Sunday, February 28, 2010

Welcome to March 2010!

Salama tompoko namako! [Hello my friends!]

Oh my word. Time is FLYING by. I cannot believe that it is already March! Here I thought language school was probably going to drag on, but ONCE AGAIN God has astounded me by doing exceedingly abundantly above all I could ask or imagine. He has provided some fantastic ministry opportunities for us here in Antsirabe, and Heather and I now have only six more weeks of language school before we head out for our month-long wilderness survival training in Zambia. Incredible.

- For the language that we have learned and been able to use.
- For the many relationships God has blessed us with.
- For many opportunities that have immensely blessed our hearts.

Prayer requests:
- That God would give Heather and I memory retention of LOTS of vocabulary so we can talk to people.
- That I would keep the “first things first."
- That our entire team here in Mada would demonstrate unity and love in everything we do and continue to be an encouragement one another.

I’m glad y’all enjoyed the ticket/jail story. Sorry to have frightened some of you with the title! :P I so enjoy hearing from you all and please know that I pray for you often! If there’s anything specific you want me to pray for, have any questions for me, or just want to fill me in on the news back home, I’d love to hear from you!

There are some tidbits below for those of you who would like to hear more of what’s been happening here in the beautiful land of Madagascar!

Hitahy anao anie Andriamanitra, [May God bless you,]
Cara :)

My Malaglish Twin
– I was lured by the tantalizing aroma into a small chocolate shop in town. The shop lady greeted me with “Bonjour, madam.” Note: if you are white you are automatically assumed to be a French tourist. “Salama tompoko,” I replied with a grin. “Ahh! You speak my language!” she exclaimed happily in Malagasy; “Speak kely kely English aho.” THIS WOMAN SPOKE MY LANGUAGE! From then on we had a simply delightful conversation in our shared tongue: Malaglish. *grin* I shared about what we will be doing in the rain forest and why and she was very encouraged by that and said that she is a believer, as well. As she handed me a chocolate caramel square, I told her that I was very happy to have met her, and turned to walk out. “Good riddance,” she replied. Shocked and more than a little confused (I thought we had a good connection here!) I turned around to see her happily waving with a HUGE smile on her face, “Speak I English! Good riddance!” HA HA HA HA HA! Good riddance to you, too, sweet lady. :)

Time with ankizy – we see kids (ankizy) on the streets every day. Heather and I decided we wanted to take an afternoon to play with them. Going to the place where we normally see the most beggars we were pleased to see a group of children. Later when we were shopping, a little girl carrying her baby brother on her back unwrapped him and let me carry him all over the market – and he was a snuggler! Oh my goodness. I love babies.

Leper colony and the mental institute
– we have gotten to visit a couple places near Antsirabe started by the Norwegian Lutherans (technically as “field trips” for our language school) and it has been so fun. I officially received my “off roading” stick-shift badge after driving to these places! Heather and I both have a soft place in our hearts for those that most people cast away, so getting to talk with the people, see how they live, pray with them, and bring them gifts has been such a blessing to us!

I found
a dead lizard in our sink. I hope he died happy.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

A Ticket and Jail Time

I have been driving for eleven years. I have never gotten a ticket . . . until now.

I have a healthy respect for the law. I have never been in an African jail . . . until now.

There were three of us girls headed down the road in a 4x4 truck. Our plan was to experience the famous Lake Tritriva in a nearby volcano. The obstacle: road checks. You see, while traversing through Madagascar there are routine police stops. You generally get waved over, get your papers checked, smile, and go on your way. This time, however, was an exception . . .

