Jackie Chan Is My Husband…

It all started at a Thieb. shack.


This restaurant is a team favorite. We eat here at least twice a week and we’ve dubbed it “Princess Michelle’s from the region Point E.” That’s not really the name of the restaurant, but nonetheless all of the Toubabs in Dakar now know it as Michelle’s. Thieb (also known as Thiebou Diene) is Senegal’s national dish and it is SUPERB! Michelle is owner and chef maîtresse. She’s one of my favorites.

Anyways, Shannon and I were meeting with a student named Beegaye one day at Michelle’s. She only speaks French, so we had some language difficulties. She was giving Shannon a hard time for not knowing French or Wolof, so I decided to one up her (cause let’s just be honest, that’s what Jesus would do). I started throwing out all the Mandarin phrases I knew. “Nihau!… Boo yow ni ga danchi.” Whitney told me that means, “Hello, your stuff is too expensive.” Who knows what that really means… and that’s also where my Mandarin ends.

“Ah, bon! Tu parle le chinois!” Yes Beegaye, I know Chinese. Now quit giving my friend a hard time about French! We then continue our conversation about how I learned Mandarin. “Where did you learn Chinese?!” I responded with, “My friend Jackie taught me. He’s really talented at karate. His name is Jackie Chan.”

At this point, I really couldn’t keep a straight face. She didn’t really understand my French, but luckily the man next to her translated into Wolof for us. After we get done with our conversation, our handy-dandy translator looks at me and says in English, “You’re hilarious. I lived in America for 17 years and have seen Jackie Chan movies.” HAHA! He caught me! I ended up telling her the truth that I didn’t really know Chinese I was just trying to make a point about hassling people about language. She thought it was funny, but not nearly as funny as I thought it was.

Later that day, I went somewhere in a taxi and had not satisfied my desire to talk about Jackie Chan with Senegalese people. My taxi driver began talking to me in Wolof [the nation’s first language]. He was amazed that a Toubab [foreigner, mostly applied to white people] spoke Wolof. Here’s how our conversation went:

Naanga def?-him [How are you?]

Maangi fi.-me [I am here. [I know it doesn’t make sense to me either]]

Yow, degg na Olof?-him [You, you know Wolof?]

Man? Degg na tutti rekk.- me. [Me? I only know a little.]

Ah, bahkna! Hammga jekker?-him [do you have a husband?]

Waaw waaw. Hamga jekker.-me [Of course I have a husband]

Sama jekker, Jackie Chan laa tudd.-me [My husband, his name is Jackie Chan]. At this point I start cracking up.

Deguma dara.- him [I don’t understand]

Jackie Chan, tu connais l’acteur Chinois.– [Jackie Chan, you know, the Chinese actor.]

Deguma Jackie.-him [I don’t know who Jackie Chan is].

I then had to explain in my broken Wolof that’s seriously on life-support that I didn’t really have a husband. I was just joking with him. And then I accidentally told him that I was a “say-say,” which in this context has two meanings. It could mean “a jokester” or, well let’s put this kindly, someone who plays the field for their own personal gain. ugh… #facepalm. That’s what I get. “No, I don’t really have one husband. I play the field.” 

And that’s the story of one: how I found out that no one in Senegal knows who Jackie Chan is and two: I should probably quit trying to pull people’s legs because jokes like that don’t translate here.

Because what else could make Jackie Chan look cooler than a Tiger? I think he could take him...
Because what else could make Jackie Chan look cooler than a Tiger? I think he could take him…

Laura Beth + Tyler


Once upon a time, there was a beautiful, grace-filled, southern belle named Laura Beth. She grew up in a small, fanciful town in North Carolina with a family that highly valued cultivating her relationship with Christ. Throughout college LB sought to deepen and enhance her relationship with Christ. She became involved with a college ministry at Peace College called Cru. In the summer of 2011, the Lord led her to go on a stateside mission trip, also known as summer project, to Santa Cruz, California. It was that summer that her heart began to break for people all across the world who were hungry to know and experience God’s love. Senegal specifically was laid upon her heart.


Now meet Tyler. Tyler is a very lovable man of God. He grew up in North Carolina with parents who loved the Lord as well. After his sophomore year of college, Tyler really began pursuing a relationship with Christ and began growing in his faith. Tyler was involved in the Cru movement at North Carolina State University (go Wolfpack!). He actually led a bible study with our team leader, Ryan. He was involved with Cru’s intermural outreach that emphasized building bridges with students that were less likely to attend a Cru meeting without a personal invite. If I could briefly describe Tyler’s character it would be that he is someone who cares deeply about being intentional with everyone and loves people well.


