Sunday, December 20, 2009

Pace of life

   As in most relationship oriented cultures, pace of life is much slower than that of business oriented cultures such as the States and Europe. Another way that these cultures are referred to is "warm climate" and "cold climate". This can be, and has been, a source of frustration for cold climate missionaries serving in a warm climate culture. We tend to think that things could get done much more quickly if there wasn't so much time "wasted", and in some ways we are right, a lot more could get done, but for those of the warm climate culture that comes at the expense of relationship.
    Here in Gambia to walk anywhere it is important to make sure that additional time is made because it is very important to greet everyone that you pass, and of course the obvious reason that it is very hot and easier to walk slowly. Some will greet us and keep walking, but others want to stop and shake our hand, ask our first and last name and then usually ask a few questions that leave us with blank stares and laughter. Some will even try and teach us what they are saying and how we should respond creating more smiles and laughter, but pleasure in the fact that we were trying to communicate with then and respecting their culture where greetings are important.
      This is only one example of how pace of life slows down, but we have also seen it in one of the churches where they have been making bricks to rebuild two rooms that collapsed during the rainy season and act as part of the house for the family living there. Once these rooms are built then the sanctuary can be blocked off from the rest of the house and the family will no longer have to use it as their sitting room. While in the states the bricks would be made and the rooms would be completed very quickly, it takes more time and it is difficult to get people to show up. We could easily go in and set up a time, but we really want the church to take the initiative themselves. Here a few pictures of the brick-making:

     As you can see, this process is not easy as you have to dig the mud out of a hole, then form the bricks and let them dry before the building can be done. All of this is done the hot sun. Yet it can still be frustrating as we think, "if we just worked two Saturdays they would be done!" We have also found frustration with the gentleman we need to contact about the house we are looking at renting. Due to the indirect communication used here, we usually hear, " I will call you tomorrow" without hearing anything until we call him, at which point we are told we will hear back from him in several days. My final example is one that some of you may be able identify with somewhat...laundry. All laundry here is done by hand, you do first wash, second wash, first rinse, second rinse. I have done laundry by hand before, but never a week's worth for two people. We try not to wear many clothes to cut down on the amount to do, but it still takes between 2-2 1/2 hours and yesterday the sun was so strong (it reached about 100 F the other day) that by the time I hung the last load and was worried about running out of clothes pins, my problem was solved when I realized that my first load that I had hung was already dry! Unlike most men in Gambia, Elias helps me, so you can only imagine how many hours women spend doing laundry each week here, especially those with babies. Here are a couple of pictures of doing laundry:

     I will try and post more pictures later. Blessings to all of you!

-We are beginning to get to know the youth better.
-We are still healthy!

Prayer requests:
-That everything will work out with our house
-Kampant- a youth convention from the 26th-30th of December that Elias and will be attending, please pray for the both us and the youth
-For language learning even though we have not starting formal language study


  1. Great to hear from you. It's interesting to see what you both are up to. Great pictures!. I'll continue to keep you both in my prayers. God Bless!

  2. Clean clothes, what a novel idea. A chance to play in the water! I imagine that it is all cold water, which probably isn't as cold as it would be here. And solar drying. Sounds almost modern to me. Love you both. Cold here and another dusting of snow last night. Enjoy your time there and make lots of new friends. Love you both. Mudder Zehr

  3. It is so fun to see pictures and hear about your experiences there. I do not miss the laundry days at all! And yes, you will learn to wear fewer clothes and probably do laundry more often in smaller loads so it doesn't take as much time out of a day. Or that's what I ended up doing in Catel! PS. can you add me to your email updates? Thanks!