Monday, April 30, 2012

Relentless Pursuit: Hosea

Hosea is an incredible book of the Bible, one that is often overlooked and underrated if you ask me. Because you see, it perfectly describes us. We are Gomer, Hosea's wife. We are unfaithful to our Maker, we look everywhere else for satisfaction when all He wants is for us to be His - completely devoted solely to Him. And still, He loves us. The Lord remains faithful to us even when we turn our backs to Him. He goes after us. He pursues us, though we respond not. And when finally we do respond, He accepts us fully, without counting our sins against us (2 Corinthians 5:19). 

For their mother has played the whore; she who conceived them has acted shamefully. For she said, 'I will go after my lovers, who give me my bread and my water, my wool and my flax, my oil and my drink' 2:5

Gomer thinks that her lovers can provide her with all that she desires, that they will provide for her and shower her with the affection and pleasures she seeks. We believe that we can find sustenance and treasure on our own.

She shall pursue her lovers but not overtake them, and she shall seek them but shall not find them. Then she shall say, 'I will go and return to my first husband, for it was better for me then than now' And she did not know that it was I who gave her the grain, the wine, and the oil, and who lavished on her silver and gold, which they used for Baal. 2:7-8

But in truth, it was not her lovers who provided for her. So it is that the Lord provides for us, even as we ignore Him. Just because we may choose not to love God doesn't mean that He stops loving us.

"Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her. And there I will give her her vineyards and make the Valley of Achor a door of hope. And there she shall answer as in the days of her youth, as at the time when she came out of the land of Egypt. "And in that day, declares the Lord, you will call me 'My Husband' and no longer will you call me 'My Baal' 2:14-16

I will allure her. Every time. God will call us forth into His arms. He restores us. He redeems us.

And I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy. I will betroth you to me in faithfulness. And you shall know the Lord. 2:19-20

The Lord brings us into community with Him, not to satisfy a fleeting desire, but forever. We will never have to worry or fear again. He is faithful.

and I will sow her for myself in the land. And I will have mercy on No Mercy, and I will say to Not My People, 'You are my people'; and he shall say, 'You are my God'" 2:23

We are God's people. Not because we chose Him, but because He chose us. Had it not been for His pursuit, we would still chase after that which does not satisfy.

Hosea's Wife

Brooke Fraser used the word "belligerently" in a song. If you had any doubts about her song-writing prowess from the last time I mentioned it, please erase them.

I just spoke silence with the seeker next to me
She had a heart with hesitant, halting speech
That turned to mine and asked belligerently
"What do I live for?"

I see the scars of searches everywhere I go
From hearts to wars to literature to radio
There's a question like a shame no one will show
"What do I live for?"

We are Hosea's wife
We are squandering this life
Using people like ladders and words like knives

If we've eyes to see
If we've ears to hear
To find it in our hearts and mouths
The word that saves is near
Shed that shallow skin
Come and live again
Leave all you were before
To believe is to begin

There is truth in little corners of our lives
There are hints of it in songs and children's eyes
It's familiar, like an ancient lullaby
What do I live for?

We are Hosea's wife
We are squandering this life
Using bodies like money and truth like lies


We are more than dust
That means something
That means something
We are more than just
Blood and emotions
Inklings and notions
Atoms on oceans

Lazy Days

I haven't been up to much of anything in particular. I've been sleeping in, bumming around the beach, and making tea. I went to Grand Yoff yesterday just for the fun of it. I really don't mind adventuring by myself, but it is nice to be able to share the experience with someone.

I've started to map out my packing strategies, what needs to go in what bags, how on earth I'm going to get all this stuff home, what I can leave behind (those $2 slip on wannabe vans from target and less than half full bottle of bodywash that was mysteriously free at CVS probably aren't going to make the cut). It's hard to believe that this time next week, I'll be in Waukesha again.

Another part of going home is trying to figure out how I'm going to look presentable for my mother when I get off the plane. I've gotten used to the fact that I'm never 100% clean thanks to bucket showers and sandy roads, but she hasn't :) I would wear make up or something but what I brought is now too light for my skin. Changing between flights should help some. Mom, you've been warned. I'll do the best I can.

I just remembered that as I was packing to come here, I was watching the Iowa Caucus coverage. All day, Tuesday and Wednesday. I didn't really feel like I'd been gone that long until I remembered that the last time I was in America, Rick Perry was still running for president. Weird.

Angeline's Papa is trying to help her ease back into American life. He sent her an email that she forwarded to us:

Angeline,  The culture shock of going to and living in another country is not confined to going overseas.  It can also occur when a person returns to the home country. For this reason I will be periodically, and without warning, sending you notices of things that have happened in this country in your absence.  I will also write to tell you things we are doing to prepare for your return.  Item number 1 is below:
Reece Witherspoon is pregnant, according to a tabloid I saw at the grocery store.

If anyone else has anything else that I need to know before I come home, let me know!

I Die Daily

When Peter makes his dedication of faith to Jesus in Mark 14, it seems pretty strong.

But he spoke more vehemently, “If I have to die with You, I will not deny You!”
And they all said likewise. (verse 31)

I mean, of course he's a committed follower. He's ready to follow Jesus even if it means his own death. But do you know what, even though he said these things, I don't think he'd really died to self yet. The question was not if he had had to die - it's already a requirement. 

Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. Luke 9:23-24

As Jesus' disciple, Peter should already have died. But the problem is that you don't get to just die once. To follow Christ is to die daily. 

And so, what becomes of Peter's promise?

Then he began to curse and swear, “I do not know this Man of whom you speak!”
A second time the rooster crowed. Then Peter called to mind the word that Jesus had said to him, “Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny Me three times.” And when he thought about it, he wept. Mark 14:71-72

Peter wasn't ready. But even so, he knew what he'd done. He knew he'd turned his back on his Lord and Master. 

