Thursday, July 28, 2011

Witches and Witch Doctors

Tidbits you may or may not know about Malagasy witches:

1. Witches can turn bandits into rats, if they are being pursued. This actually works in favor of the bandits, as no one can catch them as rats.
2. Witches get their power from the ancestral spirits (principalities of the dark).
3. Witches learn how to be witches by training with another witch or having a dream that tells them how to be one.
4. Witches can be male or female (same for witch doctors).
5. Witches are the reason people don’t like to walk at night because they jump on people and ride on their backs, controlling them, until the person collapses in exhaustion or death.

My Malagasy friends were filling me in on all things witches, the other day, on the way to the village of Amandrovany. It seems everyone has a witch story that has happened to a friend (or friend of a friend of a friend). Upon arriving in the village, I found my old friend Dada Be (a witch doctor) confused about the origins of “his” power and, sadly, having no clue what is going to happen to him when he dies. He thinks this lack of understanding is both normal and unavoidable.

People come from hours away to bring Dada Be to their houses because he gets possessed by a spirit that can heal broken bones. If they can’t bring him to their house, they bring a small container for his spit; because they believe even that has healing qualities.

Dada Be is tired, mostly deaf, and knows he is close to death. He would like to pass this spirit onto his grandson, but his grandson is unsure. He is hesitant to accept the spirit because the process of passing it from one person to another involves a bone needing to be broken in his own family. Dada Be believes the spirit is good, because it instructs him in dreams and tells him not to accept money for the healing services. When I ask him what the spirit tells him about Jesus, he won’t answer. When I ask him what he believes about God, he can’t/won’t say. He just admits, “I have no idea what will happen to me when I die.”

I know that God came “to give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace” (Luke 1:79). This is good news that I couldn’t keep inside. I shared the gospel with him and he looked at me, blankly. After a minute, he hobbled over to get more wood for the fire. He understood the words, but not that this is life-changing truth. “And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it” (John 1:5).

Monday, July 18, 2011

Conquering the Mountain

Peering over the dashboard, I dive down the extreme decline of the mountain "road." There is a cliff to my left, so I am hugging the other side that has a wall of mud. "It's okay if you want to take out the sideview mirror," my friend Tim tells me, "Just don't take us over the edge."

The powers that be have been working on a road out into the rain forest. Yesterday we decided to climb the mountain with our 4x4 truck so we didn’t have as far to hike. I got to drive! I forded small rivers, got stuck in the mud (above!) for a while, and certainly got my heart rate up, but boy was it fun! :D Thanks to all of you who give - it was through your generosity that we were supplied with this cool truck to make it over the mountain. :)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

A Jaunt to the North

Thank you all for praying for my trip. Diego Suarez is a city in northern Madagascar where I was able to visit and minister with some dear co-workers who live there. Here are some highlights from our days!

Tuesday, June 28th – the airline called the night before and told me that my flight, which was originally scheduled for 3:30pm, but had been changed to 9am, was now scheduled to leave at 1:40pm. I got to the airport by 12:30pm and the flight ended up taking off at 4pm. Welcome to domestic Madagascar flights! :P Below is an island just off the coast of Diego considered sacred to the ancestors.

Wednesday, June 29th – with a busy week ahead, the precious missionary couple who live in Diego (Michael & Michelle Allen) and I decided to prepare with a relaxing day at the beach. It was wonderful!

Thursday, June 30th
– Michelle and I had a great opportunity to teach two English classes at the local university. I was encouraged at the interest the students had not only in medical, but also in spiritual things. After our lecture, we were thrilled to answer the students’ questions, “Why should we pray?” and “How can I have a relationship with God?”

Friday, July 1st
– we spent this morning inviting people to our medical conference the next day (below is the neighborhood we walked through). I was humored by the fliers we passed out. In the local dialect they said, “There is a nurse from America here to teach us,” but in MY dialect it said, “There is an American leper nurse here to teach us.” Ha ha ha! This afternoon we went to the market and I did NOT get hit by the lady who notoriously runs around the market hitting people. Success! :-)

Saturday, July 2nd
– We had our conference at the local Baptist church. Michelle and I taught medical lessons with Biblical stories and truths, and Michael shared the Truth. I was encouraged with how attentively people listened and how readily they asked questions! This guy's helping us out with the nutrition lesson. :)
Sunday, July 3rd – Heather arrived! Thank you so much for praying for healing for her. We thought she would not be able to come at all, but God orchestrated it so she could come for the last half of the trip! This is her and our guide headed out to a village in the north.

Monday, July 4th
– we took a two hour journey (by truck) south to the village of Mahamasina where we would have our next medical conference. Before walking out to the village to visit with people and invite them to come the next day, I got a special treat to go see Park Antakarana, one of the few places in the world with tsingy rock (you can see it behind Michelle and I in the picture below). We also saw over a dozen lemurs playing in the trees. They are so cute!

Tuesday, July 5th – more people showed up for the village medical conference than the one we had in the city! I was surprised and glad. I'm teaching about disease transmission in the photo below. Later that day, Michael led a study with the local believers. Please pray that this small group meeting in the village of Mahamasina continues to be strengthened!
Wednesday, July 6th – since Heather came we needed to show her the beach, of course! This time we not only spent time chatting on the beach and swimming, but enjoyed GREAT snorkeling and kayaking, too!

Thursday, July 7th
– before we flew back to the capital city, we went back to the university to teach the two English classes again. My favorite question from a student this day is, “Why does eating peanuts make me angry?” We wondered if it was a sounds-alike issue and he meant hungry… “No, I get angry every time I eat them.” A nervous feeling like an allergic reaction? A traumatic memory while eating nuts? “No. Eating nuts just makes me mad at my friends.” Okaaaay… I was reminded once more that I do not know the answers to all of life’s questions! :P

This week you can pray for Mirana and I as we hike out, and for Heather as she continues to fully recuperate. Our team is going to celebrate a belated 4th of July party this week, as well. Please continue to lift us up that we would be of one mind (Philippians 1:27), encouraging each other on to good works (Hebrews 10:24).

I love you all!
Cara :)

“Blessed be the Lord, Who daily loads us with benefits, the God of our salvation! Our God is the God of salvation; and to GOD the Lord belong escapes from death.” Psalm 68:19-20