Got the pics. Enjoy!
I’ve already said that I’ve been learning to deal with change better while I’ve been here. This weekend has been the epitome of that theme. Less than 36 hours ago, I was planning on having a busy birthday – the clinic has been getting busier and busier with the rainy season coming to a close, plus there is a station meeting that day. I didn’t anticipate a whole lot of time for relaxing and enjoying the day, but that was okay with me. As long as I got to spend it with people I enjoy, I didn’t mind having the majority of my day taken up with work-related activities.
Then my plans got tossed to the side during work yesterday. My station leader came and told me that for this week, they need me to go to headquarters with one of the families at our station to home school their youngest child, Levi for the week while his mom takes a course, and his father works in Sibanor. A couple of the nurses in Sibanor were willing to take over my responsibilities and my room and board are paid for this week. I’ve never tried to home school anyone (much less a boy with Dutch as a first language). I get along with him well, but I’m just not sure exactly how this week will look. It also means that I get to Skype with my family on my birthday and get to catch up with people from home while I am here. 🙂 On top of that, our visitor in Blue House will be coming down to hang out for my birthday evening! On top of that, I wouldn’t have been able to have proper internet until November had this not come up, and I know that my family would REALLY like to chat with my on my birthday. So even though my plans got turned on their head, God knew exactly what I needed and I’m so thankful that He is in control and not me. I’ll try to update at the end of the week to let y’all know how it all goes.
At the end of the week, I’ll be going camping on the beach with other Trekkers from my village for my weekend off, so I’m super stoked about that. I plan on updating again at the beginning of November before I go “up-country” to visit my friend Cheryl and the rest of the Chamen team for a week. I’m excited to visit and get the “real Gambian experience.”
I knew that it was a good idea to keep playing my flute and I also knew that it has always been a good stress reliever so I decided to include it in my packing list. I’ve been using it some but not as much as I thought. Since it is so hot, when I practice, I have to stop playing every couple minutes because my lower lip has gotten so sweaty that my flute starts slipping off to wipe the sweat off my chin and mouthpiece. Makes the whole experience less pleasant for playing. 😛
Even so, at the beginning of very month, the entire country team has a day for prayer and meetings together. At these we also have worship and I’ve been playing my flute and singing for every one I’ve been in the country for. It’s fun to help get this put together for the rest of the team. Music has always been a big part of who I am so it’s cool that I can use my gifts here as well.
In general, people here like Bob Marley-esque reggae or something rhythm-based. Other than the Jola dancing group, I haven’t gotten to experience a whole lot of music. I intend to try to get more exposure to different music here.
When I came to Gambia, I brought my mp3, but it was always a little finicky. It has proven to be more of a hassle than what it was worth though. It has worked up until this week. It all of a sudden decided to delete all but five random songs off of it. Grrr. Now I can only listen to the songs that I’ve found CDs of in Blue House (mostly classical – not so bad but I need a bit more variety most days). So as I type (since I have internet), I’m appreciating MySpace music since I’m deprived most of the time of much of music from home.
Though the people tend to be pretty shy to begin with, they really love to dance. Dance is part of celebrations from naming ceremonies (8 days after the birth of a baby) to weddings to any other big celebration (eg. after Ramadan). It doesn’t happen at every celebration, but the people here look forward to dancing. You always know it’s a good worship time when there is traditional dancing in the aisles. 🙂 Love it! It’s so cool to see them really get into the worship of our God.
A while ago, I had the opportunity to see a group of Jola drummers who normally lead the dancing at such festivals (see the pic in the previous post). I saw it in an open place where there weren’t spiritual undertones, so it was perfectly okay. The drummers kept up a basic rhythm and sometimes lead some singing and the women in the circle would take turns dancing in the center, dance-off style. When someone would start dancing, the people in the circle holding clappers (thick reeds cut in half and banged together to help create the rhythm) start to bang them in a faster, more intense manner to help encourage the dancer. It was pretty awesome to watch.
I came to Africa expecting all the big bugs. Rainy season has not failed to produce a wide variety of bugs in a variety of shapes, sizes, and abilities to annoy me. Here ensues a description of some of the most common perps. Beware to the faint of heart.
The bites you really have to watch out for are from the medium sized black ants. When they sting you, there is no mistaking it. One day a black ant decided to bite me in 7 spots in an area the size of a silver dollar on my leg. These bites don’t really itch, they HURT like crazy though with a stabbing pain that can last from 10 to 60 minutes. Not fun.
Ants in general are a constant problem. Even after a rain, within hours, the ground outside is covered with little anthills. Needless to say, we have to be really careful, especially in the kitchen, not to leave food out and to wipe up spills ASAP so that the ants don’t come and find them. We have to even be careful that we clean up the bugs that we kill because the ants will come to tear apart the remains of the other bugs to take back to their hill. Whew. I’ve gone on a couple cleaning rampages in the kitchen in the morning because I hate having them run over my feet while I’m making breakfast in the early morning light, but it’s actually quite a fruitless exercise because they are hiding in the cupboards and the floor as well. It sometimes makes me feel better though.
There are plenty of mosquitoes, but I don’t get bitten as often as you might think. It just depends on the week. There have been weeks when I’ve only gotten one or two bites, and there have been weeks where I have gotten a few dozen. It seems that the shampoo I use makes a difference too. I got some lemon-scented shampoo when I got here and used it as body wash as well, and I hardly had any problems. I switched to a different one, and I’ve been getting bitten more. I can at least use the lemon stuff for body wash in the afternoons so maybe I won’t smell quite as good to the bugs. 🙂
We also have trouble with cockroaches. Not so many big ones, but lots of small ones. They like to hide in the back of the silverware and dishtowel drawer, so we have to periodically set the drawers out in the sun and have to wash the dishes before we put them in and after we take them out of the drawers.
Those who know me well know that the one insect that I cannot stand and those are centipedes. There are plenty of centipede-esque insects running around. The ones I see most often are red and black striped. I think I have officially conquered my fear of them though 🙂 I haven’t even tried to kill one of these (though I was quite afraid that they were poisonous when I first saw them).
It seems like there are waves of certain kinds of insects as well. For a couple days, we had a terrible time with some moths that liked to find holes in our screens and come to swarm around the kitchen light during dinner-time. Then last month, at keep-fit, there was a HUGE swarm of flying black ants that were attacking the light and the TV. We had to turn off the light and then we could hardly see the TV with all the bugs in front of it and the ones that would fly by us would stick because we were hot and sweaty (it was impossible to go two seconds without one sticking), so Debbie sprayed them with insecticide so that we could finish our exercise in peace (though I gagged on the spray and almost lost my lunch).
Thank you all for your prayer support. I am SO grateful for you all. It really makes me thankful for all of you who are faithful friends even when I’m so far from you.