Cheikh is sitting next to me on the couch, pencil in hand, drawing out plans for our next move after France. It’s exciting and scary at the same time. We haven’t gone blog-public yet because… well, there’s not a good reason. As silly as it sounds, I think part of me felt like it was a birthday wish – if we said it out loud, it wouldn’t come true.
But this dream we’ve shared is turning into a plan. It seems as if our every action, our every motivation, is driven by this dream. So we’ve decided it’s time to put it out there. Today we’re going blog-public.

Things we do know:
– Since leaving Senegal in 2004, we’ve wanted to go back.
– Cheikh’s is scheduled to finish his degree in 2010.
– My job is portable.
– We are planning to move to Senegal in 2011.

Typing that last one and seeing the words appear on the screen makes me feel absolutely crazy, yet sure.

Things we don’t know:
– Where Cheikh will work
– Where we will live
– How to apply for a visa and Senegalese residency
– What to pack and how to get it there
– How to rent a house in Senegal
– How to get internet/phone/water/electricity/mailing address set up
– What the start-up costs for moving and setting up will be
– How we will pay them
– How to start a clinic
– What country/-ies we’ll pay taxes in
– How we will cope with moving even further from our families

As you can see, the list of ‘don’t knows’ is much longer than the ‘do knows’. But since day one of this dream we have been continually encouraged in its pursuit and have yet to come across any good reason not to move forward on it. So we are – trusting that God will show us one step at a time what we need to know and do.

What does Cheikh want to do?
– Start or partner with an existing clinic where he can practice osteopathy
– Work three to four days a week with the Dakarois and members of the expat community (NGO workers, missionaries, Embassy workers, Peace Corps volunteers…)
– Work one or to days a week with people who can’t afford healthcare, in both Dakar and nearby villages
– Improve his Wolof so that he can practice osteopathy competently in all three languages
– Get his scuba diving certification

As I said, right now he’s sitting next to me drawing out the design for his dream clinic. I love that I married a dreamer. Not in the sense that he’s unrealistic and has his head in the clouds (ha – that is sooo not him), but he’s a dreamer in that he doesn’t allow fears or others’ expectations to limit his passions. He is 100% open to whatever God has – even though it may sound crazy sometimes – and cannonballs in.

What do I want to do?
– Continue her current job as a media consultant à distance
– Start a non-profit organization to provide jobs for women who are either former sex workers, HIV widows and/or have HIV.
– Plant a big ol’ garden with lots of fruits and vegetables
– Recruit teams and individuals coming out to do work with us (this could include everything from doctors to small business consultants, art teachers to nutritionalists…)
– Provide hospitality for other Americans in Senegal who need a break or an escape so that they can continue their work refreshed
– Blog

What can you do?
Keep us posted. We’d love to have your input, advice, recommendations, suggestions… For example, if you come across an article on starting a non-profit organization or learn of a company that ships luggage overseas inexpensively – let us know!

Connect us. Do you know someone who is doing similar work? Do you know of an organization that provides health insurance for people living abroad? Get us connected with them, please.

Join us. A big part of our dream is to bring in others to work with us. That could be spending 10 days teaching women a craft that they can sell to support their families, two weeks playing soccer with Talibes (child beggars) and treating their scabies infections, helping us find grants to fund community garden projects, or mailing a package of American foods for us to make ‘encouragement baskets’ for other Americans working in Senegal.

Pray for us. We don’t know how to do any of this. We just know that right now, it’s all we want to do.