Hasiniaina and I were in Tamatave on the East Coast last weekend, ministering to a couple of churches there and doing some groundwork for some of the Madagascar 3M projects for this year. We decided to fit into our schedule a visit to two churches from our denomination in the vicinity of a town 18 miles away. We have had a series of trials on our vehicles, mine with a wheel coming off leading to other related damages, and his with the drive shaft giving way 2 days before our scheduled trip. We ended up going to Tamatave by public transport and were blessed by an unexpected upgrade to a “VIP” bus because of a glitch in their booking system. That was very enjoyable. Once in Tamatave, some friends allowed us to use their scooter bike; hence, we had our means of transport for our 18-mile journey.

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We wanted to visit these churches in order to bring a few words of encouragement to them as we were aware that the recent cyclone Ava did some damage to their homes and livelihood. The first church we went to was in Antanimenakely, one location we visited during our teaching trip last August. It was heart-wrenching to see the house of the pastor completely wrecked.

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The church building also had some damage and needs to be repaired as we are right in the middle of the rainy season.

But the church in Antanambao Nosybe suffered even more harm as it has been totally destroyed. The concrete slab on the picture is what remains of the church.

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In the middle of such sights of destruction, we were the ones encouraged by the faith, resilience, and contentment of the people. They welcomed us into their homes, where 3 or 4 families were living as some houses were ruined by the hurricanes. They still found it in them to offer us coconut juice fresh from the tree and a hand-made basket, both being meager sources of income for them. They had big smiles as they were telling us how thankful they were that no one got hurt. They shared with us, in a non-complaintive tone, how they had to leave everything behind during the cyclone and run towards the higher grounds, crawl in a bunker-type building together with dozens and dozens of other people. They told us how happy they were to be back, trusting that God will continue to be with them as they rebuild. We were supposed to be the ones bringing words of comfort; we were the ones challenged and rebuked by their example of faith and serenity amid dire circumstances. Please pray with us for these dear congregations. Please pray that God will provide for them and for rebuilding the churches; that many will come alongside them and enjoy mutual encouragement.

Romans 15v5-6

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