Friday, September 20, 2013

Arm in Arm

Over the last month in Madagascar I have learned many things. One of them is that I walk too fast for the Malagasy culture. I’ve always known I am a fast walker but here I am extremely fast.  I want to share with you two beautiful ways I have been reminded to slow my pace.
            During orientation on September 5th we were given the task to go on a “culture capture”. Austin and Tanya didn’t give us many parameters other than we had to be outside of the compound we have been living at for 1 hour and bring something back with us. The something could be a thought, an idea, or even something tangible. I set out having no idea what I was going to do or where I was going to go. I began to pray asking God to guide me and show me what he wanted to me to see. While I was praying I was quickly walking through the streets. Eventually, I ran into a group of students on what appeared to be a field trip. As you can imagine, they were walking pretty slow which slowed me down as well. I realized how quickly I was walking and decided to make a conscience effort to walk slower. I continued walking at my slower pace into a residential area. A pousse-pousse driver had been following me for a while now offering me a ride. I had politely declined several times but he was becoming quite vocal and rude. Two women who had been walking in front of me heard the driver and turned around to help me. After quite the exchange the pousse-pousse driver left and the women and I began talking. I stumbled through what little of a conversation I knew I could have and then we stared awkwardly at each other.  Then the most wonderful thing happened, each of the women took one of my arms and we began walking together.
            On Saturday the 14th, Rova, Hanta, Paulette, and I went out for a walk and to get some things at the market. Again, God gave me the kairos to slow down so that I could walk with these young women. I struggled to walk beside them instead of a couple steps in front of them but I did the best I could. We walked through the city and of course everyone stared at me. Rova must have sensed that I was uncomfortable because she came next to me and grabbed my armed. We continued the rest of the walk this way, arm in arm. Not only did this make me feel like I was part of the community but it helped the community see me as part of it too.
            These are two beautiful reminders that I have to walk, both literally and figuratively, with the Malagasy people this year. If I try to walk too quickly and do it on my own I wont get anywhere. However, if I walk arm in arm with my community and God who knows what is possible! So I am going to surrender my need to walk quickly and instead take the pace of those I am walking with, walking arm in arm. 

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