Saturday, December 22, 2007

Arrival in Banjul

Tuesday morning we crossed the ferry in record time. There is definately something to be said about traveling in the opposite direction as everyone else. When we arrived in Banjul the mass of people headed to Barra (where we had just come from) was unbelievable. There was people every where. We made it out of Banjul and into the suburbs without incident. At the money changers we were again reminded that Tabaski was around the corner. The place was packed. I am not sure how you knew where you were in line if the last person in the building didn't tell you to follow them. I left Teresa and Joanne (with my check) to do the long wait and I drove a teammate to the mechanics to pick up the ambulance which was in for service. When I returned to the money place... Joanne and Teresa were still in line. I was able to wait in comfort in the car! Smart me.

Yesterday brought some sad news. I heard that one of our clinic employees, who had been out for the last two months on a medical leave, passed away. Today, I headed to Banjul with Teresa and Barney to pick up people from Ndungu Kebbeh and accompany them to the family compound. It was a very sad morning as I listened to people comforting the family by telling them how good IJ was. Yes, she was a good person, very helpful. But she didn't know the Lord as savior. It broke my heart. I am here for that reason, that those I work with and come across in the clinic or life's journey may see the love of Christ in and through me. When I returned to the guest house I spoke with Joanne about the number of deaths we have seen recently. Pray God will continue to give us the strength to serve him here.

The rest of today will be a time for rest and preparing for services tomorrow. I am very excited as we will be able to join the rest of our team in worship at the learning centre. This will be the third week for services to be held in the new location.

I trust you all will have a very Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

God Answers Prayer

Thanks for your prayers!

This morning I was up and out working on the truck by 8 AM. The truck has a problem with the fuel filter/pump. Occasionally, you have to pump it to start the vehicle. So, I tried that... It was a bit sticky as it starts best if one person pumps and another person tries to start the engine. I was on my own. Eventually one of the compound workers came and I enlisted his aid. We ended up putting fuel in the truck... opening the bottom valve on the pump and finally, the compound worker got it in his head to suck on the out flow tube (gross!). It worked, a few minutes later diesel was flowing and the truck started. Praise God!

Then I was off to the other vehicle. There is a lose connection somewhere and it won't start. We tried jumping it. No effect. I went home and brought out the VOLT METER (my new best friend). My friend and ambulance driver was waiting for me at the door. He helps me check the fluid levels on all the vehicles. He was very willing to tag along and see if he could help. The battery was charged. So, the next step was to clean the terminals. It was a dirty job. I am so glad I got to do it! My fingers were very dirty when I finished. I attempted to start the car and waa laa... God is SO good, it started first try.

See, I am not much of a mechanic. Praise God he kept it simple for me.

My driver and I went for a drive to find Joanne and let her know the Nissan was back in service... ulterior motive...we wanted to ask her to buy us breakfast. She laughed! Go figure. No breakfast.

The rest of the day was devoted to clinic finances, inventory and caring for sick neighbors. I ran my own little clinic from the house. I did have to go to the clinic and run labs on a seizing child. I called our Ambulance driver and had her transported to our referral center.

It was a full day. I made a home visit and visited a friend this evening. I am praising God for the extra dose of strength he gave me to get through the day.

I trust all you northeast residents are staying warm.

December Prayer Letter

December 2007

Greetings from Ndungu Kebbeh, The Gambia. It is a quiet, still day. There is no breeze. If you lived in New York, you might think the sky looks like snow is coming. But it is The Gambia and it is at least 85 degrees out. The clouds are just acting as insulation today. Solar power will be low tonight.

The week has been a busy one, just as yours has been in the States. The Clinic closed on Friday so our staff can have off for Tobuski and we will remained closed until after the New Year. I have been busy with staffing issues, inventory, finances and preparing for our Christmas celebration which was last night.

During our Christmas celebration, we were challenged to remember the true meaning of Christmas, the birth of Jesus Christ. Joanne read from Matthew and Luke 2. Buba shared the importance of Christ coming as an infant, and later dying on the cross, shedding his blood. The Islamic Holiday of Tobuski is in just a few days. Our neighbors are all trying to prepare. The harvest was very poor and money is extremely short. Yet, a new outfit or new shoes for each child and your self is a goal for a good Tobuski. A ram will be purchased and slaughtered that day. It is a reenactment of Abraham sacrificing Ishmael. Tobuski and Christmas don’t always fall this close together. This year we do have a wonderful opportunity to share that God sent His son Jesus as an infant, and that Jesus later died on the cross as a perfect atonement for our sins. I have had a few emails about not forgetting the real story of Christmas. We have the opportunity to be a light in this world and proclaim…”For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given…” I have been praying for the outreaches and opportunities that each one of us will have to share the gospel this Christmas. I pray that we will be strong lights in this dark world.

Tomorrow will be a full day. I will start the day in the role of auto mechanic. Pray for me, I can use all the help I can get. We have two vehicles here in Ndungu Kebbeh and neither one would start this evening. I have a few tricks up my sleeves for the one. If it starts then we can jump the other. If the Lord allows at least one vehicle to start, I will be helping Joanne clean up the rental compound the Literacy Centre has used for housing their facilitators during training. I also want to make a few visits before I leave Tuesday for Banjul.

Return of physical health
Strength each day to do the work that needs to be done that day
The arrival of two medical shipments
Opportunities to share Christ’s love
The opportunity to go to the guest house for some R&R during the Christmas closure
Prayer supporters and financial supporters; thanks for being a part of my ministry here

I appreciate your prayers and support of the ministry here in The Gambia. I am looking forward to what God will do in 2008 even as I realize I can’t shut the door on 2007. Friday, at the close of the clinic day, a staff member (who was disciplined earlier in the week) argued with Teresa and me. He is very angry with me and has blamed me for wronging him. On Friday, he vocalized, loudly all his complaints and then made a few verbal statements that I in turn repeated to our mission director. Barney will be going to the lawyer’s office on Monday with the document that Teresa and I wrote up about our meetings with this individual. Pray that God will continue to give me peace and the strength to stand firm in our decisions. The employee has worked for us for many years. It saddens me that this is happening. I trust God to bring it to an end.

We are still looking for a guest house manager for June 2008-January 2009. To learn more about our ministry in The Gambia, go to and under field… choose The Gambia.

Please pray for our two families and two single women that are on pre-field. Pray God with provide them opportunities to share the ministry he has called them.

Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New year.

Suellen Black
ABWE, The Gambia

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Christmas in The Gambia

Today was a busy day. I spent much of it in the kitchen preparing for our Christmas get together.

Now, when I tell you that, I think you picture me working in a typical kitchen and you would be right. Maybe I am baking cookies... no, not today. Today, I was making Chili, hot,spicey chili. I had a friend over and she helped me pick my rice. I cooked up 18 cups of broken rice and made a dutch oven filled to the brim of chili. It was very good, not quite a Steve's chili, but almost. Soxna, my neighbor, worked on the rice for almost two hours. I made the chili and pressure cooked some beans to add to the chili. (Mom, I know a faster way to make that bean soup I like so much.... 20 minutes in a pressure cooker.) I cleaned my stove, washed the dishes and served Soxna cappacino and wacky cake. She had to add sugar to the cappacino. Yuck. They do like their beverages sweet here. By four o'clock the chili was done, the rice was a glob... you try cooking 8 cups of rice in one pan and 10 in amother. And we were waiting for our guests to arrive. They came slowly, first two. We started by sitting around the charcoal and having some strong green tea (not the decaffinated good for you kind, but the strong stuff). As we chatted two more came, and soon we had six guests and the three of us. Many couldn't come because of commitments at home or they were traveling. We had cookies and hot tea and then warm sweet milk. Then Joanne read the Christmas story from Matthew and Luke. After that it was time for Chili and Rice and Spaghetti, and rolls. I am stuffed. I worked off dinner by driving five of the six home. A drive in the bush at night is fun. I missed the Lippy girls. They went with me a few years ago and we made up Christmas songs... "I'm Dreaming of a Brown Christmas, just like the one I never knew" "Seat belt clank,seat belt clank" (Jingle bells) Our Celebration was small but very good. I think it was enjoyed by all who came and all were able to take food home.

On Tuesday I will be heading to the guest house. I have a few days of R&R planned and a lot of supply shopping to do. I may not blog again before Christmas. I will pray you all have a wonderful Christmas and can find a way to share the JOY of this Christmas season and the Joy that the Birth of Jesus brings. Merry Christmas to all!!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Drive by shooting??????

