Sunday, May 16, 2010

Volunteer Testimonies: Prayer

In February 2008, a partnership team from First Baptist Church, Madisonville, TN recently traveled down some of West Africa’s best bush “roads”, in search of the Songhai living in the north-eastern most corner of Burkina Faso… tiny, unmarked cow paths actually, lumpy and bumpy, dusty and dirty.

The road into a certain Songhai village was filled with travelers on this Sunday morning . By the hundreds they came, traveling by camel, by donkey, and on foot. With joy and excitement the locals were heading to the market.

We dream of another Sunday morning, far in to the future, on The Narrow, Smooth Road, where people will be streaming into every Songhai village in Burkina Faso to worship Jesus, Our Risen Savior and Lord. Join us in praying for that day! Join us in sowing the seed of the Word among the Songhai.

The Songhai Team and Lon
First Baptist Church, Madisonville, TN
February 2008


My trip to Niger has given me a whole new perspective for the vast spiritual needs that still exist in our world. Far too often we are lulled into a sense of comfort that technology will spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ. How we have deceived ourselves! While in Niger, I had the amazing opportunities to share the Gospel Message in the shade of a Muslim mosque, with the staff of an entire school, and with countless Songhai people going through their daily chores. Oh that God’s Holy Spirit would crumble the wall of lies built around their hearts and lead them to true freedom in Christ!

October 2008
Southern Baptists of Texas Convention


Where the desert sands of the Sahara meet the water of the Niger River there lives a people whom the rest of the world has passed over, who live in great poverty. Our SBTC team ministered for one week with these people in prayerwalking, evangelistic cassette distribution, and discipleship for local believers. We saw children dying, and yet people were polite to us. We saw the hungry, and yet they invited into their homes and offered us food. We saw the workers: farmer, brick makers, taxi drivers, market vendors, and fishermen who would all stop their work to talk with us. We spoke of Jesus Christ, and yet they were not offended.

Personally, God showed me that He loves people from every dark corner that exists in this world. We, as believers in Jesus Christ, must go to these dark corners that are so neglected by the rest of the world.

There is a hunger to know God here that is not fulfilled in traditional religion. Jesus Christ will be the fulfillment of all joy for the Songhai. Come, the hungry are desperate.

October 2008
Southern Baptists of Texas Convention

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Volunteer Testimonies: Field Support

Sensing the missionary call as a child but not following through until adulthood could cause one to give up on that dream. But just when you think “It’s too late” or “I can’t go,” a miracle unfolds right before your eyes.

That miracle happened to me. It seemed as if God walked up to my heart’s door and clearly said, “Look what’s been waiting-just for you, just for now!” For many years I wanted to serve as a missionary, specifically to Africa. God, in His wonderful mercy, opened many doors of impossibility for me to come and work in Niger.

In December 2007, I came from Fort Caroline Baptist Church in Jacksonville, FL to be a part of God’s work with the Womble family here in Niger. I worked with their children for several weeks. Immediately I could tell what they were thinking, “Wow! History... the Colonial Period... just what we wanted to do over our Christmas break!” No, seriously, they were great students, and I enjoyed spending time with each of them.

I do remember a group activity where they encountered more than their share of communication problems, while building the ‘Tower of Babel’ as we like to call it. Their individual personalities and giftedness became evident as they worked through various projects. I saw Mary’s creative side in her southern plantation replica. Brady’s love for adventure emerged as he traded the routines of life in Africa to ride the high seas in search for whales! Ruth’s gift of detail was amazing! You should have seen her Triangle Trade Route. The ships were full of various imports / exports she created and strategically placed aboard each ship. Many more stories to tell... for another day.

I also had the opportunity to go to one of the villages and help distribute dolls, balls, and other gifts provided by North Point Baptist Church, Gaffney, SC. The sights I saw while traveling to the village brought a sad reality of the harshness of life in Niger.

I saw first hand what it’s like to wake up each day in the face of a vastness of spiritual lostness. I’m deeply moved by the overwhelming sadness, sickness, poverty, uncleanness, and death all around. My heart aches for all the people groups here in Niger and across the African continent. In the midst of it all, I know God’s hand is at work demonstrating His love to these hurting people... one life at a time.

I’m very grateful to those who have sacrificed and committed their lives to serve the Lord here. I saw God’s faithfulness in the way He abundantly provided and protected them.

