Watch. Learn. Feel. Post #2



There we were on our roof, pacing from one side to the other, peeking our head’s over the the edge, witnessing all the men in the neighbor’s households killing their own sheep, letting the blood flow from no longer breathing sheep.  Through out the day we continued to go on the roof to see what the neighbors were up to.  The women seemed to be preparing all day, cutting up tons of potatoes, cutting tons of onions, and wrapping what seemed like intestines around something… and we began to smell the amazing smells of a city cooking mutton.

And here we are a year later, our dreams came true and we were invited to someone’s house for Tabaski.   We didn’t know a whole lot about the event except that they kill a sheep for the sins of the family and then the women spend the entire day preparing.  We knew that there were nice clothes involved, but wasn’t sure exactly what that meant.


I got my iron out and my ironing board which is a piece of wood and a towel that I put over our coffee table in my bedroom.  I got out my dress and the girls dresses that all match, and ironed everything.  I did each girls hair, then my own hair and my own make up.  TJ was waiting for a call to let us know when to come.  When he got the call, TJ said “so when should we come?”  he said “Now!”  We were nowhere near ready, but did what we could to get out the door.   We headed to a town about 45 minutes outside of Dakar depending on Traffic… could be two hours!


When we got to the gas station our friend told us to go to, we got out of the taxi and found some Klondos close by that also take people where they need to go, but each person pays for their seat rather than for an entire taxi.  El Hadj, our friend talked to the Klondo driver to explain how to get there, but he needed to take someone else to her destination first, so there we were waiting, wishing we could just get a taxi, us impatient Americans… but we waited, Ava needed to pee so I helped her find the side of a building, when we returned the Klondo was there.     Our Klondo driver talked to El Hadj our friend as we went down some back dirt roads, until we saw him.  We got out of the Klondo and payed him, at this point there was almost ponds in the road because of the rain the night before and so we couldn’t drive through.  So we made it back to his house.

Upon arriving at his new house, there was his brother, continuing to clean insides of the lamb over a large bucket.  They brought us into their house that they had been living in for just a month, it was new and quite nice.  You could tell they had just moved there and they weren’t quite settled.  As soon as we walked in, our friend showed us his bedroom that we could relax in if we wanted to, I think they weren’t exactly sure what to do with us.  They brought a mattress out to put on the floor with a new sheet.  We had brought some coloring stuff for the girls and so Ava began coloring and sharing her stuff with a little girl and boy there she had just met.  Penny was a little more curious about what the men were doing, so she went out with TJ to watch the gut cleaning happenings.  Even TJ got to do some chopping 😉


I poked my head in the kitchen area, said hi and asked if I could be of help to the women.  They said “Oh no no no, it’s okay… you rest!”  I explained to them that last year I saw all of this happening all around me, and that this year, if I got the chance to attend a Tabaski party at someone’s house I wanted to help prepare!!

A few minutes later they called me into the kitchen, and El Hadj’s new wife gave me a different skirt to wear instead of my nice clothes for preparing.  I realized who she was, because if you remember, we attended a marriage event before… well this was the couple!  So it was really nice to have already met her and have some things to talk about, there was some connection there!  I met El Hadj’s older sister and I think a cousin who was cutting onions.  After a little while of sitting there on a bench doing nothing, I grabbed a knife and just starting cutting onions Senegalese style, mind you I have cut like 2 onions like this before… I suck to say the least.  It’s a very particular method, much different from the American way of cutting onions, which I’m super good at… but this is not America and I cut onions worse than a 12 year old girl.  But, I was SOOOOOO grateful BECAUSE they let me cut onions.  They didn’t say things like others before me, like “your too slow, give that job to someone else” or “give her something easier to do!” (like a child).  So the 16 year old girl showed me how to cut onions, and she put a little piece of onion on my head so that I wouldn’t  cry while cutting onions… it kept falling off and we kept laughing about it.  I never thought I would say this, but… I GOT TO CUT ONIONS!!!”.  Penny even came in for a while and they let her pound the big mortar and pestle, I told them she LOVES to cook with me in the kitchen and so they let her do that until they started putting spicy peppers in then they took over.  They were making a large amount of yummy, onion garlic peppery paste for the mutton they were going to cook next.


After helping prepare in the kitchen for a while we got ready to eat a meal.  It is the first meal they eat in the day.  The girls ate with the mama of the household around a platter, and we ate around a different platter with the others.  There was meat and bones spread around the platter with little dollops of mayo around, and then we ate it with bread.  The meat consisted of the heart, lungs, liver, kidneys… and it sounds like it wouldn’t be super yummy, but truth is that it was SUPER yummy!!  The flavors were popping, and the experience was rich for us.  We laughed and talked, and took pictures.  They were so welcoming and it was the beginning of a relaxing un-stressful day, where we could just live, learn and be.




The last time we were at an event with El Hadj it was for their marriage and there was ALOT of people there, all his friends and extended family.  It was a totally different feeling, for us it was good but stressful and a little overwhelming.  We imagined this day being sort of like that and so we were trying to mentally prepare our minds for something like that.  But it wasn’t at all like that.  He really did invite us to an event with just his family, and we felt really honored to be there and to be included on this special day for them.

After the first meal that we ate about 1:00 P.M. the younger girls cleaned up all the dishes and then cleaning happened in the courtyard area in-between the kitchen and living room because that’s where a lot of the cutting up of the meat happened.  After all the clean up, I went back into the kitchen and watched them begin cooking the huge pot of onions, and the huge pot of meat with all those yummy things they had pounded in the big wooden pestle.  That cooked for several hours.

big pot of onions :)

big pot of onions 🙂

big pot of meat :)

big pot of meat 🙂

They also cooked the fries.  The sister told me that the potatoes were from Mauritania, and they were different and a little more expensive so we were going to be having some special kinds of fries with our meal.  During the afternoon, the girls played outside, colored, watched some shows on TJ’s phone, it was a relaxing non stressful time for them as well.  TJ spent hours sitting on that mattress on the living room floor with El Hadj talking about the condition of the heart and discussing spiritual things.  I was proud of TJ, these things are not easy for us to talk about in French right now. He was pushing through!!


Around 5:00 p.m.  We all gathered around the 2 platters again and began eating the main meal of the day.  This time there was mutton in the middle (the stuff that had been cooking for hours!) and then fries and mayo around the outside.   So we ate once again with bread.  They explained that on this day no one eats rice… here they eat rice every day, but on Tabaski rice is not eaten!  The meal was sooooooo good!!


Through out the day there were people that would come by, and it was explained to us that this day is a day for pardoning and so everyone who needed to ask for forgiveness would come by and ask for forgiveness for whatever they did wrong that year.   I was getting very tired after the meal and was just sitting on the living room mattress, and Ellage’s wife brought a bunch of pictures of her sister in law’s wedding because we had been talking about it before.  So we sat and talked about all the pictures and about the customs for a muslim wedding for them.  She explained that the day we came to see them on their wedding day they had been to the mosque to get married and then she went to her families house to celebrate with them and he went to his families house to celebrate with them, and there were lots of people at both houses.  I asked her if there would be a big celebration and when would that be?  She said there wouldn’t be a big wedding party until they have their first child, it will be then that they have a big party.


