On the Street Where We Live

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It’s mango  and avocado season and we see women with headpans full in the streets.  The fruit is beautiful, plentiful and inexpensive.

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The rest of these photos are from our little neighborhood:

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All of your office needs:

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This is where you can go for hair extensions:

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Our local furniture maker:

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We love watching everyone out at work every day.  Live goes on here.  We’ve added masks, but not much else has changed.

Friday Evening with the Elders

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On the way home from the office this evening we met with more missionaries to give them their soutien.  We hope everyone will be able to stock up on some provisions for the coming weeks.  We don’t know what the future here will bring.

John explained that the extra 30,000 is from the emergency funds of the church and is only to be used for food storage.  The missionaries will need to turn in all their receipts and account for this money.

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We are also trying to stock up a bit.  I think we’ve got a couple of weeks’ worth of food here now.  Here’s a look at our food storage.  We also have some meat now in the freezer.

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Tonight we invited the Elders next door over to watch a movie.  They are a little stir crazy waiting and waiting and waiting.  We did some laundry for them and we are cheering them on.  We watched “Forever Strong,” the movie about the LDS rugby coach at Highland High School.  It was a great evening for all of us.

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The Abidjan Mall

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When we arrived yesterday, we picked up our truck at the mission office.  We now have our own transport here in Abidjan, which will be a huge blessing.  After leaving the Cocody multi-zone conference we went in search of groceries.  We anticipate being in Abidjan for a few weeks before returning to Bamako.  We were told there is a nice shopping mall in our part of town.  We found it!

There was a nice grocery store in the mall with most of the things we needed.  We bought things like bread, a piece of cheese, juice, stuff to make frozen yogurt, oats, pasta, tomato paste, carrots, oil, sugar, vanilla and eggs.  John picked out 2 chocolate bars and some cookies. The produce wasn’t fresh so we found a fruit stand on the way home and bought mandarins and pineapple.  We have a small food supply here for when we come and go.

This is a very nice mall.  We wandered through to get a feel for what’s here.

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Our best find–frozen yogurt!!

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We split a $4 cup with our favorite toppings–coconut for me and granola for John.  It was GOOD!!  A nice way to end our long day of travel and meetings with the missionaries!

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Branch Presidency Dinner Out

This evening we had plans to take our new Branch Presidency out to dinner.  Pres Sekou has already left for Accra to prepare for his wedding this coming Saturday, but his counselors, Pres Biggo and Pres Francois were here, so we wanted to treat them to dinner.  It turned out that Pres Biggo got held up at work, but Francois came with Biggo’s wife, Valerie and son, Mike.  We enjoyed a great meal together downstairs at our friends’ restaurant.

Sunday in Bamako

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Today was a great day at church.  We love this Bamako Branch.  We had 20 here today and our testimony meeting was wonderful.  Our dear President Sekou left today for Accra to prepare for his sealing in the temple next Saturday.  Pres Francois will also enter the temple that morning to receive his own endowment.  The following Tuesday Rose and her family will be sealed.

Today we heard testimonies from Pres Biggo, Fr. Mbaya, Elder Kouakou, Fr. Rich, Valerie and Pres Lewis.  It was such a good meeting.

We are organizing our Primary and the children are learning about the Book of Mormon this year.  They are loving learning some new Primary songs.  The only children’s song they’ve known to this point is “I am a Child of God.”  Today we learned “Nephi’s Courage” and “The Golden Plates.”  Last week we learned “Book of Mormon Stories” (vs.1) and “The Books in the Book of Mormon.”  These children are like sponges and are eager to learn.

Here are a few of our good friends after church:

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Fr. Mbaya, Pres Biggo, Sis Adele, Sis Lewis, Sis Valerie and children

Adele is preparing for her baptism:

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Elder Kouakou and Elder Brown have been experimenting with the frozen yogurt.  This time they added bananas and smashed spaghetti!

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Elder Brown plays the piano very well.  He’s been teaching others with the beginning piano course books.  Fr. Joseph, our musician who plays by ear, is learning to read the notes.

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Valerie will help teach the Primary children while I’m away the next few weeks.  Today I gave her the materials she’ll need.

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Pres Lewis met with Pres Biggo and Pres Francois and Abram to review the procedures for receiving tithes and offerings.  Everything is new here.  We love these Pioneers!

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Our taxi rides are always entertaining.  Our driver dropped Fr. Mbaya and Grace off on our way home.

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A Walk Through Town and Celebrating Sekou’s Birthday

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This evening we walked through some neighborhoods on our way to meet Sekou.  Today is his 31st Birthday!  We wanted to celebrate with him.  This week he is having his final exams for this semester and Sunday he flies to Accra to prepare for his wedding on March 7th.  We are so happy for him.

Here are a few of the things we saw along the way.  Evening is such a fun time to wander.  It cools down a bit–we had a nice breeze this evening–and people are out in the streets.  Children are playing after a full day at school (most come home late in the day).  We see them playing marbles and other games in the dirt.  Women are out preparing the evening meals.  Men are sitting with friends, relaxing a bit.  Kids are running and playing, some are on bikes.  It’s a good time to be here watching life around us.

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New cement being poured to make covers for this trench:

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Friends walking home from school:

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These women are dyeing fabric.  It was fascinating to watch them work, in purple dye up to their elbows, churning big pots of fabric.

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The did not want me to photograph their faces.  Here are the pots of dye:

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And here is some of the dyed fabric hanging to dry in the street:

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We met Sekou at Amandine’s restaurant at 7:00.  He showed us the exam he took today and one of his medical books.  We had a wonderful evening together talking about the Bamako Branch and things we’d like to do here, talking about his upcoming marriage to Dina, and learning more about his studies at the medical school.

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Sekou told us this is the first time in his life he’s had a birthday celebration.  We were all so happy to be together this evening.  He has 4 more days of exams, then he’s  finished with school for now and can concentrate on his trip to Ghana and his marriage.

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A Delicious Treat: Yaourt!

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These Elders are so good to us!  Sunday after church they sent us home with two little frozen bags of deliciousness.  Elder Kouakou described it as “lait, fromage, or yaourt.”  When we got home and tasted it (after it had thawed a bit in the hot taxi ride home), we loved it.  It was like delicious frozen yogurt.

Today during my French lesson with them after our District Meeting (we practice conversation skills) I asked them how they made this treat.  Here is how they described the process to me:

1 kilo of powdered milk
5 liters of water
1/2 kilo sugar
3 packets of vanilla sugar
1 cup of vanilla yogurt

Mix 4 liters of water with the powdered milk. Stir well.
Add the 5th liter of water, but heat that liter (hot) before adding it.
Mix well.
Cover tight so no air can get in.
Put in a warm place, cover with a blanket.
Leave for 6 hours.
Pour into plastic sacs to freeze, or pour into bottles.

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By next week the temperatures in Bamako will reach 105 degrees.  How fun to have such a delicious cold treat in this heat!

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.