Although my journey here was for just a short time, I pray God has used my ministry in a purposeful way to help reach lost souls for Jesus. I’ve grown in my walk with the Lord because of my experiences among the missionaries and Songhai people. God has changed my heart forever!

Peggy, MK Education
December 07

Friday, May 14, 2010

Volunteer Testimonies: Discipleship

"Is this what it was like when Jesus walked the earth?”, I found myself wondering many times as I walked the dusty village of Dargol and Tera. Day after day, our small team walked through the village streets surrounded by the tall walls of each family’s compound. It reminded me of a maze in a carnival where you made turn after turn, not quite sure where the next turn would lead you. One such street, so very narrow, vividly reminded me of Jesus walking the roads of Jerusalem.

As the little children seemed to come from every direction and run toward us, they would begin to follow us wherever we went. Before long, we would have twenty or more kids walking with us. On three occasions, our team stopped in the shade and used a story cloth to tell stories. As it would near the time to walk back to the compound to begin discipling a few women believers in the village, it was very hard to tell the children goodbye each day. Tears would come to my eyes as we could see the children’s feet under the gate as they stood outside hoping to spend more time with us.

During our brief time here in Niger, we truly saw our Lottie Moon Christmas Offering in action. We came along beside our missionaries as a source of encouragement to them and the Songhai believers. It was a powerful thing to see with our own eyes what our gifts given over the years to the annual Christmas Offering had accomplished. The believers we discipled had a good knowledge of the Bible. Why? Because the missionaries that are here before us and those that we are leaving behind have done a wonderful work.

I have been blessed beyond measure to see my monetary gift to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering in action. But a stark reality hit me right in the face. Each day as we traveled between Dargol and Tera, we saw many small villages along the way. It broke our hearts as we wondered “who will come and tell those people about Jesus?” We have a great commission to “go and tell”. Who will come behind us as volunteers? Who will provide the monetary means for more career missionaries to come to this region?

Will you come? Will you provide the means for someone else to come? There is a wonderful Songhai team of missionaries here that need you.
Second Baptist Church
Lancaster, SC
November 2008

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Volunteer Testimonies: Children/Youth

The whole experience of this mission has been very humbling to me. Why would God use me to lead a team into an area such as Niger? Why did God bless me with such great people to travel and minister with? Have I ever done something to have found favor with God? No. It does not seem so.

Yet He still used me to give leadership to four wonderful people as they each made a discovery trip into God’s world of missions. Each of them dealt with and grew in different ways and I was able to be part of God’s wonderful plan to make it all happen.
Why did God choose Niamey, Niger in an area wrought with darkness, desperate in poverty and HOT(!) for these folks to start a life of missions. Why not a trip to Disneyworld to hand out tracts and Kool-Aid in the parking lot? That is more what I am capable of doing. I know now that God was showing me a glimpse of how great He is. Not me, but Him. God is greater than any place HE created. He can overcome my shortfalls, my lack of ability. He is greater than the darkness of false religions, hot weather, and He is able to work everything.

I feel so blessed that God allowed me to be a part of this wonderful mission. I thank Him for allowing me to be part of all the lives of the people involved… I thank God and praise Him that He allowed me to share the Gospel with Songhai children. I praise God that He once again showed me, “For God so loved the World…”
- 1 John 4:8, Gomer, Sunnyside Baptist Church, June 2008


With this being my second trip to Niger, I thought I would be a little more prepared for the hurting people here. But I was wrong. It broke my heart just as much, if not more. Our debriefing worksheet asked if there was a Scriptural Truth I learned, and I put “love one another” because it takes the smallest gesture, such as a smile, a wave, a handshake or a big hug to let those children know how much they are loved. I wondered when we started the week if we were getting through to them. Then after a few days they learned the verses and could answer questions about stories, and we knew they were listening. And to some of it may be just a story now, and they may not understand the true meaning. But I believe that every team that comes makes it easier for the next to teach the true meaning. And my prayer is that some day a team will come in and that little dirt field will be full of children and adults who want to hear about the man named Jesus, their one and only Savior.

For over a year our team planned to come to Niger to work among the Songhai. For many it was a return trip. For the second year in a row we planned to work in the village of Dargol. We would be doing sports camp and Bible teaching each day for six days. The three churches represented by this team also supplied clothes, money, and a fun day for an orphanage that we support.