Kyle Idleman, pastor and author of Not A Fan, has written three words in his prayer closet. Here's the verse they come from:

 I affirm, by the boasting in you which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily. 1 Corinthians 15:31

I. Die. Daily. 

When we look again at Peter, one of my favorite parts of his story is when Jesus comes back and redeems him (John 21:1-19). Three times, He asks Peter, "Do you love me?" and gives Peter the chance to say "yes", the same way he'd said "no" three times earlier. Jesus' death and resurrection have restored and redeemed all of us the same way. This renews and solidifies Peter's commitment to the gospel of Christ. 

So much so, that he does follow Jesus' to the death, and in fact a very painful one at that. Peter was ordered to be crucified, but he didn't want to die in the same position as his Master. So he was crucified upside down. I cannot even imagine what kind of painful death that must have been. But that's what it means to follow. 

For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; 2 Corinthians 5:14

We are motivated in our love of Christ that springs forth out of the love He shows unto us. We are called to die daily to all that makes us forget our lives our now completely in Him. 

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Tu Es Happy

This is exactly what my Senegalese friend told me today; he likes to use English when he can, which is rarely ;)

Djiby said that if he saw my plane ticket, he'd still it so I'd have to reschedule for next week. I said my family really wanted to see me and they'd be said, to which he replied, they can wait a week; if it weren't for them I'd just steal you: kidnap.

We've gotten quite close, you see.

In any case, he told me that I was more bold, and more free than the day we met. I told him the only reasons I stopped to talk to him was because he was wearing that Beloit sweatshirt. He said it must've been destiny, and that everyone back home will notice a change too. We'll see.

But he's right; je suis happy :)


Today was my last Sunday with Eglise Evangelique, and I was grateful for the opportunity to thank the congregation for welcoming me. I feel so blessed to have had the opportunity to be part of their Spirit-filled worship for most of my stay in Dakar.

I was also glad that we sang some of my favorites: Tacculeen, O Jesus Mon Sauveur (Shout To The Lord), Mangi Yekkati Sa Tur/Je Loue Ton Nom Eternel (Lord I Lift Your Name on High), Viens Ne Tardes Plus Adores (Come, Now Is The Time To Worship), and Je L'ai Trouve

Since coming to college, I've really fallen in love with the local church and grown to appreciate it. Being part of Eglise Evangelique let me be part of a local church while giving me a bigger image of the global church. I also got to weekly partake in one of their biggest evangelism strategies - their praise! You can hear it all down the street, and neighbors often comment on how nice the music sounds. For that reason, Scripture is often sung, as are songs that proclaim the gospel and its invitation to come and find peace and rest in the sacrifice of Christ's life.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

10k Turtle Yeah

So I bailed on plans to go to the beach when I learned of a 10k going on. My running hasn't been super consistent here, but whatever. I'm convinced that you can run much longer than you'd think so long as you pick the right pace.

It was not only my first 10k, but my first road race. It was just running through the streets of Dakar, streets I actually already knew. In any case, I was in the 18-25 year old women category, and not surprisingly, there were only 2 other competitors. Young women in Senegal aren't really into sports. They walked.

Which means I won the race!

And now I'm quitting while I'm ahead and retiring from the 10k.

A Response

Betsy kindly gave me 11 reasons why America's awesome as a response to my post last night

1. betsy
2. liz towne
3. jpooks
5. not 100 degrees here
6. scupper
8. pasteurized milk
9. noodles and company
10. hot baths
11. soul family 

I enjoy that the first 3 were members of the pole vault family. I'm glad she put herself first ;) 

Numbers 4 and 7 are funny. I laughed a lot; Ms Wynn knows me very well. 

Number 5 is not as important as one might think. It's not that hot here - solid 80s/low 90s. I've been wearing jeans, if that tells you anything. 

Scupper is our coach's dog. Such a great dog! 

I just had a conversation with someone about number 8. Real milk; I'm excited!!! Spoken like a girl born and raised in Wisconsin. Mom, is it possible to add chocolate milk to the other things I asked you about? Love you :) 

I hadn't even thought about number 9, but now that it got mentioned, I'm thrilled. 

Number 10 was interesting. I do love baths, but I'd forgotten all about the hot water bit. It's been nearly 4 months since I've bathed in hot water. Whoa. 

11, appropriately enough, is my soul family, aka the cross country/coolest parts of the track team. I just can't even imagine exactly how great it's going to feel to see them again in such a short time (Jason, Schmelissa, and Turndog: your absence will be noted) 

I said breakfast food was missing, but also my "other" family lol and my loyal guitar Logan. 

Also, Betsy, guess what came up in my blackberry calendar? BIRTHDAY! It's only close when the blackberry says it is. 


I love quotes. Here's some good ones I've found recently.

"A happy person is not a person in a certain set of circumstances, but rather a person with a certain set of attitudes" Hugh Downs

"The man who goes alone can start today; but he who travels with another must wait until the other is ready" Henry David Thoreau

"When it's time to live, live. Don't sort of maybe live, but live like you're going all out, like you're not afraid" Secret Life of Bees

"I surrender to not knowing. I surrender to You being in charge. I surrender to my life being an expression of your will instead of my will" CJ Herrmann

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover" Mark Twain

Duma Peace Corps

I finally succeeded in purchasing Betsy and Liztowne's present!!!! Now let's just hope I succeed in getting it home. 

In any case, I went to the little shop and didn't even consciously make the decision to speak Wolof, it just happened. It's so strange that words that once tasted so unfamiliar in my mouth now feel as comfortable as these faded sun-dried blue jeans I'm wearing. The vendor, whose name was Djibril (go figure), was really impressed, especially when he learned I'd been here just since January. I think it's a long time relative to the amount of Wolof I speak, but he disagreed. So much so in fact that he gave me one of those, "Oh, peace corps" kind of looks as he said, "peace corps"

When you speak Wolof, a lot of people assume you're peace corps because of their intense language learning program. I told Djibril that I was just a student, and we had some laughs. It was a pretty far walk for such a short encounter, but it was worth it. 

