So this is love….

I’ve never had a heart for Africa. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I don’t care about Africa (obviously), it’s just that I love people…from any continent, really. I love the idea of being a part of someone’s growth and development. I love watching God restore brokenness in much wounded hearts and the tears and laughter that accompany real friendships. I love the silliness of children and I love genuine heart to hearts. I treasure smiles and I consider it a pleasure when someone shares their life with me.

This may come as a surprise for some of you but, I didn’t come to Madagascar because I had a heart for the country. I came because after much prayer and consideration, I felt as though that was where God wanted me to go. I came in anticipation, knowing that God would reveal to me bit by bit why He wanted me here.

You may have heard about the different stages of culture shock…well, to be honest I haven’t really taken the time to identify which stage I am currently in, but I can definitely tell you that I skipped one of the earlier ones. I never went through the honeymoon stage. As some of you know, after 2 hours of being here (literally), I wanted to turn straight around and get back on that plane to the U.S. and forget that Madagascar was ever in my cards. Sounds a little embarrassing, seeing as I was supposed to come as a missionary excited to share the Gospel with those around me, but really, I just missed my friends and my comfy little Southern Californian bubble. You all had sent me off with such words of encouragement and prayers, while telling me that you thought I was brave …and yet, I froze after minutes of stepping off the plane.

That was day one. Fast forward 5 months later, to today, and here I am- in love; completely smitten with Mada. I was never infatuated with the culture. It too real work for me to want to be here for the first month or so. Everyone adjusts differently. I’m still not infatuated. Instead, I’m in love with real people, with real stories, and real lives. In other words, now that I know them, how can I not help but love them? They are beautiful.

I was just talking to someone from church the other day about how Mada has a way of digging itself into your heart. I wish that I could fly you all over to my home in Imerinafovony and show you firsthand what it’s like here so that this wonderful place and these beautiful people could capture your heart as well.

I wish that you could meet the students that I teach and see how incredibly talented they are and how their personalities truly come out when we play games in class. I wish that you could have been here when Hattie still lived with Lara and I and heard the laughter that echoed in our flat. I wish that you could meet Mamonjy, our friend who works here as a taxi driver, and see his encouraging smile as we speak to him in very broken Malagasy. There are so many people that I wish that you could meet. Too many to list, really. Truly, without the people, Madagascar would just be an island full of forests, deserts, and lemurs. It’s beautiful here, but it’s not the landscape that I’m in love with, it’s the people.

Anyway, so I’ve been here for 5 months now. I don’t often get the opportunity to share with you the precious interactions with people that have played a vital role in shaping my heart since coming here. So, I have decided to take the time to relive a few of these stories with you. I’ll start with one for today and then hopefully over the next few blog entries, I can send you some more.

Vonona ve? Ready?

Okay, so meet Perline. I know that “beautiful” seems to be my choice adjective in this blog post but really, that’s what she is. When I first met her, I knew her as the woman who cleaned our house and did our laundry, which of course, made me uncomfortable. I thought to myself, “I can definitely clean my own house and do my own laundry…” haha JOKES! Truthfully, I knew how to operate a washing machine but not actually clean all my laundry by hand…but I quickly realized that Perline depends on this for income. That’s employment.

Funny side story, by the way, we started language learning during our first week of orientation here. I was a little nervous speaking the language, well, because, it’s not my language. We had learned all the phrases but had not actually been able to practice much. So anyway, during my first week I kind of avoided Perline because I was afraid to introduce myself to her in Malagasy. One day, as she was hanging our laundry outside, I reviewed with Hattie about what I should say to her. My back was turned to Perline and I thought, “Well, if I don’t do it now, I probably won’t do it later.” So, in determination, I quickly turned around, stuck out my hand, and blurted out, “Brittany no anara’ko, ary anao?” There were no pauses. I had no clue what the intonations were or where they should be placed, and my accent didn’t help. It just came out as an incoherent blob of words. Needless to say, Perline didn’t actually understand anything I said, so Hattie had to come and reintroduce me….we laughed about that for a while after.

