Well we are in our last full week of training which means that we will be flying out in two weeks from yesterday. We are very excited to be finishing up here and finally heading out to do the work that God has been impressing upon our hearts for the last year or so. We have grown quite a bit here as individuals and a couple. Our leadership skills have been tested and strengthened, our faith has been stretched in wonderful and amazing ways and our marriage has been challenged while making us stronger and more self-aware.
All of these things have prepared us for where we are now and what we will be doing in the Gambia. We originally thought that we would be living in the bush in a compound with no electricity or running water. I, Jessica, thought that I would be working with a coop called My Sister's Company teaching women practical skills so that they can be self employed. Elias thought he might be working with a local carpenter and relationship building. We had begun to learn Mandinka as we thought that would be the primary language that we would be speaking. Then last week happened and everything has been turned on it's head.
We have now learned that we will be living in the city of Brikama in a methodist mission with Nigerians, Europeans and Gambians. We will still live in the bush for the first month connecting with Gary, Denise and Lori, learning public transportation and the ways of life in the Gambia, but then we will move to our own house. The house we will be living in is a duplex that we will be sharing with Nigerian Christians and it will have electricity, running water, a bathroom, a kitchen with a sink, ceiling fans, a propane oven and a dorm fridge. This is about 20 minutes away from Gary, Denise and Lori, but is a more central location for the work we will be doing. Our focus will now be working with the youth of the largest local Mennonite church (a congregation of about 30). The church has only been established for about 7 years, the congregation is very young and their faith is very shallow. We will be working through the basic Sunday school stories such as the creation story, David and Goliath, etc.
At first we weren't sure how we felt about this change, but we are now getting excited, still with some nerves, but with a feeling that this is where God wants us. It was almost as if the Lord roped us in with an assignment that was initially appealing, then when he got us to a place where he wanted us he revealed to us how he really wanted to use us there. We may still be learning some basic Mandinka, but our focus will be on Portuguese-Kriol, which has a lot of similarities to Spanish and is typically thought of to be fairly easy.
As details are falling into place we are getting very excited and we just ask that you continue to keep us in your prayers as our time is limited to get done all we need to do before we leave and as we prepare emotionally and spiritually for this next year.