365 days

365 days. In the last 365 days, more changing has taken place than you can imagine.

First, I changed.

Transportation.  A few hours a day in the taxi??? Chasing after a taxi along with two dozen other people to get a seat during rush hour?? Being squeezed in between two strangers to the point you are half sitting on them??? Ridiculous traffic??? (you thought traffic going to the mall the weekend before Christmas was bad….not even close.) These things I could hardly deal with 365 days ago. The other day I realized that I don’t mind riding the taxi, hardly notice traffic, and enjoy the opportunity of talking to the people squeezed in around me. Especially the kids….the little two year old sitting by me today… Too cute!!! And chasing taxi’s during rush hour, now THAT is fun. J

Language. Fear. That is how I would describe the feeling when someone tried to talk to me, especially in a public place like on the taxi. Most conversations (if you could call them that…) were peppered with, ‘could you repeat that slowly?’ and usually ended in, ‘I don’t understand, I only speak a little Malagasy.’ I realized the other day that those phrases have all but been retired and replaced with thoroughly enjoying conversations that come up each day.

Chores. I have to go to the market every day?? It takes how long to cook rice?? Washing clothes doesn’t mean throwing them in the machine then moving them to the dryer 45 minutes later?? What are ‘clothes pins’ again?? Yeah, going to the market is a daily thing that I enjoy doing, that and the ladies who sell veggies get on me if I haven’t visited their market for a while. Cooking rice and then cooking the laoka does take a long time, but the result are worth it. And…..on those lazy days…..I have found you can buy packages of noodles that have seasoning packets to go with them just like top ramon. J Washing the clothes….still not my favorite task, but the clothes pins and I are good friends now.

Second, not only have I changed in the last 365 days, Madagascar has changed too.

The seasons. Rainy season wasn’t nearly as bad as I had thought it might be. We never even got rained out of out church, that has a very um….holey…. roof, on a Sunday morning. The hot season, yeah it was hot. But not too hot and keeps me from looking like a total ghost here. Cold season. It’s cold. For sure. But who doesn’t want to end the day wrapped in a blanket wearing fuzzy socks, gloves, a coat and hat?

The produce. Each new month brought a delicious new selection of fruits and veggies. Some I had never heard of, but quickly fell in love with. I think December is defiantly my favorite month for fruit. And then there are the beautiful flowers that come with each new season. The Bird of Paradise plants outside my house were my all time favorite this year.

The work. From rice field being planted, the fields turning bright green, then changing into yellow to harvesting the rice, each season brings it’s own work. Now the rice fields are being used to make bricks? There are piles of mud in the fields and stacks and stacks of bricks.

The changes Madagascar has gone through this year have once again brought this beautiful country back to how it was six years ago when I came on a short term summer trip, fell in love, and left part of my heart here. The brick fields. The red poinsettia flowers in bloom. The bananas and oranges on the fruit stands. The gray clouds. The cold wind. Each day is a reminder that THIS is where God wants me to be and in that, THIS is where I want to be.

The changes that have happened in me have made me a different person. Not just in my lifestyle, the new foods I eat or in speaking Malagasy, but a new person in the way I see the world. In the way I love. And my relationship with God. I know that now, America isn’t home anymore, nor is Madagascar. Home is wherever God places me. Yeah, change is hard. Really hard. But I wouldn’t trade the last 365 days for anything.

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