Anyway, back to the real story. As I said, I felt uncomfortable with Perline cleaning our house without having any sort of friendship with her, so when an opportunity came up for me to teach her English, I took it without hesitation. After a few weeks of teaching her, she invited Hattie, Lara, and I over to her house for lunch after church. So, we sat down in her cozy home and enjoyed a time of eating rice and chicken and playing charades. Well…not that we were formally playing charades, it’s just when you can’t speak each other’s language well, that’s what it turns into-charades. We mimed out things while frantically flipping through our Malagasy dictionaries, trying to communicate with each other. We laughed. We somehow understood one another, and we enjoyed a friendship that went beyond words. J

So, Perline lives next to a rice field and at the time, Lara hadn’t walked through one yet. So, we scanned our dictionaries for the word “field” in Malagasy and sooner or later, found ourselves in a maze of rice. Now, I’m not sure if you have ever seen or been to a rice field, but you have the rice and then in between, a tiny little path to walk on. So, even though it’s really fun, if you’re not used to walking through one, you spend most of your time concentrating on where your foot goes and hoping that you don’t fall….unless you’re Brittany Farmer.

If you’re Brittany Farmer, you at some point get distracted by a beautiful butterfly that happened to go by at the same time that your foot should have been touching the path…but instead, your foot misses the path and heads straight for the rice, causing the rest of your body to begin to topple over as well…and if you’re Perline, and have a heart of gold, you do everything in your power to make sure that Brittany doesn’t fall (seriously, I had scratch marks on my arm afterward from her trying to grab me), not knowing that Brittany is clumsy and will fall regardless of what you do. Needless to say, my foot went in completely.

So, that was funny and all, but this is the part worth listening to.

I pulled my muddy foot out of the rice and started laughing. I took my shoe off, thinking that maybe I could wipe the mud on the bit of grass that coated the path. Without any hesitation, Perline grabbed my shoe and began washing it in the bit of water next to the rice. After that, she grabbed my foot and as she knelt on her knees, washed every inch of mud off of my skin. I stood there in amazement watching her. I didn’t even have time to protest because I was so overwhelmed by how much of Jesus I saw in Perline in that moment. She didn’t even miss a beat. There was no question in her mind over whether this was the right thing to do or not. While the rest of us were laughing (trust me, it was funny), Perline jumped straight to servant hood. I’ll never forget that. That little interaction shifted something inside of me.

I just kept thinking, “That is what Jesus is like.” I had traveled for close to 30 hours to come and share the Gospel with others and yet, it was being shared with me, by actions and not speech.

Perline willingly humbled herself that day, and I knew that I was witnessing love first hand.

So…some exciting news! I finished this blog this morning and Perline came over to clean this morning. She looked at me and said, “misy vaovao faly!” I have good news. She’s pregnant! She prayed for a baby girl and that is what she has! Her stomach is so tiny that I couldn’t even tell. Praise the Lord.

❤ Brittany

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Meet Perline.

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Hattie, Perline and I in the rice fields.

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Lara, Perline, and I

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Lara actually got a picture of Perline washing my feet. I will never forget that moment. ❤

When Grace Meets Dirt

My feet are always dirty.

You see, I live in a place where dirt attracts itself to me like a magnet. If there is such a thing as a sidewalk, it is made up of slabs of granite with deep crevices in them that are filled with mud and other suspicious substances. When it rains, which it does often, that dirt-water mixture spreads itself across the entirety of this “sidewalk” making it impossible to avoid stepping in. So, I play hopscotch a lot. I try to jump from any part of the ground not covered in mud to the next, but I am usually unsuccessful. Malagasy people seem to hate the rain. So, as I attempt to skip across the pavement, they shove past me in all sorts of directions, trying to get to the next dry area…which of course, usually knocks me into these giant puddles. Hence why my feet are always dirty.

Well, that’s not completely why. Truthfully, I feel unclean even on Madagascar’s driest days. Every Monday and Thursday, I squeeze myself onto a bus and in between people who may or may not be able to shower on a daily basis. Madagascar is humid and the buses are tiny, so it is normal for people to sweat in these cramped spaces. When I get off the bus, I walk along the streets with adults and children whose clothes have all turned a dusty brown color because they are dressed in their only outfit and do not have the means to wash it. Through the markets, flies buzz around raw meat relentlessly and buckets of bloody water (from the meat) rest on the ground next to some of these meat shops.