Friday, April 27, 2012

Mes Filles

Today was a calm day. Angeline and I checked out Kermel Market, and I picked up a mother's day present that I hope you'll love, mom. After lunch, I gave Addie and Debbie an attaya lesson at the Baobab Center, which led right into our end of program dinner.

This was amazing, as much of the ACI staff, our professors, and even a few family members attended. Rama, our primary coordinator, nearly cried, as she said that she felt like a mother to us and that her daughters had grown up and were leaving her. The staff and professors thanked us for being wonderful, free, curious group, but it was truly us who needed to be thankful. There was much laughter as we shared inside jokes, and Pape Samba gave a demonstration of us wading through sewer water to get to the bus stop. We also got a chance to share our favorite memories. I talked about our spring break trip, and how it really connected a lot of things we'd learned in the classroom and gave us a more complete picture of Senegal. Gary, ACI founder, said he appreciated those thoughts. He told us that it was clear we'd embraced the spirit of nit nitay garabam: a person is another person's remedy. Addie and I sat across from each other, and we realized just how hard it was going to be to say goodbye. Doyen, resident security expert gave me a massive hug, and reminded me of my first night here, when I was jet lagged and about to go to bed when he knocked on my door with his chipper self and lovely smile.

Djiby showed up late, as he had a religious ceremony to attend. But I went over to his house and we just enjoyed each other's company. I can't imagine how I'll feel a week from now if I'm already this sad.

Feel free to leave comments about why America's awesome.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Loy Xalat? (What Are You Thinking?)

Today was another nice calm day. I was pretty lazy this morning and didn't even get out of bed til 8, which was a solid change of pace for me. Mr.Sheep was making noises outside my room, but when I cam home tonight he was gone.

We had our program evaluation, and though the form was much too long in our opinion, I did truly enjoy having a discussion with Rama and Aida, ACI staff. It was just incredibly pleasant, and a nice way to reflect and thank them and all the staff. Rama thought it was crazy that we loved Ismaila so much we took him out for pizza. We also got to enjoy lunch, which them, Pape Samba, Ismaila, and a few other familiar faces. A Baobab Center lunch is incomplete without an array of fresh juices and fruit.

I went to Djiby's of course, and went for a walk, ending up at the ocean. We just sat on the rocks and talked for a long time and after it had been quiet for quite awhile, I asked him, "Loy xalat?" He said, "Dul dara" (nothing). Then, after a moment he said, "Well, there was one thing; when you leave, I'm really going to miss you" After a few more moments of silence, he asked me, "Loy xalat?" and I said, "Beggumma nibbi" and we sighed as he gave me a quick side hug.

Val, Xadi, and Debbie are going on a trip this weekend, but I passed because I just want to be with my family and friends here, and have the chance to say goodbye to my church. I cleaned my room, which is phase 1 of packing. So soon!

My Problem With Pop

Awhile back, in a dorm room in Beloit, my friend coined a new term as we rehearsed for worship at InterVarsity the next evening. He said, "You are such a Jesus hipster"

What he meant by it, was that I listen to a lot of lesser-known Christian music. I know all about Matthew West, Casting Crowns, Mercy Me, and the likes, but you're much more likely to catch me listening to Kari Jobe, 16 Cities, Jesus Culture, Gateway, Bryan and Katie Torwalt, or Bethel Church. It's the truth. 

I like a lot of the pop songs alright. They're fine, some of them even quite good. But I have a problem. Often they're not very personally worshipful, or even all that meaningful for me. They are crafted, that are cleverly designed for mass appeal. When a song is written to appeal to everyone, the impact it has on me individually is less. I think where the mistake happens is that instead of a writer writing a very personal song for himself, he writes what he thinks we want to hear, or what his producers want to hear.  But it's possible to have a good pop song. Sweetly Broken by Jeremy Riddle was picked up all over the place on the radio, but it comes from Jeremy's own experiences, and is thus more relatable. I wasn't Jeremy Camp's biggest fan until I read his book and learned a lot more about his life and where his music comes from. Look at the secular artist Taylor Swift - she writes about her own life in specific detail, and that's exactly why her music resonates with her fan base. 

Then there's the worship aspect. I like worship music. That's an understatement. Regardless, I do. I recognize that it's better for me, and I love loving the Lord. Which is why "popular" worship music sometimes feels too commercial. I've learned about leading worship over the last year or so, and one of the most important things is to remember you're there to worship too. If you concern yourself over everyone in the room having the best worship experience possible, it becomes about the performance and not about Christ. But you come and bow before the throne, if you sit at the feet of the cross, the Holy Spirit's presence will completely consume the room. So then, the music is not necessarily about the music or the words, but the attitude brought to it. If you sing the B-I-B-L-E with a spirit of pure worship, it can be a beautiful thing. You can sing the Old Rugged Cross without worshiping, and everyone then suffers. 

Babble babble babble. This is what happens when I make a genius playlist to a Christian pop song and end up having to switch to Bethel because it was about to make me gag. 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


My host family from Sokone called this afternoon; my aunt had her baby! And, to top it all off, it's a girl, which means come next week's baptism, I will have a little girl named after me. I'm really excited about it. Of course they invited me to the baptism, but I told them I couldn't make it. It's a long trip and I'm leaving that weekend. But it's still super neat.

Sheep In The Kitchen

Imagine: you walk home after a peaceful afternoon/early evening, and as you turn to go to your room, a large sheep is staring at you!

I am pretty sure this sheep friend is going to get sacrificed for something...I really am hoping I don't have to actually attend. Ritualistic animal sacrifice. I think I'll pass.


Study abroad, despite what you may think, is really not the same as vacation. Though it may be true that on our program, school work has been light, we did have a lot of in-class hours, and you are constantly learning and working through daily life.

