Changing Worlds


- life has been full meeting with old and new friends; lots of great possibilities

- Beginning to set out plans for the next month

- Learning Mandinka with the Fattys in Latracounda

- Toubab NGO party a culture shock

- A new type of church

- Looking ahead to the coming week of settling in to my new accommodations in Sikuta.

- Will sleep well tonight :o)

January 10, 2009

8:48am – CVM mission house

This morning’s entertainment included Tijan beating a 3 inch cockroach to death with a straw broom and Musa chasing the spider sitting on the wall between the two clocks which hang above where I’m sitting. One clock is for Gambia time, the other for Saskatchewan time… perhaps I’ll get around to installing one for Vancouver.

Yesterday was full of meetings; Toni and Rita (Brazilian missionaries with YWAM), Mariatu (my African mother), Habib and Alagie (members of the Holy Family Band – Islamic Senegambian Reggae I have done recordings with –, Paul and Sandi, (youth workers from New York) and Eric and Elly (long term missionaries living up country in Basse whom I am planning to visit). I spent most of my time listening, watching and scribbling in my book; repair projects, things to teach, technologies to explore and experiment with, there are so many great opportunities here to contribute if one is willing to seek them out. (doing them is another thing)

However, the meeting that excited me the most was with Pastor Modu Camara. A modest sized property in the suburbs of the Kombos, the community runs a store/restaraut/tea shop, a hair salon, welding shop and a tailor shop. Spending little time with accommodations, food and financial arrangements (knowing we could each be trusted to work things out) we instead explored possibilities and talked about the people of the community and their needs.

I woke up around 6am this morning my mind racing with possibilities and never did get back to sleep. The thoughts of inspiring and equipping creativity here in the Gambia would not let me return to sleep. I’ll explain more in the days to come but now it is time to help with the morning chores and tending the garden.

January 11, 2009

4:17pm – CVM mission house – finished post @ 9:01pm

It was a slow start to the day today. I had spend most of yesterday with Jo and his family after doing some gardening and cleaning up a massive unorganized pile of donations, tools and junk under the stairs.

I was quickly greeted by little (but now bigger Fatu) as she ran down the landway. Musa handed me a painting he had prepared for me and Issa soon brought out a feast of Jolfa rice and fish. I felt like royalty.

We sat under the mango tree and drank Attaiya (strong green tea laden with sugar). True to my plans to learn Mandinka, I began taking notes as we discussed some ideas for drying fruit as a supply of food and source of income for the family. Ebrima Jollow the elder of the family shared much wisdom in thought and language, including some deep Mandinka expressions that took a few minutes of deep concentration to wrap my mind around. Quite amazing really.

On the way home I ran across an American peace corp speaking Mandinka and soon was invited to a going away party. Wanting to make some connections I decided to go so after dinner and a quick jam session with Martin I left home for the adventurous evening trek across town.

Expecting a quaint gathering at a restaurant I arrived at a beautiful beach front residence packed with 60 odd inebriated westerners in full swing. Although it was nice to converse in some familiar cultural context, it was a little overwhelming to say the least. Since I had made the journey I decided to stick it out. It was interesting to see the view points of salaried relief workers and hear their stories and frustrations there are many good things going on – but it is a different mentality from the volunteer or faith based projects. I made a few friends and contacts but left glad I was leaving.

Jumping off the other end of the culture platform was the House of Wisdom Sunday morning church service. There are a number of differences from your average western church first it is held in a round hut with Islamic prayer mats scattered over the floor everyone sitting in a circle with the children in the center. Secondly, I have never seen so many breasts in church – babies get hungry and there is little need for modesty or a nursery; it is just part of life.

I will no doubt have my work cut out for me: learning names, creating understanding and developing trust. These things will take patience, humility and love. Although the people are very hospitable, there are expectations I will fail to be and preconceived notions I will need to clear both in my mind and theirs. Tomorrow I will be moving in your prayers are greatly appreciated.

To end the day Jo stopped by and went to play some soccer on the beach before enjoying a meal together. It was the perfect end to the day and I will sleep well tonight.

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