Back to School….and Church!

Marina International High School
C Block – where I teach English to a bunch of lively Tweens and Teens in Forms 1, 2 & 4
Picnic benches in the the school garden just before lunch hour when all hell breaks loose

Saturday 1stSeptember 2018

The Head of High School wrote and suggested that we meet for coffee or a light brunch at Aleildin’s (Lebanese) Restaurant mid-morning which was situated close to Marina International School and both our houses. Jordan had a cheese pizza and Rai had a chicken pizza with coke while William had a shawarma and a cappuchino. 

We had a really good time catching up with each other. William had had a disastrous experience with his house very similar to ours and regaled us all with really funny tales of how he had stormed off into town to the hardware stores and bought everything he needed to fix his house including hiring the labour he needed since he had no faith in the people that the school provided. He told us that he had already spent a huge amount of dalasis on the renovations which had included paintwork, tiling, electrical wiring & carpentry and said that he was going to claim all his expenses by submitting the receipts on Monday! We laughed at the eccentricities of the Gambian way of life and how KC had been so Africanized that she had imagined that the accommodation that the school had provided us with was perfectly acceptable instead of downright horrible! 

William was staying at the Senegambia Hotel which is where we had been a couple of days ago to see the paintings at the African Art Gallery! He had been hoping that the work on his house would have been completed so had checked out of the hotel at noon before he met us. He texted Paul later in the evening to say that he was spending another night at the hotel after all – so obviously the renovations were still ongoing…

Paul is a No: 4 or 5 on the Feelings Meter because he feels unsure of William and of most of the others we have met here as well including KC. I had to admit to him that I was actually a No: 9 – because it was so amazing for me to be in The Gambia!

Sunday 2ndSeptember 2018

A bit of heaven on earth: an awesome time of worshipping God with my African siblings

I was very keen to attend a church service in The Gambia but it started raining quite hard early morning so I shelved the idea and wrote in my journal instead. However, the day brightened up and I decided to go after all. I called Lamin and went to the Methodist Church in Bakau first but I was an hour too early so I went to a charismatic church called ‘Calvary Community Church’ which I had read about online last night. It was situated in the midst of some slums but was housed in a low-slung building located inside a clean and shady compound. There was a serious Bible study for an hour and then a lively time of praise and worship. I left before the sermon as I had already spent an hour and a half there. 

View of the Atlantic Ocean from the back of the Bakau Methodist Church

Lamin then took me back to the Bakau Methodist Church by the sea where the service had started at 10:30 am. It was a lovely little well-maintained church building with a small, well-dressed, all-African congregation and a really gifted preacher in the pulpit. You could look through the church windows at the breathtaking vista of green grass sloping down to the blue Atlantic Ocean. Absolutely beautiful!

Next week I think I will attend St Paul’s Anglican Church which is also on the beach off Atlantic Boulevard just down the road from our house although Lamin informed me that more white people go there! I would also like to check out two more charismatic fellowships: Gilead Healing Ministry and Abiding Word Ministries. 

As Pastor Tissa Weerasingha used to quip: There are many kinds of hoppers – egg hoppers, milk hoppers, jaggery hoppers…and CHURCH HOPPERS!! I have now officially become a church hopper! 

When I returned from my adventure of finding a church that I would like to attend in The Gambia, Paul wanted to collect our house key from the Junior School of MIS and get some clothes from our (still unpacked!) bags stored in the house that he could wear to work tomorrow. So we ordered a vegetable biriyani and a chicken butter masala from Tandoori Nights and went off to see our house. It looked so good we nearly collapsed with the shock of the transformation that had taken place since a mere week ago! 

Nearly everything we had detailed in our list of 22 items to be attended to – had been fixed! The place now actually looked habitable for the very first time! Hallelujah!! God is so good to us and I feel so grateful to Him for showering us with so many of His blessings, grace upon grace….

We returned home feeling very happy. Paul went swimming in the evening while Jordan went off to play football on the beach. Rai played Minecraft while I spent the afternoon writing my journal and reading ‘The Last Lecture’ by Randy Pausch which was gifted to me by my new friend Aroshe just before I left for The Gambia.

I am a 9 again on the Feelings Meter because it was truly amazing to meet God’s people for the first time in this country and worship the Lord with my brothers and sisters in Christ in two different churches – wow! What an immense privilege that was! 

Monday 3rdSeptember 2018

Paul went off to work for the first time in five years! I stayed at home with the kids and made them scrambled egg for breakfast. Kay called to say that she would pick us up from Riyan Apartments at 12:30 pm to take us to the tailors so that Jordan and Rai’s measurements could be taken for their new school uniforms. We bought the beautiful M.I.S. uniform material (blue tie & dye) and went to see a tailor in a tiny shop across from the school. He has agreed to have two sets of uniforms ready by Saturday and the others by Tuesday.

Kay also took us to the MIS Junior Section where Paul was in his office looking relaxed and happy! He had a very good day in office and met with the two Deputy Heads of the Junior School who talked him through the duty rosters for break times and how often assemblies are held (twice a week). They apparently have a very detailed management structure at the school with several levels of authority so that the school should, in theory, run very smoothly. 

Paul’s anxiety over the past week has abated dramatically and he says he is now a No: 9 on the Feelings Meter – hooray!

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