She explained to me that she had just arrived at El Hadj’s house the Saturday before at 2 in the morning (Tabaski was on Monday) and they had been married in late May… She had JUST arrived to live with him.  She said sometimes when people get married the wife never lives with her husband, it depends on what she wants to do.  I asked her if she knew him before they got married, and she explained that his mom knew her and really liked her, because she was smart, kind, worked hard, and thought that she would be a good wife.  She met all of his family and he met all of her family, but they never met each other until their wedding day.  And if I understand right this is the first time she was actually living with her husband.  I don’t know how it is with everyone, but he was pretty excited to have her there!  She also explained to me that there is a baptismal ceremony one week after the baby is born.  The mom gets all dressed up (ONE WEEK AFTER SHE GAVE BIRTH)… I’m like what?  one week?  They said ya, maybe Africans are stronger than “toubabs” (white people).

After talking for a while, she and I went out and sat on the steps she explained to me that little kids would be coming by to ask for money.  All the kids do it, and all the neighbors give little pieces of money.  She told me she was going to go change again.  So here I was on the steps with TJ and the girls and sure enough kids all over the neighborhood were VERY dressed up and were going around asking for money.  Most of the girls wore heals, even the little little ones.  It was really fun seeing everyone so dressed up!!



Then my friend came back out and she had this beautiful dress on, and then I noticed most people would be wearing a really beautiful dress.  Later I asked her more about it.  She said the fabric was about $22 a meter and she bought 4 meters, and it is normally about $60 to have this dress made.  For a nice wax African fabric it’s about $16 for 6 meters and then maybe $10 to have a dress made and you have fabric left over, so you can see the difference here.  You can see Tabaski is a big expense here which is why you have to be vigilant in the weeks leading up to it.  Each family also needs to buy however many rams which can range from 150,000CFA to 10,000,000CFA ($300-$17,000)  It is not cheap, and most people here don’t make this kind of money).


Anyway, when the time arrived for us to leave, our friends did not want us to leave and they asked if we could stay the night, or maybe insisted.  We reminded them that we are learning little by little, this was a good day but we needed to go home and rest, maybe next year when we bring clothes and are prepared :).  We walked for about 1/2 hour back to the main road in the dark shining light with our phones, when we got to the road all the taxi’s were full so we got another Klondo. When we arrived into the city a little bit there, we were gonna try to get a taxi, our Klondo driver reminded us that we were the only white people out here right now and it’s sort of dangerous so to hold on to my purse good, and to get a taxi as quickly as we could… So I prayed God would provide us with one quickly and He did.  We got in the taxi, the girls fell over and fell asleep and we arrived home about 1 hour later back into the city.  It was a wonderful day and I’m grateful for the relationship and for the time to learn about people here, what they do and why, while getting to know them.  I’m super grateful to the Lord for these opportunities.

sooo tired!

sooo tired!


Watch. Learn. Feel. Post #1

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We the Shropshire family have been living in Senegal for over a year now.  These past couple weeks for me have been full of cultural experiences.  Before… before living here, moving here, before relationships and investing, I imagined learning culture as being outside of myself, as part of another person’s life, but as we begin to dive in deeper it is not quite what I imagined.  Yes it is the culture of another life, different from my own.  BUT. As we learn about different cultures, we are also learning about the lives of our friends and why they live the way they do, it is personal because we love these people and they are our friends, some things are wonderful and I want to fully embrace the difference, and some things are sad, and hard, or have eternal consequences and those are moments that make our hearts hurt.  Because we are learning another culture somewhat through the eyes of friends and African family, things that effect them effect us, things that hurt them hurt our hearts too, we are right there with them watching, learning, feeling.

Last week you could say that I got the opportunity to attend a catholic funeral with one of my closest Senegalese friends, but I have a hard time calling it an opportunity because it was a hard day for all involved.  My heart hurt for the family and loved ones.  I will say I got the opportunity to be with my friend “M” throughout the day, it was a blessing for me to be there for her, and to understand a little more of her pain of suddenly loosing a 19 year old cousin.

This is the dress, an old picture, but the dress indeed.

This is the dress, an old picture, but the dress indeed.


I had asked “M” if she could help me pick out a dress for the funeral because I didn’t know what to where, I am still trying to figure out what is appropriate dress here anyway, different dress for different occasions, I wish I had an instruction manual… It’s complicated… (whimpering noises).  So she picked out a dress, it has wide straps but wasn’t covering my shoulders, it was made out of the african wax fabric here, and was darker colors, which is probably why she picked it.  The entire day before, I was nervous about going, and wondered why I had asked if I could go with her, but she had already said yes and assumed I would be coming, I felt committed and knew it was something I needed to do.

The morning arrived and I got ready, still nervous because of everything being new, unknown, and because it was a fragile situation.  I didn’t know what to expect.  I had told “M” to please tell me everything that I need to do because I know NOTHING!!  She understood and promised that she would let me know.  Before leaving the house I made sure to put some money in an envelope for giving to the family because I knew that was appropriate, that’s about all I knew!  I brought water and something to eat, and medicine for the headache I knew I would be getting.  We left the house about 9:30 a.m. and the family’s whose son died lives close to our house so we walked there, when we arrived the family had already left, but we picked up a couple girls and then walked to the main road to get a taxi… a taxi to the hospital.  Of course the taxi-man gave a really high price, and I made a comment that it was because I was white, they laughed, and nodded.  We got the next taxi and arrived at the Morgue (next to the hospital) about 15 minutes later.

We walked across the street, through a big gated area, we came upon a big covered seating area with a rectangle of benches were people could sit facing to the inside as well as to the outside.  As soon as we walked up, “M” handed me her shawl and said quickly “cover yourself, and do not look at ANYONE!”  That was a surprise, I didn’t know why but I just did what she said.  We then walked up to the mother whose son died and I shook her hand (like you do here with anyone you are saying hi to) and I gave her my condolences “mes condoléances” we then sat facing the inside of the rectangle. As I sat there I wondered if I could start looking at people or if I still needed to avoid eye contact with the rest of the 50 women there.  I began to relax, and looked around.  I asked why I needed to put the wrap on and not look at anyone, and she said she was afraid the Older Madjack women were judging me, and she didn’t want that, she said Madjack’s can be complicated… I don’t know what that means but okay. I do however realize the next time I attend an event like this I will be wearing a dress with sleeves.

There were only women sitting in the covered area, most of the women were wearing black and white, and I asked why she didn’t have me where black and white, and she said black and white is for the family to wear.  And so I realized that this was a privilege for me and that I was here with family.  “M” is family and that is why she was there, and here I was also, I understood that this was fragile and difficult for all involved.

The young 19 year old man who died had been playing soccer with his friends on the field near our house and he just fell down, eyes rolling in the back of his head, died only a few minutes later.  It was unexpected and sudden.  He had 7 brothers and 3 sisters, it was a painful shock to all.  This was on a Thursday and he had died the Sunday previous.