“Salama tompoko!” I said with a wide grin as I rolled down my window for the policeman at a usual police stop. A look of surprise and delight came over his face as I continued with some typical Malagasy greetings. “Taratasy, azafady,” he motioned, and Heather reached into our glove compartment for the official papers. Handing them to him one at a time, he lackadaisically perused through. Registration – check. Insurance – check. Title – check. Control technique . . . oh dear, that expired two weeks ago? My apologies, officer! “License, azafady,” came the dejected reply. I handed over my international driver’s license and kept chatting gaily away in Malaglish, hoping he wouldn’t ask for my American license or passport and would send us on our merry way. Malaglish is what Heather has named my form of speaking Malagasy supplemented with English words when I don’t know the right Malagasy one! :) Well, apparently the control technique is a big deal, because although swayed by my charm, he had to take my license and papers and write me a ticket.

“Mety, mety,”
I said, smiling and resigned. Okay. At first he told us that we could not drive anywhere until the control technique was updated, but relented when we told him of our ardent desire to see Antsirabe’s renowned lake. “Mirary soa,” have a nice day, I called out while driving away toward the mountains.

The obstacle was overcome, we saw the beautiful volcano lake (pics will be up on Facebook as soon as I can get to any reliable internet source), and we had a simply delightful time.

My tale now brings me to the part where I go to jail. Knowing we were required to pay the ticket to ransom the papers from the police station, Heather and I went on a search for the control technique place, since one would think you would need to prove to the police that you got the problem fixed. Dodging potholes and children we made our way down the hill to the place where you renew your control technique. Upon arriving, we were ushered into the manager’s office. He quickly motioned for us to make ourselves comfortable in the hard back chairs. Again with the Malaglish we made our intentions known to him and heard some not-so-startling news: we needed to go to the police station and get our papers before they could do any updates. “Misotra betsaka,” thank you very much we said as we walked back to our truck, chuckling at life in Africa.

Not knowing how to get to the police station from this part of town, I rolled the car to a stop on the side of the road while Heather leaned out the window and asked, “Azafady, aiza no police station?” Beaming, the man gestured that the police were close! Just down the way we see a policeman at the local jail. Again I pull over and Heather and I hop out and jaunt across the thoroughfare. The lone officer was inside the gate at the prison, so ignoring the looks of “you girls are crazy (adaladala izy),” we walked briskly through the gate over to him and showed him our ticket. Discerning that we did not know much Malagasy or French, the man leaned down and wrote in the sand, er, on a piece of paper. Using broad strokes, he drew a map of where the correct police station to solve this problem was, and handed it to us with flair. We thanked him, turned, and laughed heartily once we were in our truck.

After circling around town on this scavenger hunt of ours, we arrived at the blue and white police station only to find out that the place we sought was a block away. No worries, it’s a beautiful, sunny day, we replied and headed over to yet another building.

Curious stares and amiable greetings awaited us at every turn. Stepping into the building, we nearly made it to the registration counter when a man eagerly stopped us wanting to practice his three English phrases: how are you, hold me close, and kiss me. Not really wanting to know why these were the only expressions he knew in our mother tongue, Heather and I inched closer and closer to an older policeman at registration . . . an interesting chap who was moderately inebriated, but able to tell us that we needed to go to window 18 . . . outside. Rapping on the window pane facilitated nothing, for there was no one in No. 18. Peering in, I spied only linoleum and a single wooden chair. Noting that we needed Mister 18, we were informed that he had been telephoned in and we were to wait right here. An hour passed. We had many opportunities to tell people why we were here, and prayed with a woman about her mentally ill daughter. Another hour passed. A policeman persistently told Heather she had a beautiful face and, before speeding away on his moped, called out to invite her to ride off into the sunset with him. Amazingly, she declined.

No. 18 showed up. Opened the window and told us the damage report: 33,000 ariary (about $16 US). After trying unsuccessfully to haggle the price down, I paid and he sprinted out of the building, across the street, and up a flight of stairs. Heather and I looked at each other quizzically and shrugged. After a minute he came back down the stairs, passed us two on his way back into the station, and from the other side of window 18 had me sign a French document, which I believe gave him the rights to name my firstborn child. Handing me my change, he said “Vita!” Finished! We bid all of our new police friends a fond farewell and proceeded home (via the control technique place which was, of course, closed). *big grin*

The end.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

A Day in the Life...

