Nourou Sidibe and his Beautiful Family

This evening we went with Pres and Sister Binene to visit Nourou, the 2nd Counselor in our Bamako Branch Presidency.  His beautiful wife had a baby girl 2 weeks ago on Nourou’s birthday.  We had a lovely visit on this balmy evening.  Nourou has 2 beautiful girls now–we are so happy for him!

A Visit to the Keita Compound

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After visiting the chicken farm, Dramane guided us through the back roads to the Keita family compound, about a 10 minute drive away, through bush and unpaved roads.  When we arrived Mama Aminata was at the market and someone sent for papa Philemon. The boys were out working–watering a garden somewhere.

We sat and waited while the family members eventually arrived.  I enjoyed this peaceful home place filled with the sights and sounds of Mali at its best.  Take a look around with me and you will see real life as it happens here.  The Keitas have (I think) 7 children, from older down to a baby born last October.

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We were greeted by these healthy cows and the donkey as we arrived.  Their feed–cut corn stalks–is up on top.

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Dramane is the group leader here in Mountougoula.  He looks after these families.

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Elder Gbedevi, the Binenes and Elder Ikpeti waiting for family members to arrive.

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Here we are inside the compound.

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Water is hauled in the green and yellow containers.

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The clotheslines.

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A pigeon coop.

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A charcoal pit where they make their own charcoal for their cooking fires.

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Two bags of seed corn hanging in the mango tree where the cobs are safe from rodents and insects.

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Waiting for the family to come on bamboo recliners.

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I am always amazed at the ingenuity of resourceful people who figure out how to make do in places where you don’t just run to a store for the things you need.

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A child’s toy made with bottle caps:

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It’s so peaceful here.  You can tell that a happy prospering family lives here.

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As the family members and some of the children arrived, we had a good visit.

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John and Dramane helped gather some membership record information from the family to update our records.

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They brought out ID cards and birth certificates.

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Aminata came from the market with a bucket full of vegetables–a cabbage, tomatoes, onions, and eggplant, to be put into their next meal.

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Elder Ikpeti and Elder Gbedevi:

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Here’s a photo of 3 of the boys when they were younger.  The two older boys in this photo are twins–Lassine and Fousseiny. The 3rd boy is Konimba. Today we also met an older brother named Shaka.   These 3 boys have been baptized and now they work at the chicken farm collecting the eggs every day.

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Here are the family members here today: Shaka, Philemon, Aminata and the younger children.

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Here’s our happy group today (the man on the left is our driver).

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At the Chicken Farm

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We love having President and Sister Binene here in Bamako.  We always have a very full agenda when they visit.  This morning we went to Mountougoula with the Elders (1+ hour drive) to make some visits there.

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We got to see Sana Konati’s new little baby girl, Sana is Sibiri Watara’s wife.

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The proud father:

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Sana’s henna feet!

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Beautiful family!

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Some of the families live inside the chicken farm.  We visited with them.  There is a good cook who comes every day to prepare meals for the workers. She was cooking a pot of chicken and some vegetables that will be made into a sauce to put over rice.

Malian kitchens are usually outdoors where they cook over open fires.  Come take a look at what was cooking today:

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The cooking garden:

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And there is always laundry to do!

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Dramane Bagayako, the general manager of the chicken farm:

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Half of the laying hens were gone–one side is empty. Dra said the hens were getting old and it was time to sell them for meat, so they were gone. They’ll move 5000 hens into that side of the cages soon–the next crop is ready to lay. Then they’ll order 5000-6000 new chicks.

This time as I wandered through the laying coops I saw a little mouse on the ground and a big rat running up in the rafters. Reminded me of Templeton in Charlotte’s Web. They must love it there with all the free food on the ground.

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The boys who gather the eggs  are the Keita sons–there are 3 of them and a friend. These boys attend church. They are paid about $1/day for picking up and packing all the eggs to take to the market. Today they were here loading feed.  They ride bicycles to work. We drove to their compound after the chicken farm visit and it was a good distance away.  They are great boys.

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This is the next crop of layers.  Soon they’ll be moved off the floor and into the laying cages.

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The chicken poop is piled out back.  People can come to buy it by the sack for their gardens.

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It’s always interesting to visit the chicken farm and our friends here–this is the place where the church began in Mali.  It’s a special place to be.

Next Door to our Church Meeting Place

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This is the friendly street we walk down all the time to go to the church, which is actually a family compound just like others along this street.  Our services are held downstairs on the main floor.  The 4 Elders live in rooms upstairs.   We are getting to know our neighbors as we try to visit with them as we come and go.  We love it here.

