In the summer of 2011 I had the chance to go on a mission trip to Madagascar. I thought you might be interested in seeing some of the updates I wrote from there.
I leave for Madagascar on my mission trip this morning at about 9:00 EDT, and I wanted to let those of you who have not asked to be put on this list that you have, indeed, been put on my updates list. I hope to send an email about every day, which you will probably receive in the early afternoon.
My flight leaves Atlanta at 3:30 this afternoon, heading to Chicago. We then go from there to London, leaving at 7:00 PM. We get there at about 3:00 AM EDT (8 AM, London) and have a 12 hour layover which we will get to use to go sightseeing. We leave London at 3:00 PM EDT and arrive in Nairobi at 11:30 PM. We arrive (finally) in Antananarivo, Madagascar at 4:40 AM, still in Eastern time. As the trip progresses, I hope to transpose any important times for you to make life easier to understand...
I would request that you pray specifically for safe travels for the next few days.
I will be sending updates as often as possible, and hopefully including pictures to go with them. I will also be publishing these on Facebook notes. If you want a more well-rounded version of the trip you can visit our Shutterfly account at ww.missionmadagascar.shutterfly.com.
I finally made it to Madagascar! After something like 24 hours in an airplane, plus numerous hours running frantically from one gate to another, all the while lugging carry-ons, we finally made it. We are staying at Hotel La Residence, "une village dans le ville" (a village in the middle of the city). It's set up with several different buildings, and Dustin Johnson and I are sharing a really nice suite on the top floor of building no. 3.
Let's start at the beginning, though, before I get too carried away. The last you heard, I was leaving for Atlanta. We got there, and it was no big deal. Security went quickly, and we had a fair amount of time to just sit and do nothing before we boarded our "Puddle Jumper"
(it's a Sci-Fi reference, if you don't understand the term) for Chicago. We had some time to kill, so we ate. Dr. Colon gave us $10 with strict orders to bring back the change and a receipt. It was wonderful, because we all found that Dominoes gives a special for $9.03, so she got a lot of change back.
We loaded onto our Puddle Jumper and arrived at O'Hare Airport in Chicago a few hours later. We had about a 3 hour layover, so we opened up our ShareHim laptops, hoping to find Wifi, but unfortunately there wasn't any free that we could find. So we put them away and
some of us tried their hands at playing hackey sack, with hilarious results. They kept randomly hitting people with the ball while they were asleep. If I had been hit, I think I would have kept the ball, but they were all very nice about it. Our plane had been delayed 45 minutes, so we loaded at about 8, but didn't leave for probably an hour. This distressed me quite a bit because they were cutting precious hours off our London Excursion.
We got to London at about 10:15 local time, but didn't manage to get out of the airport until about 1. This gave us a precious 2 or 3 hours to take over the world. We found the tube, and some very nice people helped us know where to go. We got off at St. James's stop (the yellow on in Monopoly) and walked about 12 blocks to Buckingham Palace. The flag was up, so I had high hopes of seeing the Queen, but she must have been indisposed at the moment, because I know she wouldn't want to snub such an important radio personality (ha ha).
After Buckingham, we walked a little further and found Parliament square (?) where Big Ben, Westminster Abbey and the British Supreme Court is located. London has the feel of a large city like New York, but when you cross the streets and can see ornately beautiful carvings on such a historical as Westminster, it feels very old-world.
We left that night for Nairobi, Kenya and had a good, if unremarkable, trip. It was a long flight, something like 8 hours and 30 minutes, and for all the time we spent in Nairobi, it was quite useless. The one good thing was that we got to go to Madagascar. I'm not sure if there are flights through any other airport. While we were sitting in the waiting room, the television was on, and there was some very odd amalgamation of Tellitubbies and Thomas the Tank Engine. As much as we all professed to have distain for it, we were all bored and tired enough that we could sit and enjoy it.
We loaded onto a very empty flight to Antananarivo, Madagascar, and I was able to move over to a window seat with no one sitting directly next to me. The seat went back quite far, and before I knew it, I was being poked awake by the flight attendant. I didn't even get to eat my croissant for breakfast.
It took a little while to get through customs and immigration, but there were no major hitches. We changed our dollars for Airy, which makes you feel rich. $1 equals roughly 1900 Airy. We passed an open-air farmer's market this evening and tomatoes were going for around 200 Airy (about 10 cents).
