Hangin' Out in Karongue

Hangin' Out in Karongue

Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Latest on the Girls

Dear Partners in the Gospel,
First of all our family wants to thank you for praying for the girls and for us. Knowing that you are praying for us drives us to a bolder confidence in the sovereign goodness of our Lord. Also, your notes of encouragement reminded our family how grateful we are to be a part of a team that cares about the spread of the Gospel and cares for the spreaders of that Gospel.
After meeting with our doctor to review the girls test results he confirmed that both girls have a bacterial infection (with the reports also showing that Thea was "sicker" than Hosanna, but with less symptoms). He prescribed them both some medications, which they began taking today, and assured us that after a week of taking the medications they would begin to feel much better.
We praise the Lord that we not only were able to find out what was going on with the girls health, but also that it was not something very severe. We also praise the Lord for the many lessons that He taught (and is teaching!) us about how to trust Him more and more each day.
Thank you again for praying for us and for being there for us as we are serving in Senegal. We will keep you updated on the girls and on the mighty things that God is doing in southern Senegal.
Rejoicing in Grace,
The Boyd Family
Psalm 147:5

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Update and Prayer Requests

Dear Partners in the Gospel,
We wanted to give you a quick update on us and also pass along some prayer requests. We are currently in Dakar, the capital city of Senegal, having arrived here last Friday. We came here for two reasons: for the girls to see a doctor and for us to work toward getting our Senegalese residency cards. Let us give you a few details on both.
For over a month Hosanna has been having off-and-on fevers with little or no other symptoms. She will get a fever, it will last for several hours, and then it will go away. Then, about three days later, the fever will return. We were monitoring this, had given her a test for malaria (which was negative) and were in communication with an American doctor for advice. About a week-and-a-half ago, however, the level of the fevers increased and they began to arrive each day. It was at that point that we decided to come to Dakar to see a doctor.
In addition to this, Thea discovered a swollen "gland" in her cheek about a month ago and we wanted to get it checked out while we were in Dakar.
By God's grace we were able to see our doctor Friday afternoon and he ordered blood tests and other lab work for both the girls. All the lab work was completed by Saturday and now we await the results and another meeting with our doctor. Right now both girls are doing great and enjoying a few days of "downtime" in the city.
While here in Dakar we also met with the officials to complete the process for receiving our residency cards which will allow us to stay in the country. To make an incredibly long story shorter, we were unable to complete the process in Ziguinchor in southern Senegal because the man who is in charge of the process is away on vacation. However, the wait for our second appointment here in Dakar would be over a month. With all that being said, we have chosen to try and complete the process once again in the south when we return.
So here are some specific ways that you can pray for us during this time:
*For wisdom for our family and our doctor (Dr. Boukoulou)
*For us to continue to walk by faith and in grace as we wait
*For our travel back to the Casamance once we are finished in Dakar as we are planning to drive down through The Gambia
*That we would be able to complete the process for our residency cards soon after arriving back down south
Our family wants to sincerely thank you for being those that we can turn to when we need prayer. There is great comfort in knowing that you all do and will continually take our family and our needs before our gracious Lord and that you, along with us, will trust in His sovereign goodness for His people. You have no idea what an important part of our team you are as you pray.
We will update you as we receive some answers and pass along to you how God has moved in response to the prayers of His people.
Resting in Grace,
The Boyd Family
Romans 15:20

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Without Words Wednesday

Hosanna waits for her bucket to fill
so she can flush the toilet

Ez makes tea at Abdoulaye's house one afternoon

Gayle's birthday lunch

All the gang came over to wish
Gayle a happy birthday

The kids wait as their mother dispenses their
weekly dose of medicine on "Malaria Monday" 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

It's not bad, it's just different (or "Every morning there is fresh lizard poo in the shower")

Something that our family says to each other often is, "It's not bad, it's just different." And we say this often because there are a whole bunch of things here in Senegal that are really different. And if you are not careful, you will begin to think that different is bad because different can sometimes make you feel uncomfortable or uneasy. So we use this little saying to remind each other that different is not always bad, it is just...well...it is just different.

