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
-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)