Newsletter: September 2013

A Future Generation
    What will God do with the lives of the teens who come to Christian Youth in Action? That is a question I have been asking myself since God called me to the ministry of CYIA here in Madagascar. I had always felt that the teens who would come to camp would be the future of Madagascar—the pastors, leaders and missionaries of the next generation. How exciting it has been to see God bring that dream into reality. Let me introduce you to just a few of the many teens who came to CYIA in Ranomafana and in Antananarivo.

Setra: The other teens occasionally called Setra, “Pastor.” He is 15 and was the only older boy who came to CYIA in Ranomafana, and to be honest, I was shocked to hear that he was coming since all the other boys were 11 or 12. We asked them why they called him that, and they said, “When the teacher at school asked us what we wanted to be when we grew up, Setra said he wanted to be a pastor.” And all week, as I watched him learn and grow, I could see that God had already called him, and he knew it.

Aina: Aina sat beside me after club one evening and said, ‘Tara, I want to be a missionary. When I teach the kids at club, I know that’s what I want to do with my life.”

Avotra: Avotra is 17. He couldn’t come to the first three days of training because he was taking what is the equivalent of a GED. But on his lunch breaks, he would come running down to spend lunch time with us then hurry back to the testing location. He caught himself up on everything he missed and was ready to teach with his team when we got to Tamatave. He was sitting by me one day as I watched my team do a demo of their club. When one of the boys was having a hard time reading something out of the missionary story, Avotra told him what it was supposed to say, word for word, from memory. I looked at him in shock since that wasn’t even the part he was teaching that day. He was the Bible lesson teacher that day on his team and that is usually plenty enough to keep someone busy during practice time. He said, “Hey, every part of club is connected and goes together. You have to know all the parts to teach well.” And you should see this kid teach. I had seen his passion since pre-training and knew God already had special plans for him. Avotra only confirmed those suspicions. He knew God had already called him to be a missionary.
   God is working through CYIA and I can’t wait to see what He has planned for these kids’ lives. Thank you for playing a key role in CYIA here in Madagascar through your prayers and support!

CYIA, Malagasy Style
We crowded around the open fire that our giant pot of rice was suspended over, sitting on stones and blowing on the fire in an attempt to get the rice to cook faster. The pitch black sky over us was filled with more stars than I had ever seen. Everything was quiet, except us. The first four days of training were over and we had just arrived in a little town way out in the middle of nowhere to teach 5-Day Clubs. The 12 kids who crowded around the fire with me continually blew my mind. They ranged in age from 11 to 15, most being about 12. They worked so hard and put everything they had into their clubs. If they practiced their lessons in front of rocks and trees, they did so loudly and passionately. And when they were at club, it was no different. They would point out areas they thought would be perfect for open-air ministry and invited everyone in sight to the afternoon clubs. The Child Evangelism Fellowship® worker in Ranomafana, Henriette, was one of the sweetest, most humble people I had ever met. She did nothing halfway. She went above and beyond with everything and poured her heart into these teens whom she saw as the future of CEF® in Ranomafana. Seeing all this, I felt so very, very small. I wondered how it was that God had orchestrated this whole thing and had His hand in every part of it. I watched in awe as I saw a passion grow in the hearts of the teens to spread the Gospel. I watched as the club my teens taught, way out in a little village in the rainforest, filled with adults. The adults played the games and participated along with the children and while many children accepted Jesus that week, most of those who accepted Jesus were adults. I talked with the excited host about continuing the club each week during the school year and knew God had plans for that little village. Only God could have brought it all together. And that one sentence sums up everything that has happened at each of the three CYIAs this year. After each one, you can only shake your head in wonder and say, “Only God could have done that!”
The first four days of CYIA, the teens learned everything they would need to go out and teach 5-Day Clubs the next week. Here, Henriette is teaching a session during the CYIA in Ranomafana.
Each morning they watched demonstrations of what their part of club should look like before going to practice by themselves.

Practice time involved finding a quiet place and practicing out loud.

In the afternoons, they went out and taught clubs, putting into practice all they had learned. 
A total of eight clubs where taught during both the CYIA in Antananarivo and Ranomafana.

They led children to the Lord who responded to the invitation that was given during the Bible lesson.

This was my amazing team during CYIA in Antananarivo. The teens where split into two teaching groups at the CYIA in Ranomafana where 13 teens attended and five groups at the CYIA in Antananarivo where 31 teens attended.
Prayer Requests:
Pray for the students who attended Christian Youth in Action®—that they will continue to grow in their walk with the Lord.
Pray for me as I plan for CYIA next year and most importantly, put together a teaching team who can travel with me and eventually be in charge of CYIA.
Praise Reports:
Praise God for each of the 31 teens who attended CYIA in Antananarivo and the 13 teens who attended CYIA in Ranomafana, for the work He did in their lives and the many children who accepted Him through 5-Day Clubs.
Praise God for the teens He has called to serve Him!





