The Word of the Lord is right and true, we can trust everything He does. Psalm 33:4
In a month and a half, we’ll be getting on a plane to make our way back to the US for our year-long home assignment. It’s hard to believe that we’ve lived and served here in Senegal for almost 3 1/2 years. As we reflect on these years, our hearts are overjoyed at the amazing things the Lord has done. God is faithful and has allowed Christ to shine through us to share His love, on almost a daily basis, with those who are sick, tired, thirsty, and hungry. And yet, on this journey, there have also been many trials and challenges. We are grateful to have seen God’s goodness and faithfulness through it all. Here are some of the highlights of how God has worked in and through our lives over this first term.
We’ve had the joy of celebrating with those who have chosen to follow Jesus as their Lord and Savior – both expatriates and Senegalese. We will never forget the day Janelle shared with us, “I gave Jesus a gift; I gave Him my heart.” She said this with her hands cupped to her chest and then lifted them up to heaven. It’s a tremendous joy that now each of our children have accepted the gift of salvation in Christ in whom it can only be found. We would have loved to see many more choose to follow Christ, yet we see God working in the hearts and lives of those around us.
Nate had the privilege of exploring the viability of different vocational training platforms. Through this, he learned a lot about how business, trades, and apprenticeships work here in Senegal. He also was able to develop good relationships with carpenters, plumbers, welders, mechanics, masons, and gardeners. He is grateful for this foundation to build off for our next term.
A couple of experimental ministries he was able to explore included coming alongside a Senegalese friend to help raise chickens and working closely with a local carpenter to find out the inner workings of how carpentry is done here in Senegal.
We were amazed at how God orchestrated events for a dear friend to have cataract surgery on the Mercy Ship that is in port this year. He was able to have his left cataract removed. The doctors were skeptical of its outcome, but it ended up exceeding their expectations. The surgery was so successful that they will be operating on his right eye this week. We are praying for not only physical healing but spiritual healing as well, that he would come to see the Light of the world and choose to follow Him.
We’ve also been able to celebrate babies being born and grieve with others over the passing of close family members and friends, in Senegal, the US, and around the world.
We are so thankful to be a part of the ministry God is doing in Senegal to share the gospel with the unreached and to strengthen His people. It’s been an honor to build relationships, encourage and support the local church, walk alongside various friends through difficult circumstances, lead Bible studies, be a part of leading our SIM team in Dakar, and raise up our kids in the Lord (and what a blessing it’s been to see them reach out to others!). Through it all, He has continued to transform our own hearts in the process.
Our goals for this first term were to settle our family in a new culture, learn Wolof culture and language, and explore ministry opportunities. With the Covid pandemic arriving 6 weeks after we did, our term looked different than we thought it would. It was a blessing on the one hand as it allowed our family to settle in at a slower pace. On the other hand, it interrupted our language and culture learning and limited opportunities to explore ministry options. Despite that fact, we feel like we’ve learned so much about Wolof language and Senegalese culture and are gaining an understanding of business here even though we see that we’ve only scratched the surface. We are ending this first term with a posture of wanting to continue to learn and are excited to come back and further invest our lives in Senegal. We look forward to what lies ahead!
For His Glory!
Nathan, Leah, Rayah, Hayley, Micah, Olivia, Benjamin and Janelle Finstad