Monday, November 24, 2008

Today, I received this email from a friend who is going through some rough days. God is giving her the strength to face the challenges she faces each day. She thought I might need to be reminded of my roots. FYI.... I can relate to much of this.
My friend writes, "Thought you might get a kick out of this one or at least it will cool you off a bit...."

Jeff Foxworthy on Upstate New York…..

If you consider it a sport to gather your food by drilling through 36 inches of ice and sitting there all day hoping that the food will swim by, you might live in Upstate New York.

If you're proud that your region makes the national news 96 nights a year because Saranac Lake is the coldest spot in the nation, and Syracuse get s more snow than any other major city in the US, you might live in Upstate.

If your local Dairy Queen is closed from October through May, you might live in Upstate New York .

If you get 131 inches of snow in a week and you comment that 'winter's finally here', you might live near Oswego in Upstate New York.

If you instinctively walk like a penguin for six months out of the year, you might live, bundled up, in Upstate New York.

If someone in a Home Depot store offers you assistance, and they don't work there, you might live in Upstate NY.

If your dad's suntan stops at a line curving around the middle of his forehead, you might live in Upstate New York.

If you have worn shorts and a parka on the same day, you might live in Upstate New York.

If you have had a lengthy phone conversation with someone who dialed a wrong number, you might live in Upstate New York.


"Vacation" means going South past Syracuse for the weekend.

You measure distance in hours.

You know several people who have hit a deer more than once.

You often switch from "heat" to "A/C" in the same day and back again.

You can drive 65 mph through 2 feet of snow during a raging blizzard, without flinching.

You install security lights on your house and garage and leave both unlocked.

You carry jumper cables in your car and your girlfriend/wife knows how to use them.

You design your kid's Halloween costume to fit over a snowsuit.

Driving is better in the winter because the potholes are filled with snow.

You know all 4 seasons: almost winter, winter, still winter, and road construction.

You can identify a southern or eastern accent.

Down South to you means Corning.

Your neighbor throws a party to celebrate his new shed.

You go out for a fish fry every Friday.

Your 4th of July picnic was moved indoors due to frost.

You have more miles on your snow blower than your car.

You find 10 degrees "a little chilly." and 55 is shorts weather.

You actually understand these jokes, and you forward them to all your Upstate New York friends and to those who used to live here and left. -- (chickens).

Monday, September 15, 2008

God Blesses

November 11,
June through November is really rough in The Gambia. The rainy season started back in June. The temperatures are now, hot, the air is humid and the rains are decreasing. One of my missionary friends that live in Banjul commented in the prayer letter, "Praise God for no rain in three days!" It is true, the rains are decreasing. It remains hot and humid though. The crops are in the fields and the time for harvesting is coming. The last several years have not yielded a good crop. The cash crop is peanut; they also grow millet. Prior to harvest the food supply from last year has finished. The price of rice has sky rocketed. We used to pay about 300 Dalasi, it is now over 900 Dalasi for a sack of rice. Rice is usually served for lunch and dinner. Rice may also be used to make a poridge for breakfast. It is not uncommon to have friends coming to the door to ask for help with something for dinner. They have no money for anything and they didn't have lunch, breakfast or dinner yesterday.

In May, we had some guest from the home office of ABWE come for a spiritual retreat. One night, we were sitting under the night skies discussing our neighbors and their hardships: the lack of food, the increase in the cost of rice. Our guest offered to share this concern with his friends in Europe as well as in America. Since then we have been praying for God to provide the monies to purchase rice for the people in The Gambia.

God provided over $21,500 for the Gambia rice project. The village of Ndungu Kebbeh and our employees were teh first to receive the rice, each head of the family was given a full sack (5o kgs). Since we still had rice and money to purchase more, we went to nine (9) neighboring villages and gave each family provider in those villages a half sack of rice. Each bag of rice that was given was accompanied by a booklet in Wolof that shares the gospel story from Creation to Christ. Many reports have come from people who have read the booklet and even read it to others. Thousands of people have heard the gospel in the last few months. PRAISE GOD.

Sunday, September 14, 2008


A few weeks ago, I mentioned that there was a young man that was sick and would need to go to Dakar, Senegal for cancer treatment. Samba has had several weeks of treatment. He returned to The Gambia a few weeks ago and his father wanted to have him meet with us to express their thanks. Thank you for your prayers, and thank you for the financial gifts that were given to help with his treatments. He will be returning to Dakar in three weeks for evaluations and possibly more treatment. As of now, he is eating, playing with the other boys in the neighborhood and enjoying being home with his family.

Strange Signs......

The other day my friends and I were headed to the pool and we came across this sign. We were a little shocked by who funded the sign.

I know I wasn't too pleased to see the efforts of "Our Tax Dollars at Work."

My FAVORITE African sign says...
AMY's Beauty Boutigue, We Beautify to DROP DEAD GORGEOUS. I haven't wanted to go there for a haircut yet!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Getting Ready for Another Adventure!

Life is a great adventure, isn't it? I love praying for God to give me the strength and wisdom for the adventures I will face in the coming day. They can be something!

I arrived in The Gambia a month ago. What a month!
The plane that I arrived on also carried my coworker in the clinic, Teresa, Dr Joel Lundberg, his wife Wendy, youngest son and oldest daughter and a family friend, and Dan, Bridget and Hannah Byrum, future hospital administrator. We had a fun weekend getting supplies together and heading out to NK. The biggest challenge... low tire pressure due to the weight of our baggage. As I was climbing out of the van to have a looksie, I noticed a small gash in the side wall of the front tire. So, I prayed the van all the way home and God was gracious. No blow outs!

Shortly after I arrived, I heard that the medications I had ordered back in April, were FINALLY paid for. There were lots of problems with the wire transfer. With in a week, I received an email that the medications would be arriving the very next day by air freight. I was a little excited (not in a good way) about that. How was I going to get to the Airport. Praise God for Dan being here. I sent him and our Gambian driver across the river/ferry in our ambulance. They picked up Max and went to the airport. Several hours later... the shipment arrived and they were able to take it home. We didn't have the proper paper work, but the man let Max and Dan take the medications with their promise the paperwork would be there the following week. (This was a Friday.) So, on Monday I went to Banjul and spent the day hanging out with Max waiting for a man from The Gambia's Central Stores to report in at his office. All in all a long day. Again God's protection was around me as I heard about a horrible accident at the ferry that killed several pedestrians (I was a pedestrian passenger that day).

The Gambia is receiving free Malaria medications from Global Funds. Because we work with The Gambia Health System, we are given this medication. (A really good thing as it is VERY expensive.) The World Health Organization wants us to stop using Chloroquine in hopes that the amount of resistance can be lowered. I spent Tuesday in Essau at the referral hospital trying to get our supplies. I took Dan, Bridget and the young gals along to tour the place.

I haven't spent much time in the clinic recently. Dr Joel has been a great blessing and I have been able to step out to get some things done that I have had on the back burner. Last week Joel's family returned to the states and his friend and former Gambian missionary came out to work in the clinic for two weeks. Kurt is a blessing in many ways. He can speak the local language (still! there is hope for me) and he is a handyman who has lived her before. Joel and Kurt will be supervising the clinic this weekend as I head to Banjul for team meetings.

Last week I had the pleasure of driving our ambulance around town delivering rice. Some of you may know that the price of rice has just risen unbelievably. Our neighbors have had poor crops for several years. They are having a very hard time feeding their families. It is very common to have someone show up at my door and say they haven't eaten in a day or two, can I give them something for their dinner. This is a heart breaker as the number of requests for help far out weigh my financial means. The US Dollar has fallen here in The Gambia and a 110 pound bag of rice that use to cost about $20 is now selling for $43. A family unit will go through a sack of rice in 2-4 weeks. You can see the hardship this may bring.
A few months ago we started asking God to provide the money to give each person responsible for providing the rice, a bag of rice. God provided! Last Thursday we delivered over a three hundred bags of rice. We are praying for the opportunity to give to our employees and then to a few of our neighboring villages. Along with the rice, we gave a booklet explaining salvation from creation to Christ. Pray with us that this may be an opening for some to search the scriptures.

