08/20/2016: A Salaam Aleikum
A Salaam Aleikum
One of the customary greetings in Senegal is a salaam aleikum—“Peace be unto you.” I love this greeting because Jesus used it. In this world full of sin, discouragement and despair, we all need peace in our lives. Our Heavenly Father is the source of that peace!
Even in situations that disturb my peace and test my patience, I can see God’s mercy in giving me the chance to ask, “How am I handling my test?” In my last mission update, I shared about my car accident and how long it was taking to obtain the police report. Before it was all settled, we had to make many, many trips to the police station, and I’ll be honest—it tried my patience. Even so, I saw God’s mercies. For example, when we went to recover our belongings from the totaled vehicle, we found nothing missing except a bag of soap powder and a bar of washing soap. Whoever had stolen the soap had left our solar panel and battery charger, a 25-kilogram bag of rice and a basket of personal belongings. Thank God!
After weeks of frustrating dealings with the police station, we were told we could get the police report from the courthouse. For four months, my husband made futile trips to the courthouse. Then one day he was told to return to the police station. There he was finally given the report—five months after the accident. At last we had the document that would allow us to file an insurance claim. Praise God!
During this time, I heard numerous horror stories about the corruption of the Senegalese bureaucracy. It was a challenge to hold onto the assurance that God had everything under control, but for my own benefit and the benefit of those around me, I kept proclaiming aloud that God knew what was going on. True, corruption here is rampant. Public institutions are ineffective, but God is still God and corruption and ineffective institutions are no match for Him. During times when I had to fight to maintain my confidence in the Lord, I saw how important it is not to let the negative thinking of others affect my own faith.
The test is not over, for we still have frustrating delays to contend with. Yet in this probationary period, God is doing all He can to help us prepare. I have seen much delay in these last months and years but I am sure that it is for my own good. Waiting patiently is difficult but necessary. I strive to keep in mind that my times are in the Father’s hand.
One blessing that has come with time has been an improved relationship with my church sisters in Dakar. When I first arrived here in 2003, the health message was largely ignored and unwelcome. Planning social activities was difficult because the menu nearly always became a source of contention. When we left Africa in 2006, I was happy to go. Even so, I left my heart in Senegal and we ended up coming back three and a half years later.
We have been here about six years now and attitudes are changing. A few more vegetarians have passed through the area and in these last years I have simply made myself available, waiting for people to come to me. Recently, the ladies have begun asking questions. When we put on a women’s retreat last December, they asked me to lead the food committee. After that the group asked me to do a monthly workshop on health and fitness. At the first workshop I kept the topic simple and taught about stretching. The second session included some exercise followed by a cooking class where we prepared lentil burgers, a vegetable seasoning powder and several veggie spreads. The resistance to vegetarian food has diminished, for which I thank the Lord! I desire to see our sisters not only incorporating these dishes in their menus at home, but also sharing them with their neighbors.
There is much work to do inside and outside the church, but all must be done in God’s time and way. Doors are opening all around and in more and more situations I am getting the opportunity to share what God has done for me. Sometimes it surprises me where God leads, but He is showing me that my times are in His hand.
Recently I received a phone call from a school that hires me from time to time to do private tutorials with students who want to practice conversation with a native English speaker. That is how I met Philomene, a university professor. As usual, our conversation turned to God and the soon coming of Jesus. One evening the subject of the Sabbath came up as I was explaining to Philomene why I am not available for Friday classes. As a Catholic she understood the Sabbath to be Sunday, but when I showed her Genesis 2:2, 3, she agreed that the Bible is correct. As our classes have progressed, we have continued discussing religion and the Bible. She told me that she does not agree with several things in her church such as confession and the priests’ vow of chastity, which she said led to the pedophilia scandal. When we started talking about Mary, she said, “Please don’t bother Mary!” Our class period was over, but I told her that we could talk about Mary another time.
Although Philomene has been learning truths that counter what she has been taught since childhood, her attitude is open and positive. As a busy professional, she admits that she does not read her Bible as much as she should, but I sense that she really loves God and wants to please Him. I have been encouraging her to spend more time reading her Bible and communing with the Lord. Please pray that God will give me a mouth and wisdom to lead His lambs gently. Also pray that Philomene will see the truth and one day decide to join God’s people.
Recently, I was visiting a church sister from Zimbabwe who had a friend of her sister’s over. As we were talking, the friend and I decided to exchange phone numbers. To everyone’s surprise, my number was already in her phone. I didn’t know this lady and she didn’t know me, but we finally concluded that someone must have given her my number to call for a massage. To me, it came as a wonderful confirmation of how God takes care of His children, bringing just the right people into our lives. God is so good, and He is more than worthy to be praised.
Please pray for Senegal. It has been a peaceful country, but the enemy is sowing seeds of aggression and hate. A constitutional referendum is coming and the opposition has been very vocal and even violent. Terrorist attacks have occurred in neighboring countries and some speculate that it is only a matter of time before Senegal is affected. Thank you for your prayers and may God not only protect us but also save us in His Kingdom.
By Deborah Ndione. firstname.lastname@example.org. Support for this project may be sent to Mission Projects International, PO Box 59656, Renton, WA 98058, marked “Senegal.” To donate online, visit www.missionspro.org.