As we sat there, “M” explained to me that in the room behind us and to the left, they were washing the body.  Sometimes you can hire someone at the morgue to wash the body for you, but that can be expensive and so this family opted to wash and prepare the body themselves.  After washing and preparing the body, the family would walk through the room to view the body.

So after about an hour and a half or more, slowly, women began trickling into the room to view the son, and suddenly everyone started walking towards the room.  I stood up with “M” and took a deep breath knowing this was going to be hard on all these women.  We approached the door and “M” walked in but then she backed out because I think it was just too much for her, I wasn’t going to hang around, I passed the mother who began quickly leaving the room where her son lay lifeless saying “My God My God My God My God” Tears filled my eyes as I imagined her pain, I walked in the room, saw the boy lying there in his coffin,  his body was covered with white sheets but his head visible with a brace holding his neck up, I’m assuming so that everyone would actually be able to see him.  I exited the second door, and when I arrived outside again I saw a young women in the other doorway crying out, and convulsing… almost seizing, everyone around her began holding her, someone began fanning her.  I have not personally seen anything like it before, but I later found out she was one of his sisters.  I can only imagine she was feeling the pain of grief and it was unimaginable and unbearable to see her brother lying there without life.  They laid her on the ground and eventually she calmed down, she may have fainted also, I’m not sure.

As everyone went in and came out, all the women began crying, crying out… wailing.  As most of the women came back to the seating area, there were those who stayed in the room singing songs.  After a little while, the van pulled up to the room and the men in the van put the casket in the van, and as the van drove out of the morgue property, there was more screaming and crying, I assume from the realization that he was gone.  We walked towards the gate and to the road.  We got another Taxi to head to the Catholic Church.  When we arrived, the church was empty, so we began walking behind the church, as we walked down several steps there was another building on the catholic grounds.

A side note, this was not a french day for me.  Everyone was speaking Wolof the. entire. day.  If “M” or her mom needed to tell me something they would tell me in french obviously, but everything else was in Wolof… sometimes I wonder why we’re learning french! (There is much merit to it, but on days like these, I wonder)

“M” told me that this was where the viewing would be happening.  Inside the building was benches and also where the body lay, so that people could say their goodbyes.  It was not just for family but for anyone who wanted to come.  It came to my attention that we would be waiting here for a few hours sitting under a tree or on the steps.  Through out the hours several people were concerned for me that I needed to go inside and sit down, and that I needed special attention to make sure I was comfortable, and “M” told me every time someone made a suggestion of going inside or something. I told “M” I didn’t want anything special I just wanted to be with her, and do the same things everyone else was doing, “M” obliged me and said that was fine.

People continued to trickle in to see their friend, son, brother or acquaintance for the last time.  There were again different episodes of cries and the occasional person that began seizing and fainting from grief, at one point a woman left the premises and everyone heard her fall to the ground and came to her rescue, she began screaming and seizing… she was also given some special attention.  At one point about 30 at least, young men showed up along with a few girls, and moms all wearing a shirt with a picture of the boy on the bottom saying “RIP”.  Some of them were tough young men, sunglasses on, and headphones around their neck, they went into the room to see their friend and when they came back out, there was a completely different attitude about them.  Some, you could tell were closer to the boy than others, these young men were crying, saddened by the loss of their friend.  It was hard to watch.  People completely normal would go in and when they came out were in another state, of sadness and mourning, you could tell it was an individual process for everyone, but everyone knew him and loved him.  Every once and a while you would hear singing in the room.  After about three and a half hours, the van pulled up again to get the casket, and I could tell “M” needed a minute so I left her there and gave her some space, she moved closer to the van as to witness them putting him into the van.  Every time the casket was moved into the van, it was another realization that he was gone, and there would be cries and more wailing, more crying and sadness, sometimes more fainting and convulsing.  The van drove slowly out as about 30 people, mostly family followed behind all the way to the other side where they put the casket into the church to have the service for him.

I now had that strong headache I told you I would be getting.  I was with “T” (“M”’s mom) at this point who is a believer also, and I decided I needed to get some food while everyone was in the church because it’s not okay to just eat your food in front of other people… very rude! So we went and got some food. I ate it and took my medicine and drank lots of water, I felt a little better, but not completely.  It was a tiring hot day, but I wasn’t about to start complaining.

About an hour and a half later the service was over and we went to the cemetery.  When we got there, we waited for the van, when the van got there with the casket everyone came up close behind the van. The priest was there, he put something on over his head and got some holy water ready I think, and the van began moving forward slowly.  Everyone (maybe 200 people?) not saying a word walked behind the van, every couple seconds everyone would say a prayer for the most recent deceased, a prayer for his soul.  During the walking I was separated from “M”, we walked all the way to the back of the cemetery, and when the van stopped I couldn’t see a thing, so I looked around for “T” finally I found her, she wasn’t too far away but I was afraid to make a scene getting there.  I decided it was worth it and made my way behind some of the crowd, when I got to her I could see everything.  There was the priest, each family member began taking the utensils and shaking holy water towards the casket.  There was also a large wreath of flowers to put on the grave.  After a few words were said, the brothers gathered around casket to put it into the grounds, and one of the brothers fell to the ground weak with grief, began sobbing, unable to lift himself, his brother helped him, but he couldn’t be helped… this is more than a cultural experience but a sharing the sadness of loosing someone close, my heart hurt for these people.

As they lay him into his grave, the wailing, screaming, and crying was overwhelming.  There were others who again began seizing with grief, fainting because of the inability to breath.  I found the emotional expressions of Africans very interesting and almost refreshing, because there was no hiding it.  There was no shame in being sad or showing your grief, maybe a little bit for the men but in general it was very invited and excepted.  “T” next to me also began wailing and being next to her I held her.  As the casket went into the ground everyone began leaving the premises as quickly as possible, there was no hanging around.  As I walked back I found “M” she also was weak with grief, big tears running down her face.  If we were not close I would have left others to care for her, but she is my close friend, and I was there.  I put my arm around her holding her up, and helping her walk out, she began reaching behind her and crying because of not wanting to leave the boy behind… she was having a hard time letting him go, but it was a necessary breakdown… It was important for her to breakdown in order to grieve the way she needed to.

We walked back together not saying a word, when she was strong enough to be able to walk on her own, I just held her hand all the way back to the parking lot.  Here holding hands is a sign close friendship, this was my chance to let her know that I’m here for her.  When we got to the parking lot, we walked out and got another taxi back to our neighborhood.  Being how “T” and “M” are family I stood in the long line that wrapped around the block by myself to give my condolences to the family.  I stood in line for about 45 minutes before getting my chance to shake all the family member’s hands telling all “mes condoléances” and handing the mama my envelope with money for their family as funerals bring a lot of family to town, and is quite costly to continually feed everyone.  There was a dinner that would follow later, but I was very tired, and it was not necessary I stay for dinner and staying for the condolences was the most important for me.

