Now that we are in The Gambia, there is much to learn. We started our first week at the ABWE guesthouse in the city area of Kombo. We needed that week for acclimation to the time-change, and to gather a month's worth of supplies to live in the remote village of Ndugnu Kebbeh. This was not a small task with a family of 5. God supplied our transportation needs with a Toyota short-bed pickup truck that was waiting for our purchase from a different mission organization, and we were off to the grocery stores.
After getting our American money converted to Delassi, we traveled to many different stores, as each store is small like a convenience store. It was very time-consuming to try and find our basic needs for the next month. We viewed the isles and would try to read the labels, but unfortunately, many imports to The Gambia are not from English-speaking countries. Guessing or product pictures became very helpful. We about fell over when we found American Oreo cookies. A new family favorite is a British soda pop called Vimto, and the kids were introduced to Tang and love it. We shopped till we dropped, and the next day we shopped some more but was it enough? We loaded up our food along with 20 suitcases and headed to the ferry.
Ndugnu Kebbeh is a village on the northern bank of the river where ABWE has its medical clinic and literacy center. We were joined on our trek across the Gambian river with some short-term nursing missionaries to work at the clinic. Getting on the ferry here in The Gambia is not nearly what you think of when you go to the one in Harper Ferry, WV, or any ferry in America that we have ever seen. Cars, buses, and large trucks squeeze together so tightly one cannot even open the car doors. Then over 300 walking individuals join you for the 30-minute ride. Once we reached the other side, those 300 plus people, push and shove each other, lean on, and climb over vehicles. A Gambian behavior that is expected of each other to get to the front of the ferry so they can be one of the first to get off.
Once off the ferry, it is a 30-minute drive to the ABWE housing, literacy, and clinic area. The stress of it all wasn’t over, as we arrived and unpacked our truck, we realized our refrigerator and freezer were not working properly. As many of you know, our housing is on solar power to run refrigeration, some fans, and lights. We then needed to remove all the perishable food to another mission house which made cooking meals quite the task as things here continue to be, as my girls would say, “so extra” to conduct what would seem to be simple.
After settling in for the night, we were happy we had adjusted our bodies to the heat. However, the new outside noises were something to get used to hearing. With our windows open all the tropical sounds of living in the village are easily heard. It is also the rainy season here, so the pouring rain on our tin roof can be deafening. We have sounds of sheep, goats, roosters, donkeys, birds, and the loudest of all are the sonar bats. The unsettling beeping sound continues until the early morning light about the time the Islamic call to prayer goes out over the loudspeakers of the mosque. The daily reminder of why we are here.
After about a week and a half of trial and error, and living out of the neighbor's fridge, the root of the solar refrigeration problem was solved, and we were able to have our supplies put back into our own home. During that time, we started some cultural acquisition classes in preparation for language classes. After only a few weeks, we quickly realized the amount of food we brought would not nearly be sufficient for an entire month. We needed to head back to the guesthouse and the adventure of the ferry again.
Even though we had to go back to pick up more supplies, God had it all planned as it was perfect timing to pick up Alison Dominguez and the Johnson family from the airport. Alison is on her second term here at the medical clinic after being on furlough, and the Johnson family will be serving at the guesthouse for the next ten months to help prepare for our transition into the guesthouse ministry. Picking them up from the airport was quite the adventure, but that will have to wait for the next newsletter, or you can listen to the story from Patrick on the Grace or Grit podcast "A Call From Africa"
Praise and Prayer Requests
~ Praise God for His provision in transportation.
~ Pray for new missionaries to have a heart for The Gambia.
~ Pray for our language studies as we acclimate.
~ Pray our shipping container arrives with no problems
~ Pray that even without words we show Christ in all things
Patrick, Michele, Alyssa, Danielle, Luke