Monday, June 27, 2011

A Conversation with the Postman

I am sitting in the telecenter trying to load my email. I’ve been here for 45 minutes and the telecenter has been blaring Miley Cyrus the whole time. This is my third time to hear “The Climb.” I feel like I’ve been up this mountain before… :P

“Hello?” A face pops up in the window. The postman. “Well hello,” I reply. “How are you?” Grinning widely he says, “It came!” “The package from my mom?” I query. “Yes!” “Well praise God,” I say. “I’ll come over when I’m done with the internet and get it.” His face fell. “Oh please come now. I’m going to close up early to go eat lunch, but I wanted to make sure you got it today.” I stand. Of course I will.

Walking me to the post office (a couple buildings away), the postman tilts his head and looks at me thoughtfully. “You know, when you came to the post office yesterday and the package was not there, you said you prayed that it would get here soon. Just now when I told you it came, you praised God. I think God heard your prayer and answered it. Tell me, what is your religion?”

He listened attentively as I told him of my relationship with God. He said he would like to come worship at our church next Sunday, so I invited him to bring his whole family.

Y’all, praise GOD for bringing glory to Himself. The fact that I had said those things did not even cross my mind. I was forgetful, but this man was listening. What a good reminder that people are watching even the little things that we do – beloved, let us live like it!

“Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time. Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how to answer each one”
Colossians 4:5-6.

Prayer requests:
1. My friend Heather is sick. Please pray for complete healing for her.
2. I will be in Diego (northern Madagascar) June 28th-July 7th working with a sweet missionary couple. We’ll be putting on a medical/Bible lesson conference, teaching English, and doing village ministry. Please pray that those we come in contact with will understand the Truth of our message, that it will penetrate their hearts, and that many would come to believe on God.
1. For great times of fellowship with our national partners and other believers here in the rain forest, and for neat God-appointed opportunities to share God with those we have come in contact with.
2. For safety in our many travels (hiking and driving!) and continued health for me. Actually, this one can stay on praise AND prayer request! :-)

I love you all,
Cara :)
Numbers 6:24-26

P.S. The first picture is of the Malagasy flag. Yesterday was their Independence Day. I wore red, white, and green for the celebration. My Malagasy friends giggled and informed me that the party color was orange. LOL! Who knew?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Persecution of the Saints

When we Americans hear about believers being persecuted, we generally turn our minds toward the Arab and Asian nations, and think of people killed for converting to another religion or getting kicked out of the country. The difficulty in living as a follower of God here is more subtle. In Madagascar, everything is governed by your tribe’s fady (taboos), and everything revolves around community. If you start living for God and not the ancestors, you will break the fady of your tribe (many fady are full of ancestor worship) and thus get cast out of community. A new believer is struggling with this very thing right now.

Hiking to visit the new believer, I nearly leap to the side of the path to avoid a snake, but remember just in time how narrow the path and steep the mountainside is! The new believer’s husband leads Mirana and I, boulder jumping and wading, across the river to their hut.

Husband seated behind her, the new believer tells us how grateful she is that we have come. “Everyone in the village thinks that I am adaladala [crazy], and you are the only ones who think that I am wise.” We only know of her and two other believers in this village of two hundred fifty, and there is definitely a daily clash between the believers’ new lives and the old fady way that everyone else is living. Her old friends have been even more up in arms recently about her decision to live for God because of her decision for her son not to participate in the village circumcision rite due to the ancestor worship involved. She feels exiled and disheartened.

“My brother came to me when he heard of our decision. I told him why we were not worshipping the ancestors anymore. He told me he understood, but said that I should know that if we didn’t do the circumcision rite with everyone else, that everyone would believe we wanted to always be alone and leave us like that. That if something happens to my family – like a death – no one will come.”

She and her husband have also decided to completely change crops this season. Until now, they have been growing sugar cane, used in this area for making moonshine or to sell so other people can make it. “We’ve prayed about it, and feel like God is telling us not to be a part of making people drink alcohol anymore,” I ask her if that will put a financial hardship on them, because I know that they are already living at a day-to-day level. “Yes it will,” she responds, “but we have faith that God will provide for us in this hard time because He has called us to do it.”

This dear woman is such an encouragement to me. Praise the Lord for her faith. What evidence that our Lord is worth it all – though friends and family reject you, though you have no idea how you will be able to buy food the next day – knowing Him is your life (John 17:3).

