Saturday, March 31, 2012

Hi Mom


I mentioned at the end of that last post that I’ve been resting all day. I got home and was just really tired and not feeling that great. My host family was out, so I went to my room and chilled/slept/rested. All day. I kept saying at 3 I'll get up...at 4...at 5...at 6...guess how well that went? Around 9pm or so someone knocked on my door and asked if I wanted to eat dinner. I said I was sick and didn’t want to. They were great and asked if I had medicine or wanted anything at all. Since I don’t actually think I’m sick, just wiped, I said I just needed time to rest.  One of my Senegalese friends upon learning I went to Sokone and not near Mbour said “Sokone laayliaaaaaa, that’s 20km from hell. No wonder you’re tired”. Although not “helpful” in a traditional sense, it did make me laugh.

However, this was part of my once a semester I just want my mom episode. Without fail, there comes one point where I’m either really sick or frustrated or tired or ___________ and I wish I were with my mother, who can make my sister go get me baked potato soup from the Machine Shed and watch hours of Gilmore Girls episodes we already have memorized and stroke my hair and make everything feel alright.  Which is all to say, moms are super great and I have a lot of respect for all the moms reading this right now.


Love you Mom. See you in 5 weeks J

No Expectations

This post is hereby dedicated to Elizabeth Jane.

From our first day in Senegal, we knew about the rural visit. We had been told that we'd be given a contact and some money, and we'd have to make our own way there. This visit was supposed to be two weeks ago, but when we asked for more information we were told it had been moved to after spring break. We were given choices of activities and locations. I chose Palmarin Ngallo, for traditional music.

Well the closer we got the more we came to terms with the fact that this wasn't the rural visit we'd expected. We ended up taking sept places with the Lewis and Clark girls to an auberge in Sokone. We had been told the visit was lasting until Sunday, they until Saturday. One of the girls wanted to be back for her nephew's baptism, and there was a lot of discussion over return day. Beloit girls, I'm proud of you for your "no expectations" attitude and immense flexibility. Way to be on Dakar time.

There was a point when we first got there where I was just confused and stressed and frustrated and began pouring out my heart like water before the Lord, and I got a verse that said, "The Lord has done what he purposed; he has carried out his word" (Lamentations 2:17a) which was immensely comforting.

With that out of the way, and plans out the window, I had no idea what I'd be doing or where I'd be staying. Since music wasn't a choice, I was given traditional education of children, and sent to live with a Serreer family. If I wanted to give you an idea of what my weekend was really like, I'd type this in a language you don't speak. That's right, I don't speak Serreer and they don't speak French. Luckily Serreer and Wolof are really similar, and most people speak some Wolof, so we were able to communicate.

My family lived in an open area, with cats, chickens, goats, and dogs running around, along with all the children and their friends. It was difficult to tell whom was related to whom. I asked to help with the laundry being folded by my younger sister and was relegated to towels. I really failed at the marble game my brothers were playing, and it was quickly realized I had a gift of calming Matisse (<2), the water child. In traditional beliefs, there are "water children" who anger easily and must be appeased because if they get too upset they can just drift away and disappear (die). My family was impressed that I recognized she was a water child. They asked if I wanted to take her back to Dakar, then America, and then come home next year; but only if America had ceeb :)

Children are generally not coddled and learn very early to do work. Even my young sisters (ages 6-11) did laundry, helped with cooking, cleaning, and taking care of younger siblings.

I also realized I'd been given a status of which I was completely unworthy when I was called over by my host mother (Maam) to eat. This put me at the status of an old, wise person who was deeply valued and respected. The children ate by themselves, and my aunt ate with my uncle. We had couscous with fish.

As we sat and talked - Maam pulled her chair up to mine and said, Kay waxtaan (come discuss), night fell. Since my phone was in my room, I had no concept of time. My family started asking me if I was tired and wanted to go to bed, so I assumed it was pretty late. I went to my room and it was 8:43pm. Duped. Oh well, I fell asleep just after 9 and slept straight through to almost 7. I got up and was greeted with a handshake and assalaam alekum, nellow nga bu bax by just about every member of the household. Someone went out and got me a breakfast of bread, butter and coffee which is what I'm used to. Assaly made sure she said goodbye before heading to school.

Babaccar, my sophomore in high school brother, was the only family member that spoke French, however he had no interest in translation. A woman was brought to the house by Maam to ask me how long I'd be there and why I was there. It never ceases to amaze me how unconcerned people are about these things. In the US, you generally ask these questions before you agree to take someone in. I didn't really know exactly why I was there so I accepted the given answer of learning about tradition. We said goodbye to the woman, and Maam told me to grab my notebook and camera.

We went around the village together, meeting basically everyone who lived there. Several people invited us in and wanted me to interview them so I did. Most of these people spoke French which made things much easier. They even told me that Maam was a widow, and some more about how difficult life was. One man actually works in Dakar but has his family in Sokone that he visits on the weekends. Another woman talked about the unreliability of the sea for economic means.

Then we went and visited the sea port and I saw the fish being caught, sorted, and grilled. Our last stop was a Koranic school, which was very interesting. The room with the youngest children seemed like chaos, with a lot of little voices yelling in Arabic. The next room with middle/high school aged children had each of them taking turns at recitations. Then there was another room with middle/high school aged students that I was invited in to. I was given a stool, and once I sat down, they all stood up and sang me a song in Arabic. The cheikh described what they do in Wolof, and Babaccar translated. I got more out of what the cheikh said than what Babaccar told me.

We left the school and were told my tam tam teacher was waiting back at the house. A music lesson had been arranged. This was incredibly awkward as all my neighbors came over for this and my teacher decided not to use any words to teach me this little drum. So I mostly just awkwardly tried to copy him, and my younger siblings clapped and danced along. Val came over with her host sister and tried her hand. After nearly two hours of this bizarre experience, we had attaya and then lunch, which was ceebujen. Val, her sister and I ate alone, and it was delicious. Then I was invited to Val's, so off we went.

