As you know, one of the hardships of being an overseas missionary is being far away from family. Some of you might like the idea of living oceans away from some of your family members, but we love our families and we miss them when we’re away from them.
God knew I would miss my Mom. He knew that before we even moved here.
So he provided Yassine. She’s an older Muslim woman, bearing cultural pressures and shame because she only had one daughter. She lives next door to us with her husband, niece, her niece’s son and her only daughter.
From the first day we met she took me under her wing.
We’re just one courtyard wall apart from each other. Close enough to where she would greet me over the wall in the mornings, as she was feeding her chickens, goat, dog and family members.
She was there to make sure we locked our doors at night, to make sure that I was up on current events (village births, deaths and break-ups), and she would come and check up on me when I was sick. It was just the kind of friendship I needed in a place where I often felt very isolated and alone.
God was gracious. He knew just what I needed and when I needed it.
At first I was hoping to find more friends my age. I was hoping I would meet someone I could get to know, someone I could relate to. But women my age were dealing with their gardens, going to the market, selling fish at the beach, or delivering their 4th or 5th child (that’s what happens when you get married at 16). But Yassine was there, and we became friends. Because of her I met more women in the community, and was soon invited to baby naming ceremonies, weddings, and rituals. Yassine helped me realize what life is like for her, what cultural implications have impacted her life, and what struggles Senegalese women face today, allowing me an insider’s look into the culture. We talked, like any mother and daughter. There were times when she would scold me, bring me dinner, and help me get the “local price” when making a purchase (she once called a guy and yelled at him when she heard he was giving me a hard time). She taught me how to embroider, use a foot petal machine, and other basic sewing techniques when I was enrolled in her sewing school.
Yassine knows that we’re moving, and she’s sad. So am I. I’m going to miss having her right there, always willing to help me out, give me her opinion and introduce herself to others as my African mother.
But thankfully, we’re always a boat ride or phone call away (assuming we both have credit on our phones), and I know that God will continue to provide all of my needs, right down to those individulas who become family.