Two Worlds Collide

A little over two weeks ago, I sat in the airport, waiting for my sister’s plane to arrive. Waiting for my two worlds to collide. My heart pounded. I was more nervous than excited. Questions kept popping into my mind. How would this work out? Would she be the same girl who said goodbye to me at an airport on the other side of the world over two years ago? I knew I wasn’t who I was then. Would we still be friends? Would it be awkward? And worst of all, what would she think of my world? Would she love my friends and my CYIA teens as much as I do? After falling in love with Kenya, would she have room in her heart for Madagascar? For my world?
Then, there she was. Standing in the doorway as her passport was checked. But, was it her? She looked so different. I walked toward her, heart still pounding like crazy. What was I suppose to do? For two and a half years, I have greeted people with handshakes no matter how excited I am to see them. Running toward someone and wrapping my arms around them was something the old Tara would do. After a moments hesitation, I walked toward her and gave her a hug. It’s what she would expect. What is expected in the world I used to be a part of. I watched her as we got in the car and wondered, was this really my little sister? The one I have always loved to death and so enjoy talking to? What was I suppose to talk to her about now that we were together for more than two whole week after being apart for more than two whole years? 
A little over two weeks later, I walked into the airport with her and a bunch of my friends, my Malagasy family. I couldn’t believe it was already time for her to go. She had loved my friends and my CYIA teens like I do. She laughed with them, talked with them, walked arm and arm with them, and despite language barriers, she was a fast favorite among them all. And when we were alone, it was even better then it used to be. No, she wasn’t the same girl I left behind over two years ago. Neither was I. But we started right where we left off. The laughing, teasing, and fun was never ending. But even more importantly, we could talk about anything. I gained new perspective on ministry and areas I need to be doing a better job in. I heard what she thought about things I am struggling with. She knows me better than pretty much anyone, completely understands my weaknesses, where I have been, and the things I struggle with. As I watched her walk alone, toward the ticket counter, Rinoh standing by me and talking to me, doing what he always does, making sure everyone is ok, I couldn’t believe what a blessing the last two weeks had been, not only in the sense of how much fun we had had and the adventures, but how much I learned about myself and the direction I need to go with CYIA and how to better deal with certain challenges. While my goal was to make her stay here a blessing to her, I knew she had turned the tables. While I was sad to see her disappear past the security gate, I was more happy than anything. Yeah, I’d miss her sooo much, but….. the last few weeks had been so perfect, how could I be sad? And I was sending her to see her family in Kenya for one more day, and then back to the States where her world is, at least for now anyway.
We turned and walked out of the airport, back to my purely Malagasy world. No more English. The girls and I walked arm in arm as usual, everyone laughing and teasing each other as we went to find rice for lunch. We sat in a very Malagasy roadside ‘restaurant’ and ate rice. We talked. Reminisced. They started talking to my about my furlough, and as much as I didn’t want to talk about it, I knew I needed to, for them. They talked to me about how they were going to ask me if we could hang out at my house for independence day next year, since they wouldn't have anywhere else to go, and then realized I wouldn’t be there. They talked about how they wouldn’t be able to stop by my house. Wondered if I would still speak Malagasy when I got back, and how they thought we would all need to wear sunglasses when we went to the airport so no one would see us cry. And then we climbed into the bus to head home. As we road away from the airport, my eyes filled with tears. Not because my sister had left, but because I knew the next time we all traipsed to the airport would be the day I have been dreading. I knew I would be the next one to leave. Furlough loomed just ahead, way closer than I wanted it to be. As Rinoh, Lanto and I discussed the spacing of the hills between the road we were on and the mountain we went to the other day, why we couldn’t see the mountain from where we where and what the distance and height of the hills, the road, and the mountain had to do with it, I wanted to cry. How I wanted to never leave them, to always be there for them, to never hurt them. But I knew, from the perspective Christa had given me about furlough and our faithful loving God, that He and He alone can be their everything and do what I can’t do for them. And I knew I would treasure every minute with them all the more and pray for them even harder and do my best to make the transition easy for everyone.
As we planned for a photo viewing party at my house to look at all the pictures from CYIA and hanging out with Christa, I once again couldn’t believe how perfectly she had collided with my world, how much they all loved her and had so readily accepted her as one of us. What a perfectly wonderful time it was, a beautiful collision.