We got to the hotel at about 3:00 this afternoon, and had a little bit of time to put our things away. Then we went to the Union Office (Indian Ocean Union) to have our supper. I'm sure it was healthy, but it wasn't quite what I was hoping for. We had pasta with salsa on top, not "sauce," and our vegetable was shredded carrots and shredded cucumbers mixed. I love carrots, but cucumbers are something that I will need to work on.
Thanks so much for your prayers, and also for the notes that you've sent back to me. It means a lot to know that people are thinking of me. Don't worry (Mom) that I haven't been taking pictures. I've taken quite a number of really nice pictures, but our internet isn't good enough to load them. If it speeds up, though, I'll surely send them.
I didn't write yesterday because I didn't feel that enough happened to warrant a nice newsy letter...
I would like to begin with a formal and public apology to all those Monopoly fanatics who sent me corrections regarding the color of St. James's Place. I said that it was yellow, and I was duly corrected that it is orange. To all those who were hurt and offended, and who may never trust me again, I am deeply sorry and I hope that someday I can once again be in your good graces.
Anyway... back to the nice newsy email...
Tuesday night I went to be at around 8 o'clock local time (1 pm EDT) and fell asleep almost before my head hit the pillow, but unfortunately I work up at 2 o'clock the next morning (7 pm EDT). So basically I had a nice afternoon nap... I lay awake for several hours, tossing and turning, trying to fall back asleep while listening to the King's Heralds on my iPod. I didn't fall asleep until 6:15 (15 minutes before I decided I would get up and ready) then I woke up at 7:40, with 20 minutes to get dressed, eat breakfast and be ready to go to the Union office of our ShareHim orientation meetings. I made it!
We got to the Union office by way of a 15-18 passenger van that had a minimum of 22 people riding in it. It reminds me a little bit of the "Tassel Bus" from Panama. We were greeted by Pathfinders and other local kids who did three very neat dances. The first two were 5-7 minutes total, but the third lasted almost 20 minutes. It was very nice, and it worked very nicely with my music-major-ness, but I was taken aback when people started to go up and drop money on the floor in front of them. I would have, but I didn't bring my wallet.
The orientation meetings were done much shorter, even though they were translated into Malagasy which is a very long winded language. Normally, when working with a translator, I expect that they will take 1/2-2/3 of the time, but Malagasy takes about 4/5. Their word for "Our God" is Amin'Andriamanitrao. Seriously.
I met my translators (I thought that I was to have three, but it sounds like I'm going to have at least four...) yesterday at the meetings. The girl's name is Sitraka and one of the guys name starts with V, but I didn't write it down. The pastor's name is Andre (avec accent, thank you very much). So many names to catch onto.
That evening we went on an excursion to their equivalent of Bi-Lo (it wasn't Walmart quality.) Dr. Colon said that it was supposed to be about 10 minutes away. Over an hour later, the van had exhausted every Sabbath School/Pathfinder song we knew, including 19+ verses of
We Are Soldiers. Fun times!
Again, I went bed early, and slept wonderfully, until about 2 am, again dozing on and off until the alarm clock that we thought to set went off. Then both Dustin and I promptly fell asleep until 7:40. Thankfully, we didn't have anywhere to be at 8, but, in theory they stop serving breakfast at 8.
At 9 we went up to a little chapel where we had a morning meeting, complete with song song service, a very nice devitional about the A, B, C's of Prayer by Dr. Colon, and the first two sermons of our series. We were to edit as we went along, hopefully taking as little time as possible. I figured that all the editing that needed to be done woudl be changing a few words here and there. I spent HOURS working with Mrs. Glassford to get these sermons shorted and improved, and people were wanting to change things left and right. I told them to be very careful, but before I knew it, people had gotten their presentations out of sync and had deleted necessary sildes from the presentations. I was about ready to pull my hair out!
This afternoon was fraught (Lou) with sermon practice. I practiced the sermon on Daniel 2 (the Man of Mud and Metal) twice. This sermon is the first in the series which starts on Friday night. I don't remember if I told you, but the meetings start at 6:00 EAT (11 am EDT), so please pray for me then. It should be over by 7:30.
At 3:00 my pastor and Sitraka (translator) came to get me to take me to my church for a "dry run." Set everything up, make sure that the speakers, projector and everything else works. I figured that it would take about 2 hours. I got home at 8. My translators wanted to practice sermons with me for a little while to get the sound of my voice in their ear. I was agreeable to that, then there were subcommittes saying where all of my stuff should be. They were all speaking rocket fast Malagasy, which I don't understand at all, so I felt very lost and overwhelmed.
