One Weird, New Year’s Missionary Idea…(and other thoughts)

I sit down to write a blog and wish that I had the right message to share with you. Truly, I get anxiety (although that’s not surprising if you know me well enough) about writing my thoughts because I think to myself, “I don’t have anything enlightening to write about.” Another thought is, “I’m just a glorified mess…and a missionary…is it supposed to be this way?”

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I wrestle between writing about what people want to hear (or maybe it’s just the pressure I put on myself to write what you want hear), and giving you the truth of my heart as a missionary woman, wife, mother and friend.

That said I’m sitting here staring at this bright screen, with a heap of mixed emotions, over the top humidity, an ever-growing creature population…and strangers passing by continuing to holler, “Bonne Annee!”

Happy New Year? Is it? I grin and give an enthusiastic reply to all passing by, but lately, it seems my joy has been misplaced.

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On New Year’s Eve, I taxied my wiry self into town with a friend from our village. My intentions were good (mixed up with sin, of course). In Malagasy culture, it is common to give a gift at the New Year…our team leader clued us in to this and said that people would ask us, “Where is my gift for the New Year?”

I tend to hear things the way I want to hear them (do you know what I mean…?) and take it as a personal challenge. If anyone asks me for a gift, boy, I was going to give them something! I have an abundance…there’s no pretending otherwise…and the last thing I want is to come across as a greedy, old Grinch this year.

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My mission to town was to get 20 kilos of frozen fish, 5 chickens, a turkey, 50 kilos of rice, and sodas. I had this weird missionary idea of sharing food with my neighbors…but no clear plan in place…

I started with the neighbors closest to us…then I branched farther out and I began to get that awkward feeling in the pit of my stomach that wished I had never began this weird idea in the first place.

A prominent friend in the village came to rescue me from the awfully awkward…Martin, a cattle herdsman and farmer brought his children and they began the trek alongside me to visit every house with a small gift. He took me by surprise…I mean, he didn’t sign up for this…yet he came, he steered me in the right directions; we started with the sick (Duh? Yes, great idea Martin…wish I had thought of that…) and each time we sat on the porch of someone new he helped me with language and conveying the message of a heart that is thankful to God.

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Martin asked me in his language, “Why are you doing this?” I said, “I really just don’t want to cook today.” He laughed at that and I went on to tell him that I like the idea of sharing food, sharing a meal together and experiencing God’s faithfulness with a thankful heart in a tangible way.

We were tired when we finished. I thanked him for walking alongside me in this task.

After arriving back home, Mama Simone hollered up at me and said the ladies had prepared a big meal with the rice and fish and she said “Karibo Mihina!” (Come and eat!). Sitting in a circle with my neighbors, watching Bryan cram himself into crisscross applesauce, the kids (especially the girls) begrudgingly sitting with their Sakalava brothers and sisters, Bryan praying in the Sakalava language, and thinking to myself, “This sure is different from last year,” we all shared a meal at our table on the floor.

I have no resolutions. The New Year has arrived and may we all be present in every moment with Christ (that’s most especially aimed at me), finding our strength and joy in Him.

Peace and rest brothers and sisters,

Rebe

Here are some extra photos from Christmas and New Years…

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Just before Christmas we went out for the day with our Home Stay Family…we have become close to them and ask that you pray especially for these relationships.

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Mama Jonson is an amazing cook and it doesn’t matter where she is or what she has she will come up with something delicious.

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Camden’s keeping our pirogue from floating away…he’s so responsible…

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She’s a trooper and can hold her own around the boys…

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At the end of the year, Elly Schoepp, a friend and co-worker, and I ran a race up Nosy Komba (meaning: giant rock)…it was really hard for me, but Elly made it look like a walk in the park…

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We spent Christmas away from the village with our team…it was a nice rest with good fellowship and food.

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We made Christmas cookies and Keely ate em up…!

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We got a package from our Uncle Robb and Aunt Amy and we enjoyed those fun gifts from home…thank you!

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On New Year’s Day we brought the turkey and chickens, the guitar and drum and we joined our home-stay family for a big feast.

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gobble….gobble…

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We can’t say it wasn’t fresh…

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Outdoor kitchen and it’s almost ready to eat…!

13Happy New Year Children!