Mountain View Presbyterian informally adopts village in Senegal

MARYSVILLE — Mountain View Presbyterian Church is getting ready to hold its annual charity auction and dessert. It’s a social event that funds a lot of the church’s activities, but especially its missions.

Like many churches, community outreach is a central tenet of the church’s philosophy of living a life in faith.

Local activities that the church supports include the Marysville Community Lunch and Master’s Feast programs, both of which provide meals to the homeless. Mountain View is one of the sponsoring churches of Marysville’s Cold Weather Shelter program, which opened for the first time last winter.

But there is also a significant international element to the church’s work, which includes an upcoming youth trip in July to build homes in Mazatlan, Mexico, and an ongoing project in Senegal in West Africa, now in its sixth year.

The Senegal project is a mission the church is committed to, Pastor John Mason said, even though the conditions are difficult.

Mountain View Presbyterian has informally adopted the Senegalese village of Diagle (pronounced “Jog-lay”), which lies inland about four hours by car from the coastal capital of Dakar.

Senegal is one of the more difficult countries in the world for mission work, Mason said. The population is mostly Muslim.

“Often American culture and missionaries are seen as suspect,” Mason said.

In Diagle, however, the church found a welcoming community.

The Wolof people, the dominant tribe in the area, have very tight-knit communities, but have also had positive relationships with missionaries in the past, even though they haven’t actually converted.

The weather is tropical, with temperatures of 115 common during the day, cooling down to about 95 at night, Mason said. And the power often goes out at night, so you can’t use a fan to cool off.

Modern medical facilities are also few and far between.

The church’s volunteers — most of them pay their own way to get there — have repaired the local school and installed a latrine nearby, helped rebuild huts that were damaged in severe rainstorms, and in 2008-09, provided grain and rice to help the village as part of a wider-ranging famine relief program.

The church has further plans to build what’s known as a “medical hut” — a hut similar to the village’s typical dwellings, but staffed by a local resident trained in first aid and who can keep the hut stocked with medical supplies.

“These are people who never have access to Tylenol or antibiotics. They don’t have access to bandages or might not even know how to keep a wound clean,” Mason said.

The medical hut, he said, “is an example of something sustainable.”

As for the religious component of mission work, the church lives more by example than by persuasion. The missionaries aren’t afraid to say they are motivated by their love of Jesus, Mason said, and the residents of Diagle are happy to talk about that with them without coming under any pressure.

“We’re not forcing our religion on them, but we’re not hiding it,” Mason said. “We recognize it’s going to be a long-term process.”

Supporting missionary activities comes from the church’s finances, and its auction in three years has become the largest single fundraiser during the year.

Mason said he expects the event to raise between $5,000 and $10,000.

Especially in Senegal, those dollars can go far, he said.

Chris Winters: 425-374-4165; cwinters@heraldnet.com.

Charity auction

Mountain View Presbyterian Church’s third annual charity auction and dessert will be held at 6 p.m. Saturday, May 31, at the church at 5115 100th St. NE in Marysville. Tickets are $10 per person or $20 per family with up to four members. Tickets include dessert, which this year is taking the theme of an old-time soda shop, with root beer floats and ice cream sundaes. Tickets can be bought from the church office or by calling 360-659-7777.

In addition, the church is hosting a plant sale the same day from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., also with proceeds going to support the missions.

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