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I remember that Sunday well. The only time I can remember that I got up and walked out of church. It was my second Sunday back in the States going to my home church. I had been looking forward to being back for the last two and a half years. I stood and watched everyone around me singing. I couldn’t. Tears filled my eyes as I watched them. I knew I was completely alone. They had no idea the things I had seen and experienced in the last few years. The overwhelming poverty and suffering that I was surrounded with on a daily basis. Things that I could never tell anyone about. I couldn’t do it. I walked out, got into my car and drove. Just drove, and cried. I was so desperately homesick. What I would have given to be home, to hang out with my friends, to not be alone, especially on that day, my birthday. When I finally drove up to my parents’ house, I stopped only long enough to change into running clothes. As I ran, I asked God why. Why did this have to be my life? Why would my life continue to be a cycle of hellos and good byes for as long as I could see? As I started in on the third mile, God gently spoke to my heart. He explained that my homesickness and tears where a good thing. They were a testimony to the work He had done in my heart over the last two and a half years. Somehow, He had changed my heart completely. He had given me a deep love for the country and people he had called me to, something I would have told you was impossible during my first year overseas as I struggled to adjust. He told me that what I was feeling was ok and actually a blessing, something I could prasie Him for. This conversation with God gave me perspecitve during the rest of my time in the States. No, it didn’t help with the homesick thing, but it gave me peace knowing that I was right where God wanted me, no matter how hard it might be. While it was fun to see family and friends, it took three months for me to get to the point where I didn’t cry when thinking of home.

Six months later, as I boarded the plane to finally go home, my heart was fearful that Madagascar, my friends, and my life wouldn’t be the same as how I had left it, that maybe what my heart had been longing for would be no more. I arrived late at night, and the next morning my phone rang. It was my best friends, they passed the phone from one to another and I am pretty sure that we did nothing on that phone call except laugh with joy that we could talk on the phone again and exclaim how amazing it was to hear each others’ voices. I was finally home.  

Every single day I absolutely enjoy everything about life Madagascar. Public transportation. The smell of rice cooking over charcoal fires and bricks being made in the fields. Eating rice. Speaking Malagasy. Every thing is such a joy. Last week during CYIA, my teaching team and I would make our escape each evening and walk to a nearby town and drink coffee and eat fried bread. Walking slowly (and I do mean slooooowly) down the road, talking about everything under the sun and yet nothing at all, and crowding onto a bench at a roadside store front to eat our snack, I couldn’t have been happier. We meandered back to our kids, singing and looking at the stars. My heart overflowed with thanksgiving for the amazing things God had done in my heart over the last three years. I knew Him in a whole new way and He had changed my heart in ways I could have never imagined. Not only that, but He had blessed me above and beyond any thing that I had ever hoped for with my amazing friends, teens, kids and ministry here in Madagascar. I even praised Him for my time in the States and all He had taught me through that storm. It was only in being away that I could truly appreciate on a whole new level what He was doing in me and what amazing gifts He had blessed me with. What a good, loving, and amazing God we serve!


Christian Youth in Action: Antananarivo

A little before 5am, I was awoken by the sounds of someone moving around. I opened my eyes and smiled to see that it was two of the older boys studying the Bible lessons they would be teaching at 5-Day Club that day by the light of a candle. These were just two of the amazing kids that God had brought to CYIA Antananarivo, they were focused and so eager to teach and to teach well.

One of the older boys in particular, Orluce, was constantly studying. He had to be pulled away from his work to stop and eat lunch. He woke up early to study and usually had his outlines in his hand whenever I saw him. It was great to see him grinning after he taught the Bible lesson, explaining to me that he had gotten everything into the lesson and many children had accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Today, I stopped by the Teaching Children Effectively 1 training here in Tana that started today, only to see that two of the students were Orluce and his friend Febrice (Febrice was a second year student at CYIA). I can’t wait to see what God has in store for these two boys.

Sarah studied hard every morning and used every minute of study time to go over what she would be teaching that day. She faithfully taught one certain plant in the yard each morning, even shaking the plant’s “hand” and saying hello to start out. Her supervisor told me, while laughing, that on the first day of club, Sarah was so used to teaching her little plant that when she got up in front of the kids she turned away from the kids and toward one of the trees and began to teach.

Hery was on my team. He told me on the first day that he liked to make people smile and laugh. I was a little concerned that he had just come to CYIA to hang out and have fun, but quickly realized that wasn’t his purpose in coming. Yes, he was constantly making my team laugh and there was never a dull moment, but he studied hard, even getting up early to do so, and would carefully listen to anything I said and apply it. On the first day of club, we walked into the neighborhood that we would be teaching in and there were some adults sitting there. All the kids looked at me wondering what to do, and Hery announced, “don’t you remember what they taught us during training?? We are suppose to go say hello to the adults!!” It’s good to know someone was listening! J Watching him teach, I knew he had it. He had that natural ability to teach kids and have fun doing so. The kids hung on his every word.

Orellie went home each evening because she lived close by. After getting home later than her mother expected the first evening, her mother decided that she couldn’t come anymore. She showed up late the next morning, with out the smile that I had never seen her without. She cried as she explained what her mother had decided and how she had finally changed her mind and let her come. Her enthusiasm for teaching and her obvious love for the kids at 5-day club was amazing. Whenever I saw her after club, she was surrounded by a crowd of happy children.

I wish there was space here to tell you about each of these precious teens and the wonderful time we had at CYIA. There was no electricity, no running water, no one to cook the food, and only enough straw filled mattresses for the girls, the boys, instructors and some of the girls slept on the cement floor. But everyone pitched in, getting water from the well, cooking the food, washing dishes, and keeping everything in order. No one complained, ever. By the time Saturday rolled around, they were pleading to stay at least one more day. Not only did God bring an amazing group to camp, He provided for us in every other way to, especially when it came to the weather. It has been unseasonably cold and rainy (even for winter) here this year. But Tuesday morning, as we headed out to a little village outside of Tana, the sun came out and stayed out through Friday. Saturday, our last day of clubs, it began to get cloudy, it rained while we ate lunch but cleared off for our clubs. Sunday we were back to cold, gray, windy, rainy weather. Today it is absolutely freezing! All that happened last week is a reminder of what a great God we serve. When I think of CYIA Tana, I can’t help but smile and thank Him for the amazing things He did. Thank you so much for being such an important part of our team by praying for us!