Thursday, October 30, 2008

Good Morning!

Good morning and blessings to all! It's 7am and we're finishing last minute preparations to begin our travel back to the USA. In a way, it's exciting that we're going to see our families and friends, yet at the same time, it's hard to leave Mali now that we know the need for Jesus love here. I leave here asking God to once again take my life and mold it into what He would have it to be. He made this trip possible for me in every way. I just can't wait to see what He's going to do with me, this lump of clay, in the future.
As I prepare to leave Koutiala, I think about all the missionaries here and will keep them in my prayers even as I get back home. The missionaries are doing such a great work here and are so busy all the time. It's just an amazing thing to see the missionaries in their element. So often we see them when they are home in the states, but it adds a whole new level when you've seen them doing their work in the country where they are serving.
I want to thank all of you for your prayer support throughout this trip, both for us and the missionaries. I also want to thank you for your continued prayers as we begin our travels home. There has been an answer to your prayers... Anco came home last night and we were able to go over and talk with him a bit. He is feeling a lot better, but still has some recovery ahead of him. They say it is just some kind of viral infection. But, he's up walking around and has been able to eat some in the last day or so. He was feeling well enough to show us pictures of his solar projects last night and talk with Ken about networking the different buildings around.
Blessings to all in the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ! Can't wait to see many of you this weekend and next week.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Done working

Well, we finished working this morning. This afternoon, we're going to go go see a blacksmith shop. Tomorrow, we'll head to Bamako at 9am and probably go to the market there for a little bit. We fly out extremely early on Friday.

I got to go in and see the two sets of triplets this morning. I saw lots of other babies and mothers too, but the triplets were the cutest!

Well, that's all I really have to share today I think. I hope you are all having a blessed week. We're all worn out and wanting to lay down and then pack our bags. Can't wait to see you all soon!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Tuesday - Germaine's Home

Good evening to all who are reading! Blessings to you all! Thanks for all your prayers!

Tonight, Germaine invited us all to her house for supper. It was a super amazing...fantabulous evening of fellowship! Barry told us it was a very rare thing for someone to take us into their home the way Germaine did. Let me try to explain. Here, houses are generally in complexes. So, imagine an outdoor courtyard with rooms off of it. Then put a wall around all of that, and that is a complex. Germaine and her husband rent two rooms and other people rent the others. They all are kinda one big family though. So anyway, Germaine took us into her rooms and showed us everything there, and then showed us her "kitchen". They say there's a lot of meaning behind someone taking you into their rooms like that because generally, the courtyard is where all activity happens and the rooms are generally a private area for the owners.
Once we had seen the whole complex, we were served a lot of food! It was all served in communal bowls (everyone eats out of the same bowl with their hands). It all started with a salad of fried potatoes, lettuce, tomatoes, onions with a vinegrette dressing. Then came the main course which consisted of 4 dishes: One was sweet potatoes with mutten, one was peanut gravy and rice, one was tau and ocre sauce, and one was beans and onions. Everything was really good, although the tau and sauce wasn't my favorite food! Germaine was radiating love and joy the entire time we were there. It was so awesome to spend time with her at her home after she spent time with us in the USA earlier this year. The only power they have at her house is a 12Volt battery that is charged during the day by a solar panel. Wow, what a blessing to spend the evening with Germaine and her family!
I'm posting pictures soon. Many are from tonight's visit with Germaine.
Please continue to pray for Anco. He is at least able to keep a little food down now, but is still not feeling well. Please also pray for more nationals (Malian people) to be educated in the medical field and to come to work at the hospital! They need more nationals to work here to take some of the work load. Many workers are putting in 60+ hours per week. That doesn't even include Doctor Dan who is basically on call 24/7/265.

There's a friend of Dr. Dan's here taking professional pictures of the hospital and other sights around town. If you'd like to see some of his pictures, visit: http://www.andrewbryantphotography.net/

My pictures are at: http://s99.photobucket.com/albums/l300/matt101279/Mali/

Monday, October 27, 2008

Monday

Blessings to you all on this Monday evening from Mali!