With that being said, here is a list of our most recent uses of this saying:

Every morning there is fresh lizard poo in the shower. It's not bad, it's just different.

I hear "Toubab cadeau" so much from the kids I see that I am beginning to think that it is my name. It's not bad, it's just different. ("Toubab" means "white person" in the local language and "cadeau" is the French word for "gift." Together it simply means, "White person give me a gift.")

I just ate "crevettes" which are like pork skins that taste like shrimp. It's not bad, it's just different.

A family of squirrels or rats or mice (our Senegalese friends cannot seem to agree on what they are) lives over our kitchen. It's not bad, it's just different. (Though this one seems bad!)

Ants are taking over the interior of our house. It's not bad, it's just different. (Though maybe this one is bad too.)

When I cook (in our outdoor kitchen) every single animal in our zoo-like atmosphere begins to encircle the kitchen in anticipation. It's not bad, it's just different.

At any given moment, a child's face can appear in our window intent on getting a glimpse of the "secret life" of the Toubabs. It's  not bad, it's just different.

I eat french bread with chocolate spread on it nearly every morning for breakfast. It's not bad, it's  just different. (We also file this one under, "Things we would never, ever let our kids do if we still lived in the US.")

Most children are fascinated by the hair on my arms. It's not bad, it's just different; that is until they actually pull the hair on my arms.

I take a bath from a bucket.  It's not bad, it's just different. (Did we already mention the lizard poo?)

And if you let it, different can also be a whole lot of fun! (Maybe with the possible exception of the ants and the lizard poo.)

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Sunday Afternoon in Diouloulou

It is about 4:00 in the afternoon so we realize that we need to eat with purpose so that we can get the dishes cleaned up before we leave. Our church is over a mile away and we know that it will take some time to walk to the other side of the village because we will likely stop and talk to at least half-a-dozen people along our route.

We pack our day-pack with our French Bibles, everyone's water bottle except Hosanna's, as she prefers to hold hers, a small flashlight, some tissues, and Ezra's box with sugar and tea leaves, just in case he gets to make African tea later tonight. I think about making some powdered milk before we go because I know that there are some leftover cookies that Gayle made yesterday, but there is not enough time.

We leave our "neighborhood" of Tranquille bound for Carrefour along the dirt back road that leads to The Gambia, the country that is landlocked within Senegal. This is the road that the smugglers use to get goods from The Gambia to Senegal without having to stop and bribe the customs agents.

The pace of our walk is brisk and we stop periodically along the way for Hosanna to take a drink or to speak to someone. The afternoon is a bit hotter than usual and we choose to take the dirt lane after the military camp and we cross the ditch by walking over the two wooden planks that rest there.

The mosque on our right is the largest mosque in Diouloulou and is referred to as the "Grand Mosque," but it is empty now. Their day of worship is Friday and we are passing by the mosque between calls to prayer. I walk in front holding Hosanna's hand and Gayle walks just behind us. Ezra and Thea bring up the rear and are heavily involved in a discussion of "what if this happened" that causes them to break out into laughter every 30 yards or so. I lead us in prayer as we walk, stopping at least twice mid-prayer to wave and speak to someone that greets us from their yard. We pray that God would give Abdoulaye the words that we all need to hear and we pray that our hearts would be receptive to God's Word. We pray that God would move in a powerful way in Diouloulou and that He would use the believers here to spread the Gospel.

We get to Carrefour and cut down another lane that leads to the house where Monique, one of the few Christians in Diouloulou, lives. Some family members, I think it may be her uncle and a friend, are sitting outside talking. Another man is laying on a wooden plank on the ground and he seems to be asleep. Some kids are roasting cashews in the backyard.

