Today we had a traditional “African Baby Naming Ceremony” for Eva. This is a BIG deal in Africa. When a baby is born in the community they introduce them to the community by presenting the child, his/her name, and having a ceremony. We had our ceremony at the Senegal Community Center where we have weekly ESL classes. They even announced her ceremony on the Senegal radio station. The ceremony was set to begin at 11:30 am. Kyle told me to wait at home with Eva until it looked like it was about to start…punctuality isn’t exactly a priority, which I completely love in my new season of being a mom. So, about 1:30 he told me to walk over that people were starting to arrive. Well, I did but it didn’t begin until 3:15. The room was full and the director of the community center began by saying really nice things and saying “thanks for serving our community with free English.” He thanked Kyle for never missing a week. Then, several other men thanked us for having the naming ceremony. One man said, “Of all the African countries here, you chose Senegal. This is very important and very special. You are from America, but you are officially a part of this community and we pray your child has a long life.” They loved this and all agreed she should have a long life.
One of our friends is from West Africa. He was Muslim, but is now a pastor. He presented the Gospel using her name. Eva, is Hebrew for Eve, which means life. He shared how we were celebrating her name and life, but more we were celebrating the life we can all have in Christ. Then, another man from his church prayed over her dedicating her life to Christ.
Several other men chimed in saying traditional blessings. Kyle also said some really nice things to them thanking them for being so welcoming and accepting us as family.
Then, we all shared a meal (that we provided). And, thanks to a friend…we had enough lamb and rice and grape soda. ha
There was a moment today that I was standing by a Christian African man I had never met, who was praying in a language I could not understand, as he welcomed our baby into their community and I thought…”This is not exactly how I pictured her baby dedication.” ha