So I got home around eight that night. I recounted the day to TJ and then fell on the bed dead asleep for several hours while TJ put the girls to bed… Good man taking care of the girls so that I could do this.

It was an emotionally and physically draining day, but a good experience for me, to watch, to learn, and to feel.

Traveling South

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People waiting to get on the barge!

We left Dakar… and not just for a vacation 1.5 hours away, we left Dakar, crossed The Gambia  aaaaaaaaaaaannnd the Gambia River and made it to the other side… we made it to Southern Senegal for the first time.  We have many friends from Southern Senegal, but have never visited!  We left Dakar at 4:07 in the morning, packed in Del and Arielle’s car with all our things loaded on the roof.  It only took us a few hours to get to the Gambia border everyone sleeping on and off in awkward positions, Del got out of the car a few times to do different paper work and buy tickets to get across the river, and TJ went with him as to learn the ropes.  When we got to the Gambia River crossing… there was a long line of trucks on the right and a long line of cars on the left.  Each side of the very dusty dirt road there was people selling stuff, sugar, rice, mayo mustard… and many other things.  There were other vendors selling meat sandwiches and people walking around selling cold drinks and cold water, soccer balls, and “bon-bon” cookies and candies.  We pulled up behind the last car and Del thought the line and wait would be shorter seeing how we got there so much earlier than the last time they went through.  He said “welp… we’ll be here most of the day”  For some reason I didn’t realize we were going to be waiting like so for hours on end… so I attempted to ready my brain quick for the hurry up and wait situation we were in.  And as we waited there were cars and cars flying by us going right up to where they were loading vehicles onto the barge… one word:  Bribe… and we were not willing to bribe so we waited a total of 5 and a half hours to get on the barge.  So some of you may be able to relate some of you not, I have a fear of the action of “squatty pottying”  so… I wasn’t drinking tons of water, or drinking coffee… well I got a headache so eventually I bought some nescafe from a little vendor, and it was actually amazing… he put some of that sweetened condensed milk in it, and the water he poured in was REALLY hot which is good because I don’t know how clean that glass was!

Drinking my nescafe!

Drinking my nescafe!

It was a pretty hot day, and there was something like a dust storm every time a car drove by us, so I did end up drinking lots and lots of water, but managed not to use the bathroom until we got to Del and Ari’s, a total of 16 hours, pretty sure that’s a record for me.  I’m pretty sure I’m gonna need to get over this fear and figure out this squatty potty business, which honestly is a necessity for living in Senegal… one step at a time “petite a petite” as they say here.

IMG_4793TJ, the girls and I walked up to the barge at one point because we needed something to do.  There were two barges, a bigger one and a smaller one, we were looking on from the side/dock area over the railing.  We watched as all the cars and people came off, as I looked over to the left a bus was driving towards the barge, there was lots of luggage stacked on top of the bus and it was stacked in a way that caused the bus to heavily lean over to one side, and then we realized there was about 8 sheep also strapped to the top… I was sure the bus was going to tip over as it drove down towards the ramp and up onto the barge.  It didn’t amazingly enough.  Eventually we made it onto the boat after several hours of waiting, now I understand what people mean when they say you never know how long it’s gonna take!


We had a wonderful time with Del and Arielle.  Poor Ari was sick, but we got the chance to just be with them out of the city, and in their new little town.  It was wonderful… and for your information my squatty potty skills are getting pretty good!!  😉

It was good to just sit with no sound and listen to the Lord and what he had to say to me.  It was wonderful to connect to the area with the land and with the people.  God is good to confirm his decisions in our hearts and to continue guiding us!

This is what we took on the way back!

This is what we took on the way back we took this 7 place (there were 12 people inside!


On our way back from Southern Senegal




Ava got her hair braided and loves it, but she cried and felt the pain of all our women African friends

2 girls that came from Germany for a visit... Loved getting to know them!

2 girls that came from Germany for a visit… Loved getting to know them!



Sunday May 22nd,

We went to a wedding today… wait wait wait… let me back up.  We thought we were going to a wedding today.  As it turns out we got to see the bride and then we got to see the groom, but we didn’t make it to the ceremony… wait, I’m confused.  Lets start over.

Friday we see our neighbor outside our house who TJ has had tea with a couple times and we make effort to talk to when we see him. We saw him when we were on our way out, he tells us he’s getting married on Sunday, we were like “What?”  This Sunday? Like 2 days from now Sunday? He said “Yes, come if you have time!”  We immediately cleared our Calendar for 2 days away…  ‘Cultural experience’ was set on the docket.  We told all our friends and family we were going to a wedding on Sunday evening.  We were told that weddings don’t start when they say they start, so we wouldn’t need to get there at the time he said.

His directions to come to the wedding was “ya it’s near this gas station, in this ______ neighborhood”  So we got all dressed up and left our house fashionably late so that we would get there “on time”.

All ready to go!

All dressed up!

When we arrived at the gas station we told our taxi driver that there was a marriage happening, but we didn’t know where, so he began asking people on every corner (in wolof) if there was a marriage near by.  People kept pointing in the direction where they had been hearing the drums… and so finally we come to the front of a house/apartment building and ask if they know where the marriage is?  They said Oh, it’s here! So we pay and thank our taxi driver, we greet all the young men outside, shaking everyone’s hands as we walk down through the door way, through the kitchen area, into another door way, and into the living room, they immediately sat us down on the big couch. Next, a woman sat down in between us and they began taking pictures, they told us to squish in more and took another.  After the picture, I asked the girl who the bride is, she said she was the bride, I said Oh I thought so!  Congratulations!

The Bride

The Bride

Here we were complete strangers in a house we didn’t know, everyone was dressed up with their hair done and it looked as though a marriage would be happening.  We sat there for a few minutes talking with the girls around us, and after a little while a man told us he would be taking us to the groom’s house.  We thought the wedding was going to be at the house we were at.  I asked my new acquaintance if the marriage was at their house or at the other guy’s house, and everyone just kept saying yes… we were confused to say the least.  We went with this guy, so here we are again in a taxi off to someone’s house, maybe we will be going to the wedding now?  We were not sure what to expect.  So finally we arrive at the next place, we got up about 5 flights of stairs and enter the groom’s families house.  There was a lot of people there!  We walk into the living room, and they sit us down, we then shake everyone’s hands in the room greeting everyone there.  They, also began taking picture after picture with us, everyone taking turns sitting on the couch with us… I kept laughing and looking at TJ, like “what is happening?!”

The Groom

The Groom

We felt very honored there.  When we saw our groom friend, he was so excited to see us!  He could not believe that we made the effort to come.  He began to tell all his friends and family that TJ is not just a brother, he is now more than a brother and more than family, and such an example to him.  He told everyone how he couldn’t believe that we had ordered clothes and wore them for this event (bringing fabric to a tailer and having him make clothes for attending a wedding us normal and expected here) We however, hadn’t had clothes made just for this, but we didn’t actually say anything.  People were just flowing in and out of the house, we met probably at least 50+ people at that house.  They prepared food for us, and we ate dinner around a bowl with the other men there, they gave us drinks, and only us, once again we felt honored.  We continued to ask questions about when the wedding was, and where the ceremony was being held.  The first time we asked they said, oh ya it already happened earlier today,  we were like…. oooooh okay, and then as we were asking more questions they said oh no!  It hasn’t happened yet, that’s next month after Ramadan, the big party is yet to happen…. so in the end we didn’t really know what the day was about.