Even at home I am unable to avoid dirt. Our dear friend who cleans our house swept and mopped my bedroom floor the other day. I washed my feet before stepping into my newly cleaned room and enjoyed the smooth wooden floors while I could, knowing that they would collect more dust and particles in no time. Yes, I have accepted dirtiness as a part of life here. I know that there is no use in fighting it. I will be surrounded by it whether or not I want to.

To be honest, it’s pretty easy for me to understand being dirty in the context of a 3rd world country. What’s difficult, however, is knowing how to handle dirtiness within myself and others. The past two months, I have been exposed to sin in forms unimaginable. To begin with, I have noticed some unpleasantness within my own heart. There’s no need to sugarcoat it. Being in a place where I am stripped of any sort of familiarity and comfortableness has brought out a few beasts in me that I didn’t even know existed. Likewise, living in community with others, I have recognized that I am not the only one with a messy heart. I have been brought to my knees time and time again while being here, praying for forgiveness for my own sins and asking that God would help to shape the community that I have here into His likeness.

I’ve come to a point where I have had to realize that I am messy. There’s no such thing as a human without sin and heart issues. It doesn’t matter what our upbringing or background is, we are imperfect and unfortunately, it shows sometimes. Well, no. I take that back. It’s not unfortunate. You know why? Because when we are confronted with our own brokenness and depravity, we are also at a place to meet grace. That is what has happened to me.

I’ve been tossed and turned by the waves of sin and have realized that my only solution is to learn to accept that my sin is a part of life. However, I can’t just acknowledge this and continue living sinfully. If I notice my sin, what response is there than to repent and to cry out to God for grace? I’m learning to do this on a daily basis. Days where I choose to try to hide or solve my dirtiness on my own, are days that I am plagued with guilt, shame, and dissatisfaction. Grace is the passage to freedom and offers cleanliness in a way that no other means of getting rid of dirt can.

Christ’s grace is sweet. What Christ did on the cross for us is so precious. Because of Christ, I am reconciled to God despite my sin. In fact, I am seen as clean and without blemish and flaws. This is what happens when grace meets dirt: it loses its “magnetic” properties. It may come towards us, but it cannot stick.

❤ Brittany

A Day of Many Firsts

Today I walked through the streets with the biggest smile on my face and people stared at me, as if they were trying to figure out what inside joke I had made with myself. Yes, I was completely aware that faces were turning more than they usually did, but I couldn’t help it. Truthfully, I did feel as though I had been let in on a secret that I had been dying to know for quite some time.

Here it is: There is nothing to be afraid of when God is with you.

That’s it. That is what has been making me laugh all day. I know that the Bible says “Do not fear” 365 times (one for every day of the year), but that hasn’t stopped anxiety from taking root in me and convincing me to avoid the simplest tasks here in Madagascar.  In fact, just last night I messaged two of my friends and asked them to pray for me because I couldn’t even walk out of my gate without being overcome with anxiety.

Now, to clarify, I wasn’t anxious because it isn’t safe to live here in Madagascar. It is safe, just like at home. Some places you don’t go to and others are okay. I was anxious because everything is still new and I’m still trying to figure out how to maneuver my way through life here. Simply put, when you move to a new country, you are constantly making mistakes and people notice.

Today, however, anxiety was replaced with joy.

For the first time since being here, I approached God with open hands and asked Him to guide me through my day. Not that I haven’t asked Him to help me before, but in the past, I have basically asked him to remove any circumstance that could potentially be anxiety provoking. Anyone who has been introduced to this little thing called “life” would know that that isn’t how it works. Besides, I can’t live hoping that nothing challenging will ever happen to me.

A shift in perspective occurred this morning as I was praying about my day. For the first time, I asked myself, “How can God reveal Himself to you in situations that cause you to be uncomfortable?” “Is God able to work through situations that provoke anxiety?” I realized that if I hide out within the boundaries of my comfort zone, that I’ll never experience God in discomfort. So, I prayed instead, that God would teach me to rely on Him even when things feel unfamiliar and scary to me.

That answer to that prayer presented itself in the form of small victories.

For the first time since being in Madagascar, I was able to catch a bus by myself and not be overcome with embarrassment when I mispronounced a word or had to ask a stranger on the street for help.