On our way there, some of the people I'd met earlier called out to me, "Aida, Aida" (my Senegalese name) and Val's sister found it hilarious. When we got to Val's, we were told it was lunch time...again. Suur naa! But it was delicious, kind of a lamb stew with rice. We were both accused of not eating, though I tell you, I had eaten A LOT. Then we were told to rest and just chilled in Val's room. We were given third lunch (yes THIRD) and were stuffed to capacity, and made a trip to the squatty potty.

We were later collected and brought to a village for dancing. It's not embarrassing if everyone does it was our motto. Besides Yuza, we learned a Sereer dance that involved "sweeping" and "doing the laundry" Laughter abounded and we left sweaty and happy.

When I got home, I was still full from my 3 lunches so I told my family I'd already eaten dinner. I was then directed to a place to fill a bucket with water, and to my "bathroom". This bathroom was really just a semi-open area attached to my room. There were 2 1/2 walls, pretty low, and no ceiling. And a dirt floor, which makes washing your feet a totally lost cause. But I really did feel better if not actually cleaner after my shower. I sat out with the family, and they got my phone number because they were going to miss me so much, especially the young ones. My aunt is pregnant and said if she has a girl, she'll name her Aida for me. I didn't get bedtime duped this time.

I woke up to pack and prepare and found Val at my house. We were getting ready for breakfast when someone from the auberge came to pick us up. Oh well. My family gave me fabric as a parting gift so that I could make something out of it and remember them every time I wore it. I was very moved by this gesture. The Seen family has a piece of my heart forever.

We took breakfast at the auberge (including mango jam - YUM) and said our farewells. Everyone looked happy. We took a bus home to Dakar that mysteriously took almost two hours longer than the trip there. I went home and I've been resting ever since...more about that later.

But it was a successful trip, especially once we shed our expectations :)

 Home sweet home


 Ibrahima, Ibrahima, Abdoudiof, Matisse, and Alhassane in back


Trouble with a capital T

Aminata and her chiat, Jojo; Maam and her own chiat, Babaccar. "Chiat" is the term for youngest child. 



The Koranic school, where students memorize the Koran



 Sunset over the case



 Val trying her hand at Yuza



 Clowning around at night


 Me and my water baby. I miss her <3



 This is actually sunrise; I think it looks more like sunset. Time to go home, sadly.




Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Cadeaux

The Senegalese like gifts. When we went to the villages, my friend told me I should bring back some mangos or oranges to let my family know I was thinking of them. We were told to bring gifts for our first night with our host families. It is very much so the thought of a gift than its material value. An act of kindness is incredibly well received.

With my pending journey, I thought it might be nice to give some clementines, so I bought a kilo and a half on my way home. I gave one to my friend and neighbor, and she was very touched. She told me thank you in 2 different languages almost a dozen times! She also told me a Wolof proverb that I'd learned, that basically says that for whatever you give, God will bless you. Then it was time to come home. My aunt and namesake was visiting, though without the children. Amy was distracted by my fulaar and tunic and didn't even notice the bag in my hands, just telling me how African-pretty I looked. But then I pulled out a clementine and handed it too her, and went around to my sisters, mother, and aunt, as Amy and the rest talked about how nice and thoughtful I was, especially because clementines are so good for women (they read a lot of French health magazines and clementines are the "it" fruit right now).

Besides the cliche gift of giving, I was given gifts today too. Because I'm going to be gone, we had my favorite meals for lunch and dinner: soupacandja this afternoon, and lamb soup tonight. I'm pretty sure no one else likes the soup that much because they all eat a little and get up, but I love it and everyone has noticed. Neex na looooool!

Inshallah (God Willing)

I first learned this phrase while reading Three Cups of Tea for an intergenerational book discussion in high school. It is about letting God govern your time, your schedule, your life. It is about submitting to His sovereignty and His plans.

In the book Not a Fan, Kyle Idleman asks, "When is the last time you allowed Jesus to mess with your schedule?" That is a convicting question for us, especially those who live by the watch, the schedule, and the calendar. What would it be like to wake up every day and say, "Lord, here are my plans. I give them up in exchange for Yours, for Your ways are higher than mine"?

I was thinking about this when I was returning home from school, earlier than usual. I was tired and a little crabby and just wanted to crawl back in bed. But I was stopped by Doudou, and wouldn't you know it, he was making attaya. He invited me to sit with him and I went against my instinct and personal desires and took a seat. I left about a half hour later, feeling refreshed and ready to take on the day.

I returned home when God willed it.

Inshallah is worked into nearly every conversation, but I've noticed there are some cases where it is used more seriously (not that I think people don't mean it other times, but there are times when it is more of a necessity than just something everyone says). When I tell my mother I'm not coming home for lunch, for example, and I say I'll see her later in the evening she says, "Yes, Inshallah", or when I give a return date for a trip my friends and family says, "Yangi nibbi, inshallah".

It is good to consistently be reminded that we are not in control.

Fan La?

Tomorrow, I am going to Palmarin Ngallo, a village near Mbour, to learn about traditional music (which means yes, I will be offline again this weekend). For our individual rural visits, we were instructed to choose based on the activity. I really miss my violin and guitar - I realized this is the longest time I've gone with an instrument since I started playing 11 years ago - so I figured, why not? I expect to learn about the tam tams (drums) and maybe the kora, a stringed instrument.

However, few of my Senegalese contacts have any idea about this village. My friends said that I was going to know more about Senegal than they do. Their only contribution was that Mbour isn't that far. I don't think anything will seem too far after Kedougou!

Then I tried talking to Mamy. She thought I was trying to say I was going to Toubab Diallo, a popular tourist destination. I then re-pronounced it and she asked if it was far. I said it was near Mbour and she said it would be a good trip.

Our DIT professor, Ibou Diallo told us it was very nice there, as it was right on the sea.

I'm looking forward to it, despite having few details about the trip, including an exact departure/return time. As hyper-organized as I am, it honestly doesn't bother me. I have this laissez-faire attitude that has come out during my time in Senegal. It will be interesting to see how much carries over into life in the US.

It's Raining!

For the first time in our nearly 3 months here, there are signs of moisture! It's the dry season, so it's really rare for it be happening. I'm actually weirdly excited about it.

My house, though, is kind of outside - there's an open part - so it's kind of odd. It's like it's raining inside. The house is built for it though, and there's a drain on the floor.

