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.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

The Cat

I am sure you have heard about the cat. Our compound which now is inhabited by three single gals, had a few animals left behind. I was the care giver for the most senior cat... whiskers. She died several months ago. Now her rival cat is enjoying free reign on the compound. We do see stray cats often, but when we are in residence, the stray cats don't get feed.

Whiskers and Precious did not get along. It was a common thing to hear one cat chasing the other up a tree or across the roof. (I have an aluminum roof and hear many things running across it.) They were a bit possesive of their territory, including which house they thought the other could enter.

With Whiskers gone, it is a bit lonely. The other day I returned from taking a patient home to find Precious chasing me down and beating me to my front door. Obviously, he didn't get into Joanne's (her care provider) home before Joanne closed up for a nap. (Which is rather unusal as Precious is Joanne's napping partner.) She raced me and waited at my door, watching me... as if to say... "Hurry up, I am waiting!"

I let Precious into the house, but I still had a patient to see at the clinic. Later I brought the young woman and her child home with me. I asked if she was afraid of cats. (Gambians do not like cats.) She was, so I warned her one was in the house, but most likely in my bedroom. Sure enough, I couldn't find the cat.

I went into my room and this is what I found. I had to get a shot pretty much straight on or you would not have seen what I found. A closer inspection found Precious "snug as a bug" in my pillows. She just made herself a little cave.
Now isn't she just.... PRECIOUS!

First Things First....

I have been tagged. I am not convinced it is much different than the plaque. I know it should be more like that game we all played as kids. I just was hoping not to get caught. It is making me think!

This is what I have the privelege of doing...
1. Post the rules and link to the person that tagged me.
2. Tell 5 random/weird things about myself.
3. List 5 places I would like to see or see again.
4. Link to 5 blogging friends and notify them on their blogs that they've been tagged.
(it really doesn't sound that deadly!)

I have Joanne, my friendly co-laborer and fellow SPT member to thank for this great honor. Joanne can be reached at

5 random/weird things about me. I know, you who know me probably had no problem with this one... but I did. I mean really, what do I want to confess to.
1. I hate arachnoids, snakes, etc. Yet, I love life in The Gambia. (okay, I wasn't thrilled with the baby snakes in my house, but I can kill some spiders bare handed or bare footed.)
2. I have received eight marriage proposals in one day. The last guy was determined until a friend threatened to get my father (meaning her husband... a BIG dude) involved. I feared I was getting too old for marriage proposals, until I went to the ferry to meet our regional administratoe and his wife. I received five that day.
3. I am 4? and refuse to grow up or act like a grown up. I remember making the Oath from Peter Pan. I was goofing off with my sister in a small grocery store (we were probably 8 or 9) and mom was getting embaressed and told us to act our age. We both stopped what we were doing and vowed the oath right there. Mom wasn't too happy with us. : )
4. I live in hot west Africa and currently have 28 snowmen decorating my living room.
5. I kissed the feet of my regional administrator.

Five places I would like to see or see again.
1. I would love to see Victoria Falls and South Africa.
2. I would love to go to Greece.
3. I would love to go to Australia.
4. I would love to return to Salzburg and the Alps in Austria.
5. I would love to visit the western part of my birth country... the USA. Washington State, Oregon, California and Alaska.

Tag Five blogging friends...
Well, I don't have five that I know of.... But I will do my best...
I tag Darlene at
I tag dear cousin Lisa and hubby Frank (because I have their blog address)
This is pretty pathetic, but there it ends. Now you all are thinking... aren't we glad she doesn't have our site!