Sunday, March 23, 2008

Face book

Sorry, everyone, I haven't posted in a long time. I have been exploring something new in the internet world-- Facebook. When I first signed up, I regretted it and thought that I would never use it because it is kind of, well, weird. I decided though that I needed to stick with it and see what it was really like before I gave up. Sooo... that is what I have been doing these last few weeks instead of blogging.

Now that I have some friends on Facebook and even found some relatives that I never hear from, I have decided that Facebook is worth my time. In these few weeks, I have been in contact with people that I haven't heard from in years. That alone makes it worth the time I spent getting it set up and finding friends. Now that I have it going, I am hoping that I will be able to use it, but not get consumed by it. If any of you also Facebook, get in touch. You can find me on The Gambia network (yes, believe it or not, The Gambia has a network).

One of my nephews now wants me to get signed up with gmail so I can chat with him. One thing leads to another... So I now have that account too. Look for ajisuun.

These things are great for someone like me who is far away from family and friends, but I can also see the danger of getting swallowed up in the virtual world and forgetting how to interact in the real one. Fortunately, I have the steady stream of people at my door to prevent that from happening.

I have some other things I want to blog about-- Easter, the clothes experiment and other miscellaneous topics, but I need to work on the photos first. I will be traveling to Dakar, Senegal on Tuesday and not returning until Saturday, so don't expect any new posts during that time.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Office Opportunities

Joanne’s Jottings

News from The Gambia, West Africa

March 2008

I never would have thought that a small, cluttered office would end up being a hub of personal ministry. From my office at the Literacy Center, where I work from Monday through Friday from 8:30 AM. until 2 PM, I direct the programs of the literacy center, handle the finances and talk to people who come to my door. The office, with my employees coming and going, provides a place where I can have serious conversations, even with men, and not risk gossip. With no missionary men in NK, this is vital.

In the past week, these are some of the conversations that I’ve had in my office:

  • A woman has been struggling with depression for several months since the death of her daughter. She comes to my office to get out of her house and have a safe place to cry. If I don’t see her at least once a week, I start getting concerned.
  • A young woman continues to struggle with her husband’s neglect of her and their children. He is actively seeking a second wife and is known to be involved with other women. I listen and encourage her to pray for him and not stoop to his level.
  • A man comes to receive his pay and starts talking about how the world is full of problems. We discuss how Adam and Eve’s sin brought trouble into the world and that we are still seeing the effects of their sin as well as our own.
  • Another man, a believer, comes with some questions about Scripture he is reading. I answer his questions and take the opportunity to challenge him regarding accountability with another male believer.
  • A woman who was widowed and remarried recently (to her late husband’s brother) comes to inform me that her husband is angry at her and the children so he is not providing food for them. He is trying to put the family compound in his name, but his brother’s sons should inherit the compound. He is threatening to knock down the cement houses that he built on the land. Today she returned to let me know that the husband has relented and is providing food again for her and the children. Peace returns, at least for now.
  • A man tells me that he wants me to send him to America. Of course, I tell him that I can’t do that. He responds that he will become a Christian and starts telling me that God just wants a clean heart. Hearing my opening, I jump and explain that our righteousness is like filthy rags and that the only way to have a clean heart is by trusting in Jesus Christ. He let me explain the gospel to him. Whatever his motivation, God’s Word is powerful.
  • A man has been reading a book on evangelism (he found it somewhere) and wanted me to explain the words wrath and redeemed. I explained them fully, probably more fully than he wanted as he also had ulterior motives.

God has a plan for The Gambia. Please pray with us for God’s plan to be fulfilled in God’s time. In the hard times and the easy times, our only responsibility is to be obedient. God alone is responsible for the results.

Serving by grace,


Friday, March 7, 2008


This post is specifically for Amanda, but the rest of you can read it too. (I'm getting used to that kind of thing since I got on Facebook.)

The SPTs have been pondering your situation with Brad's coming deployment and we feel that we have arrived at the perfect solution. We are hereby extending you an invitation to join the Sisters of Perpetual Togetherness here in Ndungu Kebbeh for the duration of Brad's deployment.

Now doesn't that sound more fun than staying home alone? Hey, you would at least be on the same continent as your husband (still 3000 miles apart, but hey...). You would have the support and entertainment provided by the sisters, the sisters would have your two too cute children to play with and you could work on writing the by-laws for the sisterhood. We have had requests for other chapters, but we've been too busy to write the by-laws.

