Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Evil on a stick....that's right....that's what I said.

March 21, 2011
(looking at my picture....good grief!  when did i get so many wrinkles?) So this morning I found a chameleon on a stalk of corn. (yes i have some sort of a fetish for chameleons) Of course I got it and put it on a stick to take home for the boys.....speaking of which, hold on one moment as I go look to make sure Charlie's still on the stick and not walking around the house somewhere.....Good thing I checked. He wasn't on the stick he was in the trash can that's holding the stick up! Ok, he's situated on the stick next to my chair here. Good boy Charlie.

Now, where was I...oh yeah, so normally as I walk down the road I feel like I'm on exposition as EVERYONE stares at vazaha (foreigners). BUT this morning....they were staring at me like I was a vazaha dahlah (crazy vazaha) and everyone kept taking a few steps away from me as I came walking near to them. Then I would hear them say, “Ah, tsi matoatra izy!” (ah, she's not scared). Finally, I asked a Malagasy man I passed (who smiled at me) why everyone was saying this and walking away from me. Apparently, and I forgot that someone told me this the first week or so we were here, most Malagasy see chameleons as representatives of evil because of their eyes being able to see two different ways at once. It's what they call being able to see the past and the future at one time, and therefore it must be evil. Great. Here's a missionary walking down the road carrying evil on a stick. Well....by the grace of God He has overcome evil....might as well put it on a stick, right?

Monday, March 21, 2011

What does it mean to REALLY “know”?

March 19, 2011

For me, I know I'm fully comfortable with someone when I can sit right next to them and just ….be. Neither one of us needs to talk. We can just enjoy each other's presence. Now, this is NOT something I've perfected by any means, as let's face it, I like to talk. But I also haven't perfected it because I struggle, at times, with low self esteem. I know this statement probably baffles a lot of you, but it's true. I'm a feeling driven person, as we all know, and when I can't feel or hear someone's love for me I struggle. It's the same thing with the Lord. If I can't feel Him or hear Him speak to me I start to question "why isn't He speaking to me, am I not hearing well, is something the matter with me, was I not really hearing before, is He mad at me .....?"

God has really been speaking to me this week....by NOT speaking. This week He's seemed to be silent. Sometimes it can be sin in our lives that prohibits us from hearing the Lord. Sometimes we just need to take more time to wait before the Lord and listen. But sometimes it's just that He wants us to be satisfied with simply being in His presence, just having the knowledge that, yes, He is here. I'm learning this week how to be FULLY fulfilled in simply the KNOWLEDGE of Him. So by the end of the week the quiet time before Him that felt hopeless and like I wasn't doing something right became a sweet fragrance in which I was sitting while before His throne. So, SO much growth and learning to be done yet ya know? Good lesson to learn. I'll probably have to learn it again too!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

My what BIG ears you have!.... The better to hear you with...

March 10, 2010
I've been learning about hearing God's voice. Taking time to LISTEN. I've been reading these books about intercession and healing and the gifts of the Lord. Right now I'm reading this book called Hearing God's Voice by Mike Riches.

The best way to learn a new skill is to practice right? So, we were at the Chinese pool across the rice paddies from us the other week with some friends. Their child lost one of his toys that sank to the bottom of the pool. They looked and looked and couldn't find it for like 20min. Then I was said, "Did anyone pray?" So I prayed and then I felt the Lord was saying, "Now Meg, don't just go looking ....wait...listen for my answer". So I waited. First I got "corner" so I thought, "Lord, how do I know what's your voice and what's mine.” So I waited some more. Then I got "3 feet" and I was sure this was the Lord. So I went to look in the shallow 3 ft part of the pool, but then I thought "That doesn't make sense. Seth wasn't over here when they were throwing the toys in the pool". So I listened some more and then I heard "3 feet from the side of the pool". So I estimated 3 feet from the wall of the pool into the pool and started to walk and look. There the toy was! 3 feet from the side wall of the pool in the water!!!!! IT'S WORKING, THIS LISTENING STUFF IS REALLY WORKING!!!!!!!

