Senegal Team Update
Thank you for supporting our team of nine women on our mission trip to Senegal for the first two weeks of July. This update is to give you a little report of the trip written from the perspective of each of our team members. A couple of the women (Nadia and Pam) continued on to Kenya for the following two weeks, and just returned last Friday evening.
Please also watch this video that was shown this past weekend at church, so you can see some pictures and get a broader overview of many of the things we got to be part of while we were in Senegal, along with some things you can be praying for.
Again, thank you so much for being part of this trip in sending us, and praying for us while we were away! The summaries below are just a small part of what we all have to share. Please pull any of us aside and ask us more and we would love to tell you even more of the stories that meant so much to us.
Senegal Mission Team 2022
I’ve been telling my kids that knowledge and experience are two different things and I learned quickly that my knowledge about what it’s like to be a missionary was extremely lacking, and when people ask about how I feel about my first mission trip, I answer, “overwhelmed.”
- Overwhelmed by the temperature; it felt like I was living in the town of Hot Flash, and heaven forbid I have a hot flash.
- Overwhelmed by how beautiful the African people are, truly stunning.
- Overwhelmed by how our missionaries love the Lord, love the Senegalese people and loved on me. Wasn’t I supposed to bless them? They hosted 9 women in their home, their kids were displaced from their room to the roof and they did it with a smile and I was the one blessed.
- Overwhelmed by how easy my day-to-day tasks are; drinking cold water without need of a filter, long showers, easy access to food, entertainment and fellowship, pretty much anything.
- In a big way, overwhelmed by how lonely it can be as a missionary. I moved to Vancouver three days after I got married to a place I’d never been to so it felt foreign to me. I was wrong. I knew the language, didn’t have to learn French, Wolof or Serer. I could read the language and know whether I’m getting sugar or flour. I knew how to drive and most importantly I found a family at a new church that surrounded this newcomer with love and connection. Hearing the stories of the missionaries from Haiti, I was humbled and embarrassed. The wives have moved with their husbands like I did but that’s where the similarities end. These women are truly living in a foreign place, have to learn how to speak and read a new language. Their only fellowship is with their husbands, no women’s Bible study they can go to in order to be fed by the Word and connect with other women. That’s a loneliness that if I’m honest would’ve crippled me but these women, Medjina and Mikerlange love the Lord more than their comfort and want to share Christ’s salvation message and consider it joy to be in West Africa and continue on in faith. This stopped me in my tracks and again I was overwhelmed.
I have been truly blessed at being able to return to Senegal after four years (it felt like going home). It was less overwhelming but incredibly amazing and rewarding. The best experience was working with the elementary age group (ages 7-11). Seeing a small glimpse into their desire to live a life for God within their families. The take away that I have in working with these amazing children is to not be so concerned with schedule but instead enjoy the moments that you are given with them. Being able to stay an extra week was a blessing because I got to seeing what life was like without a large group. I was learning that it is great to have down time (especially since I am not a people person) but enjoy every moment with people that are around you (like playing a lot of board games with the McMartins or pushing a 4 and 5 year old on a swing for 30 minutes as they talk to you while catching only a fraction of what they say).