But the next day we found out that a lot of people get married before Ramadan because it is good to have a wife for the month of fasting.  They had been to the mosque that morning to be married, and so they will be together during Ramadan.  There will be a big wedding and celebration after Ramadan, which is very different than what we saw.  So interesting, and I’m so grateful we could be a part of this and learn some things.

Faux Pas

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The girls LOVED the pool and played there for hours

The girls LOVED the pool and played there for hours

We had a good time on our family vacation a couple weekends ago

We had a good time on our family vacation a couple weekends ago

Penny and Ava having a tea party on our vacation

Penny and Ava having a tea party on our vacation

The girl's playing on our vacation

The girl’s playing on our vacation

As we begin to feel more settled in our home and in our neighborhood I have felt a lack of time with African people and friends in general and I have been trying to figure out and strategize how we can fix this.  I have wanted to spend more time with our host family and with other friends but it has been hard, we have this “schedule” of classes and homeschool, and the days go by and I don’t get the time I want with my African friends (other than my language helper of course, she is definitely my friend :).  I have been desiring to go deeper in my current relationships.  It’s almost like God has been readying my heart for this, for the DESIRE and the ABILITY to deepen these relationships.

Preparing Food together with my host mom

Preparing Food together with my host mom

Soooo… this week I started phase 4 of my language study, this is phase 4 out of 6 phases… guess what the name of this phase is? “Deep Life Sharing” phase… ha!!  I knew I would be transitioning soon, but I didn’t realize exactly what I was going to be getting into.  I am nervous about this phase, but I’m also really excited.  What does it look like?  Yes, well I get to start interviewing different people about life experiences basically.  First of all I get to interview whoever I want to about what they do for work, I record them telling every single thing they do on a normal work day, and then I can take the recording back with my language helper and listen to it with her, and go over it for new words and meanings of phrases.  Second type, I get to interview people about their life stories which is a little more sensitive than the “what do you do for a living?” question.  Here when you first meet someone you don’t just ask them all about their family, how they grew up, their religion, their difficulties in life… that would be PRETTY rude!  However I CAN ask about someone’s life whom I already know, that is why it is ‘deepening relationships’ that are already in place, these recordings I don’t take back to my language helper, I listen to them on my own (or with the interviewee) and write down new words, and bring the new words back to my language helper.  And because people’s life stories are really personal I can assure them I am the only one listening to them.

They let me grill the fish... win win!  (You should have seen me try cutting the onions!  lol

They let me grill the fish… win win! (You should have seen me try cutting the onions! lol

I am so excited about this phase because relationships are my deal, not like I master them, but like… this is why I live… to get to know people, to know there hearts and what makes them beat!!   Developing deep relationships is exciting to me!!  This phase my speaking ability will also (hopefully) expand, and we will begin to learn even more about culture and life here in Africa.  Can I just say thank you Lord for preparing my heart for this next step.

I can see that God is going to grow me, and I can’t help but feel like I will be blessed through these relationships as well, and I hope that I can be a blessing also!!

We just finished a workshop last week of how this Growing Participators Program works, what we do in each phase and how we can effectively work with a nurturer who leads us along in the language and culture.  We stayed at our mission for 5 days, the kids played all day on the big play ground and inside coloring and we were in meetings in the morning and language sessions in the afternoon.  People made my every meal for an entire week… yaaaahoooooo!!!  I was so excited about that aspect of the week, and it was wonderful, I just wish that our bed wasn’t as hard as a rock, I think I would have felt a little more rested… oh well, you can’t have everything huh?  We just got back to our house on Friday evening and we are happy to be home.

Our language learning workshop last week

Our language learning workshop last week

Unfortunately on our way home from the mission we got stuck in some sand, some kids helped us get out of the sand (in a car someone is loaning us), and when we got out of the sand TJ thought about giving them a few pieces of money, and so they were all pushing on his window… well after a few seconds of 10-15 kids pushing the window it broke…  NOT what we wanted to deal after being tired at the end of the week.  The window is currently fixed, BUT we’re not going to stop next time!!

seconds before TJ's window broke

seconds before TJ’s window broke

Learning a new language has it’s curses and blessings.  One thing that comes with talking more is making more cultural “faux pas”.  I love that my level of communication is rising, but as I talk more and as my relationships deepen I am indeed making more cultural mistakes… dang it!  I feel as though we are just beginning to scrape surfaces of culture here, and are just beginning to dig into some things.  Oh the things yet to learn.

A couple weeks ago I was talking to our “Noonoo”  (Nanny) and telling her that she can tell me ANYTHING, that if I’m doing something wrong, I WANT to know!!  So she said (my paraphrase) “okay well there is something, when people come into your home it is rude to ask them if they want water or food, you just bring them water, and if your eating you just say ‘come eat!’ and they can refuse if they want to, I was like “uuuhhh…Oh my goodness… seriously?  I had no idea!!” immediately after realizing how many mistakes we had been making with this question “what do you want?”  I said “ I’m so sorry! Wow…”  Even though I felt like I instantly learned this new nougat of information, I am now realizing my comprehension is JUST beginning!!  Because of this new found information I am seeing  a lot of dots connecting  with other cultural behaviors I have actually been witnessing for the past 8 months.  By the grace of God we will continue to learn from our mistakes.

Our Host family

Our Host family

I shared with my host mom my new cultural findings, and thankfully she further explained… yay for more explanations… I am like a baby…. waaaaah I know nothing!!  Ha! seriously, living in another culture puts you right back in your diaper pants, welcome to my toddler stage people… hopefully there will be less throwing fits on my part, however I can’t guarantee there will be none!  My host mom shared with me another faux pas that I had made with her, and I was SOoooooo grateful!  I was grateful because it was the significance of our relationship going to the next level.  She felt comfortable enough to critique me and let me know where I had gone wrong.  I felt like it was the beginning of our worlds opening up to each other, and we were now going to be beginning a new chapter.  Yes God is blessing the relationship… thank you God!!

'New Clothes from our Tailer' Day delivered to our door... or to our couch ;)  We are here looking through everything and trying it all on to make sure it fits and if it doesn't we send it back with him to make adjustments

‘New Clothes from our Tailer’ Day delivered to our door… or to our couch 😉 We are here looking through everything and trying it all on to make sure it fits and if it doesn’t we send it back with him to make adjustments


Our Awesome Tailer!

Our Awesome Tailer!

