Roxana runs a nearby shop that we found as soon as we moved to Tulear. She sells a smaller amount of most things we can find in our "grocery store" plus she has fresh fish and shrimp. We immediately knew we'd get along well with her because she offered to call Steve when fresh fish arrived at her shop! Over the past few months, I've stopped in occasionally and she always gets on to me for not stopping to see her sooner. She would explain to me how it's important to stop by just to visit and not only when you needed to buy something. Embarrassed at the lack of relationship I had built, I decided to make an intentional effort to stop by at least once a week.
Yesterday, I walked to her shop for the sole purpose of spending some one - on - one time with her. As I was leaving the house, my stomach was in knots. Ryleigh was at home with a high fever, her shop is always SUPER hot, and there were about 15 things I needed to be working on at home...but I knew that Roxana's shop was where I was supposed to be headed. While I was walking, I noticed with a smile on my face at how overcast it was (this doesn't happen in September) and that there was a wonderful breeze blowing. I thanked the Lord for providing a cool day for me to visit with her. He not only gave me a "good feeling" weather wise - He continued to calm my mind, heart, (and stomach!), as I arrived at her shop. She welcomed me with a smile and immediately offered me a seat by her.
Roxana was excited to hear that I had come just to talk with her. The Lord was beyond gracious in allowing my ears to understand what she was saying, as well as giving me words to speak back to her! I was talking with a vocabulary that I didn't realize I knew! I discovered that Roxana's husband owns the shop that she runs and they have four children. She grew up believing in Jesus but is now Muslim. **In Madagascar, the custom is that when you marry - you must adopt the beliefs of your husband** I was able to share with her a short version of my testimony as well as the fact that I believed Jesus was the only way to eternal life. She said she understood what I said but "just because we are friends doesn't mean we believe the same things".
I spent a lot of time listening yesterday morning, because often religions may be named but the beliefs behind them are quite different from what you might expect. She doesn't wear the "traditional" Muslim clothing and she believes the main difference between the two of us is that "You (Nickolee) talk about Jesus everyday, I (Roxana) talk about Him every once in a while. He is just not important enough to talk about everyday." She told me that her Qu'ran was just like my Old Testament and that they were interchangeable. She mentioned some of the names may be different but that they are indeed the same people. She did say that all religions must believe Jesus is the only way to heaven or they will not go. The fancy word for this is "syncretism" but it means that lots of beliefs have been combined into one. Although, she tells others she's Muslim - her beliefs are not that of a strictly Muslim faith.