Saturday is a special day. It’s the day we get ready for Sunday.

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We live in a dust storm of a dessert here in Bamako.  The warm breezes blow dust in every direction, through every crack.  Every Saturday morning the church building needs to be cleaned to prepare for the Sabbath.  Members come faithfully, missionaries help.  We all work together to make this an acceptable place to worship.  It’s good work and we enjoy being together.

I tackled a few unused rooms upstairs where our supplies are kept.  If left un-swept, the dust buildup is almost enough to silence the sound of our footsteps.

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After a thorough sweeping, the floors are mopped.

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A local broom:

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The cleaning closet:

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Working with Pres Sekou after the cleaning was finished, planning tithing settlements:

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Stopping for Water and Minutes

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When we leave the church here in Bamako, and walk down the dusty dirt road to a main road where we can catch a taxi, we pass so many interesting places and people.  We often stop at this little shop to buy a case of water, that will get us through about a week.  If I were a true African woman, that case of water would go right onto my head to be carried.  I let John carry it.

Today John also purchased some more minutes for his mission flip phone.  While the shop owner helped him, I quietly snapped these colorful photos of this small shop and some of the things you can buy here.

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Dry goods, rice and soccer–all a good Malian man needs to survive!

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These small neighborhood shops are everywhere.  This is where most of the family shopping is done here, in shops like this.  Rice is weighed and measured.  Bullion is sold by the cube, and these canned goods represent the basic needs of most families.

Below you can see this shopkeeper’s wife and many other interesting parts of life here:  a mosaic floor made from broken tiles, low chairs made from strung plastic rope (cool and comfortable), a small coal stove (on the ground by the tree) where the silver tea pots are heated to make tea several times a day,  the green and black plastic pot filled with water for washing your hands, or for washing head, hands and feet before ritual praying, a green container for water storage, a re-used bottle of water, flip flops and some fans.

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I also noticed this hand pump–maybe it’s kerosene oil or gasoline.  You can see the Orange Money sign, that tells us you can buy phone minutes here.

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Across the street from this small shop is a laundromat.  There are usually 2 or 3 women out here every day doing laundry in these tubs, scrubbing on washboards.  I think they do it for hire, but I’m not sure.  Maybe they have large families and they just have a lot of laundry to do.  Every compound has clothes lines and most buildings have laundry drying up on the roof.   I love watching daily life happening around us here.

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Feeding Friends

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Our 4 Bamako Elders received transfer news this week.  Two of them will be going back to the Ivory Coast soon, so we made a plan to have dinner with them Sunday evening.  They tell me they are tired of eating rice and fish every single day.  So we went to the local supermarche and our favorite fruit stand and Sunday after church we prepared a big meal for them–pasta and marinara with lots of meat and vegetables in it, a fresh baguette, a fruit salad with pineapple, papaya and banana, and watermelon.  For dessert (not a thing here) we used our oven for the first time and I made banana bread.  Our oven does not have a temperature dial, so it was a bit of guess work to get the flame just right.  All turned out –the meal was delicious.

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Our Bamako Elders–these two are leaving us:2019-12-3 District Mtg (4)

And these two will be receiving new companions:2019-12-3 District Mtg (7)

Here’s how they showed up for dinner, with our friend, Romaric, the Elders Quorum President.2019-12-1 Elders for Sunday Dinner (3)

Tuesday evening we had a wonderful visit from Ibrahima and Miriam and their adorable daughter, Fatumata.  Soon Ibrahima will return to Abidjan to finish his Master’s degree in American Literature.  Miriam is also going to school, so Ibrahima leaves their motorcycle with her (she travels 2 hours to her university each day).  In Abidjan, Ibrahima is up at 4:30 each morning and he walks the 4 km to his university.  They are making great sacrifices to gain good educations.  We love them.

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Sekou and Dina were going to join us Sunday evening but Dina wasn’t feeling well, so they came on Tuesday evening instead and we had some leftovers we saved from Sunday.  Dina is returning to Accra this week.  They will be married in March.  We are so very happy for them.  Dina is brave to leave her home and family and move to Mali.  I hope we will become good friends here.

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Wednesday evening we had dinner with Abram Cosby.  He teaches 5th grade at the American School in Bamako (about an hour’s drive from us).  We went to the restaurant downstairs and had pizza and burgers and great conversation.  He’s the one on the left in the photo below.  Abram is from Salt Lake City.  He recently received the Melchizedek Priesthood and he and his mother will be attending the Salt Lake Temple in a few weeks when he returns home for his Christmas break.  We are so happy to know him and thrilled to have him in our Bamako Branch.

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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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Dad’s Memorial in California

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My brother, Paul Laemmlen at our Dad’s graveside service at Reedley Cemetery before the memorial held in Selma.
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All of Art Laemmlen’s grandchildren. Left to right: Adam Lewis, Brandt Laemmlen, Janelle Laemmlen, Bryce Laemmlen, Riana Coombs, Katlyn Antior, Aaron Lewis, Daniel Laemmlen, Kortney Dennis, Claire Lewis
My Dad’s 3 bothers: Henry, Wilfred and Franklin Laemmlen
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Kristine Laemmlen with Dad’s farm clothes.
Grandkids and a great-grandchild out in the orange grove at the Reedley farm.

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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Meet Ibrahima Togola!

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Today we got to see our friend, Ibrahima Togola at the Riviera 2nd Ward.  We met him when we were in Mali last November.  Ibrahima is one of the very first Malian members of the church.  He is now staying here in Abidjan  while he studies to complete his Master’s degree in Literature and American civilizations,  He will complete his program in February, then he is looking forward to returning home to his family in Bamako.

Ibrahima is a wonderful friend and will be a great leader in Mali.  His wife is currently being taught by the Elders in Bamako.  We can’t wait to meet her soon!

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Ann Lewis and Ibrahima Togola at church in Frako, Mali November 2018.