Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Spring 2017 Reflections and Notes

1. Language study is a very slow process.

It takes so much repeating until I am able to remember. And even if I am remembering the word and it’s meaning that doesn’t mean that I am able to talk correctly. But it all counts.

As Emily said when she shared about the hardest part of everything: “All the work you’re doing towards that thing you’re doing, the tiny steps forward, the little bit here and there, the embarrassment of what feels like failure, the lack of recognition, the waiting and listening: it all counts. Nothing is wasted.

Talking to a friend in Berlin via WhatsApp, while having a cold coke and some chips in the shade of a tiny grocery store does wonders for a short break of language study.

2. I learned a lot about the Néré season 

The Nére tree produces beans which are harvested in March/April. I learned how the Néré seeds are processed to be a delicious spice put into a sauce. Soumbara it’s called when all cooked and dried up again. It’s hight in protein and very good for you but has a strange smell about it.

3. Food preparation in West Africa involves a lot of physical work. 

But it’s the Sport and some times even compares with Yoga. I described it here a bit. In the last several months, I’ve learned a lot from my neighbor ladies as I worked beside them. I have got a lot of respect for them. I admire their courage and their humor.

4. What it means to be a widow in Islam -

I got to know two young widows during their grieving time. They were sitting in their room with their mother and grandmother in law for 4 months; not allowed to go any where, wearing a white cloths wrapped around their bodies. It was so hard and I shared a bit more here.

5. In the light of eternity we are all the least

I was listening to Shannan Martin's book "Falling Free"As Jesus was mentioning "The Least" in Matthew 25,40, Shannan asked a very interesting question. What does that mean? If I am referring to some one as the least what does that make me? Us? Them?
The much better? The luckier? Fancier? Cleaner? What? 

Generosity is a condition of the heart not of the wallet. To losen my grip on my time, belongings, etc. To really listen and try to learn is truly following Jesus. God called us all His, it made us a family. As our circles widens our grip loosens.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Firiya - die Witwe

Als ich mich nochmal umdrehte, stand sie in der kleinen Tür ihres Hauses mit Strohdach, die sie seid über 3 Monaten nicht mehr verlassen hatte. Der dunkle Hintergrund des Innenraums brachte den leuchtenden Kontrast ihres weißen Gewandes hervor. Das Licht des Sonnenuntergangs war optimal um ein wunderschönes Foto zu machen. Doch ich konnte es in dem Moment nicht übers Herz bringen, sie in einem Foto festzuhalten ... 

Ihre Schwiegermutter und beide ihrer Omas saßen draußen im Hof mit weiteren Frauen, die ihre Kinder wuschen. Alles war vorbereitet für das Fastenbrechen um 18.35 Uhr: Eiswasser, kalter "Jamakudji" (Ingwersaft), Bissapsaft, Hirsebrei. Es war ein heißer und schwüler Tag gewesen, ich schätze mal um die 38C, der 6. Ramadan Tag. Es war mein letzter Abend in Kong.

Ich bin so froh, dass ich sie in den letzten Wochen etwas näher kennenlernen konnte. Sie sagte, sie hätte mich auf Ami's Hochzeit im Dezember gesehen. Damals war sie hochschwanger gewesen. Ich konnte mich nicht mehr erinnern. Ihr Mann war bereits krank, sagte sie, und verstarb kurz nach der Geburt ihres Sohnes, der nun 4 Monate alt ist. Vier ganze Monate und 10 Tage bleibt eine Witwe im Haus und geht nur zur Toilette oder zum Duschen nach draußen, oder wenn sie wegen Krankheit zum Doktor muss. Sie hat keine Aufgaben. Das Essen wird ihr gekocht und gebracht. Sie sitzt oder liegt den ganzen Tag im Haus in einem Raum. So ist es im Islam vorgeschrieben. 

Ihre beiden Omas saßen bei ihr und spinnten Baumwolle. Sie hatte es selbst mit dem Spinnen versucht, eine der einzigsten Arbeiten die sie tun darf, doch es klappte nicht so recht. Die alten Frauen, die jahrelange Praxis haben sind da geschickter. Ich wollte ihr das Häkeln beibringen, doch dazu kam es leider nicht mehr.

