I was 20 minutes late and I was still the first person at our women’s soap exchange/community group Wednesday evening. It was just me and Mère (mother), as they call her. As I sat outside with her, both of us sitting on wooden benches, waiting for the other women to show up, I realized that I really didn’t know anything about her or her life. So I began asking questions. I started where all of life begins: birth. “So, were you born here in this area?” “Oh no”, she said, “I was born and raised in Burkina Faso.” I had no idea! She told me that her husband, originally from Senegal, and working for the Army at the time, had moved to Burkina Faso, where the two met and married. As the questions continued I realized that, like everyone, her story was meaningful, and it was one that needed to be told. She said they had 11 children. Eleven. She went on to say that four of their children had died. How sad! I wasn’t sure if it was socially acceptable or not, but I was too curious and asked how her children had died. She didn’t skip a beat. She told me how each child died, some from sickness, some from accidents, how old they were- mentioning even dates and specific years (unusual, coming from a culture where most don’t even know their date of birth). She said that her first son, Mustafa, a guy we know from the community, was her first child born in Senegal, when her and her husband moved back here. She went on to say that her husband had died when Mustafa was only seven or eight. Wow, I couldn’t imagine what it was like for her to raise all of those children, in a country not her own, without her husband. I could see the sadness in her eyes. I told her that I was so sorry. There was a long but necessary pause in our conversation. We both looked off into the distance, watching the chickens roam free. Then I remembered that she had only told me about how three of her four children had died. Hoping that I wasn’t overstepping my bounds, I asked how the fourth child had died. Her story continued, “This son was older when he died. He was living in Dakar at the time, and he had come down to visit me, along with his wife and their young child.” She said that her son and his family were on the boat headed back up to Dakar, when the boat they were traveling on, Le Joola , capsized and over 1,863 people died. This is a national tragedy that I have heard a lot about, because it’s a large part of the history of this area. Some call it “the lost generation”, since many on the boat were young students headed back up to Dakar for school. This is also the same route that the ferry takes when we sail up to Dakar or down to Ziguinchor. Yes, I know the history behind what happened, and I’ve cringed at the lives that were lost that day. But this was the first time that I had actually talked with someone who had lost a loved one in the accident. Mère lost a son that day. My heart was sad for her. She has suffered so much in this life. What made me more sad than anything was the fact that if she doesn’t know Jesus, she will NEVER know true joy or peace. In this life or the next. I hope that despite what this life has been like, Mère will come to know the Lord, and that because of that, her story will have a happy ending.