Now this week I've also been learning about how to prepare for listening during prayer. I always ask the Lord to mute my own human thoughts and I always ask Him to dismiss any plans that Satan may have for speaking lies to me. This way I'm sure that what I hear is from the Lord. I also ask for Him to then confirm what I hear with either a deep seated peace or another way of confirmation for His glory. I'm noticing that as I listen more during prayer sometimes I receive scripture references that go right along with what I'm praying about. Sometimes they are to share with people and sometimes just to pray.

Yesterday I was praying for a family who is doing outreach on the coast of Madagascar. They were getting ready to leave for a week or so to do more outreach in another area of the coast. They were feeling hesitant about the trip, like it just wasn't coming together. As I was praying for them I had the reference Jeremiah 31:10 come to my mind. Now, for those of you who know me well I am HORRIBLE at Bible memory. IF I can memorize a verse I NEVER remember the reference. So I turned to Jeremiah and here's what I read. “Hear the word of the Lord O nations; proclaim it in distant coastlands. He who scattered Israel will gather them and will watch over His flock like a shepherd.” Notice the italicized words!!! I never knew the word “coastlands” was even in the Bible! But God did! What an encouragement to continue going forward with their plans!

There have also been times when God will bring a picture to my mind and that will guide me as to how to pray for someone. This has happened several times to me. A few times I then felt lead by the Lord to share the picture and the way I was praying with the people to whom it was meant. This brought great encouragement to them as they were reminded again that God not only knows the ins and outs of what's going on in their lifes but that He cares enough to lay them on someone's heart to intercede for them. It brought me great encouragement too as the Lord showed me that I was hearing Him correctly!

I'm REALLY excited! I want to hear MORE. I want this because I want to go deeper in my understanding of the Lord, because I want MORE of him, I want ALL of him. I want this because I want to be better equipped to intercede and encourage those around me. God is just so amazing! He was, He is, and He is yet to come!!!!! AMEN LORD!!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The long awaited pictures of the taxi-bes

So, many of you have asked for me to put up some pictures of the taxi-be (pronounced "taxi-bay") so that you could envision our taxi-be adventures.  And so, here you go!  The picture below is your typical taxi-be.  This one has a door in the back to get on.  Some of them have the sliding door on the side.  they are MUCH more difficult to get in and maneuver around as a person who is "lava be"  VERY tall.

The picture below is a picture of us on the taxi-be, that's literally all I could fit in the picture as I was too squished to even move my arm to a better position!  "Where is Seth?" you might ask.  You can see another baseball cap right above Colie's head.  That would be Seth. He was so squished the Malagasy woman beside Randy put him on her lap....that happens quite often when I'm on the taxi-be with the children without Randy....someone will pick up the boy that's not on my lap and put him on their lap.  It's quite nice and the boys are used to it now.  Hey, it saves me an extra fair cost!

More adventures to follow.  Stay tuned.....

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

O Shenandoah I've Never Seen You

February 26
1st a note from the true blogger...Meg....I figured out how to get pics on the blog again.  Please check out the pics I put up on the "Puddles, bumps, and bruises" blog entry!!!!  thanks!
Guest Blogger: Randy Gehlert

Since we've been in Madagascar 4 of our students at AMI have gotten married. I missed the first wedding because Megan was sick and we all stayed home together. For the second wedding we made it to the recption but not the ceremony. But today I made it to a wedding in which two of our students married each other. Andriamifidy Mananjo Nirina Setraniaina finally married the love of his love Robline Rabodohanitrarivony Lala Tiana. (Yes, these are normal length Malagasy names.)