We found that when working in the “bush” there are many adversities at times. Adversities like: extreme heat, road construction, bush taxis, river ferries, sand storms, and language barriers, to name a few.

But ask any one member of our team and they would tell you they would do it again for six more days. They would ride with our friend, Oudou, in his bush taxi on the bumpy, dusty roads. Each teacher would gladly choke back coughs to speak during sand storms. We would gladly break the language barrier with our brothers Hama and Billo, our interpreters. All of us would gladly drink what seemed like gallons of water again to play kick ball and soccer with the children. All of us would gladly repeat each strenuous day for one purpose-- to share the love, grace and mercy of Christ, that He has blessed us with.

To see the smiles as the children recalled the stories of Jesus was worth every day of preparation, every bump in the road, all the dust we inhaled and all the water we drank. To think that one day we may be standing around God’s throne, hand-in-hand with these children, worshipping Him, is worth it all!

Please pray for Songhai children that God would call them out of darkness into His Light, His Kingdom!
Joel, Missions Pastor, Oakbrook Community Church
2 April 2008

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Volunteer Testimonies: Evangelism

Howdy, my name is Gabe, and I went on a mission trip to Africa last year and this year. These two trips have really shown me God’s calling in my life. One of the most wonderful things that has ever happened to me happened this year. Before this trip, my life had really gone south. I was into some pretty bad things. I really needed prayer. Through a dream, God told one of the missionaries stationed in Dargol that I was in trouble. He told the other missionaries, and they all prayed constantly for me. My life got straightened up, and I came to the trip ready, and it has changed my life forever. That really shows how big God is.
-Sunnyside Baptist Church
Sports Evangelism
June 2009


Five men from the Meadowdale Baptist Church in Calhoun, GA recently served as volunteers in Niger, West Africa. The team was Charlie, Russell, Rodney, Garry, and myself. We worked with Randy and Susan in the village of Karma. We did prayer-walking, Storying, testimonies, and general evangelism. It was a tremendous blessing for us, a time to remember. It was hot, difficult, and extremely rewarding. We all loved every minute of this trip.

We divided into two groups of three (the five of us and Randy) and worked in different areas of Karma, hoping to cover as much of the massive village as possible. One day my team stopped under the shade of a small tree. It was very hot, and we needed a break. Very few people had invited us into their compounds because of fear of local religious leaders who were opposed to Christianity. I had prayed that particular morning for God to move someone to invite us into his compound.

As we sat in the shade, a woman came to us and said that a man was asking for us to come to his home (prayer answered!). We went immediately. The man told us that he had practiced "Ju Ju" (animistic spirit worship) for many years but now he knew that this was wrong. He was searching for the truth, searching for God. He was kind and we talked for a good while. We shared the stories from Creation to the Cross. We prayed for him, but he did not publicly confess Christ.

For the next two days, the witch doctor invited us into his "shade", and we gladly accepted his invitations. Each time he invited us in he would have more people there to hear our witness (wives, children, and neighbors) but he did not confess Christ openly. The last time we were invited into the compound, the witch doctor had his adult son there waiting for us. The son shared with us how he had become a Christian several years ago and kept it from his father for two years. The father told us that now he knew about his son's faith, and he supported him. This was almost as if the man was telling us that he was close to becoming a Christian himself.

We do not know if the witch doctor was saved during our visits. Only God really knows that. But we were thankful for his invitation for us to come share his shade. We know that we did our best to invite him into the Shade of the Almighty, the true Light, the everlasting life of the believer. I hope that he has found the Truth. I am convinced that our invitation from the witch doctor was a God-thing. It is in God's hands. We were just one piece of the great plan that God is putting together for souls in Karma.

Our journey began in September of 2008 as we started the preparation process for this trip. We have grown spiritually through each aspect of this adventure, from our weekly team meetings to our daily team devotions on the field. We sowed seeds, smiled, saw people saved, sweated, laughed, loved, prayed, stayed, gave, and experienced God, even in a witch doctor's compound. It was great!

