The trip of a lifetime

gambiaWhat a year it has been! In September, I met seven other gap year students and two leaders for the first time; in January, we all flew to The Gambia to do some volunteer work for four and a half months.

In my previous article, I explained a little about what we spent our time doing: teaching in schools, running assemblies, helping in our church, doing outreach in our church’s local community and so on.

Walking into a classroom of 60+ students was daunting at first, but generally they were all so enthusiastic to learn which was fantastic and made the experience all the more fun! I taught English Language and Christian Religious Education, and I also assisted with the English and Maths classes of two of my teammates. I definitely grew in confidence over the course of the trip, and I believe that it has prepared me a lot for teaching or leading in future life.

One of my absolute highlights of the trip was doing outreach in our church’s local community which took place every Sunday afternoon. During this, we would run a children’s Bible club, a football match, do some manual labour and chat with adults in the community. The children’s club was a particular joy of mine- being able to get to know the children really well and share stories from the Bible with them.

This led us onto a very exciting opportunity to be on national television! On the programme, we talked a bit about our time in The Gambia and the differences to back home; we also sang some songs in the local tribal languages and shared a message from Mark 2:1-12.

As I head into university in September, I am very thankful that I have had this incredible experience! The opportunities that we had as a team to serve in The Gambia were amazing, and it is a place that will forever be in my heart. I very much hope to return soon and visit all of the friends that we made there. It has been a great encouragement to me in my faith and has helped me to grow so much as a person.
I want to say a massive thank you to everyone who has been supporting me throughout the trip, especially to St John the Baptist, Burford Church, who supported me both financially and prayerfully.
I hope that this is an encouragement to you if you are interested in taking a gap year or doing some volunteer work, I would definitely recommend it!

Rachel Duckworth

August – September 2018