That being said, school is over, we're as adjusted as we're ever going to be, and it's vacation time. I finally got an attaya pot, just like the one I use at Djiby's, and my gift for many of you will be to do a tea session, as it will also give us time to talk. I've spent hours at the beach.

But I really wish, for once in my life, I could sleep in just a little.

Oh, and I had dark chocolate peanut m &ms. Do those exist in the US and I've been blind? Regardless, they're delicious.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

You're Pretty

A silly and serious post all in one.

When men hit on you, they generally start by saying that you're pretty or beautiful, though I have had guys walk up to me and say "I love you" (To that I usually say, "good for you, but I'm already married!"). Young girls in the street see light skin and think it's beautiful, and don't have a problem saying so.

And today, comme toujours, I went to Djiby's house and I was barely in the door when his lively cousin took me to meet Djiby's mom (he lives with his grandparents, and this was my first time; he talks about her a lot thought so I was quite thrilled). She took me upstairs and said, "Elle est jolie, je t'ai dit qu'elle etait jolie, elle est jolie, n'est-ce pas?" Then to me, "Tu es jolie, tu es trop jolie" She cracks me up.

What's ironic is that we all think Senegalese people are knockouts. Honestly, we constantly talk about how beautiful everyone is - men and women alike. We joked it was hard to remember names and faces because it was "beautiful Senegalese woman number 124"

But to have light skin is considered so beautiful. My family has grandchildren in the house, and Zeina is very proud of her lighter brown skin, over Assy's dark coloring. I think it's sad, and is definitely a product of colonization. It's been something for me to work through; the fact that even though I'm in the severe minority, I still have privilege. I remember last year discussing in class if a post racial era will ever exist. Whites are already a minority on planet earth, and numbers in the US are declining rapidly. But still, white privilege remains. Are we so far gone that the diminishing white population will do nothing but augment the privilege and appearance of beauty? Will we soon have so many mixed that there will be a hierarchy of those who remain "pure", that is to say 100% caucasian?

Even though I took Quest For Justice last year, I feel like I've thought more about race this semester than I did in that class, talking about it all the time. I won't turn my thoughts into a book, don't worry. how cliche: white girl goes to Africa and learns everything there is to know about racism!

I'll pass.

Monday, April 23, 2012


My friend Victoria tagged me and now I'm supposed to answer all her questions about my life.

  1. How old are you? I just said that a couple posts ago. I'm 20, but not for too too much longer
  2. Who's your favorite singer? Kari Jobe, naturally. 
  3. Would you rather text or e-mail?  I have an unfortunate habit of texting emails and emailling like I'm texting. Smartphones do that to you. But generally, if it's just for a quick exchange, text, and for something more drawn out, email. 
  4. Do you have any pets? My family has a cat, but I don't spend a whole lot of time at home
  5. Do you have an Ipod? Yes
  6. Do you love to sing? Yes, when no one else can hear me. Otherwise, I will tell you I don't sing. 
  7. What's your favorite song in the whole world? I agree, Victoria, this is a horrible question. My gut reaction was to say It Is Well
  8. Do you have your own room? Yes, though I got downgraded when I went to college. But again these deals with the whole "where's home"? question. 
  9. What is the color of your room? ^ Blue. When I painted my old room though, I picked yellow and stand by that choice to this day. 
  10. What's your favorite hobby? Reading, writing, guitar...and of course, public transportation in Senegal! 
  11. If you could be a prodigy in any one thing, what would it be? Language learning. If I had time/resources, I would learn Wolof, Mandarin, Spanish, Italian, Russian, Arabic, and probably some more. 
  12. And now I get to add one: You're going to a desert island and get to take 3 albums with you. Which 3? Healing Waters Night of Worship with Klaus and Kari Jobe, The More I Seek You by Gateway, and The I Heart Love Revolution from Hillsong.
Let's try tagging Abigail and Debbie. Abigail, because she likes these kind of things, and Debbie because this is one blog post that doesn't require excessive amount of though (love you!) Remember, each of you gets to add a question. 

Why We Pray

I love prayer, and fully believe in its power. But one time, after I was sharing my belief that God already has our future planned for us, and knows what's going to happen, someone then asked what the point of prayer is. If the Lord already knows what He's going to do, why pray?

I have a few ideas:

- To show our obedience. His word says time and time again to seek Him. In prayer, that's what we do.

- To know Him. It is before His throne, at the feet of Jesus, that we learn more about who He is and what's He's done for us.

- To expose ourselves to Him. He already knows us more fully than we know ourselves. But when we share our heart with Him willingly, it shows our submission and our understanding of the necessity of bowing to His will for our lives.

- To hear from Him. Ever been in prayer and just heard the Holy Spirit talking to you - whether an answer, a direction, or a conviction - that's what prayer's about!

- To grow in our relationship with Christ. How can you profess to be in a relationship with someone you don't talk to? That's ridiculous.

And, possibly my favorite:

- To experience His faithfulness. The prayers that get fulfilled are the ones prayed within God's will. to pray within God's will we must know His will. Prayers within the Lord's will get fulfilled because He'd planned those things long in advance for us. And when our prayers get answered, we see how faithful and sovereign our Savior really is. This can even be in the small things.

Example: I realized I really wanted a stellar salad tonight (with fish and hard boiled egg and avocado and other veggies). This happens once in awhile in my home, but generally not when I'm expecting/craving it. It may sound a bit silly, but I prayed for it. God knew far ahead of time that we'd be eating an out of this world salad tonight - long before I even knew I'd be in Senegal! And it was wonderful; I simply said thank You Lord. Tonight, that was how God said, "I'm here, and I can provide for even your simplest and smallest desire"

I never profess to be more than a 20 year old  learning what it means to walk with the Lord, so please don't think I have it all figured out. This is just what I've discovered on the journey so far.