For the first time, I wasn’t over analyzing my lesson plan before I went to teach English and embraced the fact that as a new teacher, no one expects me to have the teaching abilities of someone who has been teaching for years.

For the first time, I was invited to the home of a Malagasy student/friend of mine and accepted that there would be awkward silences, because neither of us speak each other’s language well. Sometimes someone’s presence is more powerful than their words.

For the first time, I awkwardly squeezed myself onto a bus, while accidently hitting people along the way (the buses are tiny), and didn’t care that people began to stare at me after I apologized out loud in English. Just a side note, Malagasy bump into each other all the time. It’s normal, so people don’t really say sorry…especially in English.

For the first time, I was able to go to the market and buy vegetables in broken Malagasy all by myself. I didn’t care that I was the only brown person in there who didn’t speak Malagasy.

For the first time, I saw a cockroach outside of my house and didn’t scream. Now, don’t get me wrong, I still think that those little flying, hissing, critters are the spawn of Satan, but it’s a step in the right direction.

Do I think that I’ll never have anxiety again? No. I know that I’m human and that I often have to learn and relearn lessons, but for the first time, I’m okay with that. The more that I get to know God, the less time I spend worrying about my flaws. I’d much rather think about someone who is perfect, which He is.

❤ Brittany

New Beginnings

Whether my days in Tana are joy filled or dry, there is one thing that I can always count on to bring a smile to my face: children. Maybe it is a very western thing to say, but the children here are absolutely adorable. Just the other day, I watched what seemed to be a 3 year old boy get chased down by a little girl because he had hit her sister with a stick. He ran as fast as he could, stumbling over the unpaved road, while holding the stick above his head. The little girl chased him relentlessly, determined to get revenge. They were shouting in Malagasy to one another but there was something so familiar about the way that they spoke; high-pitched, loud, and nasally as little kids do. I’m sure they were still learning how to properly pronounce the words in their own language, seeing as they were so young. As for the little girl who had been hit, well, she stood on the dirt road screaming and crying at the top of her lungs, all the while pointing to the little boy. An adult then hurried out from inside the house to come console her. Later, after retelling the story to another short-termer here, I realized that I very well identified with these kids and the way that they interacted with this world of theirs. Simply put, I too, was just like a little 3 year old, still figuring out the world around me, while awkwardly stumbling over unpaved roads and struggling to speak the language. Sometimes, I wish that I had the permission to scream at the top of my lungs like the little girl who had been hit. In times such as these, I feel as though God consoles me, just as the little girl’s parent did. Life in Tana is just like that: disorienting, but for the best.

Since I’ve come to Tana, my days have sort of looked like this: I wake up anywhere between 4:00AM and 6:00AM to the sound of a rooster crowing without mercy. If it’s a Monday, my roommate Hattie and I walk down the street, past all of the people staring at us, and stand in line to wait for a bus to come and pick us up to take us to the city. Now to clarify, the buses here are more like vans with seats on both sides and an aisle, and the Malagasy way is to cram as many people on the bus as humanly possible. Hence, if there is no space on one of the seats, you pull out a smaller seat in the aisle and sit in-between other people. The ride to the city can be anywhere from 35 minutes to 3 hours depending on traffic (Hattie and I sat on the bus for 3 hours the other day on the way into town). For all of you Californians, just think of the 91 around rush hour and that should help you understand it, except worse. haha Watching people drive here is the most terrifying and thrilling experiences that I have ever witnessed. From my foreigner eyes, there seems to be no rhyme or reason on the road here. Anything goes, as long as you don’t get in a car accident. The fascinating thing is that I haven’t seen one accident since being here. I would never want to drive here, and yet, the Malagasy are some of the best drivers. They know exactly how these roads work and they aren’t intimidated by them.