Tomorrow's adventure... another trip to Banjul. This time for field meetings. As always I have already started praying for our ferry crossing. Kurt and Joel will be holding down the fort. AND great news... the Lippy family have returned to The Gambia. They will be settling in this weekend. No meetings for them.

I will try to post some adventure pictures in the near future!
Thanks for reading.....

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

A Packed Full Three Months...

I can't believe it has been three months since my last BLOG. Okay, I can. I know I haven't gone on Blogger.

I left The Gambia in the middle of June. The rains had just started. The clinic was closed until my return the second week of August.

I arrived safely in the US and was met at the airport by Darlene Gabler. We first met in candidate school. Darlene is a church planting assistant in Mexico City, Mexico. It was such a blessing that God allowed us to meet up. Darlene drove me from Baltimore to Harrisburg. What a friend! We had a great visit as we shared what God has been doing in Mexico and The Gambia.

My first assignment in the US was to attend the Medical Mission Interface at ABWE. My goal was to present The Gambia to recruit individuals willing to come out for short term stints, 2 weeks to a year or two. I had a great time at the meeting. I praise God for the many contacts made and the one who is coming out in October.

This summer was full of many special blessings. One such blessing occurred at MMI. I was able to be present when Dr Irene Alyn, Dr Lois Baker, and Dr Caroline Carlson received an award for their volunteer service with ABWE in Medical Missions. Drs Alyn and Baker were two of my instructors when I attended Cedarville University. What a special opportunity to be able to be present.

After my meetings at ABWE, I went to see an Endocrinologist for my blood sugar problems. It was very interesting. I had a LOT of blood work done, both before the appointment and afterwards. I returned a month later for my follow-up appointment and heard a lot about what I don't have. It was fun to ask the doctor, "but what do I have?" The answer: Reactive Hypoglycemia. The treatment: a diet of protein and good carbs (just a bit). He suggested taking a prescription over with me, that would help if the really low blood sugars returned. I am thrilled that God has seen to it that my blood sugars have stabilized again. I have been to the store to buy supplies for a meter as well as the prescription. I was a bit blown away with the cost of things. Praise God He isn't caught by surprise.

My time in Harrisburg finally came to an end. My sister and nephew drove up from West Virginia to take me to the mountians. The last 7 miles included 45 turns at a 9% grade incline. My ears popped 15 times. I was sure I was going to have altitude sickness. The Gambia is just above sea level; the mountains are beautiful though. (After you get rid of the road induced nausea.) The stars were very nice, but they are beautiful and so bright in Ndungu Kebbeh.

I enjoyed my time with my sister. My parents came up for a visit. It was great to see them again. I was able to go to a wedding in Jamestown, New York. I made a whirlwind trip. It was great to see the folks at First Baptist Church Cherry Creek. Thank you for letting me share.

I returned to my sister's new home to help her prepare for her daughter's wedding that would be the 2nd of August in Schroon Lake. I also prepared to return to The Gambia. Then it was time to head to the Adirondacks. I got to see a lot of mountains this trip. Jessica and her fiance traveled over from Ohio and met us there. We had a great week preparing for the wedding.

The wedding was officiated by Pastor Herrmann from a supporting church in Thurman, NY. It was great being able to see so many supporters. Thanks for your prayers.

As I prepare to return to The Gambia I am excited about what God has been doing this summer. A few weeks ago I received the news that the Lippy family will be returning to The Gambia in three weeks. God is good! Pray for the Lippy's as they prepare to return to The Gambia and start language school.

I am looking forward to having a short term visitors from America throughout the Fall. I have volunteers lined up for 2-6 week stints now through the first of November. Pleasae pray God would send help in November as well.

Thanks for your prayer and your encouragment. I am sorry I didn't get to see many of you.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

I love Wednesdays...

Because Wednesday is the official start of the clinic week, I feel like most of my weeks have two Mondays. Some weeks that is okay, and some weeks it is by calling upon the grace of God that I get through it.

Today was a fun Wednesday. I arrived at the clinic pretty much on time. (Major miracle... I hate mornings.) I have prayer with Teresa, find where I am on the John tape to play for the clinic patrons... and read that section in my Bible before heading out. The yard men meet me, I forgot their key, so had to go home for it. They decide to whitewash the last of the clinic building today. : ) The whitewash job should be finished by tomorrow!! The three guys have been whitewashing every building on our compound. They started about 5 weeks ago. (They have had time off and they have done other jobs, but it has been five weeks.)

Half way through our clinic day I plan to meet with our staff to tell them about our summer plans. I missed judged my patient load and didn't get to talk with them until about 11 am. After chatting with the staff, I saw a few more patients and then headed to the cillage to pick up Joanne. We were going to go talk to the head of the Village Development Council, about the summer closure. I take Joanne along, not for moral support, but so that she can clean up my Wolof. We had a great time with Malik... who is Joanne's son. (All very gambian here... her namesake, is Malik's mother... therefore, it could be said that Joanne is his mother. She is my mother too. I remind her of that sometimes.) On my way back to the clinic I pass a woman and her young son and he has a huge wrap on his head. Turns out he was getting Mangos out of a tree and was hit in the head by a stick. Nice gash! I had them get in the car and took them to the clinic andthen sewed him up! I finished seeing patients at about 2 pm, just had a quick bite to eat and now I am off to the office. I have a man coming to get our butane bottles this evening. Another man is coming to fill in a sink whole (a tree used to stand there... until we burned it out... it burned for weeks.) My yard crew should be back any minute to start the lst of the touch ups with whitewash. What a day!

The sad news is... the humidiy is coming back. It was 95 degrees with 705 humidity in the clinic today... that would be about 122 degrees. : ) Praise God for showers and running water!

Chat at ya later!

Monday, May 5, 2008

Relaxing Weekends Gone in a Minute.

Teresa liked heading to Banjul for a treat so much last weekend that she suggested we do it again. I was game. It has been pretty hot here in NK, I wondered if I could talk her into going in for a day or two and going to a pool. It was easy to talk her into it. So, Friday afternoon, we packed up our stuff and headed out. It would be a very relaxing weekend. We weren't going to take a car, we had no shopping to do. Arriving in Barra, our ambulance driver dropped us off a the ferry, when we bought our ticket we discovered they were already in the process of loading foot passengers. Praise God, we didn't have to wait in the hot sun. Upon arrival in Banjul, one of the two taxi drivers I have used in the past and trust found us at the ferry and offered to be our taxi. We introduced him to the fruit cocktail drink and a schwarma sandwich at the KING OF SCHWARMA downtown Banjul. Delicious. Then it was off to the money exchanger, the roadside veggie stand, and the grocery store. We arrived at our place in Ker Serin in rare form. Friday evening was a relaxing time. Saturday noon we spent the afternoon at a new to us pool. As patrons of the restaurant, you can use the pool. We never had, but it was great! No one around, very quiet. Saturday evening... more rest. Sunday, church... what a blessing the music is to Teresa and I. One of the families that has been attending has a teenage son who plays the flute, another woman who attends with her husband plays the keyboard. I think both of these families are from Korea. Other Sundays we may have a violinist, and maybe a guitarist. In Ndungu Kebbeh it is accapella, so we are always blessed to hear the instruments.

