Lots of things have been happening around here lately! Not sure I can fit it in just one post, but will try. Our clinic is running very smoothly. Monday through Wednesday is here in Siguiri, and on Thursday the team travels out to Fodela to the Outreach Center there. We are blessed to have Jeff Schulte working with us since August. He has been instrumental in getting things organized and up and running, praise God!!
Yesterday was the feast of Tabaski here. Muslims celebrate this as a very important day, the day when Abraham almost sacrificed Ishmael. Our stories differ a bit of course, but for Muslims this is almost like Christmas. People buy new clothing and usually a sheep is purchased and slaughtered for the occasion. Meat is eaten and shared around, people visit each other and greet. We learned the festival greeting and wished many people a happy day. They loved it.
This year we were invited to join Daye and his family for the celebration. Daye has been working for the Lutheran Mission for many years, almost since the beginning. It was a joy and priviledge to spend time with him and his family yesterday.
Following the celebrations last night we took Jeff out to a nearby village to spend a few days living with a Maninka family. He was excited for this experience as were we. We are hoping to get more into the villages and are starting to make contacts here and there. When we arrived we all sat down for a visit, as is tradition. The chief talked about how happy he is to have this visitor come. Never before has a white man come to stay in his village. We also thanked him for opening his home like this for our visitor.
After all the discussion they showed us where Jeff will be staying. The chief’s son has offered his room for the weekend which will be just perfect. As we were sitting and visiting a group of women came in. As I said, Tabaski is like our Christmas, and the clothing we saw yesterday was stunning! Hair is all done up special, make up applied. They looked beautiful!
Once we felt Jeff was all settled in we got ready to go. During the time there Tim and the chief had been playfully bantering because of their “family names.” The chief is a “Magasouba”, the family that traditionally founded and settled Siguiri. The family name that Tim has taken is “Kourma”. The two families are against each other, so if one meets the other they must “insult” each other. Anyone that knows my Tim knows that he loves to banter in this way. So before we left there had to be some ribbing and teasing!
In Africa, making relationships is extremely important. We have lost a lot of that in the West as we breeze by people, “Hi, howareya?” “Great”. Then you’re gone. It means a lot to people when you take the time to visit, sit down as if you have nothing else in the world to do that day, and just visit. You ask about the person, their family, their health, as if they are the most important person in the world to you. It’s a wonderful part of the culture, and one that I hope they never lose.
We pray that as we make these relationships, God will open doors for the Gospel! That millions may find that personal relationship with Jesus, their Savior. To Him we ARE the most important person in the world!