Monday, March 29, 2010

communication confusion

Whenever one is in a different culture  there are plenty of times for confusion in communication. Even though most people here in Gambia speak english there are still plenty of opportunities for miscommunications. This evening was a prime example. My friend Ansel came to visit last week and she informed me that she was going to see her tailor on Monday. I asked her if I could come along and see where her tailor was so that I could have a Gambian dress made for myself for any baby-naming ceremonies or funerals that may come up. My purpose in going was to look through the catalog of patterns and see what kind of work her tailor did. So when Ansel arrived this evening to go to the tailor in the market I was ready to go with her, but I did not bring extra money for fabric or a dress. As we entered the market we went into the first fabric shop that we came across and Ansel determined that it was too busy so we moved on. We went next store to the next fabric shop and quietly looked around, not seeing too many fabrics that i really liked, but giving Ansel an appropriate amount of time to choose a fabric she liked. She had the shop keeper pull a couple of different fabrics down for her to look at and she would ask my opinion, but since the conversation was happening in Mandinka I was unable to understand what was being said. After the conversation was over Ansel asked how many meters I needed and I finally realized that I was buying fabric for me and that she wasn't looking for her! I kindly let her know that I didn't want that fabric, but I realized that I would be finding fabric to have a dress made at that point. So I went on a journey to find a fabric that I liked enough to have a dress made. I had found one fabric that I had like in the past, but with the overturn of fabric I knew that I was unlikely that I would find it again. I knew that if I didn't find one soon that I would have to settle for a fabric that I didn't like all that much. Then we entered a shop that had the previous fabric that I liked and I found one that I really liked! I had eyed this fabric previously thinking that it would be too expensive so I always walked away, but today I asked about it and it wasn't bad! I bought six meters for about 6 dollars and then took my fabric to the tailor where I chose a pattern and paid 80 dalasi, slightly more than 3 dollars, for my dress to be made. Thankfully I had enough money to pay for these things, but the moral of the story is, be prepared for anything! I didn't think I would come back tonight with a dress being made for myself, but I did and I'm really excited about it!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Women's retreat

        This post is a bit late coming, but from March 12th-14th the ladies of EMM went to the city for a women's retreat. Denise, Lori and I left around 9 Friday morning and headed to Serekunda for a weekend away. 
        Our first stop was at ABWE, which is property of the three guesthouses where we stayed. The guesthouses are run by a Baptist mission organization here in Gambia and serves as a get away for missionaries serving here in Gambia. They have missionaries that serve throughout the country who always get first dibs, but if the guesthouses are free, then other missionaries can also enjoy it's commodities for 325 dalasi, or about 13 U.S. dollars a night. Unlike our homes, the guesthouses have air conditioning, hot water, satellite television, VCR, DVD player and even a bathtub! 
living room

television, satellite box, VCR and DVD player

kitchen/dining room

my bedroom, it is a child's room but they gave us the only house with three rooms so we could each have our own

the bathtub!

possibly my favorite part of the stay, the hot water heater!

...and our 11 pieces of pepperoni for our pizza! Pepperoni is very expensive here so this was a treat, we paid 25 dalasi for these 11 pieces!

      We stopped in briefly, dropped our things, left our laundry to be washed in a washing machine for 50 dalasi, about 2 dollars, and then we headed off for a relaxing day at the pool. The pool is at a hotel, but is open for public use for 50 dalasi per person, roughly 2 dollars. We cooled off at the pool for awhile, escaping the 100* plus temperatures for a couple of hours, enjoyed lunch and then headed back to ABWE. 
       We then made homemade pizza and while it cooked had an amazing discussion on hearing God's voice which is a struggle for all of us, some times more than others, but still all of the none the less. We followed a study guide that Lori had found online which opened up some great discussion that helped us to get to know each other just a little bit better, but also gave us a chance to reconnect as Christian women trying to live lives that are pleasing to our Lord Jesus Christ. Then we enjoyed our pizza and a movie and headed off to bed in our air conditioned bed rooms.
       The next day we planned nothing but a day of rest. Lori and I had a 75 minute massage from a Christian Nigerian  massage therapist for about 18 U.S. dollars when in the U.S. the cost would have been anywhere from $50-$100! The rest of the day was spent reading, praying and even enjoying some world news and other American shows on the television.
         Sunday we went to the ABWE church for a change of the norm, then went back to ABWE to pack up, rest for a little while longer and then head home. It was a wonderful, relaxing weekend away from the dust and heat, but it was nice to get back to my husband who was so supportive in my going away for the weekend. 

