There’s much to update you on since out last newsletter. We ended up returning to the UK after the SOW term finished – mainly so that Arthur could attend an appointment he had concerning his eyes and to get the children’s immunisations up to date. We were glad that we did this as we discovered that the sight in Arthur’s squint eye has deteriorated and he needs patching. Unfortunately, they were unwilling to put him on the waiting list for squint surgery next summer because we won’t be in the country over the year so that is something we will need to pursue when we return.
Our plan was to head back to The Gambia on 25 August and have a couple of weeks there before term started. Two days before the flight, we were busily packing our seven suitcases with home-school resources, multiple bars of chocolate and all the books our weight limit would allow when, on a fateful trip to the park, Phoebe fell and broke her leg! We were thankful that the break was uncomplicated but she was put in a full leg cast and we were told she should not return to The Gambia until her leg has completely healed (ten weeks or so). You can imagine our disappointment and frustration at the change in plans. We decided that Nick should return for the start of term, especially in light of news that Pastor Steven (our boss) is very unwell. Harriet and the children have gone to her parents and will return to The Gambia as soon as they get the green light medically.
Nick has now been back in The Gambia for a couple of weeks. Pastor Steven is not going to be able to teach or be involved this term because of his health so it is good that Nick is there to figure out how things are going to run. It’s been a crash back to the reality of Gambian life with high temperatures and humidity, a leaky house, car issues and the loneliness of being there without the family. It has also been disappointing that only two students are enrolled for the year. In the past a number have joined in September or even October so we would love your prayers that this would happen and that God would bring more students (a third student was (is!) due to join us however he is unable to travel at the moment as a result of the coup d’état in Guinea!). Our African faculty have been reaching out to their networks and this year we have reached out to a number of mission agencies in the area to try and spread the word about the college. Please pray that SOW’s profile would grow in the region and more and more people, including denominations and missions, would find it to be a resource that can serve them. We are still very much in the early days of the school and feel keenly the fragile nature of the work. More positively, Steven’s absence has been met by a great response from the other faculty and staff. It has sometimes been our fear that everything depends on Steven but the current evidence suggests that this fear is unfounded.
It is hard feeling weak and out of control – something we can all testify to after the recent experience of the pandemic, if nothing else! But we are truly grateful that, as Christians, these reminders of our humanity and our limitations do not need to lead to despair but are an opportunity to give glory to God as we acknowledge that he is God and we are not. His plans are not our plans but we trust that, in ways that we cannot begin to see or understand, his plans are always better! Towards the end of 2 Corinthians, Paul says, ‘for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong’. These words are simultaneously so encouraging and so challenging! Please pray that, as a family, in our weakness we would feel truly strong in Christ and know the comfort and joy that comes from trusting him.
Thank you for all your support and prayers,
The Algeos xxx
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