Thursday, November 12, 2009

Malika - Day 14 - Last Day

Beht-see-cunnum. This is the phrase in Wolof for "see you later". I said a lot of these today. Maybe I'll come back. Maybe some of the guys will eventually come see me. And perhaps the next time I see these "monkeys" will be when we are changed into a heavenly glory. Either way, I will see them later. I have faith that the ministry Dany and Herma are providing will produce much fruit for the kingdom. Their ministry is one that provides the guys with something they can see and touch. Beyond that, the love that they show them extends into the spiritual realm. Many of them have already made a profession of faith. Some of them are nervous to tell their families they want to be baptized. Others are certain they want to put their trust in Jesus and are learning to walk in the faith that Dany and Herma are exemplifying. Today it made me sad that my Wolof lessons are going to be put on hold, but the thought of being able to see my family made it all better. My thoughts have been reaffirmed that God, our Father, has shown us a perfect model of how we are to love others. In the story of the prodigal son, the father continually looks for his son to return to him; regardless of his past, and, in the case of the older brother, regardless of how close they appear to live together. Our Father does the same for us. We can do everything we can to displease Him and still be reconciled. Likewise, we can do everything we can to "please" Him but still not be reconciled to him. What the Father wants most of all is fellowship; not just with Him but with each other. It is true that He desires us to spend time with Him but that comes in many different forms. The body of Christ is made up of people. We together form the church. However, the body is not complete without the head, which is Christ himself. Therefore when two or three are gathered in Christ's name he is in the midst of them. This means that when two or more people, who love Jesus, gather together they have a friendship and a fellowship that will grow and increase. If you are looking for friendship and fellowship with a group of people that will accept you the way you are and love you unconditionally then accept Christ and get together with others that have. If you have never accepted Christ into your life let me help. Because the earth is the Lord's and everything in it, He desires us to have a relationship with Him. If you invite someone into your house, wouldn't you want the same thing? Having a relationship with the Father means that He requires two things: to love Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength and to love our neighbors as yourself ... period. ( These are the only two rules in Keely's and my house as well. Ask Julie. She'll tell you. ) There has not been a single person on this planet that has ever followed these rules all their life ... save one. Because God is just he must punish sin. If there were no punishment, there would be no such thing as sin. Because of his great mercy and grace he has punished sin but did not require that we pay the penalty. Instead he sent his own son to earth to live as an example of what His two rules looked like. Because there was no sin in Jesus, when he was put on the cross, he became the perfect sacrifice for our sins. This means we are no longer held accountable for our sin thus there is no condemnation. In order to recieve this you must accept it through faith by humbling yourself before God. That's it. Once you have recieved his gift, talk to Him and ask Him what He would have you do next. If He wants you to fellowship with us, our door is always open. If He wants you to go to Malika and experience community like you never have before, let me know and I'll get you in contact with Dany who would love the help. Thanks for coming with me on this journey. Your prayers have availed much and for that I thank you. Beht-see-cunnum.

Malika - Day 13 - Rest at its Best

Today will be very short because we rested. My wife and I comment on how our Sundays escape us lots of times because of how much we do. Today was definitely a rest and relax day. We did spend a while at the table after breakfast talking about the word and fellowshipping with one another. After that it was reading Corinthians and napping and I did get to help Abdoulaye with some revit questions. I spent a little bit if time trying to figure out Base in Open Office with minimal results. The rest of my time I read the last half of 1 Corinthians and all of 2nd. It was a great day. We were planning on going to Goray tomorrow in Dakar but with it being the last day I'd rather not travel to Dakar twice. We'll see how it goes and take whatever comes and rejoice always ( deleem beg ).

Malika - Day 12 - Just Another Other Day at the Beach

Had another good night sleep. Thankfully, we reminded Stephan ( correct spelling ) to bring a jar of peanut butter so I was treated to a piece of toast with PB and jelly. After breakfast I went with a friend of Dany's to a couple different construction sites and was able to learn how they build the foundation, frame the walls, and put on a roof. Because wood is so scarce here they've done a great job of using their resources. Everything is concrete and rebar and sometimes they use wood slats to keep the concrete from falling through the cracks. It was interesting walking around with him because we finally stopped using words and would just start drawing pictures in the sand. After we had a realization that we could communicate through pictures we could communicate much easier. We made it back to the compound and had lunch which consisted of rice, beef, and some cucumbers which were a welcome sight. We all hung out after lunch and took naps, talked and Stephen and I even tried to oil a fan that bothered us while trying to watch LOST. =) at about 3:30 we all headed down to Aziz's surf camp, picked up a couple surfboards and hit the waves. Needless to say, my first try didn't go so well. I would either be too far forward on the board and it would nose dive into the water or I'd be too far back and wouldn't be able to get forward enough to ride the wave. I was finally able to ride the wave a little bit but wasn't able to stand up at all. We left Aziz's place and went to a home of a friend of Herma's named Barbara. She was extremely hospitable. She had snacks, champagne, and something else I can't remember the name of but tasted pretty good. She is German nationality but is learning French more and more. Herma and Dany were gracious enough to translate for us ( im starting to lose count of how many languages Dany speaks ) and after a while she played the piano for us too. We went back to the house and Stephan and I rode on the back of the truck because there wasn't any room in the truck since Herma and Dave walked there. Dinner was exceptional as always and afterward instead of watching LOST I got to talk with Dany one on one. We talked about the shop and his vision for the guys there. He said that he is ready to expand because he likes the opportunity for the guys there but the structure isn't ready. I told him that I'd like to help in any way I can. With the web skills and the organization skills that God has blessed me with I feel like this is a good ministry to get involved in. I'm not sure what that will look like back in the states or if I'm going to get to come back here but I know that if I keep following the Spirit's lead, He will move me in the direction I need to be going. Please pray for guidance and an open ear and heart. Time for bed so I will stop now and hope that when you go surfing that you will be more successful than I was my first time. =)

