Monday, May 12, 2014

The Things We Don't Talk About...

"Alright class," I said to a rowdy bunch of middle schoolers, "Please sit down and get to work."

Some of the kids got to work, others still chatted with their nearest classmates.

"That's enough talking," I said a little firmer this time. "It is time to get working."

After a few seconds only one student continued to stand and goof around.

I took a deep breath and said in a calm but firm voice, "Sit down now."


My mind flashed back to another time and place. I saw myself walking in the market in Betroka ducking my head down as men called me, "vazaha (white foreigner)" and grabbed at my hair.  

I saw the reaction on my national friend's faces when they realized people were charging us double for groceries. 

I saw the drunken man swerve toward me and grab me as I walked up the hill with two little girls, making me fight to escape his grasp.

I saw men shoving unmentionable parts of cows in my face, and women shoving bugs in my face just to see me squirm.

I saw women teaching their children to call us "vazaha" and men dropping their children in our laps and laughing at their terrified screams. After all, we white people were going to steal their organs.

I saw the red faces and heard the sobs of my students as they related the fact that some kids threw rocks at them and pulled them off their bikes yelling, "VAZAHA!" on their ride to school that morning. I saw the looks of dread on their faces when I told them it was time to ride their bikes home. 

I saw the smiles and laughter of the Malagasy children as they taught me games, and the faces of our friends welcoming us into their home.

I saw my national friends being ridiculed by their friends for showing us around the town, welcoming us into their lives, though they knew they would be made fun of along with us.

Some treated us as special, others treated us as freaks. But everyday we knew we were different.

"No sir," I said calmly, knowing he had no idea what was going through my mind. "It's not because you are black. It is because you are the only one still standing."

"For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart." 1 Samuel 16:7b

I might be racist. I know I put too much weight on outward appearances. Praise the LORD that He does not. Red and yellow, black and white, we are ALL precious in His sight. 

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