The cool fresh rain, coupled with my jeans and sweater make me feel like I'm home in Wisconsin. But the fulaar doesn't lie :)

This is going to be one muddy day.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Other Side

Our IV regional director and friend, Josh, once told me that he could see the way I was able to see the way in which I saw the campus as a mission field, and challenged me to help others to see it the same way. In that way, I suppose I am a missionary, though it feels funny to say. I am on a never-ending to mission to make sure that the Gospel is brought to all men, be it through prayer, or through my words and actions.

I did not come to Senegal as a "missionary" in the traditional understanding of the word. I came as a student - in the classroom, but also of the culture as a whole. However, if you think I haven't been talking to people about faith in Jesus, you would be mistaken. I do work with Partners, for whom evangelism is very important. My church base here is evangelical, and I see the ways that God works through our worship in the neighborhood. I have friends and family here, and as it is common for the Senegalese to discuss religion, the Gospel has certainly come up. A lot. So again, I find myself a missionary in a sense, relying on the Lord and calling upon His name.

This is a really nice article from the Gospel Coalition, and these are some sweet quotes on missions.

If you really feel like reading, you could check out:

A Chance to Die: The Life and Legacy of Amy Carmichael by Elisabeth Eliot

Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream by David Platt

God's Smuggler by Brother Andrew, John and Elizabeth Sherill

Eternity in Their Hearts by Don Richardson

A Man in Christ by Roger Steer (biography of Hudson Taylor)

No Sacrifice Too Great by Eileen Vincent (story of CT Studd

Shadow of the Almighty by Elisabeth Eliot (life and testament of Jim Eliot)

A Mind for Missions by Paul Borthwick

Out of the Comfort Zone by George Verwer

Peace Child by Don Richardson

Let the Nations be Glad by John Piper

Reaching a Lost World, a YWAM Bible study


I'm probably forgetting a bunch of awesome books but this is what I've got off the top of my head. Check some of them out if you're so inclined. Any one of these is sure to challenge your worldview, but if you only have time for one and really want to hear some hard truth, I'd go with Radical. I decided to read it because one reviewer said he was so challenged by it, he didn't want to keep reading - it was just too hard. Out of the biographies, I can't even pick a favorite. You'll just have to see for yourself.



Seriously?

There are two boutiques within equal distance to my house - one to the left, one to the right. Boutiques are like little corner stores where you can buy basic daily goods, and they are everywhere! I am totally going to miss them in the US. Anyway, I generally go to the one on the left because I like the man who works there, and it's more familiar because that's the one my mom sent me to in the beginning. I see the same people there daily, and it's enjoyable. Sometimes at night I go to the one on the right to buy a phone card, cafe Touba, or gas with one of my sisters. About two weeks ok, two of my sisters were laughing when I walked in the door. Zeina explained that the boutiquer said he was in love with me. Awesome.

My family was kind enough not to send me on errands that required a stop to his boutique, and then I went on vacation and forgot about it.

Until last night, when I came home later than usually. Zeina said, "Um Kate, I have a little problem" I said, "What?"; I was very concerned. She said, "That boutiquer, he came here to ask me for your number"

Who does that? What makes someone think "wow I want to know that American so I'm going to go to her host family's house and ask them for her phone number"?! I barely even believe this is happening right now.

Staff at the Baobab Center have explained to us that men here think women don't know what they want and that they will eventually say yes if you keep asking. It can be incredibly aggravating, being constantly asked for your number, or worse, your hand in marriage. My host mom even warned me against the Senegalese men, saying there was maybe half of a good one out of every ten. Being back in Dakar after the village has multiplied my annoyance with these daily interactions, as it didn't happen there. People didn't bother us and were just friendly.

However, I am fortunate to know a group of really awesome young men who help me maintain my faith that not everyone is awful. And my family rocks.

I told Zei to tell the boutiquer I was already married. She made sure I had a ring (I wear a purity ring on my left ring finger, so it's all good). We'll see if that's good enough.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Feeling Burdened

I can't get the villages, especially Dindefello, out of my head. I don't think it was a coincidence that at Partners' prayer meeting this morning, we had a visitor from Kedougou, and he asked us to pray for the poverty there, as well as for opportunities to spread the Gospel in Kedougou and the surrounding villages.

I ache for those who have never been told the good news. After years of praying for various unreached people groups, it was surreal to visit them. As we sat and visited a family with whom we communicated through our guide, I wondered what it would take for them to hear of what Jesus had done for them. Pulaar is a minority language, and the Bible does not yet exist for those who speak Pulaar exclusively. Even with Wolof, there is only the New Testament. And in any case, there are many communities where most people cannot read. That's where storytelling evangelism comes in. I've learned about it, and gotten to try my hand a few times. It's hard because I don't speak Wolof well enough, so I can only share when the people speak French, but it's also really enjoyable. It's designed specifically for oral cultures accustomed to passing stories along in this manner. I feel like it would also work well for children in the US.

Oswald J Smith said, "No one deserves to hear the gospel twice when there is someone who has not heard it once". This quote is incredibly striking for me. I feel so deeply burdened for those who have not yet heard. I don't know where this will take me, or if I'm even called at all - it's possible God wants me to become a prayer warrior for this village community that has captured my heart. But if He asked, would I be prepared to give up everything to commit myself to language learning, village living and gospel-sharing?

I loved village life, I really did. Dakar is the first big city I've spent an extended period of time in - I've had day trips to Chicago and spent half a week in LA two summers ago, but this has all confirmed for me that the big city life is not for me. I like the peacefulness of the village, but I'm not sure how I would find it in the long term. Could I create a life set-apart from so many others?

*I do love Dakar, really, I do. But most of what I loved about Dakar is true of Senegal as a whole, and in some cases is multiplied in the villages.

Well, I'll be on my knees if anyone needs me. Ba ci gannauw

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Macky Sall!

Vote Macky: youth, experience, and integrity. Senegal's youth make up over 60% of the population, so it's easy to see why "youth" would be an important factor for a candidate.


The second round of elections happened today. Sorry for not updating more on that situation, but it's been kind of a non-issue. Plus there's the fact I was in the village this week and really had no idea what was happening in the world around us.