Okay, I have to share with you something that happened a few weeks ago now. I was a bit busy at the time and I would have liked to have included a photo... but that didn't happen.

One of the things I am trying to do while the clinic hours are cut back... is to help out families that should have their child admitted, but the next hospital is 26 kilometers away. It is a bit of a hardship. So, if the child isn't too sick, I have let them go home and I make home visits to give medications and make assesments. I limit my area to just my village or the ones nearby.

The other day Teresa drove me to a village not too far away... maybe 6 kilometers. On the way there I noted a woman waiting at the side of the road for a ride heading in the direction we were coming from. She had a young child with her and was waiting out under the sun. Teresa and I continued on our way and I visited the sick little one, gave him his injections and had a nice chat with his mother. On our return, to Ndungu Kebbeh, I noticed that same woman waiting by the road. I asked Teresa to pull up to them and we could ask her where she was headed. As we stopped another woman also approached us. I asked where we they headed. The whole story came out... the child was sick and they had taken him to the government clinic down the road, (about 12 kilometers from us). She had purchased his medications, which included an injection that morning, which he received at the clinic. It also included a second injection for which they supplied needle, syringe, medication and told her to find someone to give the shot. So, she was waiting on the side of the road to find a ride to my village, to find one of my employees at their home, to inject her son. Then she would wait again to find a car to return her to her village. I felt so bad for this woman. She had been waiting for so long all ready. I checked out the child's chart from the government clinic and decided I needed to show the love of Christ and help her out. So, from the passenger side window, I reached out and gave her child the injection... yup, right there roadside! Teresa was just busting to break out with laughter. Praise God she waited until we were down the road a ways.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Flat Brylee is headed home

This is me and Suellen on the ferry. I call her Sohna when she is dressed like this. She only wears the head piece off of her compound (yard). When we arrived at their place in Banjul, she changed to regular American long skirts.
I didn't have to wear a complae because of my age. If I stayed longer I would have tried it. Girls don't have to wear a head peice.
Suellen took me to a few places in Banjul. I saw the president's arch. We stopped at a few store. One store uses bar codes and scanners for prices. Suellen said that store is only a few years old. She bought a nice padded envelope and fitted me out for my return trip to America. She thinks I should make it home well before Christmas.
Brylee and Mrs Eibel,
Thanks for giving me this opportunity to show Brylee The Gambia. I had a great time and hope she did too. Enjoy the package, I hope she arrives before the Christmas holidays.
PS For those of you reading these blogs... the class is taking part of the Flat Stanley project. You can learn more about Flat Stanley at

Traveling with Flat Brylee

Friday evening we headed out for a drive in the bush. I did NOT get to sit on the dash the whole time. Just for this picture. You have to be careful driving in the bush. Suellen says the deep sand makes you feel like you are driving in snow. She is from near Buffalo, New York, so I guess she knows about snow.

You also have to be aware of children, goats, donkeys, cows, sheep, dogs and monkeys jumping out into the road.

I didn't see anything except for a LOT of pretty birds. I didn't get any picture of them though. I am really happy we didn't find that snake or his relatives. Suellen says they have cobras, vipers and mambas. ugh!

All good trips have to come to an end and I am late for school. Suellen wrote my teacher to tell her I just arrived and she would get me home as soon as possible. I guess she should have written mom and dad too. Sorry about that. I was having too much fun to think about it. Saturday morning we headed into Banjul. I got to ride the ferry! Apparently I rode it on the way to Suellen's, but I was in the envelope.

It is too bad this photo didn't turn out as good as I had hoped. The two big vans just getting on the ferry have a load of sheep on top. They tie them on using a net. Suellen says the sheep are going to market. An Islamic holiday is coming up and every family will sacrifice a sheep that day (if they can afford it).

Suellen let me sit on top of the life boats, just for the picture. She tells me most of The Gambians can't swim. They are really frightened when the crossing is a rough one. We had a great crossing. I got a little sun! No sunburn though.

The capitol city Banjul is in the background.

Flat Brylee visits The Gambia part 2

Okay, Friday was a fun day. I arrived mid morning on Thrusday, and the earlier post was about my first day. Now it is my second day in The Gambia. It was another busy clinic day for Suellen, I just tagged along and played with the kids that came in. I wasn't too sure about eating Gambian food. I promised my mom and dad I would eat good while I was away. It turns out I didn't have much to worry about. Suellen had a nasty intestinal virus several months back and she is still a little wary of the local food. I did have a bean sandwhich... YUMM. A little on the spicy side, but very tasty. It had lots of beans and onions.

After the clinic closed we went visiting again. This nice grandma is the lady Suellen is named after. Her name is Maam (mom) Soxna (sohna) Drammeh. She is really a nice older woman. I love her smile. She went inside to get all dressed up for her photo. She likes to sit on these logs and watch the neighborhood. She lives in her son's compound with him, his two wives and their children. I counted... 10, and three that live with some one else. There are lots of kids around here.

One of my favorite activites, besides playing soccer, was going for a saret ride. Serin has two cows he hooks up to pull this two wheeled cart. You don't get anywhere fast, but it was a fun way to travel. Maam Soxna told me it wasn't too fun to travel that way when it is really hot and you have a long way to go. I guess she is right.

While I was visiting Maam Soxna, we greeted her in her house. This is her bed. See me! The house is just a one room mud brick building. Out back is the outhouse, except there isn't a house... just a wall and a hole in the ground. I didn't have to use it!
The spots on the wall are where the termites keep trying to destroy her house. yuck!

Ode to a Visitor.... Flat Brylee

For those of you who are regular post readers... this post is for Mrs. Eibel's class at Firelands Elementary School in Oberlin, Ohio. You may learn something, feel free to read along.

It was a really long trip to Suellen's. I began to think I would never get out of the envelope. But finally one day, there I was out in the sun and meeting Suellen face to face. She was a break from the clinic where she works... and found mail in her mail box. Apparently this is NOT a common finding. So, she was really surprised! Me too. It was hotter than I thought it would be. I went back to the clinic with Suellen. She kept busy. I learned that there is a nasty disease carried by the mosquitos here. It is called Malaria. I saw some really sick kids. It made me sad and kind of nervous... mom and dad wouldn't like it if I got Malaria while I was here. Suellen told me she would give me some medicine to take once a week while I was here and for a month after I return to America. I don't want ot take medicine, but I don't want Malaria either.

When Suellen finished at the clinic,
we headed to her house.
This is what I saw in front of her door.

I am so glad I didn't see what was inside of it. Here is a picture of it next to Suellen's shoe. The people here call it the snake's shirt. I guess I have something else to watch out for... Malaria-mosquitos and snakes. Hmm.

Ride 'em!

Suellen actually has a very nice house. She even
has it decorated for Christmas. You should hear
her try to explain Snowmen to the Gambians.
She has a tree with lights, but doesn't get to turn
on the lights too much because she only has two
This is a picture of her outlet in the kitchen.
She has one in every room.
They are up high and out of reach so
small kids can't get their fingers in .

They all have a cover too.

I wore my soccer shirt and Suellen was glad to hear that I like to play soccer. I was able to play with some of the nieghbor kids.

Thursday, November 15, 2007


Can you imagine what they would be?

Say you were a health care provider in a third world country, out in the African bush. What would they be?

For me, the words I don't like to hear... especially when I have just returned from the clinic and am in the middle of cooking lunch. Those words are... a patient just arrived, snake bite. There are several kinds of snakes in The Gambia. Some are not poisonous, some are. If you ask me, they all are. (I tell people if I saw a snake I would have a heart attack and drop to the ground where the snake would be able to bite me.... and I would die either from his poison or from the heart attack.) The villagers fear the Black snake. But again, there are two kinds of black snakes... deadly and not so deadly. Well, upon hearing these words today. I turned off the stove and headed to the clinic. Checked out the patient... he was bit on the middle finger while out in the fields this morning. He had to walk home and then find a donkey cart to bring him to the clinic. Praise God he looked good. Vitals were stable. I got out the stun gun. (controversial treatment... but please use it on me.) And gave him quite a few shocks, I know the gun worked because I got a little jolt when I had my hand too close to the gun. Reminded me of touching the electric fence when I was a kid. The nest phase of his treatment was a referral ride to the hospital 22 kilometers away, they should be able to get him some snake anti-venom. Praise God for the Stun Gun!

