Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Malagasy Introduction

Salama tompoko! Kara no anarako. Dimy amby roapolo taona aho.  Avy any Amerika aho. Manana rahavavy roa sy anadahy iray aho. Niasa ho mpitsabo roa taona aho. Mianatra teny Malagasy aho fa tonga eto Madagasikara aho ary hiasa eto. Tia an'i Madagasikara aho.Tsara ny fiainana.


A basic translation for all you non-Malagasy speakers (lol - I would still include myself in this category!):

Hello! My name is Cara. I am twenty-five years old.  I have two sisters and one brother. I have worked as a nurse for two years. I am studying Malagasy because I came to Madagascar and will work here. I like Madagascar. Life is good.

This is a delightful treat Heather and I came up with: chocolate chip cookie sandwich with a hint of peanut butter and generous portions of vanilla and chocolate ice cream in between! HA HA HA! Yum. :0)

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Language learnings...

My finger slowly traces the letters in black ink as I haltingly read Matthew 5. I stumble over a word and Edouard patiently corrects me. Heather sits to my left awaiting her turn. The three of us sit around our kitchen table adorned with purple flowers and a pineapple. Language school has arrived!
Salama Tompoko! [Hello!]
Yes, my dear friends, I have started to learn a language called Malagasy. Heather and I study with our tutor, Eduoard, five days a week from 8:30am-12:30pm. We study and put into practice what we’ve learned in the afternoons. We’ve only just started, but I am going to venture to say that Eduoard is going to be a great teacher. He is a believer, starts our daily lessons with prayer, has a fluent grasp of grammar, and smiles a lot. He even gives us high fives when he is especially proud of us. :0)
It has been humbling this past week going back to learning how to read, how to talk, how to cook, how to drive, how to shop, all over again! It has been a fun journey, however, and one I will probably be on for a long time! I got caught dancing in the market (I was oblivious to the fact that I was moving to the music until a round of applause and laughter from a group of ladies brought me back to reality) and told a mother her baby was a cute animal (the English word baby here sounds surprisingly like the Malagasy word for animal, I have since learned!). Fret not. She was not at all mad. The sweet Malagasy very much appreciate the fact that we are trying to learn their language and just laugh at our many mistakes. :) Heather and I have been experimentally cooking. It has been a blast and most of it has (amazingly) turned out to be quite delicious! There are now fresh cookies on the counter and ice cream in the freezer…it’s beginning to feel like home. ;)
I thank God for you all every day! Knowing there are people lifting me up to our Father’s throne constantly is a huge encouragement to me. I made it three hours into language training before I was like, “Are you kidding me? This is going to be really hard! Can I really do this?” And my wonderful Maker spoke gently to my heart with the reminder of “Who made your mouth, Cara?” He will enable me to tell of His glory however He wants to!
Praises – for good health, great language teacher, and the fact that the rest of our luggage is out of customs and made it here to Antsirabe!!!
Prayer requests – for a quick grasp and retention of the language, Heather and my continued transition to life in Madagascar including wisdom and discernment with our interactions with the many beggars here in Antsirabe.
Tia ianareo aho, [I love you all,]
Cara :)

Saturday, January 9, 2010

The Mada Chronicles

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: :)
First impressions:
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!
English club:
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:
*link deleted*
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)!
Prayer requests/praises:
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!
Cara :)

Sunday, January 3, 2010


“You know we’re gonna go a little crazy when we see Madagascar, right?!” Heather and I had to forewarn the others so they wouldn’t be too shocked at our reaction tomorrow morning when we fly to Madagascar (Sunday…which is Saturday night for y’all since Mada is nine hours ahead of Nashville). :P I am so excited to see our already dearly loved island!!!

And there are way too many to attach to an email, but I have put PICTURES up of us and some crazy cool African animals. Here is a link which should let you go right to the album if you’d like to take a look:

*link deleted*

I continue to be blessed by all of your prayers. Many of you have asked for specifics, so here they are!

Prayer requests:

1. That I would keep first things first.

2. That Heather and I would have humble and teachable spirits as we start language school on January 18th – and that we would pick up the language quickly – misaotra (thank you)!

3. Cyclone season (January-April) is upon Madagascar. Every season many houses are desolated since they are made of bamboo and such which don’t exactly make for sturdy structures!

4. Heather and I are air-freighting six bags. Pray that they make it to Tana before we leave for language training in Antsirabe and that nothing gets stolen!


1. That Heather, myself, and all of our luggage made it to South Africa safely.

2. For a sweet time of intercession and fellowship here in Johannesburg at the prayer conference.

3. For an incredible team in Madagascar.

4. For my journeygirl partner. Wow you guys, I cannot tell you what an encouragement Heather has been to me. God has definitely blessed me beyond measure!

THANK YOU so much!
I love you all,
Cara :)

"Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, to God our Savior, Who alone is wise, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever. Amen." Jude 24-25