April 2017 Newsletter
Dear friends and partners in ministry,
Gambia Feels like a New Country
We arrived in Gambia on February 20th, two days after the official inauguration of the new president. It took me by surprise that I was emotional and teary eyed as we touched down in Gambia, partly because we were gone for 9 months due to the political instability, and partly because we were basically arriving to a “new country”. The ride from the airport was quiet, as we looked around and observed the changes, but right away we felt the difference “in the air” – PEACE at last, political freedom, but also there was a sense of spiritual freedom that we haven’t felt before. Now that we’re here, it’s like some unseen bondage has been broken, and there is a spiritual freedom that the country is experiencing. Christians are gathering freely at the stadium to pray and celebrate. Please pray with us that the Wind of the Holy Spirit will overflow this tiny nation and a revelation of His mighty power will take over this land and spread into all of West Africa.
Glad to See Each Other!
The staff and children at the school were so excited to see us–they missed us as much as we missed them! Mr. Tamba, the school headmaster, shared with us in detail how tense the political situation really was, and that he even thought about leaving the country with his family for safety. He is originally from Sierra Leone and he has seen things that no human being should ever have to see! He was very concerned for his three daughters, ages 18, 17 and 14 because he saw first hand what was done to women during the Sierra Leone civil war. We kept in touch with them almost daily during those days, and he said our prayers and encouragement helped him through it all. Praise God for His infinite love and mercy, for answering our prayers and protecting all of our children and staff.
Construction of a New Building at the School
We are so grateful for the team of 5 men who came in March to continue in the construction of a building for our lab and ministry room. The project proved to be a little more complicated than they anticipated, but after two and a half weeks of hard work, they were able to look back and see the success of the project. There is still some work to be done for the project to be completed, but the difficult part is behind us.
During their time here, working alongside the Gambian crew, one man asked to go home for a family emergency. He returned a little later to say that an 8-day-old baby from their compound had passed away. We later found out it was Mari’s brother. Mari is in grade 9 in our school, she is the little girl we wrote about in our Christmas letter and we have been following her story. She was so heartbroken; she came into our office and cried bitterly! She told us that the people in the compound were saying that the baby was cursed. The family had just done the naming ceremony for the baby according to their tradition, but her mother had also taken the baby to a “marabou”, a Shaman priest, the day before. Mari was sad because she said she didn’t know who the baby’s father was, and she opened up to us to say that if her mom was married to her father, she would not continue to have babies with another man. This is just a small example of the complex situations that we have to deal with every day, comforting and counseling our students.
I’m so grateful for Rose, our secretary and office assistant because she is learning to counsel the students and taking a course in social work. Rose is a gift from God, please pray for her for wisdom and protection, and for God to bring a Godly husband into her life, a born again believer who would be a partner to her in the calling that God has on her life.
Meeting Needs as we Work
Every year when we return to Gambia, it feels like God draws our attention to someone and as we talk to them, we find out about some great needs they are facing. So is the case with Mrs. Davies, our grade one teacher and one of the pillars at the school. She has been working for us since the day we opened the school, never misses a day of work, a solid believer and great teacher. She never complains or asks for anything. One day, Sol just went to her and asked her a simple question: “What is the biggest concern you have at home?” She started crying and said that after renting all these years, she built a little house of mud blocks to have her own place, but she needs to stucco it with cement in order to protect it before the rainy season. We went to see the house and we quickly noticed that she also needed windows, doors and a bathroom before the rain comes. The bathroom is just sticks and corrugate with no cover, but she didn’t even mention it. As we looked at this place that she called home, we felt prompted to do something about it that would change her life and relieve her of her biggest worries.
God has been showing us the needs of people around us and giving us opportunities to bless people and show them His love. We could not do it without your faithful support in prayer and in giving, and for that we say thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
Thank you for your prayers for this nation, we saw God’s answer and how He intervened in miraculous ways! We look ahead to more amazing opportunities to bless people and share the love of Jesus in tangible ways.
Thank you for all you do to see His kingdom come here in Gambia.
Blessings and much love,
Sol and Manuela