Debs and I miss the entrance to our friend Maria’s house, so, we hop out of the taxi and backtrack on foot. I suspiciously step around any wet patches since we noticed on our drive by that a sewage pipe had burst. Concentrating on my feet, I almost bump right into Maria, who came down to welcome us. “Maimouna! Khady!” She says excitedly, using our Senegalese names. It has been a long time since we have seen one another. We embrace and she holds my hand for a long time as we keep walking.
We enter her building; it seems strange to me. There is a central courtyard, open to the sky, and residents rent individual rooms. In the hallways around the courtyard, the women wash clothes and cook ceeb (traditional rice dishes). We climb up a couple flights of stairs and walk along the corridor to her room. Maria’s 15-year-old daughter looks up from her chores in delight. She is too sweet to scold us but still informs us that it has been a very long time since we have seen each other.
Debs and I sit down in the two chairs in the little room and Maria sits down on the bed. We talk about all the usual things—family, food, work—and then the conversation turns to spiritual matters. She is very devout, making sure to keep her head covered, and to give the necessary prayers. Her sons attend a religious school in town. We ask her what she has been praying for lately. She answers, “Health, the forgiveness of my sins… and that I would know the righteous road.” I beam, taken aback, for I had not expected such a request. I exclaim, “I’m so glad we asked what you are praying for so that we can pray for those things too!” Soon it was time for us to go, but before we left, we asked if we could pray together. So, there we sat, Maria, her daughter, and two Toubab women. We held our hands upturned in a posture of receiving. Debs prayed, in a mingling of Pular and French, asking for God’s blessing on Maria’s family and that she would know the righteous road.
O Jesus, how we celebrate that you are placing a hunger in Maria and other Senegalese to know how to walk according to God’s way! Reveal that road to them, we pray.