Though the trip is over, it's far from the end. Coming back to the wealthiest country in the world after living an "average" life in a third world country for two months is a bit of a shocker at first. At first, you feel out of place and slightly angry, but, having done this once before last summer, I have come to feel blessed more than anything. Blessed to have been allowed a glimpse at what He is doing in West Africa, blessed to have meet some amazing Ms, both career, short term, and summer, but even more blessed because of the people I have meet and the world to which I've been introduced. We've been introduced.
I've been realizing more and more that the world that I love so much, that I've been living in, that we've been sharing through this blog even, does not exist to so many people. Before being assinged to work in Senegal, I had no idea where it was, much less what it was like. I've been blessed with a glimpse into a world that changed my life, and blessed to look upon faces of those who need our Father in a way that is so different, yet so basically the same as everyone in the country I'm familiar with.
So here's a look at a few faces that have changed my life. A few faces that no one else speaks for. That no one else knows names for. That no one else knows exists out side of their tiny village on the coast of an unknown country in West Africa.
This is my African Momma. She is a beautiful woman. She has a daughter who is almost two, and she longs for more. She loves to laugh and dance. She sings while she cooks and hates potatoes. She loves spicy foods and okra. She feels hopeless. She realizes that she does the same thing everyday, cooking, cleaning, breaking up fights between the many kids in the compound, she wants hope. She has heard about my hope, but is still trapped in the false beliefs that entrap the world around her.
This is Absa, but she likes to be called N'day. She is single and works as a nurse at the clinic in my village. She is crazy! She loves to dance to the most modern music from America. She is good with kids and is asked to come in the room when a child is afraid to have their blood drawn. Her favorite distraction to present them this summer was "just look at the white girls, listen, they'll talk to you!". She is worried that she may never get married. She has a boyfriend, but he already has a wife, she would be the second.* Her father is a very devout man and a prominent man in the village. Her family is well known for that.
This is Ndeye. She's 15 years old. She adores me and my roommate. She is African Momma's niece and lives in a different village, but spent most of the summer convincing her mother to let her come stay at our house so that she could see us. She loved the skirt we gave her and had it on almost immediately. She's been having trouble with her hair growing and is very self conscious about not having any and covers her head because of that, not her beliefs. We told her that women in America where their hair very short like her, and that it makes them look smart and sophisticated. She took her head wrap off by the end of her visit.
This is "D". He's a Leader in or village. He has had dreams of Him. One day, after weeks of working with him, he told us about his dream. We had nothing to say but "that is great. that is true". He has an Arabic school that he teaches at. We came twice a week to take care of their medical needs, which were mostly cuts, burns, and fungal infections. That took about an hour, then he liked to sit and talk with us for another. He has a wife and 6 kids. He spends a lot of time in speaking, asking the one he believes in to show him the truth. Ask that he finds it. Someday...
This is Monumbe. He is 12 years old. He is learning french at a nearby school. He appreciates that his family pays a lot for it, but really doesn't like school very much. He wants to be a mechanic like his uncle. He loves to jump rope and sheepishly asked if I had brought a new one for him because the one I gave him last year broke. I had. He loves the card game, spoons, we taught him. We left a deck of our cards there for him. He used to love listening to stories on the cassettes we had. He has one older brother, 3 younger, and 1 younger sister. He takes care of them. He's the only one that can make his 2 year old cousin stop crying.
Please don't forget these faces. Even if you speak for them once after you read this post, that's more than anyone else does. Coming home from the field sometimes makes people feel that they don't know their purpose anymore. Even if all my other purposes in this country fade away, I know that telling others about this unknown world is enough.
Work in Senegal is long and shows very slow progress. But should we give up? never. Progress this summer was telling them there is another way. Loving bratty kids. Sitting and drinking tea. Visiting our friends when they are sick. Telling people why I came back. Loving my family. Explaining why we don't dress like the Americans they see on TV. Why were are learning their language, not French. Showing a leader what followers look like. Putting band aids on kids. Learning to thank Him for meals in Wolof.** And slowly, ever so slowly, showing them Him who loves them right where they are.
*In Senegal, they allow a man up to 4 wives.
**Wolof is the native language of Senegal, though they national language is technically French, the Lebou all speak wolof.