(DISCLAIMER:  The following are unedited entries from my ministry journal.  Please forgive the poor grammar and excessive use of ellipses.)


day-1Day 1 – Travel Day: I spent the majority of my time Saturday picking up each of the students from their perspective villages.

  • got a call from Pastor Jonoro letting me know he was praying for me and the upcoming meeting
  • found out that Kandre could not come for the week (felt discouraged and wondered what I was doing…didn’t understand most of what was being said in Anjabetrongo)
  • brought a doctor with a cut head back from Ampasikibo to Ankililoaka so he could return to Toliara for treatment
  • introduced the program to everyone once we returned to Ankililoaka (felt encouraged by their response…the program felt real and official)
  • dinner tasted great and the hotel was a joy to return to

elitemarketingprosocialmediamarketingday2Day 2 – Worship and Vision Casting: On Sunday morning we worshiped together at a combined service of two of the pastors. Then, in the afternoon, I cast the vision to the reassembled church body.

  • breakfast of rice cakes…they were sweet and tasted good
  • we left in the land cruiser for church around 8:20
  • we met in a small school – a run-down looking building next to a much larger, more put together school building which was locked
  • apparently Pastor Hery meets in the building every Sunday and Pastor Tsizafy meets near his house
  • I was a bit shocked at how few people were there at the beginning since both churches were meeting together
  • the small room filled to capacity by the time Pastor Tsizafy began preaching…he ran the whole service up to that point (about 1 hour)
  • after what I thought to be the finale of a very short Malagasy service, Pastor Manetesoa got up next … he preached for another hour
  • after that Pastor Tsizafy called Pastor Hery up who simply restated our program for the week which had already been stated once before by Pastor Tsizafy
  • it was at this point that I began to understand that the whole church was being invited to our meetings…specifically the first meeting being held at 3:00pm which I was leading
  • everyday we had a scheduled rest time which proved to be very beneficial…I called home and then prepared for the meeting…I could sense everyone’s prayers
  • the room was packed with people, I assume so they could hear or see the white guy…after Pastor Hery’s song time, introduction and prayer, I began my vision message
  • there was a moment early on when I wondered what in the world I was doing, but by the end the message seemed to get across
  • we ended an hour early
  • when we returned to the house I passed out the student’s story books and their SD cards
  • three young guys followed us back and were present for the distribution of books…I couldn’t help but think that these three guys could/should be Pastor Tsizafys apprentices
  • dinner followed around 6:30 and then off to my haven in the hotel…each night I had a tradition of ordering a semi-cold coke from the hotel…Pastor M joined in my fomba (tradition) by day two

day-3Day 3 – Storytelling: Monday was spent teaching the students 3 stories that they were to put to memory to be used later in the week.

  • I woke with the sense that the hard work was mostly over…today was simply going over what I had done so many other times…boy was I wrong
  • we ate boko boko (Malagasy donut) and then we prepared to go to our meeting…I expected to get in the truck and drive to the school, but instead we picked up our plastic lawn chairs and walked 25 yards and parked under a tree…no church members showed for the remainder of the meetings, save one
  • I began the meeting by asking the group to tell me the vision…Tsizafy responded and then I had to ask if he was right because I couldn’t quite understand his answer…I then introduced the book and the program for the day and then M began storytelling…I kept being interrupted by phone calls which honestly I didn’t mind
  • by the end of our time in the morning the group was still struggling to retell the stories…Jean-Kely was the exception which I believe is because he has had so much time practicing in Belemboky
  • I said that by the afternoon’s meeting everyone needed to tell a story and ask the 7 questions (we ask the same 7 questions after each story:  1. What did you like about the story?  2. What was confusing or difficult to understand? 3. What did you learn about God in the story? 4. What did you learn about mankind? 5. What was the lesson in the story? 6. What is the best way to learn the story? Answer: RETELL IT! 7. To whom are you going to retell the story?)
  • they all agreed and we dismissed for lunch
  • we all picked up our chairs, walked back the 25 yards to the house, put our chairs back down and with the addition of an exhausted sigh, as if we had been slaving away in the fields all morning, we sat once again
  • lunch, then rest time…I actually slept…M rested and worked on memorizing the stories…I felt guilty for needing rest
  • we returned to find the group diligently reading their books already seated under the tree
  • very few could get through a story and no one could retell the 7 questions…I could see that we had a lot of work ahead of us
  • we spent the rest of the meeting working on memorizing the one story so that on Tuesday we could retell it at our first village
  • dinner was fish which many were excited about, but I found a bit repulsive…I officially opened my first can of Pringles that night

day-4Day 4 – Prayer Walking and Evangelism Practicum: On Tuesday I taught the group prayer walking and then we visited a new village where they witnessed the evangelism method of storytelling firsthand.

