Anytime we head out into town, we know we will hear "Vazaha...Zazakely!!" which when translated means "Foreigner...baby!!" It's quite comical and of course Ryleigh loves the attention. Perhaps the place where you would really notice it is when we're at the big market - Tsena Sabotsy. There are aisles of sorts set up where different people are set up with their goods...fruit, dried fish, rice, plasticware, baskets, hats, etc.
As soon as the 1st seller has noticed us...aka notices Ryleigh...she/he will start passing the word down the aisle that the vazaha zazakely has arrived. Often whoever is not holding Ryleigh will simply pay attention to the ripple effect happening down the aisle. The people will stop what they are doing and start looking around others to get a glimpse of this vazaha zazakely. They want us to come down their aisles so they can get a closer look at our baby girl. Our reputation, per say, preceds us. Let's just say there is no way we could ever sneak up on anyone.
Steve and I have both, at different times, been struck by how much attention was paid to us when we go out. My prayer from the 1st time I had noticed this was that one day, perhaps the only reason we would be noticed is just because of Jesus. Not because our skin is a different color, our hair looks different, or because our Malagasy has a Southern twang to it...but only due to the difference that Christ makes in our lives.
One Sunday morning during the worship service, the pastor was preaching from Luke 18. In verse 36 & 37 it says, "When he heard the crowd going by, he asked what was happening. They told him, “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.” That afternoon, Steve started talking about how he flashed back to the way people are in the market. He was saying that he knows that right now people are just telling others we're coming because they think Ryleigh looks like a baby doll (this is what our language teacher told us). However, what if one day people started telling those around them that we were coming because they knew we brought the Good News of a Savior? What if they knew that we'd share stories of a Love that was greater than anything they ever imagined? How amazing would it be if people wanted us to come closer to them because when they looked at us, they saw Him? What if our reputation preceded us because His reputation was known?
A lot of "what ifs", yes, we know...but it doesn't mean we're going to stop praying that they come true. Will you join us?