After church, Teresa and I headed to one of our favorite hotels, great pool, okay food. I hadn't been there since I returned to The Gambia. Strolling down the side walk I hear my name... (not unusual.. but my English name... very unusual. It was the lady from the front desk, I may not have been there in two years, and since the quest house opened up I haven't stayed there... but I am still known. (pretty cool!) The pool was indeed great and the owner has made several improvements. The only improvement we saw in the area of the kitchen was a great new seating area. (Yup, the food was still lacking, but great pool and the price was right.)

After two wonderful days of relaxation Teresa and I braved the return to NK. Adelia, our team mate that runs the guest house, drove us the Banjul where we ran some errands and then she took us to the ferry. It was exciting to see a ferry lined up at the dock. That is until I ran into one of the sellers I know... she told me to go have a seat somewhere. It would be a while before we would leave... the president was crossing. We waited a total of 2 hours, as we waited we counted our blessings....1) we weren't under the direct sun, we were fairly close to a ceiling fan, 2) the bathrooms weren't near by (you can figure out why that would be a blessing) 3) we didn't have a crying, wet baby on our backs... Arriving in Barra, we were able to get a taxi (opting for a private one not a bush one) and were home in no time. It is hot, there is a slight breeze, the shower was great and it is good to be home. Oh, but the best was that on the way home we passed all the school kids that were waiting at the side of the road for the president to pass by. He made a detour north and then will come this way. As the driver passed the school children in our village and they saw me sitting in the car... you could hear them start to chant... Maam Soxna, Maam Soxna. What a welcome home!

The work week starts as soon as I open my door. I need to find something for lunch first. Have a great week.

Monday, April 28, 2008

How Do Your Tea Times End?

Today, being Monday, is a favorite time of mine. I actually look forward to Monday afternoons. Tea Time. No, not the British flair. There are no biscuits or scones. Gambian Style Tea Time. It doesn't happen at a specific time everyday, except at my place. Mondays from 4:30-7. Anyone who comes can join the fun. I like to tease that the national beverage in The Gambia is Attaaya. (Chinese Green Tea, but believe me this form has caffeine.) They brew it in little teapots. Then add a lot of sugar. When it is nice and strong, it is poured from one glass to another, to get a nice head of foam. Then the two glasses are rinsed with water and the serving begins. : ) Each Monday, my friend comes to brew the tea and have a chat. Today, she arrived a little later than usual and was in a bit of a hurry, no time for tea, let us just do the milk (warmed and then mixed with sugar, add a little vanilla and YUM!) So, I agreed, that was okay with me. Then I learned she had a baby naming ceremony celebration going on at her compound. So, she brewed, we all chatted.... by the end there were six adult women, one teenage gal and five young girls. We all enjoyed the milk.

My friend left and told me that next week she wouldn't be able to make it, but in two weeks she would be back. I stayed and chatted with the others and then slowly they left. It was a little early and still light out. So, I picked up my magazine and settled back to enjoy a rare quiet moment. About twenty minutes later I looked up to see my friend walking back into the compound and behind her was a horse and cart. I saw about five young men on that and behind it was my friend's husband, who is one of our ambulance drivers. My friend then told me, her son (most likely a nephew) was hit in the head with a metal door. It fell on him. I did a quick assessment and asked her husband to get one of our Gambian staff nurses to ride along with them in the ambulance. I ran for supplies and started an IV, by the time I had the patient ready for transport all the necessary staff had arrived. I worked right at the horse cart. (I just brought out the supplies I would need.) My coworker Teresa thinks she needs to follow me around with a camera. I was starting the IV as she came upon the scene.

By the time they arrived at the referral hospital, the man was awake and when asked where he was he said he was at my house. I am not sure what to think of that... my house looks like the inside of an ambulance. No, I took it as a good sign, he knew my name and that that is where he would go for help. Pray for BD. He stayed at the referral hospital just long enough to get into their ambulance for the ride to the city hospital on the other side of the river. Again, I am praising God for the resources he has given us to help our neighbors.

You just never know how Tea Time may end. Now we know why my friend needed to leave early and why the rest of the group left earlier than normal. God has an amazing plan!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Things that bite...

Okay, years ago when I told my family I was going to be living in Africa.... there was some laughter. I HATE bugs, spiders,snakes,etc. I have done pretty good here, by the grace of God. I have seen a few snakes, most of them are dead when I see them. (PRAISE GOD) I have lizards living in my house (they eat mosquitoes that carry Malaria, so they are welcomed). I have had the rare scorpion, centipede, baby snakes, and a critter from the mouse family.

I woke up this morning to find this cute(?) little (okay, I added the fly swatter so you could see he isn't exactly little) critter, dead at the side of my bed. Apparently he was under my throw rug and met his demise because he couldn't see what was landing on him.

The last few mornings I have awoken with strange bites. We are now wondering if this is the culprit. I don't want to really think about it. I took the photo across the street to my tomaa and she said yes, they bite. Deb says that they bite but it doesn't bother you right away and then it gets sensitive to pressure. YEAH! That's the one. He feasted on my leg the other night, three right in a row.

Gives new meaning to sleep tight, don't let the bed bugs bite.

Thanks for your prayers.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

APRIL 2008
Lately I have had my hands full. No, not with Adama and Awa, but I thought they were a cute picture of full arms. Their mother is a dear friend and this is her second set of twins. The older set is now five. Hadam also has a three year old girl. She really has her hands full.
I am very thankful for your prayers and partnering with me in the ministry here in The Gambia. It has been an interesting time. I will give you a review of the last few months.
Wow, it has been a long time. January is suppose to signal the start of the quieter season at the clinic We really haven’t seen that as I am still being called in frequently for children with severe Malaria. Once in a while I get called down for an adult that needs medication and couldn’t make it during the clinic hours.
One of the encouraging things that happened in January was a visit from our regional administrator and his wife.(Ron and Ann Washer) They brought along a couple who are looking to change fields of ministry. It was a blessing to hear about their many years of service in Zambia.
I was making home visits to a few patients in the NK area. One of my patients came from the city to be treated here and refused to be transported to the referral hospital. When he was much better, I did finally convince him to go, he needed TB testing. I enjoy the home visits as it gives me an opportunity to get off the compound and into the village; all though the late at night home visits aren’t as much fun. Teresa usually joins me on these as my chaperone and driver.
For a short month it was packed full of things. I found myself making more home visits and getting ready for our quarterly field meetings. These were held in Banjul and the three of us packed up and went across together. We had some fun shopping. You would have enjoyed a picture of the vehicle when we returned to NK. I (sitting in the back seat) was part of the baggage.
During our team meetings, it was decided that I will return to the USA in June to attend MMI (Medical Missions Interface) and represent The Gambia. Please pray with me that I would present the clinic ministry in God’s view and that God would provide short term help in the form of Dr.s and nurses to come to The Gambia and help during the busy rainy season.
During this month I was also preparing for short term help in the form of an MD and maintenance on the compound in NK. How much whitewash do you need to buy for all the buildings we have? We made a guess and I have two big buildings and three small buildings to go. I think we guessed pretty close. God blesses!
On a family note: My niece, Jessica Fish, emailed me; she is planning an August 2nd wedding to Patrick Gernert. The wedding will take place in the Adirondacks. I am planning on spending my yearly vacation in the USA so that I may attend this happy family event. I am praying that I may be able to touch base with my supporting churches in that area while I am there.

