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The Rest of my Life

My time in West Africa has changed me. It wasn’t just being in a different land, or a different culture. It was because the friends that I met there treated me like family, and family shapes who you are.

Our TREK team spent time learning about the traditional ways of the Wodaabe people group, and that impacted me. But beyond that, I came to know and love them as my brothers and sisters in Christ. There were many ways in which this bond was formed. 

For example, there was a local pastor with whom some of us were living. Like a wise father, he opened our eyes to dream bigger. When he shared his own vision for his city, I prayed for his passion to rub off on me. Learning from him, I went from being asleep to waking up. 

At another point, one of the young men who considered me to be his sister approached me with a surprising request. “You are my older sister,” he told me solemnly. “In our culture, it falls to you to find me a wife. Will you do that?” Swallowing my smile, I respectfully suggested that he might want to pray about that, and trust God to provide. 

Being family meant that sometimes I gave, and sometimes I needed to receive. As a teacher by profession, I was welcomed into homes to do tutoring in English and piano. My students, however, then became my teachers as they worked to improve my French. 

The closer we became, the more I cared about them all. Sometimes that was hard. One young man I came to know is a youth leader in his church. When he shared with me his plans to put on a Christian concert during the annual camel races – an event almost exclusively attended by Muslims – and to venture into the bush to reach other Wodaabe with the Gospel, I was moved with both admiration and concern. He would be risking his life to make Jesus known. Would I lose this brother, having just met him? Since coming back to North America, we have communicated almost every day. 

I don’t know how to describe everything that happened to me in Africa. I just know that I want to do this for the rest of my life. 

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