The Ruth's housed us in Maryland for a week... what a blessing they were!

The Ruth’s housed us in Maryland for a week… what a blessing they were!

We got to spend an evening with the Lehardy's in Maryland from Mariner's church

We got to spend an evening with the Lehardy’s in Maryland from Mariner’s church

Friends we got to see while in Maryland

Friends we got to see while in Maryland

{Day 1) – September 2nd, 2015

God was 100% clear when he asked me to serve in full time missions 10 years ago.  What a journey it has been, and yet it has just begun.  We have been talking about leaving for years and years and years.  We have been planning and preparing, we’ve been answering questions that we don’t REALLY know the answers to, we’ve been anticipating what it’s gonna be like for years and years.  So the lead up to actually moving our family to Senegal, West Africa has been indescribable.

These past few days before we actually departed for Senegal I have started really freaking out, nervous about doing life here… wondering if there is something I can do to prepare myself more for what we’re about to jump into.  Well there is nothing more I could do, I have done everything a person could do to prepare moving overseas for 10 years now.

checking in... thankfully it went smoothly!

checking in… thankfully it went smoothly!

waiting for our flight

waiting for our flight

on the plane

on the plane

Well today was the day.  We have done SOooo much talking about it, now it’s time to just do it!  We had an overnight flight.  The girls slept okay on the plane but not great, I slept a little bit, but not much, TJ slept more than me.  As we flew over the ocean, morning came faster as we flew towards the Africa morning.  The sun began shining in the airplane window, and my excitement began to feel unbearable… I was giddy to say the least.  As we drew nearer we began to see land, TJ and I looked at each other and said with huge smiles on our faces “This is it, we’re doing it!”  As we got lower we began to see the tops of all the buildings which look so different than anywhere I’ve ever been, it looked dusty and almost like none of the buildings were done being built, but that’s just how they look, anyway I began to cry realizing that this was going to be our home, and it would be a while before we left this place again.

We landed, went through customs and as we walked outside, Del, Arielle and family were waiting for us, as well as Anna and Annalise.  We walked down a gated path, with lots of Africans around trying to get us to buy stuff or get a taxi from them, but we just walked straight to the mission van.  TJ was about to pay the guy who helped us, but Del and Ari, said “No TJ we’ll take care of it!”  {Cultural things we do not understand yet :)} We loaded up all our stuff and ourselves into the van, all the cousins so happy to be together again!  Del began driving, there were lots of African people everywhere, not a white person in site… you know how we Americans (in America) like to make all the streets and houses nice and neat?  No… just no, it’s not that, there is trash and dust and sewer bubbling up out of the not-very-well-made sewer system.  There is little fruit stands, and Nes-Cafe stands… many, many people selling all kinds of stuff outside, or in their little shops (of which you walk about 3 feet in and that’s the shop).  There was little to no traffic lights, and it feels like there are no traffic rules, everyone just sort of butts in and it feels as though everyone should be running in to each other, but they don’t (I’m sure sometimes they do).  At one point, Del had to pull his side mirror in with his hand because the guy next to us was THAT CLOSE!!!  Everything looked the same, and I wondered how I might be able to walk down the street and know where I’m going… I wondering how I MIGHT BE ABLE TO WALK DOWN THE STREET??!!! I felt overwhelmed and wasn’t sure how I was supposed to take all of this in.  I had a hard time understanding that we are actually going to LIVE HERE!!  This place is so foreign to me, and I don’t know how to do anything, I don’t know how to wash dishes, or wash the fruit, I had to figure out how to flush the toilet… I’m not sure exactly how to even bathe yet!  I don’t know where or how to buy food, nor have I memorized the exchange rate of franks to dollars.  We have to learn how to filter water, and light the stove every time we want to use it.  I asked Arielle how we are going to wash clothes, she said:  “She has two hands”  me “oh… okay”.  Everything seems and feels unknown and scary.

First moment seeing my brother

First moment seeing my brother

first moments of walking out of the airport

first moments of walking out of the airport

Our first trip driving through the streets of Dakar

Our first trip driving through the city streets


everyone together and happy!!

everyone together and happy!!

The good thing about all of this is that we have LOTS of help, we have people scheduling our next couple weeks, and planning how to help us learn all these things that feel like big mountains right now to ease us into life here. Our apartment feels like a blessing and already feels like a place that is ours, and a place that we will be able to rest from the hustle and bustle of life. (even though there is lots of street noises coming in our windows such as, honking, kids crying, sirens, sheep baaing)

Del and Arielle have done lots to get ready for us, having the apartment cleaned, buying and bringing food for us to have ready here.  Del got up early and made Cinnamon Rolls for us to have when we got to our apartment.  He made yummy eggs, and had fruit as well.  We had somewhat of a feast for lunch… we feel so welcomed by them and others.