God has been quite faithful to the three of us gals out here in Ndungu Kebbeh. We have experienced safety as we travel, safety from the snake that wanders our compound, joy in our work and God blesses us in that usually only one of us is sick, or physically down at a time. The other two are great at encouraging the one that needs help. Our prayer meetings can get very lengthy as we share with each other the joys and heartaches of our individual ministries. Praise God this month saw the believers returning more faithfully to Bible study and I was able to start a Bible time for the children at the Literacy Centre’s Library.
This month saw the arrival of the Marrie family. Stacie was a BIG encouragement in the clinic. I know we didn’t keep her quite busy enough (I was thankful it was quieter) and she would have to call me for in the evening and night visits because we no longer have an interpreter on the grounds. I did send for her one time. The guard (who really doesn’t speak English) arrived at her house, knocked at the door and said “Doctor, Soxna, Lopitaan you come.” And come she did. I kept Jim busy with various unpleasant maintenance projects. I was also busy this month doing electrical work at the Literacy Centre (I changed out their inverter) and plumbing work on the compound with Jim.
I started the kids Bible time at the library and it was cancelled for two weeks due to Easter break. We had a quiet Easter celebration. The Marrie family doubled our church attendance. We viewed a few clips from the That The World Should Know series by Ray Vander Laan and Focus on the Family. It is a great video series about the Holy Land. We then had an Easter meal together and lots of fellowship.
April continues in the steps of being a busy month. Stacie Marrie led an In-Service Day for the clinic staff. It was a fun day, a bit hot in the classroom and Jim would say it was really hot where he spent his morning… a hot aluminum roof. The staff enjoyed their lecture topics and the Gambian meal that followed. I was a little run ragged by the end of the day; my house had three cooks and the clinic staff traipsing through. It was a fun day and I am glad we were able to offer this training to our staff.
The Marrie family left on the 10th of April. We hope they get to return to warmer weather than what they left. After spending a few 100 plus degree days here, forties may not feel so well. I praise God it is still cool in the mornings and evenings. The Marrie’s would laugh when we would mention getting a sweater or blanket.
1) The Bible club with the neighborhood children has started and I have over forty in attendance each week.
2) The Marrie family came and they were a blessing in the clinic and doing a lot of work around the compound.
3) The believers have begun to return for regular Bible study.
1) The young woman who needs to have emergency surgery is still waiting. The family said the doctor will now do it on 21 of April. Thank you to those who gave money toward her surgery. I will keep you all informed as I hear.
2) MMI June 19-22, I will represent The Gambia. I am asking God to provide short term help for the months of August through December. I have eight weeks remaining: mid Sept- mid Oct and the month of November. Pray for my travel and time with Family and churches. Pray for transportation needs to be worked out.
3) I am having difficulty with my hand and arm. I am not sure what is going on, I have resumed all my therapy.
4) Pray for my meeting with the Department of Health regarding my returning to the US this summer. Also, pray that God may fill those gaps in the fall with short term MDs and/or nurses so that we can open the clinic full time and open the hospital.

Phil 3:14 As I serve God here in The Gambia, I press toward the mark.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Another Crazy Period of Time

I think I should change my goal of writing a blog frequently. I have had to crazy a life.

I should share some of the successes God has given to me and my patients. One of our bakers is a diabetic. He was really sick in February and our Gambian staff treated him. When he did not improve he came to see me. I was able to check his blood sugar and discovered that he was out of control. I sent him to Banjul. The Drs there treated his pneumonia and sent him home on his oral diabetic meds and had him purchase a vial of insulin. He was then told to see me the next day and I would start his insulin. HA-HA. NOT! I adjusted his meds for a week and read up on insulin. I prayed a LOT. Finally, I had to face it, he needed insulin, but not as much as the dr in Banjul thought. I reduced it and gave him his first injection, explained what to do if he felt like his blood sugars were too low. That started my twice a day trips to his compound. I was able to decrease the insulin dose further and teach his wife and daughter how to give the injections. I had to go into Banjul to pick up Dr Marrie and family, so I left the medication filled syringes with him. His daughter did a pretty good job while I was away. Praise God I was able to continue to decrease his insulin and now he is feeling great and on just oral medications! God is good. The family tries to give me the credit, I won't take it. It has opened the door for talking about God and how HE provides. Yesterday I saw the baker in the clinic. He is feeling and looking great. He told me his children would be bringing me something that afternoon. I received the nicest loaves of bread I ever saw. They were tasty.

I recently saw a four month old whom I had treated at home for an abcess when he was just a newborn. He is growing so fast and is so big now. His mother and I gave praise to God for helping him.

Dr. Stacie, Jim, Ryan and Megan have returned to the US of A. It is lonely, (aka quiet) here now. Teresa and I miss Megan, she was full of energy and fun to have around. I would love to rematch Ryan in ping pong. I think we are even, two games a piece. How did I let him leave the country with that score. HMMM

Before Stacie left, we had an In Service Day for the clinic staff. It was a fun, hot day. Stacie gave three lectures, I only gave one little one. I over saw the good stuff, breakfast and lunch!

Well, Blogger won't let me up load the photos I have for this post.... so until later. Have a wild one!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

What a WEEK!

Okay, so I just briefly looked to see how far I had gotten in my last blog. I was shocked to see that it was posted over a week ago. What a poor writer I am getting to be.

Knowing that our AC pump had not worked in more than a year, and since I had help here. It was decided, mostly by me since I would be overseeing it, to replace the pump. We had a replacement pump in the tool shed. There were a lot of things in there I had never really seen before.

Changing the pump was an experience. First, we did not have to go down the well. (Like there was NO chance that was going to happen.) We did have to do some heavy lifting and playing with wires. But the actual procedure was pretty basic. I could do it again. Duane had given step by step and pretty specific directions. Send a big thank you to God for working Internet so I could correspond with Duane. (there was a little problem with the Internet, but it only lasted 24 hours and it was the weekend, so that was good.)

Tuesday was the day we changed the pump. Monday we had a field trip to the Roots village of Juffren and Albrada. We learned some interesting twists to American history. It was my fourth or fifth trip, so I am pretty experienced at bartering the price of a trip to James Island (the holding place for the captured men and women before boarding the slave ships). I bartered the price from a total of D1000 down to a respectable D300. Whew.

Wednesday started another clinic week. We had experienced a problem when reconnecting the pump wires at the well, two labels fell off. Not cool. We attempted a quick switch and waa laa... water! Praise God!

Back to the clinic, we are still experiencing a fair amount of Malaria. This week was no exception. We saw a variety of patients which was fun for me. Stacie (a pediatrician) is here for this month. All though I stretch her out of her comfort zone, she has been a great source to have round. I made sure my toughest cases (all adults) had an appointment while she was here. I appreciated the consult and was glad I hadn't made any errors in judgement or treatments. God is good!

Friday was an exceptionally slow day in the clinic. That is until the staff went home. On his way home one of our staff members passed a family coming to the clinic with two sick children. He came with to assist with their treatment. That was nice of him. The little boy was very sick. He started seizing at home and was still seizing. He seized a long time in spite of medication we gave him, just before he left for the referral center the seizures stopped. Stacie and I both examined him and I ran the labs and helped her with medicating (I know where all the supplies are). we sent two different ambulance trips that afternoon and then just before dinner another patient came, an adult who didn't want to come in that morning. Stacie heard him calling out on the compound trying to find the doctor. Our guard was making rounds and didn't see the guy enter. I was trying to take a nap. I heard Stacie say, "I would take care of him, but I can't talk with him". I yelled out, I am coming in English and then in Wolof.

Friday evening is pizza and a movie for the SPTs. We extend invitations to all who are on the compound. So the Marrie family have been joining us in our weekly entertainment. This week, they provided the film. Ryan wanted to share Spider-man Three with us. About five minutes into the conversation we heard a voice at the window, which usually means a sick person has come. This evening it was a woman in labor. Our village birth attendant was in another village attending a family member's funeral. Salifu, one of our nurse/midwives, had gone to the city to visit his children, and Wurribella's husband refuses to let her work at night (smart man, he is not living in the home and they have a small child). So, the woman's escort thought of me.

