Sunday May 8th 8:44 AM
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.