Friday, February 3, 2012

We're Not in Kansas Anymore

We'd had a long, tiring layover in Dakar, Senegal, where I was propositioned by an unseemly character within the first half hour of arriving in the country. He loved me, or so he said. All I knew for sure was that his breath smelled like alcohol and I wanted him to stop kissing my hand as quickly as possible or I was going to have to violate my nice Christian girl manners and smack the man on his own turf. That's not a good way for a foreign visitor to begin relations with a new country, but an old girl has to do what she has to do to stay safe, and besides, I was merely passing through, trying to get to Guinea Bissau where God had adventures waiting for us.

As that third and final flight began its descent over Bissau, 26 hours after I had left my home in Charlotte, NC, I knew without a doubt I was entering another world when my scoping of the landscape from the air turned up a few grass roofed huts and . . . no, really? . . . those enormous termite mounds that I've known about since grade school from National Geographic tv specials in the 50's and 60's. Considering the size of some of them, I wouldn't be surprised if they could be seen from the International Space Station. Whew! I've always heard that ants are industrious, but these guys are world class builders!

Getting processed through the tiny airport was an adventure in itself, as we were apparently the only ones entering the country that day who had been forced by international bureaucratic red tape to arrive in this third world nation without visas in our hands. Arrangements had been made, monies had been sent, and contacts had been confirmed, but certain gear ratios within government systems can become mysteriously jammed by the smallest particle of debris and create clankings and grindings that are most unpleasant if one is expecting a well-oiled machine. Such was the case with our efforts at moving from the customs window to the front door of the airportina (aka very small airport) with our passports in our hands. Ah well, a little prayer, a lot of patience, and an hour later and everything was ironed out, so it was all good and we were all still happy. On our first step out into the land of the cashew tree, it was hard not to notice the goats in the road. I mean, I've seen a lot of goats in my life, but never in the road in front of an airport. Yes, Toto, we definitely were not in Kansas anymore.

The second clue was the little girl with the bananas on her head. In my country we don't see things like that, and I was so impressed with her ability to carry a tray of fruit and nuts on her head under the hot sun while dodging goats, not to mention feeling compassion for her need to be in such a place doing such a thing, that I pretty much begged our host to buy some bananas and peanuts for us, which he did. Never mind that I hadn't washed my hands with actual soap since 3 countries ago; I gobbled down that miniature banana and was amazed to discover that it had a delicious citrusy flavor. And peanuts never tasted so good. Long before I got on a plane and headed across the Atlantic I had made up my mind that I would eat freely without fear of sickness, trusting that God would not send me someplace to do His work only to have it all fall apart over a piece of innocent fruit or sip of tainted water. So I savored the flavors of this new land with relish before we had even gotten fifty feet from the door of the airportina.

The reunion with Wade, our missionary friend who has lived and worked in Guinea Bissau for 3 years, and his partner, Lalas, was both a joy and a relief. I was so happy to see Wade again I could hardly contain myself, and I was delighted to finally meet Lalas, whom I had prayed for many times, as his name was frequently mentioned in the weekly and monthly reports of the work going on at the developing Youth for Christ center in Mansoa. And, of course, it was sweet relief to no longer be trying to find our own way in a land where we didn't speak the language or understand the culture. Now that the getting here was finally over, the being here could finally begin. Could it possibly live up to the expectations that had been building in my mind and heart for over six months?


  1. I love your posts and plan to continue to follow them to know all about your adventure and blessings on your mission. You certainly were blessed as you blessed others.

  2. I love all of it. It is so exciting to read about your trip. I feel like I was there with you. Wish I could do a trip like this with you one day. It's a dream of mine for sure. What a beautiful way to show these ladies the love of Jesus. Nothing more personal than touch, and I know they must have felt Jesus through your hands and heart.

    So proud that you are my sister!

    1. Well, Joan, you never know. It could happen. I believe God is going to send me somewhere next time with several women I know, and maybe you're going to be one of them! I hope so! Now that I know this is a dream of yours I will definitely have you in my mind when the next trip presents itself in God's timing.

  3. that is soo awesome I hope you don't get sick!! Wish your blog had "taste-oh-read" lol

  4. Thank you for sharing with Kyla and I, Lynn!

  5. i think this is really cool my favorite picture is the goats crossing the roads