- Dr. Steven F. Pearson, Pastor

Monday, May 10, 2010

Destination: Mali (Timbuktu)

History of Town / Population / People Groups 
   Historians tell us that Timbuktu had a great place of importance in the course of West African history; its renown also influenced Europe and Asia. The city was the center of power for several West African empires that flourished during the middle ages of European history, including the Songhai Empire in the 14 and 1500’s. Legend has it that was founded in 1100 AD by the Tuareg people along a channel of water inhabited by hippos, a meeting place of Tuareg camels and Songhai canoes. Eventually it became a great city of commerce and Islamic studies. It is now a unique, venerated, Muslim city, home to 30,000-50,000 Arabic, Tuareg and Songhai people. Circling the town is a “band of misery” giving home to thousands of poor and needy. It is a stronghold of Muslim faith, containing ancient mosques, a world renowned Islamic university, and a library that houses ancient manuscripts.

Church Status 
   The first evangelical missionaries arrived in Timbuktu in the 1920; they left in the 1950’s saying that even the water in Timbuktu was not wet. In the 1950’s EBM arrived and established one church in 1980 that ministers mainly to the Tuareg people; most church members are related to the pastor. It is inter-related with a non-governmental agency. The pastor’s brother-in-law has also established an Assembly of God church in town. These churches have struggled against persecution for many years; membership remains very small. In the last five years many missionaries from different agencies have come to minister to those living in Timbuktu, however hearts seemingly remain unresponsive and the work has appeared to make little progress.

Housing for Guests / Estimated Costs 
   There are several small hotels in Timbuktu. The tourist season is during the cooler months of November - February, and during this time, the hotels are fully booked in advance.

l'Hotel La Colombe (The Dove Hotel) 

Rooms: 2 twin beds per room at 23,000 / night / room
Breakfast: 2,000 CFA
Lunch and Supper: 4,000 CFA

Contact information:
Phone: (223) 292 14 35
B. P. 05
Tombouctou, Mali
West Africa

Specifics Unique to Your Stay 
   Flights to Timbuktu are through Bamako, Mali for larger groups or Niamey, Niger for groups no larger than three. The airport tax in Timbuktu is paid separately from the price of the ticket, and is usually around 20,000 CFA.

   There are very few taxis in town, so plan on doing a lot of walking in deep sand. A team can rent a 4x4 vehicle.

   Timbuktu is situated in the middle of the Sahara Desert; you will experience very hot, dry days and cool nights. November to February you will need a light coat at night and in the early morning.

   Currency exchanges are possible with a valid passport at a local bank. It is also possible to make currency exchanges in the Baptist Mission Office in Bamako or Niamey when arranged in advance.

   The IMB Songhai Team is currently working in partnership with Brazilian Evangelicals to reach the Songhai people in the Timbuktu area. Current ministries include: soccer teams, women and youth Bible studies, women’s sewing classes, prayer walking, media distribution, and evangelism.

Timbuktu Contact Information

Mailing Address:
B. P. 166
Tombouctou, Mali
West Africa

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Volunteer Testimonies

Volunteers are a valuable and honored resource for our team. As of January 2010, our team has hosted over 500 volunteers over the last ten years. You can read some of their testimonies are below. 

These two trips have really shown me God’s calling in my life. One of the most wonderful things that has ever happened to me happened this year. Before this trip, my life had really gone south. I was into some pretty bad things. I really needed prayer. Through a dream, God told one of the missionaries ..."


"... As the little children seemed to come from every direction and run toward us, they would begin to follow us wherever we went. Before long, we would have twenty or more kids walking with us. On three occasions, our team stopped in the shade and used a story cloth to tell stories. As it would near the time to walk back to the compound ..."

Prayer Ministry
My trip to Niger has given me a whole new perspective for the vast spiritual needs that still exist in our world. Far too often we are lulled into a sense of comfort that technology will spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ. How we have deceived ourselves! While in Niger, I had the amazing opportunities to ..."

Children & Youth Ministries
"... But ask any one member of our team and they would tell you they would do it again for six more days. They would ride on the bumpy, dusty roads. Each teacher would gladly choke back coughs to speak during sand storms. We would gladly break the language barrier. All of us would gladly ..."

Field Support

"... I saw first hand what it’s like to wake up each day in the face of a vastness of spiritual lostness. I’m deeply moved by the overwhelming sadness, sickness, poverty, uncleanness, and death all around. My heart aches for all the people groups here in Niger and across the African continent. In the midst of it all, I know God’s hand is at work ..."