When I finally get to the city, I teach a small group of students English. I’m not very good at it yet, but the fact that I can speak English helps them a lot. I love the students. I only teach once a week, but I had the opportunity to go on a hike with them just a couple weeks ago and that was probably my favorite day so far while being here. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had plenty of other good days, but that day was filled with absolute joy. We hiked for miles up a mountain and when we got to the very top, we just all enjoyed the view and took pictures. The students love taking pictures with us foreigners. Let’s just say that I’ve never taken so many pictures in one sitting. They are a funny group. They love humor, music, and teaching us Malagasy. We spent about 2 hours just sharing each other’s language. They are really interested in speaking English with people who are fluent, and I love teaching them, but I’m just as intrigued with their language as they are mine. A funny source of conversation that I have on a daily basis consists of, “No, I’m not Malagasy. I’m American.” Haha In which they respond by staring at me, half in awe and half in confusion. To be fair, I have a similar skin color as many of them. J

The other parts of my assignment are still being worked out. As I said, I teach on Mondays. Tuesday mornings, I have my language lessons with a woman named Florentine, and then all the short-termers head over to Valeska’s house (our short term coordinator). There I am responsible for arranging worship, while the other girls contribute via devotionals, praying for unreached people groups, prayer for us as a team, and leading discussions on the readings. I could talk forever about the other girls here, but this blog post is already long enough. One thing I will say, though, is that I already know that it will be hard for me when they leave at the end of their 6 month assignments. They are a wonderful, hilarious, and God-driven group. My roommate Hattie has been such a blessing to me. She has been here for 5 months already (will be here for 4 more) and has been great in helping me adjust and making me laugh…a lot. I can already call her a friend.

Sorry, back to my week (I’m kind of jumping around to give you an overview). Just this last Friday, I joined the focus team in Tana. I’m still learning my role on the team, but it’s made up of all the long term missionaries in our location. Basically, they are working on a new project to train Malagasy men and women to be missionaries here, and my job is to help teach those trainees English so that they can communicate with AIM members. They are still in the process of choosing the Malagasy trainees, so that won’t begin until April. So, the rest of my Tuesday afternoons are open if there is anything that I can help the focus team with. The beauty of the mission field is that you have people from all over come to serve God. Hence, not all of the long term missionaries have English as a first language. My job then, is to help edit their curriculum for the trainees, so that it will be ready to go when they begin classes. On Thursdays, I will begin teaching English to two adults who work at a guest house. I am excited for a more intimate class setting! When the trainees come in, I will also help the long-termers with some photocopying and other office things. Lastly, on Fridays, we have the focus team meeting, where all the missionaries discuss readings (which I will also begin reading), do worship, share prayer requests, and then talk through responsibilities that we all will split.

That is basically what I’m doing here, right now. My responsibilities may increase over the upcoming weeks, but for now, I am happy to ease into life here with what I have.

Living in Madagascar, missions is no longer glorified to me, and I don’t mean that in a negative way. I’m realizing that missionaries are just people who do day to day life in another country with the hopes of pointing people to Christ. There are days when it’s easy and I love everything here, and days when I want to go home, but every person adjusts differently. I can honestly say, that I, myself, have never understood the Gospel in the way that I have the last few weeks, and that is because I am so desperately in need of it. When you move to a new country, you have to learn how to walk, talk, dress, and everything else all over again. You fail and God picks you up. Sometimes, He shows you how He has prepared you for this, and other times, all you can do is cleave to Him. I may never know if I touch anyone here, but I do know that I am learning more about Christ than I ever have. That is enough.

I wish that I could continue because there is so much more to tell you all, but know that I have felt the weight of your prayers for me by being here, and I am so grateful for all of the encouragement that I have received.

These pictures cannot do it justice, but here you go! Love you all! ❤

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The buses: our main source of transportation and the cheapest way of getting around other than walking, of course.

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The markets. I didn’t know that fruits and vegetables could taste so good until I moved here. It’s exciting to be able to walk out on the streets and buy fresh produce for way less than they would be back home. Need apples? Pineapple? Carrots? Just walk right outside your door. haha It’s awesome.

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Rice rice and more rice!

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Meat being sold on the street.

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Kids in our neighborhood. Absolutely adorable. They instantly put a smile on my face.