But it gets better! There had been about a half-dozen church members in the back of the church the whole time. I figured that they were deacons or just church-members with nothing to do (school board meeting was cancelled?) so they were just sitting. Then at about 6 there came a flood of people! There was to be a service welcoming me and honoring me, etc. I was petrified. My translator and pastor asked me if I would preach a sermon, but I told them that they werent' supposed to talk. Instead, they had me get up and give my testimony! I have never really had to give one, but I quickly came up with something that sounded pretty good. I tried to be sincere, but I have heard enough testimonies I'm afraid I used all the right words without the right heart.
The bright spot (which was also terrifying) of the meeting was the singing of hymns. They were all "international" hymns, but they were sung in Malagasy. The vowels in Malagasy are not at all like the Romance languages that I'm used to faking on the radio, but are English vowel sounds put with the wrong vowel. Very hard to follow. The first hymn was We Have This Hope, which I tried (!) to sing with the Malagasy hymnal, but it was a train wreck. I don't remember the second, but the final song was Under His Wings. The final two I didn't have a hymnal, so I sang all the verses I knew by heart of the English versions. I loved it, though.
Now I'm back at the hotel, waiting for Dustin. I managed to fix the shower head on the bathtub in my room, so I've been able to stay clean.
Thank you in advance for your prayers. I truly appreciate them.
That about sums up my day. This morning we got together for our morning meeting like we have been doing, and we had a wonderful devotional time, sang some nice songs and had a very productive time. Then came the time when I told people about any problems I had found with the sermons, and asked people for any that they found. That's when I found out that sermon no. 7 is corrupted, so I will probably end up needing to edit it again. But that's fine. We also discovered that sermons 19 and 26 were not in Malagasy at all, but in (what I am guessing to be) Swahili. I was going into panic mode, and felt the weight of the world on my shoulders. I got on Facebook, and was able to vent to Faith Laughlin, the lady who taught my Intro to Elementary Education class, and she prayed with me through Facebook chatting. That's amazing that she would take the time to do that, and I really admire her for it.
I was picked up to go to my site at 4:00, with the first meeting beginning at 6. We got there in pleanty of time. I got everything set up, then we decided to add the Malagasy version of We Have This Hope as the theme song. Typing in Malagasy isn't fun, because it's a lot like Polish: a lot of senseless consonnants stuck together.
I never got really nervous, and I attribute it to the fact that 1) I had scores and legions of friends and family members praying for me during that time, and that had been praying for me almost non-stop. I also (2) wasn't nervous, because I knew my sermon, and 3) I placed it in God's hands and asked to be filled with the Holy Spirit. I was kinda hoping for tongues of fire, but to no avail, but I felt that I was very connected with my audience.
At the end of my sermon, I asked them to close their eyes, then I asked, "If you would like to spend eternity with Jesus, I want you to raise your hand. I had you close your eyes so that you wouldn't do it out of peer pressure, but because you see that the Bible is reliable and that 'If it's in the Bible, I believe it, but if it's not in the Bible, I throw it away,' and if Jesus says he will come back, he will come back, and that you want to be with Him forever." I was so happy, because almost every single person raised their hands. I didn't see any specifically that didn't, but I would bet there were one or two.
By the way, my sermon was over the Statue Prophecy in Daniel 2.
After that, I shook the hand of almost every single person that was in the church, and then, as I was trying to go in, I was asked for an interview for a local radio station (professional courtesy?) (ha ha). He asked me how I thought it had went, then he asked me to sum up the sermon in a word. I told him that I couldn't, but that I could in a sentence or two. I said that the sermon showed that the Bible tells the truth and is reliable. What is in the Bible is trustworthy.
There are Bible prophecies that show history before it happened, and so that when Jesus said, "I waill come again," it adds weight to the statement. He then asked if tomorrow morning's sermon could be broadcast live. I said sure. I'm used to talking to the mythical people who supposidly listen to the radio, and they don't bother me.
When I got home tonight I had a little time before we had to report to Pastor Luis's room for worship. I decide to write to you, but when I got into my email, I saw a whole series of emails from Stephanie Sheehan, the ERC coordinator, who was working on fixing my Swahili slides. It took three letters, but she managed to tell me where I could download them. I've already gotten the first one dowloaded, and am just waiting for the next.
