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  • Liz Ortiz

Tres Bien

I was walking home from a meeting when I heard a “hello!” from behind a bush. I looked behind the bush to find one of the MKs sitting with some random gears from a motorbike, so I asked her what she was doing. “I'm trying to make something with parts from my brother’s bike, but I'm not sure what yet. Are you here to see my mom? She's inside.” I thanked her, and after chatting with my colleague for a few minutes, I returned outside.

Three Togolese children had joined the MK. They were fascinated with what she was trying to make. I greeted them in French, “Bonjour! Comment ca va?” They all said “bien” or “ca va” (which means “good” or “It’s okay”), a standard reply.

One boy in the group didn't answer immediately. This boy was on crutches. I had seen him earlier at the hospital, as he had recently lost a leg. He glanced at me shyly and then said, “Tres bien!” (which means “very good!”), also giving me the biggest smile.

Language and cultural norms are some of the hardest things to learn. Back home I didn’t have to think twice about my word choice or wonder if it would be culturally appropriate or might possibly offend someone. Here, even the most basic communications can sometimes seem overwhelmingly difficult and frustrating.

The boy with one leg taught me something about overcoming obstacles with the right attitude. For the rest of his life, the boy will have only one leg. It's not going to be easy for him. The terrain is rough here. The roads are uneven, and walking is how most people get around. However, this boy is still able to smile and say that he is “tres bien!”

The boy reminded me of the apostle Paul when he wrote, “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I learned to be content whatever the circumstances” (Philippians 4:11). God is in control, and He will help me to be content in every circumstance.

When the hard days come, I’m going to remember the boy with the big smile.

With God, everything is “Tres Bien!”


A prosthetic clinic is in the works to be set up here to help people like the boy above. It is a huge need in Togo. One of the missionaries here, Zach, has a amazon wish list of items we need for the clinic. Could you help us out?

Merci Beaucoup, Tres Bien! (Thank you very much, very good!)

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