Young and Old

I've been reflecting over my time here, as well as some news. A friend, a former co-intern at GOV, recently announced she was pregnant. She just turned 20 in January, and I know she's really happy. We would stay up late talking about our dreams for the future, and she always said she really wanted to get married and raise children. I think I'd like that too, one day, but as of right now, I don't feel that desire. A facebook friend of mine is counting down the days til his wedding (68); my best friend from high school is looking to get married possibly after graduation next year. I love pouring over engagement albums, and seeing young couples so happy, but again, I don't yet feel that yearning for myself. It's one of those things that makes me feel very young in comparison - like they've started something I'm clueless about. The same is for friends who didn't go to college; they've moved out, they've found apartments, they've gotten real jobs, and I'm still stuck in a student limbo.

I've never been in love, never owned a car, never rented an apartment. This trip to Senegal was my first ever time overseas. I'm voting in a presidential election for the first time in November. Thankfully, I don't have any nieces or nephews (for those of you who don't know, my only sister is a senior in high school).

At the same time, I've traveled much of the US. I've had internships, including one in Dakar. I've gotten paid to translate material from English to French. I speak two languages. I've lived in a foreign country for 4 months - and planned the trip by myself, including booking the flight, getting a passport and a visa. I've been confirmed as the maid of honor in the afore mentioned wedding-to-be. I've stood in to help ease communications with my sister. I've flown across the country to do research for a paper. I'm probably missing some things, but you get the idea...A friend and I just talked about how we should quit growing up - dealing with real jobs, real relationships, adult problems - it's just not all that fun sometimes.

I'm 20. I remember when my aunt was 20 and it seemed so old to me (sorry, but it's true). Now that I'm 20, I'm not sure I feel all that old at all. Which, I think is good. I kind of like being in this in between, as strange as it is. I'm content with what I've done and known so far, but still looking forward to all the things to come.

May the good Lord be with you
Down every road that you roam
And may sunshine and happiness
Surround you when you're far from home
And may you grow to be proud, dignified and true
And do unto others as you'd have done to you 

Rod Stewart, Forever Young 

Sunday, April 22, 2012


I just sent an email to my mom with some things I thought she might like to hear right now. Jessica, if you're keeping up with my blog, pay special attention to this post. I think it's easy to focus on what's gone wrong, what we wished would have been different, but I owe a lot to the two loving, sincere people who raised me.

I've been thinking about you (and Dad) a lot. I know things must be really difficult right now. I'm not going to pretend I know what it feels like to have your child move out under these circumstances and be in danger of not graduating high school, but I know that it can't be easy. Just want to say that you guys may not have been perfect parents, but you certainly cared about your kids and that should be enough. I remember all the pto meetings, parent teacher conferences, walk on a child's side, 40 assets, project abc, volunteering at school, even the often-resisted finman family fun nights; just being involved in so many ways. You fought for me (and Jess) to be able to have our needs met in the public education system and generally tried to raise us right. So thanks, and I love you. 


In case you're wondering more of what French worship sounds like...

See how many you recognize!

Combien Dieu Est Grand

Beni Soit Le Nom 

Nous Vennons Dans Ta Presence 

C'est L'Air Que Je Respire

Mighty To Save  Ok this one's cheating lol. The song is in French though

Lumiere Du Monde

Jesus, Soit Le Centre

Santa Yalla Bes Bu Nekk

Today, church was different. I couldn't tell exactly what it was, but there was such a spirit of worship involved. People came to celebrate Jesus, and that's what we did.

This is the kind of church that when they read Psalm 150, dancing is not merely a suggestion It says dance before the Lord, and that's just what we did. That type of worship isn't what I naturally sink into. I'm a fall on your face before the Lord kind of person. That being said, I can be a bit of a jumper at times. We didn't have a powerpoint with the words up, but the songs were either simple/repetitive enough, or I knew them already.

We did a different greeting today, one that I have never done in any church before; we greeted one another with a holy kiss! Bisou, a cultural practice left by the French

For the first half hour or so, all we did was sing really energetic songs - clapping, and dancing, taking moments out to pray. At one point we just sang Jesus' name over and over again. There was another song where we sang Dieu est bon, Dieu est bon, Dieu est bon; Jesus est bon, Jesus est bon, Jesus est bon; Yalla bax na, Yalla bax na, Yalla bax na; Yeesu bax na, Yeesu bax na. Then people had an opportunity to share why God was good for them. After a brie exhortation, and offerings, we took to prayer again. To end the prayer, the band started up with Jesus Soit Le Centre. Wow, it was such powerful timing for me. We moved into the slower worship that I prefer, and I was incredibly moved.

As if it couldn't get any better, I heard the familiar strains of A La Croix, one of the few Hillsong songs that have been translated into French.

I am so very thankful that the Lord has used the people of Eglise Evangelique to touch me. When sincere hearts come together in worship, there is simply nothing that can compare.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Mammy Love

Tonight, after dinner, I headed off to my room straight away, as I was tired from the sun and wanting to get into less appropriate clothes to help out my I'm-sure-is-very-red-but-I-don't-have-a-mirror-thankfully-back.

Then I heard Mammy call my name. You do not ignore Mammy.

She told me to grab a cup so I did and then she pulled this bottle out from her side. It said sprite, but our family filters water into old soda bottles so I thought maybe she was making sure I drank water - after that hideous sunburn. I found this odd for two reasons: 1) I don't think she's ever been sunburnt. How would she know? 2) This is overly protective even for Mammy.

It turns out it was ice cold sprite. I still have no idea why it happened or why I had to drink it even after I'd gone to bed for the night. But it still made me feel very thought of and loved, so I appreciated it and drank it in the living room.


I picked Secret Life of Bees as my beach read. I really enjoyed the book; I can't believe I hadn't read it before.

