We have many happy memories from being in the UK this summer: seeing lots of dearly loved friends and family, consuming aaaall the pork products, the children’s shock at cold horizontal rain and, of course, the great encouragement of visiting partner churches. We loved strengthening relationships and were very moved by the way people are praying for us - individually and corporately.
However, we found the transition back to The Gambia difficult. We had got used to stuff working, streamlined systems and things being designed for maximum efficiency. Out here, everything just happens reeeeeaaaallly slowly. Electricity, water and internet aren’t reliable and products are badly made and break all the time. Without the novelty of it being our first year or the naivety to think ‘maybe it’s not always like this’, it’s felt extra frustrating.
But then we think of our Gambian friend who, like us, has two kids but her roof has huge holes in and she has no money. Or another friend who lost her house as the walls crumbled during a particularly torrential storm this summer. Or, at the market, we meet a timid 15-year-old boy selling prawns who, the men on the other stalls say, is from Guinea and speaks zero English or local languages. No schooling, no language, far from home, shucking prawns to make money for someone else.
All horribly hard situations. Situations we’re confronted by on a regular basis that put our challenges into perspective. Situations revealing that even our ‘hard’ contains so much privilege. For the people mentioned above, these are difficulties that they haven’t chosen and they lack the finances and opportunity to navigate their way out of them.
We have become so acutely aware of the privilege we have, not because of any merit of our own but purely because we were born in the UK. We’re shocked by our natural sense of entitlement and pray that God would change us so that our privilege might overflow in thankfulness to him and generosity towards others. As we witness the endurance and grit of our Gambian friends, we long to grow in those qualities ourselves. And as people come to us with their problems and financial needs, we look to the Lord to give us the wisdom we desperately need.
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Nick and Harriet are mission partners in The Gambia, where they serve with a small bible school.
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