A couple of months ago, I was out in the village of Lassa Tchou spending time with some of the Christians there. We somehow started talking about composting, which is a subject that I find myself very interested in these days. I asked them if they ever collected animal poop to combine with other organic materials to be used as fertilizer, and I was met with a combination of laughter and blank stares. We talked about it for a few more minutes, then moved on to other things, a conversation like many others I've had before.
What this conversation led to, however, warmed my heart. The mother of one of the Lassa Tchou church's leaders is a faithful and beautiful Christian woman. She is quite old, and also one of the sweetest people I have ever known. Her smile can light up an entire village :) Many people who have visited Togo have fond memories of Jean Marie's mother. She was listening in on the conversation about animal poop and composting that day, but at the time did not have anything to say.
Instead, she went out into the fields and starting picking up poop.
I returned to Lassa Tchou one month later, on Christmas day, and this sweet sister had a huge bag full of animal poop to give to me as a present! It blew me away. I showed her how thankful I was in a culturally appropriate way, but all I really wanted to do was pick her up off of the ground and give her a huge hug!
Sometimes it seems like the people I work with don't listen when I speak. Sometimes I get the feeling that much of the teaching I do goes in one ear and out the other, and that I'm not having an impact…
And then someone gives me a big bag of poop :)