Prayer is very important. When you move to a new place, getting to know people there can help you feel at home. And because of those two reasons, when I heard that last Saturday evening there was going to be an evening of prayer at my new church here for the “young people,” I decided to go. (Here, I haven’t heard their definition of “young people.” At my church in my other West African country it was supposed to be for anyone from about ages 18-70. How many of you qualify for/like that definition of “young people?”) 🙂
They said that this prayer time was going to start at 5:00 and including the breaking of a fast, so that everyone should bring some snack food. I didn’t end up totally fasting, but decided I could still pray. 🙂 I also decided that I’d try taking public transportation there, since I had taken it home from church but never to church, so I needed to learn how/where to catch the bus on the way there. It was a new adventure, but I got a bus. Between walking to the bus stop, waiting for the bus, and the bus making lots of stops, it took me about a little under an hour to get there instead of the 15 minutes it takes in a taxi, but at least it only cost 40 cents instead of $3. I had planned for 45 minutes, so I was a bit late. But it’s Africa, so there were others who were later than me.
I had come with expectations that it would be similar to how it would run in my other country. There, such an evening would include prayer, worship, and teaching. Instead, there was prayer and worship, but no teaching. Interesting. And the songs – some I had known before, but of those, most I hadn’t sung for at least two years. It was wonderful to sing them again, but it took brainwork to remember some of the lyrics! (No, we didn’t have hymnals or lyrics on a powerpoint or anything, though they do often have lyrics on powerpoint at Sunday services here – it’s great!) The other songs, probably over half, I had never heard before, or at least never heard before in French. But through listening and lipreading I was able to pick up some of the words and try to sing along at least on the choruses. Now in the future those songs will become more comfortable and worshipful as I know better what I’m singing!
If you paid close attention to what I wrote above, you’ll notice that I gave you the starting time of the evening, but not the ending time. That’s all we were given as well. My assumption was that we might eat our snacks to break the fast at 6:00, or maybe 6:30. But we didn’t. By 6:45 we were still praying and singing, but by that time I was looking at my watch more than looking to the Lord, so I decided it was time to go. Besides, I didn’t want to be out too long past dark, and my roommate and I had plans to go and introduce ourselves to our new neighbors that evening. So I slipped out and started home.
This time, I took the little bus instead of the big bus. On my way to church someone had advised me to wait for the big bus since it would be faster, but it was slow enough that I was willing to take my chances on the little bus, which I hadn’t remembered taking quite so long when I had taken it home before. I hopped inside, paid the “little bus” cheaper fare of only 30 cents, and made it home so much faster – 15/20 minutes in the bus, followed by a 15 minute walk. I think I’m a fan of the little buses! But it’s all a learning experience.
Yes, it’s all a learning experience. That’s one of the problems of moving into a new culture – everything is a learning experience, which is draining and can be exhausting. Oh, and there’s also the new language, the getting-to-know-your-way-around and the getting-to-know-your-neighbors, the new culture (I got a phone call this morning – was he trying to cancel Wolof lessons today or not? I didn’t know!), etc. Oh, and add to that the other projects you may have to do besides just “live.” 🙂 And, of course, the wanting to show Him to those around you, though you don’t exactly know what that looks like in this new “world.” It can (and has been!) exhausting, but God is good and now I am starting to see little pieces of progress, like this trip to church last Saturday evening.
Thank you so much for your continued prayers for me and for what He is doing in and through me here. (There are days that I feel like there’s a lot more going on in me than through me, but I guess that’s a choice He gets to make.) I know that I couldn’t be here, doing what He’s called me to do in this in-between time, without so many of you standing beside me. So thank you!!