There is so much that missionaries walk through daily that is heavy. They are carrying so many things with them that is not something we have to do here in America. Often they don’t have any down time. It is for this reason that I was so happy to be able to be part of the kids program while the adults had a week of being poured into and receiving refreshment. I knew I would be amazed by these kids but nothing really prepares you for the beauty of their hearts. I was blessed several times by their love and kindness to me. What struck me is that they weren’t just being kind and helpful because they were told to be. This is who these kids are. It’s their hearts. I was blessed to hear their hearts when they told me about the struggles they face on a daily basis. One young man’s family had been without their dad/husband for several months as he received medical care in London. Another shared his loneliness because all of his close friends moved away. Another shared some of the scary things he faces in his village. Listening to them talk, not once did I hear any animosity or begrudging of where they are because their parents are called to missions. It was more of just a factual conversation. They were so open to share their hearts and prayer requests that it moved me. So often times I don’t like to share openly because I don’t want to be a burden to others and yet God calls us to lift each other up. I will forever hold these kids in my heart. I love that I got to meet them and have their faces in my mind’s eye so that I can see them as I pray for them. It was such a blessing to get to know the missionaries and hear their stories. One night there was a women’s event that we were invited to join in. I was so glad I went. I met a lady named Penny who has been on the mission field for over 40 years. As she told a little bit of her story and gave words of wisdom to those younger than her I couldn’t contain the tears (I’m pretty sappy). I had the pleasure of spending time with her later and learning a little more about her work and the things she is facing as a single woman who is also walking through some of the struggles of the aging process. I was so touched and encouraged by her. She has faced many things that tried to take her away from her calling but she has stood firm where God called her to be and because of that has seen His hand move in incredible ways. And not only that but she is there for those younger women who are stepping into their calling and provides such wisdom and care for them. It is such a beautiful example of how Christ loves us. I feel the need to keep this somewhat short since there are nine of us who are sharing but if anyone would like to get together and hear more please let me know. This is only a very small peekaboo into the week that I spent in Senegal. My heart was touched and I will forever hold in my mind’s eye these amazing people who are my family. And I pray that one day God would allow me to go back and spend a little more time than what I had this time. Please remember to hold our missionaries in your prayers daily.
There are many things I could say about my time in Senegal. Experiencing a culture so different from anything I have ever seen, left me with a lot to process. I soaked in everything as we walked the street market, visited local families, worked with the children at the conference, and spent time with the Haitian missionaries. My major takeaway was how meaningful the small moments turned out to be. Running and organizing the kids’ program ended up being only a part of our purpose there. The moments of ministry were really in the undivided attention we were able to give the children, holding space for them to spend time with their peers who understand their lifestyle more than anyone. They taught us how best to serve them as the week went on. I took away a better understanding of missions and eyes that have been opened to many different ways of life and service.
Having worked in the EBC Office and helped to plan many short term mission trips over the years, I was excited to get to be part of this one and actually go! One of the biggest blessings for me was simply seeing where both McMartin famlies – Bruce and Cindy, and Joel and Andi, Ethan and Tyler, serve. I’ve known these families for years, and have read their letters and talked to them when they have been back here in Vancouver, so to actually get to be part of their lives in Africa for a couple weeks and meet many of the people they work with and have talked about was amazing. Spending time with them talking, hearing their stories and asking questions was such a special part of the trip for me. I loved the time at the conference, meeting many of the missionaries Joel and Andi work with, and getting to serve by helping provide a children’s program for their kids. I haven’t gotten to work one on one with kids in awhile, so it was great to get to do that again. The kids were a huge blessing. Getting to know some of them, and seeing their excitement at being there, and getting to have a program for them while their parents were in meetings, was a lot of fun. They were some of the kindest kids I’ve gotten to spend time with. It was impressive to see how they cared for each other, their siblings and the other kids that they only see occasionally. One of the missionary ladies I met and talked to is a single woman who serves in one of the dangerous areas Joel and Andi occasionally travel to, when they go check in on each of these missionaries throughout the year. To meet her and talk to her several times was a blessing to me, and I will remember to pray for her especially now. The few days following the conference, other highlights for me were meeting Norbert and seeing the chicken farm project he is working on, visiting the school Cindy teaches at, and meeting all the Haitian missionaries EBC supports. Hearing all their testimonies, along with the testimonies of a Christian Senegalese family we ate dinner with, filled me up, and made me so grateful to be part of God’s family, thankful for the salvation we have through Jesus, and more encouraged to pray for the many Muslim people in Senegal who need Jesus so desperately. It meant a lot to the Haitian missionaries that our church family knows who they are and reads their letters and prays for them. Seeing how the two McMartin families live together, and serve so well together even though they serve with different mission organizations (Bruce and Cindy with CrossWorld and Joel and Andi with Ethnos360), was wonderful. I’m so thankful for both these missionary families our church knows and supports, and all the missionaries they work with there in Senegal and West Africa, all with the common goal to bring the gospel, the knowledge of the saving grace and the love of Jesus to lost people. I was thankful to get to be just a little part of this during the two weeks we spent there.