Some of our new outfits

Some of our new outfits

On another note our ‘family’ here have been praying and looking for a second hand washing machine, and we happened to find one (seriously only by the grace of God), and the whole thing ended up being a God story with how he provided for them, it was really cool and fun to be a part of.  TJ helped install the washer which also happened to be on her Birthday.  I made a cake and we ate a special dinner with them.  At the end of the night they said we were all gonna pray before going, and so I said I would like to pray for her in English, and so after that each of them shared their thankfulness to us and their thankfulness to God.  Because they both shared, I felt it appropriate it share,  I shared with them how they were a gift to us, how we had prayed for them as our family for a long time, and how I am feeling blessed as the relationship grows, and how we are thankful for them opening up their home and heart to us.  It was the first time I almost started crying because I shared something personal emotionally driven in French… wow!!  God is good.  He really is!  I am excited about what he is doing.

Mango Season = amazing mango salsa

Mango Season = amazing mango salsa

Fresh Veggies from the Market

Fresh Veggies from the Market

Please Pray for us as we continue to learn this language, and as we learn more language that we would be sensitive to the cultural things we are learning as well.  Pray that God would be cultivating the relationships and that they would be honoring to him.  Please pray for our kids as we do ministry, language, and life together.

Someone from my home visited for a couple days, it's always fun and encouraging having visitors

Someone from my home visited for a couple days, it’s always fun and encouraging having visitors

Another visit from a friend in California

Another visit from a friend in California


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Once a week I go on an outing with my language helper, last week was rather eventful.  Our destination was a cafe/restaurant, first we took a Klondo, a car that will drive a specific direction and each person pays about $.20 for a ride, after that we took a bus.  Now on the bus there are usually a lot of people, and it is difficult to walk up to the cashier (a man sitting inside a little cage sort of thing, taking everyone’s payments, and handing out tickets), so there is a system, money is passed from person to person until it gets to the cashier, and then the ticket must be returned to to the person who bought it.  I have ridden on buses many times now, but I have never been the one to pass the money, this day I passed the money AND I successfully told the cashier where they were going, I was laughed at a few times trying to figure out what people were saying, but I could also tell they appreciated me trying, so I went ahead and laughed with them.  Steps, they may be small but each step is getting us somewhere.  When we got to the bus stop, we realized we didn’t go as far as we thought we were going to go, so then a woman offered to take us in her taxi ride to her stop, that was nice!!  So then we walked from there to the coffee shop.  It was sort of a nice place and a little expensive, but it was nice to be out with my language helper, she has really become a friend and I truly enjoy her, she is a gift from God!  We didn’t feel like coffee, so we ordered smoothies, (which are expensive here but such a treat) and french fries which came with like 4 sauces… yum!!  We just sat together and enjoyed each other’s company without talking, but then began talking, all in french of course and yet these times are really fun and beneficial because we talk about things we wouldn’t necessarily talk about in our session, we discuss life and difficulties, and I try to explain what word I’m thinking of which can be complicated and difficult, but generally these conversations are really good bring me along in my relationship with “P” and in my french as well.

After our time at the restaurant, I payed and we walked down the street to the ‘American Food Store’… my first time there!!  There were some things that I definitely had interest in like the hormel chilli, and macaroni and cheese ( not good for you, but so yummy!!), but what I noticed was that most of the stuff in there I wouldn’t normally buy even in the states, because most of it has high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils and monosodium glutamate (MSG)… I know this may be a snotty comment, but thanks America for sending your crap over here, but we don’t need it.  I left the store feeling grateful for this country and for the fresh things we can get, and even though cooking can be a little more complicated and difficult it is fresh, from scratch and pretty delicious, AND not full of junk!  So on I go to figure out how to make my own BBQ sauce, seeing how the 8 different kinds in the American food store all had High Fructose Corn Syrup.

After leaving we waited for a Klondo, but soon realized it wasn’t coming, after which saw a bus we could take.  It was almost empty when we got on, we though we would have to  take another bus after this one, but the man next to us said that this bus also passed near by where we live, so that was a nice surprise.  As we sat there, more and more and more people piled on, the entire bus was literally like a package of sardines and yet somehow more and more people were getting on, pretty soon people were almost sitting on my lap.  The man next to us got off and a woman sat down, next thing I know a young man is asking for money for a ticket for the bus, he’s asking every person, it was sort of odd… when he got to me, he sort of jabbed my arm and put his hand out.  The women next to me began to argue with him in wolof, I didn’t understand a word, but what I did understand was that she was fighting with him on my behalf, and it almost got physical and was LOUD, remember people were sardined on the bus and here they are yelling at each other in wolof…. wow these are experiences I will remember.  We needed to get off at the next stop and I looked at her and thanked her and thanked her for defending me, she gave me a good ‘your welcome nod’.  The other guy who was asking for money also got off and we were a little worried, but it was fine.  On to home we went.  Good experiences, there is always new experiences to be had and new things to learn.


Last Sunday after church there was a meeting with the women in our church, I have been attending these meetings every month, this time I was asked to do a demonstration on how to bake something, so I chose peanut butter chocolate chip cookies.  I shared in french how to make these cookies, they ended up being a hit.  It was a little intimidating but really fun!  I am enjoying getting to know the women in my church and I look forward to continuing.

My cookie demonstration for our women's group at church

My cookie demonstration for our women’s group at church

Birthday and Sugar

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We have been here for 7 months… wow, so there’s that!

So as you know our maid (we’ll call her “M”) has become a really good friend of ours… the other night was M’s birthday party, no not party, she wanted to make very clear it wasn’t a party… just a Birthday Dinner!  We were honored to be invited as her friends.  By now we have been to their house for meals and just for hanging out, we are also enjoying getting to know her sister (we’ll call her “S”) who worked for my brother for a few years.  This week we got go meet their other sister (we’ll call her F) who lives in another town and is attending school there, she just came for a visit.  And last night I got to sit and help baby sit the meat that was cooking over the little grill (little grill of coals sitting on the ground)  in the hallway (open hallway to outside).  They insisted that I didn’t have to help, but decided to give me a job because I really wanted to do something.  I didn’t know what I was doing and almost dropped all the meat in the fire, but they let me do it… they let me help!!  It was a big deal for me.  “S” sat with me and talked with me for a while, as I was talking with her (in French mind you)  I was reflecting on the last 7 months and how far we have come in relationships with our African friends, and how honored and blessed I feel to have these friends.  I told “S” how glad I was to know her family and how much I was growing to love them, and she let me know the same thing about our family.  We laughed and joked throughout the evening with all three sisters, and enjoyed the dynamic of all of them together along with their mom “T”.  We didn’t understand a lot of the dialogue between the rest of the people there because french is not the first language they would choose to speak, but we are pretty used to that by now too.  “S” is sensitive to us and talks to us while the rest speak in another language.

We are learning more about this culture on a daily basis and I’m sure are making mistakes frequently, but I am also getting that this takes time and that we won’t know depth of some things until we have been here for a while.

