Our summer back in the U.S. can be summed up by my feelings about a pair of little boys’ underwear.

I was folding laundry near the end of our time in America and came across a pair of small underwear with race cars and a red elastic waistband. As I folded them, I realized how faded and dingy the formerly white fabric was. (Water in Dakar tends to defeat even the brightest whites in two washes max.)

My first thought was, “I’m in America. Let’s run to WalMart and buy the little guy new underwear!” My next thought was, “This underwear is fine and totally still works. The money I’d spend on replacing it could feed a talibé boy a meal a day for a week.”

 And from there my mind cycled around and around and back and forth between wanting to seize the opportunities to do (ahem, buy) all we can while we can and feeling ridiculous and selfish because that money could go to better use helping others when we get back to Dakar.

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When we get back to Dakar. When we get back to Dakar…

This has been my mental refrain these past months. When we left, we both needed a serious break from the pressures and stresses of life in Dakar. You know those beat up taxis that pull up to the station and ask for 2000cfa ($4) of gas? That was us. We had enough strength to get by moment by moment, but overall we were just wiped out.

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This summer has been an escape for us (I even took a break from blogging, Facebook and Instagram – gasp!) as we tried to disconnect and recharge our batteries. But even in the restful moments, it’s always in the back of our minds that we are going back and those pressures and stresses will still be there. (On that note, a HUGE thank you to S. who fixed a tire that went flat on our car while we were away, E. who fixed a problem with our freezer in time to save all our food, O. who kept an eye on our apartment and cleaned up after flooding rains…)

So how will we cope when we get back to the demands of ‘real life’? No, no. We don’t want to just cope. We want to thrive. So the question is ‘how can we have the endurance and strength to thrive and to help others in this place we have chosen to make home?’

I Skyped with my parents on this very subject recently and my Mom directed me to John 17 in the New Testament where Jesus said He had completed the work He had be sent to do. (One translation I really like says that He ‘clarified who God is’ by completing this work.) But even Jesus did not do it all. He did not heal every single sick person, eradicate poverty everywhere He went or bring about world peace… But He did faithfully do what was asked of Him.

That is how we will thrive. We will be cutting back on/out some things that we had been doing before in order to free up time to do specific priorities well. And some of those priorities may not look like anything super special or life changing, but for this season of life, they are exactly what we need to be focusing on. 

And THAT makes me happy and excited to get back home to Dakar.

(Side note: I just read ‘The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up’ by Marie Kondo and recommend it very highly. As dorky as it sounds, I cannot wait to get unpacked, declutter and reorganize our apartment!)