Wir brachen von Kong bei Sonnenaufgang heute morgen auf und waren drei Stunden später in Korhogo. Als ich meine Gastfamilie anrief, dass wir gut angekommen sind, sagte T., dass die kleine Madjara an meiner verschlossenen Tür stand. Madjara ist 2 Jahre alt und hat ihren Vater, der ein Djembespieler war, nie kennengelernt. Er verstarb, als ihre Mutter mit ihr schwanger war.

Wärend meiner 4 Monate in Kong wurde ich reich beschenkt mit Beziehungen, die zu Freundschaften wurden mit Frauen, die ich schätze. Die Witwen liegen mir besonders am Herzen.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Preparations before the Month of Ramadan starts

We were all sitting in a cool shady spot at home in Kong as the sun was beating that Friday afternoon. It was the last Friday before the Month of Ramadan starts. We would have missed it if we wouldn't have been sitting there, when all of a sudden a long line of women loaded with wood on their heads, walked by. It was impressive! 
It's hard work getting wood walking a few miles into the bush, cutting trees, and carrying the load back home. That's not some thing women plan to do during the month of fasting. Weeks before Ramadan the women went to carry as much wood as they could to have enough for the next 4 weeks of Ramadan.
Cooking here in West Africa involves a lot of physical work. In the video the women from our neighborhood brought each a share of wood to the Imam of this part of town. If you watch it to the end, you'll see some cuties.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

The Washing of the Néré Seeds or Doing some Yoga in West Africa

Today I accompanied Mariam, my neighbor friend to the “marigot". In West Africa, a “marigot" is a water source fed by rains, over flows from a river or from underground. It’s free water and the ladies from Kong come here to wash anything what takes a lot of water, but nothing with soap as the water washes into the fields. Mariam had two big bowls filled with néré seeds still covered with the yellow powder. 

I helped her carry the utensils while she had the heavy stuff on her head. There was a big old well at the marigot where she immediately got water to fill the bowels soaking the powdered néré seeds. I started washing the seeds with her by hand.
The position we were doing it reminded me of my first yoga lesson for complete beginners which I had followed on YouTube. It was great being outside working alongside a friend, who was explaining me everything in Dioula I wanted to learn. It helped me to make progress in understanding the Dioula language better. 

Once the soaking was done, the yellow mud then needed to be sifted off the seeds. 

We finished just before noon and carried everything back home. It’s amazing how strong the women are and how hard they can work. There we put the wet seeds right in front of her court yard to dry on the asphalt. 

Natural solar energy is used here all the time to dry plants, piment (hot pepper), millet and corn powder, cloths, etc.

Monday, April 3, 2017

It’s the season

Kong, Thursday, 30th March 2017

Everywhere I go here in Kong I see women going or coming back from the bush loaded with big bowls on their heads filled with the fruit or better said, beans from the Néré tree. 

Last Saturday, I accompanied Mantènné, a neighbor lady to pick Néré. “An ka taga kongo ra ka néré tigé.” We went into the bush to pick Néré. Mantènné carried a big bowl with bottles of water and some food and I pulled a long picking stick along. It was a beautiful walk through mango and cashew fields until we found some big Néré trees further on and started picking the beans. It was harder then I thought. I had a hard time balancing the long picking stick aiming to catch a batch of beans. My arms tired quickly. But Mantènne and Aminata, who we met there, were amazingly strong in my eyes. In the end I picked up all the fruit from the ground.

Last night we cracked the Néré shells open to get the seeds out which are bedded in a yellow powder. The powder is sweet and delicious. The kids here love it. But for you it may be kinda chalky and strange tasting.

This morning we processed the beans; first washing off the yellow powder, then boiling them for quite a while. After they were drained we pounded them with sand to get the black peal off the tiny beans. Then the sand needed to be washed off and the clean white pealed beans needed to be cooked again.
isn't it a little bit like gold washing?

