January began with 2 and half week of workshops. This involved multiple families traveling to Dakar to participate in a workshop on aspects of langauge learning and security. It has been a while since we had so many from our field together. So a highlight for me was seeing all of these families have an opportunity to gather together and encouraged eachother.
However, it was a busy time for us as gatherings like this take a lot of work to organize and run well. This was one of my first time doing a bulk of the organizing and I learned a lot through the process. This means there were a few hiccups on the way but people were pretty gracious with us as we worked through the bumps in the road.
Here are some of the pieces we had going…
- Care for our kids – Gathering our families together means also gathering our kids. It is a great opportunitiy to invest in these kids lives. We had a team of people here to help with that and they did a great job. We also had about 10 toddlers and babies which meant lots of nappers to some how keep track of. The question was always which kid is in which bed and which bed is still open.
- Food – Gathering people means feeding them as well. We had some one taking care of snacks, because there is no way to have a meeting without snacks. My host mom spent the 2 weeks with us cooking for everyone. She did an amazing job and I was just trying to make sure we had all we needed each day from the market to have a successful meal.
- Meetings with families and teams – since we aren’t together every often it is hard to pass up the opportunity to meet with people face to face. So, each evening or break we tried to sit down with different people and see how things were going and what needs they had in the near future.
- An added outing – on of the bumps was realizing we had meetings on Saturday that we had not planned for. The kids needed a break from their normal program so we did an outting to a ropes course. We had a large group of kids with a vast spread of ages, but praise the Lord everything went very well including the 1 drive there and back!
- Birthday Party – in the middle of this time Ethan turned 13! We couldn’t pass up the chance to through a party for him with so many of his friends around. So Saturday evening we organized a glowstick party with night games for all the older kids.
It was a busy 2 weeks, but we were encouraged by the time and all that we were able to accomplish. We were sighing in relief once it was done, but were also happy for all the memories that were made. These times are so important as isolation is a reality that many of our families face. Our next gathering won’t be for 18 months, so it was definately a time that we will teasure.