Today, I wanted to share with you a post from my supervisor, best friend, & neighbor - Jodie. She is married to Grant and the mom of 3 boys under age 6. Jodie is definitely a world traveler from being raised in a military home to now serving as a missionary. She recently wrote a beautiful and fantastically descriptive post about a morning here in Tulear and I knew I wanted to share it with you. In this post she shares how God has transformed her heart no matter where she is living. Thanks Jodie for letting me share this!
"We live in a small neighborhood that is surrounded by a 10-foot high cement wall, covered in barbwire. A group of Malagasy guards make rounds in order to make sure that we are safe. Going outside of our gate, I step onto a dusty road filled with the sounds of goats, ox-carts, taxis, mopeds, and lots of people. Sellers call out to those passing by in hopes of making a sale that will feed their family for a meal. The smell of fish and human feces fills the streets of this poor coastal town. Half dressed children chase me down the street, giggling as they yell “Bonjour! Bonjour!” hoping to catch the attention of the white person. The sun beats down on me as I walk down the street. The bottle of sunblock I poured all over my pale skin is melting off and I can feel sand sticking to my arms. I think how silly I must look wearing my traditional wrap and American sunglasses…but how could I possibly see anything with the sun beaming so brightly. It seems to be reflecting off of every surface: the sand on the road, the tin roofs of the small shacks that line the road, the broken down cars that creep by. I can feel the dirt in between my toes and start fantasizing about washing them the moment I get home. I turn off of the main road, and pass by a group of men who are surprised to see a white girl walking through their neighborhood. “Bonjour,” they say with a tone that makes me want to keep my head down and walk faster. I appreciate my sunglasses now, because they conceal my fearful eyes. Instead, I look confident and unphased.
I continue walking with a newfound appreciation for Islamic women who wear coverings over their whole face. I wonder if they too, feel a sense of security being hidden behind a mask. I realize that I have been walking for so long that I might have missed my next turn, which is a small vegetable booth that sits under a tree. I decide I will walk a few more minutes and turn back if I don’t see it. I feel relief when I find my friend Noro standing at her vegetable stand. She has only a few vegetables for sale, maybe 2 heads of lettuce, 3 tomatoes, and a couple of onions, but they are displayed neatly and with much pride. I take off my sunglasses and she kisses me on my left cheek, and then my right, and then my left again. We walk together back to another friend’s house.
Both women are elderly widows who cannot read or write. They look forward to visits from Christ-followers like me, who take the time to visit and share stories from God’s word. They welcome me into their small hut and give me the best seat they have. I see a rat run along the wall and draw my feet in closer. Melina, the other elderly lady, offers me tea. I look down into the cup and I am grief-stricken. I know that the water will end up making me ill, but I smile at the generosity of my friend and begin sipping. I share a Bible story and the women listen intently trying to decipher my poor southern dialect. Afterwards, we work together to make sure they understand. I feel worn out and defeated by the tough language that I feel I will never get. Melina ends our time in prayer, and offers up sweet praise to our Lord. I struggle to understand it all in her thick dialect, but I know that she is thanking God for sending me. I open my eyes to see precious tears falling down her thin cheekbones. My heart overflows. I kiss the ladies goodbye, and head home, back down the beaten path, but this time I go back smiling. My head is held high and my heart is filled with joy and peace. What an awesome God we serve! Even in the darkest, dirtiest, poorest places of the earth God still transforms hearts. He even changed mine!"