I think it is a good idea to add a few people to the list of people I spend time with here. Things have changed a lot since I posted about it in September. Pierre’s family now lives on the other side of town, so the people I used to spend the most time with are ones I hardly ever see now. But thankfully, there are lots of other people here to fill the void.
Benja was on the old list, but I mention him again because now I see him way more often. Pierre’s family, sadly had to move so now I eat every meal with Benja, his wife, and his three sons. Benja is an incredible servant and always has a huge smile on his face. What makes it even better is that, when he smiles, he looks a lot like Jamie Foxx.
I’m probably spelling her name wrong, but it is the best I can do. She is Benja’s wife, and she is the one who does most of the cooking here now. I’ll say more about her sons here in a second, but I’ll go ahead and say that it is so great watching her show us so much hospitality in the midst of taking care of a 1-year-old and a 3-year-old. It is hard to believe how patient she can be. Her picture above does not communicate how joyful she is, and that is because, culturally, many people do not like to smile in pictures.
Majery, Fano, and Soa
These are Benja’s three sons, and they are the most fun kids ever! When I first arrived in Madagascar small children were afraid of me. I was the strange tall foreigner who couldn’t understand anything. Then, after a couple months, they entered a new phase where they started laughing at me. I was strange, but in a funny way. Now that they are more used to my presence and now that I can speak more, the kids want to play!
Majery means “strong.” He is 9-years-old and Benja’s oldest son. He’s a bit quiet, but very smily like his Dad. Perhaps he is quiet because his brothers are very busy making so much noise. His favorite hobbies revolve around pretending to be a ninja (Naruto and Dragonball Z have crossed cultures to Madagascar).
Fano is short for Fanomazana which means “gift.” Fano is 3 and is still in that pull-your-hair-out terrible-twos stage of life. However, it is very fun for me to watch since I am not his parent. He also happens to like me a lot. Just be careful at dinner because he might throw a spoon at you.
Soa is one, and “Soa” means “good.” He likes to giggle and pee, and in a culture without diapers, just be aware that he might pee on you.
William is a fellow American, and halfway through December he became my roommate here at Ankilifaly. William is a 37-year-old high school history teacher from America, who is currently taking a year long Sabbatical. For part of that Sabbatical, he decided to come here for two months. He is great to talk to and, being a history teacher, is super interesting. If you would like to pray for William, he is currently experiencing the same thing I did when I first came, which is lots of stomach problems.
Johnson is the main person I disciple here, although I am pretty sure I learn more from him when we are together than he does from me. Three year ago he couldn’t really speak English, but he has worked very hard and now his English is great. In fact hard-working is a perfect word to describe Johnson. He is always eager to learn something, whether that be about the Bible, America, English, or the World in General. Right now, is a student at the University here, studying to be an Engineer, and thus he enters the ever growing list of friends of mine who studied Engineering. How did I get to be friends with so many Engineers?
I have mentioned Aubin before in a post, but now I see him more than ever. When I first got here, Aubin was a tour guide, leading Westerners like me to through National Parks. He was studying hard to learn the names of birds. He has know the Bishop for a long time which is how I met him, and he was my guide when I went on my trip up the coast to Morombe. In December, the Bishop decided to make him an employee of the church and now Aubin does lots of work with Evangelism and translation with us.