Life is eye opening.
I find myself in the newest, weirdest normal ever.
I have lunch by one of the world’s only pink lakes.
I buy eggs from a man who carries numerous plates of them on his head.
I stood in a room where the president of Senegal once welcomed many of the other African presidents.
I live two minutes from the Atlantic Ocean.
I eat the ominous puffer fish, locally called “lotte”, regularly. and French Fries. Lots of French Fries.
Bissap juice, ataya tea, wax print, boutique, guardian… all new words that make up my new vocabulary.
My girls attend school with kids from 18 other nations. Their teachers ask me things like “When you say truck, what exactly will you be driving?” because she is thinking semi not a pickup.
I brush red dust off everything.
I can sit with an American friend in Senegal at a French patisserie while greeting the guard in my baby Wolof greetings and saying hello to an English speaking Lebanese store owner sitting in the cafe while walking past a Belgian family vacationing nearby.
I plan out malaria medications by counting pills, writing down all our weights, calling a doctor in the United States, sending the prescription to an overseas medical shipping company, and waiting 3-4 weeks for it to arrive.
I give myself pedicures not for relaxation or fun but because if I don’t, my feet will be permanently stained with the desert sands.
I check the bread at the Casino grocery store for mold before buying it… because no one buys sliced bread here. like no one. so it sits on the shelf for days.
I pray for friends who need water, hear about worms in river water that cause blindness, see begging boys run barefoot across the hot pavement, and live surrounded by great poverty.
I buy one box of cereal and spend more than most make in one whole day of hard, back breaking labor.
I wrestle with the realities of haves and have nots.
I see the benefits of our being here yet still feel the daily striving to fit somewhere.
I still daily do things that tell me I’m a missionary mom.
I hear the whispers of fears and opinions about the latest news.
I wonder what the day will hold each day as we open up our gate.
I wish I could tell you all the fun details about the little interactions we have each day. So much happens between the normal everyday experiences.
The conversation at the market or the prayer for our vegetable lady or hearing our neighbors speak Wolof together… one a believer and the other not… just because we are here the two are meeting for the first time.
It is all eye opening because I’m realizing how big and how vast and how great and how diverse and how amazing our world really is.
That a society can function in broken down vehicles, animals running free, trash flying around, meals that take 2 or 3 hours to eat, tea that takes even longer to drink, dust making the air heavy and 100 other things that remind me I live in a new culture.
And big smiles, happy faces, joyful laughing, welcoming embraces… all in the midst of great struggle.
It is something… this new normal.
I don’t see anything the same.
And I’ve only lived outside my passport country for 16 months… Imagine another 18 months… and the many years after that.
I can’t imagine walking into Walmart.
I can’t imagine buying roast beef.
I can’t fathom a true fast food meal from Wendy’s.
I don’t remember what it feels like to really fit in and belong somewhere… somewhere with roots and depth.
Driving? Fast? On the highway? Me? Without huge toppling salt trucks or cows crossing or slow taxis trying to pass the cows and slow trucks? With motor bikes zipping by?
Do those things even exist? Did I ever do that?
This newbie stage will seemingly last forever… yet I feel like we’ve accomplished so much that we must at least be senior newbies, right?
And then the next eye opening thing occurs and I get slapped in the face with the whole newbie thing one more time.
When little French words fly out before English words and 5,000 cfa seems like a great price to pay for American Cheerios.
And seeing the words “gluten free” on that box of Cheerios… the font a little bit different on the logo or the coloring seeming a bit more yellow… and thinking, “Life is flowing by back at home… and I’m not there to see it.”
Yes, those are eye opening moments. Big doses of a new reality.
Seeing the world differently, feeling differently, carrying myself differently.
Wondering what God is doing in all of this.
The real side of missions. The guts of it all. From the inside out. The goal of life long missions work… being boots that are not only ON the ground but also plan to STAY on the ground. That is an eye opening, life changing, thought provoking process.
One I find myself smack dab in the middle of.
Eyes being opened in the slowness of language studying, culture learning, newbie living.
Eyes being opened as stereotypes diminish while differences become highlighted.
A weird, ironic place to be.
Eye opening, really.
God is doing something in this world and I feel like I have a front row seat.
He for sure is doing something in my heart.
Holding on tight for the stop and go, hurry up and wait craziness of it all.
With eyes wide open.