Thanks for all the emails…
Just a reminder to send brief messages via the blog as Email takes forever to read. It takes a minimum of 5 mins to open a text email. An internet cafe here shares a 56K modem between 6 or more PII computers.
Longer emails are cool and I enjoy getting updates from home.
downloading 2MB pictures is not going to happen please make ‘em really small so I can enjoy them. :0)
I pray all is well at home. Toady I spent catching up on journaling and decided I should getting old using “Gamnet” everything is called Gam- something here.
Friday May 13th, 11:08PM
So guess who is going to be on Gambian national TV? Well, I hope you guessed me. The story starts shortly after m last journal entry. That night I was inspired to write a song. The next day we decided to began a morning devotional time and work on some music. After a short but intense rehearsal we sounded slightly less like a bunch of disorganized white musicians and took to the streets. We headed down to the shack and played for 20 some odd people. We were extremely well received and as we returned to our compound a man suggested we’d go on TV.
He told us of a national Gambian music show from 11-1pm. “Samdi __?!?__” This show is
One major advantage of being in the
Walking into the station we were greeted by two of
Other exciting events included a talk with Fajara’s Maribou. I even invited him to the see the Jesus Film. That would be something else. I also have been practicing my Wolof and had some more Sengalise tea on my round yesterday afternoon. The stuff kept me wired for 4 straight hours.
Tonight I went running with Omar. He showed me his pictures from his racing prime (one picture was of him winning the Gambian national 400m race by 30 some odd meters. He was 1 second off of qualifying for the Olympics. Even at night running was extremely hot, it was a good thing Omar had eaten too much for dinner it slowed him down enough for me to keep up but it felt good to be running again. I’ll see how my body feels tomorrow.
Monday May 16, 8:02 AM
Saturday I vented on a Tanka with Ali to
“What is the point of being of TV?”, “What long term benefits does it hold?”, One week is lots of time… You don’t have a lot of time so you don’t want to waste any time.”
I had to defend everything I had spent my last week working towards. It took a lot of control not to leave the meeting with out ripping off someone’s head. By the grace of God I was able to hold myself together.
However, after a brief rant on a park bench Maurice met us at the Benjul arch and all anxiety quickly faded to the back of my mind. Our first stop was the Catholic Church in the center of
He took us to his simple bachelor suite and were warmly welcomed by a group of youth that hang out outside in his hall. We had some tea discussed plans for working together exchanged our musical and religious histories. I am really excited about working with him. He his extremely gifted and dedicated he has the vision of building a musical school to develop musical directors and musicians. It is hard to put into words how much fun we had but it was definitely a highlight of the trip.
After our discussion we ventured off to the
We jammed into a Tanka and I quickly realized that the back seat is not the best place to sit for a tall guy such as myself. After introducing my head to the roof a couple of time, we stopped at
Saturday night we had our Jesus film at Gary and Pam’s. We had a musical presentation that reminded me of many gigs back at home, empty chairs and a dozen people. (more evidence towards the similarities of our cultures) By the time we had finished our set the courtyard was beginning to fill. At the end of the film, I made arrangement to answer questions of a young guy named Jo Fatty, I will be meeting him this morning at 10am.
Sunday morning three of us headed back to Abiding Word for some crazy fire preaching Pentecostal action. After getting lost in the streets of Seracunda, we finally arrived. I spent most of the service processing my thoughts over the last couple of days and work out a rough guide to the my week. I also decided I needed to sit down and talk with leadership about the ministry I was involved with. In heart I knew we held the same goals but where just not catching ourselves heading in the same direction.
After a chaotic adventure home, where we somehow managed to take a 100m tanka trip, I sat down with Steve and got on the same page. It was such a relief to unify our thoughts and visions that were never really that far off.
The rest of Sunday was spent working on a single we hope to have ready for the radio on Thursday and tripping down to the Elton station for a flat of Eggs.