A Difficult Week

It has been an emotional week. One of the believers, who has been sick for several months, died on Monday. She came to the clinic last week and I couldn't find a good source of her illness. During the night she worsened and her husband feared that if she did die in NK, the leaders would refuse to bury her here because of her stand for Christ. We helped him get her to family in Senegal. The husband received a call on Monday late afternoon that she had died. The family was going to go ahead and have her buried that evening. Her husband would arrive there in the morning. We assisted him in getting to the family along with some of their friends. Pray for Joanne as much of the respnsibilities of the c__ fall to her. She was pretty close to NN and so was Deb who is in the states on furlough. We do praise God for answered prayer in allowing NN to get to Family in Senegal, for protecting her husband AS as he traveled much the last two weeks and for giving each of us the encouragement to continue to do the job he has called us to.

Monday, November 12, 2007

All in a weekend

Well, I haven't been up to too much. The clinic is finally slowing down a bit and requests for the ambulance after hours (AKA the middle of the night) have also decreased. Last week I did have busy afternoons. Teresa and I would leave the clinic around 2 pm each afternoon. By five I would be back in the clinic for a variety of reasons. One day I had a young gal with two lacerations that needed stitching. The next afternoon at about the same time, a young boy showed up with a laceration on his leg. unfortunately his laceration was over 48 hours old. I just cleaned him up good and started him on antibiotics. I should see them both tomorrow. Then on Friday, Teresa came to the door with a friend and her son. She asked me what advice to give the mother, her son was urinating blood. I looked at the mom, she pulled an old soda bottle out of a plastic bag... sure enough, there was the urine. I told them to follow me and we all went to the clinic, after some testing and evaluation I sent him home on medications. The plus side of the early evening activity in the clinic... the cleaning women are done with their work for the day and we have to lock up. So, I would be down there anyway. : )
Yesterday, Teresa and I unloaded the newly arrived medical shipment. We praise God for providing these medications. Our medication store room is starting to look clean, organized and full! We had either run out of several medications or had to stop using them because of their expiration date. It is good to see the shelves have valuable medications available again. Thank you to all who help provide for this ministry financially.
After a very productive morning in the store rooms, I headed home to be productive on a few maintenance issues. I had applied Epoxy into the hole for the toilet lid, where there was a leak. I needed to drill the hole so I could then put on the toilet seat. Praise God it worked. After three weeks of no toilet, or no flush toilet. I have a functioning toilet! However, by the second flush, the other side was leaking in the same spot. I called Barney to ask if he had more Epoxy. I then told him what I discovered. He said, "I don't want to hear that." Yeah, it is my toilet, it pained me to have to say it. But the leak is small and I have decided I want the flush, so I will mop up the small puddle after every flush. : )
Since the toilet was such a success, I then repaired my glider rocker. It has needed help since I took it out of storage in May. I finally attacked it, and now it glides smoothly. It is nice to have a chair to offer people a place to sit. The couch can get crowded.
I had such a productive day yesterday, I decided to keep the flow going today. This afternoon I put some wall paper boarder up in my bathroom. I have claimed this apartment and I am 'nesting'. I brought the boarder with me back in May and was waiting for a time when the humidity would be lower. Yes, that time has come.
Lots of people ask... What is the temperature really like? Well, for those of you who like weather science, I have some info for you. I brought back a digital thermomotor that also registers the humidity. It store the highest and lowest values. The other day I was looking at it. I have kept it in the coolest room of my apartment. The high value, since my arrival, is 113 degrees with 91 % humidity. That doesn't just feel hot... it is hot! Tonight it is 80 degrees and 40 % humidity. I will sleep under my comforter. It is getting too cold for a late night cold water shower. brrrrrr
Have a great week.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Something I NEVER pictured myself doing....

Have you had one of those jobs assignments when you think... no one will believe I am doing this. Today was another one of those days for me.

I am living on a compound that has several empty houses. (We are asking God to fill them.) I am currently sharing this space with two other single women. One of the things I volunteered to do was basic, I mean simple, maintenance. So, last night I had to figure out how I could get 14 toilets to flush at the same time. Joanne would be at the literacy center. That left Teresa, drafted into the project and our house hold helpers. But that only gave me a total of six people. So, I drafted our watch men and yard workers. By nine am I was unlocking houses and giving assignments. Oh, and teaching men 50+years of age how to flush a toilet and why this silly tubaab (white person) was asking for their help. The job went off without a hitch! Okay, this is Africa, there were one or two.... I couldn't get one of the houses to open up, I forgot to turn on the water in two of the houses. Thus I got my exercise running around this morning. When the job was done I drove to the village to buy breakfast for those who helped out. Opps, I didn't get any for Teresa. I stopped by Joanne's to give her the visual picture of teaching the watchmen and yard men how to flush. : )

The day proceeded to be busy and filled with all kinds of things. I mended the volleyball net, tried to clean a water filter and discovered the shut off valve, didn't shut off the water. (a cool shower in the heat of the day!) I saw a few sick individuals, ran a group of people to a village to the north and east of us, found some one ther who wanted to come to our village. (a little taxi driving on the side!) Then fixed a lunch that was interupted by an accident. A bush taxi flipped out on the main road. They described it as four feet in the air. (Tires up!) Four adults and three children were brought to the compound and they came to get me. I tried to patch up gapping head wounds and missing arm muscles. The people were headed to the captiol city. I am praying they have something at the Government Hospital to help clean out and close these wounds. I called our ambulance driver to carefully drive the victims to the hospital in Banjul. The children were just banged up, praise God, and all the adults were stable. One woman and her two daughters live in Spain. They are in The Gambia for a two month visit. The girls spoke Spanish and not a local dialect. Wouldn't you know... I couldn't put a whole sentance together in Spanish without Wolof words slipping out.

Tomorrow... a new toilet... the adventure continues.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Another Exciting Day!

Okay, I have to let you all in on a few of the recent happenings.

I haven't had a working phone line in months. It has decreased my time on line as I have to go to another house to access the Internet. I can get access, I just don't do it every day now. Yesterday I was in my house talking with Teresa and a Gambian woman. I heard a motorcycle come on the compound as it circled our property the driver was tooting the horn. It was a bit annoying in the house. our watchman came to my door to tell me that the men on the cycle were from the telephone company. When they arrived at my home I told them if my phone was fixed that day I would be so happy, I would dance. (Now, don't panic, this is a culturally appropriate comment to make.) They laughed (I am sure they thought, yeah, you are a tubaab, you can't dance.) and looked at my phone jack. Then they went to check out the line. About 30 minutes later, I heard the cycle start up and they were gone. I went to ask the guard what they said, as my phone was still not working. He told me they told him they were going to the market. I guess the market was a long way away; they never came back. MORAL of the STORY: Don't say you will dance! The phone will be fixed, in God's timing.

Now, I told you about my plumbing problem... well, Barney came to set a new toilet today. Ha-ha He did try, but the toilet bowl was the wrong size for the whole I have. By the time we figured that out for sure and certain, he had cut a piece of PVC that went around the out flow of the old toilet. So there was no way to replace the old toilet. I told him I was grateful I was better. A month ago my intestinal problems would of made a week with out a toilet in the house a severe discomfort. So, let this be a warning to you all... if you see me running to an empty house, watch out. I am either trying to use the phone or the little girls room!

Life is never dull in Ndungu Kebbeh.

Oh, I lent Joanne my camera because her termites were back in force at the literacy center. I am glad I wasn't there this time, but i can't wait to see the pics. Maybe I will share them with you.

You can check her blog out at

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Healthy once more

For those of you who knew I was having some health problems... I am healthy finally. I had many people worried on both continents. My team mates had me stay in Banjul while the Bronchitis had the best of me. Kumba (Ruth) and I have been in email contact, I even called her twice. She told me the other day she was really worried. And we all know about a mother's worry, mine is no execption. I love her for it.

After a series of illnesses and a two month bout of low blood sugars, I am finally feeling myself. I have been back to work in the clinic. It is good to be able to be treating others. I am just beginning to get out and about visiting friends in the village. It is good to be out and about. Thank you for your prayers and concerns.

Nurse... Plumber... yep benna la!