Most everyone seemed to have a good experience. There were a few people whose experiences were rough, but that's to be expected. I was very happy with the first night, and am almost looking forward to waking up early enough to leave by 8.
I would like to ask you to pray that the Holy Spirit keeps working in my church (and I suppose the rest of them, too...). I really felt that people were tracking with me tonight, but tomorrow's sermon starts right off saying that I have 15 points to cover. That's code for "Get out the Jr. Guide... It's gonna be a long one..." And on less of an important note, I left my Bible at the church tonight, and I want to be sure to get it back.
Thanks so much for listening and for praying!
P. S. I accidently volunteered to sing the closing hymn for Sunday night, so please pray especially for that (J.B-P.). I am going to sing Amazing Grace (which is the perfect ending for that sermon) in English, and Sitraka, my translator, is going to write a translation to go on the screen. Amazing Grace doesn't exist in Malagasy.
Am I allowed two emails in a row that end in Oy? That’s how I feel as I sit down to write this for the second time. My laptop wasn’t connected to the internet when I tried to save the draft, and there was no draft saved. Hopefully you will enjoy this email anyway, though.
Sabbath morning I got picked up at 8 am, and didn’t get brought home until 8 pm. It was a very long day, but I enjoyed it for the most part. Sabbath school started at 9, and they broke with tradition and didn’t switch us out to classes, which was very nice because I was afraid that they would think I knew everything about their topic and they would always be asking me questions. The sermon went well, but I don’t think it was one of the best. There are far too many signs of Christ’s coming, and the pastor tells us how many there are at the beginning. If I was in Collegedale church and the pastor told me that there were 15 points in his sermon, I would immediately pull out my Guide magazine, and begin reading. I made a call at the end for all those who believed that Jesus was coming soon and wanted to be with him, and most all of my church stood, and those who didn’t were the kids who just might have been asleep…
For lunch, I was given shredded carrots and another vegetable that I couldn’t quite identify, and was also given a deviled egg and a stuffed tomato. I got scared, because I don’t eat any of that stuff. I’m too picky, and I’ve been trying very hard to not get sick! I decided to man up and finish my plate and bit into the egg. It wasn’t bad, but it won’t go on my favorites list. When I bit into the tomato, however, I knew that something wasn’t right. The dairy here isn’t as pasteurized as I would like, so I decided to swallow, but then become full. I didn’t eat anything else except for some vegetables and their vege-meat, Soya. Very good.
Sabbath afternoon, my translators and I went into the preparation room of the church (which is no larger than a bathroom) and we did our best to work on the evening’s sermon. It got quite frustrated very quickly because I was hot, and tired, and all three of them were speaking rapid-fire Malagasy, which I can’t pick words out of. I’m too nosy for that to happen. After they finally left me to pray and go over my sermon once more, one of the translators came in and asked me if I had anything prepared to say or sing during the afternoon program. That church seems to think that I’m a pastor and that I can pull sermons out of thin air. I could have sung something, I suppose, but I really felt that I just needed to take time to pray and read words of encouragement from the Bible. I was looking for the place where it talks about getting your lips burned by a coal, and about getting new clothes, but I could never find them.
Saturday night’s sermon went very well. I had been praying for the Holy Spirit to speak through me, because my heart didn’t feel right to be talking about the plan of salvation, and I knew that He (it?) was. The sermons are scripted out fairly well, but you’re allowed and expected to do some ad libbing. Normally I do as little as possible, but I actually was doing quite bit. When the sermon was finished, I felt drained, like all the power had left me. I think that’s because the Holy Spirit toned himself down. I made a call to have everyone come up front if they were suffering from pain, or disease or heartache or addictions, or if they wanted to give their lives to Jesus. I had at least 85% of the church come up. I had them put their hands on someone else’s shoulder, then I prayed as specifically for all the categories. It was a wonderful feeling!
This morning it was my turn to give the night’s sermon during morning worship. It’s not as nerve-racking as you might think, because everyone is too busy to pay any attention to what’s actually going on. They spend their time editing their own sermons.
