Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Reflections on Senegal

This morning, just like every morning before work, I pulled out my bag of coffee beans and ground a few fresh tablespoons. I'm a coffee snob, I fully admit. And I love my fresh pressed coffee. But today, I'm missing Nescafe. And sweet tea.

It's a forty minute commute to work, and normally I'm thankful for the silence of the drive. I listen to sermons and music and as usual, my mind doesn't rest. But today I'm missing sun drenched paths and shouts of "Kasu-may!"

I'm back to my North American food, with lasagna for lunch and salad for dinner. But really, all I'm craving is yassa. I want that fresh fish and vegetables and rice with a group of people surrounding the dish.

I'm thankful for my hot bath. Yet I'm yearning for that bucket shower underneath the African starry sky.

I wish I could sit with everyone of you over a cup of coffee and share my heart and share my stories. 

Every day while in the village we had the opportunity to share Christ in conversations and actions and showing the Jesus film. I felt the love of Christ overflowing in my heart for these people; the moment I met them I wished I could in some way convey to them how loved they were. In so many ways they reminded me how loved I was: I was amazed at how God's character shone through their simple acknowledgement of every person who passes. They shake hands, greet with their greeting, and continue on. I wondered at what our lives would be like if we had that simple acknowledgement of those we pass that we matter. That we aren't just someone walking by. And I love that God thinks of us like that; He always stops. Always. 

We had the opportunity to lead unbelievers to Christ. And it was amazing to see the Lord bring healing to one of them, to hear that she was able to walk by herself after being unable to even leave the house without assistance. God is good, and faithful.

Every meal we ate there was shared. Fish and vegetables and rice were placed in a large dish, and five or six gathered around. (Except for that one time that we must've fed 100 children after one of the screenings of the Jesus film. There was that. I'll have to tell you about that one day, about seeing so many children crowded around multiple dishes and how in some way, it stirred our hearts in a way words can't describe). There was something simply profound about eating together. We've missed that in our culture, you know. We eat alone and we eat quickly and we forget how life wasn't meant to be done alone, but to be done together. We really should stop more, and just simply share a meal. I wonder how lives and families would be changed if we simply stopped.

I realized while there that there is a boldness in knowing you are there to serve and share with a purpose; I am wrestling with how to take that boldness home. How do I live my life as a witness to Christ not only in actions, but in words here, too? As we sat on one of our last days with the Believers in the village, we talked about how these Believers would be challenged in their walk. It wouldn't be easy, one of our team members sadly warned. And it wouldn't. When these Believers chose to change their lives, and follow the Lord and abandon all other fetishes and idols, their physical and societal lives were put on the line. It's not a battle of flesh and blood; it's a spiritual battle. They were wrestling with what it means to abandon all else and follow Christ, to truly live their lives according to the Word. It was a sombering reminder to me. It's too easy here, in our western world, to live lukewarm. Our lives may not be truly threatened. But how important it is that we too, live lives worthy of the calling placed on them. That we live our lives worthy of the One who died in our place.

As I am reflecting, and hopefully coming out of my jet-lagged state, I am prayerfully committing every precious moment to memory. You might know that I love talking about things that make my heart dance. Throughout this trip, so many things made my heart jump for joy. Conversations about love and faith and God's call for women. The full moon and stars. Reminders from strangers and new friends that God wants you to dream big and take those leaps of faith, that He creates your heart and hopes and dreams for a purpose far grander than you can imagine. 

I prayed to be a blessing to those I met, but I never imagined how much they would be a blessing to me too. I left a piece of my heart with those people, and I simply can't wait to go back.

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