I don't have a lot of time to write tonight as we have a busy schedule.
Last night, we had dessert with the Hanscome's. They had an amazing pound cake and strawberry sauce with hommade whipped cream. Yummy Yummy! And they even had more of the grapefruit soda that everyone has loved here.
We worked...maybe the hardest day of the time here...getting joists hung and metal roofing up. We're kind of in a rhythm now and seem to be moving along well. Tonight, we're going to another missionaries house for dessert and then probably an early night to bed.
Hope you all got off to a great start of a new week! I'll try to write more on our lunch break tomorrow.
Oh, and please continue to pray for Anco. They said today that his condition hasn't gotten better or worse. They think it is some kind of virus that just needs to take its course.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Update on Anco

They moved Anco to Barry and Terry's house. They have a swamp cooler there, so it is a much cooler environment for him to rest and heal. Please continue to pray that God will heal his body from whatever illness that is infecting his body. God is the ultimate healer and miracle worker!

Sunday

Blessings on the Lord's day! I hope I find you on a very relaxing Sunday!

Today, we attended Germaine's (C&MA) church here in Koutiala. It was an amazing time of worship right along side of the Malian people. I have several videos of the music. The sound quality isn't the best, but I'm hoping maybe I can edit it a little when we get home. The movie files are too large for me to post on the internet from our slow connection here, but I will try to get them online as soon as we get home. Germaine seemed so happy to have us here and we enjoyed the full circle of her being in our church earlier this year and now we're here.
After church, Barry and Terry had us over for an amazing lunch/brunch. The food was really great and the fellowship with them was even better. We had another time of sharing what has surprised us or touched us most here. I am still struck by the love I have for the Malian people. Many shared different things. Terry shared with us the great need for more people to come forward wanting to be nurses and workers at the hospital. They need more Malians to feel God's leading to work at the hospital to relieve some of the work load that is on the current staff there. We also discussed needs at the church we attended. They are in need of more benches and a better sound system (currently just a mic plugged into a bullhorn). They also need more space for Sunday school for the kids. This church has several people who go out to the small villages and spread God's word. They have seen the church continue to grow because of this. This is very encouraging to hear about more Malians finding out about Christ.
Barry took us around and showed us his garden/fruit trees. He is growing bananas, guava, oranges, papayas, mangos, grapes, and cinnamon apples (think that's what he called them...they don't look anything like apples).
As I leave you this afternoon, I would ask that you pray for Anco, who is the technical guy around here. He does a lot of work with solar power, networking/computers, and many other things. He is very ill right now with an unknown illness. I believe they are treating him for Malaria, but they are unsure of what he has. Just pray that God will place a miraculous healing upon him in this time.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Pig Farm

Good evening and blessings to all! We're all sitting here wondering why Ohio State isn't on TV and why so late at night...I mean it won't be on 'til midnight our time.
Tonight, several of the missionaries took us on a picnic to "The Pig Farm". Apparently, a man tried to start a pig farm and had built several pens (walls) out of rock. They don't really know if it was EVER used to house pigs. Anyway, there's a waterfall (not a lot of water, but some) there. We ate right beside the water fall. We had some time to explore a little and many climbed to the bottom of the falls. The funny story for this adventure would be...I had been out exploring by myself and came back to ask about a nearby village. Craig Hanscome jokingly said that 4 people from a previous team had been captured and held by the villagers. Anyway...I started exploring again and all of the sudden, I turned around and a young boy from Mali was almost right behind me. For a second, I thought...was he serious? Well, the boy kept on walking down into the valley below us. It was beautiful out there in the middle of nowhere. It was interesting to hear some of the villagers singing in the valley and see the cattle on the far cliffs. It's so amazing to sit back after a week of hard work and just admire the beauty that God has created. Every fall, we like to go hiking somewhere just to enjoy the outdoors and see the beauty that God has created for us. This was again beyond my imagination. God is sooooo awesome!

Pictures of this outing added at: http://s99.photobucket.com/albums/l300/matt101279/Mali/

Saturday

Good Saturday afternoon to all! Blessings in the name of Jesus!

Thank you so much for all your prayers! I'm feeling much better today! I'm still a little tired, but all the stomach sickness seems to be gone. Today, we only worked a half day because they are taking us on a picnic tonight. We're doing very well on the building...although Ken said from the top of the water tower, it looks like there's a long way to go.
Beth and Jane went to the market this morning with one of the missionaries to get some food supplies we needed. I'm so thankful for them taking care of the Kitchen and food for all of us!
Daniel rode/drove Bob's scooter back from the hospital to the guest house today. He only said that going through the market is a whole different experience on a scooter, compared to the van.
Tomorrow, we will go to Germaine's church. That will be a very unique experience I am sure.
Oh, Ken had to perform the Heimlich procedure on me at lunch today when I choked on a carrot. Thank God for the team members that are here!
Well, nothing much to report, so I hope you all have a great weekend!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Friday

Blessings to all out there! I hope that you are all having a great day!

