Thursday, November 18, 2010

A Dozen Life Lessons Learned from Ambohinihaonana

1. There is no such thing as sweat-proof suntan lotion.

2. There are witches in Madagascar. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised since there are witch doctors, but there are also “good” and “bad” witches here who will help you out if you are in need of a potion (I didn’t see if they had love #9). Our guide said a witch placed a brief immobilizing spell on him during our first night in Ambohinihaonana. Just another reminder to keep praying and bringing the light of our wonderful Saviour to the rain forest!

3. A little heart language goes a long way with the elders of the village. After conversing with the wife of the chief, she invited Mirana and I to go visit her two grown sons in their fields. “Ha ha – she wants us to go flirt with them,” I whispered to Mirana. “Actually – that was an ‘invitation’,” she said. Apparently we passed the woman’s test for daughters-in-law! And by the way, the Malagasy word for having a “crush” on someone is a visual picture of a biscuit being smashed by a large machine. Youch!

4. It is a blessing to be able to sleep anywhere. For a while I thought myself to be normal, sleeping in tents and on hut floors, not caring if people were watching. Apparently, I am odd. I thank God for this ability.

5. We need to keep praying for our friends in the villages! Lolo, the woman who ran down from her fields to hear about God, came to worship a couple weeks ago, but has not been back since. We visited her on our way and she said she wanted to come to church, but she this past time she tried to bring her older child. Her husband got mad and said he did NOT want his child going to the “sect” that met in a hotel and had foreigners present. Her neighbors think she is crazy. Her husband is going to let her come this week with her newborn and she asked that we give her passages to study throughout the week with her children.

6. Normally I would say heed warnings, but know that tic-tacs do NOT need to be stored in a “cool, dry place.” :P

7. I enjoy playing Paul Harvey and giving “the rest of the story.” Our guide, Roland, saw my Children’s Bible and asked to hear about Peter betraying Jesus. I read it to him and asked if he knew the rest of the story. He said he didn’t, but thought that Peter was not a Christian because he didn’t even have enough faith to say he knew Jesus. We then looked at the passage where Jesus asks Peter to feed His sheep and the rest of the life of Peter. He really liked the part about Peter eventually having enough faith to heal the lame man at the temple!

8. My reading was very apt for our first night there. I found that Leviticus 1 is much more vivid if you have just watched an animal get hacked up.

9. It was difficult, sorting through intestines, feet, and chunks of blood floating around in the bowl in front of me in the dimly lit room. I do not think it is fair that there are prevalent rumors of us foreigners drinking blood when the Malagasy really do eat blood. “But it’s chicken blood, not human, so it is okay,” explains Mirana. But back to that dimly lit room…spying a chicken part that looks edible, I found out that if you think you have grabbed a succulent piece of chicken breast and it turns out to be the chicken’s head, you will be disappointed!

10. But also, that disappointment cannot last when four men are dancing in front of you Lollipop Gang style. Wizard of Oz, anyone? Yes. The village of Ambohinihaonana gave us a thank you concert the night before we left and it was HIGHLY enjoyed by all present. :)

11. Leech and worm filled mud or bilharzias water? Sometimes there is no good third option. Aka: I was not a fan of turning around and going back OR plopping down on the ground and sobbing. It was going to have to be the mud or the water. lol.

12. It is SUCH an honor to share.   The looks on the villagers’ faces as they hear how those who were sick were treated was just precious. I especially loved doing our very first “women only group.” Huddled in a hut, I got to teach about caring for children from birth to age two and about how God does not merely “overlook” our sin, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, He died for us.” Romans 5:8

Monday, November 8, 2010

Sweet people!

My dear friends, I recently realized my neglect. I have not yet told you about some people! That precious group of people who meet together weekly to praise God. I wish I could tell you about every single person, but that would be an insanely long update. :P I was extremely happy to see Lolo (the woman from my last update) rejoicing there today!

The 20-30 of us meet in a hotel lobby. Feel free to drop by if you’re ever around! We’ll be the ones sitting on wooden chairs in a semi-circle singing around the keyboard. Rivo normally teaches (that’s him with his wife and son in the picture), but only after the group of grade-school boys and I have had a race to call out the numbers of our favorite hymns and others have read a psalm or two. Glancing around, you’ll see hotel owners worshipping beside those who cut their grass (with hedge clippers or scissors, mind you!) and people raised in the city next to those from the villages who have hiked over mountains to get here this morning. It is a beautiful picture, my friends.

Beyond studying and praising with us, our church members are a great help to Heather and I in our language, pray for us, send us out and go with us to the lost, have tea ready for us when we come back from a long hike (hot chocolate for me – they know me well!), and a myriad of other things (including skillfully dig out Heather’s sand flea!). I cannot tell you what a blessing this group of people has been to me. As you all are, as well! Y’all have sent emails, letters, boxes, and faithfully lifted me up before our Father’s throne. Today I am thanking God for my brothers and sisters all over the world. God truly knew what He was doing when He created fellowship. :)

HIGHLIGHTS you can be praying for!
Nov. 9 – We drive nine hours north to take Heather’s parents to the airport. It’s been enjoyable getting to know them. As Heather has been ill, we will also have another doctor visit. Please pray for wisdom for Dr. Tahiri as she treats her and that my friend is completely healed very soon!
Nov. 15-18 – hike out to Ambohinihaonana, a receptive village that needs much teaching. This is one of the villages that practices cattle sacrifice to appease the ancestors.
Nov. 23 – I begin my journey home for Cali’s wedding! Early congratulations to Cali & Nyk!
Dec. 2 – the Norton family returns to the rain forest with their new baby girl! :0)
Dec. 7-10 – hike out to Ambodivoahangy, a village that told us a bunch of their taboos, but none of them could tell us how to get to heaven. Last time we shared the gospel and gave them a Bible. At least two men committed their lives to God, so I am very interested to see what’s happening in this village!

Remember this blessed thought from Isaiah 1 for those of us who have been saved by His grace:
“Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”

In Christ’s love,
Cara :)