I do not like birthing babies. However, since I know how, I agreed to help. She had six children at home. I figured I would be back before the movie was over... boy was I wrong. Stacie came to see what was happening. The answer... not much. Finally, about four thirty am, I said I was going to get the driver to drive us to the referral hospital. Her labour had arrested. During our 40 minute transfer she had only two small contractions. I made it home at 6am. I still had stuff out from making Pizza the night before. It was 7 am before I crawled into bed. I asked our guards to tell the visitors for the day that I was sleeping as I was up all night. I am so thankful I remembered to do that.

Today we went visiting and I saw her escort. She delivered a baby girl at 5 PM. ugh! The mom must have been exhausted. I hear the baby's leg has a problem. Stacie and I will go visit her tomorrow or Tuesday. I have to go to Banjul tomorrow. So we shall see what gets done.

Thanks for your prayers. They sustain me on these crazy days.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Answered Prayer

My morning started bright and early, for me that is. I asked God to give Jim and I wisdom and the ability we needed to restore water to our compound. We headed to the tool shed to gather items we would need. Then it was off to the watershed. I had turned all the systems off last night, since nothing was working. This morning upon arrival at the watershed. I turned on all the switches for the solar. As Jim and I were reviewing Duane's notes, we heard music to our ears. The solar pumps were working!

It was time to face this beast. The Lister generator. Takes two to start, you have to hand crank it. Jim and I worked in unison and praise God it started on our first attempt.

The next step was checking into the electrical panel. Can you believe it, Duane had such detailed instructions for me. Jim and I checked and double checked. We replaced a capacitor... sounds more difficult than it was. The big conclusion.... the pump needs replacing.

However, we could not find the replacement pump. I placed a phone call to the team on the south bank. We have water. (The sun isn't the best today, but we will be able to shower and drink!)

They will begin the search for a pump. Jim and I may still get to replace it.

Thanks for your prayers!

Urgent Prayer Request

One thing we have always been very thankful for is the clean, good source of water that is available to us. Yesterday I was doing some routine things in the water shed: start the generator, see that it works; power up the other equipment there while the generator is running, etc. I looked at the water tanks and all though they were not full, they were almost full. It seemed to be a right amount for the time of day.

Tonight, I returned home after being in the office all afternoon. I ran the water at my kitchen sink to fill a water bottle. Only a small trickle came out. I dropped what I was doing and went to the watershed. The tanks were just about empty. I checked things out, started the generator (my adrenaline must have been pumping through my veins, I normally can't start get it to start) and tried to get our pump to work. The solar pumps were saying the tanks were full.

I called Max and Barney (on the south bank) and sought advice. I asked if they had the phone number for Duane in America. They didn't but, it was still early enough that if I called our home office, I should be able to get our administrator's assistant AMY and she would have them. I did and she was there and I had the numbers within minutes. I had to wait a bit before I thought Duane would be home. I called and he came to our rescue. A few minutes on the phone and two wonderful emails.... a lot of prayer tonight... and tomorrow morning Jim (here for two more weeks) and I will attempt to solve the water problem.

I praise God HE is in control. The village has water if we can't get it to work. Megan (Jim's daughter) was a bit concerned about that. Thanks to Duane for answering my call.

Stay tuned for more details as they happen tomorrow.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Welcoming the newbies

Friday, I went to Banjul to meet Stacie and her family. I had met Stacie a few times at ABWE in Harrisburg. She is a pediatrician in the Lancaster area. The family was eager to come to The Gambia. Usually we like to ease people into life in Ndunug Kebbeh. BUT due to ferry construction, Stacie's family was thrown in feet first. We crossed them as foot passengers. Two of our employees from NK came out to help with the baggage. They had driven a vehicle to Barra. It allowed everyone a ride to NK, except me. I had the joy of a bush taxi. I don't mind the bush taxi. It is usually just a hot experience. Monday, I had a new experience as a fellow passenger got travel sick. Yes, and I was a bit close to her. I chose to get off a mile before my stop. It was a little too nasty in the van.

Tuesday, I deserted our visitors and headed to literacy to do some work on their electrical problem. Praise God changing the inverter worked! I had some interesting interruptions... two trips to Barra and a termite mess to deal with. Joanne's employees actually cleaned up the termite stuff for me. But I still had to stick my hand into the cabinet, it was a bit gross.

I have a friend I can email for suggestions on electrical problems, a provision from God. Pray for our prefielders.... we have a family on prefield (Van Horns) and Chris is more than capable to do this kind of work. We also have a family, the Byrums, on prefield, when they arrive in The Gambia, Dan will be our hospital administrator. He can do lots of the stuff I am doing now. : )
Amanda is raising support and will be working in the area of community development.
Sarah is raising her support and will join me in the clinic. She is a RN in Michigan.

Mass of Humanity

Friday was one of those days. I know you have had them too. This is what it looked like here.

I awoke to a casual Friday at the clinic. The only rush was that Teresa and I wanted to travel to Barra with the ambulance. We were headed to Banjul to meet our guests. A doctor and her family had arrived the night before and I was headed over to help them get supplies for a month and to travel back with them on Monday. All month we have heard that the ferry terminal was going to have some work done on the ramps. We wouldn't be able to use a vehicle. So we hitched a ride in our ambulance. We had a full vehicle, two patients, their mommies, one daddy and five staff, the driver, Teresa and I. No, we don't own a bus of an ambulance, it just felt like it.

I have crossed on the ferry by foot several times. You get packed into a waiting area, tuck your arms in and when the door opens, just move your feet. The mass of humanity will guide your steps. I made it safely onto the ferry and managed to find a seat. The man next to me wanted to talk. He complimented my Gambian dress, asked where I was from, how long I had been here, where was my husband, etc. All typical questions. When I replied I had no husband, he did what most do... he offered himself. I refused, nicely. He told me I wasn't getting a true Gambian experience nor did I know anything about Gambian culture because I did not have a Gambian husband. I gave my typical response (after five years I have gotten pretty good at this), I told him I was waiting on God. we debated that he was God's choice for me. I was confident he wasn't. After several other borderline rude comments, I told him I wasn't talking to him any more. It didn't phase him, so I left. Just an average day.

They were working on the ferry ramp in Banjul. When we were ready to dock, I noticed that we had passed the ferry dock and were docking at the Navy Pier (not as nice as Chicago's, just a cement jetty). We had to climb up a narrow stairway, to the top of the ferry's engine house, and then down a very narrow gang plank to the pier. Now, close your eyes and picture hundreds of people trying to do this at the same time. Survival guide, tuck your elbows, move your feet, push toward the gang plank so YOU don't end up having to jump three feet down onto the pier in a wrap around long skirt. Praise God, Teresa and I both made it. I feel like I should have a free T-Shirt. "I survived exiting the ferry in Banjul while the dock was under repairs!"

Picture me as one of the mass ahead of this vehicle, which was the one plus, we didn't have to compete with a vehicle for a place to walk. I had my camera with me, but decided it wasn't safe to get it out.