Today, I woke up not feeling well. It feels similar to the flu. I started my Cipro antibiotic at lunch and slept all afternoon. I felt bad to not go to the work site, but think I needed the rest. We had pizza at Bob the builder's house tonight. I'm not thinking that's a true malian feast.
Sorry I'm not writing much tonight, but I need to lay down so hopefully I can go to the worksite in the morning and a picnic in the afternoon/evening.

Thanks for your continued prayers over our team. I think that the jet lag has caught up to some of us, so we really need the rest tonight!

God bless!

Oh, Beth just gave me more new pictures. There's some of the triplets and one new baby. Enjoy! http://s99.photobucket.com/albums/l300/matt101279/Mali/

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Thursday before bedtime

Good evening to all that are reading. I pray blessings over all of you!

We went to the market today. It is quite the sensory experience. It's kind of an overload of smells, sights, and all that go along with it. I'll tell you that I see some of the young kids from Mali and just want to bring them home with me. They are so full of joy. It's almost as if you can see love in their eyes. God has definitely opened my eyes to see the people here and how they adapt to living in such a poor area. It's amazing when you think about all that we have in the USA and still, we often want more. Here, many only have enough food to last them from day to day and often they raise their own food, whether it be livestock, grains, or other produce. I'm still a bit in awe when I see the living conditions here. And yet in such a poor place, God has placed His hospital and church in the middle of it all as a beacon of love and light to all that will here it.
Tonight, we had dinner at Tim and Beth Wright's house. We had a traditional Malian food...americaned up. It was called Peanut Gravy and rice. The american part was ground beef...they would usually have chicken or chunks of meat. It was a peanuty sauce with squash, eggplant, cabbage, and ground beef. It tasted amazing!
So, anyway, the main purpose of my post tonight is just to say that I uploaded some new pics to my photobucket. There are several of Beth and Jane at the hospital. I borrowed/took them from Beth's camera and from Barry and Terry. I hope you can enjoy them and that it's not too hard to find the new ones. I haven't actually tried looking through them, so I hope you are able to go to the end and look at the newest ones instead of looking at all of them over and over.
Good night all...and thank you for all of your prayers. And...if Sharon Riley is reading...thank you so much for the Spiritual Armor bookmark you sent with me. I've prayed/put on the armor every morning and am thankful for the protection it provides over us.

Morning Devotions Music

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pBk1MEcLhBE

Thursday

Well, things are still going great here. God is really blessing us through our work. I think we're all feeling great compassion for the people here. It's a compassion that could only come from God!
This morning, Obarry (spelling) and I finished up the joists in one bay of the warehouse, so it is now ready for the rest of the guys to start laying roofing on it. Once they finish that bay, they will probably be off to another task for a time while we try to finish joists in the next bay.
Jane had been able to help with the delivery (babies that is) process a couple times now. She seems to be really enjoying it! She helped with surgery a little this morning. Jane and Beth were just telling me that the Jesus video is playing over and over all day long in the waiting area of the hospital where the women wait to see a doctor. This is a great tool to reach those who are there. They also have a Malian pastor who stands in the waiting area and shares the gospel and hands out tracts to the women who are waiting. This is hard to believe because you'd most likely never get away with that in the emergency room waiting room at home.
I'm thoroughly enjoying working with Obarry (spelling) and the painter (don't know his name). The painter lost a hand at a young age because of a gun accident. He has a prosthetic arm and does very well with his good arm. He does a lot of metal cutting and just about anything else he's asked to do.
I haven't had a chance to upload new pictures, but Beth and Jane had some of the babies, so I'll try to get those online later today or sometime tomorrow. I want to try to record a short video of the driving here so you can see what it is like. It's very hard to describe in a way you could actually imagine.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Wednesday


