These past few weeks have been a whirlwind of learning, working and adjusting to the heat! We can hardly believe that we have been here for a month now, yet it also seems like we’ve been here for a long time. I find that drastic changes in life always do that – make you feel like the “other side” of the change was a very long time ago, although only a few weeks or a few days have passed.
Most of our time in our seemingly long but actually rather short stay here so far has been devoted to orientation, learning about World Renew’s work here in Mali, and beginning our work! World Renew is involved with a variety of projects here, several promote helpful agricultural practices, one provides “box” libraries to villages, and some focus on church workshops, teaching things like abuse prevention, family and couple communication, and health.
We’ve been working on a lot of French/English translations for a few of these programs during the past few weeks, had a chance to talk to some of World Renew’s partners here in Mali, and even got to sit in on one of the church workshops for young people this weekend. We were also privileged to spend one week completing an Interpersonal Skills workshop (well… I completed it but David got sick halfway through and had to stay home. Don’t worry, he’s better now). Some World Renew staff from Niger also completed the workshop with us, as well as several people who work with World Renew’s partner organizations. There were also other missionaries and pastors from several countries in West Africa there, and it was great to listen and learn from people who live in a variety of cultures.
We have also been learning more and more about Malian culture and customs every day! One of my favourite things is the clothing here – women especially tend to wear traditional clothing, and all of it is so colourful and bright! Yellows, oranges, light blues, purples… driving down the street is a literal rainbow as you see all of the people walking by. I also have really been enjoying the food here – I can’t wait to learn how to make it myself! Lots of rice dishes, with veggies and meat or fish. People are also so friendly here, always willing to help and very patient with us as we continue to learn French! We’ve also been given Malian names – Daouda and Sira Camara. Daouda means David, and Sira means eldest daughter.
I’ve attached to post a couple of pictures of the city and landscape here. It hasn’t rained since October, so it’s pretty dry and dusty – good thing it’s hot so you can wear sandals and not worry about sand in your shoes. The prettiest place here, in my opinion, is by the Niger river! I’ll upload more during rainy season, and we can check out the difference in water level!
As you say in Bambara, I ni sɛ fɔlɔ, k’am b’u fo. (Goodbye, say hi to everyone for me!)