Sunday, June 15, 2014

Father's Day

     Today being Father's Day, I decided to reflect on those special fathers in my life.  The first one was my Dad.  I couldn't have asked for a more godly man for a dad.  He was a Baptist minister so you know where I was from the day I was born:  in church.  Though he was a wonderful pastor to the people of his churches, he still had time for us kids.  He would play ball with us in the backyard, play board games with us, listen to us perform our songs on the piano, and was always there to listen to us and encourage us.  Some of my favorite times were listening to him and other pastors or missionaries talking in our living room.  Whenever I had questions about the Bible or other spiritual matters, I could go to him and he would share his wisdom with me so I had a better understanding.  I was so blessed to have such a loving father.

My Dad, my escort, when I became a Queen Regent in Service

     Another godly father in my life was my husband and father to my three kids.  Andrea had him wrapped around her little finger from the day she was born.  He loved his little girl and would spend time playing with her when he came in from farming.

Tea party

When David came along, that just meant double the fun.  Andrea and David loved it when Gary would play horse with them and he would ride them around the house on his back. . . .until he hurt his back and had to visit the chiropractor.

Steven came along and added more fun to the mix.  When Gary would come in from working in the fields, he would make time to play with all three of the kids.

One of the things Gary felt was important in the lives of our children was making memories.  He did this by not only spending time with them but also teaching them by example to be honest, loyal, caring, and giving.  

     Now David has become a father.  He is following the example set by his dad and is being a good father to his son, Parker.

     Though these three men are great examples of good fathers, there is One that is by far the best Father and that is my heavenly Father.  He has loved me unconditionally all through my years even when I know I have disappointed Him.  He is always willing to forgive me when I sin and guide me along the way.  His love is so great that He even sent His son to die for me so that I can live with Him eternally.  Not only will I live with Him, but I will also see my Dad and husband again one day.

     So, Happy Father's Day to these special men in my life and to my heavenly Father.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Reflections of Senegal

     For the past 20 months I have lived in Senegal.  I can remember my first thoughts as I drove from Dakar to Fatick during my first days after arriving.  I saw these funny looking trees, lots of brown sand, and very flat land.  To say I was not very impressed is an understatement.  It didn't take too long for my opinion to change, though.  As I settled into my new life in Fatick, I began to see beauty in my surroundings.

Sunrise over the inland waterway in Fatick

Beautiful sunsets

Storm clouds during rainy season after months of no rain

Double rainbow after a rain

     Though I lived in a small town, it was not very quiet.  There were the constant bleating of the sheep and goats, chanting from the mosques five times a day, and the beat of drums and "singing" during times of celebration.

     There were also some inconveniences such as flooding during rainy season and dust storms during dry season.

     In spite of experiencing a little discomfort with the heat, dust, and flooding, the best and most beautiful part of my time in Senegal was the people.  They are a very friendly and hospitable people and will take the time to talk to you whether in passing on the street, riding on the horse cart, or shopping in the market.  Taking time to greet and talk is something we could do more of here in the US.  As I would walk down the street or ride a horse cart, the children would call out "Toubab" (which means white person).  It made you feel like a celebrity at first and then became a little annoying after hearing it for months.  However, the children loved to greet you, shake your hand, and find out your name.

     Though my time in Senegal has come to an end, I will never forget my time there.  A little piece of my heart remains in Senegal.  I hope and pray that I am a better person for having lived there.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Road Trip

     Saturday morning of June 1 was the beginning of our road trip to southeast Senegal.  Amanda, Lindy, Jourdan, and I loaded into the truck and headed out of Fatick around 7:00 am.  It took us about 10 hours to get all the way down to Kedougou where we were going to spend two nights.  It was hot and we were very tired so the first thing we did was hit the pool of our hotel.

     The hotel was nice and we had wonderful air conditioning.  However, the internet did not work.  We ate supper overlooking the river with the mountains in the background.  It rained all night which made for good sleeping but it was bad for our plans for the next day.  We were going to go see the waterfall which was nearby.  However, after the rain, it was not possible to make it to the falls.  That left us with nothing to do that day and still no internet.  The hotel let us check out so we headed back up to Tambacounda where we were supposed to be on Monday night.  It was closer to Niokola Koba, the park we were planning to visit on Monday.  This time our hotel had a nice pool, internet, good food, but our air conditioner was pretty bad.  Jourdan and I were so hot on Sunday night that we couldn't sleep.  I finally went to the office around midnight to sit in front of the fan to cool off.  The desk clerk decided to give us the fan for our room which was a great improvement and allowed us to finally get some sleep.

