Friday, November 19, 2010


        This past week was the Muslim celebration of Tobaski. If this holiday is new to you, you are not alone, we had to look it up to know what this big celebration was all about. According to the "Access Gambia" website, this is the holiday that remembers Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son, but at the last minute was provided with a ram from God in place of Isaac because of Abraham's faithfulness. Some of you may be scratching your heads as you know this to be an Old Testament story, but the Koran uses many stories from the Old Testament. 
       On this day, the ritual is to sacrifice a ram, but if a ram is not available or too expensive a sheep, cow, goat or chicken will suffice. The animal should be slaughtered using a sharp knife while Allah's name is being spoken and then 2/3 of the meat should be given to friends, family and the needy so that nobody goes without. Almost everyone gets new, very expensive, clothes made to wear for this celebration and they celebrate all day long. Parents buy their children sugary, western treats as well on this day.
      After living in this culture for a year, we tend to struggle a bit with this celebration. We have no problem with our Muslim brothers and sisters having a celebration, but we struggle with how much money is put into this celebration. Many Gambians have to ask for financial assistance to send their children to school, but they can spend $100-$200 American dollars on new outfits! This is not to say that everyone spends that much, but there are some, maybe even many, that would easily make that price range. This is on top of the cost of the animal that is being purchased for this celebration. 
      As Christmas approaches I think of how closely this reflects our own culture. We complain throughout the year that we don't have enough money for this or that, but then we spend a ton of money that we don't have on material gifts that we don't actually need. This causes me to think about how in our marriage and family, Elias and I can make sure that we are preserving the true meaning of holidays such as Christmas and Easter and not allowing them to get lost in the materialism of our culture. 
      Also as a side note for those of you who aren't aware, Elias and I will be heading home on Nov. 30th and arriving on Dec. 1st. We are excited about coming back the U.S. and for what God has in store for us stateside, we just ask for prayer as we finish up our last 11 days here. It is is bit of a stressful time, but we know that God will be faithful! Thank you all for your support during our time here and I will try to make a few more posts before we go home and continue with a couple after we return. Blessings to all of you!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


       As our time here comes close to it's end, we are beginning to experience certain things for the last time.  This past week we had our last Bible study with three of our four groups, which also meant that we rode our bicycles for the last time to these groups. We have also finished our last week of having our cook, Agnus, come and cook Gambian food for us. I'm sure we'll still have a few more opportunities to eat Gambian food, it just won't be in our own home.
       Some of these "lasts" will be sad, such as saying goodbye to friends that we have made. Others however will not be so sad, such as taking our last cold shower here, our last time washing laundry by hand (which will hopefully be tomorrow!) and our last time sighing as the power goes out once again.
       It doesn't seem quite real that our time here is going to come to a close so soon! This Saturday we are planning on moving out of our house in Brikama, staying two nights in Pirang and then heading off for vacation for a few days at the ABWE guest house. This will be a time of reflection and relaxation before we head back to Pirang for our final four days.
        Leaving is always a bittersweet time, but we look forward to the next chapter of our lives as this one comes to a close. God has truly blessed us this past year, through both the easy and the difficult and we look forward too all of the blessings yet to come! Thank you to all of you that have supported our time here and made our time here that much more sweet! Blessings!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


       First of all, I have to apologize to all of you who have been actively reading our blog throughout our time here and have not had any new posts for quite a while now! It seems as though the longer we're here, the worse I'm getting at making regular posts. I also owe a special apology to those of you who don't receive our newsletter and therefore rely on our blog posts as your only source of information regarding out lives here. Hopefully this will get you up to date a bit and I will try to be better at making posts for our last month here.
        October seemed to pass by rather quickly. It wasn't that it was unusually busy, it just seemed to go fast. We have been able to have quite regular studies with our youth and we are hopeful that we will finish teaching the life of Jesus to all of them, which is our goal. We have been feeling quite blessed by some of our groups as they have been quite active in their participation and have been asking some great questions! On the other hand we have had some groups where participation has been decreased due to some of our main participants moving away for school. This has been a bit disheartening, but there are still one or two that try to come out and we know from God's word that where two or more are gathered, God is present!
         We also had to discuss our goals and vision for leadership for our groups when we leave. Our original vision was to have each group choose 1-2 leaders from their group that we would mentor into leadership to take our place. However, as our studies progressed we realized that this may not necessarily be a realistic goal. Reading comprehension is quite low and the Bibles that we have are in english, which is the second or third language of all of the youth. Biblical knowledge is also somewhat low and many of the youth that we have provided Bibles for are receiving their first Bible. This means that they have not been able to study the Bible on their own until this point. This isn't to say that the leaders haven't been doing well leading their fellow youth by conducting our time during, but Elias and I have felt that it would be best if we continued to teaching until we leave to provide a more firm foundation of basic Biblical information. We feel as though that we should then be replaced by two Gambian leaders who are currently in other leadership positions and have a broader knowledge of the Bible. It is our vision that these leaders would then continue to mentor our current younger youth leaders into leadership throughout the next 1-2 years. We feel that this time frame would give the younger leaders more time to gain a firmer knowledge in the Bible before transitioning into the role of leading their fellow youth. The two young men that we have chosen are both taking a pastoring course that is being taught here by Canadian professors. One is Raymundo Manneh, the pastor of the Kiti church and the other is Sang Jatta, who is developing into a rather strong leader.
          As for the weather this past month, we have been experiencing quite a few changes. The month began with almost no rain, but extremely high humidity. October is typically one of the worst months and as we continued to have electricity issues, it also brought many hot and sticky days and nights. As the month progressed, humidity continued to be high and rains were scattered. However as we progressed toward the end of the month the humidity began to decrease and now that is it November the nights have been cool enough that we have chosen not to use the fan and have had to cover up with our sheet and fleece blanket! This is not to say we won't still have hot nights, but the weather should get progressively more pleasant throughout the month and should be almost in it's prime around the time that we leave on the last day of November.
          I could continue on, but to prevent this post from being too long, I will save some of the other information for a few different posts. I hope all is going well and we thank you for all of your prayers and support! We hope to see many of you soon!

-Our studies are going well and we should be able to finish the life of Jesus!
-We have had some really nice team time this past month.
-Our electricity issues seem to be improving/possibly fixed after being unreliable for the past 3-4 months

Prayer requests:
-That we would finish strong in our relationships with those that have been a part of our lives here for the past year.
-That God would prepare us to transition back to the United States gracefully.
-That we will handle frustration situations with mercy and compassion.