The problems with recording in Africa are space, power and
Thursday May 19, 10:19 AM
Monday morning after devos, I ventured off to meet with Jo and Ishmaela (the watchman at Pam and Gary’s). We spent three hours on a wooden bench under a shady tree talking about religion, marathons, Wolof, family and culture. I can type into words how real the experience was. I will meet with Jo again on Friday to go to the beach and continue our discussions.
Lunch at McFati’s (not Mcdonalds there is none in
The initial session work went fairly smoothly with a few minor computer crashes. However, as I was finishing the final BGV tracks, the entire Cubase file became corrupted and would not load. The full gravity of the situation did not sink in until I had tried a few simple fixes, rebooting, opening a few other files, moving the directory ect… I then spent 10 mins silently staring at my computer using every ounce of strength not to hurl it to the ground for a 30 second curb stomping session.
By the grace of God I found an orange in the fridge. I don’t think I have ever thrown and object so hard in my life, I felt my arm come out of its socket. I grabbed a pineapple Fanta refocused and proceeded to reconstruct the project from the fragmented audio files. – (all the audio file still existed on the computer I just had to put them together, much like a jigsaw puzzle) After a three hours of intense thought and concentration we were up and rocking.
The evening was spent singing with Maurice’s choir. For those who know my rhythmic incompetence, you can just begin to imagine me trying to sight-read African syncopation in a language that is not even Wolof. Never the less, being vocally dwarfed by an authentic West African baritone was an unforgettable experience.
The musical team returned to hear that Steve had been mugged and had his passport stolen; another rude awakening to the reality of being in
After a late night of programming and mixing Tuesday morning came as a rude awakening. I find I can’t keep my crazy schedule and sleeping habits that I do in
So we piled into a van with our gear and traveled to a village 20 mins south of Brikama. The smell of cachou fruit (the nuts grow around the top of the fruit) excitement of children greeted us as we drove into the dusty town. After meeting some of the local Mandinkas and trying to learn a few phrases of second African tribal language. I took the opportunity to draw some water from the well and teach the kids how to play hopscotch.
We did another short musical presentation before showing the film. I spent the majority of the film talking with Benjamin a native of Sera Leone he came as a refugee to the
After the film, people stayed for prayer and for more information. (about 50 in total) Benjamin will be returning with a small to do follow-up. People are hungry for truth in this region. I hope it is found.
On a quick aside, I had an discussion on the drive home regarding Benjamin’s ministry. From it I derived the following; Do not ever let me pass unfounded judgment on someone’s ministry. I was dishearten to listen to someone so blindly reject the ministry of a man who has devoted his life to the service of the Kingdom. Add to my frustration the individual offer little in the way of a position correction to the situation other than to just ignore it. I do not want to let my heart become so jaded to intensions of people that I ignore the spirit of God.
Well, yesterday was my Birthday. I spent the early morning finishing the mixing on Mango Tree Revival’s first hit single “Message of love”. It sounds really good (at least throught the headphones I mixed it on)
I spent the morning with the Sisters of Charity who work with malnourished and sick children who cannot be supported by their family. The play area filled with 25 odd kids smelled of puke and urine however, I could not have thought of a better way to spend my birthday. I spent my time entertaining kids with a stuffed elephant singing James brown, Justin Timberlake and Grishwin’s Rhapsody in Blue (the elephant part, you would have loved it Jord). At several moments, I found myself at the verge of tears along with my other co-workers. After watching the kids “eat” (aka. smear rice and sauce everywhere but in their mouths), I paraded a stampede of naked malnourished children down the hall to a line of kiddy potties. Today I gained a whole new respect for the woman who have dedicated their lives in service of these kids. After a long walk home due to another Tanka mistake, Hewko and I went on a Tanka loop to three radio stations.
It was great hanging out with him as he shared some of his vision for CVM. Although I styles are quite different I have found it is a great privilege to serve along side of him.
