One of the greatest gifts I can give Pape is growing up in Africa. I say this based on my own experiences growing up in Côte d’Ivoire. Although many of these experiences were wonderful and rewarding, some were challenging and even painful. They shaped who I am and will always be a part of me.

Of course, growing up in the teeny tiny, tropical town of Daloa in the heart of the cacao plantations in the 1980s when phone calls to the US cost $4/minute is not the same as growing up in the densely populated capital city of Dakar at a time when video Skype with grandparents is free and blogs can be updated easily.

But still, the big picture experience of growing up in Africa is one I am so thankful to be able to share with my son.

However, the past two weeks we’ve pretty much just stayed within the walls of our home with Pape, trying to figure out how he works and why there is no instruction manual with him. There have been occasional outings that were required, such as paperwork for his birth certificate and passport, but we’ve just now reached the stage of being able to take him out for fun.

Saturday night we were invited to dinner with friends. (Good timing, seeing as Cheikh had just updated his Facebook status to, “bored, bored, bored. need to get out of the house.) Then on Sunday we took Pape to church for the first time.

As we were driving across town, I looked out the window and saw Dakar: the pot holes, the dirt, the pollution, the trash, the anti-president grafitti… I wondered why we’d chosen to live here and for this to be his world. Sinking, I thought “This is your home, Pape.”

But then, in a moment of ‘war grace’ as my friend calls it, God let me see Dakar with new eyes: the kids playing on the side of the road laughing, the proud posture of an elderly man walking and working his fingers over his prayer beads, the fruit vendor smiling as he joked with a friend… I smiled and thought, “This is your home, Pape.”

When it doesn’t look pretty, when it’s frustrating and hard, look to God’s gift of ‘war grace’ to carry you through.