"Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread"
We were sitting together under an outdoor shelter as the goats bleated around us and the wind swept sand-dense air across our faces. The wind was strong enough to leave me (Jeremy) questioning if the pain on my face was from a burn via the sun or the wind.
Sitting together enduring this wind was a team from the United States and an ever-growing number of church members, children, and neighbors from the small village we were visiting in Senegal. We were greeted by about a dozen people when we arrived and were saying goodbye to over 30 people by the time we loaded back up in our vehicles a short time later.
Our time together consisted of sharing several songs with each other and lots (I mean lots) of dancing. The children of the church there in that village completely schooled us in dancing as they showed us how they worshipped both with their voices and their feet.
As we wrapped up our time together that afternoon, the pastor of that local church slipped off to a neighbor's house and returned holding a plate with something that looked like some type of grain or quinoa.
He slowly walked by each member of the US team and showed them the contents of the plate as he began to speak:
"This is the main food here in this village. People will eat this - fonio - breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Everyday. And they will hope and pray that they were able to grow and collect enough fonio during the growing season to keep from going hungry until the next harvest. When they pray "give us this day our daily bread" this is what they are praying for."
"When they pray 'Give us this day our daily bread' this is what they are praying for."
Now I've prayed the Lord's Prayer a countless number of times. As a pastor's kid, it kind of came with the territory of things to know.
But I can't think of many times in my young life when I have prayed "give us this day our daily bread" and actually meant it.
Think about it, when we pray that part of the Lord's Prayer we often do so with kitchens full of food to cover any craving or need for several weeks.
But for our brothers and sisters in this village, it was a prayer of true need and reliance on God.
Their relationship with God is one that is based on faith on a daily basis.
And this is the way we should be living right? Hebrews 11 is full of accounts of the heroes of our faith. And their "success" for God was not what they accomplished of their own power and strength - but rather what they did by faith.
That is how we are called to live - by faith.
Living in full dependence on God.
For our family, we are finding ourselves learning lessons like this one on a constant basis as we are encouraged and challenged by our brothers and sisters in the faith here in West Africa.
As we are learning from our church family here how to live more fully in dependence of God, here are other lessons and happenings we experienced over the last month:
- Construction Mission Trip: We had the opportunity to host another short-term mission trip here in Senegal during the month of February. This team (from Trevecca Community Church) was focused on construction and helped us complete several projects improving and adding to our local church and ministry training center here in Dakar. For some of the team members, it was their third mission trip to Senegal! Because of their partnership, the Senegalese Church will be able to grow their discipleship and leadership training programs in the months and years to come.
- Agricultural Training: One great opportunity that our mission trip had this month was to visit a Senegalese pastor who has gone through agricultural training and is working towards growing his farm to self-sustaining status so that he can continue to serve as a bivocational church planter. Your support is helping this pastor continue his evangelism and discipleship in a village which has no other church present.
- Softball Tournament: Jeremy had the opportunity to compete in a 3-day softball tournament in Dakar and his team won their (recreational) division championship! Reetu and Zane enjoyed the games, food, and playground at the softball field - and Zane became friends with every toddler at the tournament!
- Eating Senegalese Style: During a visit to a friend's home, we were blessed with the opportunity to share a meal together. And not just any meal, it was our favorite Senegalese meal: Poulet Yassa (translation: Chicken with Onion Sauce). It is a heavenly dish consisting of a bed of broken rice covered in sautéed onions, peppers, potatoes, vegetables, sauce, and deliciously prepared chicken. While we were eating together out of one large platter, our host friend shared with us how to eat together out of one dish Senegalese style. Everyone eats the food that is closest to them in the plate by imagining your share is a triangle "slice of pie" in front of you. If you would like something more, like chicken, you can cut off a piece from what is in the middle of the plate but you shouldn't enter anyone else's triangle. If you don't want something or want to share with others, you push the item out of your triangle and into the middle of the plate. It is a good representation, our friend explained, of the Senegalese culture where everyone shares with each other and makes sure everyone is provided for. (It also exemplifies how greediness can directly impact others.)
- Farmer's Market: We visited the Dakar Farmer's Market for the first time this month, where we found a large variety of locally grown and crafted items from across Senegal. We were able to get some locally raised beef from a Christian agriculture project here in Senegal along with Senegalese peanut butter, honey, and salsa! The Farmer's Market takes place in the shadow of the tallest statue in Africa: The African Renaissance Monument.
- Making Attaya: Some friends at church allowed Jeremy to help prepare attaya (learn about it here) for the first time. It is a multi-step process that ended up with Jeremy having a lot of tea on his hand (it requires a steady hand apparently). The process was a fun time to learn from several of the young adults in the church about an important part of Senegalese culture.
- Zane Veer: Zane is now starting to walk everywhere! From following his parents around the apartment to chasing new friends at the park, he is quickly becoming more and more mobile.
If there is one thing we have learned this month it is this: we still have a lot to learn. And we also have learned that we have some pretty wonderful teachers here in West Africa.
May we all continue to learn and continue to grow in dependence on God.
May we each live our lives "by faith" alone.
-Jeremy (& Reetu and Zane)
p.s. - Our shipping crate of belongings finally arrived to Dakar (only two months delayed at this point)!!! Thank you so much for your prayers as we have been hoping for it's arrival.