I was informed some as finding hard to read my detailed improperly grammared and mispelt blog entires. So... begin I have the time I've decided to include a brief summary of the week. in blunt point form sentences. :o)
Travel as slow but decent both ways 6 hours to travel 180km.
Soma was hot, 40+ each day.
Football camps were a sucesses dispite our disorganisation.
4 Jesus film showings 2 with heated discussion (but thankfully not too many rocks were thrown)
Got to do some more African driving and ride a dirt bike.
Stayed in good health for the trip. (yah)
Not yet approved to go the Senegal to visit friends, please pray for permission.
For those who would like the details there are below as usual. Thanks for your emails and comments.
Miss you all,
Wednesday May 25th 2005, 9:12PM
God blessed us with a beautiful overcast day for our travels to Soma. This didn’t keep the temperatures from spiking in the low 40’s. To keep up with Gambian standards we were running well behind schedule. When we picked up our film equipment it turns out they had yet to use it since it had arrived from the US. On suspicion I pull out some of the gear for a quick test. It didn’t take me long to discover a major problem. All the equipment was 120V while the generator only output 220V. It is all good, as we managed to borrow a transformer but it delayed out departure to the hotter part of the day.
Now a couple of things about Gamtravel; normally a 150km journey would take about an hour. But because the highways look more like 4x4 logging roads travel is a little bit slower. It was a good thing Martin, our driver, had a 60min 1970s cheese ball Christmas tape to help us trough it all. Africa is full of randomness such as cows eating grass at a gas station or a village girl with American Tourister luggage. Listening to Christmas music in a 14 passenger van driving through a barren landscape in 40oC weather just seemed to be the norm.
We made a short stop at a camp by the Gambian River and I saw some mudskippers and crocodiles. We and our lunches arrived in Soma all in one piece. Put the stamp on a blessed journey that many Gambians will not ever make.
We were guide to our accommodations and discovered we would be living without city power and running water as those have been out of service for the past couple months. Toni and Rita, Brazilian missionaries who we will be working with, prepared for us an amazing meal that really hit the spot after a day of travel.
The neighborhood kids think it is the best thing ever. We played some street football with them before we set to work preparing for the week ahead. Should be fun, providing I remember to shake out my clothes before I put them on. Can we say Scorpions!
Thursday May 26, 8:38PM
Last night us semi Scottish blood had a Scottish party as Jana had somehow managed to keep a package of shortbread untouched. We spent the evening telling weird and wonderful stories and asking ridiculous questions. Nobody got attacked by a scorpion, good times.
Today was Steve David’s Birthday. The girls managed to find another Happy to You card this one had a dreamy Asian boy on the front. Geisbretch, you would have loved it. We had devos and ventured off to the market for food and footballs (soccer balls).
The camp began at 2pm nothing like running around in 40oC weather. We were the only ones foolish enough to show up. Some of the team had the bright idea to go “get used to” running around in the hot sun since we would be doing it all week and did so. The kids knew better and started showing up around 4pm. Needless to say we will be making adjustments to our program tomorrow.
At around 5pm we had a big game during the course of which I was humiliated several times. Nothing like having a 12 year old kid undress you t keep your ego in check.
The evening was spent preparing thing for Jesus film and watching to Kenny Rodgers. Fun stuff.
Saturday May 28th, 2:46PM
I just finished playing a song for Mariatu, my Gambian Grandma. I say this because she reminds me of my grandmas at home, full of joy and with a desire to glorify God with her hands. She has spent the last 2 hours the dirt and sweat out of my clothes even after I refused to give them to her. It is a Jack Johnson-ish song with a catching little hook made up of 10ths. She seem to appreciate it. “What been eating like would we do without Mariatu?” It is so true. We have been eating like royality despite the fact there is a weak selection of produce and only one shack where you can buy meat and even a limited supply of staples.
Yesterday was a challenging day. We ran two football (soccer) camps with teaching times and showed a Jesus film at night on a sunny day where the mercury scaled well into to 40s. The time between the camps was spent sweating on a thin wooden bench and then profusely sweating on a foam mattress. It is especially challenging, as I am required to carry much of the load.
My responsibility for the module is the Jesus Film equipment however, I find myself taking responsibility for loose ends and oversights that were not accounted for. It is always a fine line knowing when to jump in and take over other people’s responsibilities especially when they are out of your jurisdiction. I found myself in my “focused mode” as I hammered through the setup of the Jesus film equipment that we had never used before in the dark.
During the film I had a great discussion with the local pastor who is from New Guinea. It always amazes me the dedication of believers in Africa. It is their lives. They are seeds that have grown un-choked by the worries and desires of the world.
The pastor picked me up on his motorbike this morning to go look at some “better” Jesus film equipment. He even let me try it myself. very cool, by far the best way to get around in the rural African areas.
Sunday May 29th, 6:40PM
There is seldom a dull moment here in Soma.
Moments before dinner, as our compound invaded by kids learning hopscotch and playing with balloons to the melodies of Reliant K and Jars of Clay, a Mandinka wedding parade came marching by our compound. As I poked my head out in curiosity, I was thrusted into the middle of the dance circle. The energy was unforgiving. In a flash I was dancing with the African woman in a frenzy of joy and excitement that could never be captured by digital media. Left with no choice I let loose jumping and dancing shedding my white skin like a snake. Apparently, I did well as when I bowed out the woman pulled me back in for a second round.