If you know me well you know that I don’t love to feed my children lots of sugar.  Well when going to a birthday party, it is rude to deny my children an entire little bottle of soda, along with their 2 different kinds of cake, and hey if there’s candy too, give it to the kids… they need it!!  I told “M” that the girls could split a soda, she looked at me and said a firm “NO!”  I said “no really, it’s okay, they don’t need all that”  and with a little anger in her eye, she said an even firmer “NO Lily!”  I thought to me self, okay I’m not gonna fight this one, at this moment I can either give my children a lot of sugar or really offend my good friend… sugar for the kids it is.

So here I am once again, my heart becoming attached to a place, to the people… this always happens!  Ha, I love that I love deep relationships, I also can see the pain ahead as one day we will say goodbye to these people we love here too, and as much as I should be getting used to leaving people I love I don’t think it will ever get any easier.  But for today, as I focus on today I am thankful to the Lord for these relationships that we are building around us, and the connections that are being made.  Please pray for us that we can continue to be humble before the Lord, that we can continue to dive deeper into these relationships, that we can open our hearts more to these people and to this culture.

Happy Birthday!

Happy Birthday!

Pressing On

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This week has been different because TJ has been working with Del on their car while they are here this week.  We have been getting to see Del and Arielle and family which has been really fun, but a little but hard to because our days are not as scheduled as nicely :-/

Today the girls and I got the chance to go to our host family’s house for a visit, we did it African style and didn’t call first… just went.  At first I thought they weren’t home because the door was locked, but they were home, my host mom came down and opened the door for me.  I never know exactly what to expect when I go over there, but today I got the chance to tell her in french (well it’s always in french) some of our story, and how God lead us, how he spoke, and how we followed, I shared with here some difficult things that happened with our church in the past, how God lead us and provided for us.  It felt significant today that I could share in such detail in French things that God has done in our lives and how he has lead us here.

She then shared with me a really good friend of theirs who started a medical clinic here and how much he had impacted their family.  Apparently he speaks 6 languages including wolof (prominently spoken here), when he would see patients, he would never fail to pray with them.  He loved Africans, and had compassion for others like they had never seen, this family left a long time ago and people are still crying about it.  Their had a huge impact on the community.  He would answer anyone’s call anytime, and he always had time for people no matter when it was.  He always shared what he was thinking, and lived the way he talked.

The story of this man caused me to stop and re-evaluate our own lives here.  Am I living to the fullest here, am I making the effort to stop and talk with people… am I loving the people that are around me, the people that come in my home on a regular basis?  It made me realize how much  I think about myself and my own needs.  Sometimes I think I put the blindfold on myself, I forget to consider how I can reach out to those around me, how I can love further.  I feel encouraged to continue pressing on, to continue investing, to continue listening to God and following him.  God is able to do such great things.  I pray that he can use me, in my home and surrounding where ever we are.

Doing laundry and enjoying the sun

Doing laundry and enjoying the sun

We got a package from a small group in a church... such a fun treat!!

We got a package from a small group in a church… such a fun treat!!

Unchanging God

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We have been living in our new house and new neighborhood for 6 weeks now.  Life instantly became busier than we like, and we had a hard time coming up for air.  It has taken us a while to get all moved in and in a good groove, but we’re getting there.

Moving to a new neighborhood we didn’t expect to feel the symptoms of another transition because we’re still in the same city.  I began missing my friends, family, church family… which seems to be one of my main symptoms of transitioning.

As I have been working on preparing what I might like to share in my next post, I have felt like there is nothing to share.  You know… it is so easy to forget the big picture!!  It’s easy to forget why we’re here and just how strong our God is.  Recently we listened to an encouraging sermon from our home church, there hasn’t been one time that we have walked away from a sermon from our home church without feeling encouraged…. I felt encouraged

A couple weekends ago TJ and I have also had some time to just talk about different things together, rethink some things, reconsider how we’re trusting God and how we’re not, what we’re believing him for and what we’ve decided to trust ourselves for.  I cried a couple times within a few day span, and have been reminded of some important truths about who we are serving, and how that same God has been leading us for a long time now.  TJ had to go over some past details for me about how God met us daily through difficult circumstances, how he answered our prayers, how we followed, and how He is that same God.

Sometimes the days feel mundane and meaningless, and it feels as though we will never learn this language well. Sometimes we are a little scared considering all the terrorist attacks surrounding us.  Sometimes we forget why we’re here, we get tunnel vision.  Sometimes we just need to be reminded about who God is, that we can be confident in him, that he led us here and that he is guiding our every step, and if death is all we’re scared of, Jesus Christ already took care of that.  We are trusting God to protect our family.

I am so grateful he is unchanging and always faithful.

Every Thursday night we go to a Bible Study prayer group at our host family’s house and lately I have been encouraged by our time there.  Unlike church we understand a lot more there, and they slow everything down for us, and explain more if we need.  I am in awe at how much our church and other believers I’m getting to know PRAYS… and with that God is revealing a lack of prayer in my life.  How can I move forward daily, and can I hear what he is saying to me if I’m not listening, if I’m not taking the time to talk with him.

My host mom, she works a lot and she is very busy and yet she wakes up very early every single day to pray and talk with God because that is most important in her life!  For some reason God has asked TJ, me and our little girls to move our entire lives here, and he has burdened countless people to pray and around 100 families and churches to support us, I don’t know what every day holds, but I know that he didn’t do all that for nothing.  What is my job now?  Be faithful with what he has given me, and to continue seeking him and listening to him. (3/20/15)  Last night I made a plan for the week for Ava’s school so we would be all ready.  This morning was the first morning I got up early, exercised, read my bible talked with God and showered, ate breakfast, did school with Ava while Penny worked on her rhyming game, almost finishing before our maid and nanny arrived at 10.  I don’t expect it to be perfect every day, but please pray for me as I work to make every day count, and be quality for my girls, for me and for our family.

Despite my fear, despite my loss, despite me missing people, God is trustworthy, and if I can move forward remembering Who God is and how he Loves me, then today is going to be worth it.

Psalm 19:7-9, 14

“The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul;  the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart;  the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes;  the fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the LORD are true, and rights altogether”

“ Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer”

When I lived in South Africa for 9 months, there were some things that were really hard, and I couldn’t wait to get “home”… but after I was “home” for a while there was some things that I REALLY missed from there, and I told myself that when I moved to another country I would recognize what I really Love about that place, things that I would miss if I moved away from that country.  The first thing that I LOVE about a place that I am living is the people.  First and foremost, I love the people here!  My closest friend is my maid, I love her to death and would do anything for her!  But, I am growing to love many people, I see these people as gifts to me, both women who work in my home, our host family, our church, my first AND second language helpers.  I love that if I need something I can just run down to the boutique by our house and get it!  I love eating fresh baguettes with butter or chocolate (nutella) I LOVE all the Senegalese Food, I have grown to appreciate the open markets, and buying fruits from the nearest fruit stand, and I like the homemade drinks. I love the Senegalese brand ‘Zena’ and all their products,  I Love the fabrics here, and that I can have clothes made for us!  I love the baskets, and I love the paintings.  I love that people just come over without calling, and that relationships are top priority, stopping to talk to someone is not only good, it’s expected… whatever it was that you were doing can wait… because relationships are more important!   I love feeling accomplished at the end of the day with the amount of french I have spoken.  I love watching Ava dance with her friends during worship at church,  and even though I don’t understand yet, I LOVE the worship at church, because God always manages to speak to my heart.  I love that I have to figure out how to make things myself because it is not available here, and how accomplished I feel when it turns out well.  I am thankful for really good missionary leadership here that seeks God and is doing a phenomenal job working with new missionaries, it would not be going so well for us if it wasn’t for them!  I love our apartment and that God answered my prayers with 3 bedrooms.  I love our quiet and not so dusty neighborhood.