Teresa and I walked up to a Lebanese eating establishment and ordered lunch as we waited for Max, our team mate on the south bank, to pick us up in our van. He then took us to the "money changer" where we discovered once again the dollar value had dropped. OUCH! From there we went to the travel agent for airline tickets. Praise God we were able to get an NGO discount (we don't have to pay tax, a savings of $240) and cheaper seats for booking early. Why am I booking an airline ticket... well, I have been asked by our field to represent The Gambia at Medical Missions Interface at ABWE this summer (recruiting for .. a doctor, or at least some short term help) and my niece is getting married! So, I thought I would take my vacation to attend her wedding. May be I will see YOU this summer.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Today was a great day! The temperature was moderate (only 94 in my house!) and there was a light breeze all day. I ran around a lot. Today was immunization day for the children of our village. The ladies all come in very nice clothes and chat as they wait in line. It makes for a loud, colorful morning. Some days the ladies from our village get a little pushy, but today, they were all getting along well.
I started our yard workers on some fun jobs. : ) They knocked termites off fence posts in preparation for creosote. The application of that will occur Friday, as I will be going to Banjul and would prefer to be gone for the worst of the smell. Then they began scrapping my duplex. It is past tiem for our buildings to be whitewashed. They decided their boss's home should be the first. I was glad it wasn't a really hot day. Their
work looked a little hot to me. They were happy with the job, especially after I found some protective eye wear and a face mask. I did tell them they looked UGLY. I also promised to print them each a copy of their photos. We have 13 buildings that need to be done. It could be a very time consuming job.
The shades are complimentary from my eye Dr at Wal-Mart. The guys thought they were a bit strange, they have no bows. But they work. The masks are compliment of the hospital. It comes in handy to have that near by. : )
A visitor arrived today. A Dr. and her family have come for a month. I will be heading into Banjul to help them prepare for their trip to Ndungu Kebbeh. In other words, I get to help her buy supplies for a month. It is a bit of an overwhelming tasks for those of you who live close enough to a store to just run out and get it.
The highlight of my day was at 5 pm. I started the teaching time with the children at our library. It was a fun time and I am looking forward to resuming a regular schedule of weekly clubs.
Have a great weekend.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Job Titles and Job Stress

Friday was another rather busy day in the clinic. As usual, God gave me the strength to get through and the wisdom. Some days I wonder what He is doing with a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner as the Medical Director of a rural health clinic in Africa. I wore a lot of different hats. My sister has threatened to make a SHINGLE to hang, but comments that the jobs are too many.

I was a gynecologist, cardiologist, pediatric nurse practitioner, endocrinologist, urologist, lab technician, home health nurse... just to name a few. One of the biggest stresses from the day involved a diabetic patient of ours. He has been pretty sick for a few weeks, I transferred him to the hospital in Banjul. When they discharged him, they told him to come see me and sent him home with a vial of insulin. Thanks a lot. Friday was the day I had to start him on insulin injections. The oral medications just weren't being effective. How to explain to O J that he has to have a shot twice a day for the rest of his life? If he stops the medicine he will get worse again, but with it he could live a long time. Gambians are good at taking medicine until they feel better and then stopping it. Or taking it until the current bag of medicine, or in this case vial of medicine is gone. A refill before the medicine supply is gone is rare. I know, I try to stress it with my chronic patients all the time, but still they come after the meds have been finished for several days to weeks. It is a rare find to have some one return when there is still medicine at home.

Back to OJ, I spent time with him in the clinic discussing insulin and what it was going to do. I checked his blood sugar, we discussed his diet and then it was time for the injection. He went home when his questions were answered. I was on pins and needles, I told him I would be checking in on him in a few hours and stressing the signs of too low a blood sugar. I went to his compound twice that day. Each day since I have been morning and evening as I check his diet blood sugars and give his next injection. I told him it was important for him to learn how to give the injections. His reply was NO, I was the Dr. Ha ha. I asked him what would he do if I went on a trip... he wanted me to have one of my clinic employees do it. I told him no, he and his wife would have to learn. I asked what would you do if I died. he was shocked at that one. What here? In the Gambia? I said yes, God could decide to take me home. He didn't like that option.
Today (Monday) his daughter gave both injections. I am feeling a bit of a time crunch as I am suppose to go to Banjul on Friday to meet with a Dr and her family. They are coming to help out for almost a month. (yeah! and are considering full time service in The Gambia... pray with me!)

I can prepare the injections, but the family will need to know how to give them and what to do if his sugar goes to low. I will have back up available if he gets sick.

I broke up the day, Friday, with a mid afternoon trip to see an employee's son for a hernia referral. It was a hot day, but the car had air conditioning. Too bad I forgot about Friday prayer time (the men go to the mosque and my employee is male.) So as I arrived at prayer time, I sent him off and visited with the wife and family. It had been five years since my last visit to their home. It is a bit of a drive and the road is horrible. Teresa was my driver and we took along a young gal from NK whose family lives in the same village. So after my time at my employees home (and the imam had a lot to talk about) we had to go and greet her family. What is involved in greeting... I know it doesn't sound bad. I had to visit in the home of each of the elderly family members, her uncle, her mother and then we walked to her grandmother's home to greet her. We were offered lunch at each stop. NA was hungry and ate at her grandmother's. I was a bit worried about Gambian food (lots of oil) and a drive back home. My intestines are finally handling things but I didn't want to stress it, so I gracefully declined, promising another time.

Friday nights are a time of bonding for the SPTs (see previous blogs), dinner - pizza, and a movie. After my long day of clinic work and home visits I was grateful to sit back and relax. Joanne shared about her day... her job titles are also varied. One of her surprising ministries has come in the area of counseling. (You can check out her recent blog at You just never know what God may ask you to do. Good thing He will also give you the strength to DO IT! That isn't to say you will never have growing pains or failures. Joanne offered to give me private sessions on her couch instead of her office's empty chair. Nice friend!

Saturday the job hats continued. I made home visits, went to the market for the first time in months and worked on clinic finances. It was another long day. I need to teach this family how to give injections so I can sleep in. A morning person I am not!

Today I made home visits, did compound work (maintenance stuff) and continuing education. But the highlights were.... kids singing to me and five women came for a visit and we had attaya (hot green tea that has oodles of caffeine and served with lots of sugar) and Lae (hot sweetened milk).

It is Common Wealth day in the United Kingdom. Here in the Gambia it is celebrated in schools. the children dress up in the clothing style of their particular tribal group.. including hairstyles. They each bring food items in to share. Then they go around the neighborhood as a group and sing for donations to add to their party.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Attending a Medical Seminar in The Gambia

As Medical Director for the Ndungu Kebbeh Health Centre, I work with the Department of Health in The Gambia. This past weekend my division held a training seminar on Intermittent Preventive Therapy (Malaria Prophylaxis in Pregnancy). I decided I should attend and learn about the new medication The Gambia will be using to combat Malaria. The seminar was scheduled for Friday, Saturday and Sunday. I was not thrilled about going on Sunday.

I discussed this with my fellow missionaries and then advised my Gambian staff that I would be going to the meeting along with one of them. I told Alhajie I would pick him up on the way. The course was to start at 9 am. I have been in the country long enough to know that wouldn't happen. I left here just after 9. The meeting was a half hour away. We were one of the first to arrive. I think that it started a bit after 10 am with opening remarks and an overview. One of the best opening remarks... we would be paid for attending the workshop (D300 a day = $15). At almost 11 am, we broke for breakfast. We were served a sandwich similar to tuna fish. Fish, mayonnaise, onions, and boiled potatoes. It was very good. they served warm, sweetened milk tea. I could have done without the tea, but everyone wanted to make sure the tubaab (white person) didn't go without. Class was called back together a little after 12 (yes, notice it was along breakfast break). We had an interesting lecture on the reasons for focused care. At 1:40 pm we broke for prayer and lunch. I wanted to get a picture of the prayer time at the mosque but I didn't. When lunch was ready I was called into the office lounge to join the program planners in sharing their meal bowl. It was my favorite Gambian dish. Rice, with a sauce made with palm oil, white fish, sweet potato, cabbage, bitter tomato, eggplant, hot pepper. It was a bit intimidating to eat with the planners but again great care was taken to make sure the tubaab was treated well. After lunch we were given a soda. The meetings started back up around three fifteen. An hour later, the effects of lunch kicked in and our presenter instructed us to stand. He then told us we had to repeat what he did and said. He broke into a song chant with motions. It was funny to watch us all (I didn't know the words but tried to be a part of the group) follow his leading. Another Kodak moment missed. It was his way of getting us to stretch. he then went on to say if we didn't want to come Sunday... some people actually voiced their objection to the plan, which was why he had this statement prepared.... we would have to come early the next morning... 8 am. I groaned. Mornings and I don't mix. At 5 pm, he finished for the day. I had a few patients to look in on and then a bit of shopping to do in the nearby town. I made it home by 6:30 pm to find a patient of mine had returned from the hospital in Banjul. I made a house visit to see his medications and make plans for him to see me Monday.
By Friday evening I was ready for bed!

