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Tag: Senegal

Go!

Go!

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I had a blast at Vacation Bible School this year!  Than wrote an internationally-themed VBS that focused on how God sent Peter and God sends us–engaged, established, equipped, encouraged, and expanding.  For the first time in a while, I was in charge of a class instead of doing crafts.  My group represented Senegal, and of course our room was well equipped with great decorations from there!  One day I got to welcome each class on their visit to “Senegal,” talking about our trip group after group.  I was impressed by their engagement and their interesting questions.  Also of note, this was Nathan’s last year for participation as a student in Vacation Bible School.  Next year he will be old enough to help!  I continue to be grateful for this yearly opportunity for our family to learn and to serve together.  Can’t wait to see what next year brings…

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Goodbye, Senegal

Goodbye, Senegal

Much to your relief, this is finally the last post about Senegal!  There are hundreds of pictures I haven’t shared, and so many stories and experiences that haven’t been written, but those will just have to wait for other times and settings.   For now, it is time to say goodbye.

Our family grew and changed in many important ways through this trip.  I am so deeply grateful that we traveled and learned and had this experience TOGETHER, that these memories and stories are shared between all four of us.  My kids will grow up to do many amazing things without me, but I am glad that this one was something we will always have in common.

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Our trip home was a bit more eventful than our trip there!  We arrived at the Dakar airport later in the evening and were so grateful to have a friend of our friends along to help us navigate the airport and get on our flight quickly.  She was also headed back to the USA and her language skills and assistance were very valuable.  (No, the photo below isn’t of her, but Buddy Bear was an intrepid traveler too so his picture will just have to substitute!)

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Arriving in Brussels after flying overnight, we waited for several hours and then realized that our plane back to New York had been cancelled!  Than spent hours in line and finally came back with vouchers for food and lodging and the news that we would be delayed by one day, and return via Washington DC.  We left the airport (getting a bonus stamp on our passports), contemplated briefly taking a taxi ride to see Brussels, and instead opted for buying chocolate, eating in the hotel restaurant, and enjoying the best showers and beds we had seen in three weeks.

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We headed back to the airport the next day, made it to DC, raced through customs, survived one more flight, and finally arrived home to mountains, crisp cool air, Chik-Fil-A, and Than’s parents.  Ahhhhhhhh.

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Although we were tired and I came home with a bad cold and no voice, it was hard to contain all the memories that were filling our heads.  It didn’t take us too many days to unpack, sort through pictures, and start finding people who wanted to hear stories of Senegal.  I am so grateful for every person who has been interested in our trip, and for the joy of sharing our experiences with kind listeners (and now you, kind readers).  I look forward to continuing to reflect, remember, and grow from this once-in-a-lifetime journey.

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Family

Family

As I draw near to the end of my Senegal posts, I want to say THANK YOU to our hosts.  They welcomed us into their lives for three action packed weeks, offering insight, transportation, living quarters, gifts, food, advice, translation, games, activities, relationships, encouragement, friendship, and so much more.  We treasure the memories we created with them, and look forward to seeing them whenever the next time arrives.  I am so grateful God provided this way for us to bond more deeply.  We miss you all!!

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Attaya

Attaya

Many afternoons in Senegal are spent sitting outside on the mat, talking with friends and sharing attaya.  This super sweet, surprisingly bitter, strong frothy tea is prepared and served in a special way.  (Check this brief wikipedia article for a better explanation)

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Nathan took particular interest in the making and serving of attaya, and was proud of an afternoon he spent learning how to prepare it.  He found a friend a few years older than he is who was learning English in school.  Nathan’s new friend is also a good attaya maker, and he taught Nathan how to do it with lots of smiles, some shy English, and no adult intervention.

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Now Nathan has an attaya set too and just needs lots of practice!  Come on over and try it out…

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Work to Be Done

Work to Be Done

It was a deep privilege to see our friends in their chosen environment, working hard to follow the call God has given them.  Out of concern for their safety and the safety of those they are interacting with I won’t offer names and details, but you can at least take a peak at some of the activity we were part of with them.

