Monday, October 3, 2011
What NOT to Do
Who knows if it’s still on today, but back when I babysat a sweet girl named Hope, we watched this TV show called, “What NOT to Wear.” The show takes people in serious need of clothing style intervention and has experts fly in to save the day with money and talent to create a new wardrobe for the lucky participant. Back then, I secretly pondered the idea of dressing frumpily for a month or two, in hopes that one of my friends would sign me up. Who knows, maybe after living in Africa for two years, I may qualify legitimately. ;)
When you’re assisting a mission team, not many people care what you wear, but there are certainly some things you shouldn’t do. Below is a sample from my trip to Tulear of things that were not the brightest ideas I’ve ever had. So here you have it – the Malagasy version of “What NOT to Do:”
#1: What not to do: feed your volunteers unknown food. I saw some kids enjoying green shavings of a fruit-like substance, and popped some in my mouth. I couldn’t figure out what it was, so I called one of the volunteers over and asked him to try it. He did. Only afterwards did I realize how badly that could have gone. Thankfully, God protected our stomachs and neither one of us had any problems even though the kids had a unique way of cleaning the shaving knife – licking it. :P As for the fruit, green mango is our best guess to date. :)
#2: What not to do: jump into deep holes you can’t get out of without help. Two of the volunteers and Mirana were having a medical and spiritual discussion with a woman in her home. I know it’s distracting if dozens of curious children are poking in all the time, so I decided to distract the kids. Eventually, I ran out of songs and games, and asked the kids to show me what they play. “Jump in the hole!” they yelled, running around like hooligans. I looked down in this six-foot deep hole, and realized I’m not going to be able to get out without help. The children proceeded to show me how they jump into the hole, do a little dance, and get pulled out by their friends. Not knowing if they would do the same for me, I jumped down in the hole, did a little dance, and raised my arms up, hoping my faith in them was not misplaced. Thankfully, the kids had a heart and pulled me out. Back in the hut, the lady that the volunteers and Mirana talked with prayed to become a child of God! SO worth it.
#3: What not to do: turn down marriage proposals. Especially from men who claim to love you for more than your ability to get them to America. At twenty-six, I am definitely considered an old maid here, and more than one gentleman told me, “We don’t have to live in the USA; we could live in the capital city, or the rain forest, or even here in this desert village!” How could I have rejected that?
#4: What not to do: assume to know the way from a dust cloud. Many of you would be jealous of all the cool roads I got to drive on – rock fields, sand dunes, ox cart trails, etc. I didn’t know how to get out to the Mahafaly villages, so I just followed Grant in the truck ahead of me. Sometimes his truck would kick up crazy dust clouds and I had to stop and wait for it to clear before I could continue on. One time we came to a split in the road. My car was so far behind that we couldn’t see his truck and didn’t know which way he had taken. All of a sudden, we saw a cloud of dust ahead on the path to the left. Diving into the forest with the truck, we raced along for a few minutes before we realized that the other car had not taken this road…the dust from the right trail had blown over on this one, fooling us all. Praise the Lord we were able to get back on the right track and didn’t encounter any bandits on the road home!
#5: What not to do: forget to exploit fears. One of the strong men of a village looked at Kelly, Steffi, and I and said, “If I saw you three girls walking down the road at night, I would be so scared I’d jump into a cactus!” We asked him why, and he said it was because we are white like ghosts. Oh the fun we could have had… :P
All in all, I had a WONDERFUL time on my jaunt down to Tulear with the team from the Southbridge Fellowship. The team came well prepared with hearts ready to learn and serve, so they were a joy to get to know and work with. It was such a blessing to get to see the ministry of my friends and co-workers in Tulear, the Waller family and Tessa, firsthand. On the medical side of the team, we were able to teach medical lessons, assess villages, coach a community health worker, visit people in their homes, answer many questions, and instruct classes of medical students at the university in the city.
I was delighted to have Mirana (our national partner pictured at the top) accompany me on this trip. We had many great chats. Seeing that she is competent in medical teaching and passionate about sharing Jesus, and knowing she will continue our work has been such a comfort and encouragement to me as Heather and I are packing up to come back to America. You guys can certainly be in prayer for us as we get all our stuff ready to return and say our goodbyes to the lovely people here. Amazingly enough, my next (and probably last) letter to y’all will probably be from the great state of Tennessee. What a remarkable time we have had here. What a privilege it has been to see God work here. Thank you for your prayers and the love you continually show me.
“The LORD sat enthroned at the Flood, and the LORD sits as King forever. The LORD will give strength to His people; the LORD will bless His people with peace.” Psalm 29:10-11