Sunday, May 27, 2007

I trust that you are having a wonderful Sunday.

It has been a quiet weekend for me. I am trying to get my things all settled. I have found that in the middle of the day, 2-5 pm, I am not worth much. This is the hottest time of day. I was watching the thermometer in my house today. It topped off at about 92 degrees and 43% humidity. That just means it feels like 93 degrees today. There is no breeze, occassionally a hot gust of wind comes from the northeast (the desert). At around 5 pm the winds change and a cooler breeze comes from the ocean. It will drop to the mid 80s. Yes, you can tell the difference and you appreciate it.

I went to church. It was just the four of us missionary gals. The Gambian that comes to church has been on a trip for two months. His wife is getting a little worried as she has no way to pay the rent and no food. Our service was in English. We sang a few of our favorite hymns, accapella of course. The gals have been watching a series put out by Focus On The Family. Walk Where Jesus Walked. Today's lesson was about the passion of Elijah in living his life for Christ. Last week, while in Banjul the message was on the God's attribute: Unchangeable. There sure have been a lot of changes here in the 12 months I was gone. It is reassuring to know that God doesn't and won't change.

After church, I had the pleasure (?) of changing the gas bottle on my stove. I had a new one put on just 11 days ago. Usually the stove bottle lasts for 5-6 weeks. So, I had to do some investigating and try a new regulator, but that didn't fit the bottle. So I refitted the old regulator with the new ones' seals. The stove is up and running and there is no scent of Butane, but I haven't noticed a smell all week.

I made French Toast casserole yesterday. I left some local bread out over night... it was almost impossible to cut it into usable size pieces for the casserole. I cooked it today, after I got the butane situated. Then since I haven't made any Maple Flavored syrup. (lots of sugar and a little bit of flavoring... not that good stuff you all can get). I diced up some Mangos and made a sauce. It was very tasty.

I will have a busy week as my house helper, Jogab, went on a trip. I will get to do all the fun stuff (sweep, mop, put the kitchen to order and laundry), okay I am praying I find someone willing to do my laundry. Jogab will be back next week. I hope to be done settling in by then.

My language skills are improving. I will be going to a near by village every day to refresh and improve my Wolof. Pray for Teresa as she will be alone in the clinic until I finish the refresher (13 weeks).

Have a great week. Thanks for your prayers...
Maybe the next posting will have a photo or two.... I have to find my camera. : )

Thursday, May 24, 2007

My first week back in the country was unique.

I left the guesthouse Monday morning to head to Ndungu Kebbeh. Nola Tucker and Abby came along to get some school books for Abby. We had a short wait at the outside of the ferry terminal. Nola had to elbow her way in the ticket line. Once inside the gates, my friends... known as the sellers, were thrilled to see me back. One woman even greeted me with a kiss on each cheek. She shocked me when she followed it up with a kiss on the lips. Way too much culture there! I greeted the rest of the women and even bought a few dresses for Ted's mother. Ted was in the country with a team of men (Gary, Byron and Darryl) doing some badly needed maintenance work. They were able to oversee tile work in my house. It will look so nice when I actually get settled. Thank you guys! Thanks Ted. At the terminal we were asked ot carry a ferry worker and her mother to a village on our path. I agreed knowing that meant I would get on the next ferry. So, we were off. It was an uneventful trip on the north bank until about 12 kilometers from home. The front driver side tire blew out. Praise God I was able to keep the van upright and get it off to the side of the road. We are also very thankful for the young Gambian man who passed us and stopped to help. What a blessing he was, we were delayed just 10 minutes.

I was able to greet a few of my friends, the few days I was in NK. I returned to the capitol for meetings on Friday. I stayed to do some shopping and spend some time with our teams only MK, Abby. We had a blast at the pool, beach and lunch... too bad we both forgot the sunscreen. Opps! I was told I was too white last week at the ferry, this week they will tell me I am too red.

I was all set and left for the ferry around 10 this am. When I arrived, they told me that the ferry was not sending cars across as the president was going to cross today. So, I am spending another night in the captitol. Pray for a good crossing tomorrow. There is never a dull moment here.

I do have my computer set for email, however our phone ines are not working properly in the bush. We will see. Thank you for your prayers.

Oh yeah, big news.... Miss Black USA is being held here in the Gambia over the next two weeks.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

I have arrived! All flights were on time and arrivals were a little early. All four of my bags were under the weight limit and they all arrived with me. I am not sure all items arrived. I decided to leave them in the van until I arrived in Ndungu Kebbeh tomorrow. Last night I had dinner with The Robison's and then started the process of grocery shopping. I didn't forget how to drive standard.

Today was church and then out to eat with some friends. (the Tucker's and Rog's). Tomorrow I head to NK. Nola T and Abby will be going with me to spend the day in NK. I am ready to go. It already seems like I wasn't gone long.

Thanks for your prayers. I hear my floor is looking good.

Friday, May 11, 2007


Wow, where did the time go? I am now past security awaiting my plane's boarding call. I have a bit of time as I allowed time to go through security and didn't need it. I have some medication that needs to be kept cold, that went through without even having to have the label read. Praise God.

