Sometimes I chuckle that this is actually my day to day life. I thank God for all of the opportunities and the relationships to share His good news and to shine the light of Christ in this dark place. If you have been reading along you have heard all of the to-do’s that have been on my list lately. And you have read that I have been working industriously to prepare for the transition of our clinic. However, in the midst of the busyness I am trying very hard to stop, breathe, pray and remember the vast importance of relationships and why I am here.
As I prepared for this week, the to do list was already very long. Then, it was announced that the President of The Gambia would be coming to our village for a visit. The village leaders notified me and invited me to attend and bring a guest. Well, since I am on the compound alone I did ask if my cat could be included and the response was a chuckling yes. Don’t worry, she stayed at home. She would not have enjoyed the crowd and the noise. This notification and special invitation from the village leaders meant some rearranging in my busy schedule, but definitely worth rearranging to keep strengthening our relationship here. I was surprised and very grateful that I actually had 5 days-notice prior to the visit (last time the president came I think we had less than 24 hours notice).
However, about 4 hours before the president’s scheduled arrival while I was busy working at our medical clinic I received a call from the village leaders again that they wanted to meet with me. Uh oh, what now and how am I going to fit whatever it is in to my schedule. As I awaited their arrival to meet with me at the clinic I prayed and set my heart on relationships and with a joyful heart was ready to hear their ask. Well, hospitality is critical in this country and the village leaders had realized that the president or his entourage might need a place to rest for a while, drink some cold water and maybe even use the bathroom. Our compound is pretty much the only place in town with flush toilets (a few others are starting to build them) and we have a large empty house with solar powered fridges for cold water and many beds and comfy couches. Of course, I gladly agreed to help out the community, but I did not have time to get the house ready for their potential visit and most of my workers had already left for the day. Praise God the lead hospitality worker on our property was still here and she was ready to jump in. I sent her the maintenance guys to help her although I am not sure how much help they were. The house was clean, but not “president clean” so got a little spruce up and by the time I got finished with my clinic work for the day everything was beautiful and prepared. I am so grateful for the team of workers we have helping us out, they have really stepped up especially with me being here solo in the village.
I headed out for the formal ceremony to meet and greet the president not knowing if they would use our property, but it was ready. I greeted the village leaders and was placed in a VIP section with women that had come as part of his entourage and we awaited his arrival. Of course, as we waited these women next to me were wondering who this tubaab was. They quickly realized I spoke some Wolof and they started quizzing me. I passed the test, but of course the next step was their shock at finding out I do not have a husband nor children and then they immediately proceeded to suggest potential husbands. Yes, we were sitting at a formal government ceremony awaiting the arrival of the president of the country and wedding negotiations were going on. They did not like the idea that I won’t have a co wife, but they left that night still praying and looking for my husband. I made it very clear that it must be God’s will and that I really am happy and content just where God has me. Basically, I provided them great entertainment during the hours of waiting.
As the president arrived with great pomp and circumstance including the police band with a bagpipe (no clue where that came from) I was placed next to the two most important leaders in town and was able to briefly greet the president. The ceremony and speeches continued well into the night. Praise God it was very near our compound so I did not have to walk home too far at 9pm. It was such a blessing to be a part of this and to see how welcome we are in this community. Pray for the people here to come to know Jesus as their Lord and savior.
How was your week…. Any scrambling so that the President of your country could have a place to go to the bathroom? Did your cat get invited to meet the President? Any wedding negotiations with strangers? By the way, the president did not end up using our property and we are ready for the next set of guests next week and the place is “president clean” for them.
One thought on “This is missionary life”
Sounds like another typical week in The Gambia. We love you. Happy Thanksgiving!