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Tabaski

Today is a special day for the Muslims of our town.  Called Tabaski (Eid al-Adha in Arabic), it is perhaps the most important Muslim holiday of the year.  On this day, they celebrate the willingness of Abraham to sacrifice his son, whom they believe to be Ishmael.  God sent his angel to intervene and provided a ram as a substitute sacrifice.  Those who are financially able in our town butcher an animal, usually a goat, and divide it among their friends, family, and the needy.  Despite the discrepancies in their understanding with the biblical account, the key idea of a substitute sacrifice remains intact, and we can build upon this idea to share the Gospel.  Pray that God would grant us opportunities to share about the ultimate sacrifice who took our place, Jesus Christ.

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Spotlight: Guava and Sunday School

It’s GUAVA season! We’ve eaten them out of hand and jammed several pints. Do you like these tasty gems? Or would you rather leave them for the {fruit} bats?

We’re also hosting a Sunday School conference at our Ministry Center this week. Will you please pray for national Christians who will gather to learn about reaching and teaching children well?

 

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Gold Mining in Guinea

I shared a bit of the gold mining process with a group of young students this week and thought you may be interested in reading about it too.

Temporary Mining Town as Seen From the Road

The mineral rich country of Guinea, West Africa ranks first in world bauxite reserves. They also have iron, gold, diamond, and aluminum ore reserves.

Let’s talk GOLD and Mercury {also known as Quicksilver}
More than 34,000 pounds of gold are mined annually in Guinea. There are four official gold mining companies currently actively in country: Societe Ashanti de Guinee (SAG), the Societe Miniere de Dinguiraye (SMD), Semafo, and Cassidy Gold Corporation. However, there are thousands of artisanal and small-scale gold mining operations in Guinea. Artisanal enterprises operate outside legal, government mining frameworks.

Artisanal gold mining is dangerous and costly, but the prospect of wealth is too great an allure for those hoping to strike it rich. Miners set up temporary shanty towns made of tents and cardboard homes {pictured}. They go into the bush with metal detectors and search vast amounts of land until their detector sounds an alarm. Once gold is found in a region, workers dig shafts with shovels and handmade hoes; hauling buckets of earth to ground level to be processed. Shafts are dug down into the earth and are widened into caves following gold veins as it’s found. Sometimes new shafts and caves are dug at greater depths just under existing shafts and caves. The potential for a cave in is great.

At ground level, gold chunks are removed from surrounding rock with hammers. Amalgamation is used to extract the remaining gold and gold dust from the resulting rock debris. Amalgamation is the process of mixing mercury with gold; forming an alloy called amalgam. Mercury is poured over the work table, which mixes with and collects gold particles and dust. During this process, the gold is dissolved into the mercury. The mercury-gold amalgam is then heated to separate the two elements. Mercury vaporizes: is collected in another receptacle for reuse, while the gold is left behind to be added to the nuggets already mined.

There are physical and environmental health risks of amalgamation. Of primary concern is the health effects to the miner performing the amalgamation. Mercury is a highly toxic element that doesn’t break down in the environment. It’s merely “recycled” between land, water, and air. In animals, mercury can become concentrated in the food chain causing problems. Mercury builds up in the human body and attacks the nervous system. Because mercury vaporizes at room temperature, it pollutes homes and communities when left in open containers in the African heat, and when toxic mercury vapors are released during the amalgamation process. Mercury that’s evaporated into the air can travel great distances and be breathed by miners, their families, and others near the mining community.

Because lungs readily absorb mercury, and mercury is not easily excreted, it collects in the body causing hair loss, muscle tremors, fatigue, decreased cognitive function, and death. In the 18th century, hat makers used mercury to process felt hats. Continual low-level exposure of the mercury vapors built up in the hatter’s body until they went crazy. Hence the term, “Mad Hatter.”

Many mercury free mining techniques are available, however access to safer mining equipment is cost prohibitive for artisanal gold miners.

Barely an hour passes from the time gold is found, mined, amalgamated, and taken over the border into Mali where companies introduce it into the world market. By avoiding government mining frameworks, nationals who find gold retain more of the profit. And those who do not stand to lose their entire life’s savings. That, however is a topic for another post.

 

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2018 Scripture Calendars

Billie is compiling the 2018 Scripture calendars this week. The 2018 calendar focuses on Bible verses related to “Blessings” and will be used to share the Good News in several people groups spanning four countries in West Africa. Please pray for each component to come together quickly and accurately so she can send them to print by the deadline in June.