How They Met 

Well, let’s just be honest. This is the part that we all want to know about. Was it love at first sight? Did you say anything stupid? After you met, did you walk around with stars in your eyes for days?

This is LB’s version:

” The Friday night of Cru’s Fall Retreat, I was sitting with my small group and I heard this voice in the group beside me say “I’ll close us in prayer.” Taken away by his heart for the Lord and how cute he was, I began talking to my friend, Kaitlin, about who he was. It wasn’t until Saturday night, as I was filling up cups of ice with a staff member, that this young man came through the line, grabbed a cup and said, ‘thank you.’ With butterflies in my stomach I responded with an awkward, ‘You’re welcome.’ Little did I know that a few moments later I would lock eyes with the man that would later become my husband.

As I was finishing up my job, I noticed he was looking at me from across the room. When I was finished, I started talking to Aaron Adams about playing the game Signs. Tyler decided to join in on the conversation and smoothly looked at me and said, “Hi, I’m Tyler.” We spent the evening laughing, giggling, and playing Signs. At the end of the night I pulled a Cinderella and said, “I’ll see you tomorrow at the meeting,” when really I was leaving the retreat before then! You gotta keep the mystery, you know. 😉

After spending a whole week of his life without me, he decided that was too long! (Totally a joke!) I received a Facebook message asking for my phone number. And then he asked me out for dinner and dancing on our first date on November 18, 2011! Throughout our relationship, I still had a burden for the people of Senegal and I knew the Lord was calling me to invest a year of my life here, proclaiming his name in a nation that is over 95% Muslim. Even though I’d fallen head over heels in love with Tyler, the Lord is worth following and He is trustworthy in regards to all aspects of my life.

Over my senior year, I continued to pray for the Lord’s will in our relationship. I knew that if this was the Lord’s will for us to head in the direction of marriage, as was me coming to Senegal, this would only strengthen our relationship and provide clarity. It was not easy, as our relationship with the Lord can be, but He calls us to love and trust Him. So, in October, I fully surrendered to the Lord’s plans and let go of mine. I got on an airplane headed to Senegal, without Tyler.

Much to my surprise, Tyler actually eventually did end up in Senegal with me (even if it was only for a week and three months late). Here’s a video that highlights the most recent progression in our relationship. Please enjoy these wonderful photos that Mary took for our Save The Dates. :)”

Gives a new meaning to shine bright like a diamond :)
Gives a new meaning to shine bright like a diamond 🙂
I love this one.
I love this one.
she's such a beauty
she’s such a beauty


My Team 2012-2013

Last week I attended a training conference for all 400+ STINTers (short-term international) that were being sent out across the globe. I had so much fun getting to see friends from last year, and meeting my new team. It made me miss my last year’s teammates, but I am so excited for the team God has put together this year. They are a ton of fun. Young, but fun. 😉 Here’s some photos from our commissioning ceremony.

Ryan, Katie, Shannon, Laura Beth, John-Mark, Elaina and Me. Team Senegal!
Sweet and hilarious Elaina. I am so looking forward to spending the year with her!
Minpar, Katie. 🙂
Sweet, sweet LB!

A Mary Manual

My current roommates put this together for the next round of STINT girls:

  1. If Mary eats breakfast, it will be a good day.
  2. Biskrem and Coke fix about 95% of Mary’s problems.
  3. Mary will be one of the firsts to have an impromptu dance party with you in the kitchen. “The Beat” by Ben Rector is one of her favorites.
  4. Mary goes through seasons: Thiebb. season, mac and cheese season, and sandwich season. No she does not want to eat anything else during these seasons.
  5. Someone needs to partner with Mary on being late. This same person should make sure Mary is out of bed 20 minutes before the meeting. Singing old hymns to her usually works.
  6. Thank us for helping Mary learn how to cry.
  7. If Mary drinks five Cokes after finishing the Daniel Fast and rescuing sick kittens, she will throw up for 12 hours straight and blame God.
  8. Boycotting things is one of Mary’s past-times. When Mary says, “I am never doing ___ again,” what she really means is, “I will not do that until again until you catch me doing it.”
  9. If you do not throw an awesome birthday week for Mary, you will die.
  10. Mary wakes up in 2 moods: Cloud 9 or asleep.
  11. Deep cleaning the apartment past 11:30 is normal; don’t be alarmed.
  12. Don’t let her stay inside for long amounts of time.
  13. She will like to give you hugs, after she’s known you for a few months…
  14. Don’t let Mary wallow in the pit of despair. You’ll instinctively know when she’s doing this because it will be 7:00 and she’ll be laying face down on her bed.
  15. If you ask her 3-4 times to do anything, she’ll really do just about anything.
  16. If she cries, you’re getting somewhere.
  17. The large amount of hair left on the wall in the shower is not a rat nor is it a sign of cancer.
  18. Ask about the Stanky Hip.
  19. Sleep is a very high priority, but Malaria medicine is not.
  21. Do not let Mary talk to anyone’s mom. She gets incredibly nervous and shares secrets within the first 45-seconds of conversation.
  22. Whoever you are Skyping, Mary will want to Skype with them too. She might even bring in her guitar and sing a song for your family.
  23. Don’t send her to the market for “l’extincteur de fur.”
  24. If she’s not wearing it, you can borrow it without asking. Take it.
  25. If you catch Mary working out/going for a run, stop immediately and interrogate her on why. Chances are she just looked at SELF or Fitness magazine. Tie her to a chair and force feed her chocolate chip cookies instead.
  26. What to do when Mary wakes up with furrowed eyebrows: tell her to get rid of them, hug her and pray with her. Don’t mention anything about Starbuck’s Caramel Lattes, the fact that she cannot wear sweatpants today, or the fact that she is more than likely going to be late.
  27. Mary has a PhD. from WebMD.com. Ask her how many fatal illnesses we’ve all had this year.
  28. If Mary walks into whatever room you’re in and just stares at you, this means she wants you to address her, quit whatever you’re doing and talk to her or play. If she’s wanting to talk, here’s the protocol:
  • for positive news: ask first, “what’s up?” Expect a childlike laugh to come out, a little prance towards you (she will choose the seat next to you even if there are 5 other open spaces), and then she’ll share.
  • for negative news: first ask, “what’s up?” Do not expect a prance. Expect a sigh and then an, “I don’t know…” You must ask again two more times, “What’s going on?” THEN, try to guess it and she’ll correct you by telling you really what’s wrong. By that time she’s found her way to your bed and is laying there face up in defeat over something that truly isn’t a big deal, but once you talk through it she’ll be prancing again. Just you wait!
*A special thanks to my sweet roommates Rachel and Whitney for spouting out over 40 Mary facts. Either they are really good friends and know me well, or I’m just so readable.  I love you both and am so thankful for you!

An Island of Bugs

On our less than leisurely stroll to campus this morning, my sweet roommate Whitney turned around and asked, “How long was I laughing last night?” Random question I suppose, but not too random because little miss Whitney laughs more than any other person I know. Nonetheless, I was slightly confused as to what she was talking about.

told you.

“Huh?,” I said. “Last night, when you were sleeping.”-Whitney. Okay. This conversation is getting weirder and weirder. “What are you talking about?!”-Me. Whit responded, “Last night, I was laughing in my sleep and it apparently woke you up. You sat up in your bed and told me to stop laughing, and that you were on an island of bugs.”

Ladies and gents, I knew I responded to people  in my sleep, but I had no clue that I arise out of my REM to let the world know the ridiculous thoughts that are livestreaming across my mind. Nonetheless, I cracked up and tried really hard to remember doing that. I couldn’t remember anything except for hearing Whitney briefly laugh in her sleep. I thought I decided not to wake her up because that would be rude, but I guess subconsciously I just wanted her to know that I was living on an island of bugs.

This story holds no weight to the one I’m about to tell. My other little roommate, Rachel, yells in her sleep. This story takes place in Chicago at STINT briefing. Rachel, Whitney, Michelle and I shared a hotel room that week. Rachel and I shared a bed.


We celebrated Lil' Rachel's 24th birthday at STINT briefing in Chicago.


In the middle of the night on our third night there,  Rachel quickly sits up and screams, “There’s a rat in here!” I shoot up, turn on the light and start searching for the rat. Out of the corner of my eye I see Rachel start slowly slipping back under the bedsheets and then her head calmly hits the pillow. What? “Rachel, where is it?” She responds, “Where’s what?” Me: “The rat. You just screamed about a rat.” And the sweetest most innocent chuckle and reply came, “Oh, I did? Sorry about that.”