We know some of the basics:
1. SPTs support each other through thick and thin, when one feels weak, the rest step in.
2. SPTs like to have a good time. Even meetings turn into fun.
3. SPTs function as a unit, aware of and accepting each others strengths and weaknesses.
4. SPTs pray together regularly.

That's all we have so far, although we have discussed the dues that all other members/chapters will be required to send to the founding chapter members. We haven't set an amount yet, but all fees may be paid in M&M's or their equivalent. :-)

So, what do you think? Sounds good, huh?

No matter what, find some SPTs to help you through Brad's deployment. The SPTs here in NK will be supporting you.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

I Have Decided Not to Run

Today my employees were talking about American politics. Of course, with the hotly contested Democrat race all over the news, they were discussing Hillary and Barack Obama. I happened to poke my head into the room, so they asked me who I would vote for if I was there. I answered that I didn't want either Hillary or Obama because I was a Republican. Then I commented that I didn't like the person that the Republicans had selected either, but he was better than Hillary or Obama. They wanted to know who I had wanted to win the Republican nomination, but I didn't figure they had probably heard of Fred Thompson, so I just said that I wasn't very happy with any of the people that ran.

They told me that I should run for president myself. So I am stating at this time that I have decided not to run. They did, however, say that since I have been in Africa so long, I might be too Fana-fana to run for president. Fana-fana is a Wolof redneck. A person from the rural areas that is not quite up on what life is like in the big city. They commented that my Wolof clothes, complete with head tie, might be seen as fana-fana. They were also sure that people in America would think that I was ill most of the time because even on days that are considered warm in America, I would have a cloth wrapped around me as I shivered (below 75-80 degrees is sweater weather in my book). They thought that my campaign should serve bennachin (Wolof rice), but people would find it unusual and probably unexceptable when I ate it with my right hand. I told that I didn't think I should run because when I go to America I find that when I am speaking English, I get stuck for the English word and use Wolof instead. Some things are just easier to say in Wolof!

So, although my employees suggested that I run for president of the United States, we all agreed in the end that I am just too Fana-fana. And that's just the way I want to be.

Saturday, March 1, 2008


For those of you who like to know, today's weather is hot and hazy with hot, dry breezes. The temperature in the shade at 5 pm was 104 degrees.

I often think that if I were to fall into a coma and awaken suddenly on a Saturday morning here in Ndungu Kebbeh I would know immediately that it was Saturday. Saturday is market day in NK so the road outside my living room window gets busy early. The horse and donkey carts trot by with their bells jingling while passengers call out greetings to those on other carts and in the doorways of compounds they pass. Carts are piled high with goods to be sold and people dressed in beautiful outfits. The day is a social event as much as it is about buying and selling. Mopeds, motorcycles and bicycles also join the parade. Ladies from nearby villages save themselves the fare and walk, often with a tub or bucket of goods on their heads. A Peace Corp volunteer living in a nearby village pedals by, but slows at the gate of our compound. The market is another kilometer, but he will park his bike here where our guards will keep an eye on it and continue on foot.

Of course, the sounds of Saturday are also different because the children in the government schools are off. On school days, the road is filled will children on their way to school. Saturdays are school days for the children enrolled in the Arabic school right next door to our compound. We can hear them reciting throughout the morning.

Children of all ages will head for the market if they can. Small children this far outside of town might not go, but it depends on how strict their parents are and if they have older siblings who are going. Small children wander quite freely here. It is not uncommon to see a 3-4 year-old wandering down the road alone. If someone gives him a dalasi (the basic unit of Gambian money- 1 equals about 5 cents), the child will go to the corner store by himself and buy some candy. Sometimes a mother will even send a small child on errands to nearby neighbors or shops.

The kids in this picture are just playing in the road as the carts go by. They probably haven't convinced their mother to let them go to the luma yet. Many kids, girls especially, hustle to the market early to see if someone will hire them to sell for the day. If they're hired, they will take a large metal plate, put some merchandise on it and wander around the market calling for people to buy. Often they are selling snacks- oranges, mangos, roasted cashew nuts or peanuts, bags of cold water, frozen juice in a bag, fried dough balls. I would show you pictures of the luma itself, but that would mean I have to go there. Sorry. Luma to me is like the mall at Christmas (only hot, dirty, crowded and smelly). Some people love the mall at Christmas; others hate it. Some missionaries love the luma (market); others hate it. I guess you can tell where I land. About once a year I end up having to go to luma. I'm thinking I should go soon, but I don't want to. I need to buy some material to have another outfit made, but I'm trying to decide who I can talk into going and buying the material for me. I know one of my Gambian friends would do it, but I need to ask someone who will buy something good. I'll let you know how that works out.