My meeting with Gabriel and Maurice was cancelled due to Gabriel’s busy day. However, we still made it out t choir practice and I once again sang with the choir. There was no power so the practice was by candlelight. I finally started to catch on to some of the rhythms and was able to sing along to the song we were rehearsing last time. The guys in the choir are a lot of fun and can really belt out those low notes in comparison to my weak voice. Maurice is also an extremely talented choir director. We practiced “How great thou art” which we will be singing at Mass on Sunday with the choir and finally the choir blew me away by singing me happy birthday. Unreal.
I returned to find our house decorated for a small informal party for Jana and
Oh ya just am update on the TV... because of teh football we might not be on until we get back from Soma. However, we are on the radio tonight at 11Pm Gambian time (close to prime time for them) it is called city limits radio form westfield gambia. Not sure if they web cast. (4pm PST)
It is hard to take it all in.
Yesterday, Gambia won its first game in the under 17 African football (soccer) championship which are being held here in Gambia. The chaos and celebration was unreal. Parades marching the crowded streets a few times today we found ourselves in the heart of the action. Only once did we ever feel threatened and we were quickly able to remove ourselves from the situation.
The day started out with a broken door handle. No longer being able to shut or lock our door I quickly stepped into action knowing it would be days until an Gambian repair man would show up to do the repairs. After 2 hours of walking in the midday sun we found a Lebanese hardware store (the Lebanese own many store in the Westfield area) Which sold the part for 100GMD ($5) this was a vast improvement to the inflated cost at other stores ($35+). The sisters at the mission were quite impressed with my Gambian skills.
During the late afternoon, we were involved with a children’s ministry in telladine. I was given the opportunity to share a song with the kids. The most challenging part is to be involved in what is happening. With language and cultural differences, I resorted to the universal language of wrestling and sprint races, a great way to ensure you will sleep well.
With so much chaos from the football match we decided against showing the Jesus film this evening. Instead, we put on a short concert. The conditions were challenging to say the least. However, we were well received by the 75-100 people who took in our 30min musical presentation.
Monday May 9th 8:04AM
This morning half of our team left for the north bank of the Gambian river in preparation for a Jesus film presentation. We have officially begun or ministry cycles. I will be work along side Gary and Pam Nipper. We will be doing preparations for a Jesus film and hopefully solving some of their technical problems.
Yesterday we attended a Gambian church. We were very surprised to have the sermon preached by a video on a LCD projector. Not really “African church” although the scorching temperatures and tin
roof helped make the experience more authentic. The afternoon included a chance to swim in the ocean before the May birthday/ mother’s day dinner at the Kora. The evening we gathered and had a prayer and worship time with Gary and Pam. It gave us a moment to refocus for the work that lies ahead. I am excited to see how we will be used over the next couple of days.
Tuesday May 10th 8:07AM
The reality of living in Africa in finally setting in, as we began our ministry yesterday my stubborn self came to terms with a number of factors beyond my control.
1. It is hot here; being hot makes you tired. This may sound like an obvious concept to grasp however, I find myself expecting to maintain my North American intensity and energy level.
2. Things take time in Africa. Yesterday I spent many hours working on solving some fairly basic technical problems for Gary and Pam Nipper. Not to dissimilar to ones I would be called upon to solve at work. However, at home we optimize things for speed and convenience. Africa has a way of ensuring everything you need is one more step away.
3. I don’t speak Wolof; Learning languages in an uneducated society is hard. I really appreciate people with the gift of teaching. A good teacher has the ability to break down information into bites that their student may properly digest the information. Gambians are so excited you are learning the language they begin to teach you the other three languages they know how to speak as well. Although, Mandinka and Fula would be great to know. I’d really be content with being able to carry a basic conversation in Wolof. In a sense this also relates back to 1 and 2 as my mind is definitely a little slower in the heat.