Though we are still 20 minutes early for our 5:30 worship, the believers are already sitting on the floor inside the "chapel." The "chapel" is a very small renovated room on one side of the house that the believers use for Sunday worship and for their ministry to the neighborhood children on Saturday afternoons. Before the door to the chapel sits four pairs of flip-flops to which we add three pairs of flip-flops and two pairs of sandals. We great everyone with a handshake and a series of questions about their day and then we take our seat on the floor.

In a move that is rare in Africa, the worship service starts exactly on time as Abdoulaye, the pastor and leader of the small group of believers, prays in French. Aissatou, a 23 year old young lady from another village much further south who is in Diouloulou attending "private school" because she failed to pass her test in her village school, leads us in worship. She sings with a high, but incredibly pleasant voice, most of the time in French, but occasionally in Wolof. After the first song we all stand in somewhat of a circle and sing after her. There are no instruments or accompaniment CDs, just the sounds of ten people praising Jesus by singing and clapping and dancing.  

We sing several songs; some that we have sung over the past few weeks and some that Aissatou seems to make up on the fly. One song sings of God giving His Spirit on the Day of Pentecost. Another sings of the fact that God can do anything. I catch myself looking around and wondering how God is going to use this group to reach southern Senegal with the Gospel. We sing for maybe 30 minutes or so.

Several neighborhood children join us, maybe eight or ten, and they clap along with us even though they do not understand the French songs. As usual, they also seem interested in the little white girl with the long, curly hair. Abdoulaye prays again, we sing another song, and then we all take our place on the floor.

Abdoulaye sits cross-legged next to me with his Bible in front of him. He holds a piece of notebook paper in his hand that contains his handwritten notes on the front and on the back. As he begins our study of Matthew chapter 6 and chapter 7, Hosanna lays her head in my lap and starts to suck her thumb. Everyone has a Bible in their hands and everyone is attentive to what Abdoulaye is saying. Hosanna is asleep. I sit facing the open door and can occasionally see people walking down the dirt road. They are oblivious to the fact that the King of kings and Lord of lords is being worshipped in the small room that they pass by.

Abdoulaye moves freely between French and Wolof so as to better explain the text. One of the believers reads the texts that Abdoulaye asks for and everyone is still and quiet. The room is hot and stuffy and I continually wipe the sweat from Hosanna's forehead as she sleeps. I can feel the sweat from her face soaking through my pants. Most of the neighborhood children have left by this time and Abdoulaye teaches for another 30 minutes or so. He closes by reading again Matthew 6:33 and encouraging us all to live out the truth contained therein. We pray and we all shake hands again. Hosanna wakes up and goes for her water bottle.

Someone suggests that we all learn a new song, so Aissatou spends the next 40 or so minutes teaching us a new song that I am pretty sure she just made up. It is doctrinally sound, very repetitive, and she sings it with a smooth, flowing voice. She teaches us by singing it and then calling on each of us to repeat it. She is patient as we are not the best students.

After some laughs and some teasing about who has the best voice, we leave the chapel and stand out in the front yard of the house. We share a "cookie" that Aissatou brought back with her from her visit to her home village last week. It is a Jola dessert and is made from rice and sugar. It is round and hard and she breaks off small pieces and shares a little with everyone.

We stand in the yard and chit-chat for a while before saying our good-byes. Two believers walk with us part of the way home, while Abdoulaye comes back to our house to have some of Gayle's left-over cookies. I make some powdered milk and pour it into an empty plastic water bottle and Hosanna gives everyone a cookie. Some neighbor friends come over and we all talk, laugh, and enjoy each others company until around 10:00 when everyone gets ready to go. We walk them to the road, tell them in Jola that we will see them tomorrow, shake their hands, and watch them disappear into the night.

Just another Sunday afternoon in Diouloulou.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Resurrection Day!

A few pictures from our Resurrection Day celebration!
The girls and a few of their friends who joined us.

Hosanna helping Abdoulaye cook.

Gayle cooking away in our kitchen.