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1

“For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.” 2 Timothy 1:12

Much love,
Cara :)
Psalm 43:3-5

Monday, June 6, 2011

Breast Milk Miracle

She leans around her mom, catches my eye, and giggles. I hide behind Mirana for a few seconds, then poke my head out, looking straight at her with a funny face. She bursts into laughter. I’m playing peek-a-boo in a hut with a three-year-old girl named Fara. She was initially scared out of her mind when she saw me, but is now getting up her courage (within the safety of her mom’s reach, of course) to interact with the vazaha.

Pausing our game, she grabs her mother’s breast out from under her shirt and starts drinking. “How old are you?” Mirana asks Fara’s mom. Not a rude question here in Madagascar! :P “In my 50’s,” comes the answer. Looking down at the girl she confides, “I’m not her birth mom.” She stepped in to help after her sister-in-law died giving birth. When she brought Fara into their home, her biological children ranged in age from eleven to mid-twenties.

Which begs a question: How can a woman have breast milk for a child that is not her own if she weaned her youngest biological child years ago?

While I wonder if this question would be culturally appropriate to ask, Mirana pipes up. “How’d you get your breast milk to come in?” I guess it is okay to ask. :P Fara’s mom looks at us, confused. “I went and lay down in bed as if I had just given birth. Fara was placed in my arms. I was given chicken broth to drink, like all new mothers, and so it just came in.”

Now it was my turn for mind to be befuddled. Wait just a minute now. Breast milk doesn’t come because you cuddle a newborn. It certainly doesn’t come because you drink chicken broth! What about the endocrine system – pregnancy hormones? Ever hear of lactogenesis?!

Had she possibly gotten pregnant herself before she adopted Fara? No, she chuckled. She can sense that I am trying to figure this out in my mind, so explains. “I just acted like her mom and the milk came in.”

Does my medically-trained mind understand this? No. Have we exhausted all possible other things it could have been? No. But at the time when newborn Fara needed a mommy, her new mommy was given milk to provide for her. Praise God.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Volunteers, Roof Project, and a New Village!

(Sandy, one of our translators, at the school site)

Decision point: what would you do? The hut you are sleeping in is hot and stuffy. It’s hard to sleep. You can choose to get out of your sleeping bag for comfort, but with that, run the risk of rats nibbling at your toes. They’ve already run over your friend’s feet…

We had a good time with our volunteer team, and are praising the Lord for the Truth that was shared while they were here.  The Foibe Roof for the Children project has begun, and has provided us with many opportunities for evangelism and relationship building. Right now, it looks like the entire building will be finished mid-June. We were there last week, and are planning another trip to help with the completion! :) This last week we had the neat opportunity to teach the teacher how to teach the Word and incorporate it into the children’s daily lessons!

Sitting in the hut of the chief of Foibe, he told us we were doing the right thing by spending time with the people, because developing relationships is the only way the people will ever trust us. Even now, over 50 years after Madagascar won their independence, the people still think every white person is a French colonizer coming to make them work or to kill them. Only in the last few years have they stopped fearing even the footprints of the foreigners (evident, of course, because we wear shoes ;).

Flies buzzing around us as we shell beans, the chief’s teenage daughter tells me she didn’t like the fighting in the movie we showed. She didn’t understand why Jesus had to die. She certainly wouldn’t and couldn’t have died for the world. I walk her through The Story, emphasizing our need for a perfect blood sacrifice. A basket full of beans later, she looks me in the eye, “It’s clear now!” Oh, how we are praying that many more understand why our Lord had to die and what His victory over death means for believers today!

A lot of people here take tobacco, an expensive (and dangerous) addiction. They put it in powder form between their bottom teeth and lip or in the sides of their mouth, many times a day. Children as young as one year old see their parents doing this and are invited to do the same. One girl I talked with told me that when she was four or five she got terribly ill. Her parents came to her and said, “If you can take tobacco, we know you will live. But if you do not, we will accept the fact now that you are going to die. Frightened, she stuffed it in her mouth. Now over a decade later she says, “To me, tobacco is life.”

The people in Beremby evidenced that do not know how to worship God. They believe “the ancestral spirits deserve respect just like God. We pray to them like we pray God – only on Sundays we pray to God, but when there are special events or important times we pray to the ancestors.”  Worshipping and serving the creature rather than the Creator (Rom. 1:25) has brought them no hope.

Ever thankful for your prayers,
Cara :)
Job 19:25-27

P.S. Oh, about the decision point? I chose the heat. :-)