Anyway, things were incredibly calm. I went to church this morning and walked by two polling stations, and people were waiting in line, singing and praying. When I walked home the crowds had already slowed down. My family and friends here seemed confident that Sall would be the victor.

I went to the beach this afternoon for an attaya session (shock!) and the results were already coming in by 5pm. Sall took an early lead, and even won areas Wade won in the first round. It's all but over. My friends were really excited and kept yelling and cheering "Macky Sall, president!", along with others in the street. Djibi told me, "This will be a new Senegal". So although the results aren't final yet, it looks like we're getting a new president. I'm unclear as to when he'd actually take office, but I, along with the rest of the country, am hoping and praying that Wade steps down peacefully. The neighboring country of Mali recently (this week!) faced a coup d'etat, and Senegal is as proud as ever that they've yet to have one. Let's keep it that way.

UPDATE: At about 9:30pm here, Wade called Sall to congratulate him on his victory! Alxamdulilaay

Where I Find You

The sophomore album by Kari jobe came out two months ago, and I am still listening to it almost daily. She was inspired by Jeremiah 29:13, which says: You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

Says Kari about the album, "I think there are times as believers when we feel entitled and that life shouldn’t be hard. We live in this culture of convenience that says we can do everything ourselves and find all the answers on Google,” Kari says. “But if we can learn to fall more in love with the Lord and trust Him in the middle of every storm, we build our endurance to keep running the race.”

I remember when I first came to Senegal, what I most looked forward to was things being easy. I realize that was the wrong way of thinking. I am now so appreciative for the way that God has been my light, source, and guide.

I again went to church in Dakar, Senegal this morning, and was again blown by the love, joy, and dedication of the church body. Today's sermon was about walking in the light of Jesus and no longer being tied down to darkness. I know that there are many people in that room who were once engaged in Islam and animism, and have come to know Jesus as Lord. Last week, there was a testimony of an elder who had once thought he could worship Christ and continue to put faith in his amulets, etc. He told of walking out of blindness, out of the darkness, and surrendering everything he was to the Lord.

This morning was also special because there was a dedication ceremony for baby Priscilla. This church believes in baptism by immersion, and so this was a brief rite for the community. The baby and her parents came up to the front of the church and the pastor spoke of community, of growing in the Lord. He asked the body if they were committed to praying for Priscilla and her spiritual growth, her experience of a relationship with Christ. Then the pastor held her and prayed over her. It was a beautiful thing to witness, especially because it was truly a sign of light shining in the darkness!

Being in fellowship has strengthened my own spiritual life, and has drawn me closer to God. I cherish the knowledge that no matter where I am, there are other believers searching the Scriptures and lifting their hearts to Jesus the same way I am. That's why God says that we will find Him when we seek Him with our whole hearts. He's not confined to just one place; we don't need to journey to find Him. We just need to allow our eyes to be opened.


On our bed #2 in Kedougou: Psalm 87:7. As they make music, they will sing; all my fountains are in You

Waterfall: Isaiah 62. Verse 4: You shall no more be termed Forsaken,
and your land shall no more be termed Desolate, but you shall be called My Delight Is in Her, and your land Married; for the Lord delights in you, and your land shall be married.


Jeremiah 29:12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Namanala/Malaraw ( I miss you/Miss you more)

I really wish I would've counted the number of times I heard/said these phrases today. My 15-minute walk to the Baobab Center this morning took well over an hour because everyone along the way stopped me, wanting to catch up and hear about my trip. I was told by my friends that I seemed more confident in my Wolof, which is probably because we had to speak it more over break, or at least I felt that way anyway. Doudou, our friendly tailor, got two stops, one in the morning and one in the evening. My neighbor was incredibly enthusiastic, as were a group of guys I've been hanging out with, including Djibi ( I saw them only briefly though; they were on their way out, but we're going to a birthday get-together tonight). Even the meat and nut vendors and various security personnel seemed glad to see me again. I also hadn't seen Papy because he was out when I got home last night and still asleep when I left in the morning and he greeted me with a huge smile, saying , "Ah, Kate, depuis quand?" (since when, meaning since when had I been home)

It is amazing to me that in a city of 1.5 million people, I can feel like I know so many people. Dakar feels so much like home now, it's crazy. It did before - it felt comfortable and friendly - but now, even more so after having been gone. Having people say they missed me was surprising, because sometimes it feels like I'm just that blonde American they happen to see everyday attempting to speak their language and usually not doing it all that well. It was nice to feel as though I was such a part of their lives that they missed me. It also felt good to be able to genuinely feel that expected response "malaraw". I did miss their daily presence in my life, always ready with a handshake, a smile and a Wolof lesson.

Side note: I totally prefer the Wolof "namanala" to the French "tu me manques". Se manquer is the absolute worst, most confusing French verb that exists. It looks like I'm saying "you miss me", but it's really "I miss you" and I don't understand why. No one does. It's just the way it is, and it's dross. (That's not a typo. Watch this video and you'll understand)


Jaramma: Spring Break 2012


The title of this post means "Thank you" in Pulaar, which is spoken in the region we traveled to in south eastern Senegal, along with some Wolof and French. It was honestly one of the most incredible experiences of my life, and I'm going to tell you all about it.

This book, I mean, post is going to be divided up into chapters:

Chapter 1: Jehova Jireh (God, my provider)We take the night bus, arrive in Kedougou, and get settled in.
Chapter 2: Li Lan La?. We take a caffe caffe to the national park, see animals, and go swimming in our clothes.
Chapter 3: Welcome to the Oasis. Arouna helps us find a sept place, which we ride to Dindefallo and almost immediately head to the waterfall. It was insanely amazing.
Chapter 4: Dafa Tang For Real. We arrive back, hang around the village, and have some early morning mishaps.
Chapter 5: The Bus Leaves When? We get the run around trying to find a bus, but end up in the deluxe huts and have a relaxing evening.
Chapter 6: Greet Everyone and Their Grandma. We had a horrendous bus experience and finally ended up in Dakar, 16 hours after our scheduled departure.