I was able to talk with my brother this morning. My sister came down to Florida with Jessica to see me off, and pick up a car. Hmm, what exactly was the attraction? It was great to see them again as always and I am glad they are there for my mom and dad tonight.

The last 36 hours were filled with weighing bags and reweighing bags. It was such a job! I had 3 unused pounds. : ) Too bad I didn't bring those items I took out to make room on the home scale. They won't really be missed.

I have 24 hours of travel or layovers before I arrive in Banjul. It should be a long day. I have heard that the work crew is at work out in Ndungu Kebbeh and that my house is half tiled. The phone lines are down out in NK, so no emails. That makes the transition a bit harder, but if you remember back to when I first arrived in The Gambia, my phone was out for six weeks. I am not sure what the problem is this time. I will send updates when I hear something.

Thank you for your prayers.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Packing up

The time has come to pack up.

I am struggling with trying to figure out what can go and what will have to stay behind.

I am taking an extra bag, so that will bring the weight limit up to 150 pounds. My first bag weighs 52, wishing hasn't made the items lighter. I will have to do some creative playing.

I have just a few more days to figure it all out, I am praying I can have most of it all done by Monday.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Computer Challenges 2 Surgeries Family & Friends

25,000 Miles Representing The Gambia

Wow furlough has been something! I am sure many of you have been wondering where have I been? It has been some month. I left Florida in March and returned the last week of April. I traveled north (Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina, North Carolina, New York, Pennsylvania, and Virginia). I was able to catch up with a lot of friends and make new ones. One of the highlights of this trip was meeting the children of friends. I had such a good time getting to know these kids. It was funny to see their faces when I told them, “see you when you are, wait… how old did you say you are? See you when you are (four-five years older).” Their jaws dropped and their eyes popped out! That was going to be a long time.
While traveling, I picked up a nasty case of Bronchitis. I have been on medications of one form or another since the 9th of April. A long time I know; I have been sick since the 19th of March. My dear mother has a saying, I can’t return to The Gambia until I am better. I, however, have ticket in hand! (And I am feeling much better.)
I did have the opportunity to share about The Gambia with several perspective missionaries. I was also able to present at many churches and see many of the individuals that support my ministry in The Gambia.
The words above represent much of my furlough and how generous God has been to me. I praise Him for a computer (whether it works perfectly or not) as I can communicate with you all. My surgeries went well and I have noticed much improvement in each hand. My neck hasn’t bothered me (if I keep my driving hours down…less than 12 hours behind the wheel.) I will take back my cervical therapy gear as a preventative.
This furlough I had the joy of celebrating the 50th wedding anniversary of my parents. My brother and his family, sister and her family and I hosted a party for my parents in New York State. All of their children and grandchildren were present. It was great to see so many friends and relations, many of whom I haven’t seen since childhood.
I mentioned that God had provided a car for me for furlough. My brother and sister assisted me in obtaining it. I have driven more than 25,000 miles and I praise God for the safety He has given me. I am looking forward to no more snowstorms. I drove through three; I was definitely the co-pilot those days.
I have obtained my ticket to return to The Gambia and my visa. I wasn’t able to send an email out at that time, I would like to thank those of you who knew and were praying. All the paper work came through with out any problems. My biggest concern was my ticket. The Gambia has a rule that Americans need to have round trip tickets; this is because America has a similar rule for Gambians. I didn’t want to purchase a round trip ticket that I knew I wouldn’t be able to use. God paved the way for me to be able to get the visa and a letter, and cell phone number to make a round trip ticket unnecessary. That is a phone number I am holding on to!
I am looking forward to my return. I have to pack up my belongings. I think I have most of what I want to take with me set aside. The actual packing is a bit more challenging as airlines have changed the weight allowance. I am already planning on taking an extra bag. My mother walks by my room and tells me, it will never make it into three bags. Pray, I am not sure what will fit. I still need to add clothes. PTL I wear mostly Gambian clothing.

Thank you for your prayers and your encouragement and financial support. I really would not be able to do this without each of you. I am excited to go back and I am looking forward to what God has in store for me in the months a head. I heard from Ndungu Kebbeh the other day and I know that many of my friends and staff are counting the days until I return. I heard that my fellow missionaries are waiting for my return too.

My return to The Gambia and the trouble with my computer this furlough has me thinking on how I can keep the ministry before you. I will continue to write my prayer letters and send email updates. I have also been learning how to Blog. For those of you with a computer, you will be able to check out my blog site any time for updates on life in The Gambia. Simply type in note there is no www. I cheated and used a template, I can’t erase the subscribe line, but it isn’t mine.

God’s goodness and mercy
Opportunites to share about the Wolof people and the work God has given me among them
Obtained Visa and airline Ticket
Safety on the road

Prayer Requests:
Packing up and saying see ya later (pray for my parents, it is difficult to see your child leave for four years)
I fly out of Tampa on May 11th at 1:30 pm and arrive in The Gambia 24 hours later.

Your Partner in The Gambia,

Suellen Black
Ephesians 6:19-20