All in a Day

At church on Sunday, Seheno told me she was going to stop by ‘real quick’ to pick up a flashdrive at my house Monday morning. My idea of ‘real quick’ is just that, real quick. So after doing some wash and cleaning the house that morning, I settled down at my computer to finish translating a plan I had made up for Christian Youth in Action and wanted Haja to look it over for me when we studied in the afternoon. Sitting at my computer, I was anchored down by two kittens who were sitting on my lap when Seheno stopped by. We talked for about an hour and a half before she left. By this time, I had written off the idea of finishing translating the document for Haja to correct and instead got ready to drop the last of the kittens off at her new home on the way to study with Haja. I was thinking this would be a ‘real quick’ stop since I was studying in the afternoon. I stopped, and dropped off kitty, who by the way is one feisty kitten and was not happy in the least to be transported in a backpack or being relocated to a new home, my scratched up hands go to prove it. I was just happy they don’t live too far away. After introducing kitty to her new family, Tahiana and her mom brought out rice and laoka (veggies/meat) you put over the rice. I had already eaten and wasn’t planning on eating there, but they had quickly added chicken to the menu just for me, so I joined them for lunch. Arriving 20 minutes late to work with Haja on my Malagasy, I was thankful that being 20 minutes late isn’t a big deal here. On the way home from studying, I stopped at the market which I hadn’t had an opportunity to do earlier. The plan was a ‘real quick’ trip to the market because it had been a busy day and I was worn out. A little older lady, Jose, who has been running one of the veggie stands for her daughter, who just had a baby, has been cheerfully greeting me for the last few weeks. Today she begin asking me my name, all about my family, how long I had lived here and how long I would stay, and just about everything you could possibly want to know about someone you have just met. I returned her questions and she told me all about her two sons, the new baby granddaughter, and just about anything else you might want to know. Deciding to go the easy route for dinner and just make scrambled eggs, I stopped at a place by the market that has eggs and bought a few. I then walked up the hill to my street and stopped at one of the little shops by my house and went in to buy water and a few eggs for dinner. It wasn’t until I got home that I realized I had bought eggs twice. I’m guessing that buying eggs twice is an indicator of the end of a great day.

What a joy to get to spend some one on one time with Seheno and hear about her morning, how she got involved with CEF, and things God has been teaching her lately. She is such a joy. And then having lunch with Tahiana and her mom was a great opportunity to get to know them more and let them get to know me. Our lunch today will be followed up with a shopping and lunch date on Saturday because they wanted me to come over so they could cook my favorite laoka. Of course studying with Haja is always fun and full of laughter. And to top it all off, I have a new friend, Jose, at the market. I cherish these kinds of days. Not because I get a lot accomplished work wise, but for the people, the conversations, and the relationships built. You can’t help but love the rhythm of life in Madagascar.


A Wedding and a Step Outside of the Comfort Zone

Upon being invited to Nicolas’ wedding that was on Saturday, I carefully inquired about what I should wear. I was hoping for, “oh, you can wear a nice top and dress pants.” The answer? “You speak like you are Malagasy and you eat like you are Malagasy so you need to dress like you are Malagasy too.” I knew what this meant. The Malagasy people love to dress up for weddings, church, and any other occasion they can get away with it. I was off to hunt through the thrift market for a dress.

Saturday arrived. I put on my dress and made my way to Nicolas’ house, all the while feeling very uncomfortable wearing a dress, which is the second time since about junior high that I have worn one. I arrived on time, which is very early by Malagasy standards. Many people were busily setting up for the reception and preparing food. It didn’t take long before I was helping prepare tomatoes, and making trips to Pastor Di’s house for more chairs with the girls. Then we all piled into several vans that would be transporting the wedding guests that day.

The first step of a Malagasy wedding is the groom and all the guests ride over to the bride’s house to get her. Isn't she cute?? Then they each ride in separate cars to the county offices.

Here at the county office, they are given a marriage certificate which is signed by each of them and several witnesses.

Now they are legally married. Everyone then rides to the church for the wedding ceremony which is much like an American wedding ceremony. Pastor Di gave an amazing message on love from John 3:16. Then Pastor Guston officiated.

 After the wedding which was held at our church, we went over to were the reception was to be held. It was held between some of the houses where Nicolas and his family live. First there was food and more food. I was thankful to notice not every one was finishing each plate, which I took as permission to do likewise. :) After pasta, bread, salad, veggies, rice and meat and more veggies to top the rice, we had fruit with pudding that Pastor Di had made.

As we were eating, people were talking turns singing up front. As the eating came to an end, and the cake was cut, they began requesting certain people to come up and sing. First it was the bride and groom, then the parents of the groom, the parents of the bride, and the pastor and his wife. I quickly saw where this was going. How could I avoid being called on? Pretty much impossible. I sat there watching everyone sing and accepted my fate. I knew before coming here that my Malagasy friends love to sing and dance and that meant I needed to love those things as well. And then it happened, a guy I didn’t know grabbed the mic and pointed out that I hadn’t participated yet, and asked me to come up front and sing. What do you do when you aren’t someone who should be singing behind a mic, but suddenly have no way out? My solution was to ask the teens to sing with me. So with about 8 or 10 of them, we sang several songs together. After this, the tables were moved to make room for dancing. Knowing it was important to the girls, I joined them in dancing to some of our favorite songs. So here you have it, a picture of me, in a dress, singing behind a mic.

Saturday was not just a time to step outside of my comfort zone and adopt more of the culture here, but it was a lot of fun. All throughout the day I thoroughly enjoyed being able to understand and participate in conversations, understand almost everything during the wedding, and sitting by Nombana, Pastor Di’s youngest son, and playing with him. Even the singing and dancing was an amazing opportunity to continue connecting with the girls. To each of you who has been praying for me this last year as I learn the language and culture, thank you so much!