On Wednesday this week we left the noise and the traffic and lovely new friends in the capital city, Antananarivo, and headed towards the port city of Tamatave (French name), otherwise known as Toamasina (Malagasy name, pronounced tome-ah-seen) (side note - most words leave off the last vowel/y as a sound. Toliara = toe-lee-are, Antananarivo = tan-an-ah-reeve)
It has been non-stop meetings and writing up of reports from meetings and travel and more meetings, and we are all tired. Super fruitful and productive, and it seems God is just opening door after door in a very fast manner, which is quite exciting... but exhausting!
By the time we arrived at our hotel about halfway between the capital and the port, after leaving early in the morning and assessing a hospital along the way, I was very much looking forward to a nap and solitude. My introvert nature, while not nearly as dominant as it once was, was feeling frazzled and this was the first opportunity in awhile.
While we were eating lunch at our hotel, which was located in the national park, a guide came to our table and described some options for hikes in the forest to see the lemurs - little primates that only exist in Madagascar. (King Julian, anyone?) My colleagues were excited, as they are only here another week and this might be the only opportunity to see them. I was thinking meh, I am here another almost year and will have plenty of time. And what I need is a nap and solitude.
But undeniably I felt the still small voice whispering "say yes"... as it has now several times in the last several months, and I have never been disappointed... so I said yes and got in the car against my "better judgment" that said I should be having a nap and solitude.
It was incredible. We hiked through the jungle and the fresh air and birds and the healing balm of beauty in nature brought my heart rate up and my stress level down. Our guide spotted some lemurs and we went off the trail and into the forest where we stood with our mouths hanging open and our cameras clicking like crazy as a set of lemurs danced and played just feet from where we were standing.
We were only there about an hour, but it was more refreshing and restoring to me than an entire day in bed would have been. A beautiful example of the fact that God always knows what we need - I thought what I needed was a nap and solitude, and what I really needed was nature, beauty, creation, exercise, and laughter with friends.