The Rev. Dirk and Sarah Stadtlander are ELCA missionaries in Linguere, Senegal, serving in parish ministry and education. To support the Stadtlanders, or another of the ELCA’s 225 missionaries, go to www.elca.org/missionarysponsorship.
I (Sarah) recently drove down to Fatick for a weekend with two other women from our parish. We attended the annual meeting of Femmes Pour Christ (Women for Christ). I was a little apprehensive about going, because the meetings happen mostly in the local languages of Serer and Wolof. In spite of getting sick the first morning, I had a great time. The meeting part wasn’t exactly fun, but hanging out with the women was fantastic.
The women who lived farther away came Friday evening, the rest showed up Saturday morning, and we all went to church together Sunday morning before lunch and departure. These women love to laugh. They were constantly singing praise songs and dancing, drumming on whatever was nearby. Both nights we sang and clapped and danced and laughed at each other until midnight, sleeping babies strapped to backs. I danced, but not very well — more reason for a good laugh.
I have to admit, “regular” Sunday church with the whole community was a bit anticlimactic after all that uninhibited celebration. What I took from the weekend was a great sense of joy. As I studied the women, it was obvious that they came from different places in life. Some of them had really nice clothes and fancy (read expensive) hairstyles. Some of them looked like they had spent most of their life just scraping by. All of them took joy in being together and praising God. They were all very welcoming to me, and I felt privileged to be a part of the group for the weekend.
Femmes Pour Christ pools its annual dues and parish contributions to support projects and microloans that help women improve their lives. In the finance meeting, it was proposed that an enterprise be started to bring in revenue to increase the funds available for lending. I pray for continued success for this organization, and especially for continued joy in the process.
Your faithful and continuing support of our family through prayerful, financial and emotional means allows us to be in ministry. Thank you for all that you do for us!