And More ...
   First Baptist Hurst, February 2011, Discipleship Conference 
   First Baptist Hurst, May 2011, Discipleship Training
   Living Hope Baptist Church, May 2011, Evangelism & Discipleship
   Trammell Creek Baptist Church, June 2011, Construction & Evangelism
   Trammell Creek Baptist Church, June 2011, Construction & Evangelism
   FIrst Baptist Hurst, July 2011, Construction & Evangelism
   Living Hope Baptist Church, August 2011, Creative Arts, Evangelism & Disicpleship
   Mt Olive Baptist Church, September 2011, Evangelism
   Living Hope Baptist Church, September 2011, Evangelism & Discipleship
   Living Hope Baptist Church, September 2011, Evangelism & Discipleship (VIDEO)
   First Baptist Hurst, October 2011, Discipleship Conference
   First Baptist Franklin, January 2012, Children's/Music Ministry
   First Baptist Franklin, January 2012, Children's/Music Ministry
   Campbellsville University, May 2012, Construction & Evangelism

Monday, May 3, 2010

Destination: Burkina Faso (Ouagadougou)

History of Country / Population and People Groups 
   Burkina Faso, a land locked country of the Sahel, is home to over 10 million people; the Mossi (who speak Moré) comprise 52% of the total population, which includes 72 distinct people groups and four major language groups. French is the official language. Literacy is estimated at 19%. 83% of the population subsists as farmers. Religious make up consists of animism 40%, Muslim 50% and Christian 10%. Ouagadougou is the capital city of Burkina Faso, a former French colony called Upper Volta. The present government is favorable to Christian involvement and aid programs. There has been an increase in crime and some political tensions in the recent past.

Housing for Guests / Cost Estimates 
IMB Guesthouse 
   Many of the rooms have doubles and a twin bed inside, but it varies. Some are just twins. It has 10 rooms. Each room, except for one, has its own bath and shares a common kitchen/ living area.

   Adults over night stay - 5000 CFA/ night
   Air Conditioner - 400 CFA/ hour
   Washer Loads - 500 CFA/ load
   Dryer Loads - 500 CFA/ load
   Telephone Card - 2000 or 5000 CFA card

Check Out time is 12 noon. You may pay your fees in the office Monday through Friday from 7 AM to noon and from 2 PM to 5 PM or you may place your envelope, keys, and fees in the drop box as you exit.

Recommended Hotels 
   Prices are currently around 35,000 CFA per night, A/C, bathroom in the room, TV, small fridge, pool, and Internet. They also offer hotel shuttle. You can find them on the Internet if you input “Soritel Burkina Faso”.

Hotel Les Palmiers 
    Prices are currently 30,000 - 40,000 CFA per night (same amenities as the Soritel and also found on the Internet)

Specifics Unique to Your Stay 
   Porters are available; the going rate is around 500 CFA (1 dollar) per bag.
Customs is not too rigorous, but they do inspect the luggage. A nice smile, handshake and greeting will go a long way.
   A phone number is necessary when filling out white immigration card on airport arrival. (There is not a place for it on the card, but they always ask for it.)
   Air France comes in 6 out of 7 days during the week, but the schedule changes about twice a year.
   Air Maroc is another possibility, but the arrival and departure times are inconvenient. The price of the ticket is a strong motivating factor.

   Taxis are readily available in town. There is also a decent bus service between major outlying towns.

   Bank machines are also readily available to access money. A Visa debit card is the most universal.

   There are many good restaurants in town. A list of reputable places to eat and a map of their locations are available from the business facilitator at the guesthouse.

Ouagadougou Contact Information

Office phone: (226) 50-30-72-58
Business Facilitator: Kathy

Office and Guesthouse Physical Address:
Mission Baptiste Méridionale
338 Ave. President Blaise Compaore

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Eating in Africa

New Delights, New Adventures

While you are traveling and on the field, your taste buds will be treated to a new delight every meal. You can try fried grasshoppers if you would like, but we do not normally eat things really strange like zebu hump, cow stomach or tail, goat head, or anything that moves on the plate. However, we do eat a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables in season, grains, noodles, milk, beef, fish, and eggs in African, French, and American recipes. Good chicken is a little harder to come by. French baguette bread loaves are almost always available. Imported foods such as cheese and ham are very expensive. Rarely would one find a Diet Coke or Mt Dew.