After worship, we went shopping to the Jumbo, their equivalent of Bi-Lo. I helped Dr. Colon do the grocery shopping for the group which was a lot of fun because I got to translate signs and titles and ingredients. (Do you know how many kinds of mustard there are in the world?) I even got to speak to the natives in French to try to find things that we needed. J’ai dit “Je voudrais du lait qui n’est pas d’un bœuf” when I was looking for soymilk. It’s the long way around, but I did get pointed in the right direction.
When we got back from our shopping excursion, we ate lunch, then were released to practice our sermons. Since I had preached already today, I wasn’t too concerned. I practiced once more, but I kept falling asleep while I was doing it.
Four o’clock came too quickly, and I got picked up to go to my church. Normally the computer stays in the back, but today I needed it up front so that I could have Sitrika translate the rest of Amazing Grace into Malagasy (story to come), then I had to re-edit my re-edited appeal (story also to come later).
But Oy! Last night I deviated from the script a little bit, but stayed with it for the most part. Tonight, though, I was adding all sorts of things to my sermon. I really think that it was the Holy Spirit. We were supposed to use decision cards, but when I asked the translator what was on them, they didn’t match my sermon. During the whole sermon I was praying, should I use them or not, and I got a very strong impression that I shouldn’t use them. So when it got to the place in my sermon to make the call, I went off my notes, and most all of the church came up again. I again had them put a hand on someone else’s shoulders, and I prayed for their forgiveness, and their peace, and that God would send his grace down on all of us. I am a Raney: I cried.
After the prayer had been said, I invited them to all go their seats, because I was going to sing Amazing Grace. It doesn’t exist in Malagasy, but I had a Malagasy translation on the PowerPoint. I sang, and it felt so right. Sorry, Dr. Penner, but I don’t think that the
perfect support was happening, but I could feel something in the air when I did it. I don’t think that I have ever been used by the Holy Spirit this much in my whole life, but I’ve had three Oy’s right in a row.
I want to clarify something. Oy is a Yiddish word that is used in many ways, like when you don’t quite know what to say, or you are overwhelmed or dumbfounded. This is how I feel. I equate it to Isaiah saying Woe is me for I am undone. I think Oy vey! I am undone.
My sermon for Friday night was put on the radio (106.4 FM the Oasis) at noon and at 6 on Sabbath, and Saturday night’s sermon was simulcast at noon and 6 today, and tonight’s will be tomorrow at noon and 6. I know that that’s technically a conflict of interest, because The Three B’s broadcasts at the equivalent time of 6 pm EAT (11 am EDT). Sorry Emily and Scott… If I cost WSMC any listeners, I duly apologize.
The kids here are so cute! Yesterday the kids sang (the same song) twice for church, and they were so adorable! I took pictures, but I think you’ll have to wait till I get to the states before I can upload them.
Thanks so much for your prayers, and for your support. It means so much to me.
Sorry that it’s been so long since I last wrote to you. I am slowly but surely getting into a routine, and there hasn’t been a whole lot to tell you about.
On Monday we all walked to the Union Office (which is about a 25 minute walk). We were to be evaluated by our Pastors over the first weekend, and we also had the opportunity to tell them what we wanted changed. I had glowing reports and there was really nothing that I wanted to change.
The trip to and from the Union was fraught with danger. In most less developed countries, the roads are a mess. People dart in and out, barely being missed by the drivers. We didn’t lose anyone and we didn’t have any injuries, which was a blessing. We walk back next Tuesday for another round of evaluations.
While we were walking, a car pulled over and a guy about my age jumped out. He was wearing a shirt with the Southern logo on it, and he called Dustin by name. Evidently he works in AV services, and his parents are missionaries here.
When we got back to the hotel we ate, then we went over our sermon for that night, the 2300 day prophecy. I had never really learned it, but I had read the sermon the night before. It made perfect sense to me, so when people weren’t getting it after the sermon was finished, I could help them. They say that the best way to learn something and to really understand it is to teach it. I think I really understand it, because I had to teach it all afternoon, then preach about it that night. The sermon didn’t go as well as I had hoped. I didn’t feel the spirit as much as I had the previous nights, and it was a little but of a downer, but I think people understood.
On Tuesday, it was my day to give the worship thought. I used one that I had used before, referencing Bach and how he always signed his cantatas SDG, which stands for Soli Deo Gloria: The glory only goes to God. Since I started to learn about Bach, I have loved that story, and have thought that it’s such a good example of how we should be.