It quickly occurred to me this was by far the best wedding dance I had ever participated in. We north Americans spend thousands of dollars on wedding dinners with DJ’s and seldom do people leave their padded chairs to experience the dance floor and few still find the freedom to really dance. Yet, it took little more than a homemade drum and some 50-cent whistles to rock my body. I wonder if I can fly them out for my wedding…(by the looks of it I’ll have plenty of time to save up)
The morning we spent in church, I led some worship and sawed through 2 strings and a chunk of my middle finger. Once again despite the lack of sound system ect... the experience was alive full of and spirit.
Other highlights of the last 24 hours included a great football camp. I am finally starting to get the hang of the sport. I have found my hockey background to be a blessing and a curse. After year of training to “take the man” I have had to issue myself enough yellow cards to make a deck. However, many of my old hockey drills cross over nicely and have really been enjoyed by the kids.
Last night I got another birthday celebration as Toni and Rita baked a cake and dished out Brazilian candies after our worship and prayer time.
I also made use of Jessica’s cool medical kit to removed foreign objects from my eye and have been voted smelliest member of the team for three days straight, a real feather in my cap.
Monday May 30th, 11:16PM
Another Monday and one less Malaria pill brought to us what was most likely the hottest day we had seen thus far close to 45oC. I moped out of bed with barely enough time to stuff down a peanut butter/jam toppalappa sandwich before marching off to the pitch.
Last night’s Jesus film stir up quite the reaction. After technical plans fell through (unable to find a working VCR with RCA outs in all of Soma), we were force to show the football version of the Jesus film. IT sparked quite the debate at the end of the night. Many young bucks of the Islamic faith showed up to strut their stuff on the Toubabs. As our goal is not to argue pointlessly with stubborn mind or start riots, the challenge was finding individuals who were truly seeking and actually wanted their questions answered.
I believe I was guided to a young Fula boy most likely a year or two younger than me. We discussed various aspects of faith and later moved to education and cultural topics before I was again thrusted into the fire with a bunch of wolves interested solely in spouting out premeditated questions without paying any reverence to the answer at which time we headed out for the night.
The afternoon was spent sweating on a foamy listening to Handles water and some Switchfoot. The afternoon session was a little more challenging. Arriving at 4pm the temperature was once again in the 40’s. Paying little respect for the scorching sun or the advice of Toni and Karamou our team charged out on to the field. (go figure, a number of the team members had headaches and weren’t feeling well when they got back) The kids didn’t last long and as they came in for teaching chaos reigned. To boot our translated was needed to pick up a team of three locals to help with the Jesus Film. A frustrating situation but by grace we managed to finish the session and move back out for a game as the temperature began to cool off.
After my shower I got to hang out with Mariatu. We discuss life and she told me stories of life in Sera Leone and with toubab teams she had worked with in the past. She shared some wise words worth remembering. “If you are not at peace with God, you may have food but you will never enjoy it, you may have thing s to drink but they will never satisfy and you may sleep but you will never be rested.” She claimed her journey on this earth is a testimony in God’s faithfulness in providing direction and provisions. It has been a real privilege to hang around her and learn from her wisdom.
Wednesday June 1st, 12:46AM
The month has flown by, along with my week stay in Soma. Tomorrow (today) will be our last full day under the Soma sun. For some on the team it couldn’t come soon enough as the heat and sickness have started to take it toll on people. My heart truly goes out to them as my last trip to this climate left me sun-stroked sweating on a foamy for three days. However, through my experience and by God’s grace I have managed to stay in excellent health.
Today I was the only toubab at the morning football camp. It was nice as we had a small group and the assistance of the team which arrived from Seracunda. I was able to show some pictures I brought and tied it into a lesson on the purpose of Jesus. It definitely reminded me of my days at summer fun. Only this time I was talking to children in Mandinka. We managed to break a Florescent light and demolish a deck chair playing indoor soccer but, a good time was had by all. Despite the fact we have cancelled the camp for the morning I hope return to hand out some pens and wish the kids well in their studies.
Lunch was spent at Toni and Rita’s as they cooked an amazing shrimp dish (you can get fresh shrimp from the Gambia River as the water is still slightly salted. I also got to drive Toni’s truck into town to help run some errands. Being careful not to drive through any check points and potholes large enough to swallow a tire I had yet another positive Gambian driving experience. I even got to check the weather in Vancouver. 13oC and raining, maybe this 40oC stuff ain’t too bad after all.
The afternoon camp was arguably our best. It almost brought me to tears to see kids hanging silently off the windows to hear the gospel and have me pray for them. God has given me a heart for the lives of these children.
Tonight we showed the Jesus team in downtown Soma. After I found a kid wearing a POD shirt and so I played with some off of my notebook and then had some discussions with people about the film. as some young “punks” were getting rowdy leaving, intelligent conversations to rot by the wayside so we decided to pack up.
I spent the rest of the night talk with the Gambian team. I have really appreciated my time with the locals and take advantage of it whenever I get the chance. I have learnt much from their culture and relationships and in exchanged given them my limited insight into North American culture.