After flying in from Paris, we arrived in Mali on a Friday around 8:30pm. After a long wait for our baggage, Harouna (a World Renew staff member here in Mali) graciously picked us up outside the airport and drove us to the guesthouse where we will be staying until the end of April. It is located in what used to be the East German Embassy (pretty cool!) but is now home to an evangelical mission. The guesthouse is run by a German woman and her family (with two boys who we actually get to babysit a few times!) and is a nice place to be able to call home for the next few months.
After a good night’s rest, we were awoken around 5am by the sound of loud singing! Mali’s population is about 90% Muslim, so five times every day we hear the sound of their call to prayer blasting from speakers on the surrounding mosques. The first song begins before the sun rises! After sleeping for a little longer, we got up.
Imagine waking up in the morning in a new country where everyone speaks a different language (French or Bambara) and realizing that you don’t know anything that you used to take for granted. You don’t know where to buy food, how to wash/cook that food so that it won’t make you sick, where to do laundry, where anything is in your new apartment, how you are supposed to get around, or even what water you can drink! Add on to that the fact that you are now in a country that has fairly recently experienced quite a bit of civil unrest and you know almost no one, and that makes for quite the intimidating experience!
Despite the challenges of learning how to live in a new place, particularly one that is so starkly different from the one we came from, we have settled in well. Those first two days were definitely the hardest as we learned where and how to do things that we normally took for granted, but we had lots of help along the way, for which we are very grateful.
That first Saturday, we had lunch with the West Africa Team Leader and her husband which was a great opportunity for us to ask some of those basic questions that were on our minds, as well as learn a bit more about the work that World Renew does.
On Sunday, we spent the day with two other members of the World Renew team and their family (the Entz’s) which was also a lot of fun. They showed us around the neighbourhood a bit, telling us where we could find basic things like a bank, stores to buy food, markets for fruits and vegetables, and bakeries.
That evening, we also had the opportunity to attend an English church service with the Entz family. While we are looking forward to experiencing more traditional Malian churches, we definitely appreciated the little bit of ‘normalcy’ that the English, North American style of service provided amidst the vast ocean of new things we had been experiencing.
As hard (and exciting!) as those first two days were in transitioning to this new culture, language, food, people, work, and home, we are thankful for God’s faithfulness through it all and as we prepared to begin our first week of work in Mali, we began to feel more at home.
In addition to meeting all of our basic needs, God has also richly blessed us by putting many extremely generous people into our lives. Thanks to all of you, we have received more than the amount we were required to fundraise! We both feel very blessed by the large generosity and thank you from the bottom of our hearts for blessing us with the riches God has given you. As you would say in Bambara: I ni che (Thank you)