Have you ever wondered what Malagasy church music sounds like? Here's a video clip from our church's youth choir this past Sunday! This is the type of music we sing every Sunday, and we really look forward to it each week! This particular song was written by one of these youth especially for Pentecost. We typically have 2 hours of singing each Sunday morning. Enjoy!
Sunday, May 19, 2013
Pentecost is a big holiday here in Madagascar (the Monday after Pentecost is a national holiday, too!) and there are lots of big celebrations, especially in the churches. What a great way to celebrate the Holy Spirit in our lives!
Here's a walk-though some of the celebrations we participated in for Pentecost:
|We rode to church via pousse-pousse cart|
|We walked through the sand to get to our church near the ocean|
|We got to participate in 2 hours of singing! Here, the women's choir prepares to sing.|
|Christina & Jacqueline had a great Bible study & prayer time in the afternoon!|
|We then went to a 3 hour choir concert put on by all of the local evangelical churches. Here is a picture of the youth from our church about to perform!|
We spent the evening afterwards having dinner and playing games with our teammates and the volunteer team from the States that is working with us during this time. What a great day of celebration!
"And Peter said to them, 'Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.'" (Acts 2: 38-39)
Wednesday, May 8, 2013
We spent this past week in the Masikoro bush villages along the north edge of southwest Madagascar. We spent the first half of the week with our local pastor friend, Jonoro, and visited the two villages of Ankilisoroy and Antsinerena where he has planted local church groups. In those villages we went hut-to-hut visiting the locals and learning about their lives and families. We spent the second half of the week with a teammate in the village of Anjebetrongo. While our teammate worked on crafting Bible stories into the local Masikoro dialect with the church group in this village, we conducted several in-depth interviews with some of the families in Anjebetrongo. We learned a lot from these in-depth interviews and enjoyed sitting in on some of the story-crafting sessions. It was a wonderful week and we really saw the ways that God is working through the lives of the Masikoro people. Upon visiting these villages, we are reminded of this verse from the Gospel of Luke after Jesus healed the paralytic man:
"And amazement seized them all, and they glorified God and were filled with awe, saying, 'We have seen extraordinary things today.' " (Luke 5:26)
|Talking with families in Antsinerena|
|View of the old school damaged from the cyclone and the new school in Anjebetrongo|
|The new well in Anjebetrongo|
|Some of the women cooking breakfast & lunch for the school-aged kids in Anjebetrongo|
|The school kids in Anjebetrongo excited to eat their lunches|
|Some of the storying group church members in Anjebetrongo|
Sunday, April 14, 2013
A few weeks ago, we wrote about our friend Melias and his sister who was in the hospital on her deathbed with an unknown but very severe disease that caused her heart to be in pain and her body to convulse frequently. For two weeks, we visited Melias and his family in the hospital here in Toliara whenever we were in town in between bush trips. We prayed daily and earnestly for healing for Melias' sister. We cried with Melias and his family, prayed with them, felt desperation and despair with them, and sat countless hours in the hospital with them. We asked you to join with us in prayer and to lift up this family into God's care.
During the third week of her sickness, we were in the Mahafaly bush working on community development plans in several villages and working with the church planters there. We continued to pray every day for Melias' sister and family and eagerly awaited any news from Melias on the phone. When we returned to Toliara at the end of that week, we met up with Melias and he brought us great news - his sister was able to sit up in bed by herself and talk and had began to eat a little bit. This was amazing, and we knew it was only God who could possibly have healed Melias' sister.
After that third week, each day she got better and better, much to the doctors' amazement. The doctors never figured out what was wrong with Melias' sister nor did they give her the correct medicine or treatment. Each day, for the next 2 weeks, she got stronger, healthier, and experienced less pain. She eventually left the hospital and lived at her grandmother's home here in Toliara, with her entire family staying with her and caring for her. We are so excited to report that today, Melias, his mother, his brother, and his sister were all able to come to church today and worship together! Melias' sister is back to her normal, healthy self and she and her parents head back to their hometown of Manombo (about 3 hours north of Toliara) in the next week. Praise God for this miracle of healing and letting us witness His power firsthand. Thank you for joining with us in praying for Melias, his sister, and his family, and we hope you are encouraged by this story to keep praying without ceasing - God is ready to answer!