Thanks to Jenn Kujawa, each month will feature beautiful photography of fruit from our region. {The fruit of the coconut palm is not a nut, but rather a drupe. The coconut is known for its great versatility and when properly harvested, there is no waste.}

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Looking for Adventure?

Do you enjoy fishing, hunting, hiking, biking, swimming, cliff diving, camping, off-roading, rock climbing, rappelling, and being at one with nature? Would you like to live and work in the great outdoors? Do you eschew all things modern such as electricity, running water, grocery stores, restaurants, and processed food?

No? Then come work at our English Language Center where you can enjoy all the comforts of home while serving God.

Yes? Then come work at our English Language Center where you can enjoy all of God’s amazing creation with your friends after class.

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Ramadan Prayer Guide

Mr. B againRamadan, Islam’s high holy month of fasting to commemorate their belief that the Archangel Gabriel’s visit to Muhammad to give him the first verse of the Koran, begins today Friday, May 26 for some people in the Muslim world, and lasts through Saturday, June 24. For us, Ramadan will likely begin on Sunday. Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam. During Ramadan, Muslims will pray, and abstain from such pleasures as smoking, eating food and drinking water between sun up and sun down, among others.

Please join us in prayer for the Muslim world during the next month. Ask God to work in the hearts and lives of Muslims who are sincerely seeking truth and the way to Paradise.

For a free digital copy of 30 Days of Prayer for the Muslim World, please click the link below:

https://www.worldventure.com/30days/

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Easter Retreat

We recently sent out an update about our Easter retreat and outreach.

If you did not receive our email, or you wish to be placed on our mailing list, please contact us via email or private message on any of our social media outlets.

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One Hundred Coffee Trees

Ever wonder what one hundred coffee trees looks like?
Coffee beans are actually seeds. The seeds are surrounded by red fruit, or berries. The berries must be soaked before the coffee seeds can be extracted. After the coffee beans are removed from the berry, they can be sun or oven dried. Once dried and roasted, coffee beans are ready for consumption.

There are three kinds of coffee grown in the mountains of Guinea: Arabica, Excelsa, and Robusta. An American Peace Corps worker grows Arabica in Malia Yoola, a Fulbe man grows Excelsa coffee on his small plot of land in Kola, and Robusta can also be found in the region. All three coffees have different taste profiles.

Excelsa {now classified as Liberica} grows mainly in Southeast Asia, where it is used as a blending coffee, especially in house blends. In 1890, the coffee rust killed almost all the Arabica trees in the Philippines. A conservation effort in 1995 began a repropagation program and introduced Liberica as the main coffee crop. Excelsa has a tart, dark taste, and many people do not find the aroma as appealing as Arabica and Robusta coffees.

Robusta coffee beans are indigenous to West Africa. They account for 30% of the world’s coffee production, pack almost double the caffeine punch of Arabica beans, and are therefore, heartier. Farmers can grow Robusta in a variety of environments as the trees can tolerate variations in altitude, rainfall, and temperature. Good Robusta is free of bitterness and is the best selection for iced coffees and for those who prefer a little coffee with their cream and sugar.

For the last six weeks we’ve been meeting with El Jar, a local coffee grower to study God’s Word. Please pray for deep and lasting spiritual growth and that he will be compelled to follow the Truths therein.

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Snail Mail

Due to an unreliable mail system, all of our mail has to be hand carried back to North America with travelers. In years past we were able to send mail up to four times annually, but the last two years have seen a dramatic decrease in visitors to our remote location. We hope to send a stack of letters in April that will arrive in North America in May. If you’ve recently moved, even if you aren’t a financial supporter, please email us with your address change.

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Green Wood Hoopoe

This little Green Wood Hoopoe danced in the tree foraging for bugs for twenty minutes the other day. “Kuk-uk-uk-uk-uk,” he called loudly. We love their metallic plumage. He moved so quickly it was difficult to clearly catch him in the frame.

Meanwhile, the pigeons have returned to the front porch for the tenth year running. They have never had success hatching eggs on top of our electrical boxes, but they come back every year. This, my friends, is the very definition of futility.


A final word about birds and nests: A pothole in French is called a chicken’s nest.

EDITED TO ADD:
Perseverance; not futility. I stand entirely corrected.

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