In case you didn't catch it below, I'm putting village info up to help continue prayer support for the Tanala people in the rain forest. Please choose one or two villages from the fifteen below to commit praying for. If you would like more info on a specific village, please write me and I’ll fill you in! Pray with great faith – our God is big!
"I have seen, at different times, the smoke of a thousand villages - villages whose people are...without hope in the world."
“The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and upon those who sat in the region and shadow of death, Light has dawned.”
"If sinners be damned, at least let them leap to Hell over our bodies. And if they perish, let them perish with our arms about their knees, imploring them to stay. If Hell must be filled, at least let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go there unwarned and unprayed for."
This is the village where Dada Be, the elderly witch doctor, lives. Amandrovany is steeped in ancestor and nature worship, but amazingly many people there incorrectly think that they are “Christian.” Even Dada Be will tell you that he is “Lutheran.” Please pray that the few believers in Amandrovany will live radically different lives as a witness to others as to what it truly looks like to follow Christ.
The curious village. I love all the questions people have here, but am burdened for the majority of them that do not yet have an understanding of what the Gospel really means. Please pray that they would understand, realize the darkness that they are in, and turn to the Light.
We had an excellent reception from the people of Ambohinihaonana last time we went. Praise God for our good relationship with this village. There are still many practicing witchcraft and following all the taboos of the ancestors. Please pray that the people would clearly see and understand what it means to follow God and be free from the bondage of sin.
The people in Ampitambe are very ignorant regarding Truth. They informed us that “God is like your mom and dad – a source of life. But your mom and dad are the gods you can see." Please pray that they would be liberated from the lies that blind them.
Pretty much breaks my heart. Ampitivanana is one of the closest villages to the road. Initially welcoming, the chiefs of Ampitivanana told us we could come and teach whenever we wanted. After a few lessons, it became apparent that the villagers only listened for entertainment and what they could get from us. Please pray they come to realize that the spiritual hope that we bring is much more important than whatever “stuff” they want from us.
The people here have heard of heaven, but said “it’s a mystery to us who gets to go.” They are still very connected to following their ancestors. Please pray that God blesses them with faith and that their hearts would understand their great spiritual need so that they would go to Him for redemption.
This is Lolo and Etsiky’s village. The believers in Ankazotsara have been oppressed for no longer following the ways of the ancestors, but are now meeting weekly (on Thursday afternoons) to study the Word. Please pray that God would strengthen these believers and daily add to their number!
I see great potential in this village. We have only gotten to visit Beremby a couple times, but the people seemed very welcoming to us and of the message that we brought. They freely admitted that they do not know how or why to worship God, but would like us to teach them. Please pray that they would keep this willing attitude to learn of the True God, and have hearts tender toward Him.
This is the village where a lady and her husband are building an extra room in their house so the people of Bevoahazo can come and study the Word. Please pray that the believers here would show love to all who come, including building relationships with the other members on our team.
A village far out we have only been able to visit once, but have been informed that they “already have a religion and don’t need another one.” Please pray that they would recognize their desperate need for God, and have opportunities to see genuine differences in the lives of the few believers in the surrounding areas.
We have been able to pour into Foibe with some stories, a volunteer team, a roof for their school, and many, many trips filled with evangelism and encouragement. The village is divided into those who want to follow the God and those who want to follow the ancestors. Two of their chiefs are pictured above. The one on the left desires the Bible to be taught to the children, and the one on the right seems uninterested. Please pray that God would give all the people of Foibe a single mind with a desire to follow Him.
It seems that every time we arrive in Kianjanomby, half the people are drunk. They are a village that sees little hope for their lives. Please pray that they see their sin as God does, and go to Him for forgiveness.
Is not actually a village, but the town that we lived in. We lived on the top floor of a hotel, and on the bottom floor is where a group of believers meet every week. Please pray that God would rise up leaders in the church, and that those who believe will be passionate about studying God’s Word and sharing their faith with others.
The killing of opposite gender twins is still happening in this village. “Good” witchcraft is considered okay, but sorcery has been outlawed in Torotosy. Our team would like to start up a weekly study in this area. Please pray that people would be eager to come and that God would prepare their hearts even now to be tender toward Him.
I was extremely encouraged at the response of the people in Vatofotsy to the Truth. They are a very far away village, so they will probably not get discipleship opportunities often. Please pray that the believers learn from the how to study the Word and share with others. Please pray that they keep their excitement about following God.
Monday, October 17, 2011
This is the last update I sent out to my prayer partners, but y'all blog readers can disregard the word "farewell" as I will be continuing on here for a while. :)
What an amazing journey we have taken together these last two years. I praise God for all of you faithfully interceding on my behalf. I truly do “thank my God upon every remembrance of you” (Phil. 1:3).
I was able to have sweet times saying goodbye to the many lovely people I left behind in Madagascar, and am now back in Nashville.
You may be asking “what now?” What do we do with the last two years’ investment into the Tanala people? Please keep interceding on their behalf. I give glory to God for all the people He has shown His light upon, but there are so many still left in darkness. I know it can be hard to pray general prayers, so I wrote and attached a Tanala Village Prayer Guide to help you remember. Please check it out and continue to remember the people there. Along with the villages, lift up Mirana, Rivo, Hanta, and the Newton and Norton families continuing to work in the rain forest with the Tanala.
Many of you have queried about my future plans. For the rest of the year I will be visiting with family and friends, and then plan to start another year of nursing school in January 2012. This should enable me to be able to practice nursing anywhere in the world. *grin* I’ll probably also be working part-time or PRN in a hospital in Nashville. You all can definitely continue to pray for wisdom and discernment for me as I follow our amazing Lord!
Again, there are not words enough to convey my deep gratitude to you all. Thank you.
“Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come!” Rev. 4:8b
I love you all,
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
On our way back from Tulear, Mirana and I stayed with friends who live near Isalo National Park (aren’t they such a cute family?!). It was fun hiking around (Madagascar such a diverse place!) and spending time with them, but difficult to see their situation.
‘Micah’ is well-educated and takes initiative to provide for his family, but there are few jobs to be found. He managed to find one in Isalo, which is the reason they moved from the rain forest down south. However, if he wants his family to live with him, he has to rent a room for them all and is unable to save money. If he saves up money, he is separated from his family for long periods of time. It’s been tough, especially since he has only been able to find one other believer in the area. This is Bara territory. A self-proclaimed “hard-headed” tribe, they have fierce bandit gangs, and the men aren’t even allowed to get married until they have stolen at least one zebu. Here is one of their graves, built into the side of a rock so that no one steals the burial cloth:
This lemur mommy and baby visited us while we enjoyed our picnic. Cute cute. :)
Hiking through all these rocks, you can imagine my delight when we came to a natural swimming pool (of course we got in!). MAN is God ever an Awesome Creator!
Monday, October 3, 2011
Who knows if it’s still on today, but back when I babysat a sweet girl named Hope, we watched this TV show called, “What NOT to Wear.” The show takes people in serious need of clothing style intervention and has experts fly in to save the day with money and talent to create a new wardrobe for the lucky participant. Back then, I secretly pondered the idea of dressing frumpily for a month or two, in hopes that one of my friends would sign me up. Who knows, maybe after living in Africa for two years, I may qualify legitimately. ;)
When you’re assisting a mission team, not many people care what you wear, but there are certainly some things you shouldn’t do. Below is a sample from my trip to Tulear of things that were not the brightest ideas I’ve ever had. So here you have it – the Malagasy version of “What NOT to Do:”
#1: What not to do: feed your volunteers unknown food. I saw some kids enjoying green shavings of a fruit-like substance, and popped some in my mouth. I couldn’t figure out what it was, so I called one of the volunteers over and asked him to try it. He did. Only afterwards did I realize how badly that could have gone. Thankfully, God protected our stomachs and neither one of us had any problems even though the kids had a unique way of cleaning the shaving knife – licking it. :P As for the fruit, green mango is our best guess to date. :)
#2: What not to do: jump into deep holes you can’t get out of without help. Two of the volunteers and Mirana were having a medical and spiritual discussion with a woman in her home. I know it’s distracting if dozens of curious children are poking in all the time, so I decided to distract the kids. Eventually, I ran out of songs and games, and asked the kids to show me what they play. “Jump in the hole!” they yelled, running around like hooligans. I looked down in this six-foot deep hole, and realized I’m not going to be able to get out without help. The children proceeded to show me how they jump into the hole, do a little dance, and get pulled out by their friends. Not knowing if they would do the same for me, I jumped down in the hole, did a little dance, and raised my arms up, hoping my faith in them was not misplaced. Thankfully, the kids had a heart and pulled me out. Back in the hut, the lady that the volunteers and Mirana talked with prayed to become a child of God! SO worth it.
#3: What not to do: turn down marriage proposals. Especially from men who claim to love you for more than your ability to get them to America. At twenty-six, I am definitely considered an old maid here, and more than one gentleman told me, “We don’t have to live in the USA; we could live in the capital city, or the rain forest, or even here in this desert village!” How could I have rejected that?
#4: What not to do: assume to know the way from a dust cloud. Many of you would be jealous of all the cool roads I got to drive on – rock fields, sand dunes, ox cart trails, etc. I didn’t know how to get out to the Mahafaly villages, so I just followed Grant in the truck ahead of me. Sometimes his truck would kick up crazy dust clouds and I had to stop and wait for it to clear before I could continue on. One time we came to a split in the road. My car was so far behind that we couldn’t see his truck and didn’t know which way he had taken. All of a sudden, we saw a cloud of dust ahead on the path to the left. Diving into the forest with the truck, we raced along for a few minutes before we realized that the other car had not taken this road…the dust from the right trail had blown over on this one, fooling us all. Praise the Lord we were able to get back on the right track and didn’t encounter any bandits on the road home!
#5: What not to do: forget to exploit fears. One of the strong men of a village looked at Kelly, Steffi, and I and said, “If I saw you three girls walking down the road at night, I would be so scared I’d jump into a cactus!” We asked him why, and he said it was because we are white like ghosts. Oh the fun we could have had… :P
All in all, I had a WONDERFUL time on my jaunt down to Tulear with the team from the Southbridge Fellowship. The team came well prepared with hearts ready to learn and serve, so they were a joy to get to know and work with. It was such a blessing to get to see the ministry of my friends and co-workers in Tulear, the Waller family and Tessa, firsthand. On the medical side of the team, we were able to teach medical lessons, assess villages, coach a community health worker, visit people in their homes, answer many questions, and instruct classes of medical students at the university in the city.
I was delighted to have Mirana (our national partner pictured at the top) accompany me on this trip. We had many great chats. Seeing that she is competent in medical teaching and passionate about sharing Jesus, and knowing she will continue our work has been such a comfort and encouragement to me as Heather and I are packing up to come back to America. You guys can certainly be in prayer for us as we get all our stuff ready to return and say our goodbyes to the lovely people here. Amazingly enough, my next (and probably last) letter to y’all will probably be from the great state of Tennessee. What a remarkable time we have had here. What a privilege it has been to see God work here. Thank you for your prayers and the love you continually show me.
“The LORD sat enthroned at the Flood, and the LORD sits as King forever. The LORD will give strength to His people; the LORD will bless His people with peace.” Psalm 29:10-11