Knowing

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You watch your child as they try to play a game with everyone else.  They are the only one that doesn’t know how to play, and it’s easy to see they are frustrated. They’re annoyed that everyone else understands the rules and no matter how hard they try to mimic what they see, they keep making mistakes.

You sit down to help explain the rules, and they throw up their hands. “This isn’t fair! I don’t want to play anymore.”

Sound familiar? ...

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Who I am is not what I can say.

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He finished his first train of thought, and then looked over at me and asked “Do you have anything to add?”

Absolutely I had something to add, but could I?

A few Sundays ago, instead of the gospel being declared to us from the pulpit at church, we were told to form small groups and take the gospel to the surrounding neighborhood. To be honest I hesitated and considered staying with the group of women who committed to stay and pray for ...

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The Newspaper

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man-hands-reading-boy-largeHis smile lit up his face when he realized what I was asking.

He hadn’t seen me approaching since his bad eye was turned to me.

“How much?” I asked again, when I couldn’t understand what he said.

“Cent franc,” he responded, his thin hand pulling out the newspaper that had caught my eye. I rummaged through my purse to find the coin. When I placed it in his hand and saw the look of gratitude on his face, I wished I had ...

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Always

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apples“How is my friend who likes red pommes?” He asks, every time we go to buy fruit from him. He’s talking about Riley, and if she is with us, he will always try to get a smile out of her.

We rarely buy our fruit from the supermarket, preferring to visit our favorite fruit vendor. His stand is located near our old house, but we still get our fruit from there. Partially because we haven’t found another good one close to ...

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Neighbors

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There is a lady, I’ve seen her twice recently, sitting in front of her apartment building – the one right across from us. I’ve seen her when I’ve been on my way to class. She sits with a dress in her lap, using brightly colored thread to embroider a beautiful design on it.

The other day, I told her it was beautiful, and she smiled, graciously accepting the praise. She said something in response, and I wish I had understood it. ...

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How It Started

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Photo by: T. K. Maliaka

She comes to our house during the week to cook and clean. At least that’s how it started. Now, she comes the other two days to help watch the kids while I am at my session in the afternoons. It gives Michael some extra time to study.

She comes to our house during the week to cook and clean. At least that’s how it started. Now, she helps me practice French, chatting with me through the morning ...

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Boutique

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On the corner, not too far from our house, is a little room that is opened on both sides, set into the building. There are bars from floor to ceiling, and behind the bars, goods are also packed from floor to ceiling. Oil, flour, sugar, soap, laundry detergent, and other necessities are easy to get at our little boutique.

We usually go there for our bread, or the cards we need to load credit on our phones. If we’re looking for ...

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Taxi

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dakar-taxi-car-rapideHe offered his first price. My expression must have said it all.

“It’s not good?” he asked.
“It’s not far from here at all,” I responded, trying not to show my amusement.

I found his first offer funny…

1. Because he had looked like such a sweet, little, old man, that I wouldn’t have imagined he’d be so shrewd. (Although I couldn’t really blame him for assuming I might be a tourist and trying for more.)

2. Because we both knew it was a ridiculously ...

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Different

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“I don’t like it when they call me Toubab (white person) mom…

How would they like it if they were walking around in America and I called them “black person” wherever they went?”

Her comment wasn’t really a surprise. I’ve seen how much she dislikes having people watch her when we’re out and about. I’ve seen the way she moves a little behind me to avoid the “toubab” comments, and they are many (although not usually mean spirited I think). Few people ...

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Compliment

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senegalpeople2

“You’re becoming a Senegalese woman,” he told me, when he saw me carrying my big basin full of damp clothes up to the lines on the roof.

“That’s good,” I responded with a smile, even though I knew that he was probably just flattering me.

I know I haven’t yet got close to earning that title. When I watch the women around me I am challenged, amazed and flat out convicted sometimes. From what I have been able to see so far, ...

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