The pot above is a Malian drinking fountain, or a place for a thirsty friend to stop for a cup of water.  Below is a laundry room where women are usually at work with their buckets of soapy water and washboards.  All the water from all of the compounds runs right into the street.  It helps to keep the dust down.

Today a herd of cows wandered through.  It was a friendly day in our neighborhood!

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This shop is right next to our church compound.  Clothing and gaming.  Interesting.

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This restful spot is just outside our compound.  It’s an inviting place for someone to sit for a cup of hot tea or some water.  Chairs like this are found everywhere in Mali.

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These men passed by with their stuff.

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These enterprising men were down the street a bit, working on their projects.

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The septic truck came to pump our neighbor’s toilet tanks.  The water waste goes into the streets or the trenches lining the streets, the rest is pumped and taken away.

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Our cute little neighbor girls!



Every day something interesting is going on around here!

A Bamako Bus Station

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Today while Pres Binene was doing some interviews at the church, we went with Sekou to a bus station to check some prices for travel to Togo for one of our members who needs to travel there to get a passport so he can attend the temple in a few weeks.  It was an interesting place to visit.

There are two types of buses–basic and VIP.  The prices you’ll see below. 10,000 cfa is about $17.00 USD.  These are the main cities and towns in Mali and in West Africa.

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Here are the people waiting with their luggage for their bus.  Many of these trips take more than one day.  The buses stop occasionally to change drivers and for toilet breaks.  Sometimes there is a chance to buy some food along the way.

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Bus transportation is probably the most popular way to get around West Africa for most people here.

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Friday Mornings in our Neighborhood

Every Friday morning the Ar-Rahma Mosque across the street prepares for a day of prayer.  Here are a few pictures I took this morning as we stood in the street here by our apartment, waiting for a taxi to come along.

First the men pull out the tent poles.  They erect this tent every Friday for overflow mosque attenders.  Actually, our whole street fills with men and prayer rugs at mid-day.

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Then the tent is raised.

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This man is selling the wash pots the men use to clean themselves before praying.

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This is our neighborhood trash collector.  He comes down our street every morning collecting the trash we put out.  Usually others have gone through the trash before he removes what’s left.  By the time his rounds are finished, his cart will be piled high.  These trash carts pulled by donkeys are seen all over town.  Usually young boys pick up the trash and haul it to a dump somewhere.

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The tent us up, the street is swept, and soon it will be time for prayer.

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A Visit from Lynn Curtis

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This week we got to visit with Lynn Curtis as he came into town, and then several days later before he departed.  He’s the Executive Director and founder of Broadweave Solutions, a company that fosters business enterprise in underdeveloped locations and the linguistics skills required to go along with business success.

Lynn went with our friend Anounou to Ouelessebougou for the week where he met with and trained about 20 men and women interested in improving their business skills through literacy training.  He has programs for both French and Bambara, and we were really excited to visit with him about that as we consider ways we can teach literacy here.

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This evening we heard all about his excellent week in Ouelessebougou and he brought some materials to us to try here with our friends and members of the Church who want to improve their literacy.  This is going to be fun!

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District Meeting, Binene’s Arrive, and some Banana Bread

This week we had a great District Meeting on Tuesday, then the Binenes arrived in Bamako on Wednesday.  John continues to work with Frere Mbaya on straightening out our branch membership records, and I made 4 batches of banana bread.

Here’s the Banana Bread Recipe that works with our local ingredients:


1 cup sugar
3 small or 2 large bananas, mashed
1/2 package of margarine (1/2 c. shortening)
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla (can’t find here)
1/2 tsp soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups flour

Sprinkle top with cinnamon sugar

Mix together. Makes 1 large loaf or 2 small loaves.
Bake 300 degrees for about 40 minutes.

Share with friends.

Fabric and Bamako Markets

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You know how I love fabric!  We wandered through the mazes of fabric shops on our way to the Artisan’s Market today.  I need some pieces to make curtains for our windows in Bamako and in Abidjan and I also want to start making some baby blanket gifts for our members.  We had a lot of fun in this shop while this owner watched how an American quilter selects fabric.  Here you must buy in 6 yard pieces, but the prices are good–between $3.00 and $4.00/yard.

Then we went into the Artisan’s Market.  We’d ordered some special Christmas Ornaments made for the Ouelessebougou Alliance benefit auction in April.  Today we picked them up from our friend.  He was really happy and so were we!

Our beaded angel and star ornaments:

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I always enjoy this market and wandering around watching the artists at work.

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I found a few more antique Malian wedding beads (made in Czechoslovakia in the late 1800s) and enjoyed visiting with our market friends.

Animal skins for wallets, shoes, belts and other things:

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This one is an iguana:

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What a fun afternoon we had in this interesting place!