One excerpt in particular stood out to me:

"In a weird way I must have loved my little collection of hurts and wounds. They provided me with some real nice sympathy, with the feeling I was exceptional. I was the girl abandoned by her mother. I was the girl who kneeled on grits. What a special case I was"  (Sue Monk Kidd, Secret Life of Bees p 278)

It reminded me of a conversation I had recently with an aunt, that sometimes when our life is hard, we forget that everyone else has had their share of tribulations as well. I am blessed to have friends with whom I can be open and honest, and vice versa. There have been times where we hear about the other has had to go through, and we say man, I don't know how you do it. We have divorced parents, depressed sisters, terminally ill relatives, friends who have been raped; we have failed tests, we have bombed track meets, we have cheating boyfriends, we have questioned God, we have had hookup regrets, and we have wondered why life was still living. Everyone struggles, and once you realize that, it is easier to look outside of yourself.

I don't remember where I heard it first, but I think I read somewhere that because Christ died for us, and rose again, we are no longer struggling to be free; rather we are free to struggle. We already have our freedom - we no longer have to live in agony, in regret, in fear, in pain - we now have the chance to really feel. Jesus never promised that life would be easy; we were told that we must deny ourselves, that we would be persecuted, that we would face trials, that in this world we would have trouble. But in the end He says, "I have overcome the world" What a promise.

Ile de Ngor

I am fairly certain that this was the island suggested by the traveling magazine my mom sent me sometime last semester. It was fun, and inexpensive. We took a taxi there, a pirogue (traditional boat) across to the island, and then a kar rapide back home for about $5 us a person.

It was fun to ride in the boat on the way there, and the island itself was quite enjoyable. There were vendors like at Goree, but they weren't nearly as aggressive and things were pretty cheap. All my teammates will appreciate knowing I got a turtle dress for just about $4. I believe it has a promising future.

Djiby met us there, as morning is far too early on a Saturday. We spent just about the whole day there and at the end, Addie and I talked about possibly staying overnight sometime in the next week or so. It would be neat to see the island when it's quiet. And as Djiby arrived quite late, he said that we would go back this week.

I should add I got the worst sunburn of my stay here. It's been years since I had sunburn on my legs. Oops. Luckily, my host family just so happens to keep a giant aloe plant on hand and it was given to me freely.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Walk With You

Walk With You - Calling Glory

When I begin to fall asleep
You help me stay awake
To see the things I long to see
And everything I pray

So let me walk with You
Through night and through the day
Let me walk with You
Through sunshine and the rain
I want to walk with You
And listen to the things You want to say
You want to say, and Lord, I'm listening

And now we see that You are King
A King who reigns on high
A King who is in love with me
Wants me to be His Bride

So let me walk with You
Through night and through the day
Let me walk with You
Through sunshine and the rain
I want to walk with You
And listen to the things You want to say
Lord, You want to say, and Lord, I'm listening

Let me walk with You
So the blind can see
Let me walk with You
To set the captives free
We want to walk with You
And listen to how to raise them from the dead
From the dead, and Lord, I'm listening. 

Lord, I'm listening

I just had my itunes on shuffle and wasn't paying immense attention to the music, and then this song came on, relatively unfamiliar as it was a pretty new purchase. The last verse got me. I had to pull up itunes to see what it was. What a privilege that the Lord would use us to lead people to Himself.

La Foire

Addie and I wanted to see what this market dealio was all about, so we met up on our class-free Friday. Our professors had told us that a taxi would know what we meant, however that was not the case. Our taxi driver had no idea what we wanted, although we had explained we wanted to go to the event in the foire with a lot of vendors. In any case, he dropped us at a general area, and Addie and I decided to wander around and get our bearings before asking someone. It turned out to be of no concern, because we wandered straight to the fiara, which was what we’d wanted all along.

There were a lot of strange buildings, many quite official looking – it was the center of commerce. We paid 500 cfa and ended up in an exhibition center – kind of like the Expo Center for my Waukesha people. There were tons of products: juices, jams,  honey, spices, incense, fabric, jewelry, sandals, rice…all from different regions. Some of them looked like they were projects for specific groups of people to help elevate them out of poverty. We noted that some things seemed more sustainable than others. Oh yeah, and there was a giant lamb that had just been slain and was hanging waiting to be butchered. Its head was just lying on the ground. Yeah that was gross.

We left that and checked out the tractors/rice harvesting equipment and saw some animals, like chicks, bunnies, ostriches, goats, birds, and the likes. It was very surreal, and we wondered for a moment if we were still in Senegal, or if we had been transported back to the Midwest. As we were leaving, a lion in a cage much too small for it was brought in. It made us uncomfortable, especially with all the school children on fieldtrips running up to it. We went around an area we don’t think we were supposed to be in, and decided to find a bus.

We walked over to the bus stop and asked a woman which one we should take to get back. Turns out, she was taking the same one. People are so nice about just telling you things like that. Yesterday, two girls chatted between themselves to figure out what would be our best route.

It was definitely worth going, and I’m glad Ibou told us about it because otherwise we wouldn’t have known, and it ends on Sunday.

 A look inside the action

 If that man weren't wearing a boubou, we could totally be in WI

These rabbits are bigger than my cat

 Fluffy mystery birds

Pretty bird

 Baby ostriches

To quote Addie: "What did they breed these things with? A donkey?!" 

Ended the excursion with frozen bissap juice in a bag 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Des Petits Trucs

- Truc is a word that literally means everything. Belt, car, teapot, boubou - whatever. For me, it helps cover up the fact that I may not know a certain word. It's basically the French equivalent of thingamajig

- My host sister Amy told me my skirt was sexy the other day (for the record it was well past my knees) She speaks a lot of English but doesn't like to use it. Most of what she uses is sassy. Then today she told me I was cute.

- Amy: "I know why you don't have a boyfriend" (this, after a joke in which I told her I had one for every day of the week). So I said why, and she proudly told me it was because I was married. I informed her of her error and she said, "Well then you're engaged". Nope.