All said things are going well and by African standards we had an extremely productive day. We plan on seeing Gambia play in the African U-17 football championships tonight. We are taking Omar for his birthday.
Thursday May 12th, 12:03AM
I am sitting in the family room of our new living quarters listening to Steve plucking away on his guitar over the drone of a 5KW generator reverberating though our concrete bunker. The tenants upstairs obviously enjoy having the power on and we live in a part of the country that it is usually off. The Girls whose room is right beside the generator have given up sleeping into their room and have prepared to camp out here as well.
The last two days have swung me like a gate. I was so choked at the way things were going I did not even type my journal entry. I spent the entire morning reading the bible and in prayer. The frustrations of blind spoon-fed, disorganized ministry left me disillusioned to the world and the restof the team.
A brief lapse occurred during the football match...
If you would like to simulate attending an African soccer match simply grab a seat between two sweaty men on a cement block while a couple of friends blow whistles in your ear and splash you with an assortment of soft drinks. It was amazing the amount of focus these 17 year olds played with considered a hundred fans at fainted and had been passed down to the field carried on stretchers to be fanned into consciousness. The experience was out of this world.It is a good thing we won, Gambians know how to celebrate a victory we haven't seen what happends when they loose.
The earlier part of yesterday was spent moving. An unexciting boring task which dragged on all day to make matters worse I believe the location we are now in is worse than the last for transportation. We require two tanka-tanka fare to get anywhere other than the traffic light and that distance is not really walk-able. I also miss the outside (and inside space).
After my intense quiet time this morning, we were scheduled for a prayer walk. Grouped with Ali we spent the morning walking the streets by Pam and Gary’s home. We spent time discussion the objectives and direction of our ministry and worked through a number of thing that were eating at me. We concluded we needed to take charge of our ministry and start working towards our own objectives and goals. Like getting the keys to our ministry. Before this we had been slaves to our schedule that we never knew more than a half-day in advance. This will undoubtedly mark be a turning point in my trip.
The rest to the day fell together as we got to call the shots. I got to drive a Nissan 4x4 pick-up in Africa! We also went out an got Jana’s drumming. Up to this point practicing had been rather futile with our a drum.
This evening was a total highlight. We were picked up by Gabriel an ~50 year old heavy set African man with a glow in his eye. He toured us to Banjul and then to an African choir practice. These guys can sing, such power and rhythm a true treat for the sonic sensory organs. Although I forgot a cable at home so I was unable to record it. The door was left open to do some work and exchange with the group. I look forward to the resulting events.
it has turned out that just because internet cafes exist it does not mean they work...the entire country's internet has been up and down like a yo-yo (or like our water system) and trying to time that with our schedual makes updating more of a challenge.
But alas here is the first update... there is lots enjoy.
Sunday May 1st; 6:53PM PST
Well, I am off again. It is hard to believe it has been 5 years since I left for Senegal and almost on the exact same day. Who would have thought?
In a cool surprise we met with most of the team in YVR. I was under the impression this would occur in London. However, it has made for an already pleasant start to the trip. Everyone has connected quickly; you can really see God’s work in assembling the team.
The flight has even been somewhat enjoyable, although, I learnt not to get the white red with the meal. I had the privilege of sitting beside Dave Warner who I’ve discovered is a project assist of sort and is working part time for CVM. Jess and Jana are beside me while Ali and Steven are right at the back.
I was given three verses for the trip
1. Psalms 91 from my Grandma
2. 2 Kings 5-ish by Darrell Neufield
3. Another one which was posted anonymously on my blog.
It is unreal how much stuff I am taking with me. I can only imaging what security will think of my bags. ~72Kg in total. The transfer to Gatwick should lend some stories for the next flight.
Tuesday May 3rd, 3:41 AM GMT
My dried fruit, honey nut cheerio cheese wrap was surprisingly good. I must be really hungry. I managed to grab 3 hours sleep tonight in the Gatwick Airport. Our group has taken over a large alcove has our “hotel room”. Our stay included free skate boarding entertainment, a steady stream of airport reminders and room service from the machine gun totin’ airport police who searched Adam because he was sleeping with out luggage.
