Saturday was the big day. The Christmas Party Club that 2500 Good News Club kids were coming to from all over Madagascar. Many government officials, pastors, and principals had also been invited to this event that was kicking off the 20 year anniversary of CEF in Madagascar. Everything that you can possibly imagine went wrong. It all started with my hair straightner dying and seeing that my kittens had covered my entire kitchen in a bag of sugar as I walked out the door. While I thought these things were about as bad as it could get, I was wrong. I arrive at the school that I was going to the party with. Our bus filled with excited children and took off toward the party. Only to get stuck in traffic. For two hours. Our fed up bus driver stopped about a 20 minute walk from the party and told us we could walk the rest of the way. He was done and had an appointment he was already late for. We walked the rest of the way and arrived only to find that we weren’t the only ones who were late. The entire chapter that I work with was late because the road was closed. The school I went with didn’t know about the closed road and was on the detour route that everyone else had to take. J How the main road heading into town gets closed the last Saturday before Christmas is beyond me, but it happened. One school walked the entire way. Other schools took long detours.
Hasina showed up at one of our schools only to find that both buses they had counted on where stuck in traffic and couldn’t make it because of the closed road. With excited children and parents waiting in the school yard, Hasina and a teacher went out to try to locate another bus. All the drivers refused, hoping for a day off because of the closed road. Finally, one driver agreed.
Hours after the kids were suppose to arrive, kids from our chapter finally began to trickle in. Thankfully, the kids were asked to arrive early, so even this delay wasn’t as bad as it could have been. My job during the club was to stand at the bottom of the bleachers and hold visuals. I stood there, holding visuals and looking that the kids that had come from three of the schools Hasina and I teach at. All three schools we had just started a little over a month ago. The teachers, principals, and parents knew nothing about CEF other than that Hasina and I showed up each week to teach the Bible to their kids. I couldn’t help but praise God for each of our students.
The room was filled with about 2500 kids. Each of the five chapters here in Tana had their kids wearing a different color of ribbon from the wordless book around their neck. Hasina’s and my kids were wearing black ribbons. CEF workers lined the bottom of the bleachers, holding visuals. We got to the invitation at the end of the Bible lesson and they were asked to raise their hands if they were ready to accept Jesus, then led in a prayer. I watched as a parents who had come with one of our schools raised her hand, along with many other hands all over the gym. Her lips moved as she prayed, accepting Jesus as her Lord and Savior. Right then and there I wanted to cry as I realized that all the traffic and bus issues didn’t matter at all. God was still at work. This was worth everything.
Not only was there a club for the kids, but people stood up and shared their stories of how God was using CEF in their schools, in their lives and in the lives of their children. To wrap up, the children who traveled from regions outside of Tana put on a short program.
Here are some of the CYIA students from Ranomafana along with some GNC kids!
Afterwards, as the children filed out, the teachers and principals of our schools stopped to talk to me. They were all smiles. They went on and on about how wonderful it had all been, and about how excited they were about CEF. Two of them said excitedly, “this is amazing! Whenever you put on anything we will be here. And if we can’t be here to support you, we will send others to go for us.” Then today, Monday, we went to their school Christmas party. One of the teachers stood up infront of the parents and explained how excited she was about CEF and how amazing Saturday had been. She retold a testimony from a principal who had shared, saying she couldn’t stop thinking about what he had said.
After the Chrismas Party Club wrapped up, the kids had left and we had cleaned up, we were all starting to think of going home, but there weren’t any buses heading back toward the south where my friends and I live. But we didn’t walk home. We hitched a ride in the back of a covered pick-up truck that was taking supplies back to Pastor D’s house and just happened to have room for the seven of us. Isn’t God amazing??
Today, as I walked home, I knew that despite all that had happened with traffic, buses, and road closures, God had worked in the lives of those who had come. And isn’t that what the day was all about anyway? Best of all, there is no way to explain this event other than that it was truly a God thing! Only He could have brought it all together!