Friday, October 7, 2011

2 Years in Senegal…and counting…

[Note: This post was written toward the end of August, during Ramadan.]

August 13, 2011 marked my 2 year anniversary in Senegal.  That day was just like any other day here – I went out to 4 different villages and visited farmers; I was stopped by several different people along the way who were curious to see an white person out biking in the bush but who were all very friendly; I talked with the host father of a previous PCV who had lived in a village nearby (because he had sent me a letter to deliver to them) and heard him reminisce about those “good ol’ days” when the PCV had been his “son”; and when I was almost home, I ran into a few different friends and colleagues, and it was nice to catch up with all of them.  While I was fasting that day, I was really tired when I got home (since it was almost 5pm and I have left at 8am!), so I drank some water before taking my normal bucket bath.  Then I did some work on my computer and relaxed a little before breaking the fast at 7:30.  After breaking the fast, I sat outside with my host family for a while like I often do if I don’t have to do some work on my computer, and chatted and messed around with the kids.  A few of my host nieces are here for their summer vacation (they live in Dakar), so it was fun to talk with the kids about how different life is depending on where you live – but also have similar it is for kids everywhere.  After dinner, I went to bed without a thought to how long I had been in Senegal…

It wasn’t until the following afternoon that something triggered my memory and I realized that the previous day had been my 2 year anniversary in Senegal.  It surprised me because of how fast it seems to have gone – and yet it also surprised me in that it also feels like it has been at least a decade if not a quarter century since I left Minnesota for Senegal.  I have a lot I could say about these past 2 years, and perhaps someday I will write it all down (I’ve obviously written some stuff down – on my blog and in my journal) but for now I’m going to blame a lack of more thorough evaluation and analysis of the past 2 years on limited time (it is the rainy season after all!), reduced energy (I’m fasting remember), and a current inability to really muster up the motivation to take a thorough look at how these past 2 years have been, perhaps because I’m having a hard time actually acknowledging that my 2 years in Kaymor are almost over.  Someday, though, Inch’Allah (God willing), I will.

One thing I can say right now is that my faith in Jesus Christ has been absolutely essential in supporting me these past 2 years.  And the following prayers are just an example of the kinds of prayers I say on a daily basis, and they, with God’s faithful hand, have been an enormous blessing to me the past 2 years – and I have no doubt they will continue to be well into the future, down whatever path God leads me.

The Prayer of St. Francis

Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy.

O Heavenly Father, grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console,
To be understood as to understand,
To be loved as to love;
For it is in giving that we receive,
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
And it is dying to self that we are born to eternal life.


The following three prayers are from “Forward Day by Day”, a manual of daily Bible readings and devotions that is published quarterly by Forward Movement, an agency of the Episcopal church (

For Today
O God:
Give me strength to live another day;
Let me not turn coward before its difficulties or prove recreant to its duties;
Let me not lose faith in other people;
Keep me sweet and sound of heart, in spite of ingratitude, treachery, or meanness;
Preserve me from minding little stings or giving them;
Help me to keep my heart clean, and to live so honestly and fearlessly that no outward failure can dishearten me or take away the joy of conscious integrity;
Open wide the eyes of my soul that I may see good in all things;
Grant me this day some new vision of thy truth;
Inspire me with the spirit of joy and gladness; and make me the dup of strength to suffering souls; in the name of the strong Deliverer, our only Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.


O Thou who givest visions to them that praise Thee, give us also the courage to make our dreams come true.  Help us to know that the ideal cannot evade us forever; that it is knocking at the door, wondrously fair, wondrously practical, an urgent pressure upon us, hungering to be made real. (1944)


A Morning Resolve
I will try this day to live a simple, sincere, and serene life, repelling promptly every thought of discontent, anxiety, discouragement, impurity, and self-seeking; cultivating cheerfulness, magnanimity, charity, and the habit of holy silence; exercising economy in expenditure, generosity in given, carefulness in conversation, diligence in appointed service, fidelity to every trust, and a childlike faith in God.
In particular I will try to be faithful in those habits of prayer, work, study, physical exercise, eating and sleep which I believe the Holy Spirit has shown me to be right. 
And as I cannot in my own strength do this, nor even with a hope of success attempt it, I look to thee, O Lord God my Father, in Jesus my Savior, and ask for the gift of the Holy Spirit.

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