Whether I’m really missing home or really loving it here…  I trust God.  God’s gift to me is that my heart beats with his beat for the lost.  There are so many who do not know him here.  TJ and I feel more than inadequate, and while that might be a good saying you start to feel it when you can only say enough of the language to get your point across.  We are being humbled, and are being put in a place to trust God in a new and yet profound way.


We got invited to a friend’s birthday Party


Enjoying Sun at the beach


Penny’s Senegalese Birthday Party


Our Host family’s daughters

More Birthday Fun, for Penny's Birthday

More Birthday Fun, for Penny’s Birthday

Penny and our maid and friend

Penny and our maid and friend

Humbling Beginnings

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February 13, 2015

Im sitting here in our new house with our living room aaaaalmost finished being set up, this is the only room that looks livable and complete at the moment.  I’m sipping my tea and enjoying the cool breeze and warm sunshine coming through our huge glass doors. I’m sitting on our couches that we got from Del and Arielle and LOVING our new, much more quiet neighborhood.  I am loving that there is 95% less dust and dirt than our last apartment,  and that I can actually walk around our apartment without always having dirt on my feet… I’m not actually wearing my inside shoes!!  This is big people!!

Living Room

Living Room

I am enjoying the lack of vehicle fumes flowing through our doors and windows, and I am enjoying the nice ventilation as we are on the 3rd floor.  I am enjoying the fact that we moved into a newly remodeled apartment and even though this is Africa and the toilets and faucets are wobbly and already breaking, I LOVE my new clean walls that I get to decorate with things I have gathered.  I love that our host family whom we met last week is coming to see our new house today, and that we are gonna go spend the day with them.  I am excited about the way that God is working.  I struggle with feeling like life is disorderly and crazy when our stuff is spread all over our house as we’re trying to figure out where to put stuff, and figure out how life is going to look.  But I am excited about how God is working (because it’s obvious that he is).  I am excited to consistently go to our new church, and I’m excited about getting to know people, I’m excited about building relationships with local people.  I am nervous about learning this culture because I know that I will be put into awkward positions, however I am also excited to learn and experience things I’ve never experienced before.

Kitchen... We put in all the  cupboards and appliances

Kitchen… We put in all the cupboards and appliances

February 21st, 2015

We have been in our new house and new neighborhood for a week and a half now.  For some reason I thought that I might be able to unpack all our stuff and get our house in perfect order within 5 days so that we could start class again on Monday with a clean slate and nothing left to do.  Apparently that was a completely false assumption, and our house was nowhere near ready for Monday morning.  I was going to be doing homeschooling and we were going to be ready for our new normal routine.  Every day last week I was tired and didn’t feel ready for the day when it arrived.  French felt like it was dragging on and I didn’t feel ready for my sessions.  My language helper and I were falling asleep!  It has been a busy week and I actually forgot that we just moved and that we are actually going through some of the symptoms of transitioning again, even though we still live in the same city there are all kinds of new things to learn as well as the new things that we are jumping into now.  I also realized we were in the middle of transition when I started missing my friends, I always miss my friends, but I seem to really miss them when I’m transitioning.  So… I cried several times this week missing time with friends family and church, I sort of just wanted to go back where I’m comfortable with people I love, doing the things that I know how to do.  That makes sense right?

After just 1 1/2 weeks of living in this neighborhood we have spent a little time with our host family and we are officially excited about getting to know them and learning from them.  TJ has already been to a funeral with our host dad.  Today was our 3rd Sunday in our new church.  This morning I really enjoyed the worship which I didn’t understand, but was still able to worship God with my heart and speak to him about many things on my mind.  The worship time lasts about 45 min long, which seems long to a lot of us Americans, but I love that time is not an issue because that is not what is important!  I was filled with many emotions this Sunday.  Last Sunday I stayed after church for a meeting with the wives of the church that help organize things and visit people once a month to check up on them.  Today I had a small connection with all of those women because I spent a couple hours with them last week talking about different things.  I recognized all those women in church today and I was excited about getting to know people and being in the same place every week.

After church today there was a meeting for the whole church, but before the meeting there was a meal for everyone.  I wanted to help when we arrived at church, but decided not to (I should have!) But I did end up going down a little early to see if they needed help.  I washed cups.  That’s pretty much the only useful thing that I did.  I found that with everything that needed to be done or that I could do, I JUST didn’t know how to do it.  I was feeling like an incompetent person, at one point 2 ladies gave me a command for something I could do and I didn’t understand what they were telling me to do, and I think if I didn’t feel under pressure I would have realized what they were asking me, but I missed my opportunity… I didn’t understand!  They wanted me to bring the HUMUNGOUS bowl of food into the other room, a guy did it instead (which was probably better because it was a really big bowl and he was stronger than I)  So in the other room they were taking the rice and meat and spreading it on several big platters (people sit in a circle and eat off the same platter), I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to do in that situation either.  So I decided I would just watch what the women were doing so that I might learn for next time.  It was a humbling morning for me because I don’t know how to do so much, I was feeling like a child in a woman’s body.  I realized I just haven’t been in many cultural situations and I pretty much know nothing.  It’s like if someone comes into our culture as an adult, we don’t think to tell them how to wash their hands because that seems obvious, well maybe they need to be told how to wash their hands because they have never done that before the way we do it.  I am like a baby in a new context and I have so much to learn!  I knew I would be starting at the bottom but I was feeling it today.


After lunch I wanted to help clean up because I felt like I didn’t do much before the meal, so I also ended up just watching because I didn’t know what I was doing.  They told me that the wives helped prepare the meal and that they were cleaning and that I didn’t need to help, they said this is for the young girls, I said “I’m young!”  they said “Your married!” I guess there is a separation there?  I don’t understand the depth of that either… again… Sooooo much to learn!  I stayed anyway to watch and said I wanted to learn how to do it so I could help next time.  They were not shunning me, just letting me know that I didn’t need to help.

At the end of today, I was once again reminded about why we’re doing this.  Well, God brought us here, he burdened an unnumbered amount of people to support us, pray for us and stand behind us as we do this, God did that.  He has guided us here, and there have been so many steps involved!!!  He didn’t do all this for nothing, he has a heart for the lost and his name WILL be glorified.  We are here so that God’s will might be done, I can’t tell you all that God is going to do, but I know with out a shadow of a doubt that he brought us here, and we are following him!  The goal is to share Christ and make him known to the unknown, but what we are continuously doing is following his heart!


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