Chapter 1: Jehovah Jireh
We arrived at the Baobab Center around 5:30 to wait for Pape Samba, who is notoriously late, but proudly showed up saying "I am in time". So after one last bathroom break and a group photo that I don't have, we headed off for the bus stop in a taxi. Our adventure started early when one of the taxis got stuck. We were not to be derailed, however, and we arrived to a mess of sewage water between us and the bus. Oh well, who wants clean feet anyway? We sat awkwardly with a bunch of Senegalese people until it was time to go. We boarded the bus and got excited when we saw the bus wasn't full. It was actually very spacious, and the breeze flowed well. We were shocked when our 8:00pm bus pulled out and 8:12. Not to worry, moments later, we stopped again - for nearly 3 hours - while cargo got loaded and we were hassled by people trying to sell us cds, belts, and flashlights. We decided it would be a good time for the dinner we'd packed and before we knew it, we were off. I personally found that I didn't do much reading, iPoding or sleeping on the way down - I mostly people watched. I think we all got our own seats for at least some amount of time, which was great. I couldn't keep my eyes open for the morning leg, however, and missed a lot of the villages we drove through.
As we got off the bus, we asked someone for directions to Campement Chez Diouf.
The first person we asked apparently sent us in the wrong direction, but Arouna, who works at the campement overheard and helped us get there. We were so happy to be there, but as we asked for our rooms he told us, "Your rooms aren't ready. The people who were supposed to leave haven't yet" After a moment of panic (us), he added, "But there's room across the street". Phew. Even though the cases weren't as nice, they would serve us well. Next up: lunch. We totally failed at finding a place to eat and just got refreshing sodas at a boutique before heading back. We were met by Souleman, who would help us arrange to go to the national park the next day, which would require 4-wheel drive. We asked him about lunc helped h and he us find a restaurant that my mother would never have eaten in. But it was satisfying and delicious. Next on the agenda was getting water from a market, showering, and chilling. It had been a long day, and it was really hot, just like everyone said. We found some dinner, thanks to a little boy eating just what we wanted outside the boutique that sold it and ate together. I also had my first ever mango, and Addie and I REALLy had a good, if not slightly deranged, time eating them when everyone went to wash off and crash. We commented at how faithful God had been providing Arouna, Souleman, housing, and food. "You are the God who has saved us we will rise to praise You"

For all the peoples walk
each in the name of its god,
but we will walk in the name of the Lord our God
forever and ever. Micah 4:5

Chapter 2: Li Lan La?
We rose up at the crack of dawn and met up with Bruno, our 4-wheel driver. He is like a movie character. He's a frenchman who moved here 8 years ago, and lives in a tree because the village life is too busy for him. Him and Souleman were great buddies and guides. We got to the park pretty easily and saw some animals and such. It was a lot of driving, but we got to get out then and walk around. We saw the Gambian river, and realized how hot and dry it really was around here! We had a picnic lunch with some guests - naughty monkeys! When we were so hot and tired, we got to a point where Souleman and Bruno started undressing (swimtrunks underneath) and jumping in the water. None of us were wearing swimsuits, but we all decided to jump in in our clothes, a wonderful decision indeed. After a long day, we drove back, paid, and said our farewells. We again got dinner and thought about arrangements for Dindefallo, which we were told would not be a problem, all we'd have to do is visit the transportation office. Yeah, we'll see about that. We also learned there was not bus on Saturday, like we thought, so we decided on leaving Thursday. Or so we thought. "There is no one like You there has never ever been anyone like you"

And the Lord will guide you continually
and satisfy your desire in scorched places
and make your bones strong;
and you shall be like a watered garden,
like a spring of water,
whose waters do not fail. Isaiah 58:11

Chapter 3: Welcome to the Oasis
Since I am the early riser, I volunteered to check out the transportation office, however it was closed. Too early I guess. Addie and I went back later and were told we're have to go to some garage? We went to talk to our friend Arouna, a crazy friendly guy who may have run the campement, and we took his moto bike to negotiate a sept place deal. We had a little time to pack before the driver got there and we were off to Dindefallo, about 35km away. It took an hour, and our guide for the day, Moussa, met us and led us to Campement Villageois. We changed into swimsuits, and chose maafe for lunch, and headed to the falls. It was about a 2km walk, and then we felt it. It was so cold compared to the dry desert heat. We stripped our clothes off right away and jumped in. Nothing has ever been so beautifully, wonderfully refreshing. It was the kind of experience you read about in travel magazines. We couldn't believe it. After a lot of splashing around, we dried off and ate delicious lunch on the rocks, along with more mangos. Yum. We took pictures, hung out, and enjoyed the cool air. Then, it was time to head back. It was easy to tell the difference, as it was terribly hot as we got back. We were offered sodas, and we gladly took them. After some hanging out, we were ready to explore a little. Moussa took us around the village, and we even got to meet his family, who gave us a bag of mangos and taught us a few words in Pulaar. I was sitting there, and just thinking "I love the village. I love the village. I love the village" I told Val I was moving there. I really did enjoy it, minus the difficulty of getting water. We headed back and were waiting for dinner, when Addie asked if there were women who worked there or if the men cooked. They told us there were women and invited us to sit down around the fire with them as they cooked, and made attaya. We sat under the stars and chatted in Wolof and French, and teased and made jokes. We ate dinner, filtered some water we'd grabbed from the falls, and got ready for bed. In the desert land, we'd found peace. "When somebody's hand hold me up, helps me stand, You are good, so good"

but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again.The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life. John 4: 14

Chapter 4: Dafa Tang For Real

People had told us it was hot. Nothing could have prepared us. There was no air flow in the case, and no fan like there was in Kedougou and it was hot. Around 3am, Angeline, Debbie and I realized we were all awake and quickly decided to go outside, despite the fact we were just in little shorts and bras. We were deliriously hot and dehydrated though, so out we went. We did realize we were the only ones there, and chatted about when Disney was still awesome (late 90s/early 2000s) and sang parts of the Freaky Friday soundtrack. We moved locations slightly, and put on shirts for the occasion. When workers started arriving, around 4:30, we went back in the case and attempted to sleep, which we did for a few hours before breakfast. We were served hot coffee and tea, which we only drank because there was water. The sept place came an hour early, but we didn't mind because we wanted to get back to Kedougou, where water and refreshments were plentiful. We were grateful to see Arouna again, and "Tony" our friendly supermarket worker. What happened next, though... "You're it, you're the ultimate. It's automatic I'm sure of it no lie, so don't even try to tell me that you're not the guy...you're it, you're the ultimate you"

Chapter 5: The Bus Leaves When?