The sermon for Tuesday night was Your Day in Court, about the Judgment. Again, I didn’t feel as much during it, but as Litch would say, “Feelings come and feelings go…” For the most part the sermon went well, except that I was basically hoarse when it was over. I have been fighting a cold for the past couple of days.
Before the meeting started, we were at the site, and there were some ladies from a different church in the district who came to sweep out the church and get it airing out. They all came in and sat in the pews, and we talked (thanks to Sitraka). They told me how much they liked my song, then they invited me to come back next year to preach in the new church that will be finished then. I told them I would love to, but that I didn’t think I could afford it. The ladies made my day, though, when they asked me to smile so they could see my dimples. I think I saw a couple of them swoon… (It’s hard to be beautiful).
Today is, of course, Wednesday, and this morning in worship we did 2 sermons: on the 10 Commandments and the Sabbath. We got done quickly, though, because it only took an hour. Malagasy translations are awful…
I actually practiced the right amount of time today, 3 times, and I thought that it went quite well tonight.
Today was the first time that I have been able to take a nap, and it was wonderful. I lay down, and turned on some Christmas music on my iPod, and took a nap for about an hour. Heavenly.
As I said before, the sermon went quite well this evening, and everyone stood at the end. They seem to understand the importance of following God’s law. Before the sermon, I actually had the chance to play the piano (keyboard). I hadn’t “tickled the ivories” in over a week, so it was a blessin! I am going to buy a hymnal here, but I will need to have someone help me figure out how to read it.
Thanks for praying for me! Please especially pray for the Holy Spirit and that I get better.
I see that it’s 3:38 your time, which means that it’s almost 11 my time. I just got out of the bath tub, and would like to go straight to bed, but I realized that I haven’t written you since last Wednesday. Far too long, so here it goes.
Thursday was our morning off, and we spent it souvenir shopping. Madagascar does it very oddly (from all of my other gift shop experience). They lined up over a hundred little shops, and you basically walk past them and point at things you want. They will get it out, and say a price, and you are immediately supposed to haggle by offering about half of the price. I was awful at it, but I got a lot of nice loot! I came armed with two translators, and had a fun time trying to get people’s prices down. I hope I didn’t get taken advantage of, and I hope I didn’t take advantage of anyone.
The sermon for that night was about the Sabbath, originally called Memory Lapse and Monkey Business, though we went by the title So That You Won’t Forget. It wasn’t a hard sermon to preach, but a lovely wrinkle is that Madagascar uses the French calendar, which has the week start on Monday, not Sunday. I said that if you look Saturday in the dictionary, it will say “the seventh day of the week” and Sunday would say “the first day of the week.” I actually had one guy immediately look it up in two dictionaries (one old and one new) and he said that Sunday was the first day in the older one, but the seventh in the newer. We used Holy Week as an example, counting before and after the Resurrection to find when the Sabbath actually was, and the same little stinker asked me how I know that what we call Sunday was the same day that Jesus rose. I told him to talk to the pastor, because truthfully, I would never have thought of that
Friday morning we all got together in our “upper room” to study the sermon about Daniel 7 (how Saturday was switched to Sunday and who did it). As I have been writing this note, I’ve been realizing how much wisdom God is giving me for these sermons. Again, I managed to never learn this topic in school, so I was basically starting from scratch that morning. Growing up an Adventist, people will talk about the Little Horn and all sorts of beasts, and I think I could have told you what the beasts looked like, but I couldn’t have told you what they meant, but I never really understood, until Friday night. Maybe it’s the sermons. They might work perfectly enough for me that I am able to understand, but I think that it is mostly God. He wants me to understand, so he has put me in the situation where I have to understand, and then he gives me the ability to understand. He’s amazing!
Friday night I got to meet Sitraka’s mother, Tina, who works for ADRA. She is a wonderful lady, and she immediately adopted me. She taught me that Nini (nee-nee) is Malagasy for mother, and I started calling her that.
Sabbath was another long day. Two sermons, with no afternoon nap in between. I discovered that Malagasy Adventists don’t necessarily go home on Sabbath. I wish I could enjoy staying at church all day, but I like to get home, change into something comfortable, and do my own
The sermon for church was about tithe and health, and that’s probably the best place for it in the series. I don’t really like that it’s in the series, but we need to let them know what lifestyle changes are expected of them if they want to become Adventist. I preached about being a vegetarian, then at lunch, my table (not I) was served fish (with the head and tail still on and everything… Yummy!) For the record, I could really go for a nice lasagna about now. Pray that we will be able to find an oven so that DJ can make us a lasagna for our end-of-campaign party next Sunday night.