Now, I know you all know of me as a nurse. But did you think of me as a plumber? Yup, my toilet broke this week. I had to turn the water off to the house. (our toilets don't have a shut off valve in the line leading to the tank.) After two days of bucket showers and bucket flushes, I think you get the picture... it was getting old. SO, I went on a scavenger hunt to find toilet parts. Of course we didn't have what I needed and there is NO near by Wal-Mart or Tru Value. I did have some Duck tape and PVC cement. So I tried a repair on the broken piece. I am sorry Mac Gyver, Duck tape doesn't work on everything. Joanne was present when I gave the test trial. Praise God or the flood in the bathroom could have been really bad. I was out of luck and the problem was getting worse. I then looked at every toilet on our compound (we have a lot of empty houses right now). I found only one that had the water intake on the bottom of the tank like mine. SO, I capped the water line and took out the pieces I would need. However, yes there is ALWAYS a however in Africa, the tanks were two different sizes and my tank was a mini tank. The borrowed part wouldn't fit in. I then returned the part and capped my water line. I at least have running water in the house again.

I called our teammates in Banjul and told them what I needed. There is no Wal-Mart or Service Center there either, which means.... it is very hard, almost impossible to find replacement parts. So, a new toilet was ordered. Now I am back to bucket flushing and Barney is coming out on Tuesday to put in the new toilet. I don't really want to attempt it as there is a willing some one to do it. Praise God. A true blessing if I have ever seen one!

Have a great week and face each new challenge as a gift from God to become more like him.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


It is another beautiful day. I called my niece on Sunday, she turned 19. The good news was it was 48 degrees in Ohio. I told her it was a whopping 86 and 68 percent humidity. She wanted some of my warmth, I want some of her chills.

The spider bites have not changed. I took a picture and decided it was too ugly to post. Then today as I was doing some of my odd jobs, vehicle and generator maintenance, I drove out to the literacy center. I was just in time to see them fill the 5th plate (I am talking big plate) with termite dirt frin the battery cabinet. It was rather gross. I was glad I wasn't a Literacy employee. Any way, one of Joanne's employees thinks that it wasn't a spider that bit me but a WONKA that urinated on me. Don't freak. There is a long black bug that it is said, when they excrete on your skin it blisters and burns. So, we are back to not knowing what I have on my legs. I think they are starting to feel better. Until my malaan (skirt) hits the spots.

Have a great day and thanks for praying.

Monday, October 15, 2007

I know what is next.

Have you ever been so honest with your self that you ask, "Okay, What is next?" Let me tell you that after two months of one illness following or at times on top of another, that I have found my self saying, "I wonder what the next thing will be." I thought I had conquered that. I am no longer curious as to what the next illness will be. I take 'em as they come.

I was feeling great this week. My blood sugars seem to be stable, my bronchitis has cleared, the ear infection has resolved. I have energy and am planning on starting the kids club in a few weeks. I was back in the clinic this week and doing work at home in the evenings. I praise God for bringing me through the last few months.

But I know, by now you have figured out there is something new. After all TIA, (this is Africa) and I have a way of writing about my trials. Well, some of you, who have been out here in the rains, know that this is the time of bugs. All kinds of bugs. Those of you who have been out here with me, know that the bugs LOVE my blood. Sunday morning I awoke to find this huge red, raised, very sore, very itchy area on my left shin with a matching spot on the right one. It only feels good if I have cool water on it. The Gambians told me it is a spider bite. Now you all know why I don't like spiders. I just knew they would be a pain. The bites look so nasty. If I walk it gets redder. They are low on my legs, right where the malaan (long skirt) rubs when you walk. It has now been two days. There doesn't seem to be any improvement. I will get relief tonight when I sleep with a cool cloth on them.

So that is what is new here. Oh, and the screw for the face plate on my front door broke leaving half of it in the door jam. I can't lock my door. This gives me something fun to do tomorrow. I will have to work on our truck and start the generators too. It promises to be a fun day. Any one want to come help? : )

Have a good one.

Monday, October 8, 2007


Okay, you haven’t heard from me in a while. There is a good reason. I went to the capitol, Banjul, for the weekend and got sick. I was so sick with Bronchitis and the low blood sugars, that my fellow missionaries decided I needed to stay there. I spent two weeks at the guest house. I am really praising God for providing that facility. It was so nice to have a place to stay that didn’t cost an arm and a leg. My medicine and medical exams over the past month have exceeded the price of my arms and legs. God has provided for all my needs and I praise him for taking such good care of me.

My friends in Ndungu Kebbeh were getting very worried that I would run off to America. I am very thankful that I was able to get the tests I needed done here. I am feeling better than I have in weeks. I am planning on getting back to work but taking things slowly with good periods of rest as it continues to be hot and humid. This is the time of the greatest illness in our area. Several of the clinic employees have been out sick the last few weeks. The month of the Fast is coming to an end. This will help improve the health of our neighbors.

Friday was a tough day for our staff as two children succumbed to cerebral Malaria. One child was the two year old daughter of one of our watchman and my house worker’s niece. Please pray fro the family as they mourn the loss of their young girl.

Thank you for your prayers. God is definitely at work here in The Gambia.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Taking Advantage of a Working Phone Line

I returned from Banjul on Monday of this week. My phone hasn't been working since Tuesday. So, since it is a bright sunny day (praise the Lord- our solar needed it), I am making use of a working phone line and solar!

This is Kumba, one of the gals I took shopping last Saturday. She is wearing her new uniform and shoes and is carrying her new book bag. Kumba was named after our dear friend Ruth Wood, whose Gambian name is Kumba.

The Islamic Month of Ramadan started. This is the month of fasting from sun up until sun down. It is a long month. Please pray for the believers as this is a time of much trial for them. I will be swamped with requests for cold and hot water, chocolate and juice. It is an interesting month.

Interesting Days

The last few days have been very interesting. I will share with you some of the highlights.

I went into Banjul to see a doctor. Dr Jagne is from Nigeria and has been in The Gambia about a year. He is working at a private clinic not too far from our guesthouse. I had an appointment early Wednesday morning. They have a lot of nice equipment there. I had my pulse oximetry checked. He also ran some blood work at the lab there. Then came the big news, he wanted me to have a CT scan of the abdomen. I didn’t even know there was a a CT machine in the country. I learned a lot this week. He also wanted some other blood work. So, he gave me names and phone numbers of people at the city hospital. That afternoon I called about scheduling the CT scan. They told me to come down so they could read my paper. I wasn’t too happy about it, but decided I should walk out to the road and catch a taxi. (Now that is a story in and of its self. Ask if you want to know.) After I arrived at the hospital, I found the Radiology Department and they were waiting for me. I had the CT done that day. Thirty minutes later and I was finding a taxi to head back to the guesthouse. Praise God!
The next morning I was up early to catch a ride to the Lab at the same hospital I was at the day before. I went in to have the blood drawn. Four pokes later, (I tried to tell her to relax that I understood the difficulties of drawing blood), I was out the door until the afternoon. When I returned to pick up the results I found the cashier had left for the day. I asked when I could pay and was told “you can pay any morning Monday through Friday or you could just go. It doesn’t matter to us.” I returned Monday morning to pay the lab. The woman sitting near me was stunned when she heard how much I had to pay. She asked me in Wolof (she knew me by word of mouth and knew I spoke Wolof) why was my test SO expensive. I told her the truth, because I am a white person from another country. I was a bit shocked. I told her I didn’t expect it to be five bags of rice. She looked at me and said, it was five bags of rice plus the money needed to buy the ingredients for the sauces to go with the rice. That lovely lady was a blessing to my soul.
All though the tests were a bit expensive, I praise the Lord I was able to have the testing done.
Friday I had a return trip to Dr. Jagne to review all the results and obtain one more blood test. There was nothing scary wrong with me. I would have to eat small frequent meals to deal with the hypoglycemia.
Monday I headed home via the ferry once again. I had a new experience on the ferry. If you ever have the opportunity to visit The Gambia, you have to try the ferry. I didn’t take a car, so I was one of many of the walk on passengers herded onto the ferry just before it leaves the dock. I ended up standing with my suitcase, just behind a small black car with Gambian Government plates. I pulled out my umbrella to provide shade from the sun. The ferry turned around to travel in what we would think of as reverse (it has to do with what engines are working best on the ferry). It meant that I was now in the front as we crossed the river; we would turn around again for docking and unloading. But I had a nice view of the ocean and river as we traveled. There were a few fishing boats out in the river. One boat didn’t move and the ferry got too close. I could see the guys eyes as we passed. He was trying to get the anchor up and move. Apparently when we passed him, our wake caused the boat to tip and he went into the water. The ferry engines were cut. I couldn’t figure out why they were stopping in the middle of the river. The man next to me went to the side of the ferry to see what was up. The fisherman was okay, he was picked up by another boat and his boat didn’t sink. The ferry driver waited to make sure the man was okay before continuing on. Never a dull moment!