Good afternoon to all. Ala ka duba l ye (God bless you). Thanks for all the comments! Work went well this morning. It feels hotter today, but less humid. We're getting into the swing of our work now. We feel like we're making progress now. Beth and Jane were sorting medical supplies this morning at the hospital. They heard of two ladies who had children outside of the hospital and carried the babies in for checkups in large hollowed out squashes and buckets.
Jamie posted some questions in a comment, so I'll try to remember them and answer them. Termite hills...Haven't seen any real big ones close. We did see some on the trip from Bamako to Koutiala. We haven't actually seen the large mosque up close. I took the picture from the rafters of the warehouse. It's right in town and I assume it's off one of the side streets from where we travel each day. We haven't heard the calls to prayer while we're sleeping because we are sleeping so soundly. We did hear it when we were waiting for someone to tow us in Bamako when we had the accident. We haven't seen any snakes that I'm aware of. We see a lot of animals around though.
Tonight, we are going to go to a Wednesday night Bible study here and Bill and Beth are going to share the story/testimony and what brought them to Mali. They did say we will have a meal at Germaine's (spelling?) sometime while we're here, so that will be very interesting and fun!
OH! John drove us to the hospital this morning and back to the guesthouse...We didn't hit anything and were going a little faster than the bicyclists! ha ha. So, that's our morning.
The picture above is of Jane and Beth cleaning up after lunch. So far, that's the only one of them in the kitchen. Hopefully, we will be able to get some pictures of them working at the hospital also.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Tuesday Evening

Well, the afternoon work was much more interesting as Bob paired me up with a Malian named Obarry (spelling wrong I'm sure, but sounds like that). We were lifting ceiling rafters or joists or something like that into place and clamping them so he can weld them together in the morning. I loved working with him. He is a very understanding man and even though we couldn't communicate verbally, we did work well together...I think. Greg, John, and Ken worked on laying the sheets of roofing with Daniel helping them bolt it all down. Bill was able to get under a roof in the workshop and out of the sun to do the layouts and welding of the ceiling rafters or joists.

I posted some new pictures from today at my photo site: http://i99.photobucket.com/albums/l300/matt101279/Mali/ . Hopefully it's not to hard to get to the newer pictures!
Thanks to everyone for your comments! I'm trying to pass along notes that are geared toward a specific team member so they can get messages from home!
Have a great evening everyone!

Tuesday Morning

Good morning/afternoon all. It's almost 3pm here. We had devotions at the hospital with the Malians and the missionaries. We took a tour of the hospital compound this morning. Dan Nesselroad (spelling?), the OB doctor at the hospital told us about the history of the area, the hospital, and some of the statistics of births, etc. They deliver almost 1800 babies every year in a tiny little building. Sometimes, they have deliveries happening on all the tables in the delivery room, the table in the hall, and then on the floor...He said it's still cleaner than the dirt floors in many homes.
We also started working on the roof on the warehouse. This was actually kinda fun, for me anyway, because I've never done this before. I love new experiences! Three of the guys were on the roof installing the metal sheeting, Bill and I were out getting tresses welded on. I'm mostly just running for what everyone needs. Someone has to do that, you know! I'll tell you what...Beth and Jane made ham sandwiches with avacado on them and wow, that was good. They're keeping us very well fed! They even made brownies for us for lunch.
Well, battery's dying, so I better log off for now. I pray that God will bless all those who are reading this.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Pictures

I'll be uploading pictures to http://i99.photobucket.com/albums/l300/matt101279/Mali/

koutiala, Mali

Ok, so I have a little time tonight, so I'll post some extra information.

So, I'll start with last night. Bob picked us up from the airport. Immediately, we realized we were in for a treat...driving in Mali. The driving is pretty fast and erratic. Anyway, we were driving to the guest house when a taxi swerved into our lane, apparently trying to miss a pothole. Our front driver's side hit bumper hit the taxi's rear passenger side bumper and smashed the rear window of the taxi. Of course, I don't think the mattress in his rear window was helping him watch for traffic behind him...
So, we got a few hours of sleep early this morning before heading out for the 5.5 hour drive to Koutiala. Yes, Bob was able to fix the van. One of the radiators had a hole in it, so he just bypassed the smaller radiator until he can get a new one from Japan.
Our trip to Koutiala was very interesting. People, bicycles, motobikes, donkey-drawn carts, etc...were in the streets throughout the journey. Traffic lanes are kinda non-existant as you just pass or get out of the way most of the time. We only hit one thing...a chicken. And the locals picked it up almost immediately...probably for supper. When we got to the "compound" in Koutiala, we were welcomed at the side of the drive by Terry, Barry, Craig, Marilyn, Daniel, Amy, and so many many more great people doing God's work here in Koutiala. I can't remember all their names yet. They had prepared an amazing spaghetti, garlic bread, and salad for all of us.
So, we're preparing for bed right now, but I'm going to try to get out another update tomorrow...and maybe I won't be quite as tired. We have to leave here at 7:10am for devotions at the hospital before starting work on the warehouse.