After we were hydrated, the mission was to get bus tickets. But someone had told us the bus didn't leave today as we thought, and our bus line was going straight to voicemail. So Angeline and Val volunteered to see what was up. They ended up running all over town, to 3 different garages where they were finally told they could purchase tickets for 8am. Tomorrow. Debbie, Addie, and I were incredibly anxious and nervous so we ended up praying for them, the situation, and for God to guide us and to help us be grateful for His timing. Once that was settled, Addie and I went to get a refreshing lunch and chatted it up with Tony, which lifted our spirits. When we got back, Angeline, Val, and Debbie and explained we'd need rooms, and after lunch we were led to our luxury cases. We showered, and hung out enjoying the fan and the refuge. It turned out our bus issue wasn't so bad after all. Addie and I enjoyed walking around the village market; it was so different from Dakar in that people weren't constantly hassling us to buy things. We got back and planned another nice dinner and ice cream session, and prepared to leave. I slept well until 4 am, when I couldn't sleep anymore. When everyone else was up, we bought breakfast and snacks for the road, paid up (we had to wake someone up, even though we'd said we were leaving early) and headed to the bus stop. This bus was significantly more crowded, hot, and cramped than the first one. We also didn't leave for nearly 2 1/2 hours because they wanted it to be full. But we were so looking forward to Dakar. "This dry and desert land, I tell myself keep walking on. Hear something up ahead, your water falling like a song"

O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you;
my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you,
as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. Psalm 63:2

Chapter 6: Greet Everyone and their Grandma
Although the bus "left" it wasn't for long. We stopped almost immediately to pick up one last person, who turned out to be an incredible annoyance. He tricked Angeline into letting him use her iPod, hassled us and everyone else for food that got passed, needed a smoke break every 10 minutes and made the bus stop, and could not stay out of everyone else's space. "That guy" fortunately got off at Kaolack.
During the first bit of the trip, we made obnoxious amounts of stops. Our bus driver seemed to find it necessary to greet EVERYONE, if not verbally, by slowing down and beeping the ridiculous horn loudly in succession. Then people would come on the bus and greet others and ask how their family was. We even stopped an hour for lunch, which was probably the highlight because we got to drink bissap and baobab juice. The bus itself was smelly, sweaty, and uncomfortable, making it difficult to sleep. Addie and I amused ourselves by playing "What's the longest we can go between stops" (A little over an hour. There was a time where it was 4 minutes, 7 minutes, 11 minutes right in a row). We also played "What's your favorite part of every book of the Bible" We only made it through Daniel, but that's pretty impressive, considering we were speed reading every book. I listened to music, including Desert Song, and realized that this was a great time for worship.
As night fell, it got cooler, and we were able to catch a few zzzzs. We were in touch with Dakar,and got excited when we made it to Mbour, Rufisque. Addie got cranky and listed all of her complaints, after which we just laughed "We stopped one thousand times and bought cookies for the bus and greeted everyone and their grandma and let that guy off for a smoke break whenever he wanted" We got dropped off in the middle of nowhere, and it was hard to tell because it was dark. We caught taxis and eventually made it home, right around midnight. I took a shower and headed straight to bed. "All of my life, in every season You are still God I have a reason to sing. I have a reason to worship. I will bring praise, I will bring praise, no weapon formed against me shall remain"

In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong. Job 1:22


IN CONCLUSION: I really enjoyed break, and I don't think I even have words to explain why. I loved the simplicity of it, and all of the wonderful provisions and blessings, which is why i say Jaramma.


Kedougou!


Dinner time. Peeling those eggs was strangely satisfying


Beautiful, isn't it?


Going home :)

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Besub Tey Jii

Well folks, this is it. The girl who didn't even go camping until her sophomore year of college has packed up her $11 office max backpack and is headed to the interior of Senegal. It still feels pretty unbelievable. I'm excited for this adventure, not just because of where we're going or how we're getting there, but just for the simple fact that we are going. I have never done anything even remotely like this in my entire life.

Besub tey jii, besub tey jii
Yalla moo ko def, Yalla moo ko def
Beg naa ci lool, beg naa ci lool
Sama xol di sedd, sama xol de sedd
Besub tey jii Yalla moo ko def
Beg naa ci lool sama xol di sedd
Besub tey jii, besub tey jii
Yalla moo ko def.

This is the second song I now know in three languages, and I find it to be very appropriate for today. This is the day that the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it.

I can't wait to see what God has planned for this week! I'm sure I'll have a lot to say once we get back sometime Saturday night, but for now - ba bennen!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Crazy Awesome Day


There were a lot of lovely things about today. Yesterday, I picked up my new clothes from the tailor. Today, I wore the dress and Debbie said she really liked it, because it's very me - the Senegal me, where a lot of boldness seems to have come out. I got to see Josh and Adilene before they went back to Thies. I wrote one of my papers.

In the afternoon, I went to the zoo with Djibi. I wouldn't have know there even was a zoo - located in Hann. This was perhaps one of the strangest things I've done here. First of all, it cost less than a dollar. Secondly, there weren't that many animals. There were a lot of pigeons. And monkeys of course. I got really close to a lot of the animals, which was neat. I held a bunny and shook hands with a gorilla. Djibi touched the snake but I did not.

The best was yet to come. We took a taxi and that sat on the rocks by the ocean as the sun went down. Then as the stars were coming out, we went over, and picked out fish for dinner. We sat at a table just feet from the ocean and enjoyed it. The fish was so good - covered in spicy onion sauce and vegetables. Then we walked home. It was pretty far, but I enjoyed it. I really don't want to forget today!


I liked seeing a lot of the plants. They had their own separate area of the park.
I totally could have touched that lion. But that's not smart.
This is the dress I had made. And a feisty lioness.