In preface, there really is no such thing as a “typical” day here, so I just took today, the first day of February, as an example of life here in our little town of Antsirabe, Madagascar…
7:20am – I know this hour surprises some of you, but this is when I wake up, generally very rested and ready for a new day (Ps. 3:5, Lam. 3:22-23). This morning I decided not to shower, mainly because this past week we’ve had only hot water in the shower. As much as I would NEVER have thought this before experiencing both, it is much easier to take a cold shower then a boiling hot one! Ha ha. Oh, and I did take one the day before, so am not entirely disgusting. ;) On to my morning quiet time... :)
From 8:30-12:30 is language and culture school. Most of the time we take a cookie and coffee (lemonade for me) break mid-way through. Edouard says I make “tsara be mofo mamy,” which is literally “really good sweet bread!” lol. I guess it just comes with being a Bergthold! Today we take the time to enjoy some bread that Edouard’s wife so sweetly sent us.
After lunch, Heather and I drive over to the Norton’s house, for they graciously allow us to use their internet. Today (and every day thus far, by the grace of God) we manage to avoid hitting any one of the myriad of pedestrians, bicyclists, pousse-pousse, animals, or anything else on the road. It is always an adventure driving and always lovely to catch up on how our friends in America and other parts of the world are doing. :0) We love you guys!
Next we go to the mechanic’s. Fret not - our truck is running well! Last Sunday, however, it didn’t want to start after church. A gentleman from the church said he knew where a mechanic was, but figured it was closed since it was Sunday. We walked a few blocks down the dirt road to see that, sure enough, it was closed. Thankfully the mechanic lived next door and was willing to come fix the truck! After he fixed it I asked, “ohatrinona ny totaliny,” to see what I owed him. His answer did not sound like any number I had learned, so I asked our friend if he could help translate. Turns out the guy was saying that there was no charge! How nice was that?! God truly blesses us beyond what we can think of! So today we took the kind mechanic a thank you note and cookies. :)
Our next stop was the bakery for some fresh bread, and then on to the market where everyone wants you to buy something – fruit, a pousse-pousse ride, a live chicken (Ps. 148:10). I couldn’t help but grin when greeted “salama tompoko!” by a man happily slicing open an entire head of zebu. We last went to ShopRite, the only grocery store in town, for our meat, peanut butter, and milk in a box. :P Once we got home there were the normal after-shopping things to do such as putting away our groceries, soaking our fruits and veggies in bleach water, and trimming and boiling the chicken (I think I am going to attempt a chicken pot pie tomorrow – mmm!).
Then we studied Malagasy, mostly going over our translation and grammar homework for tomorrow. We’ve been using our vocabulary words around town as we take walks and shop. This past weekend we decided to be very purposeful about using what we had learned, and took our short biographies (IN Malagasy-woohoo!) to a nearby park. There we queried, “afaka miteny Malagasy miaraka aminao ve aho” (which means may I practice Malagasy with you?) and proceeded to share about ourselves. People were very open to talk with us, which made us want all the more to know Malagasy so we can know what the people are saying and how to respond! Please continue to pray for quick language learning AND speaking for us both!
Tonight was Mexican night for dinner. The homemade tortillas with zebu hamburger were quite delectable. We are eating so well, you guys! Heather and I calculated that we spend the most money on food right now (which still isn’t too much), and it is well worth it. We figure we’ll eat so well these first three months that if we hike for a week or a month into the rain forest at a time and only have rice and beans, we’ll be quite okay with it!
After supper we study some more, finish up our homework, and have a heart to heart chat. Ha ha – we have those all the time! :) I am now writing this update to you my dear friends, plan to read a little and then head to bed!
I hope you enjoyed this little day in the life (Prov. 25:25), and know that I love you all dearly!
Cara :)