Sunday, January 23, 2011

God IS In Control!!

This week, we found out that our per diem would not cover the cost of someone driving us from Bamako to Koutiala. Usually, with a team of 8, the per diem for 8 people covers the transportation. The option given to us was to ride the bus. While riding the bus would be weird, not knowing the language and all, we were ok with it. The part that we weren't comfortable with was the fact that we will have all the phone equipment with us. The way I've seen stuff stored on buses over there, I was really nervous about the equipment safety.

Here's where God comes in! One of the missionaries and their children will be on our final flight into Bamako. This means they will already have a car there that can take us to Koutiala. We will still ride the bus back to Bamako at the end of our trip, but without all the phones, we'll feel much better about that. To be honest, I think it'll be a fun way to experience a bit of the culture there.

I've been a bit discouraged about the amount that has come in to cover my trip costs, but I think this is just another reminder for me that God is in control of everything, especially our trip plans! There is one more thing we're concerned about. We're going to have a lot of phone equipment packed in our suitcases for the work we're doing there. Please pray that we will be able to get all this through airport security without any issues!

Thank you for your continued prayers as we move closer to the March 18, 2011 departure to Mali.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Studying and Preparing

This week, Ken sent me the manual for Moodle and the link to start using it. Moodle is a program used to set up online learning. The plan for this software is to allow the hospital to create training programs for new nurses. I've been having a good time reading through the manual and setting up a class. This will all be helpful when we work with the hospital staff to create computerized learning programs.

Tonight, Ken and I will be meeting to start working on the systems we'll be installing at the hospital. This includes the computerized learning software and the IP phone system. I'm excited to start learning and preparing for our trip.

I got all my stuff together to send in my visa application so that I can get into Mali. After I make a couple copies tomorrow, I'll get that sent in. Vicki is looking into airline ticket pricing today and hopes to have tickets ordered this week. I will need to turn in any remaining funds needed for my plane ticket this coming Sunday. I think I have all the funds I'll need for the plane ticket, but still need to raise about $900 for my remaining expenses. You can track my fundraising with the thermometer to the right of this post.

In addition to our individual trip expenses, our church is also raising funds for the phone system we will be installing. Here's what was shared Sunday morning about that:

Project for Koutiala Hospital: The Great Commission Team will be collecting funds for a communication system for the Koutiala Hospital for Women and Children in Mali, West Africa. This system will allow hospital staff to more readily communicate and (most importantly) respond quicker to emergency situations, etc., especially during Malaria season which begins April 1. The Mali Team 2011 is hopeful to begin installing the system March 18-April 1. Please prayerfully consider your participation to help us reach the goal of $5,000. Make your check payable to Shawnee Alliance, put "Koutiala Phone Project" on the memo line, or on the offering envelope.


If you would like further information on how you can give toward my trip expenses or the phone project, please feel free to contact me (mattschmunk@gmail.com). Please pray for Ken and I as we prepare for the trip. Also, please pray for the phone project that funds will be raised quickly so that the system can be purchased and prepared for installation before we leave.

Thank you so much for your prayers and support as we approach March 18, 2011!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Trip Plans

It looks like it will most likely be only two of us traveling on this trip. I'm very excited because God has placed a project on the heart of Ken and the missionaries in Koutiala that is technology related! If you know me, I love technology. My job is completely based around technology and I often do computer work outside of my job too. I'm always interested in the latest technology, even though I'm often a few years behind in getting it.

Ken is in the process of planning out an IP phone system for the hospital complex. This will greatly reduce cellular phone costs among the missionaries in Mali. I'll be learning the phone system with Ken leading up to our trip so that I'm knowledgeable enough to help out. I have some experience with IP phones because we put in an IP phone system a year or so ago at work. I'm also very excited to work with Ken. Ken is an awesome man that I have grown to look up to!

I still need to send out some additional support letters to finish covering my costs. I also need to get my Mali Visa so that I can get into the country. Ya, that's important, I guess. I've been dreaming for a while now that I get to the airport and don't have my passport. Hopefully the dreams will keep me from forgetting it. Ha.

Please pray for Ken as he orchestrates this phone system project and for me that I'll be able to learn the system quickly! Please also pray that God will prepare our hearts for the trip. Additionally, please pray for our families that will remain her in the USA while we travel. Praise God for the wonderful things He has done...and will do!!!