Hangin' Out in Karongue

Hangin' Out in Karongue

Monday, July 22, 2013


When we first arrived in Senegal we had a very wise missionary colleague tell our family to beware of the word "they." She said that it is easy to fall into the trap of using the word "they" to refer to the Senegalese: "They do things like this." "They like this type of food." "This is how they act." This use of "they" sets up a barrier of sorts, we and "they," and it makes it much harder to assimilate into the culture and to become a part of the life here. "They" causes you to think and live like an outsider.

Consciously, we mean nothing by the use of the word as it gets used to state real differences that we have with our Senegalese friends. But subconsciously it puts up walls between us. And we are here to let the Gospel break down walls, rather than erect them.

So early on we started being aware of our use of the word "they." Anytime someone used the word it would be met with a quick, "ah!" and a pointed finger and we were faithful to police ourselves with a desire to acknowledge our differences while at the same time maintain an accepting posture. And we had really gotten to the point where hearing the word was rare.

Then the other night Thea asked some questions about what "they" do. Only this time the "they" was in reference to Americans. This time the use of the word "they" did not illicit finger pointing, but rather puzzled looks. Ezra was quick to chime in that Thea was a "they" in this context and then the puzzled look was found on her face. It was the first time where she had to come face-to-face with the reality that she really did not feel as if she belonged to a culture.

You see, for Thea, and I imagine this is true for Ez and Hosanna as well as most other missionary children, everyone is a "they."

The struggle for missionary kids is that you do not really fit in here in your new culture. No matter how well you adapt, how many trees you climb barefooted, how well you can wash clothes by hand, or how many languages you can speak, you are still not an insider. It is not that you are totally an outsider, but rather that you are never fully inside.

But the same thing is true for your passport country. You forget what life is like there and how things go. Life there seems foreign as well and while it rings with a familiarity, that ring gets more distant and faint the longer you are away. And then one day the Americans also become "they."

I fear there is not an easy recipe for this other than to love our children, listen to them well, and together with them long for a city whose builder and maker is God (Hebrews 11:10). Indeed, pilgrims are never at home.

So the children live with the reality that for them everyone but our family feels a little like a "they." We teach them to seek their refuge and their place of belonging in the never-changing Christ (Hebrews 13:8). And we walk this glorious, but often difficult, road of serving Jesus cross-culturally beside them. And we try not to use the word "they;" for Senegalese or for Americans.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013


"O Lord of the oceans,
My little bark sails on a restless ea,
Grant that Jesus may sit at the helm and steer me safely;
Suffer no adverse currents to divert my heavenward course;
Let not my faith be wrecked amid storms and shoals;
Bring me to harbour with flying pennants, hull unbreached, cargo unspoiled.
I ask great things,
expect great things,
shall receive great things.
I venture on Thee wholly, fully,
my wind, sunshine, anchor, defence.
The voyage is long, the waves high, the storms pitiless,
but my helm is held steady,
Thy Word secures safe passage,
Thy grace wafts me onward,
my haven is guaranteed.
This day will bring me nearer home,
Grant me holy consistency in every transaction,
my peace flowing as a running tide,
my righteousness as every chasing wave.
Help me to live circumspectly,
with skill to convert every care into prayer,
Halo my path with gentleness and love,
smooth every asperity of temper;
let me not forget how easy it is to occasion grief;
may I strive to bind up every wound,
and pour oil on all troubled waters.
May the world this day be happier and better because I live.
Let my mast before me be the Saviour's cross,
and every oncoming wave the fountain in His side.
Help me, protect me in the moving sea until I reach the shore of unceasing praise."

"The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions" - Arthur Bennett

Monday, July 1, 2013

Random Pictures of Life

One of Hosanna's friends received an Operation Christmas Child box with a toothbrush inside. Soon after, Hosanna comes inside and starts frantically searching for toothpaste. When we inquired what was going on, she replied, "I am going to teach Mymouna how to brush her teeth!" And teach her she did as Mymouna brushed her teeth for the next 10 or so minutes!

As always, she has a mango in her hand!

Ezra and Abdoulaye in the back of the truck sitting on our harvest of "egylie" that we had gone and cut down in the forest. Abdoulaye's mother with remove the seeds from the "egylie" pods, separate them from the powdery substance that surrounds them, wash them and dry them, and then send them off to Dakar to sell.

Saturday afternoon at the children's ministry.

Gayle with the aunt of a Christian young man in the village. We spent the day with their family eating, talking, laughing, and praying for them and their needs.