Most of these photos were from when Lora’s sister, Heather, visited us in Madagascar in April-May 2012. We spent time in Tana, Antsirabe, and moved from there to Tamatave, stopping to see some awesome animals along the way.
(06/01/2012, 116 Photos)
Please pray urgently for Ambilobe and the people here. There's a big mob growing in town, trying to enact some "community justice" against a murder that happened here in town last night. They're currently in a standoff with the police/military. They closed all the schools early, in hopes that children can get home before the situation escalates, and all the market sellers have fled the market also.
The murderer was caught and was supposed to be sent to another town, but the victim's family wanted to get their own justice. So they called together relatives and friends from far and wide until now it's a very large mob formed. The police and military personnel have also been called in from the surrounding area to deal with the mob, and by now we've heard at least a dozen gunshots. There are many rumors going around, but people say that looting has already begun (particularly against those shop-owners who are from the tribal groups in the highlands) and that at least one member of the crowd has been shot. We really don't know the current situation, but we're staying home and away from the main roads.
Please pray for peace, for supernatural protection of everyone involved, and for order to be quickly returned. Pray that justice would grow in Madagascar, and that both the people and the authorities would be able to trust each other that they're seeking justice and the best interests of everyone involved. God help the people here. ... See MoreSee Less
There are so many rumors going around that we don't know the real facts about the situation.
People are saying that the murderer actually killed a pregnant woman, took the baby from her belly, and took her eyeballs as well. (This story is consistent with everyone so far.) People say that presumably the murderer did that because someone asked for those body parts and that they want to purchase them. No one has yet said *who* might want to actually do that, and no one believes that anyone here in Ambilobe is the person who purchases those sort of body parts. So this part of the story is very strange.
Some people are saying that the accused murderer has already been sent to the other city, some people are saying that he hasn't been sent away yet. In Madagascar, people are usually quickly aware of *who* is doing *what* crime (because it's so much harder to keep things secret and private here, due to the strongly community-centered nature of life). But there's certainly a chance that it's the wrong person that the police caught and that the mob is seeking to kill.
Regardless, pray for everyone's lives and safety, for people to truly trust God to bring justice, and for people to work peacefully towards justice for everyone.
Heard about it in early morning. Praying for you and all people there to be safe and for calm to be back. God protect you
I had a good time with the people in the Bible study at the prison again today. We only had 4 other people today (not including the prison guard) because several of the others were apparently away, but I didn't quite understand why. However, with the small group size I felt like we were all able to connect more personally, both to the story (the story of Abraham) and to each other.
A couple people mentioned that, as they were faithful to seek out God regularly over the previous week, they really noticed a positive difference in their own personal lives. One young man mentioned that he was struggling with a personal issue, but as he asked God for strength to handle it, he felt like God responded and strengthened him. I noticed more overall eagerness in those present today, even from one of the men who's still too shy to speak up about much of anything other than simple agreement with everyone else.
I also had the chance to share a few personal testimonies that related to the story. And we were able to talk about the long-term goal of those who were there being able to make disciples of others when they finally have a chance to leave prison. And since many were missing from the Bible study today, I was able to challenge those there to share the Bible story with those who weren't present. (This is a regular part of the "discovery Bible study" format, but for those in prison, they don't usually see other people to share with during the week. So this actually presented a great opportunity for them to practice this aspect.) They all agreed that it would be great to go over the story more for themselves and then share it with those who were absent. I also asked the attendees which tribal groups they're from - the lady was a Tsimihety lady and the men were all Antakarana (our target people group).
Overall, I really enjoyed the time there today and I feel like we're making some positive progress together, that God is moving in their lives! The pictures below are of the prison and grounds (none of the prisoners wanted to be in the photos). There's also a photo of a couple of kids who live there at the prison together with a relative who works there, and the man in the picture is the main prison guard - a very friendly guy who's very supportive of the Bible study times. He gave me a ride back on his motorbike! You can also read the picture captions for a few more details. ... See MoreSee Less
We had a good time meeting at the prison here in town again today, discussing the next Bible story in the set that we have translated into the local language. We were happy to hear a couple of the participants share openly about their efforts and their struggles with following God during the past week.
Many of the people showed a lot of spiritual hunger today, though several were strongly hoping we would give them some sort of quick fix solution, some spiritual act that we could do for them. After some discussion, we let them know that we don't have any quick fixes to offer them, that discipleship is something one pursues directly with God and that no other person can truly meet their spiritual needs for them. We also explained how the work that God does in an individual's life is often one of slow incremental growth, as long as the person is continuing to trust God and return to him for their needs.
We used the story we shared today to explain how ever since mankind first became separated from God, God has been working to restore their relationship... and so far he has spent many thousands of years doing it. All during this time he has been speaking to people, if they would listen to his voice and obey him. And through that, God has continued his work in the world for many thousands of years. So I encouraged each of them to accept and to trust what they've received from God so far, to directly ask him for anything else they lack, and to obey everything he speaks to them. It may not usually be fast, but it's the only way to follow God - to follow him faithfully in what he's given us so far. Then God will be the one to make us grow, not any other person who tries to speed it up.
Most of them seem like they're willing to give it more time, to keep seeking after God, and they invited us to continue coming to share more every week. ... See MoreSee Less
Today we went with a couple friends to visit the prison here in town. There were about 10 or so people there in a very minimal security setup (i.e. not actually *inside* the prison at all, and free to go around in the general area), and the head of the prison said they were mostly there because they'd committed various types of theft.
We were able to have a "discovery Bible study" with them, sharing and discussing the story of creation, which was the first time any of them had heard that story (or any Bible story) told in their own language. They were eager to have the extra social interaction time with people from outside the prison. An older man there (who I think was illiterate) was able to tell the story back very precisely, after hearing it told just twice. And after they got over some shyness, most had quite a bit to share about what they'd learned from the story and how they'll obey God from what they'd learned. They were all very eager to have us come back again soon to share more Bible stories and to discuss them again. The head of the prison suggested that we could also share Bible stories in the official Malagasy language (since we only have a limited number of stories translated into the local language so far, and the entire Bible is already translated into official Malagasy), but everyone was unanimous in that they wanted to keep hearing the stories and discussing them in their own language.
We really enjoyed the time there today and are looking forward to visiting them regularly and hoping to see them grow into disciples of Jesus.
This photo is us with our couple of friends who we went together with to the prison, outside of the prison near their fields. ... See MoreSee Less
Thanks to a very generous gift and a few weeks of work, we've now got plumbing in our house (and to share with our neighbors)! In the 12 years now that we've lived in Africa, only for the end of 2011 and most of 2012 did we live in a place with plumbing. So this is revolutionary for us!
While working on all this, I was also able to meet several young Antakarana men and share some about Jesus with them. One of them is very eager to learn more and has invited me to come to his house to start sharing regularly. Praise God! ... See MoreSee Less