God is faithful

Amazed. I feel absolutely amazed by the intricacy of God’s plan for me. When I first began this journey, I felt intimidated by the process of fundraising. It felt like I was “putting myself out there.” It’s a vulnerable thing to share your passions with others and ask them to support you in them. And of course, there was the whole raise $18,555 in four months factor that seemed impossible. I didn’t know whether or not to laugh or cry when I got the email about my budget. I am not finished with fundraising, and I have gone through my fair share of “God will provide” and “God, I know that you’re all-powerful but are you THIS powerful” banter in my head. Along with me, I have had people who have chosen to be on this journey with me go through the same faith battle. I am glad that I am able to proclaim, however, that God is FAITHFUL. So faithful. I could go on for hours about the little details that He has paid attention to and the beautiful ways that He has met my needs (and desires) thus far, but we don’t have that much time. And let’s face it: this is a blog. Nobody has that great of an attention span. (haha) So, I will just highlight some of the most impactful details.
God is so gracious that He not only responds to our needs but our desires
I have always been a “partner” kind of a person. I function best when in community, and for the most part, have never had to tough through the bigger events of my life alone. When I found out that I was going to Madagascar, I automatically prayed that there would be someone else who would be going to the same location around the same time as me. Of course, I knew that I would meet people once I got there, but the prospect of actually traveling by myself was daunting. I also wanted people to process with who were experiencing the same things as me. AIM has us attend an orientation at their headquarters in Georgia before we leave.  Shortly after I arrived in Georgia and met up with some of the other short termers, I discovered that another girl, named Holly, would be going to Madagascar too! In fact, AIM was trying to change both of our arrival dates and get us on the same flight for the last leg so that we could arrive at the same time and do orientation together! Obviously, Holly had been accepted to go to Madagascar long before I prayed about it, but in that moment, I felt so taken care of. God knew that I would not only need a friend during this stage of the process, but that it was also a big desire of mine. If that weren’t enough, I was recently connected to a girl named Katherine who is going to Madagascar for 2 years during the Peace Corps and will potentially me in my area for a few months. This is just one of the many examples of God’s graciousness towards me, but know that I have felt immensely blessed and taken care of by Him. (p.s. orientation was AMAZING.)
A new side of God
Not new to Him, of course, but new to me. I have never experienced God’s love, faithfulness, and thoughtfulness in this way before, because I’ve never had to trust God with something that has felt so unreachable to me. For example, the way that God has used the most random people to aid and support me has been amazing! There are people that I met just a few months ago, who decided to hop on the bandwagon and initiate fundraisers for me. People who I haven’t talked to in YEARS who happened to hear about my trip and decided that they wanted to support me. The most shocking incident was a man that I had literally JUST met, who put a huge chunk of money toward my trip. HOW IN THE WORLD DID GOD ORCHESTRATE THESE THINGS? He is truly so kind, loving, and faithful. I have never felt so embraced by strangers in the body as I have the last couple of months. Even in the more difficult or doubtful times, I have had so many people encourage me with just the right words and commit to praying for me. And that leads me to my next point….
Where there is a will there is a way
And I am not talking about my will but HIS. It has been His desire for me to go through this process, regardless of the outcome. I have been tested time and time again and have often failed to trust God, but His care for me has remained.  How is fundraising going? I am blessed to say that it is going really well. I haven’t added up recent donations and checks and am waiting on receiving more from others, but I should be a little over the half-way point right now 🙂
This journey is not about me
I know that I am the one going to Madagascar, but I am convinced that there is a greater picture here. For one, God desires for all nations to know Him. His glory comes first. When I tattooed the words “to the ends of the earth” on my foot, it was to remind me of the importance of the great commission and the need for everyone to know God. The other thing is that the church is designed to both receive and give. I have received so much help from the body of Christ as I’ve prepared for the trip, and I have noticed that God has a specific role for each person to play. Organization and detail is not my strong point. So, God allowed people with this talent to instruct me on how to be efficient and delegate. I am not an artist, but God provided people with this ability to help design tee shirts for me. Some people wanted to give financially, and others wanted to help me make coasters. Still another woman donated flour and sugar so that I could continue making pumpkin bread. As you can see, the list goes on and on. Going to Madagascar was never about me, and still isn’t. There is much that God wants to accomplish and display about Himself that He is using many of us to do.
Prayer Requests
God has also been teaching me A LOT. I feel like this is a season of transformation. Pray that God would continue to develop me in the areas that He began and that I would continue to follow His leading.
Pray that financial support would continue to come. This next month is going to be hectic with fundraisers and further preparation. Pray that there would be people that God compels to give.

