Tea, Rice, and Worship: Our Second Month in Senegal
Have you ever heard of "broken rice"?
The name quite literally explains what it is. Broken rice is a fragment of rice.
And it is one of the most common forms of rice eaten here in Senegal. It is softer than "unbroken" rice and picks up the flavors of accompanying spices and sauces beautifully.
(The broken Rice used in Senegal.)
Recently, as we wrapped up our time with a short-term mission trip here in Dakar, our pastor's wife used a small piece of broken rice to make an analogy.
We were at the end of our time together and this music-centric team (from Kansas City) joined together for one final meal with members of our local church.
It was there in that setting that our pastor's wife picked up a small piece of broken rice and set it in the hand of another lady in the room. As she backed away from the rice, she explained (in her heart language of Portuguese) that this small piece of rice reminded her of our time together with this team of musicians from Kansas City.
While the team was with us, we had a beautiful Sunday morning church service together where worship leaders from KC and Dakar led our congregation in worship together - and in FIVE different languages.
That worship service was what that small piece of rice reminded her of.
Because, like that piece of rice, that church service was a small taste of something much bigger:
The Kingdom of God.
And she was right. That service together was a small glimpse of God's Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. It was beautiful.
As our family begins our third month here in Senegal, we have experienced both highs and low - wonderful memories as well as frustrations. And yet, we have caught new glimpses of God's Kingdom in all of it.
You could say that we have found "broken rice" on a continual basis.
January was quite an eventful month for our family as we continue to learn about our new country home, new church, and new ministry roles here in West Africa.
Here are a few of the main happenings for our family over the last few weeks:
- Africa West Field Team Meetings: We spent three days with our West Africa team here in Dakar. This team consists of 15 missionaries who represent 10 different nationalities and are serving throughout the various countries in West Africa. During this time together we were able to celebrate how God has been at work in West Africa, grow together as a team, and vision cast for the upcoming 5 years. It was also a special time for our family as we were able to meet and spend time with our new boss, Rev. Moise.
- Worship and Witness Team: We helped host a mission trip focused on music ministry here in Senegal. This is the team mentioned above, which was a very unique experience. Our approach was that there was one worship team - consisting of members from both Kansas City and Dakar. So throughout their week together, these worship leaders from two different countries jammed out, learned from each other, recorded songs, and led worship together during our Sunday morning service. (Here's a clip of the team.)
- Zane turned 9 months old: Our growing boy is becoming more mobile by the day as he is learning how to walk (and reach everything in our house)!
- Welcoming a new missionary: We have had the opportunity to help welcome a new missionary, Luke, from the USA as he begins serving here in Senegal too. While we are still learning a lot ourselves, we are getting the opportunity to share what we have learned with him (and learn together with him too!).
- Attaya with our landlord: Jeremy received an invitation recently to enjoy some attaya tea with our landlord, Mr. Thiam. This is not a quick process (learn more here) - it can take hours to fully complete - and was quite a humbling opportunity to spend time with Mr. Thiam. He even gave Jeremy an impromptu French lesson as they watched the tea being made.
In the midst of these highlights, we have also learned more about the Senegalese culture (thanks to our church family, landlord, and local corner store workers), hit "full-speed" on our job responsibilities, and are working on getting registered for French classes (which is tricky with a nine-month old!).
As we wrap up this update, here are two prayer requests you can partner with us in praying about:
- French Classes: Pray that we would find the right fit (time/location/frequency) for both of us (Reetu and Jeremy) to begin French classes soon. While we are picking up words and phrases in everyday life - we have a lot to learn!
- Nigeria: As a part of our Africa West Field team meetings, one of the main focuses of our five-year vision is in ministry in the country of Nigeria. With about 370 million people in West Africa, half of that population resides in Nigeria. Join us in praying for this increased work of local church leaders and missionaries throughout Nigeria in the months and years to come as we seek - together - to transform communities and the country with the love of Jesus Christ.
Thank you for joining with us as we serve the Church here in West Africa! We greatly appreciate your partnership and how you are supporting these stories being written throughout this part of the African continent.
And we hope you find "small pieces of rice" that are glimpses of God's Kingdom in your life this upcoming month as well.
We love you!
-Zane, Reetu, and Jeremy