And so it begins!

Asalaam malekum, and I’ve made it! As the sun set on Day 1 for me in West Africa, it was surreal to finally be here.

star-gazing up on the roof my first night

star-gazing by city lights up on the roof my first night

In my first week, I’ve felt every combination of relaxed (seriously, thanks to the welcome and hospitality of SIL International!), antsy, invigorated, stressed, overwhelmed, and giddy with joy. Phase A of SIL’s Orientation Course has begun for several of us new orientees. This means appointments, meeting people, outings (with guides so far) — but all at a manageable pace. The idea is to take baby steps and acclimate — to the climate, the rhythms of life here, the tasks necessary for survival. The questions of what we will do and where we will go are intentionally (and sensibly) put on hold. Phase A will last for the next 4-5 weeks or so.

moved in to my room at the SIL Center

moved in to my room at the SIL Center

I was given an article to read on my first day entitled “What Missionaries Ought to Expect,” and it contained a list of 6 “attainable objectives” for a missionary’s first term:

  1. Learn the language.
  2. Adjust to the field.
  3. Learn about the mission.
  4. Understand the field.
  5. Find your gifts & place in the work.
  6. Confirm your missionary call.

This will be plenty; any other agendas or expectations will need to wait. I’m excited to dive in to all that I have to learn. So far, I’ve really just climbed onto the diving board. We’ve covered basic food preparation, introduction to local culture, health & hygiene, computer use in a semi-desert climate, brief history of the SIL branch here, induction into the city’s public transportation system. I’ve experienced my first bank transaction (lots more to that story), my first shopping excursion downtown, my first church service, and my first taxi ride (ever, come to think of it).

taxi orientation with Andrew, SIL colleague, & a driver named Malick

taxi orientation with Andrew, an SIL colleague, & a friendly driver named Malick

Besides all these adventures, there are lots of people to meet and get to know. We’ve entered the world of some 50 SIL colleagues spread throughout the country among various minority language projects. Before we can hope to discover our places in this mission, we obviously need to get to know the people who comprise it and the work they’ve been doing long before we showed up. Lots of names to remember, lots of conversations to be had.

my flatmate Clare from Northern Ireland, here on a 2-year assignment

my flatmate Clare from Northern Ireland, here on a 2-year assignment

And of course much more is in store. The refreshing part of being in West Africa for the “long haul” is that I’ve got plenty of time for everything. No need to rush; after all, I may have the rest of my life here.

rooftop view of the SIL offices & a part of the city beyond

rooftop view of the SIL offices & a part of the city beyond


  1. William Johnson said:

    Great photos and summary of your first week! xoxoxox, Mom

  2. Kyria,
    So glad you made it. Say hi to Katie when you see her.
    Bill Myers

  3. Tom Stein said:

    Thanks for sharing! We continue to pray for you.

  4. Bob Hough said:

    Thanks for the good news. Been watching for word of your safe arrival.

  5. Anita Swayne said:

    Kyria, how amazing technology is, that you’re a world away and yet we can still keep up with you! We are thrilled to hear about your first week, and pray that God will continue to place people around you to support you in your journey. Love you!! Swayne Family

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