There are so many things to share about the incredible things that God does in two weeks of working with our amazing team in Senegal. I will do my best! I was blessed to be the Bible time teacher, and the discussions were certainly one of my favorite parts. It was a joy to learn about the different families and the various countries and villages they served in. The greatest prayer requests for them all was the very hard transitions that were coming up. Several of them will be moving a couple kids or their entire families back to their supporting countries because of education and life stage needs. Those kinds of transitions can often be a huge part of life but not any easier to navigate. It was awesome to see how well the kids and their families connected in love and support! Meeting with locals and the missionaries from Haiti was so much fun. They shared their testimonies, their struggles, and their hopes. Please continue to pray for their mission in establishing themselves in their villages and ask God to continue to soften hearts to His Word through their lives. Also, please continue to pray for the whole McMartin family as they serve and lead in so many ways and love so many people! Thank you for your prayers and love and support!
The month of July was packed full of adventure! My highlights of Senegal included hanging out with the McMartain kids, leading music and games during the VBS, and looking out for the monitor lizard we named Monty. (Sometimes he would be found swimming in the pool.) After a memorable two weeks of ministry and connection, the majority of our team left for the States while Pam and I traveled to Kenya for another two weeks of ministry and connection. This was my third time visiting PEFA Utuwala, a local church that hosts a private school and a music school. We stayed in Nairobi with a Kenyan family and spent the days teaching. My favorite parts were leading worship in English and Swahili, preaching a sermon, walking around the neighborhood with our host sister, and teaching drum lessons. We blessed the music school with new guitar and bass strings. I left my guitar behind. Both sides of Africa were very different! Different languages, climate, seasons, kinds of cows, religions, etc. The same God provided the whole time. I am grateful for my experiences and look forward to going back!
I have had the honor of going to Senegal and working with the Missionary Kids (MKs) in West Africa three times now. This time around I was so blessed to be able to renew relationship with them. One moment that stuck out to me was a brief encounter when we had just gotten to the resort and we were setting up the area that we would be doing the kids program in. As we were setting up, a family walked by the windows on their way to drop their bags off in their room, and I recognized them as one of the families of kids I had gotten to spend quite a bit of time with last time I was there, two and a half years before. Titus (the eldest) made eye contact with me and waved. A few minutes later, all four of the kids were back at the window. They told me how Titus had seen me and I recognized him. They were so excited that I remembered and recognized them, and there I was, so excited that they remembered me! It meant so much to these kids that a team of people would come half way across the world to hang out with them for a week. And when it was someone who wanted to come back, who had gotten to see a small glimpse into their world, and then take their time to return to it, that meant so much to them. Our being there helped remind the MKs of their importance and value. Their parents make a lot of sacrifices to be on the mission field, but so do these kids. But they also have so many experiences that we can not understand, and their world is much bigger because of it. They are amazing kids, and we were so blessed to be a part of their journey, even for a brief time.
Reflecting back on my stay in Africa there were three highlights of my trip that I would like to share.
- In Senegal a few of us did a ropes course in a forest of Baobab trees. It was exciting and a huge accomplishment. Strategizing our feet across the planks was a challenge, knowing that we were many feet above the ground.
- God opened the doors for me to share two personal testimonies with others. The first one was at a ladies event in Nairobi on surrendering to Jesus Christ and on the truth of God’s Word. A week later I was asked to share what praise and worship is for me. I walked away knowing that my Heavenly Father was beside me.
- The last and best highlight was the relationships I made both in Senegal and Kenya. In Senegal, the missionary kids and their families were great and they appreciated my time I gave them. In Kenya, the host mom Dinah provided two meals a day that were very good and cultural. The music program for the kids and adults and teaching them what knowledge I had about chords was heartfelt. My relationships also extended to the kids at the Christian school that I spent most of my time at. I even ate the lunch with them that was served every day.