I have been back from Senegal for more than two weeks. I kind of went into a communication vacuum for a while. I think it was because I wanted to think about my trip before I wrote any more. Plus, work was busy and family was visiting. It just gets difficult to work a blog into your life sometimes.
Here is a continuation of my travel log from Day 5….
Let me tell you what it is like to sleep in a tent, in Africa, at the end of the rainy season. It was warm all night long. I slept well regardless, even though I did not even use a cover. Before going to bed, I took some Tylenol and a Benadryl, so I slept pretty soundly without waking up until morning. It’s never a fun feeling to wake up feeling sweaty and sticky. But since it was only for two nights total I knew I could bear it.
We had a breakfast of eggs and bread. The women of the village prepared it. They are such hard workers and they are the heart of the culture. They care for the children, they prepare all the meals FROM SCRATCH (which takes about four hours per meal), they do all laundry and the cleaning, and they even work in the fields alongside the men. The men work in fields, either plowing or harvesting their crops of millet, beans, peanuts, and bisap. Life is a challenge for all, but especially the women. This is a universal truth.
The rest of the day consisted of just going with the flow. We didn’t know who we would be attending as we taught from the book of Genesis. It could have been adult men or women, youth, or children. However, it turned out God gave us a group of about 40 children. If only we had someone with us who had a heart for kids and the unique ability to fly by the seat of his pants. Oh yes, that was me! I showed them the finger puppets. Then I told a story about the Gospel using a magic change bag and some scarves. The kids seemed to enjoy it. I showed pastor Benoit how the trick worked and made sure that he understood it was just an illusion. We had fun telling the story of Noah and his great big boat. Brad did a great job acting out the part of Noah. We made the sound of a rain storm by rubbing our hands, snapping our fingers, clapping our hands, then clapping on our legs. After my story, Jeff told the kids that just like the ark provided safety and salvation, Jesus provides the same for us.
For lunch we had another traditional meal with fish as the protein. There were also vegetables such as cabbages, tubers, and green tomatoes. It was absolutely delicious. It was starting to become second nature to share meals from the same dish.
I want to mention a special time I shared with my namesake, Thierno (pronounced “Chair-No”). In the afternoon, we were able to meet with our namesakes and give our gifts. I sat with him and a translator and asked him some questions. I found out that he attends school and is in the equivalent of 6 to 7th grade. That makes him about 12 or 13. I asked him what he wanted to do more than anything. He answered that he wants to learn how to play guitar. When I asked him if there was a guitar anywhere close by. He answered that there was a man in a neighboring village who had one (hours of walking). Now, I’m pretty sure he mentioned guitar because he saw me playing it for the children, but I also noticed that he loves music very much. He sang in the church choir and he also shared his radio headphones with me. In my head, I started to see a vision of a young man, his father the pastor of the village church, and he the musician – leading the village congregation in music. I now have it in my mind, that on my next visit to Senegal, I will be taking a guitar but I will not be returning with one.
After dinner, when it was dark, I was sitting on a log in the village compound. A special translator friend of mine, who called himself Charlie Brown, came to me and said that Thierno had asked him to translate for us. So we sat on the log in the dark – me, Charlie, and Thierno and had a real conversation. It seemed my shy friend felt more comfortable talking about personal matters in the darkness. He asked me what I did for work. I told him that I fixed computers. He had given me a photo earlier in the day of his baptism. He now explained to me that he wished for me to enlarge it and send it back to him, along with a picture of my family so he could pray for me. Then he said the one thing that I will treasure more than anything else. He told me that my coming to see him again made him feel that he was very important. And he is. He is so very important.
The late night movie was a double-header. People from all over the village came to watch movies provided by the mission organization. They projected on a large portable screen and they used a generator for power. The movie was in French but was translated into Sereer by a live translator as the movie played. The movie was about a village under the control of a witch doctor who used fear to rule the people. Then, an African pastor was called by God to go to the village. The pastor went and after a series of spiritual battles, helped to set the people free. The basic message was, Jesus is more powerful than any other spirit. I stayed awake for the first one but then went to bed. I couldn’t keep my eyes open any longer, plus there was the allure of sweating myself to sleep!