For the past twelve days, I have been traveling with the Bishop all over southwest Madagascar in the area around Morondava. We had a youth conference, fifty or so baptisms, the dedication of a new church building, and four weddings. It was great, but I am thankful to be back safely in Toliara where hopefully we can rest for a bit. Please be praying that I would continue to be diligent in my study of Malagasy. I am also aware that in times when things slow down, I could get stuck in a bit of homesickness. Please pray against that, and pray that this next season, with less travel, will be very fruitful.
So how was the Morondava tour? The highlights:
- I am thankful to have made a very good friend in the Evangelist Victor. He is a missionary from Kenya and leads a small church here in Toliara. He traveled with us during our twelve day tour. A master of languages, Victor was my lifeline in any social interaction, and for twelve days I rarely left his side. He’s a truly godly and great guy, and I have learned a lot from this devoted Christian who comes from a very different cultural context.
- After four weddings and a church dedication, the congregation in Morondava was very excited. What did they do? They killed a zibu (cow)! Now, they killed it the day before the real feast, and the first night’s meal of intestine was…less than appetizing and very chewy. Also, where better to store the butchered meat overnight, than in buckets on the floor of the small guest room where Victor and I were staying? And of course, no need to get rid of the zibu head. It belongs on the floor next to me. Had it slept any closer, it would have been a scene from The Godfather. The next day’s feast, proved to be wonderful. I never imagined I would be so happily surprised by potion size, when in reality, it was probably less than the average American steak dinner.
- We were able to be a part of some evangelism in the village Miandrivazo, part of which was late night showing of The Jesus Film. The response seemed very positive, and I got to watch the film from a branch on a mango tree. I felt very Zacchaeus-like.
- Though all of Madagascar is beautiful, we specifically got to see two incredible works of creation on our trip. Victor and I explored the Morondava beach one evening. Not only is it one of the most beautiful beaches I have seen, but since no one comes to Madagascar, we saw maybe six tourists. You have whole beaches to yourself. The other wonder was the baobab park. If you have seen pictures of funny looking trees in Madagascar, those are Baobabs. We watched the sunset amidst the baobabs, and I was very happy.
- I didn’t get sick!…much…
- The youth conference saw many dedicated young people, most in their twenties, get a chance to really grow in their faith. It was also very enlightening for me to see a group of first generation Christians, still very young in their faith. When studying the book of First Thessalonians, the issue of idols came up. In the USA, that discussion would be somewhat figurative. Here, the exhortation needed to be taken very literally: get rid of your idols.
That is enough for now. I am tired from travel, and very excited about a good night’s rest.