- Addie and I went to Sandaga today; it was much more chill than last time. We did have some annoying men follow us but not for terribly long and they weren't so aggressive. One man was selling perfume and he was kind of nice so I was talking to him in Wolof. At first he said it would be 10,000cfa, but after awhile, he made it 5,000 because I spoke such good Wolof. I didn't want any, but it made me smile.

- Can public transport be a hobby? I think it's one of mine.

- We are officially done with all our academic work. It feels sooooo good. Ibou Diallo said most students are nervous about a 10-minute presentation and often do less, but he was impressed by us. We all took around a half hour...we went over, but as he was telling us how much he's enjoyed having us in class and especially the presentations, we were smiling and laughing.

- I have God is Able stuck in my fingers which is way worse than being stuck in your head. Just ask any guitar player.

- 50cfa will get you some pretty awesome things: 2 bags of nuts (XADI!), a bag of sliced mango, a giant delicious slice of watermelon, cafe touba, 2 sour punch straw type things, or....I don't know what else. 50cfa is about 10 cents.

- Djiby volunteered to go to the airport with me when I leave. I don't know if that would make the whole departure thing better or worse.

- Zeina is sick :(

- I think I have something like 15 days left. YIKES. Last week I was feeling kind of ready to go home and see everyone, but the closer that day comes, the harder it gets.

- Djiby's animated cousin called out to us as we left his house and pulled me back inside to come greet everyone. She was crazy! He said she wore him out, doing things like this, but also dumping water on him in the morning.

- Some child related in some way to Muhammed was around when I passed by Yamma's and met up with Djiby. She hung all over me - so adorable. Then when we tried to leave, she put herself between us and held both our hands. I want to take her home with me.

- Here's what I ate today, just to give you an idea: bread with butter, instant coffee, benay (fried dough, kind of like donuts), ceeb with lamb and veggies, a whole mango, mango slices, watermelon slice, french fry onion fish salad, 2 oranges. And a bunch of water, naturally.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Worship In The Ocean

As afore mentioned, a trip to the beach was indeed made today. I ended up standing on a rock so that the water would wash over my feet. I was just looking out at the ocean and started singing praise to the Lord. I closed my eyes and just submerged myself in Him, completely unaware of anything going on around.

I was singing with my arms high and heart abandoned when I was suddenly very wet. A rather large wave had come up and hit me from just below my chest on down. I should mention I was wearing jeans. Wet jeans are awesome. When I turned to look at Debbie, Val and Addie, I had a huge smile on my face. I was just laughing because I was so filled with joy.

*Several of things songs I sang spoke of washing (Under Grace, Nothing But The Blood). I think I was asking for it.

As I laughed, I said, "and that's what you get for standing in the ocean with your eyes closed"

Promiscuité D'Espace: Aventure de Grand Yoff

Promiscuité d'espace became one of our favorite expressions after it was used by Ibou Diallo, the professor we love to disagree with. At first we were quite confused, as we all instantly thought it was a cognate for promiscuity. He explained that it's a lack of privacy, a closeness. In case you're wondering, the promiscuity we were thinking of is actually vagabondage. Anywayyyy

After finishing our literature presentations (yes!) Addie and I were feeling a little adventuresome again. We stashed our stuff, tucked a bit of money in our shirts/pockets, and walked out the door, without a plan. Bad idea. We ended up ducking back into school to check out a map. We thought about places we hadn't been yet, and ended up deciding on Grand Yoff for no reason in particular. Now that we had a vague idea of what we wanted, we headed towards the VDN near my house to catch some type of transportation. While standing along the road, a man asked us where we were going, and told us we'd want to take #29. It took awhile before we saw the crowded white bus, and when the doors open, the apprenti told us, "it's full, get in" We "got in" and thought we were going to be hanging out the door. I don't know how, but eventually everyone got in enough to shut the doors. In comes ptomiscuité d'espace. At first, Addie had her arms around me. I ended up right in this one lady's face and all over another guy and probably 4 or 5 other people as well. But, seeing as we needed to pay, it was fine. I asked the woman how much it cost to go to Grand Yoff and she said 150, so Addie handed me her change, and I added mine to it as I passed it up. It's crazy to watch people passing money back and forth to the back, where they take it and give you a useless ticket. We paid with exact change, but others paid with 1,000 or even 2,000, so the change gets handed back with the ticket. At one point, no one really knew to whom the change belonged; someone asked "who just gave me the 1,000?' 

We weren't quite sure how we'd know when to get off, but eventually we saw some signs that said Grand Yoff and the next time we stopped, off we went. We wanted to go to the market, so we stopped and asked where it was.  A kind woman led us closer to the street and pointed out some vague directions, muttering in frolof. We didn't really get it exactly, but it didn't concern us. We found a baggie of sliced mango to split and continued on. Eventually we did take a couple turns and found the market. It was a really interesting part of the city in general, as it was pretty much all shops. The market itself was pretty standard, leaning heavily to the practical and not so much toward the toubab. There were a lot of nice smells, and surprised Senegalese. We gathered that not very many white kids like us come around this block too often. We were the only ones we saw the whole time. We mostly walked around a lot, unknowingly getting crazily sun burnt. Laayila. We decided to get some lunch and found a woman selling sandwhiches with 3 choices: pasta, beans, or potato/onion. We picked option 3, which was scooped into bread slathered in mayo with some kind of seasoning added, and then piment. Some young boys laughed at the toubabs eating piment as they passed by. We found a bench to sit on, as eating and walking is highly frowned upon (it's forbidden by the Khoran) and sat and ate. Several people came by and greeted us, and surprised young children just stared at our white faces. 