Monday, September 3, 2007

Back to School Shopping

Do you enjoy Back to School Shopping? I went for two hours on Saturday and had a blast. I went to pick up the neighbors two little girls (grade one and two) and a neighbor girl tagged along. We walked to the open market in the center of town. There I purchased uniform material for the two girls. The Third asked me about hers, and I was able to tell her my coworker Teresa was sewing her pants. Yassin, the oldest, then told me what was next on the list: shoes, books pencils, colors, eraser, a book bag and body lotion. They each grabbed a hand or two fingers and off we went. Those little faces were eyeing the tables of goodies for the perfect shoes. Yassin discovered her pair (bright purple) and pulled the rest of us over. Not to be out done, her younger half sister, Kumba, found a matching pair in orange. Ami shyly asked if she could have a pair. I agreed and she happily tried on her favorite, red pair. We tucked the shoes in the growing tote bag and were off. The list was yet to be finished. We hunted for book bags. The variety would NOT put Wal-Mart to shame. The only ones I found were at the grab pile. (I think these items came from a Salvation Army type clothing drop. All the bags were used.) Picture my three adorable little girls; they jumped up and down like we had hit a jackpot. They rummaged through the pile until each was beaming. Yassin’s choice was shades of purple, Kumba’s was red, and Ami picked out a teal colored bag.

Yassin consulted her checklist in her head. We were off yet again. Now the real fun part about making these purchases is that each time you buy… you barter the cost. I felt I made good deals on the shoes and sacks, but the owner of the body lotion wanted more than I was willing to part with. So, we walked away. Sometimes that works and other times like today, it doesn’t. (Okay it did for the shoes!)

Our next big stop was a snack, bean sandwiches. They were just what I needed. Fortified we were off to the tailor. That was a fun experience as the girls stood to be measured. The uniforms were delivered today. It was a great trip. I was a little sunburned, managed to pick up potatoes and onions and some apples. Now you ready (this would put Wal-Mart to shame), my grand total for two complete uniforms and material for 3 more pants, three pair of shoes, 3 book bags, 4 1/2pounds of potatoes and 2 pounds of onions, plus sandwiches for four… $26.

Am I a good shopper or what!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Pesky Little Critters....

Rainy season brings with it all kinds of fun looking bugs. Some of them are enjoyable... the butterfly, some are annoying: the flying termite and pincher bugs, and some lay you flat out! I caught a cold the other week and while my defenses were down but rebounding... I most likely ingested a nasty bug. I spent the better part of a week in bed. Didn't have much strength to do anything. I called Teresa late one evening to bring me some antibiotics and to get me on the mend. In the past it has only taken a day or so after the antibiotics are started to start feeling better. This time it took a few days longer. I am praising God that I am better and each day I have a bit more strength. I may even try going to Njufen tomorrow.

Thank you for your prayers, they are an encouragement, especially in times like this.

Monday, August 6, 2007

What a Morning!

Ever have one of those days? I woke up this morning knowing it was going to be a tough one. My cold isn't better. I set out to do what needed to be done.

The snake has died. I haven't decided what to do with it yet. The neighbors just hate that I have kept it thus far.

In preparation for the return of my coworkers, I called Joanne's houseworker to come clean. Boy, will she be glad I did. Lizard droppings were everywhere. I also started up her refrigerator. Not an easy task. I think the thing wants to die on us. Not good. But after much prayer and many start up attempts, a lot of sweat (that isn't hard to come by here) it finally started! PTL!! I put some water in her frig and freezer so she will have something cold when she gets home. I also measured a space for a bookcase. I had volunteered to do that when I returned last week. Opps, I apologised for my lateness.

Returning to my place to rest a bit, the effects of this cold have sapped my strength, the guard came to my door because someone had brought a siezing child to the gate. Now, everyone knows the clinic is closed. However, not one of our employees were in town to help this little one out. Thankfully, I was able to get a set of keys for the clinic and all though things were put away, I could do some rudimentary assesments for a fitting child and the medications were in the same place they were a year ago. Every thing came back to me. I called one of our drivers to come drive the child and family to Essau, our referal hospital. By the time the driver arrived I had given the child shots to stop the seizure, and for Malaria, the most likely cause. I couldn't check the blood because all the microscopes were packed away and I don't know where they put them. The child was stable when they left and I was able to pray quickly with the grandmother caretaker who is a believer.

Now, I am ready to start my day. : ) Praise God he goes before us!

Sunday, August 5, 2007

August Greetings

I am having a hard time believing that it is already August 5th. Yet part of me is looking forward to the 7th. I have been the only missionary in NK for the past two weeks. On Tuesday my co workers will be returning. I have enjoyed the time out here by myself. I have spent time with my neighbors and studying the language. I did go into Banjul for a four day trip which turned into five because of the rain. The traveling to and from was fun as I took local transport. I remember sitting in the back of the van thinking... how many people will it take to fill this thing? The answer that day was 29 adults, four children and a baby. We were packed in so tight I had the thought, "no wonder why so many service when these vehicles flip, you are crammed in so tight, there is no place for your body to go." It lead to a prayer for safety.

I was looking for some sweet time with friends this weekend, but I have a cold. Not just an annoyance of a cold, but the kind that knocks ya flat and you can't raise your head. I have managed to stay awake enough to speak to the guards each day. They stop by to make sure I am okay. I definately am not up to a walk in the sun. I have read a little and slept a lot. I think God is giving me a few days rest to rebuild my strength.

Rainy season has arrived full force now. In fact, last night we had a good storm. Watch out for something along the coast say on the 10th of August. The temperatures haven't dropped and the humidity continues to be a bother. As of yet I haven't heard of any houses falling and the farmers are thrilled with the rain for their crops.

I am conducting an experiment with a snake that I found in my house. He has survived without food and water for over three weeks. Scary, if a baby snake can survive that long, what about an adult snake? Ugh, this past Friday another snake braved my house. Also a baby snake. This one is not going to be an experiment. He met with my watchman and a stick. The stick won and the watchman won my deep gratitude. Two snakes in one month is a bit much for me. God is giving me strength to walk through the house. He is giving me peace to sleep at night. I am praying he doesn't bring me another snake.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Another Birthday and Blessed RAIN : )

Today is my mom's birthday. So if any of you across the ocean see her, wish her a Happy Birthday for me. I wrote a note when I awoke this morning. I considered doing what they did. My family called me at 1 am my time Tuesday morning. If I got up at six, it would be 2 am there.... nah, I will resist.

I had a nice morning in Njufen. I think I am enjoying my time as the only TUBAAB in NK. It has been quiet, but I have lots of visitors when it isn't raining.

Yes, I have been asking for prayer for rain. IT finally arrived. We have had some very good rains. No reports on houses falling yet and the majority of the peanut crop should survive the drought spell. PTL!!! No real windy storms that cross the ocean and threaten Florida.

I have been asked several times if I am ready to go to the fields to hoe. It isn't done the way I did it when I was a kid. They use a small handled hoe and bend at the waist, straight back and legs. My Body Mechanics nursing instructor whould have a cow.

Have a great day. I am off to study to the sound of rain on coragate. Dinaa janga Olof bu ma degga tow mu daanu ci kow suma sanka. :) It is a kind of relaxing sound, unitl the rain comes down hard, then you can't hear to think.

P.S. Church went well yesterday. I have one or two more weeks on my own.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Life at Ker Tubaab

Well, I have survived Day 3 as the only tubaab in Ndungu Kebbeh. I went to the village today to visit with a friend and then had a bunch of visitors this afternoon. The women ask if I am brave to spend the nights here by myself. I tell them I am not alone. I have God and two watchmen.

I thought I would share some of the photos from the other day.

This is my language helper and her visitor is holding my helpers one month old infant. Yes, on day two of teaching me, she gave birth.

Well, I am trying to upload photo number three, but... it might not be working. It is time to hit the sack.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

A Gambian Birthday

Over the years I have tried to convince people that if you are not in your birth country, you don't have birthdays. No one has bought into this philosophy. Well, I had a birthday yesterday.

Now, the people in The Gambia are just starting to celebrate birthdays. The one having the birthday hosts a party. So, since it was a language day for me... I told my language helper that Friday was my birthday and I would spend the day in her village. She then asked if I was going to bring cake, attaya (national past time beverage), lea (milk that they warm and sweeten) and the music.

