Good News Club Outing

Long before 8am on Thursday, somewhere around 200 of the Good News Club kids and teachers were assembled and waiting for the vans to arrive and shuttle us to the countryside just outside of Antananarivo. Pictures might  be the best way to share some of the highlights with you.
Once we arrived, all the kids gathered around to receive instructions for the day.
We found the coolest looking grasshopper I have ever seen!
It was a hot day and when the kids ran out of water, some of us went to try to find water. One of the local ladies showed us where the water hole was or we would have never found it. We ended up making two trips, arms full of water bottles.
One of the little boys had fun bringing me lots of beautiful flowers.
Towards the end of the day the kids put on a talent show filled with singing, dancing and skits.
I enjoyed playing with all the kids. This little one was almost always right by me and chattering away. I was thrilled to be able to understand most of what she said, lisp and all! J
After the talent show a bunch of the kids crowded around and we had fun finding out everyone’s favorite foods, and many other random questions. They loved asking “have you ever eaten ______?” questions. I was thankful to be understand almost all of what they were saying.
I can’t help but thank God for the opportunity to be a part of the ministry of CEF and have the privilege of building relationships with the kids and teens here and investing in their lives? Thank you for joining me through your prayer and support!

First Teaching Experience

Are you purple rice, someone who catches the eye of others because of how you live your life? Different from the rest? When people see you are they left wondering why you are different and wanting what you have because they have just seen the image of Jesus in you? These are the questions I talked about during my first 20 minute teaching experience in Malagasy. I talked about how we become “purple rice” and how we can help the kids who come to club to also be “purple rice.” While I would have loved to have one more day to prepare for my first teaching experience in Malagasy, I totally enjoyed teaching and it was a wonderful reminder that God doesn’t need my perfection to use me and speak through me. It is in my weakness that I am strong and am forced to rely completely on Him to accomplish through me that which I am incapable of. I gave everyone some purple rice that I had colored with some purple nail polish I had found at the market and tied it in pieces of a clear bag that I had got while buying vegetables. On a side note, I discovered being resourceful is a requirement here if I want to carry out a craft project since I can no longer rely on Michael’s and The Craft Warehouse. The things I talked about are things that God has been challenging me with lately. As we left the meeting, the teens and I continued discussing what it looked like to be “purple rice.” Teasing and sarcastic comments where met with comments like, “are you being purple rice right now??” J The next day, the Good News Club kids, teachers and I assembled to go on an outing and one of the kids who had been at the meeting the day before was explaining to one of the other kids about being “purple rice” and showing them the purple rice that he had in his pocket. Are you purple rice?


When I am Weak I am Strong

Pastor Rufan: Tara, can you teach at the meeting next week?
What’s running through Tara’s mind: That would be a great opportunity to be able to do the devotion at the beginning of the meeting. As long as I give it some thought before hand, I can totally share about a verse for five minutes in Malagasy.
Tara: Sure! Sounds good.
Pastor Rufan: You will have 20 minutes to talk about a few things you think are important for the Good News Club teachers to remember and things that are important for them to do as they are teaching.
What’s running through Tara’s mind: Did he just say 20 minutes?? He must have said 12 minutes…I get 12 and 20 mixed up on a regular basis anyway… Wait….I will actually be teaching them?? We aren’t talking about a devotional here??
Tara: *comes out in somewhat of a stutter* 20 minutes?? About things that are important for the teachers?? Next Wednesday??
Pastor Rufan: Yeah, that would be great. Thanks!
Tara: 20 minutes??
Pastor Rufan: Yeah, you will have 20 minutes.
Tara: Right, right, ok. Next Wednesday… 20 minutes…

Just that morning, I had started to working on a blog post that was titled, “When I am Weak I am Strong.” On a journey to start memorizing verses I know in English in Malagasy, I had chosen Phil 4:13 that day. “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” As I sat in the meeting, my mind nowhere near the topics being discussed, I can’t say I have felt so….weak….in sufficient…incapable…in a really long time. The first thing I reminded God of was that while I can usually handle conversations pretty well, teaching for 20 minutes at an adult level is not conversation. I then reminded God that I am a serious perfectionist when I am teaching. I like to execute everything to perfection, I hate using notes, and I certainly don’t stumble over the words that I have carefully selected to say everything just how I want with the exact meaning in place. Then I recalled how I have been praying that God will give me opportunities to stretch myself when it comes to Malagasy, and wisdom in knowing how to continue to progress in the area of language. Maybe this was God’s answer. The rest of the meeting was spent with Phil. 4:13 running through my head and a quote I had seen on a friend’s facebook page. ““I asked God for strength, that I might achieve. I was made weak, that I might humbly learn to obey.” Suddenly my relatively calm world had been turned upside down. One of the things that I would usually say is one of my strengths, teaching, was a weakness like I had never experienced before. I carefully wrote out what I wanted to say in English. My amazing language helper, Haja, has been helping me put it into Malagasy. I feel like a first year college student nervously over-preparing for the first big project. Who know I would ever feel like that again?? As I prepare, I am reminded over and over that God’s power is made perfect in my weakness. Please pray for me as I prepare and pray that God will use the things I am preparing to talk about in the lives of the teachers.


Only three months until life begins??

Have you ever had the feeling that you are just waiting for life to begin? I have often felt this way in the last five years since God called me to Madagascar. Contentment with where God currently has me has never come easy. I find myself thinking things like, life will really begin when I am accepted as a missionary with CEF. Life will really begin when I start raising support…when I am done raising support….when I finish internship…when I look out the window of the plane and see the beautiful red island under me. Life will really begin when I speak Gasy fluently and am able to begin ministry here. Life will really begin when…..
Yesterday a large brown envelope with my name written neatly on it was handed to me. The excitement grew as I learned that inside this envelope were the lessons I would be teaching at the Children’s Ministry Institute here in Madagascar this fall. Clutching the lessons tightly on the way home, I thought with delight about how much fun it will be to be teaching again. Then the fear popped up as I thought about all that would change/begin in just a few short months.
In just a few short months I will be able to focus on ministry instead of language learning. As the countdown begins (three months!) the anticipation grows as I think about being able to teach again. And then there is the fear that comes along as I wonder if my Malagasy will be where it needs to be by then. I am so thankful that God gives us the gifts and abilities we need to complete the work He has called us to! Please pray that I will fully embrace where God has placed me during these next three months: language learning. Pray that God will give me wisdom in how best to study. Praise God with me that He equips us for everything He has called us to do.