To become a missionary, one has to go through many losses. The loss of friends, family, comfort, and the loss of community that is familiar. All this to adapt to a new culture and a new people group with the hopes of winning some for the gospel. At first, it is crushing to say goodbyes to people you won’t see for a long while, and then it is exciting and filled with adventure! Being in a culture where people are not shy, but very upfront and in your face, is so fun (and funny) trying to communicate with them and understand one another.
So far, my time in Madagascar has been filled with learning a new language, fishing, maro oo-loo (many people), living with two different families who have warmly welcomed me as one of their own, deepening friendships with my team members whom I love, hours upon hours of play time with kids, a circumcision party, acquiring sisters (one whom I can just look at and she knows what I want to say, but I don’t have the Malagasy words to say it!), crazy churches, and being asked if I have a husband 5 or 6 times a day. There have been lots of awkward moments of trying to understand each other since we come from vastly different cultures, and then lots of laughter, which takes the edge off! I’ve had lots of cold bucket showers, went to the bathroom in strange places, constant dirty feet, sweet coffee and booka booka (fried donuts, yes I actually am eating donuts!). I’ve eaten more fish and rice than I have in my entire life. This time has also been filled with lots of prayer to Jay-soos-say (Jesus).
My time in Madagascar has also been one of the more difficult situations I’ve faced in life. I stepped into a team that had been running and operating for the last 6 months. I knew this would present challenges and I would have a lot of catching up to do relationally with my team, relationally with the Malagasy, and a lot of catching up to do with language and culture. But I love challenges and was excited to do it and hit the ground running! It didn’t take long before I realized that pretty significant conflict existed before I arrived between our team and our team leader. This conflict did not involve me, but it does directly effect me and my time in Madagascar. It is with a heavy heart that I would like to communicate to you all that the majority of our team members in Toliara will be concluding ministry and going home. Since I am new as a missionary, it is important for me to be placed on a team with great support. After much prayer about this situation, AIM is currently looking to place me on a new team for the remainder of my time in Africa.
I understand the gravity of this situation and the ripple effect that this places not only on me but my friends, family, and church supporters. I have been prayerfully considering missions for 5 years now, and I have been praying for my team and the Malagasy people for the last year. I know many of you have joined me in prayer for the people of Toliara for the last year and now I would like to ask you to continue in support and prayer for people the Lord would have me to work with next. On an exciting note, the city of Toliara is a far more reached city than I anticipated. There are great churches here with Malagasy missionaries that are ready to be sent out.
Trust me, this has been an extremely confusing time with lots of emotions. In the midst of all of this, I have learned a significant amount. I have learned crazy dependence on God and trust that the Lord is still on the throne where His plan will prevail through all of the disappointment, hurt, and confusion. I’ve learned more about my heart for missions regardless of location. I’ve learned I have a heart for unreached people, a heart for church planting, and a heart for women who are in bondage. I’ve learned more about the universal church as a whole. I’ve learned that visionary missionaries sometimes get in the way of the work of God and hinder it instead of assist it. I’ve learned more about how sovereign God is and just how plain good He is, and that He blesses the foolishness of our hands even when we make a mess. I’ve learned more about how crucial humility and teach-ability is as a team and even more important in leadership.
Every time I’ve had conversations with people about committing these next couple of years to mission work, I’ve been sure to reassure them that I knew this was not going to be easy, and it has not been easy. I also am not quite ready to go home. Even though this situation has raised a lot of questions in me, I know that I would not have gone through everything I did to be here if the Lord did not have a purpose for me here. If there is a team that I think is a good fit and I feel peace about joining, after prayerful consideration, I will join. If there is not a team that I feel led to join, I will be concluding my mission here in Africa and be coming home ready to begin whatever mission field the Lord has prepared for me in America.
I would like to ask for lots of prayer in the up and coming weeks. Prayer for the leaders at AIM and prayer for the placement of me on a new team. I would also like to ask for pray for my team members who are heading home. They have spent the last 7 months learning culture and language, have become part of Malagasy families in more ways than what can be communicated. Pray that God shows them that their work here, although shorter than anticipated, was not in vain. Pray that the Lord works in their hearts to heal them and to help them undergo culture readjustment to America and Paraguay. Lastly, pray for mission work to continue in Toliara, Madagascar and for the Lord to raise up courageous Malagasy to reach the coastal communities. I have uncanny peace that there IS a mission field for me somewhere, until I get there, pray for my heart to be surrendered completely and patiently waiting at Jesus’ feet…
Streets of Toliara
Malagasy people taking an afternoon coffee break