“Welcome to Dakar! We’re so glad you are here! Can I be of any assistance in your working your way through our user-friendly Customs agency? Isn’t our easily followed signage impressive? Would you care for a cup of coffee while you wait?”
While in flight, had we slept (we didn’t) we would have dreamed of this reception in Senegal. Instead, and I confidently speak on behalf of all, we felt more like we were being booked and incarcerated for some felony charge.
The travel stage was behind us. Multiple flights, one lasting several hours, were archived and now we were in the distant land of Senegal, Africa.
Thankfully, Matt thought enough of us to ish-ly (more on that word at a later time) provide us with a rough sketch of how to maneuver Customs (he even did a play-by-play in a prior Skype session). His sketch, helpful as it was, didn’t include the instruction to forego all cordiality with the prison guards manning Customs.
“No smiling… (blinding flash of camera snapping mug shot)… stick your finger there… go in that room… SIT… not this room!… get out of here… this room?… why are you here?… what are you carrying?… why are you here?… where will you stay?… why are you here?… who’s your daddy?… why are you here?… >stamp!… stamp!…< Next!”
Dazed we may be, but grateful indeed for having passed this first test. It is an added joy to find our luggage made the trip with us. We make our way out of the terminal to find Matt and his friends waiting.
We greet him with the city of Dakar in the background and a strange feeling overcomes me. It is a feeling I will experience once again when we finally make Diouloulou where the rest of Matt’s family waits for our arrival.
In some unexplainable way I feel like Simeon and Anna (Luke 2). It is a feeling that prods me to know, “We will witness first hand the salvation of God being freely offered to a darkened land through the ministry of our friends living far outside the camp.”
Our reunion is hurried for we must get on the road. It is not so hurried though that that the most important element of Matt’s ministry is overlooked. We pray.