Malika - Day 11 - Some Clever Title

Woke up at 8 this morning and felt pretty good. I was sitting on my bed feeling the coolness of the fan until suddenly the power just shut off. ... Trust is an unusual thing. It isn't instantly gained, but once you have it you can easily feel disheartened if it is compromised. We, as Americans, have lots of trust. We have been conditioned to trust our credit cards, running water, electricity, etc. Senegal has taught me that trust in anything, except God, will leave me disappointed. Things are very unpredictable here; traffic may stop at any time, the water may stop running, your car may not start, and, like this morning, the electricity may go out without a moments notice. When I'm at home I trust in these things to work all the time. Of course I still trust in God but I've been conditioned so much to believe that if I plug something into the wall that it's going to work, no matter what. I now realize that if I expect something and it doesn't happen then I feel cheated and Senegal has certainly taught me to lower my expectations of my surroundings in order to keep my priorities straight. The one thing I haven't lost trust in is God. As a servant we are called to trust in our Lord and believe that He will be faithful to His word. He has not promised to make our lives easier but He has promised us that He will be glorified and that if we put our faith in Him and live by that faith we will be joined with Him throughout eternity. Ok, now it's time for breakfast and it better be there ... =) After breakfast I needed to do some accounting work based on the sales from last night. Let me say what a difficulty it was to go from Microsoft Office to Microsoft Works, but I trudged through it. =) I got Herma's sheet all ready for how much each guy in the shop gets based on the sales. Afterwards we had lunch and then I was able to show Abdulaye a quick tutorial on how to use Revit. I got through drawing walls, inserting doors and windows, and drawing roofs and then his brain exploded. He said he was ready to stop for the day and I don't blame him. ( I forgot to mention a humerous thing about our drive yesterday. While stopping for gas, we were bombarded with people wanting to sell us all sorts of items; oranges, limes, cookies, tea leaves, etc. Herma did buy some oranges from a lady and you would have thought that all the people selling oranges would have left us alone. Quite the contrary. It was funny to see Herma explain to her that we didn't need anymore. ) Dinnertime came and we were treated to barbeque chicken again. I enjoyed dinner even more than usual because I was able to fix a problem that I created with Herma's Internet. Everyone has been using her wireless capabilities and I wanted to download something and I thought it would be faster to use an Ethernet cord instead of the wireless. It wasn't working at first so I got the address to her router and started up the wizard. Unfortunately, I didn't have the username and password to connect to her ISP. So Jeebs was gracious enough to help me get a hold of them and ask for someone in English. I actually had to call them twice. In the end it all worked out but if I knew how to spell in French it would have gone much faster. ( BTW - if any one says the letter "jee" in French, they actually mean "j" ). After all that, watching LOST and getting to talk to my beautiful wife on skype, I'm ready for some reading, then off to bed. Good night world and "day-lehm bek".

Malika - Day 10 - One More Monkey

I woke up at 5 this morning but this time it was on purpose. Dave and Dany had to leave for Dakar this morning to pick up the next addition to our monkey group. They just wanted me to set my alarm to make sure they woke up. Luckily I moved out to the living room where the overhead fan kept me cool all night long. After waking up in the morning for breakfast I was greeted by the new member of our extended family; Steven. We all had breakfast together and then started reading James. It was great to add another believer to the table. Breakfast was soon over and I had the task of getting ready to leave this afternoon for a "business" trip to take some of the merchandise the guys make and sell it to a group of medical missionaries that are getting ready to leave back to the states. The accounting process is a little different over here since you have to deal with American dollars and CFA at the same time, but it seems to all work out in the end. After a scrumptious lunch of fish ball surprise I was able to sit with Jeebs and read the Bible in Wolof. We started with my favorite verse 1 Thess. 5:16. I should have realized sooner that the work of the Spirit, through the Bible, is something else that bridges the language barrier. He also showed me some of the alphabet and while we were reading I was starting to get the hang of it Around 4 we started to load the car with all the boys' merchandise. Then around 5 Herma, Jeebs, Dominga, and I loaded up in the truck and headed to Theis which is a city about 70 kilometers away. We arrived in the city just fine but then I realized that Herma had no idea where we were going. We would drive up one street and then come back down. We finally got a hold of one of the policemen ( I think ) and he took us to a couple different locations and we finally found one that knew where we were supposed to go. We took all of our stuff inside and the people were extremely nice. Jeebs was nice enough to show off his djembe skills with the missionaries, and they were all very impressed. After a long ride home, I'm ready to go to bed. Good night all.