So.. there’s no rat? I lost it. I uncontrollably, hysterically laughed for a good 10 minutes. I laughed so hard that I woke up Michelle, and couldn’t fall back asleep for another hour. I’d finally get control of my giggles, and then silently lose it not even four seconds later. Gosh. It was so funny.

So, ladies and gents I would just like to let you know, I talk in my sleep. Normally that kind of stuff would make me feel really insecure and crazy, but my one roommate laughs in her sleep and the other one screams. I guess I’m pretty normal.

Stories from the African Summer Project Team

That’s probably the longest title I’ve ever had and ever will have, but it serves it’s purpose.

My friend Shannon interned with Cru last year at UTC. For her summer position, Cru sent her to work on a summer project where I’ll be. She just got back last week and was anxious to meet with me to share what God did while they were there.

Well, now that you’ve met my friend Shannon, I want to share with you some of the stories she shared with me!

Amazing Story Number 1: There was an American student on Shannon’s team named Emily*. She had a dream one night that she was in Heaven. A native man, who she’s never met, came up to her and said, “Thank you for coming to this nation. Because of you all coming, all of these people now know Christ.” And he stepped aside and there was a multitude of  people behind him. Encouraging dream, right? Well it gets better just you wait!

About two days later, they all go out onto the campus to do some outreach. I can’t remember exactly how this part went down, but a guy ends up being led to Christ. And who do you think that guy was? Yep. The guy from Emily’s dream. So, Emily is like um… no way. That is the guy from my dream! How crazy is that!?

So, not only is that awesome and probably greatly encouraged the S.P. team, but that encourages me! Their work is not in vain. Nine people put their trust in  Christ this summer, and the gospel was shared over 800 times. In John chapter 4 Jesus talks about the harvest being ripe, sowers having sowed before us, and reaping the benefits of seeds that were previously planted. I’m excited to share the gospel with those who have never heard. And I will be encouraged by God growing what was planted long before I get there.

Amazing story number 2: I can’t remember if Shannon said they were on an outreach when they met this one guy, but I’m pretty sure this was a student they were talking to. This one guy apparently was talking to them saying that he kept having this dream about Jesus and he didn’t know why. Side note: Muslims believe that Jesus was a prophet, but not the promised Messiah or savior. The stories of Jesus in the Qur’an are very limited, and most Muslims don’t know of or believe in the miracles Jesus performed.

Anyways, this guy was saying that Jesus was standing next to a well and kept offering him water. WATER. WATER FROM THE WELL! How stinkin’ amazing is that!? If you’re not familiar with the story of Jesus and the woman at the well, you could probably be thinking that I’m nuts right now. So allow me to take a few minutes to explain why this is so awesome.

In John chapter 4, Jesus stops at this well in Samaria. The Jews didn’t like Samaritans because of the split during the Babylonian exile (I think…). The Samaritan religious leaders and the Jewish religious leaders didn’t think it was cool, or kosher, to hang with each other. My roommate described it as this elitist tension between the groups, the Samaritans were looked down upon. So, here’s Jesus. The Messiah and God in the flesh hanging out at a well in Samaria.

Jesus is at this well and there is a Samaritan woman drawing water at the well. Jesus asks her for a drink of water, and she’s shocked. Jews didn’t associate with the Samaritans let alone drink anything they had to offer. So they start talking and Jesus tells her that there is a well that is greater than the one she is drawing from. He says, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

This woman is like, “Man, I need that!” So they get to talking and he basically tells her about her past and that He knows about it. The really cool thing is that He sees her sin, lets her know He knows, and still offers her grace, mercy, and forgiveness. He then reveals to her that He is the promised Messiah. “The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.” Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.”

The woman at the well runs back to the people in her town and shares with them all that just happened. They investigate it for themselves and come to this conclusion:  “They said to the woman, ‘We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.’”

Jesus offers all of us this living water. The fact that this student, who probably has never heard this story before, keeps seeing Jesus in his dreams offering him water is amazing. We are all spiritually thirsty. Apart from Christ there is going to be this want, desire to be fulfilled, and longing for something more. Christ is the living water that we so desire. And he’s offering it to us. It’s amazing that we have these stories and almost take them for granted. The Senegalese don’t know these stories, but Christ is going to them in ways we think is weird. He comes to them in dreams and is inching them closer and closer to Him. And that’s awesome.

Praise God!