Reflections from Abroad: And My Name Is Also Watéo

Date posted: Monday 05 November 2018

Greetings and blessings to you all. My name is Maddie Lindahl. And my name is also Watéo Faye. I grew up in Lindstrom, Minnesota, and am currently in Linguere, Senegal as a Young Adult in Global Mission (YAGM) until July of 2019. I identify as a sinner, and a saint, but above all, as a servant.


Newly Named

I’m still pretty new here. I have only been in Senegal for a little over 2 months, and in Linguere for 7 weeks. Watéo is the name I was given by my host family. Giving a new name to someone who is new to Senegal is a way of welcoming them into the community. I had several people ask me before I left if I was worried about not being called Maddie for a year, but so far, I am appreciating the gesture as a way for the community to try to embrace me.


Here I am with my fellow YAGMs in Senegal (from left to right): Andrew, Rachel, Rachel, Sully - our incredibly talented tailor, Hannah, myself, and Zeb. We each had two Senegalese outfits made for us during orientation. This is another way in which we have been invited into Senegalese culture.

Much of this year has been trying to figure out who I am (and why I am the way I am), who God is calling me to be, and how to have the confidence to chase that calling. Honestly, I doubt that this is something I can even tackle in just one year. But I’m hoping that this year allows me the space to learn and grow in this.


It has been quite an adventure so far, discovering who I am outside of the culture and context of the United States – particularly the Midwest, where I have spent almost my whole life. I think it is interesting to spend so much time considering who and how I am what I am, all while taking in a new culture, learning Wolof (a language spoken widely throughout Senegal) and being called a new name.


Becoming Familiar With the New

Amidst so many new things I appreciate what I recognize as familiar. Although the church I worship in looks vastly different from my home church, the presence of God feels familiar. Although I still often struggle to say even simple things to my host family, the laughter we share feels familiar. Although this semi-arid and very sandy town feels so different, the streets are slowly becoming familiar, as are some of the people I pass by as I walk to work.


My familiar name is Maddie. My new name is Watéo. And I am appreciating each day I have here to consider who I am as a child of God, whether I am being called Maddie or Watéo. Whatever name you are called by, does it feel familiar, or is it somehow new? I pray that whatever name you are called by, that you remember that you are also called a child of God.


Maddie Lindahl


Madelin Lindahl is serving in the Senegal through Young Adults in Global Mission (YAGM) on behalf of the Saint Paul Area Synod & her home congregation Chisago Lake Lutheran in Center City. Learn more about Sarah & other missionaries here.