My dad always told me to pay attention to the little things because they pile up. I don’t think it’s had the desired affect but the advise has always stuck with me. That advise came to mind when I was thinking about the stress of adjustments to life in Dakar. There are hundreds of things in a day that are different or happen differently then they would back in Maryland. I’m a product of living in the United States for 28 years so I am used to life being a certain way. When so many details of life are suddenly changed, they pile up fast.
A big part of what I want to do here in Africa, is communicate to you back at home what is happening and why its happening. When I write newsletters, I will be writing about the highlights. Those hundreds of little (but somehow significant) adjustments that are piling up will never make it into a newsletter. one of the principles I want to communicate through this article is that these little things are not bad, just different, with the proper outlook that is. Cathren and I have compiled a list after our first month, of things that are a small or interesting change from life as we knew it. Enjoy and feel free to ask us questions.
1. Bumpers on cars are used for what they are titled.
2. We drink whole milk but it tastes like milk flavored water.
3. Rice rice rice rice rice.
4. No AC. Stand up fans to me are like R2-D2 was to Luke Skywalker.
5. Our kids barely ever wear more then their diapers.
6. Line drying your clothes makes for some crunchy clothes.
7. Peanut butter IS all natural, DOES need to be stirred and does NOT taste like candy
8. Our children sit in our laps when we take taxi drives (our main mode of transportation)
9. From the back of a taxi you can buy cell phone and internet minutes, water, fruit, clocks, rugs, sunglasses, shoes, nuts, newspaper ect.
10. Dirt and dust everywhere always. floors should be mopped daily.
11. We sweat when we wake up and we sweat when we go to bed.
12. We have gotten lazy but all of us were taking 2 or 3 baths/showers a day.
13. A hamburger is served with an egg and fries on it.
16. There are palm trees (I know, an adjustment for sure)
17. Nobody needs micro-waves messing with their brains. We use a gas powered stove and oven lit with a match to heat anything up.
18. People are generally nice (not like short term missions trip nice but just regular niceness)
19. # 18 may be due to the fact that everyone assumes your filthy rich.
20. Small change (which you need for most daily expenses) is hard to get.
21. We manually load six, 3 gallon buckets of water into our wash machine for one load.
22. Most churches here follow the same order of service as a typical church in states.
23. Mangos taste so much better here.
24. The bats outside our windows at night have a 2 foot wingspan.
25. We have classmates from Hong Kong that don’t speak English (They are so much fun though)
26. It’s hard being in the city all the time with no way of leaving (for now).
27. Men typically do not wear tank-tops. Its offensive to the dominant religion to show their shoulders.
28. Being approached by street kids asking for money whenever we are out is a hard reality.
29. walking out into traffic may be the only way you will ever get across some streets.
30. Sleeping under a mosquito net. Extra hot!
31. Cold showers! But who cares when all you do is sweat all day.
32 The hardest adjustment so far has been coming to grips with the fact that most of the world views Americans like this……
There are other things that are to complicated to even put in words but you can see how these can pile up. But you know what? Anytime I catch myself feeling sorry for myself over one of these or all of these, I just think about all that Christ let go of to be a baby human on planet earth for His name sake and for my sake. I mean, the God that arranged all the galaxies in outer space and keeps the planets spinning, the God that hates sin but loves us in a way that we cant fully understand right now; that God manifested Himself in human form. Willingly. So that I could know His name and know him personally. When we see that, we stop caring about heat, weird food and crazy taxi drives. God has a plan to redeem and set things right. He achieved that through Christ and now He’s using the church to communicate it to the world. Life as we all know it will someday come to an end and eternity will start. I don’t think anyone will be thinking about the word “adjustments” in Heaven or Hell and I sure don’t want little adjustments to hold me back from whats best while God has us here on this side of eternity.