Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Highlights from 2014 (part 1, Senegal)

We had a pretty big year this year.  From finishing up our first term overseas (including almost a year in Senegal, W. Africa) to driving literally across and around the U.S., it was a busy year with a lot of transition.  The theme was definitely that God is matter what

Ups and downs characterized this year in a major way, with wondering why we had been through so many changes and disappointments with our path to missions.  And although our time in Senegal was rocky and challenging at times, it was marked with a distinct sense of PEACE.  We felt God's hand in our being there and overall didn't struggle with major cultural shock in a the way many people do when transitioning to life in Africa for the first time.
However, that didn't mean we didn't experience stress...cultural, marriage and familial.  And many issues we had just pushed to the side during our time in France had cropped up again and again.  In His faithfulness God provided a godly woman right across the hall in our apartment who also happened to be a counselor who helped us with many parenting strategies and just listened.  Not only that but Daniel and I both were able to meet on a regular basis for counsel and prayer with our Wycliffe friends (who also happened to close...right across the street!).  We were also blessed with friends...both Senegalese friends we were sharing with and expats as well.

During these first few months of 2014 Daniel worked at the Wycliffe/SIL center in Dakar repairing motorcycles and other vehicles.  He enjoyed the work for the most part and learned a lot.  Including....that everything takes SO much more time to get done in Africa!  A wise missionary friend told us that if you get one thing accomplished each day, you should choose to feel good about your day and we try to remind ourselves of that often:)

 One of the major highlights of our first term in Senegal was a visit from the Daniel's parents, George and Karen!  It was so encouraging and fun to introduce them to our life in they blessed us by bringing many care package type gifts from the US from our partners...thank you!

Another fun trip was a family trip up to Beersheba (farming God's SIL project in a nearby town)....we avoided the pythons that live near the lake and met some fun people.  We even got to see a pig escape out of her pen and saw firsthand how to re-capture a pig!  Just today Marianna was asking when we could go back there. 

After a while we started to dream about possibilities outside of Dakar so Daniel spent almost 3 weeks traveling first to the southern part of the Senegal, then the north.

 Daniel with Pastor/teacher Augustine

Later our whole family took a short trip up north, to Richard Toll.  That was a lot of fun and we could definitely see ourselves living up there someday.  We'll see what the future holds!
 Visiting Richard Toll, a village, and celebrating Olivia's 5th birthday (in 110 + heat...but thankfully it was dry heat!)  We loved the area and the people up there though. 
 Louis with new friends and PUPPIES!

The next month we made the trip back to the USA for our first furlough.  Our travels went smoothly (thanks to a lot of prayer!) and we spent a month adjusting in WA state before starting two months of cross country travels to visit friends, family and partners.  It was an exhausting, but worth it, trip.

This fall we starting homeschooling, celebrated my (Rachael's) dad's 60th birthday, attended School Psychology and expositional preaching conferences, Daniel completed a welding course and completed half a dozen home improvement projects (pictures and details to come next post).

Although I am exhausted thinking about this past year, I (and our family) are thankful for the many ways God has provided for us and for the ways difficult things have caused growth and drawn us closer to Him!

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