Once again, we are back at Massa Massa hotel in Thies after another two days in the villages. We said our goodbyes to Charles and Docor, two of our translators, whom we will not see again before we leave. It was sad to do so since we have grown very fond of them. We also said goodbye to Josh, a Kenyan university student from the Toronto area, and Adeline, a young woman who also studies in Canada.
These last two days were once again simply amazing. On Wednesday, most of the team went shopping for a bit in the artisan market of Thies for a bit before heading out to the village. In the meantime, Pastor Mike, Nick and Elke were picked up by Docor and Malik, one of the drivers, in a four-wheel drive vehicle. We headed out to Tattaguine, where the Edelman and Speliopoulos families have sponsored World Vision children.
After a briefing by the World Vision staff, we were guided to the government official of the Tattaguine area to meet with him. Another stop took us to the regional president's office, where we met with his representative. He thanked us for coming and pleaded with us to please sponsor more children, as it was desperately needed and the results were visible. Finally, we were taken to see the children, but not before signing codes of conduct and meeting with the respective village chiefs (Tattaguine ADP exists of 15 villages). The meetings with our two girls and their families were sweet as we visited the families' homes and exchanged gifts.
We took our leave from there and drove 1 1/2 hours straight through the African bush to meet the others in the village - quite the experience as the sand roads are tricky to maneuver, and Malik drove at a rather high speed.
The team was getting ready to play with about 600 kids at the school, doing relay races, playing duck-duck-goose and other games, and giving out snacks. Pastor Mike and Elke drove with Pastor A and D.T. to another village, where the mosquito nets donated by Calvary Fellowship Church were handed out to the families after a brief ceremony and Pastor Mike once again sharing the love of Christ with them in explanation and prayer. The village of N is the town adopted by Providence Church, who could not go to Senegal this year, and where the overflow of the mosquito nets (thanks to the generosity of the people of CFC) went.
Back in our village, we enjoyed another fabulous meal cooked by Pastor A's wife and some of the other women. To eat, you sit on a big mat on the floor in circles of six and eat with spoons out of a communal large flat bowl. To be polite, you eat an imaginary pie slice in front of you and build a rice/pasta/couscous wall to your neighbor while doing so. Meats and vegetables are in the center and can be flicked to you or others. It is quite fun! After dinner, another evangelistic movie was shown.
The following morning began with our regular daily devotion, worship and prayer time after breakfast. From there, we were leaving for the baptismal font in the vegetable garden, when we noticed our driver, beating the floor in the women's room feverishly with a broom. Turns out there was a live scorpion in the room where we had slept on the floor on mats!
The baptism was a sweet time of communion of one body of Christ, as Michel, one of the village church elders, took turns with Pastor Mike to baptize nine people: three from CFC (Anna, Denise and Nick), five from Baback, plus Josh, our Kenyan co-laborer. A sweet time of singing and fellowshipping, as we watched our brothers and sisters in Christ express their faith through sharing their testimony and becoming baptized. The testimonies of the young people being baptized were wonderful to listen to, as several came from Muslim families. Some had walked by church, heard the singing, and had asked their parents to be able to attend. Another girl had seen the movie the night before and trusted Christ. Pastor A speaks with the families of younger people to make sure they are okay with this step.
Before lunch, we had a ceremony to hand out the mosquito nets, again with Pastors A and Mike sharing the Gospel and praying. The village chief Chief , was there as well, and it was wonderful to see him again. Lunch brought more excellent cooking, and then it was on to the school to present the toothbrushes, toothpastes and soaps we had brought with us, given by the children and families of Conestoga Christian School. The school director was very grateful for this gift and thanked us profusely. In all the times when we passed out the things we had brought with us, the reaction was one of sincere gratitude and thanks to God.
The remainder of the afternoon was spent walking the village, visiting with some of the namesakes and dropping off gifts. What a joy to see the families of in their compounds and to play with the children there. We prayed with some of the families, especially one where there was a newborn infant who had not even been named yet. Finally, it was time to take leave, but not before stopping at Pastor A's house and thank his wife and all the women there for the wonderful cooking they had done for us. We waved goodbye to the hundreds of children and drove off across the dusty sand roads, back to Thies.
Arrived in Thies meant saying goodbye to our translators at the MIS office. Another surprise awaited us at the hotel, where Sheri was waiting for us and had dinner with us. The hotel is very nice, and we enjoyed yet another wonderful meal. After showers, it was time to hit our soft beds in our air-conditioned rooms!
As we begin our final day in Senegal, we will be debriefing with the MIS staff here in Thies and then head back toward Dakar for some shopping or sightseeing, depending on any election disruptions (a lot of demonstrations may be taking place). We will be boarding our plane in the VERY early morning (more night than morning, actually...) and should arrive in Washington, DC, in the early morning US time. We are then heading back to Calvary, where we hope to arrive before noon.
Pray for us as we enter our last day here and then fly back. We so very much appreciate all your prayers! God clearly has kept us safe while here. We all are sad to leave as you cannot help but love the people of Senegal. May God richly increase His kingdom here in this part of His world.