Preferences and Allergies

Daily shopping and food preparation take a great amount of time and effort to make sure that you have something healthy to eat at every meal and a balanced diet throughout the week. So, be adventurous and try at least a spoonful of everything without complaining. You will not be served cheese with your "whines". We will be willing to alter menus for serious food allergies, such as nuts (hives or anaphylactic shock), but not for food preferences. The noted exception: If you are required medically to be on a certain diet (we’re not talking here fad diets or preferences) you will need to contact us and tell us about it; you will probably need to bring your food with you and / or plan on preparing your own meals.

Meal Plans and Costs

Your daily costs have been based on a pre-arranged eating plan fashioned around your work and travel schedule. Usually breakfast will be a fix-it-yourself-on-the-way-out-the-door kind of thing. Noon meals could be a sack lunch eaten in the bush or a prepared in-house, light lunch. Evening meals are prepared in-house or eaten out at a restaurant. Some teams will be doing some of their own meal preparation. Filtered water is provided in missionary homes and at the guesthouse; bottled water is available for about one dollar / bottle at personal expense. Again, we will not serve you food we will not eat ourselves.

Restaurants/ Little Tables and Trays

While traveling through most West African capital cities, good restaurants are available. In Niamey, Ouagadougou, Bamako, and Timbuktu prices range from three to twenty dollars per meal, dress is casual to classy. We will not take you to a place where we think you will become sick.

You may want to be adventurous and sample the local cuisine from little tables on the street or from trays on people’s heads. Beware! Sample only when the food comes straight from the fire and put into a clean plastic, disposable bag. Ask us for recommendations before you dig in.


Perhaps your team members have been asked to bring their own breakfasts or other meals that will be eaten out of the house. There are no fast foods, nor can we consistently find single-serving foods in Niamey. This is a good opportunity to pick and choose exactly what you like to eat; bring some of your favorite lunch box treats. Perhaps you can even work out a few swaps from your roommate. Just a stroll down the aisles of your local grocery store or Wal-Mart will help you find all sorts of possibilities of packable, lunch box/ single serving/ snack-sized goodies. Bring a balance of salty and sweet. Choose pop-top containers rather than needing a can opener. Put each meal in a zip-lock bag, with a napkin and plastic utensils; this will help to contain in-flight spills, allow you to see what you are actually bringing per meal, and provide a ready made trash sack.

Suggestions from previous teams:

Breakfast: individual instant oatmeal packages, cereal, pop-tarts, power bars, granola bars, instant grits, dried fruit, powdered juice, instant coffee, powdered milk (much better cold…just add an ice cube after mixing)

Lunch: single serving meals of any type – tuna salad, chicken salad, peanut butter, Vienna sausages… crackers, Eat-a-snacks, dried fruit, nuts, trail mix, granola bars, fruit cups (pop them in the freezer when you arrive), pudding cups

Please note that you will need to pack your food in your checked luggage as canned items contain liquid and peanut butter is considered a paste. They will be confiscated by security at the airport.

Do Not Waste Food

Your mother always told you about the starving children in Africa; everything she told you was true. She was right all along! While you are here you will meet some of these starving children face-to-face. They beg on every corner. They are rummaging through the trash heap as you leave the restaurant. They are watching you eat in the village; they will eagerly eat what you thoughtlessly threw down in the sand and drink the last swallow of coke in your can after you discard it. So, do not waste food, especially in front of them.

Hospitality is a Virtue

Hospitality is a virtue in Songhai culture, as is the receiving of this hospitality. They are probably offering you the very best they have in the very best container, and they will seat you in their best, perhaps only chair. The invitation to dinner in a Songhai home is, “Come put your feet on the mat!” Slurp your tea very loudly to express your thanks. Burping and spitting out bones on the floor are habits acceptable in Songhai homes only. When you are offered food or drink in someone’s home and you do not care for anything, keep a smile on your face and graciously say “No, thank you, I am not thirsty/ hungry.”

When your food comes straight out of the fire, it is ok to eat. Do not ask what it is, you might not want to know. The dish you are offered will often be the entire meal for the whole family. The guest will get to dig in first. So, eat a small amount from the side of the plate nearest to you, leaving most for the rest of the family. Eat ONLY with your right hand and DO NOT lick your fingers. “A ma ye ni gunda ra!” It literally means, “May it cool in your stomach.” You will recognize its French equivalent, “Bon appétit!”