     We headed to Niokola Koba bright and early on Monday morning.  Once we got to the park we hired a truck to drive us through the park.  We sat on seats in the bed of the truck while the driver took us through the park.  The road was pretty rough so we did a lot of bouncing and had to watch out for branches.  It was a little disappointing because we didn't see too many animals but at least we had a good time together.  Here are some pictures of some of the animals that we saw.





     Even though the trip didn't quite meet up to our expectations, we did get to see another part of Senegal and enjoy seeing green landscape.

Gambia River

Termite hill

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Lompoul Dunes

     One of the places that I wanted to visit while in Senegal was Lompoul Dunes (Desert).  With only three weeks left in this country, plans were made to go to the dunes with Amanda and Lindy, my journeyman friends in Dakar.  I traveled to Dakar on Friday morning.  That afternoon the three of us were off on the 150 km drive to the dunes.  We parked our truck at Lompoul Village where we loaded up on another truck to head to our encampment.

     Since I have never slept in a tent before and I'm sick of sand, you might wonder why I decided to go to Lompoul Dunes.  I had started wondering that myself but I managed to convince myself that this was going to be a memorable adventure.  After about a 20 minute ride out in the middle of nowhere, we arrived at our encampment.

Our tent
At least we had beds 
Our bathroom was behind the grass walls

     As you can see, the bathroom was a little rustic.  The desert is actually pretty cool in the evenings and mornings so we were never hot.  Thus, we did not sweat.  Thus, I decided not to try out the shower.  The toilet, on the other hand, was a necessity.  As you can see, it was a porcelain toilet (thankfully not a squatty potty).  However, it was sitting over a hole in the ground.  The bucket was for filling with water to pour into the toilet after each use to "flush" the toilet.  This was the height of luxury since they even provided us with toilet paper.
     After stowing our stuff in the tent, we headed out to "surf" the dunes.  That is to say, Lindy and Amanda were going to surf the dunes; I was going to be the photographer.  Surfing the dunes was not quite what we were expecting.  The boards would go a little ways and then just sink into the sand.  At least I was able to do my job and take pictures of the action.

     Around 7:45 pm we headed to the tent where we were to eat our dinner.  They had set up mats outside the tent with appetizers on them for all of us (there were four French couples there as well as us).  We had peanuts, chips, and olives to eat and a pitcher of some fruit drink that looked a little like lemonade.  Well, I quickly discovered that it wasn't lemonade.  It had quite a kick to it (if you know what I mean).  When our hosts discovered we weren't drinking it, they offered us something else to drink.  We shared our pitcher with the French couples who were quite delighted to drink it for us.  Shortly after 8:00 we went inside the tent to eat our supper.  The first course was a delicious soup.  It was followed up with couscous, sauce, and beef.  Dessert was some fruit.  We were pretty tired and wanted to go to our tent but we had to hang around for the bonfire and after dinner entertainment.  Finally, around 10:00 we made our way to the tent and into bed.



    In spite of it being pretty cold outside, we were quite snug in our tent.  There were no sounds except the birds and wind which made for a wonderful night's sleep under the warm comforter.  Amanda and I decided to get up around 6:30 am on Saturday to go see the sunrise over the dunes.  It was so quiet and peaceful sitting there waiting for the sun to rise.  I sat there meditating on God's beautiful creation that I was able to enjoy.


     We had our breakfast around 8:00 am.  It consisted of bread, jam, juice (without the kick), and your choice of hot tea or coffee.  

     After breakfast we decided to take a camel ride in the desert.  My first (and I thought my last) experience riding a camel left me pretty sore so I was a little hesitant to ride one again.  Amanda and Lindy talked me into going with them, though.  It wasn't bad at all so now I can say I've ridden a camel across the desert.  Well, that may be a slight exaggeration since we only rode for 30 minutes and our guide walked in front of the camels.  

     Though Lompoul Dunes is not the Sahara Desert, it is very close to what the Sahara looks like.  It was not quite what I expected but it was still beautiful and a lot of fun.