Thursday, October 21, 2010

Bill & Kathy Martin Serving in Senegal with Converge

Bill & Kathy serve in Dakar Senegal working with Converge in their church planting efforts. Here's some recent impressions of the difference between the US and Senegal based on a a trip home.
Some people have asked me what my impressions are of the United States, after having been gone for two years. Here are my Top Ten…
10. The grass is so, so green, and there is so much of it.

9. We have amazing restaurants in the States. I was treated to meals at several and each one seemed more delicious than the last. And free drink refills – what luxury!

8. Driving on country roads covered with shadows was very distracting for the first few days – the constant light/dark was like a strobe light to my eyes. I’d forgotten about shadows! For the most part, there are no trees along the roads here, and shade is a commodity. When you are driving in Dakar, you have to be on the lookout for sheep, soccer balls flying into the road, potholes, and pedestrians, but shadows are pretty much non-existent.

7. I was struck by the fact that everything seemed to have dual labeling – English and Spanish. We got used to that up in Canada, where everything is labeled in English and French, but I don’t remember there being much Spanish on labels before we left.

6. No one uses paper maps anymore. Without a GPS, we had to keep making use of Google maps in order to find our way around, and even Google maps seemed outdated. I wonder how long it will be before kids are unable to read paper maps!

5. In Senegal, houses have walls around them, and most people have guards. You wouldn’t think of leaving a door unlocked. As we drove around our home town, I kept thinking of what our Senegalese friends would think if they saw our homes… “You mean someone can just walk right up to your door?”

4. American cars are so comfortable. (Thanks Wendi and Pat!) American roads are so, so wonderful.

3. Three of the sweetest words I know… 1. Central 2. Air 3. Conditioning.

2. I can guarantee you that two years ago when we left, not one person in my sphere of influence had ever used the term “apps.” Now, I even heard the word coming out of my 70-something-year-old mom’s mouth! I was introduced to “apps” on my drive away from Logan, when my sister complained that the reason we couldn’t figure out the location of the nearest FedEx office was because of the lousy “apps” on her iPhone. (Or iPad, or iTouch or whatever it was.) I didn’t want to admit that I didn’t understand what she meant, since she had already been amused by my confusion over the fact that her phone didn’t appear to have a key pad… how do you dial a number when there are no numbers? After that, I’m telling you, I heard that term every day, multiple times a day. “What apps does it have?” “True, but the apps are amazing.” Even my young nieces and nephews flung the word around casually. It really struck me how, even in these days of internet and Skype, when you leave the country for two years, you can totally miss something. We don’t see commercials, receive catalogs, or have access to western-style shopping here. Technology continues to fly along at top speed, but for the most part we’re really “out of it.” Does this mean that we have to buy something with “killer apps” when we come back to the States next year? We’re going to need a consultant to get us back up to speed.

1. Seeing friends and family again was unbelievably precious. And it struck me that even though I hadn’t seen people for a full two years, some people in more than three, the moment I saw them again it was absolutely like no time had passed. I was so glad to get back to Bill, Caleb and Anna in Dakar at the end of my short trip, and am excited to begin our last year of our first term here. But having just a taste of reunion with people in the States leaves me looking forward to next year, when we will have more time to savor the visits!

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