Love you all!
Thank you so much for all of your prayers and support and the many ways that each of you has been a part of this journey.

-Brittany Farmer

If you choose to support me financially, copy and paste this link and search for my name 🙂

https://www.egsnetwork.com/gift2/?giftid=BA2CB0A93B314EC

My heart amidst the process

I believe that Jesus Christ is who He says He is, and with that comes responsibility.

To be honest, I’ve been dreading writing my first blog post for Madagascar because I knew that it would come with incredible weight. I spent the last 3 weeks asking myself, why? Why am I leaving my home, my friends, my community, and anything comfortable to travel across the world and live in a land that is not familiar to me? Why am I missing 3 of my good friends’ weddings next summer? If I wanted to have the experience of traveling, why not just go to Europe or look into graduate programs outside of the states? To be perfectly honest, some times I think that I must be crazy. Sure, the idea sounds cool and adventurous, but really, pursuing graduate school now would benefit me more in terms of security than leaving the country for a year and accruing more debt in loans. So, why?

This last May, on the Thursday night of Biola’s Missions Conference, the speaker asked all those to stand who were being led to commit to overseas missions. I can tell you that that was my fourth conference and I had never stood up before. If I’m being candid here, I would sort of roll my eyes, because anyone who knows me, knows how passionate I am about local missions  and has probably heard my “you’re a missionary where ever you go” speech. Over the years leading up to last May, God acknowledged my resistance to over seas missions and basically asked me how far my love for people would compel me to travel. See, my problem wasn’t that I hated missions, but that I became embittered by the lack of pursuit of our neighbors. I had good intent, but I had a narrow view. God wanted to broaden that.

I could tell you about all the things that God used to soften my heart. I could tell you about the books that I read, the Rwandan teacher that I had, the conversations that I had with friends, and the documentaries that I watched. I could tell you about my summer spent reading God’s word for hours at a time and how God basically got me to a point where not only was my resistance gone, but I was pleading with Him to use me overseas. I could tell you about how I became the global awareness coordinator for Missions Conference and how the need for people to know Jesus hit me hard. Yes, I could tell you all of these things, but what they really all brought me back to is the man of Jesus, Himself.

I have never, in my life, experienced the concept of sacrificial love as I have through Christ, and I never have wanted to live that way until I met Him. In the Old Testament, God is constantly admonishing the Israelites to remember the God who rescued them, provided for them, delivered them, etc., over generations and generations. I look at my life alone and there is no doubt in my mind that God’s handprint has been on it. If Christ really is who He says He is, than I should live in light of that wherever I am.

When the speaker asked us all to stand on that Thursday night, in the midst of all the emotions expressed by other people as they worshipped passionately, I felt nothing. I felt nothing and I still stood. I stood for the first time because I didn’t need to feel anything (and those of you who know me know just how much of a “feeler” I am), I just knew. I knew who God was and I knew that I believed that He is who He is. In that moment, it was so simple.

I recently heard a speaker describe serving others as being as simple as eating breakfast, and I felt a tug in my heart. That is why I want to go to Madagascar. I want to learn to serve others as Jesus does and as this speaker understood. I want to experience sacrificial love and I want to express it to others. I don’t think that I can save anyone. I don’t perceive myself as this American who is going to rescue this indigenous people group. I have so much to learn from them and hope to be able to do so.

I’m also so willing. I’m at a place that I have never been before. I’m willing to be an instrument in God’s plan. I’m willing to be a servant to the missionaries that already live there and to love the people that I come in contact with as much as I can. I know that this will be difficult because I’m limited in many ways. I know that there will be times where I lose my patience, want to come home, be upset or annoyed. I know that there will be times where I think that I’m doing the right thing, but maybe I’m not actually being helpful. I know that this is a reality and I know that this can be both a scary and a beautiful journey. I also know who the God of the universe is, and because of that I still feel inclined to go.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m terrified. (haha) However, I’m also hopeful. If just one person, in my 11 months, can come to know God better (including myself), than it is all worth it.

Thank you so much for all of you who have supported me in prayer and financially so far! I love you all and I’m encouraged by the amount of love you have poured into me!

love always,

Brittany Farmer