Sometimes, people ask me what my life is like here in West Africa. You know what? It’s a lot like your life. I wake up in the morning. I get my kids to school (tardy, most days). My husband goes to work and I go to my version of work. In the afternoon, I pick my husband up from work, pick my kids up from school, drop by the “grocery” store for veggies etc., make dinner, chat with my family, do bedtime with my kids and go to sleep. I’ve lived in a lot of different places and this daily routine doesn’t vary much, no matter where we are.
But, in between these “regular” things, there’s a life lived that is different.
Two or three mornings a week, I go to one-on-one language class. I’m trying to learn Tamajeq … or is it Tamajaq … I don’t know. Everyone has a different opinion on that, even the Tamajeq speakers. Anyhow, this is the second language I’m attempting to learn in as many years. Crazy? Yes. A little stupid? Probably. But, I love it. I am honored to have the opportunity to learn this beautiful language and, maybe even better than learning to speak, I am also learning to read and write in the old Shifinagh script. It is beautiful and not something many Westerners ever have the chance to do. I’m very honored to know that I’ll be one of the few Westerners in the world to have this skill. Oh, how I wish I could immerse myself in the learning of this language … and, one day, in a few years, I will…but for now, I am content with the few hours a week in which I make funny sounds and frustrate my teacher because of my lack of progress.
Two afternoons a week, I teach a “medical” English class. Sometimes we actually do medical-type of things … but this last few sessions, we’ve been sidetracked with each student presenting about their specific ethnic group. Again – how lucky am I!?!?! To get to learn first hand from people from six different people groups the things that they feel are interesting and important about their people. Did you know that women in certain ethnic groups cannot purchase prepared meat on the street? Or eat in public, for that matter? Or whistle? And did you know that it’s important to wake up on the right side, not the left? (I think something is lost in translation here … I’m pretty sure what was trying to be said was that it’s important to get up on the right side of the bed, not the left). There’s more … but let’s just say that the opportunity to teach this class is also a huge honor and I’m pretty sure it blesses me more than it blesses my students!
One morning a week, I go to a friend’s house and she patiently teaches me to cook for my family in the Hausa style … outside, over an open fire with ingredients that are available at the market for a few dollars. We make delicious food … and I’ve been surprised at how similar the recipes all are. Next on the cooking docket is for me to learn Tuareg (or Tamajaq or Tamajeq) cooking style. I’m kind of waiting for our guard’s family to move in for this adventure, simply because it will be convenient to have my teacher right in my own yard. 😊 I do have another friend who is willing to teach me … but we haven’t figured out a day that works for both of us. Maybe I’ll start alternating weeks between these two friends.
Another morning each week, I do a bible study with a small group of new / seeking believers. I love this opportunity to get to speak into their lives … and am amazed each time at how God gives me the words even when I don’t know them.
Oh! I almost forgot. I’m also slowly working on a curriculum for a new nursing and midwifery school that will hopefully open in October. Soon, this will become my focus and I’ll be unbelievably busy over the coming months with this project.
Weekends … we don’t really have weekends here. For instance, tomorrow, we’re going out to a village. Someone has asked me to check on a baby and mama at a village about 15 miles away. The check will take 30-60 minutes … but we have to be prepared to stay longer. It’s likely that by the time we get there, check the baby, and greet everyone that it will be time for the lunch meal … and it would be rude for us not to stay if invited … so it’s likely we’ll be gone a good part of the day. But, as always, I count myself extremely lucky to be invited into peoples’ homes into their lives, so I will give up my Saturday with joy to see this family and look for ways to speak truth with them. Oh, tomorrow night, there’s a concert that we want to go to. Otherwise, we’d have friends over for tea and music in the evening.
Sunday. Church in the morning. Tamajeq in the afternoon. Church in the evening. Tea in between. This Sunday, we’ve been asked to meet with a group of people who have a lot of questions about Jesus. We’ll try to answer them. This is likely to turn into a weekly meeting.
And then we’ll do it all over again. There is so much more interspersed in the week. So many cups of tea. So many sweet conversations. So many memory cards given out. So many hushed conversations with those who are seeking truth. So much parenting and wife-ing.
Despite the things in the middle that are so different, in the end, my life is so much like yours and I love that we have that connection.