Following, is a tribute (and a stolen one I might add) to an amazing child of the King of kings. It is a precious privilege to call this tribute’d “friend.” These words were written, I will conjure by a near family member, but must make known, for everyone who knows Gayle, it is reemphasized ten-fold.
Gayle’s French is not the best in the world. And she would be the first to admit this. Her conjugations are often confused, her tenses frequently a bit off, and many times she can’t quite find the right word to say exactly what she wants to say.
Language learning does not come easy for Gayle. While life in rural Africa can at times be very challenging, she often says that the most difficult year of her life was spent in Canada at language school. After language school Africa is a piece of cake! Since Gayle’s primary ministry is to care for her family and keep all of us well, healthy, and happy, she does not get as many opportunities to put her language into practice.
And having difficulty with the language can be discouraging. Outside of our home, all of our conversations are in French or Diola with a smattering of Wolof. But as the ever courageous Gayle likes to say, “I give ’em what I got!” as she seeks to communicate with those around us.
But there is a language that Gayle speaks fluently. A language that she speaks with a perfect accent. And this language has a way of leaving a lasting impression within the heart that is even more profound than even the best French or Diola.
I see her speak it as she cleans off the dirty feet of a barefoot neighborhood child so that she can bandage a wound. I hear it as she sits with our neighbor and holds her baby as they smile and laugh together. The language is spoken without error as she cooks breakfast for and serves those who come to our morning Bible study. I hear perfect conjugations as she cares for her family in a place where life can sometimes be pretty tough. She speaks this language fluently through sweat soaked clothes, dirty feet, a loving smile, and a tender touch.
While my “good” French often clangs like a cymbal, Gayle fluently speaks a language that any heart, regardless of ethnicity, religion, or even language, can understand. She speaks the language of love. And she speaks it with a perfect accent. And when she speaks it, she sounds just like Jesus.