November 2019

Greetings from a very hot and humid Gambia!

Despite having our moments of struggling with this transition phase, and frustration at the quality and pace of work at the huts, our overall feeling as we look back is that there is SO much to give thanks for from these last few months (get ready for excessive exclamation marks!!):

  • We now have eight students at SOW, including our first female student, Mary. Two of the new students, Joshua and Mary, are Gambians which excites us greatly! 
  • The students have moved from sleeping on the classroom floor into the dormitory block. They are delighted with their bunk beds, fans and a bit more personal space!
  • We are really seeing the benefit of residential learning - the students are learning so much from each other (see ‘on our minds this month’ overleaf). 
  • The students are really engaging with their studies - Nick received a call from one of them on a Sunday afternoon wanting to chat through the sermon in light of all he’s been learning at SOW. It’s so encouraging to see them already growing in discernment and a passion to see Christ proclaimed. 
  • We also heard an encouraging testimony from someone who listened to one of our alumni preach at his church the other week - the comment was that the sermon was faithfully taught and applied in a culturally relevant way… just the kind of feedback we long to hear! 
  • Help from Basil, one of the SOW students.
    The students have been serving us big time in helping get the huts ready, giving up their free time to come and do some hard labour! Their willingness to serve is incredibly humbling.
  • The borehole and water tower are completed at the huts which means water is flowing through the taps! 
  • There is electricity at the campus and the huts. Remember that time when we thought we were going to have to learn to do life without electricity? As we walked into our hut last week and turned on the lights and fans, we were blown away reflecting on everything that had led up to that point and God’s extraordinary provision through the incredible generosity of many. 
  • Phoebe and Arthur have celebrated their second and fourth birthdays and they’re happy and healthy - which we do not take for granted! We’re thanking the Lord for their little lives that bring so much joy. 

Looking forward

Though there is still a bit to do on the huts, the plan is for us to move in on Wednesday 6th. Phoebe has been counting down as if for Christmas (this morning she declared ‘Two more sleeps until Tubakuta! Yay!’) and we all feel very excited that the end of suitcase living is in sight! 

We would LOVE your prayers as we transition to village life. We don’t really know what to expect but please pray:

  • That we would be salt and light as we meet our neighbours and get to know people in the village (and that our Mandinka would quickly and dramatically improve!).
  • That our presence would be a boost for the students. They are particularly keen to start literacy lessons with Harriet and we feel this would be really beneficial for many of them in being able to make the most of the course. Please pray that we would be able to free Harriet up to teach.
  • That it would become clear where we should go to church.
  • That we would be able to help the children as they transition. For Phoebe as we try the local school, for Arthur as he hangs out with a new house helper (and SOW alumni!), Monica.  
  • That we would respond well to whatever challenges there may be! 

On our minds this month

‘He really loves to pray’. This was a comment that Pastor Steven made about one of the students as we were discussing the impact of the course becoming residential. This particular student wakes up every day around 4am to pray for two hours. TWO HOURS! 4am!

Previously, at the part time course, students wouldn’t have much knowledge of each other’s devotional habits or behaviour outside of their time together in class. However, now they are living together, their habits are plain for each other to see.

Steven (who stays at Tubakuta frequently) has been witnessing the impact of this student’s habits on the other students and a number of them are now waking at 5am to pray. It reminds us of the words of Proverbs 27:17 - ‘As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another’. 

Please pray that this would continue to happen in a whole host of ways. We’re delighted to hear these encouragements already. And please pray that as we become part of the community that we would be sharpened by the students and other faculty, and in particular that we would grow in our love of prayer and our desire to spend hours in it! 

And finally…

We are very grateful for all the financial support that we receive as a family to be able to live and serve here. We have no need for any additional support as so many of you have been really generous. However, the ministry we are serving, Servants of the Word, will continue to need external support for many years to come to cover its operating costs. If you would like to consider supporting the college directly, more information is available here.

Photo at top of page: Painters and decorators taking bookings, highly recommended.

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