Bamako, Mali

Good morning everyone. Ohio time is 2:30am...Bamako time is 6:30am. We just arrived at the guest house. Bob picked us up at the airport and we started here. We had a little car accident on the way here (everyone is ok...I just scraped my elbow on something when we hit) and had to be towed the rest of the way as the radiator sprung a big leak. Bob is planning to remove the radiator and try to get it fixed today so that we can get to Koutiala. For now, I'm getting ready to lie down and get some rest. It's been a long couple of days!! Thanks for all your prayers...without them and God's protection, who knows how all this travel would have gone. He definitely has His protecting hand over each and every one of us!!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

New York

Well, we're in New York. Just got a little something to eat and waiting to be able to get boarding passes for our next flight. Flight was very good to here. We had a lot of fun talking to the flight attendant. She kept picking on our team members. Kept the flight fun.

Columbus Airport

Well, we made it through checkin at Columbus Airport. Ken forgot to take his liquids bag out with all the activity, but just had to re-scan it. Bill had to go through a manual check as his knee hip, and back set off the metal detector. I had to juggle a little stuff between bags as my bags both came to 53 pounds. Daniel's bags were way light, so I just moved some of the missionary stuff to his bag. We're sitting here about an hour before our flight leaves. Talk to you from New York later today probably.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Thoughts on this Thursday

Good evening to all my readers. I hope that you have all had a very blessed day!

To start with, I'd like to share a prayer request for a friend of mine who I work with and go to church with. Shane Fisher's young son was hit by an SUV on his walk to school this morning. He has a lot of broken bones, collapsed lung, and his liver was bleeding. They put him in an induced coma at St. Vincents this morning and were able to stop the bleeding of his kidney with some medical procedure. I guess that is a majorly good thing, but they are saying that is the main thing they are concerned about over the next 24 hours. So, I would ask that you would keep Shane and his son, Ryan in your prayers as the medical staff try their best to make him better. In the end, I know that God is the ultimate healer and can heal Ryan's body.

So, on to my trip. We picked up stuff last night at church that the missionaries requested and were to pack in our bags for them. I got everything in my bags tonight and would you believe it...We're allowed to have a carry-on bag 22 pounds, and two checked bags 50 pounds a piece. When I weighed my bags, they come to 22 pounds, 50 pounds, and 50 pounds. WOW. Anyway, guess I better not add much more to my bags. Other than that, I think I'm ready. I have tomorrow off of work to make final preparations and to rest. Then we leave Wapak at 8am Saturday.

Until later, I hope you all have a restful and blessed weekend!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Prayer Map

Good evening and blessings to all who are reading this!

A small group at our church put a ton of work and prayer into preparing a prayer map for our Mali trip. I just wanted to share the link with everyone out there so that you can read the prayer map and use it to guide your prayers for our team and for every aspect of our trip.

Thank you to all who have been and to those who will be praying for us!

Prayer Map



Thanks!

Thank you to all who have been praying for my health and rest leading up to the trip. I know there have been many out there praying because the prayers have been felt. I have been fighting a sinus problem for about a week now and finally went to the doctor yesterday. He says I have a sinus infection and gave me antibiotics and an expectorant. I slept better last night than I have for a week...because of those faithful ones that were praying for my rest! I'm feeling quite a bit better today and can definitely feel the medicine breaking loose the stuff that's been stuffing my sinuses and making me cough. Only 3 days till we fly out. I'm very excited and ask for your continued prayer support!! Thanks everyone!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

warehouse


warehouse
Originally uploaded by matt101279

I just wanted to share this picture with everyone. To my understanding, this is the building we will be putting a roof on in Mali. I took this picture from Terry and Barry Newman's facebook page.

