Moving to rural West Africa to work for five months with a missionary family that you’ve never met could go catastrophically wrong. Luckily for me, the family I worked with were the Forsythes. Made up of six people who could speak four languages in order to connect with Senegalese people by discussing daily problems and spiritual significance, the Forsythes could be an intimidating bunch. However, they are also delightfully weird, and this makes them infinitely relateable.
Kimberley and Travis Forsythe are a power couple of emotion (Kim) and logic (Travis). They get things done, whether its arranging to get a new generator for the local hospital or starting a kids’ Bible study in their front yard.
The fact that I love Travis is astounding, since our first conversation was about how he enjoyed shooting stray cats for his neighbors. My overlooking this horrific hobby ought to demonstrate just how great he is in every other area of life. One afternoon when I was napping at their house, I woke to see he had moved two standing fans from the living room (where he was) to the foyer, so I could sleep in a cool breeze.
Kimberley began as a mentor, and while she still very much is one (she helped me decide to go to Greece by reminding me to “never make a decision based on fear”), I am so happy to call her my friend as well. Her passion overflows whenever she talks about God, her family, the people she loves, or the hurt in the world. She has a childlike joy that is infectious to be around, just like her wonderful laugh.
There are four Forsythe kids, and they are all awesome. I didn’t get to know Gloria very well while I lived in Fatick, because she was in a school in Dakar. But we’ve gotten closer during our two Senegal Reunions, and I’m so mad we didn’t have more time to hang out! She has excellent taste in music (i.e. my taste in music) and has a quiet but rebellious spirit that comes out in green hair streaks and a wicked talent for henna.
Nate is all boy, and all fun. He is quick to create an adventure, which means every time we hang out is amazing. He grew three feet, give or take, between the time I lived in Senegal and our second reunion, which is wonderful. Now we can wear the same pants and he can give me piggy back rides. He thinks he is so cool, which shows a high degree of self-awareness, because he totally is.
Melody is all girl, and all compassion. During our first conversation I mentioned liking cheetahs, so she immediately went to her room to change into a leopard-print leotard, I suppose so I could have an aesthetically pleasing view. She is constantly on the lookout for ways to help people, whether in getting food or offering massages. She loves looking beautiful, and luckily for her, she always is.
Ethan is the sweetest kid on the planet. He loves American junk food, and every time someone from the States brought his favorite snack, he would immediately give some to me. I had to learn to be careful pointing out things that I liked, because he would inevitably give them to me, including his watch, his ice cream, and his favorite toys (I gave those back, but, uh….not the watch or the ice cream). He has a tender heart, and he loves to make sure the people he loves are happy.
Individually, the Forsythes are the best. All together, they are almost overpowering in their awesomeness. I will always treasure our Friday Pizza Nights where we would all make food from scratch and pile onto their couch to watch the latest downloaded episode of LOST or Chuck. Spending time with them is always fun, relaxed, and full of laughter. It’s also convicting and encouraging. Being with the Forsythes fills my soul, I guess, and every day I am not with them is a little less amazing than it could be.