I had am amazing day in London. The transfers went extremely well. It was a bank holiday meaning the ‘tube’ was quite vacant giving us ample room to lurch on and off of the old rickety underground to the chime, ‘mind the gap’.
We took over a row of seats in the Victoria train station and took turns guarding the luggage (aka) trying to sleep on top of it all. Those not passed out on the luggage would wonder around the winding streets of London trying to remember which way to look as not to have an unfriendly encounter with a speeding Peugeot.
My first shift was guarding. I pulled out my guitar and jammed with a group of disenchanted high school aged punk rockers that just happened to be hanging out at the train station. They couldn’t keep a cig out of their mouths for more than a minute as they ranted off lines of their favorite underground British punk tunes with a laugh, accent and banter that brought alive the forced British readings of my secondary school education. Once they had parted ways I managed to pass out on my red bag to the amusement/shock of the other travelers and security.
Upon arrival of the other half of the group, Steven, Jess and I set out to get lost of a beautiful Sunny day. You don’t really need a tour book in London. You just start walking and you will start to run into landmarks, beautiful old cathedrals and a few close calls with the traffic. A couple of thoughts I pondered while crashing sauntering through the streets; there are very few beggars on the streets, they will dispose of any unguarded bags in public places, all the cars are new or restored classics, McDonalds is the best source of public washrooms and the underground transportation is really cool and there are more tourists than locals in most of the downtown area.
At 8:30 we caught an hour coach to Gatwick. In my sleepless glazed stat of mind I had my watch torn off while handling my bags. I was sure I saw it on the ground as the bus rolled out of the station. However, it later turned up in the under bus luggage compartment, a sweet taste of grace for a tired traveler who spent most of the bus ride musing over the loss of my cheep digital watch. This served as yet another piece of evident that someone is looking after me.
Tuesday May 3rd, 9:53 PM Gambian Time
It is great to be back in Africa.
After an hour or so of Frisbee in the airport we headed in the check in. We had a few problems getting our things on cleared to be loaded. After we cleared security then we were crammed onto a new 300 Series Airbus. It seemed the manufacturer had accidentally installed an extra 5 rows. However, the flight went by quite quickly as I sat beside a young English chap named Nicolas. Rambling on between the monarchy, music, pop culture and cultural idiosyncrasies the 6 hours flight, flew by.
The Gambia Airport was actually quite nice. Built in 1997 and designed by some famous Senegalese architect it was more stylish then Heathrow or Gatwick from the outside, it definitely had its Africanisms. The general chaos, print shop deluxe signs, a customs desk that was little more than an old school desk and no security. Steve Hewko was able to wander back into the secure area of the airport along with and the extra helpful “freelance baggage handlers”. It was amazing how quickly they would end up holding a piece of your luggage, it is good thing they are at least honest. In comparison to my last African airport experience this one was quite mild,
On the down side two pieces of baggage did not arrive in African. We believe they were left behind due to weight restrictions. We hope they arrive on Friday on the next flight into town.
We (okay really 5 over helpful Gambians) piled our bags on top of a blue 1986 Toyota 7 passenger van and subsequently piled all 14 of us inside for a 15min ride to Shalom, which will act as our principal residence here in the Gambia. Beautifully situated on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean the color full compound houses a Catholic mission which the pope John Paul II had himself visited in his day. Complete with a few mangy dogs and random kids and various other quintessential Africanisms. I will have no problem calling this place home.