Friday morning finally came and I packed up my stuff to head down the road. I came upon on old pa waking along the road, so i asked him where he was headed. He told me he was walking to the village beyond the village I was going. So, I told him I would take him there. It was a nice short drive. When I arrived there I found an old pa who wanted to go to my village, so I said sure, I will take you there. As I passed the village that I study in I thought, they probably think I am not coming. On the way into Kebbeh we drive by a woman walking the road and the man said that she was from his village. So, on my way back by I stopped and picked her up. When I got on the tar road I saw a young woman carrying a baby and an older woman, I asked them where they were going. The younger woman wanted to go to the village just beyond the village I had already been to and was returning to. The older woman wanted to go to the village where I study. So, I had them hop in (I was driving our Toyoto truck, it is a bit high and difficult to get in with a baby on your back). When I dropped the older woman off at Njufen I told the people I saw to tell my teacher I would be back. Then it was off to deliver the other two ladies. Praise the Lord I didn't find anyone else needing a ride to NK. My time as a taxi driver was over... but it was fun. It is always fun to chat with new people.

I finally arrived in Njufen for a day of speaking Wolof and immersing myself in the culture. If you ever want a fun, overwhelming experience, this would be a good time to whip out a camera, (which I did, but I was used to what happened next.) I was mobbed by every kid in the area. Neetal ma! Neetal ma! You had better be quick or every picture you take will have five or more kids sneaking in the background or the foreground. I decided to take a more novel approach and take a individual picture of each child, posed by a post. It was entertaining. Finally, my battery gave out, always a mixed blessing. While seated under the tree with other women and their infants, we drank the tea and milk, conversation flowed. I did bring along a music tape from a workshop in Dakar, Senegal. They enjoyed it. I am going to get some copies made so I can give them as gifts. The young boys were sent of to bathe, it was Friday and 2 PM is the time to go to the Mosque with their fathers, uncles, brothers, etc. At about 2: 20 lunch was served. The men came back from the Mosque and I was invited to sit in a room by myself. I invited others to join me as is the custom. No one did, as is the custom. I actually had two lunches as another friend in that village brought me lunch too.
The lunch served by my language helper’s step daughter in law was called Suupa. It is a sauce made from a tree leaf, with onion, pepper, bouillon, palm oil and fish, served over rice. At first I thought it rather bland, but it was actually very good. The second meal was Yassa. I am not sure all it has in it, but it has mustard, pepper, onion, oil, bouillon and was served with fish again over rice. A visitor to the compound did come in to sit with me. She preferred the second lunch, so waited for me to share that one with her. It all was very tasty.

I had promised to help our clinic driver run an errand around three o’clock. So, shortly after lunch I made my good byes and left. They would have the cake in a few hours, and were looking forward to it.

Arriving back home on time, I looked up our visitor. Teresa had a friend from the states come for two weeks. She was a big help doing odd jobs, a joy to be around and a good source of encouragement for Teresa (me too). I thought she would enjoy going for a ride in the bush. But I found out she had been feeling sick all day. So, I prepared to go with TF. He was going to a village I had never been to before. I went in the house to get some cold water for the trip… and made a discovery… Teresa and Robyn had been busy that morning. They TPd my house! (The gift that keeps giving, as now I have more TP and I was afraid my supply was running low…. How thoughtful of God to provide more in such a exciting fashion.) I had laughed out loud when I made my discovery; TF was waiting outside so I invited him in to see what Teresa had been up to.

I told the guards that I was off to the bush, TF was having a driving test. I enjoy picking on TF. Don’t worry… he teases back. His driving was great, now unfortunately my camera was back home recharging. YOU would not believe the roads. It was fun; there was free standing water in puddles that almost made it into the interior of the truck as we drove through. When we arrived at his destination, we got out and greeted those around us, then went to find his business friend. I followed and was included in some conversation. The man asked his daughter to call his wife and I went with her to the house while the men conducted their business. We had a great talk. TF came in later and told the woman that I could chat with anyone. I was praising God because I forgot to ask TF if this was a Wolof village, since it was I could communicate. I made a new friend. When we left, I was invited to return again (I will wait until after the rains are over and the roads are better.) On the way home God blessed us with sightings that make bush travel fun. We saw monkeys, monkeys with babies and beautiful birds. TF told me to be sure to tell Robyn what she missed.

Friday on our compound has become Pizza night and a movie. It started as one famliy’s usual evening family time, grew to include some of the singles and when they left…. Teresa kept it up to keep in touch with the others on the compound. Who can resist a meal you don’t have to prepare and entertainment. I baked a cake (Jean had left behind a Devil’s food cake mix, so I have a special treat for my birthday.) Robyn was still feeling rough but was able to join in on the activities. All in all my birthday was a great day! Thank you Lord.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

The Rewards

This morning I awoke knowing it was going to be a full day. Now, 13 hours later, I think how could I have fit anything more into this day? It was a highlight kind of day. I had told friends of mine from a neighboring village hatt I would pick them up this morning and we would go to the market to buy the things we would need for them to teach me to cook lunch. They would spend the day here and women from NK would come and share some of the day with us.

The shopping experience was a blast. I know now where to buy the best palm oil. I bought cow meat at the open market (2 kilos came complete with some stomach... Yumm?)

We finally started lunch around 1 pm. We worked together... at about 4:30 it was finally ready to eat. It was well worth the wait. Besides talking, we enjoyed listening to some music and watching part of the Jesus film. We had some Attaya (strong tea with sugar) before and after lunch. We also had some warm, sweetened evaporated milk. Which is really tasty. (truely it is) About 7 pm we packed up all the leftovers and I was able to drive my friends back home.

I returned to a semi dirty house. I have swept and mopped the floors. The dishes are awaiting my attention and tomorrow I will have to clean the big cooking pots that are in my backyard. Sorry I forget to get any pictures. My final reward will be a nice cold shower. I will try not to think about a nice warm one.

We did have the pleasure of having a guest from America and we oriented her to Wolof cooking. It is a tough job! Any time you want to experience it... just let me know!

Please pray for rain. As we drove through the bush we passed fields were the tender young peanut crop was beginning to dry up. So far this rainy season, it has rained three times in Ndungu Kebbeh.

Thanks so much!

Friday, July 13, 2007

God's Amazing Provisions

Have you ever been bowled over by God's amazing provisions?

Let me share my week with you.... It has been a truely amazing week as I sit back and reflect on what God has accomplished.

Teresa went to Banjul over the weekend to get supplies and meet her friend Robin. The van that she was driving developed clutch problems. (Praise the Lord it was on the right side of the river for that kind of problem.) Our truck was in Banjul waiting to be brought out here, so Teresa had access to a car immediately.

Jean was able to get packed up and headed home (she should be in Dunkirk by now... say hi to everyone there for me). She was feeling strong when she left and not worn to a frazzle.

I awoke from my mid day siesta (not what it is called here.... but you all know what I mean) because I had neighbors sitting outside my window waiting to visit with me. The story I heard was not a good one. My namesake's grandson fell out of a tree and landed on his head. Okay, scarey enough if you live in America the land of advance life support. But this is The Gambia. God provided in that Teresa was able to hop in the ambulance, find the boy, find one of our treaters and then find the driver to have MM driven to the referal hospital. Upon arrival there, our driver, who is not allowed to drive the vehicle across to the city hospital, was told the ambulance for the referal hospital was in the bush. Thankfully the boys father had a mobile phone, he called NK, his son ran here to find Teresa and ask if our driver could take the car across. By the time they reached the city hospital (the referal hospital is 30 minutes from here and the city hospital is a ferry ride away, you can count on it taking an hour) MM was talking and able to walk out of the ambulace. He was checked over briefly and returned home the next day. We are praising God for sparing this young man's life.

Then last night... I received a phone call. I know you think so what. I think my phone has only rang twice in the two months I have been back. It should have rung more, but I had it unplugged (sorry mom and dad). Well the phone call was from the States and from a yong lady who spent three months here a few years ago. She is currently at ABWE's candidate class. She called to let me know that God has given her perfect peace... she is joining our team! What an answer to prayer! Sarah is a delight... she actually said, "mom, I am coming home!" Please continue to pray for the Lord to provide more missionaries for the work here.

Today, there was another request by a man to hear more about the true reason we are here. We praise the Lord for these opportunities. We truely feel the need to have committed men to come and invest in the lives of these men.