In the evening we talked about starting life over again with baptism. It was a very nice sermon, and was quite interesting. The story was told during it that a Greek restaurant owner was asked what the word baptizo (Greek for baptism) meant. He pulled off his wedding ring and dumped it in a glass of water and said that the ring had just been baptized. I really liked that story because it was clever, and because I have Greek family who owns a restaurant. The food is pretty good, too!
Nini came again on Sabbath, and we had a nice chat in the afternoon. I was invited to join the choir during their practice Sabbath afternoon. I went and sat with the basses. I had seen their music before, so I wasn’t completely lost, but they don’t use notes! I’ll try to recreate a little bit of it, then explain:
Do dia C
Soprano: !d-r-m-f- !d-r-m-f- !l-d-t-f- !d’-s,-r-f!
Alto: !m-d-f-s- !d-t-s-m- !t-r-d-s- !d-m-f-d!
Tenor: !d-r-m-f- !d-r-m-f- !l-d-t-f- !d’-s,-r-f!
Bass: !m-d-f-s- !d-t-s-m- !t-r-d-s- !d-m-f-d!
Each line is a different “instrument” and each section (set apart with a tab for clarity, though they use exclamation marks or the § mark to separate the measures, without tab. The Malagasy all are wonderful at playing by intervals because the d-r-m-f-s-l-t equals do, re, mi, fa, so, la, si, which is the solfèdge (solfa in Malagasy) way to read notes. Do in this case is C. The lyrics are down at the very bottom of the whole set of music. I’m going to try to by a hymnal and bring it back. I want to see if Mrs. Glass can sit and read it at the organ. I bet she can.
That weekend was Madagascar’s Independence day bash, with the actual day falling on Sunday. Sabbath, we started our meeting about half-an-hour early so that we could get done in time to watch the fireworks. It was so nice to be able to watch them here, because I won’t be in the States for ours on the 4th. Speaking of fireworks, would someone please video/audio record the concert in the park. I want to hear Ethan’s premiere and the whole rest of it. Thanks!
Sunday morning we went over three sermons: Where Do We Go When We Die? A Thousand Years in Jail and Who Framed God. The meeting took about an hour and a half, which wasn’t bad at all. Most of the afternoon was spent practicing the sermons, then I got picked up by my pastor alone. Usually I have a translator with me, but not today. Pastor speaks a little English, but his French and Malagasy are better. I speak a little French, but my English is leagues ahead. Are you starting to sense the communication problem? We did communicate, but not as much as we normally do.
It was getting far too late, so I saved this letter and went to bed. It’s now about 8:15 my time, which is 1:15 yours.
Sunday night we preached about death, and I talked about Grandpa Raney, who died the Tuesday before I came here to Madagascar. I had people laughing in the audience, and then I had myself crying when I talked about Grandpa. I am definitely a Raney. Like I said before, Sunday was Independence Day, and I brought a Malagasy flag to church. They loved it. I was hoping for a round of applause, but I ended up getting happy murmuring and laughter. I definitely felt the Holy Spirit that night, which was very nice because I hadn’t really felt it in a few days.
After the sermon, my translator (M. Velsona) told me that his brother was so sick that he was about to die. We had a prayer for him, and I’m still waiting to hear more. Last I heard was no change. Please keep him in your prayers.
On Monday we went to the Zoo and we saw Lemurs!!! That’s what most all of us had been waiting for. It was a lot of fun. We did see King Julius (from the movie Madagascar), but we didn’t see Zaboomafoo from PBS. I was disappointed. We also saw crocodiles, African eagles, camels, peacocks and a 900 year old turtle that ended up being only about 100 years old. What a rip-off. And, like it’s cousin the Tennessee Aquarium, there were ducks. They looked like any duck you would see floating around somewhere.
That night’s sermon was a Thousand Years in Jail, which deals with the millennium. Basically, the most important part of that sermon is that there are two choices, two kinds of people: those who follow God and those who reject him. I asked for people to stand if that wanted to follow God, and everyone stood! Amen!
I’m off to walk to the Union again today. We have another meeting with the pastors.
I'm a Classical musician, a growing Christian, and a world traveler. I'm learning, exploring, and trying to understand this wonderful world I live in.