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It Sounded Like Beautiful Music

It Sounded Like Beautiful Music

A Letter From Madagascar

It Sounded Like Beautiful Music

MY HUSBAND and I were heading for our new missionary assignment​—the island of Madagascar. We said our last good-byes and swallowed our tears and fears, trusting that Jehovah would plant us where we would grow.

We’ll never forget our first congregation meeting in our new assignment. The brother presiding at the Watchtower Study seemed as though he were conducting a symphony orchestra. Our grasp of the language was so limited that the spoken word sounded like beautiful music. It would be a long time before we could be sure of what was being said.

The first time I understood an auxiliary question, I accidentally answered it out loud. Those sitting close to me heard it, and I had to muffle my laughter with my hands. I was embarrassed yet excited that I had actually understood something being said!

Instead of being the one who was setting an example for others in the ministry, I felt that I was the one being held by the hand. The brothers and sisters lovingly told me how to give an understandable presentation in the field ministry, showing me what to say and which scriptures to use.

I remember one day when I was in the ministry, a child called out, “Vazaha! Vazaha!” This is the common Malagasy term for “foreigner.” We quickened our pace in hopes that other children would not be summoned to bellow out the same refrain. Then a boy scolded the one doing the yelling. “She’s not a foreigner,” he said, “she can speak our language!” The local sister who was with me had to interpret what they said because they were speaking too quickly for me to understand. Still, I felt a flush of satisfaction. Madagascar was finally beginning to feel like home.

On more than one occasion when I felt lonely, a tiny hand crept into one of mine, and I looked down to see a smiling face that seemed so happy to see me even though I could not communicate very well. The young ones in the congregation are such a blessing from Jehovah. One young sister, Hasina, has become my personal interpreter. When no one else understands me, she seems to. And she often comes to my rescue when I am trying to communicate with my friends in the congregation, explaining to them what I actually mean.

My husband and I were in a congregation that was about to divide to form a new one. This meant that some Bible studies needed to be turned over to others to conduct because the students lived in the new congregation’s territory. One sister encouraged me to conduct one of her studies. I was afraid and insisted that I was not yet ready, but she was very persuasive. She assured me that with Jehovah’s help, I could do it. With soft, kind eyes and in the simplest language possible, she told me that I would soon be able to teach others the way I would like to. Those words were so encouraging to me.

Since then, that student has progressed nicely. One day when I was outside, I heard her call my name. She and her husband were on their way to have their marriage legalized. He has begun to study, and they have several spiritual goals that they are trying to attain, including the goal of baptism. That brought me joy, though I know that it is not us but Jehovah who draws a person to him.

We have learned so much in this new assignment. Although we miss our friends and family back home, we feel as though we have brought a part of them here with us. We often speak of them to the brothers and sisters here, and now they even ask about them and about how they are doing. We look forward to the time when our “families” can unite and meet one another.

I still hear “music” when people speak. But now I understand the words. I’m looking forward to the time when I can add to the music in a harmonious way instead of sounding out rapid notes once in a while like a trumpet. Jesus said: “Never be anxious about the next day, for the next day will have its own anxieties.” (Matthew 6:34) So we’ll just keep learning one “note,” or one word, at a time. And for now, I will keep tuning my ears, mind, and heart so as to be able to work side by side with our patient and loving brothers and sisters here in Madagascar.

[Picture on page 25]

Preaching with Hasina