Baptism


image015
Originally uploaded by matt101279

I was baptized today as a public proclamation of my faith in Christ and all that he is doing in my life. This was a very exciting time for me because of all the things God has done in my life over the last couple years and especially in the preparations for this trip to Mali.
Ever since we started going to Shawnee Alliance Church, Pastor Doug has been ministering to us in one way or another, so it was very fitting to ask him to perform my baptism. Jesus told us to go out baptizing in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
It was also fitting to do this today since today is also my birthday, so I was celebrating my physical birth and my spiritual re-birth.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Sick

Well, I'm feeling quite a bit better. Still feel a little plugged, but I think the Vicks and vaporizer are helping clear this up. Trying to decide if I should see a doctor to make sure it's not a sinus infection or not. Anyway, thanks for your continued prayers for health.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Prayer against illness

Ok, so I have been doing a little reading since Bethany pointed out that sickness can be caused by our spiritual enemy. I know this probably sounds really weird to many who read this. I found a story in Luke (who was a doctor to my understanding) that kind of speak to this:

Jesus Heals a Woman on the Sabbath
10Jesus5 was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. 11A woman was there who had a spirit that had disabled her for eighteen years. She was hunched over and completely unable to stand up straight. 12When Jesus saw her, he called to her and said, "Woman, you are free from your illness." 13Then he placed his hands on her, and immediately she stood up straight and began praising God.

14But the synagogue leader, indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, told the crowd, "There are six days when work is to be done. So come on those days to be healed, and not on the Sabbath day." 15The Lord replied to him, "You hypocrites! Doesn't each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or donkey and lead it out of the stall to give it some water? 16Shouldn't this woman, a descendant of Abraham whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free from this bondage on the Sabbath day?" 17Even as he was saying this, all of his opponents were blushing with shame. But the entire crowd was rejoicing at all the wonderful things he was doing.


So, thinking about what we learned in Prayer Mapping a couple weeks ago, I'm going to pray this over myself and my team as I know others on the team are experiencing some sickness:

Abba Father, I praise you for the opportunity to travel to Mali and share your love with the people there. I come before you today feeling sick and exhausted. With the authority you have given to me through your son Jesus, I bind the spirit of sickness that is attacking my and some team member's physical body right now and send it to the feet of Jesus. I loose the spirit of healing power of Jesus Christ that Luke speaks of to work in our lives, freeing our bodies from the sickness we're feeling, that we may remain physically and spiritually strong for the trip to Mali. You said in James 5:15 that "such a prayer offered in faith will heal the sick". Because of the faith our team shares in you, I pray that you will heal us from this sickness. Thank you in advance for the healing you are going to do in our bodies! Amen

This isn't anything to profound, but it's kind of right to the point. I know God will heal my body and protect me as I head to Africa.

Less than 9 days...

Well, there's less than 9 days until we fly out for Mali. I'm super excited about this trip and seeing what God will do through our team while we're there.
Of course, right now, the main thing on my mind is getting healthy. I came down with a sore throat yesterday, and now it's in my sinuses. I really can't afford to be sick right now with all the packing and paper work I need to get done before I leave. All I feel like doing right now is crawling in bed and sleeping for a couple days. I know God will get me through this illness...just like every other illness I've ever had. I just pray that it'll be sooner than later so I can get ready for the trip.
Anyway, there's my thoughts for today. Hope you are all having a great day and enjoying my ramblings.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

God is good!

Wow, I've been thinking a lot about the past year of preparation for our Mali trip. God has been doing amazing things that I would have never imagined. But, isn't everything within God's power to do? I've been completely at peace about flying to Africa...even though I was pretty white knuckled on my only other flight experience (Seattle). I know this is only because God is calming all fears and that so many of my friends and family are praying for me. The other gigantic thing that God did in this past year was provide all of the needed finances for me to go on this trip. So many family and friends have put financial support into this that I hope they are truely blessed through their gifts. I look forward to sending out letters telling stories about the trop to all the supporters out there. Most recently, God calmed my fears of speaking in front of a group...and I didn't even know it was coming...no matter how small of a speaking thing it was. Today, we were introduced to the congregation at church as the team going to Mali. The pastor asked me when we were leaving and when we would return. I felt like I blanked completely, but Sarah told me I was really quick to respond. Any other time, my response would have been ummmmmmmmmmmm. I have asked my prayer partners to pray that I would overcome my fears of speaking in front of people so that I will be prepared to share my personal story (testimony) with those that I meet on this trip and in my daily life. I think this short answer on stage today shows me that God is definitely working in my life! So, I'm signing off for tonight, but wanted to share a couple thoughts that had crossed my mind. I'll try to post daily once we're on the trip itself!