This morning we got up early and headed to the village of N’Djemane. It was a two hour bus ride that became quite bumpy after we tuned off the main road. I noticed how much greener everything seemed to be and then remembered that it was the dry season during my last visit in Feb. 2011.
We arrived in time for a special service at the new church. It was the official dedication of the building. There were many special guests and dignitaries attending this big event. There were also the village chief, and other church pastors from the region. The service lasted around three hours and there was much translation between French, English, Wolof, and Serere. We did have the unexpected surprise of singing a song for the congregation. I try to be prepared for anything so I grabbed my guitar and we sang Amazing Grace. We had some dignitaries of our own. My beloved friend Robbi Fischer stood with all the pastors and prayed a wonderful prayer of blessing. Later, our own “chief” Gene Toombs spoke to everyone present about what a blessing it has been for our church to be involved with the village. He said WE have been the beneficiaries and WE have been the ones who have learned so much from the relationship with the village.
After the service, there was a special lunch and then we played some games with the children. We also handed out some treats. Finally we went to Benoit Kama’s compound and set up our tents there. A huge part of the trip is participating in the namesake ceremony. There in the dark, under the stars and the Milky Way, Our first timers connected in spirit to someone specially picked for them from the village. It was a late night, but all of us danced together to the drums. We were just one great family enjoying each other.
I was able to find my namesake, Theirno Kama, shortly after arriving. I saw some young teens headed to the church and called out, ”Theirno! Theirno!” It turned out that he was right there. He pointed to himself and said, “Theirno”. It made me so happy to see him again.
We just came back to the hotel and I wanted to write this and get it on the blog as soon as possible. More is coming soon!