We unpacked had a drink (the water here tastes just how I remembered it) and ventured off to town to send off a quick email regarding our safe arrival. On the way back Hewko loaded everyone onto taxis, well everyone but the other Steve and I as the guy in the internet café would not let go of my hand. So, began our first adventure. Finding the way home was easy. It was shaking of the ‘bumsters’* that was the issue. “My friends, my name is Jimmy, Jimmy look after you we are bothers, I hook you up take care of you because I’m an honest man, I like to help you we do music have some ….” After 15 min of non-stop talking we finally managed to ditch him at the British consulate. Meanwhile, Hewko realizing we had been left behind was riding taxis back and forth on wondering where we were. Everything worked out.
Dinner was delicious; the sisters here know how to cook. After we had a quick health and safety meeting and after which I had a cold shower that was a refreshing end to a muggy 31oc day of travel.
* bumsters are African bums which try way to hard to make friends with White people in order to get some financial backing or gifts in return.
Thursday May 5th, 7:16AM Gambian time
Having trouble sleeping I decided to wake up and have some quiet time. It is a cloudy morning with quite a strong wind.
Yesterday, we spent the morning with orientation. The focus was primarily cultural and religious. In the afternoon we left for a walk to a Crocodile pond in the middle of an urban slum. Despite the poverty the streets were remarkably clean and void of real Africa stenches which typically scream at your nose. Apparently the Gambian government has legislated a few hour block of time were Gambians must clean up the area in front of their dwelling. It was also surprising how little we were being harassed, for a mob of Toubabs.
The crocs were fairly docile and most were in the pond. Charlie, the giant pettable one, is the main attraction. However, he was on the far side of the pond. With the guides sleeping in a wheel barrel on their siesta, I hardly felt comfortable venturing around the other crocs for a hug.
When we returned to Shalom we had the privilege of meeting Gary and Pam Nipper who had been missionaries to the Wolof people group since 1987. They had some amazing stories of work God has done through them and some excellent advise for us as short term missionaries. I am looking forward to working with them.
In the evening we had another short session and them a quick Wolof lesion with Omar. If I have yet to talk about Omar he is a contact from Hewko’s last trip. (Decker I did say hi for you) EH told many Wolof jokes, I hope to record a few as they are so funny because they aren’t. Understanding jokes is the last thing that happens when you are entering a new culture.
The rest of the evening was spent hanging out and playing a nostalgic game of hid-n-seek. I also had a chance to Jam with the other musicians on the trip. I wasn’t quite sure what to think of it. We definitely did not connect on a musical level. It will undoubtedly be a challenge to put things together. I also realized I left 4 cables behind when I was repacking bags before I left. Not so cool. Mom, Dad if you could check the side pocket of the black bag to confirm that would be appreciated and I’ll just have to find a way around it. :o)
Thursday May 5th 11:37PM
The best thing today occurred after the worst way of spending two hours in Gambia, watching the Waterboy. After touring through Sena-Gambia to see the monkeys. It was a 7 min taxi ride with a driver named Mamadu and Jana. After our initial banter over the price we hopped in and got him to put on a reggae tape. He will hopefully be back to drive us to our destination tomorrow. We will be doing a Jesus film on Saturday and will be doing a prayer walk through the town and making preparations.
Just before bed, I went down by the ocean and played guitar with a few others and somehow lured myself into the ocean for a night swim. To my dismay the water was out when I returned to the compound that will leave with a salty sleep night.
Saturday May 6th 12:08 AM
Today began our first day of ministry. In the morning I spent my time, putting together some musical tracks for a concert we will be putting on tomorrow (well, I guess today). Then after a trip to Westfield for Chawarmas and a Coke we head to Telladine where we spent time walking the street and meeting with the chief as we will be showing the Jesus film in the area. We returned and cooked a spaghetti dinner with the first Mangos of the trip, quite the treat the Mangos here are unreal.
The evening consisted of trying once again to find an open internet café and Catching crab for the sisters at the mission. You could almost call it a crab rodeo.
Note from Sat 12:00 apparently we caught the wrong crabs and we ceremoniously release a bucket of dead crabs in the ocean. (it turned out only the big one survived)