As we got closer to the church, there is a smaller dirt path that we have to ride on. At the end of the path there is a cashew tree. To summarize an embarrassing story, the combination of the low hanging branches and loose sand resulted in me (Jess) running straight into a bunch of leaves and branches. With my pride hurt and the help of my husband to get the dirt off, we continued on to the church where a couple of the members had viewed the event. Thankfully, no one said anything so I can only hope that maybe they didn't have as good of a view as I had originally thought, or they decided that it would be best if left unmentioned.
Once inside the church, the pastor called Elias aside and returned about 15 minutes later announcing that Elias would be preaching that morning. This wasn't the first time Elias had been asked, but it was his first time agreeing to preach. So the pastor, Raymond, gave Elias his half completed notes and had him preach on faith. I have to say I was quite proud of my husband. It is never easy to preach from part of a sermon that was prepared by someone else.
After church we met briefly with the leaders, Zil and Ezekiel Manneh, to let them know our vision and how we typically prepare lessons. They informed us they didn't have Bibles so we promised to get them both Bibles as soon as possible so that we can begin preparing lessons with them. We then left our bikes at the church and headed to the compound of one of the elders in the church who we know as Tiu Jon, or Uncle Jon. We have found Jon to be very different from many of the Gambians. He is very easy to talk to, he doesn't make fun of our language blunders and he doesn't ask for anything unless he absolutely needs it. Elias said that his mouth was goat instead of his mouth was broken on Sunday and Jon didn't even chuckle, but I have to say I was having a hard time keeping in my laughter which provoked laughter from one of youth.
We spent the day drinking Gambian tea called atia (the spelling may be incorrect) and just chatting. I learned how to make a mango, rice and fish dish that Elias and I really enjoyed last time we ate lunch in Kiti. The day went quite quickly and we felt that it was a really successful day! By just being in the compound talking and spending time with families from the church (even though they don't all attend), I feel as though a new bond was created. We have spent time there before, but not since we began the lessons. That evening the youth seemed more interactive and open to us even though we weren't necessarily talking to them the whole day.
We also felt as though we made some breakthroughs with our understanding of the youth. We thought that more of the youth had stronger english language skills than they have. We knew that one of the boys who came yesterday couldn't speak english so the youth decided that rather than having someone translate, it would be better if we taught in Kiriol. What a difference it made! Some of the youth who have seemed very inattentive and disinterested in the past paid attention the entire time! One even admitted that he didn't want to answer questions because he felt that his english was terrible. It was so exciting to see the difference teaching in their heart language made, compared to a language that they have to struggle to understand. We also noticed how much praise and encouragement when they answered questions helped. We have known that praise does wonders, but in a culture that is full of put downs and discouragement, youth seem to come alive when they are praised.
We see so much promise our groups and we are praying that they will be open to God doing wonderful things with them. We both came home tired, but extremely satisfied as it felt that we are finally bonding with the culture and developing relationships that we will be sad to see come to an end in November.
tea and mango time!
Elias and Tiu Jon studying the lessons we do with the youth
Our new friend Holly-stein, since we think she looks a bit like a holstein cow. She is three weeks old and probably the smallest goat we have seen so far. Her mother died, so Tiu Jon is caring for her by giving her water, rice and scraps. She loves to be pet and you can see that she is barley longer than Elias' hand!