I got to see my friend Cathren who also lives here in Dakar!!

I got to see my friend Cathren who also lives here!!

I look forward to looking back on these beginning days because I can sense that they will be hard with everything we need to figure out, and with all that the girls are going through, but I am also intending on enjoying the experience of all that God has for us right now.  He has been preparing us, and he asked us to come here, so I am anticipating what else he’s got for us, and what he’s going to do just in these days that we’re in now.

{Day 3}

The nights seem a little difficult to sleep with all the noise, but I do feel like I am finally getting some rest.  Our alarm this morning was a trash truck honking loudly outside on our street, I quickly remembered that Del said when we hear the honking, we take the trash out there as fast as we can, because sometimes they go on strike and don’t come for a week, so you ALWAYS take it out.   In my stupor I said “TJ… TJ the trash!!  We have to take the trash out!”  so he got dressed, I got the trash ready and he ran outside…. yaaay, we accomplished taking the trash out! 🙂

I am feeling a little more excited to be here today.  This morning our cleaning lady came, we’ll call her “M”.  And in case you don’t know, giving someone a job to clean here is helping them provide for their family, it would be selfish of us not to give someone a job.  And it is really nice to have the help.  Because it is so dusty here, everything gets dirty fast, and so the floors get swept and mopped several times a week.  I officially want to learn french… I hate not knowing the language, so I’m excited to begin that.

This morning Arielle took me to market, we walked down the street, and to the left down the first dirt road, and when we actually walked into “Market”  people were shoulder to shoulder (or butt to butt) pushing their way through.  It was definitely like a dream come true walking down the streets with my sister in law Arielle… pretty cool moment for sure!   There was lots of different kinds of vegetables and fruit being sold on mats on the street, people just putting their stuff down and selling it.  The smell of fish was everywhere and other smells I can’t quite describe but were not pleasant.  We bought a couple bins and some sweet potatoes and lettuce of which Arielle had to barter for.  As we were waiting for our change back from the lettuce lady a semi truck began driving through, you might be asking through where?  My thoughts exactly!  The truck was gonna drive through the market, he was honking his big horn and so everyone just started picking up their mats and moving their stuff and the truck would just drive through… there were moments when we were inches away from the truck as it was driving next to us.  Arielle said that trucks will do that through the market, but she had never seen one that big!  Because we were carrying bins (or anything I guess) there were these boys who kept asking if they could carry our stuff and try to grab it out of our hands… pretty much the entire time this was happening, it was sort of annoying in my opinion.  Wow… what an interesting first day at market.  Thank you Arielle!!

After we got back from market, I cooked for the first time in my kitchen, it was a simple meal, but I cooked it which also feels like an accomplishment.

{Day 5) September 6th

Yesterday we went to two grocery stores, One of them was closer and somewhere I can walk to often, I felt encouraged as we walked through the store… I thought to myself “We ARE going to make it, we will survive after all… we will eat food!!  There are shelves with food on them and prices marked… yaaay!  I actually started doing the math in my head from Franks to dollars…. yaaaaay me!  I do want to conquer the street market, however this was very nice too!  It was a big day, and very good learning experience as far as what we have access too.  We also went to [how you say it:]  Heeber Marsh-ay,  I was grateful to find different asian options for food, as well as what things cost and what is available.  We normally eat lots of cheese, which is very expensive here, we will probably eat it still, just not as much.  Chicken is sort of hard to get, so we will probably do beef, fish and other forms of protein.  There is a bakery across our street and a little boutique not far from our apartment, where we can buy eggs, onions garlic, bottled water, baguettes… things like that.

I don’t have too many pictures yet, because I haven’t felt too comfortable taking them yet, and as far as our apartment, I’m gonna wait till it looks better and not so messy. 🙂

Today we went to Del and Arielle’s church, normally they have Sunday school for kids, but not today, and the girls had a really hard time sitting in church for that long, so it was sort of draining for them and in turn for us.  It was fun to hear everyone worshiping the Lord in french and in their such deep african voices, I loved it, and can’t wait to praise God with them in French!!  We missed our church today, but at the same time because we have such amazing supporting churches behind us, it felt easier to be here… does that make sense?

Please be praying for us as this sort of transition is not easy on our girls or us.  We had  paper chain before we left Florida, the girls cutting one off every day until we left for Africa… Well Ava just asked us if we could make a paper chain for the days until we leave Africa.  My poor baby heart, our girls need prayer too as this is not easy, and they have been pulled away from there many church friends and family, of which they talk a lot about.  This is one reason we are so grateful to be near family here, oh what a blessing this has been!!  Our relationships are all more difficult with each other, and the weight of everything here is overwhelming.