Malika - Day 9 - Dakar Again and Drum Strings

Dany woke me and told me it was time to go to Dakar again with Herma. After two visits already, flying in and day 3, my expectations of Dakar are non-existent; and, usually, I'm pleasantly surprised that way. First we stopped at the post office to grab Herma's mail. This consisted of a huge room with rows and rows of mailboxes. The neatest thing we did while we were there is stop at a drive up fruit stand. They were setup on the sidewalk and we just drove up on the sidelak next to them, rolled down the window, gave them our order and after paying were on our way again. We also stopped at a market place. The outside looked like a circular stadium and the inside consisted of rows of fish, meat, and produce vendors. Outside were more vendors of jewelry, baskets and many other crafts. The traffic seemed to be lots worse than it has been before. At one point we had to go from a three lane road to a one lane road. So Herma and I just sat in the car and talked about how blessed we were to have air conditioning. I noticed a lot that there are street vendors everywhere just waiting for a traffic jam. When we got back to the shop my djembe was ready for the next step. There were two iron rings that were prepared and ready to be wrapped with ribbon. I chose blue cause it's Keely's favorite. After that I had to thread both iron rings to make loops around the perimeter. Once that was complete I threaded the rope from the top and bottom ring loops. Tomorrow is when I will finish the rope part and make it tighter. I laid down for a little bit and then woke up and helped Herma fix dinner which consisted of something like spring rolls that she and Dany called Nems. Afterwards we talked about the best part of our day and Dave, John, and I all commented on how neat it was that we were starting to be accepted by the guys in the shop. We know lots of their names and have had lots of time to share with them. We prayed for the opportunity to share Christ with them before we leave. Anyway, hope this finds you well, and may the Lord bless you. IXOYE <>< - Lee

Malika - Day 8 - Just say NO (to Arabic tea)

I guess it's officially day 8 even though I haven't slept yet. My ear is aching but I'm pretty sure it's the tea that's keeping me up. Maybe that and God wants me to help the missionaries who are staying with us tonight get on the road easily. I think their flight leaves early in the morning like ours does. It's interesting trying to learn a new language, especially when your this old. ( 31 is considered "old" right? ) I was thinking about my little girl and realizing what she has to go through to learn English when she doesn't have any language background like I do. I think it might be a good idea to get a kids book with lots of pictures in it and have each picture translated with the actual word and then the phonetic spelling next to it. Seems like that would allow people to, not only, pronounce the words correctly but would also help them to recognize the spelling of the words in the Wolof language. It's odd how indescribably comfortable I feel here. Everything is different than it is at home; the food, the city, the sleeping arrangements with my own princess bed. Even the English spoken by Herma is , sometimes, hard to understand. In spite of all that I feel at peace here. Maybe because I haven't been here that long and it's still a new experience for me ( Nadine, Dany's wife, calls it the Senegal honeymoon ). It could also be the slower pace of life coupled with the intense relationships and friendships that can be formed, in spite of the language barrier ( but yes, honey, I'm still coming home ). By the way if you ever sit down to play cards with a group of guys at night and they offer you Arabic tea, please say NO. Didn't get a wink of sleep last night. Ate breakfast around 9 and had a small Bible study and then crashed till about 2. Luckily I woke up just in time to have a dish with rice, beef, and a sauce with peanut butter. Kind of reminded me of mole' sauce. Dany is expanding the eating hut so I'm getting a closer look at the building process. Should be an exciting week. I worked on my drum a little bit. Saw how they take a goat skin and shave it, then stretch it over the drum bowl and make it as tight as possible using two iron rings. After the initial skin is tight and the excess is cut off they have to let the drum sit and dry for 3 days. During that time, I was invited to a game of volleyball with the guys. It's interesting some of the things that the guys here know and somthings they don't. I was surprised to see that they knew how to play volleyball but didn't know how to throw an ( American ) football. One of the guys from the church that stayed here last night pulled his out and you'd have thought the guys at the shop had never seen one before. I was surprised to see how good they were at volleyball. After drenching my shirt I took a quick dip in the pool and when I got out the electricity was off again. It's odd how fast I've adapted to this idiosyncrasy of Malika life. You just know that at any time you should have a candle and matches nearby. Tonight's dinner consisted of roast beef and french fries, which was welcomed with open arms. Got to talk to my wonderful wifey on Skype and now I'm going to bed.