Pierre is the guard here at the church, and the father of the family that I eat every meal with. He has also been a huge help to me here in Toliara, assisting me when I needed to get a visa and when I needed to travel to villages to help with water tanks. Pierre is an incredibly kind and hospitable servant, but one thing about him stands out to me like no other. There is a phrase that fills his speech, a refrain I hear again and again when I am with him, “Misaotra Andriamanitra.” Thank you God.
We will be in the middle of lunch, and I will comment on the delicious food. Pierre says, “Thank you God.”
We manage to obtain a vital piece of paperwork from the visa office. Pierre says, “Thank you God.”
We manage to maneuver a heave piece of furniture through a narrow doorway. Pierre, while still carrying the furniture says, “Thank you God.”
We finish a twenty-mile hike out to villages to help with water tanks. Pierre says, “Thank you God.”
Each time he does this, it catches me off guard, usually because it is a truth that I have totally neglected to acknowledge. I am thinking about how convenient it is that we got some work done on my visa, and Pierre is thinking about God’s providence. I am thinking about how heavy the piece of furniture is, and Pierre is thinking about how wonderful it is that we are moving it successfully. I want to be like Pierre because he realizes how imminent the invisible God is, and his heart is filled with thanks. When he suddenly starts talking to God, it doesn’t sound contrived; it is totally sincere. Pierre is praising God and pointing out the obvious.
Having lived here with Pierre, I have seen that this, “Thank you God,” is more than just a statement, it is the way he lives. Pierre exemplifies the thankful, humble, content life of a servant. I am not sure if thanks to God flows from Pierre’s speech because Pierre is so thankful or if Pierre is more thankful and content because he allows the truth of God’s providence to pour forth from his mouth. Either way, I want to be more like Pierre.