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Their door is being knocked on at all hours of the day, the opportunities to help and serve are endless, the needs are great, and the workers are few.  I am in awe of what God has done in the lives of my friends, and what He is doing through them in the lives of others.  I have a deep new respect for the power of fatigue and discouragement in the life of those living in difficult places.  I can pray with a whole new level of insight and awareness, and have a new heart for just how big God’s heart really is!!

Pets

Pets

As promised in the previous wildlife post, I saved the “pets” pictures for a different day.  Well, today is the day!  Although their neighbors think it is unusual, our friends have both a cat and a dog.  Not many people who live in Senegal keep pets like that, but Nathan and Katya were sure glad to be living in a house that did!  The cat was Nathan’s particular favorite.

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Less usual for American families, but more typical for Senegalese ones, our friends also have a mother sheep and her growing-up daughter.  They were happy to welcome the morning with cheerful “maaaa”s right outside our window.

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The most exciting pet adventure, however, was the Christmas gift of a pair of rabbits.  Katya got to help her friend clean out the rabbit cage.  Then we went to the market to find a suitable pair (sold, I might add, in the same section as chickens, geese, doves, and ducks).  They rode back to the house on the girls’ laps and were joyfully installed in their new home.  Katya’s friend kindly invited her to be a part owner in the venture, so now Katya has her own pet just an ocean away!

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People!!

People!!

A huge part of our trip to Senegal was being with people.  We met lots of the friends of our friends, spent time in various homes, and did our best to interact well even without having a language in common.  In order to protect privacy, I’ll keep stories and names to myself, but look at all these wonderful people!!

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refreshing bissap at the home of a language teacher

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the jewelry maker who served us our first traditional Senegalese meal

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an adventurous bus ride

the woman who gave me my Senegalese name

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new friends for Nathan

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the man who gave Than his Senegalese name

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girls at play

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a visit to the village to meet a good friend

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the hard working house-helper, one of the people that I wanted most to get to know better

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Does he love kids?!!

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an afternoon with the house helpers and their family

It is hard to know when we will see any of these people again, but it means so much to have met them, learned a bit of their names and stories, and to continue to pray for them through updates from our friends.  The world is such a big place, full of so much diversity and richness.  I’m glad my world expanded just a bit to include them!!

Goree Island

Goree Island

One of the most famous landmarks in Senegal is Goree Island.  It is a beautiful island, a quick ferry ride from the capital of Dakar.  It is also known for being one of the places where captured slaves were housed before being loaded on ships and sent to the Caribbean, South America, or the United States.  Now it houses a museum, lots of tourists with their guides, and tons of different artists selling their creations to everyone walking through.  What a mixture of history, beauty, and hardship.

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Only-In-Africa Adventures

Only-In-Africa Adventures

A few things I can’t imagine doing anywhere outside of Africa…

…walking from baobab tree to baobab tree, way high up off the ground.  We also rode a wooden boat between two trees, walked over a crocodile, and ziplined from way up there all the way to the ground.  Phew!

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…riding a camel.  (OK, I guess you can do this in Israel or Saudi Arabia too, but still!)

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…using a flush toilet out in the fresh air.  It even had a tile “floor” on top of the sand.

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…getting clothes custom made and embroidered in just three or four days.

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…making peanut butter from scratch, starting with roasting the locally-grown peanuts over a propane burner, then taking them to a mill to be ground, then bringing the bowl of hot PB home balanced on someone’s head (not mine, obviously!)

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…selecting pets at the food market.  These are the “Merry Christmas” rabbits

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…riding on a horse cart.  We sang “Jingle Bells.”

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…standing in a salty pink lake.  Strange, but there is nothing quite like it on the rest of the planet!

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…bouncing to church in a purple upholstered bus.  With fringey curtains.  And a noisy Arabic radio.  And an extra seat in each row that could block the aisle so the bus could hold more people.

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All sorts of things that we could not have done anywhere else!

WILDLIFE!!

WILDLIFE!!

Most of the animals we saw were at a very cool safari park we visited near the end of the trip.  We also visited a huge UNESCO bird sanctuary.  Everyday animal sightings included lots of sheep and goats, the occasional roaming pig, and plenty of alley cats.  I’ll save the pictures of our friends’ pets for another post.

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