My first taste of mission was in my mid-20s, when I went to the Gambia for a year to live with a long term missionary and to help with medical work. It wasn’t a very positive experience. I felt very insecure in the culture and didn’t quite know how to respond to the Gambian people. I also felt insecure amongst the missionaries, because they seemed so capable and I didn’t seem able to do a lot. As well as all that, my relationships with some of the Gambian nurses were very difficult. So at the end of my year there, I decided I didn’t want to go back.
I went to Bible college and while I was there, we studied Moses and how he initially failed in Egypt, but God called him to go back. Moses had all the excuses, but God had all the reasons why he should go. I realised it was kind of similar with me. God was calling me to go back to the place where I felt I’d failed. I had all the excuses, but God said, ‘Go’. So I went back to the Gambia.
I went through candidate orientation with WEC, in some ways hoping they wouldn’t find me suitable, so I’d have an excuse not to go! But they approved me, so, three years after my initial short-term trip, I was on my way to the Gambia again. I stayed for 28 years, and I wouldn’t change it for anything. I had some really rich experiences – also some challenges – and God taught me so much about himself. I don’t regret it for a minute.