Since this is my first update from Madagascar, it is going be long. Think maybe even a short book. So if you only read parts of it, I completely understand. Here’s the outline so you can choose what you want to read: :)
Gazing out the window of the airplane, Heather and I squealed a little bit as we saw our first glimpse of beautiful Madagascar. We saw rice fields, red dirt (for which Mada is known as the Red Island), super blue sky with white puffy clouds, winding rivers, and mountains in the distance. I cannot tell you how excited those mountains make me feel. They are in my distance, too! Three months of language school, one month in Zambia, then rain forest here I come!!! J
Once into the airport we noticed some similarities and differences between Madagascar and other countries in Sub-Saharan Africa/Haiti. One difference is that it doesn’t smell bad! lol. People are more reserved (but still nice and excited if you try to speak their language!), there are two and three story houses, and many colors. The culture is a mixture mostly between Africa and Asia. Initial similarities include poverty, people wanting bribes, walking in the streets, and much looser road laws.
While they do have looser road laws, it is not uncommon for foreigners to get pulled over frequently because we are seen as having more money and the policemen hope we’ll just hand over some (under the table). I drove through the capital city of Tana very focused on not hitting anything and with much laughter. It was hilarious. J The roads are paved, cobblestone, brick, or dirt and aren’t in great condition. People don’t move for cars, cars don’t move for cars, the advice I was given was that, in Madagascar, you need to be a safe, aggressive driver. Now safe I have no problem with! Aggressive is what I needed to work on – HA! Watch out Nashville when I get back! lol. There are also the distractions of new sights – the foods, funny signs, clothes (or lack of any clothes), people breastfeeding and peeing on the side of the road, and engaging conversation within the car… With all that said, we are all safe and happy and made it back to tell the story!
This past week Heather and I have been staying with Tessa, a journeygirl here in Tana. On Wednesday she invited us to go with her to the one of the English clubs she leads. We read the story of Moses and then practiced vocabulary with words the students (college age) did not understand. It was during this time that one guy remarked that a midwife must be the wife in the middle (he later queried why the Old Testament patriarchs could have multiple wives, but today people are not supposed to). lol. Then Tessa asked them some questions which caused them to contemplate the implications of the story. After this the students could ask questions, and the questions were indeed excellent! They asked things like, “how can we know when God is speaking to us when He doesn’t often burn a bush and speak audibly?” After a few minutes of these types of questions, the students introduced themselves to Heather and I and asked us questions ranging from “What is your vision for Madagascar?” to “What do you think you will do with the rest of your life” to “What special diet did you eat to make you so tall?” :P It was a very encouraging time and afterwards we got to pray with a sweet girl who asked us how she could be more bold in her witnessing to her friends around school! There is another photo album up on Facebook of our first days here in Tana with a picture of the English club on there. Here’s the link if you want to check it out:
Praise to the Lord the Almighty, the King of Creation! Oh my soul praise Him for He is my help and salvation. All ye who hear, now to His temple draw near; join me in glad adoration.
Times in the market have been splendiferously fun and occasionally crazy. J Heather and I are picking up some common phrases to help us get along, such as hello, how much, too much, and cute baby! *grin* One thing that makes buying things difficult is figuring out how much we’re paying. Of course people try to charge the “vaza” (white foreigners) double the amount since we apparently have money, so we haggle on a price. So it’s quite helpful to know what a good price here is! To every $1 US, there are about 2,000 Malagasy ariary, but in the market they often use the old currency (FMG) which you must then divide by five to get the ariary and then divide by two thousand to get the dollar amount, going back up to the ariary to pay with. Sheesh! Brushing up on the old math skills… :P It is kind of weird feeling walking around with 10,000 bills (about $5 US)!
Pray that God would heal the corruption here. With the change in leadership a few months ago, corruption has increased. In the rural areas, especially, parents have warned their children to run whenever they see a white person because they are worried about child trafficking. Of course what they tell their children is that we are coming to steal or eat them!
Praise God for the wonderful group of people He has placed here to help us. The Emeishes, Spanns, and Tessa have warmly welcomed us to Tana and have been incredibly patient in answering our multitudes of questions.
Pray for our transition to the smaller city of Antsirabe on Monday. We are very much looking forward to this move so we can get settled in somewhere for a while! Pray that our luggage gets here before then so it can go down with us. Pray for favor with all the people at the multiple police stops on the road from Tana to Antsirabe.
Praise God for His faithfulness! I John 1:9, Lamentations 3:22-23, Philippians 1:6, I Corinthians 1:9, 10:13.
Sorry, I couldn’t resist the order of service. Ha ha ha. :)
Please let me know ways I can be praying for you, and keep me updated on your life!
I thank my God upon every remembrance of you!