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Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart. Recite them to your children and talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise.

Deuteronomy 6:6-7

News: April 2008

Tom in Gambia

Tom was greeted at the Banjul International Airport in The Gambia, West Africa with friends who gave him a lesson on the drums

Twelve of us traveled to The Gambia in West Africa last month, all members of the Network of Biblical Storytellers. When we first arrived, none of us noticed the sign posted by the entrance of our dorm which read, “Keep your buckets full,” but it didn't take long to catch its significance in a land where it doesn't rain for nine months.

By the time we left a week later, “Keep your buckets full” was not just an essential practice for daily cleansing, but had become a beloved proverb of our spiritual experience in West Africa.  In so many ways our buckets were kept more than full; they were overflowing!

It seemed a little strange to go to the land of Kunta Kinte, where griots continue ancient oral traditions, to teach about storytelling. The Bible, however, in The Gambia as in the United States, is part of a high literate culture and has not benefited from the rich oral tradition and storytelling abilities of West African peoples. It was an amazing privilege to witness the spiritual energy that was generated when the power of the biblical stories told intersected with the deep cultural experience of storytelling.

The Gambia is the smallest country in Africa. Here is a map of The Gambia, 20 miles wide and 200 miles long, along the Gambia River.

Gambia map

Grace and peace,