|local Malian women. i love the colors.|
yes. you read that title correctly... as of tomorrow morning, Casper and I are Africa bound! (it's still crazy to say that out loud... I can't believe we will be in Africa a couple days from now).
|see it up there in the yellow... the top half of the country is part of the Sahara desert.|
We have the amazing opportunity to travel to Mali, Africa, on the north-western side of the continent, for a two week trip that will take us all over the country. Casper and I are going with Christian and Missionary Alliance , which is the denomination I work for... and they happen to be a group that is passionate about and committed to bringing the truth and love of the Gospel all over the world. We will arrive in Bamako, Mali (the capital) on Friday evening and then hit the ground running for the next 2 weeks. We are going with a group of 7 people, some of them are pastors as well, and our primary task is to cultivate relationships with missionaries and locals all over the country and the various ministries they are leading and participating in. Casper and I have a more specific agenda which is to combine our love for writing and photography to capture stories in Mali, both through word and image. We will be documenting the trip, the people, and the places by taking photographs and interviewing people so we can bring this information home with us and create a book about Mali. This book will be a means for people, and churches to connect with the heart of Mali and hopefully provide insight so people will jump on board with the needs in this region. It's an overwhelming task, but we couldn't be more thrilled or honored for the opportunity to do this.
|the Niger river, which runs through the country.|
Mali is one of the poorest countries in the world... bordering the Sahara Desert on the North side, causing the population to be densely located in the lower half of the country. We will be traveling throughout various cities and villages... interacting with several tribes and multiple languages (there is not one main language for the country, as most tribes have stayed committed to their individual language). It will be around 100 degrees the entire time we are there, and it is a very very DRY heat (hense the Sahara Desert). We will visit missionary families, tribes and villages, a women's and children's hospital, and orphanages while we are there. The vast array of people and places we will encounter is a bit overwhelming and hard to wrap my mind around. In some ways 2 weeks seems like a long time to be away from home, but such a short time to get a window into the lives of Malians.
We also will visit a couple "landscape musts" while we are there... swimming in waterfalls, and taking a boat ride down the Niger river! (PRAYING that I don't have to see a crocodile... I may throw up if I do)!
|an actual picture of the boat rides on the Niger River... we will be in a boat like this most likely.|
So, how are we feeling? Well, we are excited, anxious, overwhelmed, thrilled... we're lots of things right now. This trip is hands down going to change our lives... and that truth is heavy and hard to digest but at the same time it's so exhilarating to get to experience this adventure.
How can you be praying? Honestly, please pray first and foremost for the hearts of the people we will meet. Pray that they are open to us as people, and as Christians. Pray that the language barrier and cultural differences would bare no weight on the depth of relationships we can develop while we're there. Practically speaking... pray for the culture shock we will experience. I am having a harder time with this than Casper... but I'm honestly petrified of what it will be like when we arrive concerning food, cleanliness, bathrooms, sleeping, cultural view of women, especially a woman pastor. I am afraid of getting sick, or not sleeping, or not eating...I'm kind of looking forward to not washing my hair or wearing make up for a change... but all of this to say, there are a lot of trivial things that could distract me from why we are there... so pray that those things seem silly and meaningless compared to what God is doing through our team. Speaking of our team, pray that we are unified in heart and purpose... I really expect that God is going to bind us together and build us into a family. I'm excited to build these new life-long relationships. Pray for our camera equipment and our luggage... theft is common and lost bags are even more common. Pray for the flights, details, traveling around the country... all the logistics. AND finally, pray for God's agenda to be accomplished in the lives of the Malians, the missionaries, and in our lives. I trust His plan.
FINALLY (sorry this post is so long, but I'll be gone for 3 weeks people, I have to get it all out)... but lastly, on a lighter note since this blog so often serves as an avenue for me to communicate about my view and love of fashion, I thought I'd share this next part, just in case you were wondering what will I be wearing in Mali?!?!?! :) Well, I'm quite excited about the opportunity to change up my typical style. There are obviously cultural differences in what women are allowed in wear, so long skirts and loose tops will be my staples for two weeks... but I have found creative ways to style it up... I still need to feel like me, even if I'm half way across the world! :) Here are some examples of my outfits (oh, and how perfect is it that Anthropologie is on a Safari kick... perfect timing and perfect inspiration):
this is my INSPIRATION.
|I bought both of these skirts, as well as various printed skirts from goodwill! :)|
|t-shirts and button ups... both COTTON since it's 100 stinkin' degrees!|
|lots of scarves, because in some villages, I may need a covering.|
|lots and lots of belts.|
So, I'm a bundle of emotions, covering every stage and extreme on the spectrum... but I'm most of all feeling so blessed to get this experience... and to share it with my sweet Caspy! Thanks for your support, prayers, and love! WE WILL MISS ALL OF YOU SO MUCH!
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