Thursday, October 30, 2008

Steve Got Hugged in Timbuktu

Recently, Steve traveled to Mali to view water projects near the ancient city of Timbuktu. The entrance point of Islam into all of West Africa, is Timbuktu. While sitting by a collapsed, hand dug well, surrounded by sand dunes, Steve was introduced to Mata. He is a Tuareg nomad that the local pastor has befriended. When Mata was told that Africa Oasis Project was interested in helping local believers in Jesus to find water solutions for his people, Mata threw his arms around Steve in a spontaneous gesture of gratitude.

Steve went to Mali at the invitation of David & Linda Arzouni, our long time heroes. Before we became missionaries, we remember being challenged by David's testimony of how God miraculously intercepted his life, making him a soul-winner to tough places in Africa. [Please click on the following link to view more about the Arzouni's & Timbuktu in particular: ] David makes a powerful statement in this link about bringing Living Water to the nomads in Timbuktu, where God told him: "Meet them at the Oasis. If they don't have one, give them one..."

Getting to Mata's village, turned out to be quite an adventure. A common sight on the roads was to see people & goats traveling on top of overloaded vehicles. For Steve, it involved an over night flight from Pretoria to Senegal, with 14 hours waiting in a hot, sweaty airport, before the flight to Bamako, the capital of Mali. The next day, David & Steve joined Rick Caswell, Mark Alexander & Pastor Isaac, along with 5 days of food & water, crowded into David's over-worked 4x4, for the 2 day journey to Timbuktu. Along the way, there were several major breakdowns, a pontoon river crossing with David's car on the Niger River & lodging at 1/2 star guesthouses, that featured crawling critters in Steve's bed.

All this, to see the need for water in Mata's area, where over 800 people are struggling to find water, after the collapse of their hand dug well. The people are having to walk many miles in the hot sandy desert, to find the water they need.

Mata's home was a dome shaped dwelling built upon the hot desert sand dunes. Before departing his area of Timbuktu, Mata wanted Steve to ride his camel. The camel protested vehemently, with agonizing shrieks, so the ride was quite short.

Steve came home with a far better understanding of the needs of the Muslim people of West Africa & a much deeper appreciation of our collegues called to live & work there. We are endeavoring to help find the $60,000 needed to drill 3 wells in Mali, where we desire to provide an Oasis for people in need. These will be deep water wells. One well will be for Mata's community. Our prayer is that soon Mata, as well as many, many others will have an abundant & clean water supply that will lead them to The Living Water at the Oasis in Timbuktu!