  • the plan was to walk to an “island” village where we would need to wade through 3 ft of water to get to it…but when we arrived for breakfast, in our shorts, the plans had changed…instead we would drive to a far off village and prayer walk, then return in the afternoon to the same village and tell our first story
  • after driving almost 30 minutes we arrived at a very remote village…after no more than 5 minutes in the village the plans changed again…they wanted to go ahead with the storing since the drive was so rough…so we prepared for that
  • we went out 2 by 2 and M and I went around praying and announcing that we would tell a story later on
  • I stepped in poop
  • Mazikiny apparently had been to the village before and had played his guitar…he proved to be a great asset as he called out to all the villagers to come and “pray”…I can see that he will do well as an evangelist
  • due to the confusion of changing plans 5 minutes into our arrival, some of the groups of 2 didn’t get the memo that we were meeting to tell a story…that led to a lot of unnecessary waiting, but in the end we gathered a large crowd (around 100) under the giant tree in the center of town
  • I was simply a novelty item to attract people to come
  • Tsizafy started the meeting and then M stood and storied from memory the 1st story
  • he followed with the questions skipping question #4 about man because there are no people in the Spirit story
  • we returned late for lunch which only provided a short hour break before our next meeting at 3:30
  • M couldn’t make the next meeting because his back was still hurting from the mornings trip
  • I found that in the absence of M I actually spoke a lot more and was able to connect with Mazikiny and others on a level I had not reached the previous 4 days
  • prayer walking was a foreign concept to everyone…I believe that is partially why the mornings schedule was changed
  • we divided in groups of 3 and went our separate ways
  • it was a real joy to teach Jean-Kely and Mandy what I meant by “prayer walking”
  • Jean-Kely really had no idea what to do, so even as I was prayer walking he kept looking at me saying “uh-huh” as if I was still explaining prayer walking…it was hard to keep praying
  • we stopped at one house and Mandy sat down, so JK and I followed suite…JK looked at me as if to say, “now what”, so I asked the lady if she had anything we could pray for
  • the next house JK understood a little bit better, but when the people told us their prayer request he looked at me and said, “you pray!”
  • finally it all started making sense to him and I could also see that Mandy has a soft heart for people
  • I stepped in poop…again
  • our final stop had a sick boy inside so after we prayed for him…I felt compelled to give him my medicine for his fever which I thought was in the land cruiser…after we told them we would return with the medicine we walked back to the truck which was parked at Tsizafys house only to find that I had left it in the hotel room…that led to a drive to the hotel and then back to this nearby home where we delivered the medicine with 1.5 liters of water and instructions for taking the medicine
  • we returned back to Tsizafy’s house to hear the others stories about their experiences and I thought that maybe this “lesson” was one of the most important of the week
  • dinner was fish again…bones, head and tail all being eaten in very dim light…now I know why I lose so much weight in Mada
  • I heard the news that Pastor Yoder died yesterday

sub_events_cal5Day 5 – Evangelism: On Wednesday it was time to see what they had learned. We went to another new village and let one of the students lead the storying time.

  • today was the day to see if the lessons from the week were getting through to the team…if Tsizafy is any indication, we succeeded!
  • we were told that we would be walking to an island, so we all wore shorts in preparation for the knee high water to be trudged through…in my mind I envisioned a small village dotted with stick homes surrounded by a mote which, with the addition of a bridge, could be easily crossed…what we went through was far different
  • an endless maze of muddy balance beams criss-crossing the landscape for miles is what the Malagasy call a rice field…I call it torture…this was our path…I learned very quickly to follow the steps of the person in front of me lest I step four inches further to the right or left and and sink three feet down into the muddy abyss…after an hour of painstakingly placing one barefooted foot in front of the other we saw our destination…the village of Ambasy
  • they rang the hollowed out part of metal basis to call all their people together…it took the typical 1/2 hour before everyone finally settled in…so we sat and stared…and talked to each other. I thought this would be an appropriate time for me to share with M my thoughts for our last meeting…this had been our custom all week…I would share with him my vision for a meeting the night or afternoon before it would take place and then he would implement the vision…it worked well for me
  • Mazikiny was once again famous in this village as he had several recognize him and strike up a conversation
  • finally Tsizafy took over and the meeting began…he followed the program exactly as we had taught him and did an exceptional job…I was so proud
  • the people responded well and I was very pleased with their interaction to the story and questions
  • we wrapped up our time and the people suggested we return home a different way than we had come…I was more than pleased to hear this as I was convinced there had to be a much better, easier path…I was wrong
  • it started out well enough, but as soon as the guide from their village left us with a simple point in the right direction the path quickly turned sour
  • more mud, more trudging through waist deep water, more slipping, more sliding…my confidence in our leaders quickly vanished as time and time again I watched as they perused the landscape for a suitable path…any path that didn’t require us to, yet again, wade through muddy water
  • eventually we made it back…I do not envy nor want Tsizafys job…I am so glad we have national partners who are willing to go regularly to unattractive, hard places to share about Christ
  • after an afternoon break spent reading and writing in between swatting flies we returned for our final meeting
  • each of the eight students retold the Spirit story from memory and then asked the 7 questions…mission accomplished!
  • they could all, for the most part, retell the story – the Anjabetrongo crowd still struggled a bit
  • I then explained different ways to tell the stories (acting it out, retelling half the story at a time, etc.) and then we moved to sharing testimonies about what we had learned during the week
  • Hery started by thanking God that he was healthy enough to be at all the meetings including the long hikes and rides out to the villages…when the week started he said that he would probably miss some, if not most of the meetings
  • Tsizafy went next and said that his work was now clear and he knows what to do
  • Jean-Kely said that the prayer walking was new to him and now he not only knows what to do, but wants to prayer walk in his village
  • Mazikiny was in awe of the effort it took to get to Tsizafy’s villages…he said it motivated him and challenged him to be strong in his work (I agreed)
  • Sahirina who struggled the most with the stories and questions said that he knows the evil spirits are hindering his abilities in storying, but that God was stronger (Sahirina was formerly possessed with a demon)
  • Stan was so thankful to finally be able to retell the story…at our last meeting he was the first to volunteer to do the story and he nailed it!
  • Mandy…not sure what she said, but she has a great heart for people and I know she will do her work with passion…I could see her working with countless people and know that she could be very influential in starting women’s storying groups
  • Fabeny…quietly retold the story verbatim each time she had the opportunity…she will be a great asset to Stan or Mazikiny or Sahirina
  • I handed out brand new Bibles to the team as a final gesture of my appreciation for their hard work
  • we sang How Great Thou Art in Malagasy…I couldn’t think of a better way to finish the week
  • M wrapped up with a few thoughts and I closed in prayer

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