Monday, 3rd April 2017

Walking through Kong, I see nearly in every courtyard women pealing and pounding Néré. Mantènné since went twice or more back to the bush to pick more Néré. Her whole living room is filled with Néré which need to be pealed by hand. Guess what I was doing the past few days. It’s a great way to listen to Dioula and learn some more new words and trying to take part in a conversation as we sit together around a big bowl which slowly is filling up with the yellow beans.

Why all this hard work you are asking? It’s to make Sumbara. After the cooked beans are all dried in the sun, you make little balls out of them and dry them again. These are sold in the market like bullion cubs which make a delicious sauce which is rich in protein to put over rice or to eat with “Kabato”.

Friday, March 3, 2017

What I learned this winter 2016/2017

Shout joyful praise to God, all the earth!
Sing about the glory of his name!
Tell the world how glorious he is.
Come, let us rejoice in who he is.
Psalm 66

As Emily P Freeman says: Instead of waiting for the world to stop, let’s slow ourselves, look around, and name what we see. What have I learned that I don’t want to forget? I am inspired by her, who shares a list of what she’s learning four times a year. This is my first try and I am linking it with her blog.

I like Emily's way of creative and spiritual direction and took her Fall class of "Create + Complete", last October. But the learning continues and I am often coming back to process what I thought I understood.

1. Finishing a project that matters 

is about learning the balance between pushing through resistance as well as pacing yourself as you go. It’s also about ignoring good things on purpose which don’t matter. 

My husband and I live and work in northern Côte d’Ivoire to help train pastors and their wives. But deep in me developed the wish “to understand the muslim Dioula women better and help them to find creative solutions to develop, become alive and grow spiritually." So I moved to a Dioula town in January to learn the Dioula language and to understand the culture better. It’s not easy at all to learn a new language. But I enjoy my simple setting, living in a court yard of the Coulibaly family in the midst of the Dioula people. As I am learning their language, I am also listening closely to Jesus and his word to follow his guidance, to understand of what the project wants to be.

2. Learning that Limitations and Boundaries 

are good and necessary. They are even the very borders within creativity grows best.

3. I learned a lot from Emily’s Quiet Collection especially Day 10     

     “Anti-Hustle” Bread - Mark 8! So good. 

Jesus wants to have Kingdom conservations with us but because of our limitations, he always needs to come back to provision. V 17 He is inviting us to live differently and we are looking around distracted counting bread. He is pointing out the YEAST of the Pharisees and how selfish ambition can ruin the whole batch. But I can’t hear it because I am all about where is the bread? There is not enough. Am I going to be o.k.? But this is the Jesus who fed the crowds already twice with lots of bread leftover! How so often am I pointing out the lack rather then having Faith for the plenty. Jesus says: “I am the BREAD !” And there are plenty of broken pieces left over in the baskets! Why am I always forgetting the point? Jesus invites broken people to come and feast on broken bread. It’s not about my way and my timing with whole loafs of bread. There is an invitation to hold the bread in your hands to see your day and your work with kingdom eyes. To feast on Him, to move forward with the energy that comes from eating the broken pieces. 
“This is my body broken for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”

4.  Dawa is a special ink 

During my Dioula language study I am also drawing quite a bit to help me memorize words and phrases. I discovered DAWA. Dawa is an ink, made from the Kotoyiri tree used for medicine. My neighbor is a Marabou (Koran teacher) and uses Dawa to write Koran verses on tablets to wash them off and collecting the liquid in bottles. He let me try drawing and writing with his ink. When dry it has a beautiful dark brown shine.

5. “Breathe” and “Wonder” 

are the words to help me pay attention to life, myself, and God’s presence. How sad would it be, when we stand before great wonder and feel nothing. Let’s ‘breathe’ to awaken and to be attentive to the world around and in us. Let’s ‘wonder’ with passion about the beauty of God’s ways.

I want to close my reflections in summarizing this past 3 months with a quote from 

Joy Saweyer: 

“We want to be fully aware of God. And we want to be unified with his purposes in the world. In short, we want God to find his perfect artistic expression in us and through us.”

What have you learned this past season?