It’s been 3 days since I’ve been home and I feel like an insane person constantly thinking about The Gambia - and when I can go back.
The first few days in The Gambia were a struggle for me. Just getting adjusted to the fact you will always be sitting in your sweat and always having to be in a skirt that traps every ounce of potential heat became a daily battle. The very first full day we were there started with morning devotions at 6 am that naturally we all slept through. Breakfast was accompanied with this soft, fluffy yet crunchy exterior bread. Most of us filled it with chocolat, egg salad (btw apples in egg salad? who knew), jams and peanut butter. Sahmohneem always made us such a beautiful spread. I hate onions and celery yet when I ate them in The Gambia they always tasted a little sweeter - maybe its cause they are probably organic and fresh but I want to believe it’s because it was made with a loving and servant heart (: .
At 9 we went into the rainbow rooms (aka american preschool) to teach phonics. I was paired up with Minnie, John and Christine. I went up first to bat. I was nervous because - I wasnt sure where they were in their knowledge in phonics? However, Mussah and Mimi made us feel welcomed in their classrooms as we began. I started with A and worked my way down - the kids seemed to know them well. However they struggled with additional letters being added to the letters. I won’t lie - I realized all my years being a preschool teacher paid off in this moment. I felt like I always had their attention and they seemed receptive. I was in my zone. Soon after, we moved on to bible study which was just a quick story with some questions. Rina had told us that we’d leave after 11 but our teams actually stayed till like 2 in the afternoon. The class split into two (Mussah and Mimi’s) so John and Christine went with one and Minnie and I stayed with another. I could see the look in Johns face the energy just being sucked out of his body and into the air. I dont blame him though - it was REALLY hot in those rooms and especially if you’ve never taught before it can be awkward and overwhelming. We ended up teaching english/spelling and math. Mimi had shared with us that math wasnt their strongest suit and it showed. Minnie took up math so I got to sit in the back and help the students. The boy on my left though..was a math genius! He was so great! The boys at his table all copied his answers because I guess its known that he’s good at math. Every time he’d complete an answer he’d tap my shoulder and ask for a high five. I realized then all kids are the same - here in the states or there in the Gambia. They just want a little affirmation - just a little attention - just a little love. At the end of the school day, we were all pretty exhausted and kind of frustrated because we didnt really know what was going on. I got over this fairly quickly because I know missions trips are all about being flexible..you never know what youre going to do when youre going to do it. We have to keep in mind we are there for the missionaries. We stepped in to the CIS classrooms for a little bit - I naturally chose to stay in Joesph’s classroom. There arent more than 15 in a class and the age varies a few years 1-3 i would guess. Paul was up there in his little fishermen hat doing his thang. We had lunch soon after - which I was STARVED for. They bang a pot lid along a wooden pole to let everyone know it was time to eat. I remember it was a creamy red sauce - Rina doesnt like this one but I was so hungry that I LOVED it haha! It had yucca, fish balls, and cabbage in the middle. The youngest around our bowl distributed everything. The sauce was so good and the yucca and the cabbage. I took the first bite of the fish balls and thought WHOA this is good! However, one second later I felt a sharp crunch underneath my teeth and realized there lay bones within the fish balls - no bueno. Needless to say after the first encounter I did not go out of my way to eat the fish balls again. After lunch, I ran into moksanneem’s house and devoured a mango. I will never again eat an american mango. WOW - they are just filled with so much juice and just sweet sweet nectar. The kids at the compound said they never wanted snow because the snow ment no mangos. They are right.
I honestly dont remember the rest of the day. I do remember experiencing Gold Bond that day. GREEN GOLD BOND is life changing. You put it on the sweatiest parts of you and you sit back and let it do its magic. It soaks up all your sweat and gets rid of that nasty stickiness then…THEN this minty sensation takes over. It cools your skin down and just makes you go ‘ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh~’. It was the best. I’ll never forget it and I’m going to use it all the time. I LOVE GOLD BOND.
Night worship is a whole another experience in it of itself. It’s actually mostly singing and honestly I feel like i was in a daze every night cause of how tired I was but it still didn’t take away the beauty of it. Everyone is singing on the top of their lungs its so great. I am actually really shy about singing so it was so awesome to see and hear that no one is ashamed and honestly - everyone sounded awesome. Every night theres a chance for someone to share the word and a testimony. A testimony doesn’t always mean a full life testimony but Rina was sharing that sometimes - some the little ones say “I went to school and came back safely”. When was the last time we were thankful - thankful enough to share with someone that you were glad you could make it to point A to point B? So sweet - crazy.