This week was a little bit different as we didn't have school Wednesday due to political elections. There were some reports of protests and rioting with cars being burnt (some say it was just car tires) and some guns going off but otherwise it was a fairly peaceful day. We did hear, however, that there was a coup attempt Wednesday – thus the gun fire and burning tires. We weren't sure how Thursday was going to go. Do we just get up and go to school as planned? We hadn't heard anything from the American Embassy so off to school we went on Thursday just as if it was another day. And it was.
Today (Friday) started off just like any other day. We all got ready and walked to school together. Randy then left and took the taxi-bé to work. I stayed at school today to help in one of the classrooms. At 10:30 the morning break bell went off. All the teachers and students piled out of the classrooms for their snack and morning break. As I was walking out of the classroom I realized that there were many fewer children than normal. Just as I was thinking this one of the teachers came up to me and asked, “Aren't you going to get your kids and go home?” “No, I know I'm not usually here on Fridays, but I'm helping out today in Miss Anza's class”. She looked at me with a little bit of confusion in her eyes and responded with, “You haven't heard the news have you?”
Well, it turns out that the President put a message out to the public that everyone should evacuate from the Ivato area (not our area but the one up by the airport). He said that if negotiations didn't go well between the government and those in the military who attempted the coup that the government would take back the military base they were in with whatever force was needed. Then there was news that there was shooting in Talatamaty which is the community we have to walk through to go to school (though this was never substantiated.)
The Ivato schools were closing early and all the other Vahza's at MCA(which is about 5 other families) came and got their children and now even the Malagasy were showing up to take their children home. I called Randy and we decided that the kids and I would just stay until the end of the school day ,which is 12:30 on Fridays, and that Randy would just stay at work as he would have to travel right through Talatamaty to get home. There were some teachers who weren't sure if they could get home so I told them they could just walk home with us through the rice patties (safest way) and stay at our house until things calmed down.
So, the day continued! Break finished and we went back into our classrooms. We had an assembly for the older children at 12:00 pm. The principal came in and asked, “Do you know what's going on right now?” The children replied, “A coup's taking over....fighting...Are we in a war?” Miss Pree continued, “We are not in a war, but there are people who are not happy with our government. But we don't need to be afraid.” And then she read Psalm 23. I was sitting there thinking, “this is THE strangest assembly I have ever experienced in my life!” As I looked around me I realized the children didn't seem to be nervous or afraid. Then I realized, “Oh yeah, they went through this already just last year so it's not new for them”. Things just went on. The kids sang through their Christmas music for the program coming up in December. Life goes on.
So Randy got a ride to school and then the 4 of us walked home the normal way. There didn't seem to be anything too drastically different. There were a few stores closed that are usually open. Shop Rite had closed one of their two gates to avoid people running through the parking lot in case of an emergency.
So, Randy got to have a ½ day of work. We lovingly called this day “coup day” instead of “snow day”. So we went home and made lunch and planned on watching the end of The Sound of Music. We started watching it during the first “coup day” Wednesday night! We thought it was appropriate to finish it during this one as well! A huge thunderstorm rolled in and we could hardly hear the movie! We desperately needed the rain. Randy said, “you know, the hotter people are the more irritated and willing they are to fight, maybe the rain will calm things down a bit.” Thank you Lord for the rain.
No, we don't feel we are in any danger as of right now. We are being wise in our decisions. We were supposed to have a prayer meeting tonight with AIM but it was canceled, and rightly so safety wise. Please pray for this country. We will eventually leave it, but these dear Malagasy people won't. It is sad to see our friends morn the fact that they do not have a government who takes their best interest to heart. I guess we'll just have to wait and see what tomorrow holds.