I had asked my employee what time he wanted me to meet him in the morning. I figured he would know better what the guy meant when he said be there at 8. I was shocked that Alhajie wanted to be there at 8. So, I made plans to meet him on the way. Saturday was to be the monthly Clean Up The Gambia day. You can't drive any where from 9 am - 1 pm. So, it was probably good we went early. I later found out they cancelled it.

I am sure you will be shocked to hear that Alhajie and I were the only ones there at 8 am. I went in and visited with out patients and greeted all the other patients. They enjoyed talking to a tubaab that spoke Wolof. Many people are shocked when you start speaking to them in Wolof. It cracks me up.

Alhagie and I were kicked out of the ward, by housekeeping. We went and sat outside. We had a great discussion on Islam, Christianity and our view of God. Later Alhajie brought up American politics. He told me he liked conservative views, agreed with the war, but would vote for Hillary. I stopped that conversation. UGH, good thing he can't vote! At 9:15 am the speaker arrived and class began. It was much different than the day before. Breaks were shorter and the lecture time more intense (so to speak). Breakfast was a red meat and fish sandwich (I think it was cow, but could have been goat). Again we broke for prayers and lunch at 1:45 pm. Lunch was Benecin and I sat at a bowl with the guys I was talking to at the time. I ate Gambian style, with my right hand. The food is really best that way. Again we were treated with a Coke/Fanta/Sprite. Class went until 5 pm. We took a post test and then we were instructed to go to the office for our Vitamin M. (money... the guy had a sense of humor) We were paid for three days as we covered all the material. The registration process was a joke, but that is the American in me.

All in all, I did pick up some new information. I networked on the availability of the new drug, i.e. Could I obtain stock from them (it is more money than my yearly medication budget). I learned what documentation we should be doing. I will make sure it gets done. So, it was helpful that I went.

That doesn't mean I am actually looking forward to the next one I have to go to.

Monday, March 3, 2008


Okay, seems to me I left you hanging about our Field Council meetings.

Oh, and I have to say, it was not my cousin who mentioned feet photos. It was a friend from NY. Yeah, that narrows it down!

So, on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday we met for prayer, evaluation and future planning.

Only one pair of feet are missing. I should let you see their faces, but this was just too much fun. I happened to find a mood ring at a shop while in Banjul that weekend. I purchased it and wore it to help others know how I was doing. I even had a bunch of those little slip of papers to tell you the colors... but I forgot to give them out. The SPTs enjoyed a few laughs becasue of the ring.

This is Barney and Adelia Robison. Barney is from Canada and LOVES Tim Horton's coffee. They have been in The Gambia for years. This summer they head home on furlough and to the weddings of two children and the birth of their first grand child.

This is Nola and Max (hiding in the shadows) Tucker. They also have a daughter getting hitched this summer. It is the year for weddings on the Gambian team. Their youngest, Abby, is the only MK on the field right now. I try to spoil her. (She lets me be a kid!)

After FC, the SPTs finished our shopping and errand running. Wednesday morning we loaded up the car and headed home. We had a three hour wait at the ferry. It was a bit HOT! and sunny that day.
I had the backseat with the luggage, once again. Taking a picture of yourself is always a fun time. You might wonder what we do while waiting at the ferry. I will let you check out Joann'e blog for that. She got some great shots. I was hiding from the sun.

Teresa likes to crochet. Usually we all have a book or two. Joanne can go through a book really fast. Makes it nice for me. She can read it and then I can get it after her, I won't have a long wait.
We recently had some visitors and when they came out to NK they walked onto the ferry. I met them in Barra. They brought us some goodies but couldn't fit them into their hand carry on. So, we had the bag of goodies with us for the return ferry trip. It had Triscuits, which made for a great lucnh, especially when added to some Joanne's tuna fish.

The best find, was a Mad Lib book. It was funnier in that it was on Ice Age and we were sweltering in the heat. It provided some great entertainment.
Now, the guys loading the ferry really do it TIGHT. It is a little nerve wracking for a newbie. I remember one visitor who was so shocked at how tight we were. That day she couldn't put her arm down between our vehicle and the one next to us.

Getting off the ferry is more of a challenge. Foot passengers and vehivles are all trying to leave at the same time. Makes it very interesting, especially if you are following a mother with one child on her back and the toddler walking along beside.

Now what do you suppose a aviation fuel truck is doing in Barra? Who knows! We thought this was a picture perfect moment.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

The Sisterhood and Field Council....

A few weeks ago, I shared about the Sisterhood of Perpetual Togetherness. SPT for short. Which I confess I muck up and say STP and my sisters are quick to remind me we are NOT motor oil. I thought I would share the events of our weekend.

Every three months we gather together as a team for prayer and planning, reviewing goals and establishing new ones. Since our team is now a lot smaller than in the past and since there are four adults in Banjul and three adults in NK. AND since Banjul has air conditioning, hot running water and we can do our supply shopping, Field Council has been held in Banjul 3 out of the last four times. This weekend was one such weekend.

We loaded the car the night before and by 6 AM we were in the car and headed out. The first ferry leaves Barra at 7 am and it is a 30 minute drive. We do a LOT of hurry up and get there to wait. It wasn't too bad. I was able to run in and purchase our ticket at the weigh station. This is the job of the back seat passenger and earned me the job title... Road Trip Attendant, I also pass supplies up front, water bottles, crochet... if I can reach it you can have it.

I had plenty of room to stretch out a bit, which is great since I don't like getting up at 5 am... or any where near that time of day. So, Teresa drives, Joanne navigates, and I take a nap, act as attendant and as I discovered this weekend, entertain... they keep me along for the entertainment, hmm. A variety of roles! My cousin asked for pictures of feet. Blame this one on her, but they are fairly clean! We arrived in Barra at the terminal before 7 am, but there was a good line already. It was after seven before we were allowed inside the gate. But we were the second car on the second ferry, an hour later! Praise God.

Here are a few scenes from the ferry during our early morning loading.

Since we were the second auto on the ferry, we had the first place to the left. This was Teresa's view from the driver's seat.

We actually made good time as the money exchange place doesn't open until 9 am. We were able to cross, make a stop at get this a car dealer to buy ink for a Rizeograph. (a fancy machine for literature production)

Then it was on to breakfast, a crossant and some juice. It was fun to try and get a snapshot of all three of us... it did make us laugh... could have been from getting up so early. Hmm

After breakfast the fun began. We were off to cash in some dollars for dalasi and then... shop until you drop. Well, Joanne almost did, drop that is... but we promised her lunch at our favorite place, THE BUTCHER SHOP. It is so good!

Adris, the owner, stopped by to welcome us. He gave us a nice treat, a piece of chocolate cake to share. It was very good! One of the waiters watched me try to get us all in one snapshot and asked if he could take our picture. Nice staff.
We found some interesting things at a place we call The American Store. They have a nice deal on cereal. I know you are curious as to what is a good deal. $15 for a double bag of Cherrios. $14.50 for a double bag of bunches of Oats. cereal isn't cheap anywhere.

But we did find a STP product and since I am constantly messing up the letters... we had to have photos.

