World Apart…but Always in my Heart

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Wow – I haven’t written since June 2nd! I am really falling down on the job. Things have been kind of hectic lately, but that is for another post. I’ve got something more important for today’s post. In just two days, really…less than 48 hours, one of my very best friends is moving around the world. Like – literally, around the world. She is going to spend 14 hours on a plane. 14. Hours. And that isn’t counting the first flight that is just a couple hours. She is moving to Madagascar. What do you know about Madagascar, besides what you’ve seen in the movie Madagascar? I’ve been learning a lot about Madagascar recently because 3 people that I care for deeply are going to be living there.

Want to learn about Madagascar? Well, this isn’t the site for that. But you can go here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Madagascar & learn some stuff. The main things I know about Madagascar are 1) it’s the only place that lemurs live (besides the zoo) & apparently they do not dance in the trees to “I Like to Move It”. So disappointing. 2) some of my best friends are about to be there.

Steve, Nickolee & Ryleigh are going to Madagascar to be missionaries. You guys – that is amazing. Because let me be the first to tell you that just witnessing to people here at home causes me to have to step outside my comfort zone, but they are giving up family, friends, the comforts of the United States & the luxuries that it has to offer to go to a country where before they can even begin to witness to people, they have to learn the language. They have to learn how to talk to them, not just in their language but in a way that these people will learn about our Savior & come to accept him as their Savior as well. They have to learn a new language, new customs, a totally new way of life before they can even step outside their comfort zone. All I have to do is open my mouth to tell the good news. I don’t even have to learn a new language.

They are going to mission to the Mahafaly people. Nickolee has told me so much about these people – people that she doesn’t even know yet but she & her husband Steve have a heart for these people & for bringing them the good news of salvation. Again – you can go here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mahafaly & learn just a little bit. I mean, it’s really just a little bit because Wikipedia doesn’t know very much. I know that these people have little contact with the world outside of Madagascar & the name of their people literally translates to “those who make taboos”…so there are going to obstacles to overcome. But with God, all things are possible. Steve & Nickolee will be living in Tulear – again, go here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tulear & learn just a very little bit. Hey guys – did you know that Air Madagascar operates flights to Tulear? I did not. You’ll have to check that our for me & tell me if the planes look safe. 🙂 If so, maybe I’ll come visit.
I have known Nickolee since we were…oh, two…three? She was one of the first friends that I made when my family moved from California to Mississippi & started going to Midway Baptist Church. We were in the same Sunday School classes & everything. I have pictures of us in our cool acid washed jeans with 80’s perms at each other’s 4th & 5th birthdays. It’s good stuff, trust me. You’ll have to trust me because I don’t have those pictures in digital form. That’s life. You know what? In those pictures, the kid that is sitting right beside me while I open my presents & cut my cake – it’s Nickolee. My family moved our membership to First Baptist Collinsville when I was about 6 & I didn’t have a lot of interaction with Nickolee for a good long time. Then high school started & somewhere along in the 9th grade, we discovered one another again. We also discovered that we were two of the very few kids that weren’t concerned with drinking, smoking, partying & otherwise doing things that would dimisnish the memories of our high school years. Being labeled as the goody-goodys will make you bond pretty fast. But there was so much more to it than that & I know there is no way I would have made it through the 4 crazy years of high school without her. She wouldn’t have made it without me either. And I don’t say that being self-adsorbed, I say that because she has told me that on more than one occasion. Her friendship was a gift from God.
Once we graduated, we grew apart again because we were both in college at different places. It was okay though – God brought new people into my life & hers while we weren’t as close. Around the time she got engaged, we connected again & we’ve been going full steam ahead ever since. I’ve seen her get married to a great guy who loves the Lord with the same passion that Nickolee does & also has a heart for missions. I’ve cried with her on the phone when she called to tell me she was going to have a baby – I placed my bets on it being a boy – obviously, I was wrong. Ryleigh is the cutest & sweetest baby girl & I love the time I’ve been able to spend with her. Nickolee & Steve are such great parents to their daughter & I know she is going to have an amazing life with these two leading the way. I mean – she gets to play with lemurs like most kids play with dogs.* I’m jealous already.

Steve, Nickolee & Ryleigh are in the process of saying their good-byes to the family & friends they love here in the States in preparation for leaving on Friday. They’ll be flying to Johannesburg before going on to Madagascar. I’d ask you (the five of you who read my blog, ha-ha) to please keep them in your prayers, daily. Before they even get to Madagascar they have to make a 14 hour flight with a 6 month old. That would be trying enough for some people. Pray that the Lord would watch over them, keep them in the palm of his hand & provide protection, strength, peace, etc… Pray for easy transitions. Pray for new friends. Pray that they fall in love with the food. Pray that Nickolee is excellent at milking cows & sewing clothes from scratch – because yeah, she has to do all that too. Most importantly – just PRAY for them. If you read this blog, tell your friends to pray for them. And if you’d like to keep up with them, then just go right here: http://steveandnickoleeroberts.blogspot.com/ and you can learn all about who they are, what they are about & what they need prayer for specifically.

These are 3 awesome people who are very close to my heart. I’ve loved Nickolee since we were small & now I love all 3 of the Roberts. Keep this wonderful family in your prayers as they head out on a journey of a lifetime to make a difference in the hearts of the Mahafaly people so that they may come to know Jesus Christ. Because at the end of the day, the only thing that matters is that you know Jesus as your Lord & Savior & everyone deserves the right to know. Steve & Nickolee are the people who feel called to give of themselves to do just that. And I think that always merits a little extra whispered prayer, don’t you?

Love you guys! You’re in my prayers daily & even though we are about to be a world apart, you guys are in my heart every day. 🙂

*Steve tells me that lemurs are supposedly really fierce & that he can’t send me one in the mail & Ryleigh can’t be bringing them home as pets. I don’t know if I believe that. I think he wants the lemurs all to himself. We’ll see. I may have to pay a visit to Madagascar to discover how fierce they are for myself….

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