Sunday, March 31, 2013
Easter in Madagascar is a different experience for us from Easter in America. We have only seen one Easter bunny, and it was chocolate and in the French grocery store in town. We haven't seen any Easter eggs, Easter baskets, or received any church invitations to Easter egg hunts. What we have learned is a lot about Easter customs here for Christians. On Holy Saturday, children and youth go walking around the town on all the streets, singing enthusiastic songs with lyrics such as "I'm happy because the Child is coming! He still lives!" On Easter Sunday, churches really go all out with celebrations - we had even more songs than normal during our Easter service at our Malagasy church today - 2 and a half hours of singing! Then the whole church eats lunch with the pastor at his house after the church service is over. On Easter Monday, everyone goes down to the ocean and celebrates more by eating together and hanging out all day at the beach. All the shops in town are closed most of Easter weekend and everyone spends quality time together. We've really enjoyed this Easter season and learning the new Malagasy traditions! We wish you a very Tratry ny Paska today!
Monday, March 25, 2013
We have had the craziest, most exciting day out in the bush village of Andremba and on the road back to our bush hotel in the town of Betioky this afternoon! The day began with our supervisor leading the local church body in Andremba in the sacrament of baptism. Two of the local church members – including the church leader - were baptized in the cattle watering hole in the town, with many people watching and seeing this exciting act and sign of faith and new life in Jesus. Our supervisor and a local pastor that we work with were able to explain the meaning of this baptism today to the crowds gathered, as well as empower the newly-baptized church leader in Andremba to continue with baptisms as more people come to saving faith in their town.
We spent the next part of the afternoon talking about the problems the town of Andremba has experienced since the Cyclone hit the southwest area of Madagascar 3 weeks ago. Drew, with help from our supervisor and our local pastor, shared the story of Nehemiah with the church group in Andremba and encouraged the church body to think of ways they could all work together to meet the needs of the town and the church people. We left the church group with the encouragement to be like Nehemiah and first pray to God about the problems and suffering they encounter and see how God guides them to meet those needs. The next time we meet with the church group in Andremba (in about 2 weeks), we will see what God has told them to do and then proceed to help them meet those needs.
We then left the village of Andremba, agreeing to transport the pregnant daughter of the church leader to the town we are staying in, as there is a local hospital here where she can deliver her baby. So we all piled in our 2 trucks – the pregnant women, 2 other women, a child, the church leader, and then all of us…13 people total. We were a bit nervous about traveling with this very pregnant woman, as she went into labor last night but had yet to give birth to her child. Driving very slowly, Drew navigated the truck he was driving with the pregnant woman as carefully as he could over these terrible, rocky, hilly bush roads. Halfway back to the town with the hospital, in the middle of nowhere, the very pregnant woman calmly and quietly tells Drew she has to pee and to please pull the truck over to the side of the road. She then gets out, throws up in the middle of the road, and goes to the waist-high grassy side of the road. We thought she was very carsick and just needed to rest. But then, the two women traveling with her, pull out giant blankets and set them out on the side of the road in the grass where she is standing. Then, one of our teammates is given a large blanket to hold up on the side of the road, to shield the pregnant woman from the bright sunlight. The next thing we know, this woman is squatting down in the grass, on a blanket, giving birth with all the women surrounding her, ready to catch the emerging baby. We are in shock and standing on the side of the road, watching this insane event unfold before our white eyes. The woman giving birth makes no sounds at all, and the only thing we hear is the first cries of this baby as it is being born. We see blood and more gush out into the blankets and then the new mother stands up, brushes herself off, holds her new baby in a giant swaddled blanket, and is ready to keep going to town in our truck. She has just given birth to a new life in the most dramatic way, in the most middle of nowhere place, in front of a bunch of white Americans who are completely speechless. She and the new baby are perfectly healthy and we dropped them off in the town of Betioky. Praise God for new life for the church leader in Andremba and for his new grandchild today in the most remote of places!
Sunday, March 17, 2013
2 Timothy 2: 2 quotes Paul speaking to Timothy and says: "The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also."
Today, Christina was able to entrust Biblical teachings to faithful women as she completed a Bible study with her Vezo Malagasy friends Jacqueline and Briza (who is Jacqueline's 15 year old daughter). Christina has been mentoring these women for almost 7 months now, and they have been working through a Malagasy Bible study called Vaovao Mahafaly Ho Anao! (Good News For You!) It has been a stretching experience for Christina to lead a Bible study in another language (Malagasy) but also quite a wonderful experience.
|Jacqueliny (and her baby, Valerie), Christina, and Briza|
Throughout these 7 months, Christina, Jacqueline, and Briza have studied together, learning about salvation, baptism, and grace. It is so neat to see our relationship progress and grow to become more than just friends, but "longo" (extended family). Now, as this study concluded today, Christina encouraged Jacqueline and Briza to share these Biblical teachings with at least one friend or family member. They are both so excited to be entrusted with this task of sharing the Good News and they feel equipped and excited to do so! Christina will continue to mentor Jacqueline and Briza, but they are now the faithful women who will continue to work in Toliara, Madagascar long after we're gone.