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.