A lot went on the last several weeks in the English center. Since most of the teachers are American, we celebrated Thanksgiving, but in a way that would fit the Malian culture. On the last Saturday of November about 70 students came to taste food samples of three continents: America, Africa and Europe. The Americans menu had mashed potatoes, chicken (instead of Turkey) and green beans casserole. Africa had Senegalese Poulet Yassa and a spicy Nigerian rice dish. Europe had dishes from England, Germany and Netherlands, which I represented with “hutspot” and ground beef the way my grandmother used to make it. In order to look genuinely Dutch I could do nothing better than dress up in orange. After the meal the origin of the American Thanksgiving was played out in a scene on stage. After that everyone shared with the person sitting next to him for what he was grateful. It was a wonderful evening, which gave a good opportunity to bond with the students and to show them the spirit of Jesus.
I closed the Tuesday evening meeting of “Getting to know God better” with the story of the resurrection of Lazarus, who had been in the grave for 4 days. He was raised because Jesus called him back to life. All the stories I had been able to tell in 11 weeks made a deep impression upon the students. They came every week faithfully to listen and recount the story. Pray that the seed sown will grow in the heart of these Mali people. This past week there were tests and the presentation of certificates, which included a little celebration for my level-1 class. Most students love celebrations. They had gathered money to make a meal, which was all ready and served on plastic dishes, which they had brought. We began with the giving of awards to 3 students who had not missed a single class of the 24. There was also an award for the best students of the class. Then every graduate received a certificate and a word of encouragement given by me. I enjoyed it. Then it was time to eat the food they had brought and to cut the beautiful cake I provided. The students surprised me with the gift of a beautiful silver chain, which they had picked out for me. We chatted some, took lots of pictures and at the end of the evening I surprised my students with a couple of song in the Bambara language, which I accompanied on my guitar. This pointed them to God who loves them and who will never leave or forsake them. Curious ? Watch this video clip. Now it is time for a 2-week vacation of GGM.
Christmas in Mali
At the moment I am writing this we are done with four of the six Christmas celebrations in the prisons. Every year it is a wonderful experience to make His light shine in these dark places. I can still see all those happy faces from the last couple of days, but unfortunately I don’t have pictures to show them to you. So an old picture from April this year to make up. This afternoon I just came back from the prison in Koulikoro , a trip that takes 2 1/2 hours one way on a horrible road and tomorrow Kati is on the program. These two are prisons for "real criminals" , but God loves those guys and He wants to change them radically, as He did Paul. A group of women will go with me to church in a car filled to the brim. They will prepare a meal for those men. By the end of the week, on Friday and Saturday, December 23 and 24 I hope to be able to celebrate Christmas with the various neighbors in my street. By giving little presents and some sweets for the kids and the parents, I try to show them God’s love and share the Christmas story with them. I hope to involve my new American neighbors a bit in this as well , so they have a chance to get to know the people in the street better. You see my neighbor Elaine on the picture, with the children of our day guard Alassane. Christmas day there will be a big celebration in my church in Sabalibugu. I will sing again in the women’s choir. I hope my voice will be well again by that time. I have had a miserable cold the last couple of weeks, which turned into bronchitis. I finally got started on antibiotics last week, which has already begun to have an effect. After Christmas I will take a week to rest and recover and go with the choir I joined to Selingue for a couple of days. That will mean relaxing at the lake, walk, read, swim, play games and so on. I am looking forward to it!
Home assignment 2017
Yes, it is time for furlough again. I hope to be in the Netherlands for 3 months from early April till early July, and I am looking forward to meet several of you. Sorry for my American friends, but Lord willing I will tour one day in the USA again and will come in your churches and houses to share. This is a picture of the harbor in the village where I was born which was has the typical Dutch houses as well.
Christmas greeting and thank-you
I want to wish you all a very blessed Christmas and His peace for 2017.
I also want to thank you very much for your prayers and your moral and financial support. Several churches in the USA have given money to the Bamako Prison Ministry account that really touched my heart and made a difference in the live of this inmates. Thank you so much. Be blessed and be a blessing !
Gifts for Carina and her work are very welcome at:
The Christian and Missionary Alliance, 8595 Explorer Drive, Colorado Springs, CO 80920 For C&MA Mali Saarloos work special account nr. 114322 Prison ministry donations account number 1-47200-43-13-09066
Thank God for a great and blessed semester with my level-1 students of GGM.
Pray for the 12 students, most of which are Muslim, who came to the “Experiencing God" meetings on Tuesday evenings. Pray they will put into practice what they heared and that they will continue to look for the truth.
Thank God it is December and that we can emphasize that Jesus came as Savior for those who are lost.
Bible verse Rom 8:26 “The Holy Spirit helps us when we are weak. We don’t know what we should pray for. But the Spirit himself prays for us. He prays through groans too deep for words”
This verse encouraged me a lot the last couple of weeks. I felt regularly very weak and incapable to do the ministry that God entrusted to me. There were moments I did not know how to pray for people or what to say to them. But the Holy Spirit intervened and gave words. What a great encouragement that the Spirit prays for us.
A few more pictures from this last month.
The class party at GGM
Enjoying "taste of thanks".
Africa well represented !
College Jayne on the left with an Nigerian pastor and his little son well protected on the moto. Girl on the right side is back to her home country PTL.
With college Jim in front of the prison for minor men just a couple of days ago.