On the Soil of Africa

“When you set your feet on Africa’s soil, Africa is in your heart forever.” — African proverb

My photo: Scene in Thies, Senegal, West Africa, 2008

My photo: Scene in Thies, Senegal, West Africa, 2008

Africa is in my heart forever. One reason is because I set my feet on the soil of Senegal, West Africa, in September 2008.

My photo: Bible League office, Dakar, Senegal, West Africa, 2008

My photo: Bible League office, Dakar, Senegal, West Africa, 2008

I traveled to Senegal to witness the ministry of Bible League International there. Before we were using Facebook or Twitter or Instagram or LinkedIn 24/7. Before the average person could connect to the internet from almost anywhere in the world. Before we carried powerful computers called smartphones in our hands.

My only assignment while I walked into life in Senegal: Absorb and process what you see, hear, taste, touch, feel.

My photo: Esther, worship in Saint Louis, Senegal, West Africa, 2008

My photo: Esther, worship in Saint Louis, Senegal, West Africa, 2008

To recall and relive this trip, I must rely on my memories. My photos and short videos taken with a small digital camera. My personal writings in my travel journal. What my fellow travelers remember and remind me about.

My photo: Fishing village, Saint Louis, Senegal, West Africa, 2008

My photo: Fishing village, Saint Louis, Senegal, West Africa, 2008

Distracted by technology? No. Distraction did occur. But in ways I didn’t expect. Distracted by differences and people and unusual vehicles and unfamiliar plants and new foods and many languages.

I talked and laughed and ate and shopped and toured with my fellow travelers. Together, we experienced sights and sound and smells beyond our personal realities.

My photo: Artist at work, Goree Island, Senegal, West Africa, 2008

My photo: Artist at work, Goree Island, Senegal, West Africa, 2008

With no television or music or internet or email or texting, I focused on the passion of personal testimonies. I listened to real stories of gratitude and danger and loss and gain.

I gave my full attention to what God placed before me.

My photo: Testimonies in four languages, Bible League office, Dakar, Senegal, West Africa

My photo: Testimonies in four languages, Bible League office, Dakar, Senegal, West Africa

Memories of that trip live inside me. Detailed etchings of my first experience in a country and a culture so different from my own. Today — 11 years later — I can still close my eyes and be there once again for a few minutes.

My photo: Outside a church, Goree Island, Senegal, West Africa, 2008

My photo: Outside a church, Goree Island, Senegal, West Africa, 2008

Would I still remember so much of that trip if I had relied on social media to capture and store it?

Thank you, Lord, for immersing me in a new and vibrant culture.

Thank you, Lord, for introducing me to people and places I otherwise would never have known.

Thank you, Lord, for using me to witness and document your presence in Senegal.

Thank you, Lord, for a life-changing experience I will never forget. For so many reasons.

“You alone are the Lord. You made the skies and the heavens and all the stars. You made the earth and the seas and everything in them. You preserve them all, and the angels of heaven worship you” (Nehemiah 9:6).

Laura in Senegal.JPG

Laura Warfel is a widow, writer, and follower of Jesus Christ. Her greatest joy is to bring others along with her on her faith journey. In 2015, because of the encouragement of the Launch Out Conference and Jon Acuff, she launched More Than A Widow on Facebook and Twitter. Today she blogs, tweets, and posts to help widows (and those who know them) find encouragement, hope, and resources for the journey. Her goal is to help all widows live beyond the label and live as more than a widow.

Copyright © 2019 by Laura Warfel