-We have finished language study and can now speak 1 1/2 new languages!
-We now have our alien cards, residency permits and we may be getting licenses soon
-We will be beginning our youth ministry the first week of April

Prayer requests;
-That we will be in tune with God as we begin our youth ministry and that it will be a fruitful for both the youth and us
-For the wife of the director of MEHDA in Pirang who lost her mother last week and the funeral was on Monday
-For our EMM prayer retreat that we will be having this Thursday-Saturday-The dogs that live here at Methodist Mission may be being sent away quite soon, so we ask for prayer at we may have to let them go even though we've grown quite attached to them


Thursday, March 11, 2010

Amidou update

I just wanted to update all of you on Amidou's condition since my last post. The next morning Amidou's speech had returned and the paralysis was gone! He says that it is because of our prayers that he has been healed and we are now praying that he will come to know the Lord because of this miraculous recovery. All we can say is praise Jesus for His goodness! Thank you all for your prayers, they hold more power than we could ever imagine!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A trip to Pirang

     First of all I want to apologize for not writing in a month! I don't know where the time went! We were without internet for a week and a half and then time seemed to just get away from us. A quick update before I get into this blog post, we finished our Kiriol studies last month and we have now started Mandinka studies which we will only be doing for this month and then we will be done with formal language study for the rest of our time here, but as we know the learning will never stop throughout our time here. As I have posted before, Mandinka is the more popular local language for the part of the country that we are living in so it will be very useful for us when going to the market, communicating with local people and the people in Pirang and even with the youth of the church, especially with those that don't speak Kiriol. And while most people do speak english they definitely appreciate it when you try and speak their local language and for those with limited or no english it allows us to fill in the language gaps. We will continue to let you all know how these studies go as we learn more.
      Now onto our trip to Pirang. On Saturday morning I climbed out of bed at around 8 ready to get an earlier than normal start on laundry so we could leave at a decent time for the village of Pirang (where Gary, Denise and Lori live). I strolled into the kitchen picked up the teapot to fill it with water for some oatmeal, went to the sink, turned on the tap and....nothing. Now it is not unusual for our water to be turned off occasionally, especially in the morning, so that the water tower can be filled. The water is not usually off for long so I figured that I would still have time to do laundry when it came back on. Well this morning it was a bit longer than normal and as 10 rolled around with still no water I began to realize that we were not going to get laundry done before going to Pirang. Now let me explain, it takes us at least 2 hours to do our laundry which would have taken us to about 12, then it takes about an hour to get from our house to Pirang by public transport which brings us to 1 o'clock. This still isn't terribly late, but one of our reasons for wanting to go was to visit another missionary from England who was going to be there and to get there early enough to visit with the women of "My Sister's Company" which finishes between 1:00-2:00.
      So, going against the grain of our usual weekly routine, we left for Pirang with dirty clothes still in the hamper (and of course the water came on just as we were leaving). We arrived at MEHDA around 11:00-11:30 and found the center to be quite busy. Nichola (the missionary from England) was there, along with the women from "My Sister's Company" and a group of "tubobs" (white people) that were there bird watching.
      There were only 4 women from the company working that day, all dressed in their new uniforms and hard at work canning tomato juice. One of the things that Denise and Lori have been teaching the women in addition to sewing, tie and die and jewelry making is how to can. They have canned mangos in the past which are then sold to grocery stores in Serekunda or hotels. This was the first time canning tomato juice and it seemed to go quite well. The tomatoes were ground up squeezing out all the juice through a hand cranked press, the juice was then boiled so it would thicken, then it was spooned into hot used jars from items such as jelly, pickles, mayonnaise (basically anything glass) and placed into an amish canner, from Lehman's hardware, on hot charcoal until sealed and finished. The hope is that these jars can be sold but also used by the local women in their cooking.

pressing the tomatoes

adding salt to the sauce before it is boiled

      After the canning was finished we enjoyed a hot lunch of soup and solar oven baked biscuits with Gary, Denise, Lori, Nicola, our language study teacher Raymond and one of the youth from the Medina fellowship, Zang. After cleaning many many dishes and chatting for awhile, Nicola gave us a ride home in her car with air conditioning!
        In effort to keep this post from being too long I do want to wrap up by informing everyone of a prayer request. Yesterday the local carpenter in Pirang that lives in Gary and Denise's compound had a spell while in the shower. His wife came to Gary and Denise and informed them that his speech was slurred and he wasn't able to use his right hand or foot very well. The Williamson's then took Amidu (the carpenter) to a non-Gambian doctor in Serekunda who confirmed that he had had a mild stroke. She said his blood pressure was very high when she examined him. She was not able to give him any medicine that we have in the States to prevent further damage so she said that he needed to rest to get the bleeding on the brain to stop and to get his blood pressure down. She, being a Christian, also advised us to pray for a full recovery. Since Amidu is a carpenter he needs both of his hands. He only uses hand tools since there is no electricity in Pirang and carpentry is his livelihood. He is only 46 years old so he is still quite young and had a family to support. Please join us in prayer for our friend and brother that he will recover fully and quickly so that he can continue on with the work that supports he and his family. 
      We have many other things that we could write about, but we will try and update the blog more quickly this time so that we can have shorter posts about a variety of happenings. 

-Our Kiriol studies went well and we are able to go out to different Balanta compounds and converse with them in one of their heart languages
-Jess, Denise and Lori are able to have a women's retreat this weekend giving them a time of rest and reconnection with the Lord while Elias and Gary are able to have some reflective time for themselves as well
-We continue to meet new friends, especially those that also live in Brikama and Methodist Mission

Prayer Requests:
-For our brother Amidu as he rests and recovers
-For our Mandinka studies, that we will learn enough to get around the market and public transport efficiently
-For our brothers San Pierre, Raymond and Zang that are taking a pastoring course worth 12 credits that will grant them a diploma and teach them how to better pastor their churches (I will write more about this later)