National Conference. I am not even sure it is possible to sum it up in a blog, but we are going to give it a try. Much of the conference was….normal conference stuff. Great speakers, great sessions, meeting new people, and of course lots of rice. Three times a day. But two events overshadowed the conference. Big events. Events that rank right up there with the day I was told I had been accepted at a missionary to Madagascar. Two events that I will never forget.
The first took place on Friday afternoon. Each morning and afternoon, different regions taught a Good News Club for the kids of the CEF workers. Friday, Southern Antananarivo, which is where I am from, had the floor. After playing a game with the kids, I sat down with them as club started, all the while my heart pounding. Partly from excitement, partly from fear. My part was the Bible lesson. My first time teaching a Bible lesson in Malagasy. On the one hand, I couldn’t wait to teach again, I love teaching Bible lessons in the States. But on the other hand….in Malagasy?? What if I got up there to teach and forgot everything?? I sat there reminding myself that THIS is what I love to do. Plus, thankfully it was only for the kids. Messing up in front of the kids and some of my friends was better than in front of all the adults. Just as it was my turn, the adults started flowing out of the building. Break time. I turned my back on the growing crowd of adults who quickly realized what was about to happen, and began to teach the children. As one of the guest speakers from Poland, ran around snapping pictures, the story of Jesus’ resurrection somehow came out of my mouth. How fitting that the first Bible lesson was all about God’s power. Victory in Him. Sitting down afterwards, I knew that God had carried me.
The second event took place during the last session of the conference. Saturday evening. We had free time that afternoon, then the last session at 5. The teens and I wandered around the city, and were careful to be back by 4:30. The girls and I returned to our room where I carefully gathered my notes and Bible and changed out of my jeans. Mama’i Volana (Pastor D’s wife), was making sure my hair was just right and the girls kept making sure I had everything. Nirina decided I definitely needed to reapply chapstick even though I insisted I had just put some on. After everyone took their turn telling me I’d do great, we headed to the conference room. My heart was pounding as I took my seat. Partly in excitement and partly in fear. On the one hand, THIS is what I love to do. I love to teach, even adults, and THIS, Christian Youth in Action, is my passion. One of the CEF directors was teaching everyone a catchy song and I joined in, hoping that the words of the new song wouldn’t crowd out the ones I would need later. Then it happened. The floor was mine. The mic in my hand, the eyes of everyone at the conference on me. I began by telling one of my ‘language learning stories’ and succeeded to make everyone laugh then began sharing with them about Christian Youth in Action, the impact it has on teens and the plan for how it will work here. Somehow everything I had carefully planned, came out of my mouth with only a few glances at my notes. Sitting down afterwards, I knew that God carried me.
As I talked to people afterwards, gave out my number, and even began making plans for the first Christian Youth in Action to take place during the two week Easter break (three months before I was thinking of doing the first one), my excitement to see CYIA here in Madagascar began to grow. I learned a lot of great stuff at the conference, but the one that will stay in the back of my mind for a good long time, is the one I experienced firsthand. God carried me. And as I work on planning CYIA, I know He is carrying me.
During the opening ceremony, children dressed to represent each region of Madagascar, sang, danced, and shared the gospel message with picture flash cards.
Some of the children who were dancing at the opening ceremony.
The was an exhibit on the first day. Here Southern Antananarivo, where I am from, is working on setting up our exhibit. The things on table are hand made song and verse visuals. We sold them and the baskets to raise money.
These are the CEF workers from the west cost, dressed in traditional clothing.
Everyone who came from Southern Antananarivo.
Pastor D speaking at the conference
The teachers were all given teaching materials from CEF Press through the Boxes of Books program. Thank you so much everyone who has a part in that ministy!
Teaching the Bible lesson at club on Friday
The girls and I had a great time. We shared a room and managed to take a ton of pictures of each other over the course of the week.