Friday, March 16, 2012

C'est Loins, Ca

I talked to my mom about my trip to Kedougou/Dindefalla.

Me: Mamy, I'm going to Kedougou and Dindefalla for spring break. I'm leaving Sunday around 16:30 and will be back sometime Saturday night.

Mamy: Ahhh that's far. That's so far! That's not here! That's far. That's almost Guinea. That's not here. It's far. Are you taking a plane? It's so far.

Me: Yes, it's far. I think the bus is around 12 hours.

Mamy: That's so far! What bus are you taking?

Me: *shows ticket*

Mamy: That's far. That's not here.

*enter older sister Amy*

Mamy: Amy, Kate's going to Kedougou. Sunday. It's so far!

Amy: Ahh, it's beautiful there.

Mamy: But it's far.

Amy (to me): It's beautiful there. Go ahead.


A Life in Contrasts

We just got done finalizing the details of our spring break trip, and I couldn't help but reflect on the differences from last year.

Spring Break 2011: I was asked to pray about going down south over BBM to help with some conferences. GOV generously purchased a flight from Chicago to Memphis, and I got to see some really amazing people for the first time in months. I was sent packing ideas over email, and brought pretty dress clothes, makeup, my blackberry. We ate at restaurants and had Starbucks two times a day. Road travel was done in a nice car with plenty of stops. We stayed in hotels and someone's home.

Spring Break 2012: We jumped on the idea of going to a park, staying in villages and going hiking. We're taking a 12- hour bus to a location everyone tells us, "It's hot there". I'm packing just my backpack with an outfit or two, and we've made a pact against hair washing. We divided up who was bringing toothpaste and other essentials. We don't know if we'll be able to charge our phones. Travel will be 4 wheel drive, sweaty buses, or taxis. We're staying in encampments and don't know what to expect.

But Psalm 139:3 is still true.
You search out my path and my lying down
and are acquainted with all my ways

And I am equally excited! Everyone says it's beautiful there, so I'll be glad to see for myself.

Dinanu tukki! Nu dem!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Worship From Experience

My friend who is now a Kari Jobe fan said that the reason her music is so good is because it comes from her own heart and experience, and then touches our own. I definitely believe that those who experience God the most fully are the ones who write about Him the best. Jane, Abigail, Debbie, Beth and a few others already know I'm going to say just look at the apostle Paul. You don't write like that about the Lord if you don't know Him.

Kari Jobe on the 700 club "I just love His presence"

http://www.cbn.com/media/player/index.aspx?s=/mp4/SUK59_KariJobe_031512_WS&cpid=fb7C

Amen

Where I Belong

The previous post ties into this one. I once again created a genius playlist off a song stuck in my head (Hillsong's Love Like Fire from the album A Beautiful Exchange) and was caught off guard by another song altogether, Where We Belong, from This Is Our God (if you skipped that album, I really do recommend it)

The idea of coming to Christ and partaking in His offer of living water and everlasting life, and an abundant one at that, reminds me that it truly is where I belong. We are meant to continually draw from His wealth, and praise Him for the fact that we have it.

There is No Height or Depth
Neither life nor death
that can take me from
All that I Find
Here now in Your glory Lord

No Other powers or love
The Things of Now or to Come
There's nothing on earth
In this life
that could ever separate us lord

Your love is never ending
To your hands we Surrender
Where all our sins are washed away

Your grace beyond reason
has paid for our freedom
we're made alive in You

We run to Your throne
where we belong
Every heart will sing
That Jesus is Lord
Casting all else aside
for the Joy of our Christ
Let your glory fall
Our hearts filled with your fire

The River is Here

Today has not been my best day. I've been hiding it well; however it's been a bit of a struggle from the get go. My morning devotional routine was disrupted and replaced with several awkward family encounters one after another. After class, I felt kind of sick, and incredibly tired, and things just felt weird. I realized that if I felt like this in the US I would seek out Maggie or Betsy or Liztowne, I would play guitar, I would go to Nikki's or Starbucks. I would take a walk around the river, to Turtle Creek, I would go to my secret place. But alas, none of those things are available to me here.

I felt God telling me that this was His way of teaching me that He is enough to satisfy me. Although the above things are blessings from Him, and I can experience Christ through them, Him alone should be enough. I was comforted with one of my favorite verses:

And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. Revelation 21:6

The theme of water, fountains, rain has been really strong in the my life the past 8 or 9 months, and the idea of being refreshed by the abundance of Christ has served as a tremendous source of freedom and peace.

It also reminded me of a beautiful memory from the Mission last summer, when we had Saturday night worship. I strongly remember sweet little Mikayla dancing and singing her heart out with Kels at the front as we all sang "The river of God sends my feet a dancing, The river of God fills my heart with cheer, The river of God fills our mouths with laughter, And we rejoice for the river is here"


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Silly Thought Gone Serious

For those of you who liked the bucket shower post awhile back, read this. If you didn't, skip it.


It's been over two months since I've used toilet paper. Even though it's usually available at ACI/Baobab Center, my family doesn't use it, and I've just gotten used to it. One day while I was in the bathroom, I was thinking about why developed countries are the ones that use the most toilet paper. I mean, the sink is right there. You're going to wash your hands in two seconds anyway, so what does it matter? (I did make an exception for runners and camping, and any other situation where the sink thing is inapplicable).

Then I took this further. Let's say in the US, we drastically reduced our demand for toilet paper. What happens? Environmentally, this is a positive. Less paper used, less energy used, less waste. Cool. But then I wondered what kind of effects it would have on the economy. Obviously, the people who cut down the trees, the paper makers, the factory workers - they would find themselves in a much more competitive job market, as there would be a much smaller need for their skills. So there's job loss, unless the same workers can then be invested into a different technology or service using similar or related skills. Then, there's the fact that Americans would no longer be purchasing toilet paper, so where would that money go? Although it's not a huge percent of the average family's budget, you have to wonder about larger institutions, like businesses, schools, restaurants, and other public spaces. It adds up. Would we be using the money to stimulate the economy in another way?

I have no answers here. It just goes to show that even the little changes in daily life can make you think about things.