I trust you can see amazing provisions of God in your lives.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

A Different Kind of Day

I awoke this morning not to the sound of my alarm clock. But to the gently sound of wind and water drops on coragate. I was so excited! Rain! I jumped out of bed to close my windows so I could go back to sleep without worry. Unfortunately the rain didn't amount to much. It kind of sprinkled on and off until 9 am. Now, what is interesting is that the people of the Gambia do not go out when it is raining (a general statement). So, your employees may not show up until after the rain stops. I was going to walk to Njufen, but I had to wait for the rain to stop, very culturally appropriate. When Jean brought me the keys to the ambulance. She wasn't going into Banjul after all this morning. I could drive to Njufen.

I arrived and stunned my language helper. I was on time in the rain! I came. She wasn't expecting me to come. So, we had a good morning and I was assisting with the lunch prep when a village elder came to the door. He was shocked to see me at the pounding pot. It was worth it just to see his face. He came to ask a favor of me. A woman had died a fair distance away. Would I consider driving the ambulance full of people to her funeral? Typical American response... I wasn't dressed for a funeral. But the co wife of my language helper loaned me what I needed and we were off. I told them I had to be back to my village by 5pm. (Church is at 5:30 pm) As I was sitting in the house with the women, I was struck by the emptiness of their rout prayers. It was a reaffirming time for me. There is nothing like a Gambian funeral to make you appreciate God's great gift.

I returned to Njufen with more people than I went with. I found lunch was ready and those left behind had already eaten. It was my favorite dish, cew diltiir. Fish with a sauce of pepper, onions, tomatoes, boullion, hot pepper served over rice. YUMM!!

I made it home at 5 pm, grabbed a quick shower and it was off to church. I enjoyed the service. I was more than a bit nervous with leading it in Wolof. But we serve a loving God who is willing to forgive my language blunders. He knows the intents of my heart.

What a great day. 10.5 hours of language time. Tomorrow I will head to the clinic in the morning to do the Bible story presentation and prayer.

Thanks for your prayers!

Monday, July 9, 2007

Friends in KOM

Many of you have asked how J, my friend whose child died before I returned to the US, is doing. I was finally able to spend the day with her the other day. They have a five month old infant daughter. She is growing like a weed. J is doing well. Her husband was on a trip when I first returned, but he has returned and is back to work.

This coming weekend I plan on spending the day with the women from KOM. We will go to the market and then cook lunch, one Wolof and one American and share lunch, tea and then milk. I am looking forward to this time together.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

A Most Unwelcome Visitor

Well, tonight was pizza and a movie night. A few years ago we started out with Friday night game night. It has evolved over the years and the Lippy family turned it into Pizza and a movie night. Teresa kept up the tradition for the four ladies last year. Tonight I hosted as Teresa is heading to Banjul and was out of some of the needed ingredients. We watched a favorite film of Jean's as she is preparing to return to America for her furlough.

It was what came after the movie. I decided to return my house to order before going to bed. I saw something in a dark area of the room coiled up near the table leg. On closer inspection it was a 12 inch baby snake! GROSS!! ICK!!! YUCK!!! You name it, it was in my house and didn't belong there. I called my two comrades in arms... as those of you that know me well can imagine I didn't want to go any where near it... baby or not. Teresa and Jean traped it into a container. PTL! I have it outside the house... to show other little and big snakes what will happen if they come near my house. Pray we (our watchmen, that is) catch/kill the big black snake that is rooming the compound.
Pray I can sleep tonight and the nights to come. I may need to find a pair of snake shoes in Banjul. (Something safer than a flip-flop.)

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

New Jobs

One thing I learned pretty early on in my missionary career is that I would find myself facing the challenge of having a job I never dreamed I would have the responsibility of. Being stretched beyond one's biggest dreams in all areas of life. Being a boss took a bit of getting used too. I was never a boss in my own culture and suddenly I was on ein a culture I was just learning. Thankfully it was in the clinic. I then found myself doing plumbing and auto maintenance and generator maintenance. Now, once again I face a daunting new task. I am the new boss of the compound employees. We have three men that work for the compound doing all sorts of odd jobs. A major part of my job will be giving them their job assignment. This year looks pretty painful as there are soakaways to dig, a garbage pit to dig and buildings to white wash. However, first we have to make it through the rains. That is if it rains again. We have only had two rain falls in the month of June. The peanuts are planted and growing, but desperately need water to flourish. Pray for me and this new adventure... pray for the men. Change is a very hard thing to accept even when you are exposed often.

Sunday, July 1, 2007


The saying that all babies are cute is not something an experienced pediatric nurse would agree to. But all babies do have something about them that pulls at ones' heart strings. When a baby is born here in The Gambia a week passes before the infant is given their name. There is a ceremony and party given in the childs honor. Last Wednesday when I showed up at my tutor's home she told me her child had arrived 6 hours previously. We had a fun week together, not a lot of teaching time with her, but her mom and friend assisted me and we would talk. The day of the naming ceremony was this past Wednesday. I had planned to show up early so I could help. god had other plans. As I was getting dressed (in a nicer outfit than everyday wear) a neighbor gal came to my door to ask me to drive a man that couldn't walk out to the tar road so he could wait for a car to carry him home. I agreed as I was heading out that way in a vehicle anyway. I later discovered that the man lived about 8 miles away and it was the day taxis weren't going his way. So, I decided to drive all the way to his place. They (he and his siser) were very appreciative and I was able to share God's love with them.

Then it was onto the party. I delivered my gifts... cake, tea, milk, sugar, mints (the baby gift was given a few days previously) and greeted the people and the infant.

Our Literacy Department had an End of the School Year Program that morning also. So, I made my excuses stating I would return and I was off to the program. I was in time to hear the village leaders and the village basic school principal give their speaches.

I return to the ngenti at 12pm. Just as they were dishing up breakfast. A peanut and millet dish that resembles oatmeal and is served with sugar and sour milk. It is really very tasty. : )

I spent the day at the ngenti, talking and sharing in the festivities, drove the father to NK to shop for things for their lunch and even helped pick the rice.
I returned home for a shower, nap and change of clothes before returning to the ngenti once more. It was a long, but good day.
I made it home in time to grab another shower before prayer meeting, which was at my house. prayer meeting is a combination business meeting, haven't seen you in a while so lets get caught up and prayer. It lasts several hours, this is a good thing. Prayer, fellowship and encouragement all rolled into one.


When I first started this blog, I thought it would be a great way for you to walk in my shoes. Well, this week, you wouldn’t have wanted to walk in my literal shoe.

The shoe of choice here in The Gambia is the Flip-Flop. We try to encourage our compound workers and guards that they need a shoe with more protection. This encouragement comes in the way of a monetary amount so they can go out and buy a decent pair of shoes. What do I mean by decent? Something to protect you from things that crawl in sand, or may I say slither… I think you get the idea.

After a pretty busy week, I decided it was time to leave the van at home and start walking to Njufen. It is a little over a mile away. I had all my stuff for studying in a bag, along with my water bottle. I grabbed an umbrella for sun screen, donned my flip-flops and I was off. There is a saying I hear quite frequently but had never experienced. That is, “my shoe is cut”. Meaning, their only pair of flip-flops has broken. Friday, I experienced it. Half way to Njufen I felt my flip-flop flop and it brought with it a lot of hot sand. I thought to myself, what should I do? I decided if I returned to the house and donned another pair of shoes, I would be really late. I tried dragging the shoe, but that didn’t work. So, I carried the broken one and continued on my way. When I arrived, the people were shocked to see I had walked there with a bare foot. I later learned what they would have done; that is to carry both shoes. I explained that the sand was too hot and full of too many stones for my tender American feet. There was the discussion that I should call someone to come get me. I said no thank you. Then since it was even hotter when I went to leave the suggestion was made that I stay until morning when it would be cooler. The answer to my prayer came in the assistance of my language helper’s husband. He sewed my shoe together so I could walk home.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007


The first really good rain of the season has arrived. The first good rain brings out my favorite bug.

You may ask, why is this cute little critter my favorite bug?

It looks fuzzy. But best of all... it doesn't bite!

They vary in size, but are a pretty small bug.

In a few days they will be gone again until next year.

I was brave and checked it out, they are soft shelled.

Aren't they just too cute!
Okay, they beat centipedes (we are getting tired of killing the babies.... but the big ones are still in hiding), scorpions, pincher bugs and spiders hands down.

Monday, June 18, 2007

It is GOOD to be back!

Today, I felt as if I was "Back in the saddle again." I woke up feeling energized, the first in a long time. Today, I wsa going to start studying Wolof again. There are so many words I have forgotten and my conversation must be like that of a two year old, okay, three year old. : )

After a quick breakfast, I doned my Gambian outfit complete with the shaw (for sunscreen). I was out the door. I had one visitor already and as I was leaving our compound my namesake stopped to ask me for bug spray. She was getting eaten alive at night and not liking it. So, I walked back to my house to get her a can of spray. Then I was off the compound! The day watchman asked me if I was really going this time.

