Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Home sweet home, a conference and an eco-retreat

     Hello again! We know it has been awhile since our last post, but here we are again. Since we last wrote we are happy to say that we are officially moved into our house! It was a long process but we were able to finally receive the keys on January 6th and move in officially on Saturday the 9th. Between that time and yesterday we didn't have internet and we weren't home for most of it so this is our first real opportunity to provide an update. As I said, we received the keys January 6th and that is the day we also began language study. We are currently learning Portuguese-Kiriol which is not a real common language here, but it is spoken by the Balantas which comprise the majority of the fellowships we will be working with. The Balantas here in Gambia come from Guinea Bissau where Kiriol is one of the main languages if not the main language. We will continue with language study for about three months along with going out to the fellowships to develop relationships and to practice what we are learning.
      As for our house, we are living at a Methodist Mission in Brikama which is the hub of transportation, enabling us to go out to the different fellowships. With living in Brikama comes the blessing of electricity and running water! Keep in mind it is still cold and we still have to hand wash clothing, but life is just a little simpler with a few less stresses. Here are some pictures, mind you there is a flash on the camera so the green is not as bright as it appears:

The front of the house from the neighbors property, the open door is ours but the house is a duplex so the concrete block that juts out is where our side ends

This is the kitchen as you walk in the front door, the sink is to the right, sideways picture is of the stove, fridge and counter that the refrigerator holds up, and the last picture is of our cupboard and water filter

The dining room plus the extra bed that was here when we moved in, the kitchen is just through doorway off to the left

our buffet

the living room

the back door

our bedroom

sink (that doesn't work), shower and flushing toilet!
     This is most of our house and it is actually quite big. We have some neighbor puppies that like to wander through every now and then along with many birds and even some monkeys (I'll post those pictures later).
     Now onto the conference. On Tuesday the 12th we left for a conference in Senegal with all of the EMM workers in West Africa (Gambia and Guinea Bissau) along with leaders from West Africa and Claire Good (EMM's area representative to Africa). We stayed at an old school there and had many sessions on leadership led by John and Loice Byler. We stayed at the conference until Friday morning when we left for our retreat. The conference went well and I think that there was a lot of material that was very beneficial for the West African leaders and those of us that are helping lead here in West Africa.

The first picture is of John teaching and the second is of John and Loice (on the right) chatting during a break
      Lastly this takes us to the EMM workers retreat where John and Loice also taught. We were privileged to go to a beautiful eco-retreat on the ocean from Friday until Monday morning. This was only for the EMM workers in West Africa joined by Claire Good and John and Loice. This was a time for a much needed rest for many with some time for play and time for learning. We were able to swim in the ocean, play cards, read, have a bonfire on the beach two of the nights an even catch crabs to roast on the fire at night if you were Elias or some of the YESers from Guinea Bissau. It was a very secluded and quiet area where we had the beach almost entirely to ourselves with the exception of a couple people here and there. It was just a nice time of no work, hot showers, compost toilets to be eco-friendly and comfortable beds. Here are some pictures, but they certainly don't do justice to the beauty of the location:

Our (Elias and I) lodge

Cows free roaming on the beach, something you don't see everyday
having fun in front of beautiful sunsets

The Guinea Bissau workers (YES team and long term workers)
      So that about wraps up our adventures throughout the past few weeks. If you've bared with us this long you are doing really well and we thank you. Please feel free to leave comments or questions about anything that we wrote here. Blessings to all of you and thank you for your continued support!

Prayer requests:
-That we will learn the language well
-For bonding with those around us
-For continued health
-For Claire Good and a young man named Onan who will be traveling back to the States tomorrow evening

-We had a wonderful time of rest and time with God
-We are back home in our own house!
-We will now have more time to study language and visit those in the fellowships


  1. Hey Guys,
    I am a missionary with Youth for Christ in Guinea-Bissau (in the capital city of Bissau) and when I was searching for something I found your blog. My husband, Jason, and I have spent almost 2 years in Guinea-Bissau and we speak Creole (or Kriolu) very well. We live in a Balanta neighborhood, so it's cool that we're working among the same people group in different countries. There is a store here that sells a Creole-English dictionary that we've found to be really helpful. I think it's 4500 fcfa. If you want I can buy one and mail it to you. Feel free to email me at:
    emily marie atkins (at) gmail (dot) com (take out the spaces)

  2. That's my son! :-) The last picture of the YES team has my son in the photo. He's the second from the right. :-)

  3. Jess & Elias,
    Really neat to see all the pictures of where you are and your house etc. Glad to hear you are doing well. Pray the language study goes well and that relationships would continue to grow. I think we have the same water filter, though I'm sure your use of it is more crucial than ours :).