Prayer Update

I realized that I've been sending out specific prayer requests individually as I thought of them, and that I could use this blog to hit everyone up at the same time, so here it goes:

First off, Partners International has a daily prayer page for all of its partners throughout the
10-40 zone, found here. It was also my job to create a prayer list specifically for the West African office for the month of March, so if you'd like that, either leave a comment with your email address, or email me at katefinman@gmail.com

Now that the "official" stuff is there, here are my individual prayer needs:

- Peaceful transfer of power. The second round of elections will be held on March 25th, and it is expected that the incumbent will lose.

- Traveling mercies. The five Beloit students are in the midst of solidifying spring break plans for this week Sunday through next Saturday (I'll be offline for that week, just so you know in advance). We also have a rural visit March 29th-31st. Pray for God to prepare the way before us, keeps us safe, make things efficient, give us patience, and that we wouldn't be charged excessively because of our toubab status.

- That I would be able to be still and rest in God's presence. I am learning so much here that sometimes it's difficult to shut out all the noise. Pray that I would be able to channel what I'm learning into a reflection of God's grace and faithfulness.

- That I would continue to keep Christ at the center of my interactions with others and not be shy in discussing my beliefs. I got several verses about light shining in darkness today (John 1:5, Ephesians 5:11), and I pray that Jesus might shine His light through me.

Also, let me know if any of you have things I could pray for. If all goes according to plan, we'll be on a bus for at least 12 hours Sunday and Saturday, plus more time on the road in between, so I'll have a lot of time on my hands. InterVarsity people, I'd love for you to tell me how I could best pray for our chapter right now, as well as anything personal. Leave it as a comment, email me, facebook, anything. Don't be shy! I love praying, and that really is a lot of time to kill.

Thanks for all who have been praying; my experience has been absolutely incredible!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Great Mediator

Please be patient with this post. There are a lot of pieces that seem only mildly related, but they really do all go together.

Over a year and a half ago, my friend Megan said something along these lines: Because Satan came from God, he doesn't have any original ideas. He cannot create, he can only twist and deceive what already exists. That's why, if you look hard enough, you can find the threads of truth in any belief system.

Today in Islam class, I re-approached the discussion on original sin in a different way. (Shane, your explanation of the argument against it helped a lot in knowing what to say!) My Senegalese friend had told me that death and evil didn't begin until Cain killed Abel. I inquired further with our prof. He said that the first sin was Eve's (he emphasized Eve, and removed all responsibility from Adam which is a whole other topic) and that created the possibility of sin. But evil truly began when Cain killed Abel; Eve had simply initiated the potential - it hadn't actually happened yet.

This led to further elaboration. Babaccar said that in Christianity, Jesus reconciles humanity with God. True. He said that in Islam, mediation happens directly between the individual and God. This is why you can't walk in front of a Muslim praying - you're getting between him and God.

If I have to repeat the explanation of Leviticus 16-17 and Hebrews 5-10, you don't know me very well (I think I've blogged about it at least three times. I love it so much!). Long story short: under the Law, it was necessary for one high priest to atone for the sins of all the people. But Jesus is our most high priest, and under the new law, His one sacrifice is enough forever.

Here's a fun diagram (Beth, thinking of you!)



Man is sinful and is separated from God by this sin. We cannot enter into His holiness because we are filthy. That is, unless we have a way. The Way, actually. Christ came to reconcile us with God and to lead us where we cannot go on our own. He serves as the mediator, and the bridge in this relationship.

I was pounding my head (not literally, but I wanted to) in class, trying to figure out how a Muslim could find himself capable of self-reconciliation to God, when we began discussing confreries (brotherhoods) in Sufi Islam. Even though mediation allegedly happens between God and the individual, talibes (students) submit themselves to a cheikh (marabout, saint, teacher) in order to...GAIN ACCESS TO PARADISE! Our teacher even drew it out on the board with the talibe and God, with the marabout in the middle. Eureka!

Do you see it? They realize that they on their own cannot get to Paradise, so they need someone to fill the gap.

And now we're back to where we started: all beliefs are just perversions of the one Truth. It is clear that we cannot on our own have access to God. These Muslims believe that a doctrine of works submitted to a cheikh will save them. Christians know that Jesus Christ is the only way, truth and life, the true source of salvation.

He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him. John 3:36

Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved. Acts 4:12

I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. John 10:9

For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 3:11

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me" John 14:6

that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. Romans 10:9

What I'm trying to say is:

For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus 1 Timothy 2:5



Lost in Translation

Via my internship, I got a paid translation job that I mentioned awhile ago. It's a book about forgiveness that I'm translating from English to French. I really like the book, and appreciate its consistent reliance on the Bible to support its points.

This has also been the greatest challenge in getting things done efficiently, as I have to then find all of the Bible verses in French. Easier said than done. Often times, the verses are numbered differently, thus making the citations incorrect. Sometimes the phrasing is so different that I'm afraid what the author is trying to express isn't the same anymore; I have to add on a few surrounding verses in order to clarify things. From a translator's view, things can be pretty frustrating.

So instead I decided to look at it as someone trying to grow in Christ and understand God's word more fully. I have to read each verse carefully in both English and French in order to communicate clearly to the reader. This is a truly wonderful experience when I approach it with this attitude.

One of my favorite passages from today's work:
“If you walk in my statutes and observe my commandments and do them, then I will give you your rains in their season, and the land shall yield its increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit. Your threshing shall last to the time of the grape harvest, and the grape harvest shall last to the time for sowing. And you shall eat your bread to the full and dwell in your land securely. I will give peace in the land, and you shall lie down, and none shall make you afraid. And I will remove harmful beasts from the land, and the sword shall not go through your land. You shall chase your enemies, and they shall fall before you by the sword. Five of you shall chase a hundred, and a hundred of you shall chase ten thousand, and your enemies shall fall before you by the sword. I will turn to you and make you fruitful and multiply you and will confirm my covenant with you. You shall eat old store long kept, and you shall clear out the old to make way for the new. I will make my dwelling among you, and my soul shall not abhor you. And I will walk among you and will be your God, and you shall be my people. I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that you should not be their slaves. And I have broken the bars of your yoke and made you walk erect.
Leviticus 26:3-13 (Look at this, all you who hate on Leviticus!)