Did I mention we shop until we drop and our mornign starts around shortly after five? Remember earlier in this dialogue I told you I had lots of room to stretch out. Well, after three of us shopped for supplies and we picked up a few things for literacy, I had objects falling on me. We loaded the car pretty good.
I hope you enjoyed our trek into town... we arrived at the guest house and collapsed. Naps all around! More later. Oh yeah... I think it was around four when we finally arrived.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

How often do you ask God to sell a cow?

I love the way God works in the lives of man and provides for our needs. He often does it before I know I have a need. Last week Ron Washer (our Regional Administrator) came for a visit. We were talking about the four units that are in the US on pre field to come to The Gambia. They are raising their prayer and financial support. Two have been on prefield going on three years. One has been working on it for two years and the other for a year. At times, the wait can be a little discouraging. As they are eager to arrive in The Gambia. I told Ron that while I was on prefield, I did not bring up money matters. I answered if asked and I prayed for God (the owner of the cattle on a thousand hills) to sell a cow. He liked that idea.

This weekend I have been working on the clinic finances. I need to get a budget done. (I have the figures now, I just need to enter them in the spread sheet..Hmm?) I was looking at the expected expense of running the clinic for a calendar year. I then looked at the bank account. They didn't match. The clinic has a rich history of God's blessings in supplying the needed funds by the end of the calendar year. It has been amazing to see the huge need dwindle as God sells a cow and works in the lives of man to provide the funds.

I was also working on the next medication order for the clinic. I have made orders in the past, but with out the knowledge of the amount in our accounts. I have found it difficult to make an order knowing the funds are not there for the full year. It will take faith in God, our father, asking him to sell a cow for the clinic ministry. Will you join me in praying for this need this year?

Saturday, February 9, 2008

The Things We Do for Fun

I know you find it hard to believe that I would be involved in doing something "just for the fun of it". Yeah, right!

In 2002, shortly after arriving in Ndungu Kebbeh, our compund emptied out for a few weeks. Every except Joanne and myself, went some where. I was just starting to learn the language and making that big adjustment to life on the "white people's" compund. I hung out with Joanne a lot! One evening prior to the return of a family... we decided to rename our compund and take pictures to show the family what changes we made to the place while everyone was gone. Our new name.... Ndungu Kebbeh Abbey, home of the Sisters of Perpetual Togetherness. They all liked our new name, but decided we needed to revert back to ABWE Mission, home to Ndungu Kebbeh Health Centre.

Well, as many of you know, since May of last year, the compound has again been the home to just a few single ladies. We each share the responsibilites of maintaining the property God has provided and the men on the south bank (Banjul area) help us out a great deal. A few weeks ago our Regional Administrator was due out for a visit. In the process of cleaning up for his visit. We decided a new sign was in order. Our supplies were limited, but we wanted to be able to reflect the true spirit of our compound. So we gathered in Joanne's home and worked "together" to come up with a new sign.

Years ago I gave Joanne the title Mother Superior of our little Abbey. She knew the language and understood the culture so well. I was just starting out. Over the years God has blessed me with the ability to understand and speak Wolof (not great, but I can get my point across). Joanne continues to be a great source to turn to for help in any situation. She is even smart enough to take incriminating pictures... and leave herself out of the event. I must learn this skill.

Joanne has been my "go to" person for help with language, sticky situations, advice... (we even think she has a hidden, well not so hidden... everyone comes to her, talent for counseling.) I some how... for I really don't remember how I volunteered to do it... had the responsibility of posting the new sign. I had all kinds of advice and help. One of my other jobs is that of Supervisor for the compound workers. Here my three compound workers and the day watchman are all trying to figure out what I am doing and how they can best help me. It was a challenge to try to explain what I was doing. How would you tell your employees "I am playing a joke on the boss". They really don't need any ideas. I than had to explain what the sign said. The men represented here don't read English, but a few are trying to teach themselves to speak it. I completed the task and made my explanations. The guys returned to work. As I headed home one of the yard crew proudly showed me his writing in the sand. He had made a huge STP, right in the main path for entry into the compound. STP stands for Sisters of Perpetual togetherness.

When I returned in May, I started hearing a saying from my coleagues. "You can't afford to alienate one of your colaborers. When you only have two friends, you can't afford to lose one."
It keeps us on an even keel. We watch out for each other in many ways. We share a lot, but have made some bold statements about what we are NOT willing to share. (you will have to ask.) We rejoice in God's provisions, pray for his leading and encourage each other in our walk with God. We have been known to vacation together, play together and every Friday night is... Pizza and a Movie. We have cried together, laughed together, prayed together, shared frustrations, hopes, goals.

We had a great, however short, visit with our administrator and his wife. They were very encouraging. I know that they enjoyed their time at STP. Ann would have stayed for a bit longer, but... it was not to be. Thanks for reading on about the STP. Ask about us any time. We love to share about life in Ndungu Kebbeh.

The SISTERS and Ron and Ann Washer (Regional Administrator, Africa, ABWE)

yes, I do have hair... it is in a ponytail.

The actual sign......

Monday, February 4, 2008

What Did You Accomplish Today?

Sometimes I think that is an unfair question, especially since living in West Africa.

I have many days that were like this morning. By the end of the morning I have to look at not the big thing that I had to do but wasn't able to do, but at the little things. So, this morning, I bought bread in a town 28 kilometers away, had a great time with Tijan and Alhagie driving out there and back. Oh, and I got a name and phone number.

So by now you are all wondering... what was it that I was to accomplish today?

Well, just like in America, we have to register our vehicles every year. Only in The Gambia, every one registers their vehicles at the same time. January. This job is usually done by the business manager or someone on the south bank (in the Banjul area). BUT this year, we found out there is a new requirement. Vehicles must be inspected... prior to registration. So, Barney called me up and asked me to get the vehicles inspected out here. He heard it could get done in Barra. Last week, our regional administrator (along with his wife and another couple) came out for a few days. I went to Barra to pick them up. While there I looked into having that vehicle inspected. I needed a paper that was coming with Max and the visitors. So, after I met up with them I went back into the police station. (Literally not even 10 minutes later.) The man had left and no one knew where he went or when he would be back. So, that meant the inspection would have to wait for another day. I did finally manage to get that job done. Our administrator left on Wednesday and on Thursday I was set to send the two vehilces with me driving the third back to Barra. Tijan had a great idea. He went to the Police here in town. Could they inspect our vehicles? No, but if we gave them some fuel, they would come out here and check our vehicles. Praise God! For less than the gas to get to and from Barra with three vehicles... all our vehicles were inspected. (You may want to hear about that.... it is a funny story, but you will have to ask.)
I called Barney and told him the inspections were done. I asked what he wanted me to do with the discs. Well, the vehicles still needed to be registered and he wasn't planning on coming out this week. Would I go to the Police in Barra and register the cars?
Okay, he told me what the price was and I planned to go today. I also planned to take Alhagie and Tijan with me. They could learn the ropes with me and then next year, all we would have to do is send one of them. : ) So, the men and I headed out. It was a nice drive. We got to Barra and discovered that the one man that does the vehicle registration was not at work because of a death in the family. He wouldn't be in until the end of the week. I was told I could got to Banjul or Farifini (about 2 hours away), it was all the same. Believe me I didn't even think of doing that. I gave the men that came along with me money to buy their breakfast, bought some bread, and returned to the car. I had the brilliant idea to return to the Police, ask for the guy's name (the one who registers vehicles) and get some phone numbers. I did accomplish that fairly easily. By the time I got home the morning was gone.
I accomplished something. I have bread for me and Joanne, I had good conversations with Tijan and Alhagie, and when I returned the Nissan to Joanne, I met a Peace Corp young man who stopped in at her office to say hi. I returned home to find my gas out on the fridge and replaced that. All in all, a pretty typical morning.