamako, our other home.  The cities are 575 miles apart.  It would take 15.5 hours to drive.

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Here’s how the Abidjan shoreline looks from above:2019-11-14 Mali (1)

And here’s our first look at Bamako from the plane.  Bamako is north of the Ivory Coast, closer to the Sahara Dessert, so it is generally about 10 degrees warmer there.  It’s a hot dry arid country with lots of hard red soil.  2019-11-14 Mali (11)

We were greeted by our very dear friend, Anounou Sissoko.  He’s the field director for the Ouelessebougou Alliance, an NGO we’ve worked with for many years in Utah.  We’ve been traveling to Mali every year for the last 8-10 years or so.  We love our friends here.  Anounou is the one who helped us to find and rent an apartment while we were here last year.

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We were also greeted by our dear friend, Sekou Dembele, the first counselor in the Bamako Branch.  He is a wonderful church leader here.2019-11-14 Mali (15)

It was fun to travel with President and Sister Binene.  We have so much fun together!2019-11-14 Mali (16)

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Elders Oulei and Tschiamala and Frere Mbaya, the branch clerk were also here to welcome us to Bamako.  We have waited a long long time for this day!2019-11-14 Mali (45)

Elder Tenney and Elder Gbedze, Assistants to the President

2019-11-13 Abidjan (36)These two, Elder Tenney and Elder Gbedze, take care of lots of details in the mission, in addition to looking after their own area.  They are kind and patient and helpful.

This morning they attended the marriage of a couple they are teaching.  They and a son and nephew will be baptized this weekend.  What a gift they’ve shared!2019-11-13 Abidjan (38)

Elder Gbedze completes his mission next month.  We’ll be in Bamako when he returns to Ghana, so we had to say our goodbyes today.  We love these Elders!2019-11-13 Abidjan (41)