I headed across the street to greet the man that owns the little shop. He carries a few of the basics: bread, flip-flops, tea, sugar, caned milk, caned sardines, etc. Before I returned to America, he was selling flour. But when my girlfriend left for Liberia and with me heading to America, he lost his biggest buyers of flour and really can't afford to carry it now. I will just have to get that in town. Not a big hassel.

I headed down the road to visit a friend that comes every Monday afternoon. I have yet to go to her place. She sells breakfast in the morning. I wanted to suprise her. As I was walking to town I greeted those I met along the way. I had to pass the compound of my namesake's daughter, so I stopped by to say hello. It was a good time of conversation. Her daughter in law's baby died last rainy season and the daughter in law was in the hospital with an illness two months ago. We had much to talk about.
Promising to return some day soo, I was on my way to find my friend. She told me she sold under the Mango tree by the machine. Well, I found the machine and the two mango trees near it... but not my friend. I headed down the street and came across another woman I know. After talking with her for some time, I asked about my friend. Yes, she sells under the tree by the machine. I passed by the road again, no one was under the trees. So, I went to see my language supervisor about meeting my language helper (tutor).
On my way to the office, I passed three women doing their laundry under a tree. There was a nice breeze and they were shaded, it is hot, hard work. They asked me for the fixings for the tea they drink here. I didn't have any with me and asked to be forgiven until another day.
Joanne was able to take me to the next village to meet with a woman who works with the literacy staff and could possibly tutor me. I was so glad to get in the car - air conditioning! Joanne wanted to make a stop at the library on our way out of town. She turned a block early, for a minute I was confused as to which village she was taking me. When I guestioned her, she laughed, she was just going around the block so she could talk to her employee and not have to pull the car in or turn around. (There is not a lot of traffic out here.) Then we were off.
Njuffen is a nice small village. I should have a great time. It is about 1.5 miles from here. A nice walk in the AM and it will be a hot return. I have to add a big umbrella to my shopping list.
I returned home to shower, lunch and nap in that order. I had visitors at my door by four. They left around eight. Then the four of us gals got chatting outside. I came in around 9:45. Had dinner and now, I have a bit more language stuff to do before I can head to Njuffen in the morning. Oh, there is lots to do.
Most embarassing part of the day occured as I was saying good bye to my last Gambian guest this evening. We had been sitting at the gate to our compound and when I stood up my wrap around skirt, slipped. Praise the Lord my top came to my knees and I knew what was happening. That could have been a VERY embarassing moment.
Have a great one.
Ma ngee janga Olof.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

It is Raining!

Yes, the first significant rain of the season has just started. It isn't pouring, just a nice gentle rain. The smell of sand/dirt is in the air, the temperature is a little cooler than it has been. There is the faint sound of thunder in the distance. I am not sure how long this rain will last, but it has been a good 10 minutes so far. PTL. The men will be headed out to the field to plant the peanuts. I was told by a friend that I was goin to be going to the field with her to help hoe when the time comes. Sounds like hot work to me.

By the way, the refrigerator is working! Thank you Lord.

Monday, June 11, 2007

The Rains are Coming!

Yea, the rains are coming. Why is it that I know they are on their way? Well, in The Gambia we only see rain June- October. It rains very little in June, a little more in July. There is a pretty good rainfall in August, decreasing into September and then comes October when it is hot, humid and we pray for rain to bring relief, but it doesn’t usually come.
I was doing my devotions today and I was reading about how nature gives Glory to God. I was asked to think about my favorite thing in nature that gives glory to God or reveals His power. I immediately thought of the Flame Tree. I don’t know its scientific name. But it is a tree that has a fern type leaf. After months of no rain or water, just before the rains come, beautiful bright red flowers spring forth. I had a huge one in my back yard when I moved to The Gambia. Termites killed the tree and now, in its place is a two year old little tree. I wondered and wondered if it would flower. The other day I was blessed to see the power of God as two little blooms came out.
There are other signs that the rains are coming. The humidity is something. I sit here at my computer in the middle of the day and the sweat drips off my elbows. It is rather disgusting. I have learned to keep a hand towel near by when writing. Computers with speakers near where you rest your hands have been known to rust.
Another sign of incoming rain is the increase in bugs. Yup, insects. I was watching a DVD last night. I had no other lights on, just the laptop screen. When all of a sudden I was dive bombed by a beetle. When I was growing up in New York, we had these beetles we called June bugs. I am not sure if they are more prevalent in June or not but picture a June bug on steroids. They are bigger here. I took great pleasure in killing June bug 1 and 2. I hate to be dive bombed. There you are sitting in the dark and WHACK! You jump up thinking “who did that?” Then you realize you are alone. Not a good thing; but if it could be witnessed, kind of funny.
This is the beginning of the increase of Mosquitoes. They are also not my friends, mainly because they like to bite me too much. It is hard to get even with a mosquito. In the states you hear them coming, but not the ones that carry Malaria. They don’t have the decency to buzz. No warnings, you just start itching. Bednets, bug spray, and avoiding being outside at dusk and dawn are good precautions.
Another subtle evidence of coming rain is the change of the night song. I go to bed each night listening to the crickets, bats, occasional donkey, hyena, or jackal. Soon the sound of frogs will be added. It reminds me of the plagues in the Old Testament. Frogs are everywhere. I watched a cat the first year I was here. I left his water and food bowl outside, no need to encourage rodents to visit my house. Well, each morning I would have to poor the frogs out of the water dish. How many frogs can an old enamel coffee mug hold. I think 7 was my highest count. UGH!

Last night, I was given the opportunity to put on my maintenance hat. Joanne's refrigerator has been giving her some grief. The freezer is doing its job, but the refrigerator section hasn't been cooling. It ran out of gas yesturday, so Joanne changed the gad bottle, changed the regulator and discovered a new problem. It wouldn't light. So, she aske if I could come over and change the thermal coupling. I was able to figure that out. (Impressive I know, but it would be even better if I knew how it all worked.) But the refrigerator still won't stay lit. So if you have any ideas on how to fix this problem. Let me know.

This week I will be wearing the electrician hat as I have to change out the 1500 watt inverter in my place. I have been given email guidelines, that include advice such as "do not let those two cables touch or Boom! My batteries will be fried. I am not sure what day I plan to have this fun. I am plannign on doing some touch up painting and a lot more visiting. I will also be getting organized for my return to language study. Saturday I will head to Banjul, time for more supplies already. It would be a great trip if it wasn't for the ferry.

Thanks for praying.

Here are a few pics for you.....

Passing a ferry while on a ferry.

Much of my afternoons are spenting visting with friends from the village.

Monday, June 4, 2007

I am settled! I have unpacked the last box, bag, suitcase, etc. I thought I would let you get a glimpse of my new floor. It is so beautiful. A big thank you to TED, and the guys. I do love it. Especially now that I can see it.

I am having a bit of trouble with my electricity and my computer still likes to crash when it likes. So this will be short today.

I had a great day on Saturday. I went to the Luuma, market, in town. I had a good time greeting everyone and catching up on events in the village. People were so glad to see me back but not thrilled to hear that I am going to take a few (13) weeks to work on refreshing and improving my Wolof. Please continue to pray for the clinic ministry and it's testimony to the villages it serves.

After the Luuma, I took 13 kids to the shore. I had to turn about 8 away. I can't watch that many. It was an experience. The kids (2-19 in age) had a great time in the van, calling out to those they knew along the way. It is a 15 mile drive that takes about 25 minutes. But when I arrived at the shore I was approached by a soldier. He questioned me on what was I doing there and hadn't I heard that he was there. That people were there now. It was a wierd conversation and looking back on it last night, I came to this conclusion. In January, the military took over a landmark fort left by the Portuegese in the 1400s. They are now using it as a barracks and my favorite shore spot is too close to the fort. I may need to find a new place.

The ride home was full of teasing. I was pulled over at a check point simply because the immigration officer was from our village and he wanted to tease the gals. I then picked up some passengers headed to our village and became a local taxi. I had 20 people and all manner of baggage (no animals though). I even made stops on the way. At my first stop I not only dropped off a passenger, I picked one up. It was a little snug but such fun. The best thing... no tire blow outs! Praise the Lord.

Have a great one, more later.