We set out to break a 5,000 at a boutique and enjoyed a refreshing fanta, 100cfa cheaper than in our neighborhoods. This proved to be a critical move. We then walked around for awhile more looking for some kind of vehicle when we reached a sort of terminal. A car-rapide was stopped so we asked where it was going; the answer was to ask us where we were going. We said the lutte stadium because we figured that was our best shot at getting home. The apprenti didn't really understand us, but told us to get in anyway. He collected our money, and someone else asked us where we were going. Once it was understood, several people were ushered out of this car into others. We have to wonder if they changed directions? Anyway, it was pretty full and we made quite a lot of stops; it seemed like people were just getting on and off wherever. We got relatively close and they told us to get out there. They clearly weren't going the direction we actually needed. Walking is fun though. We made it back to the BC and recounted a few silly tidbits before deciding to hit the beach. After the beach, I went to Djiby's to hang out and when I finally got home I looked in the mirror for the first time and saw how read my face was. Sunscreeeeeeen whoops. Addie texted me and we had an exchange about how burnt we were. She was wearing a v-neck - just picture it. I was wearing a scarf so at least my chest didn't get it, as I too was wearing a v-neck (imagine that, les jumeaux wearing the same things)

Transportation both ways and lunch for the pair of us was right around 1,000 cfa ($2) (this doesn't include the fanta because that wasn't really lunch. it does include the mango though). Please tell me where in the US I can have an adventure and a delicious satisfying lunch for a dollar or less. 

I want to see my people of course, but I really don't want to leave. How would you all feel about a great migration to Senegal? Please bring my guitar and some peanut butter cups. And more VIA. Thanks. 

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Good Stuff and Bucket List

Soupacandja is the most polarizing Senegalese dish. Most Americans don't like it, and many Senegalese just tolerate it. This gumbo-like sauce over rice happens to be my favorite. Dad, you'd love it too - it has shrimp and crab in it! Today, my family had it for lunch. Then, I accepted my tailor friend's lunch invitation; he asks me every day despite the fact we both know I've already eaten. I've taken to eating a little with him about once a week or so. And today, he had soupacandja too. Wynn. Then I was on my way to school and saw a woman selling sliced mango in little bags. I love mango but they can be messy. Perfect solution.

Also, with less than 3 weeks to go, we've got a little list going of what we'd like to get done before we go...Castor again (I need an attaya pot!), La Foire (not really sure what/where it is, but it sounds kind of like a farmer's market on steroids?), Ile de Ngor, random Dakar adventures, and maybe a trip to St Louis? I still have to pick up bags for Aunt Pat and Mom, some mango and bissap jams, possibly a new backpack, Adja, Maggi, attaya, piment, and a special surprise for EJ and Betsy. Phew, let's get it done.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Family Discipline - Yikes!

Tonight was the second of two occasions I have witnessed the discipline of children, and let me tell you, it's not pretty. Both involved my middle school aged sister, Assy. The first incident involved her hitting her younger homonym, and tonight, phew, let me tell you about it. 

I had put a nice nike tech t shirt through the laundry on Thursday. For those of you who don't understand runner speak, these are top-end running shirts. They are far more expensive than your average t, and I would never buy them for myself, which is why this one was a gift from my parents. I noted this weekend that I hadn't gotten it back. I went to look for it to see if it was hanging on the line. When it was missing, I told my sister Zeina, and she said she'd look for it, as our clothes often get confused. 

Well, then I saw Assy wearing it. This probably wouldn't have irked me so much but she's been being a little punk, and I already had a number of other life stresses. I told Zei and thus began the disciplining. Coupled with this issue was the fact that Assy had missed her school bus last week in the afternoon (kids come home for lunch here) and instead of telling her family, she borrowed money from a boutiquier and took a taxi. Well this boutiquier confronted Zei about it, and of course she was clueless. Money is a weird tricky thing here, and this was a pretty serious issue. 

These two things combined led to the following: First, Zei, reprimanded Assy about the shirt. It actually wasn't that big of a deal for me, but Assy had to give it back and was supposed to apologize. She refused, and so Zei apologized for her, and I kindly looked at Assy and said "balanala" which means, "I forgive you" very genuinely. So she earned another round of reprimands from Zei and then the second issue of the missing bus/having a debt came out. It was all tied into a lecture on carelessness which lasted at least a half an hour. But it wasn't over. Then she was sent to Mamy, who also gave a lecture. Assy was clearly ashamed and sat with her head straight down. Mamy looked at me and said Assy was young and dumb, but it wasn't an excuse for what she did - she has plenty of clothes and was just being greedy. This went on for approximately 20-30 minutes before Zeina re-entered the conversation and her and Mamy went back and forth. Then after all this, Assy's mother was called (she's a granddaughter from Guinea here just for school) and she had to tell her what had happened. I couldn't understand anything, as they were speaking Sou Sou, but it wasn't good. Assy was dead silent the rest of the night. I would be too, even if I'd just gotten the one lecture from Mamy. Mamy is not one to be messed with. 

It was interesting to see the role the older sister plays in this family situation. A family is important as a single unit, so if one member brings shame or dishonor, it reflects poorly upon the whole family, which is why discipline is an issue for everyone. 

All I can say is, this was one time I was glad not to have been raised in a Senegalese family. 

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Come to Me

 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
Matthew 11:28 - 30 

I am the Lord your God,
I go before you now.
I stand beside you
I’m all around you
And though you feel I’m far away
I’m closer than your breath
I am with you
More than you know

I am the Lord your peace
No evil will conquer you
Steady now your heart and mind
Come into my rest
And oh, let your faith arise
And lift up your weary head
I am with you
Wherever you go

Come to me, I’m all you need
Come to me, I’m everything
Come to me, I’m all you need
Come to me, I’m your everything

I am your anchor, in the wind and the waves
And I am your steadfast, so don’t be afraid
Though your heart and flesh may fail you
I’m your faithful strength
And I am with you
Wherever you go

Come to me, I’m all you need
Come to me, I’m your everything
Come to me, I’m all you need
Come to me, I’m your everything

Don’t look to the right or to the left, keep your eyes on me
You will not be shaken, you will not be moved

I am the hand to hold, I am the truth, I am the way
Just come to me, come to me
Cause I’m all that you need