How to put in words the events of the last 2 days? It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words so get ready for a very “wordy” post.
On Sunday, our day started at 4:30am with the packing of the things we needed for our stay in Sakalava, a village in the mountains 95 miles or so East of the capital city. The process took longer than we thought and we ended leaving later than intended.
Soon after our departure we received a phone call from the pastor of the church that the road was too muddy and our bus would not make it. The team, dedicated to the task, decided to walk the 6.5 miles to the village.
Despite being strained, everyone remained in high spirits, enjoying the beautiful landscape and the fellowship on the road with some youth coming to attend the event and people from the church who came to meet us and help us carry our luggage.
After a 2h30min walk, we finally arrived to Sakalava!
Many were still there to welcome us even though we arrived almost 8 hours later than what they had initially expected.
No time to rest as the pastor decided that we should still hold the church service we planned to do in the morning. Thus, David was up first, teaching the kids from Matthew 7:24-27 about the necessity of being doers of God’s Word, not only hearers. Then, Scott preached a sermon from 1 John 1:5-10 focusing on the test of confession and repentance as an assurance of eternal life for the believers. The night was falling already so we had to finish the sermon using our cellphone lights.
The church then served us a very hearty meal, with rice (of course! And lots of it! 😊) and a Malagasy chicken soup.
Soon, it was time for our American friends to discover the countryside-style potty room before heading to sleep, taking extra precautions for the mosquitoes.
Monday morning started with another rice-filled breakfast.
We also decided to give some candies and biscuits to the kids and the adults.
Then, the training session for youth started with 2 messages from me and one from Scott, focusing on stirring the youth to counting the cost of following Christ and resolutely pursuing Christ-likeness in every aspect of their lives.
It was then time to play soccer. We initially thought it would be pick-up games with the kids from the village but it seems they took it more seriously and organized a game between the church team and another team from the village. Scott dazzled with his prowess as a goal keeper, whereas David and I tried their best not to embarrass themselves.
Our team won 2-0 and I took the opportunity at the end of the game to share the gospel with some players and spectators.
Soon it was already time to say goodbye. The team sang “Amazing Grace” Then the ladies of the church graced us with a farewell song.
Our ride home was labelled by Ashley as the “Malagasy Uber”. It was a very old and unique Kubota tractor with a trailer. This is Africa!
We all jumped in and had lots of laughs on the way home, and safely made it back to the main road where our bus was waiting to take us back to the hotel.
We have so much to be thankful for, the warmth of the people of Sakalava, their hospitality, their sacrifices to provide meals for us though they barely eat themselves, and the fellowship we had even though coming from diverse cultures and backgrounds; all of these were a visible manifestation of the unique love and bond that believers in Jesus Christ enjoy.