Miss me? Have you all been sitting on the edge of your seats, checking ever few minutes to see if I have written this update yet? Well, I haven't. I just wanted to see if you cared.
(Tee hee hee! Danny, come look at this! Everyone thinks I'm gone but really I'm still here. I'm just typing really really quietly! Good one, eh? Danny? Where are you going?)
Okay, I'm still here. And I am writing the update, or have written it. See, to me I am writing it because this is now for me but for you I already have written it because for you it is the future to me. It's now for you but to me, the past me who is writing this, it is the future.
Great Scots, I think I've disturbed the space time continuum. I'd better just get on with the update or else I might give the past me and the future you headaches.
Let's see, where was I? Oh, yes - the misty morning of April 20th. The 28 of us flew from Manchestor airport and about five hours later were greeted by the sweltering heat of The Gambia. We settled into our hotel and had our very first meeting that evening to brief everyone about the week. We had hit our first glitch in the schedule. Originally we had planned to go to the SOS Orphanage for infants, children and teens but our contact there had quit and neglected to tell anyone about our visit. With one quick visit though we had put a new plan together. We would spend the day with a local family only a few minutes from the hotel. It was going to be so exciting! In the morning we would take a few of them to the market to help buy groceries with our hostess, Adam (yes, Adam is a woman with a man's name. Incedently, one of our taxi drivers was a man named Sarah.) and then the rest of the team would meet us at her family's home for a meal that we would all prepare together. Everyone was excited about the new plan.
Saturday morning a few of the students and teachers came with me to Adam's and together we all went to the market. Soon after entering the market, I guided our group back to the road to wait outside. The combination of raw fish, sun-baked goat meat, and flies was aiming to turn their stomachs off from food for the week. (Oh well, cheaper week.) Unfortunately they didn't find much sanctuary even outside the market as open sewage trenches line both sides of the roads. I went back in to continue on with Adam. What a soldier I am, I know. I rescue my fellow troops and head back in to the battle. On a totally unrelated note, I wasn't hungry very much that day either. Must have been the heat...
The rest of the group joined up with us at Adam's and very quickly mingled with her family and many children who had also invited themselves into the party. Adam's family shares a small compound of one to two-room shelters made of concrete and coregated steel. Besides her own children and grandchildren, both her brothers-in-law and their families also live on the compound. Together they make various crafts and carvings that they sell to tourist's to support the family.
That day we all experience what life is like for a Gambian family. Repeatedly the students and staff made comments about how shocking the poor quality of living was. There was no running, limited electricity, they didn't even have the proper tools to use when they made their wood carvings. They were using kitchen knives! When we tried to help peel potatos for the meal there was only one knife. Eventually, some one was able to borrow a peeler from another neighbour. That was how it worked here. The community all helped each other. Being some one's neighbour meant a lot more than just sharing a postal code.
Everyone at Adam's and in the entire community welcomed our group with open arms, as if we were some long lost relatives! At first our team weren't sure what to make of all the attention and affection. By the end of the day they all saw that these people were sincere and in fact, very grateful to us that we would come and visit them.
We took a little detour on the way back to the hotel and stopped off at a place called 'The Crocodile Pool' and guess what we saw there? That's right! A pool! But we sure couldn't go swimming in it! Whatever film was left in cameras was completely used up on the many photo opportunities there.
That evening we met as a group again. We were all pretty exhausted from all the sights and smells we'd taken in that day. Everyone had had a fantastic day and already many of them were moved after seeing the poverty that Adam and her family lived in. It had been a shock to all of them. However, they were more shocked when we told them that actually, according to the norm around there, Adam and her family would be considered middle class. They'd been able to send many of their children to school.
The worst was yet to come...
And that is where I leave you for now! Muuu waaah haaa haaa haaaaaa!
I just love cliffhangers, don't you?
Until next time, take care, smile, and thank God for the many blessings He has given you! I know 28 people who are doing that right now (including me)!
P.S.- Get out the Popcorn! It's movie time! Does tea and popcorn mix?