Now they are a fairly modern couple so the wedding was not very traditional. In fact the opening music to which the bride marched in to was “Shenandoah” - yeah, that Shenandoah “I long to see you and cross the wide Missouri.” When I talked to the bride about this she agreed that the words did not fit a wedding (and she's never been to Virginia) but she loved the music and most of the guests didn't speak English anyway. And I have to say, it was very beautiful. They had a 40 member choir (students from AMI and the two other choirs they are invovled in) sing Shenandoah acapella. For other music including an arrangement of the hymns “Jesus Loves Me” and “Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee” (these sung in Malagasy) they had piano and a pipe organ and string quintet along with the choir. All the music was very nice.

There were only about 60 people there – not counting the choir – and it was a big old stone church. The church itself is very interesting. In the 1800's about fourteen Christians were martyred at the site where the church now stands. So, the church was built in their honor. The church is on a high hill overlooking the downtown of Antananarivo with an amazing view. Unfortunately I did not take my camera.

One interesting thing about the wedding ceremony is that right there in the service the couple has to sign the official marriage documents and have several witnesses – maybe 5 - also sign. Then the minister reads the whole marriage certificate including all the names of the witnesses. Fortunately, during the signing there was more special music – a beautiful piece performed by one of our Malagasy voice teachers and the choir.

The only other particulary interesting part was that at the end the bridal party left out of the front of the sanctuary and then the whole congregation left that way as well. I think every pastor wishes they could dismiss their congregation from the front and have no one slip out the back!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

A conversation with the Lord

March 6, 2011
Our dear friend, Pastor Jeff, said one time that “faith isn't belief with NO doubt. Faith is belief DESPITE doubt.”

There are days like today when I say in simple faith, “Jesus, you're my firm foundation. I know I can stand secure. Jesus, your my firm foundation. I put my hope in your Holy Word.” despite my doubt.

My neck and back are painful today Father. You would think that after 6 months of seeing You provide for me by allowing my neck and shoulders to not regress but stay at simply "uncomfortable", I would easily trust them to You. But every time they go from "uncomfortable" to "painful" (and this is the 1st time since we've been here in Madagascar) I fear I'm heading down hill with no return. Forgive me Lord, for my unbelief. Replace it Father, with truth, belief, faith in You that you called ALL of me here to Madagascar including my head, neck, shoulders, anxiety, and fear issues, and that You are indeed working in those areas of my life. I feel like I don't even have the strength or faith to choose to believe, just the strength and faith for my spirit to say “I believe you are able and You have my best interest in mind in order to bring Yourself glory.” Even though my physical self is doubting, have Your way in me my Wonderful Maker. Have your way.

Friday, March 4, 2011

puddles, bumps, and bruises.

March 3, 2011
So today started off with the boys and I trying to fight to get onto a taxi-be. Didn't work out too well at first. During our pushing through the crowd to get to a taxi-be my one foot fell into a puddle that I hadn't seen. I totally lost my balance! Thankfully there was a man on the other side of the puddle who I fell into, but stopped me from falling on my butt! Finally after 20 minutes of waiting we shoved our way into a taxi-be. It was quite an exciting morning.

I dropped the kids off at school and got back onto a taxi-be to go home, usually I walk but I was too exhausted from the trip this morning to walk! I got dropped off at our taxi-be stop in Imeranavofoany (pronounced “eh - mare -na - phone”). I walked up to our gate and walked right into our door. Literally walked into it people...boom. Seems the guard went out for a while and locked the gate door. Great. I never take the gate key with me because Mr. Jean Piere, our guard, is always at the house! The gate is always unlocked. Not knowing how long he was going to be, and anxious to get to my God date (because I knew I had to leave the house in 1 ½ hrs to meet a friend) I decided the only reasonable thing to do was to break into the yard. I didn't need to break into the house as I had a key to our house. So I looked at the gate. There was a place that looked to me like a good place for a foot hold. I had to hoist myself up and then carefully over the fence that had pointy arrows all along the top to keep robbers away (notice the gate with the pointy things in the background of the first picture). Hmmmm. I hoiseted myself up but the part that I stepped on just bent and I landed on the ground. As I looked around I noticed two malagasy children about 10 yards away just staring at me. What could I do? I just looked at them and greated them in Malagasy and then ran behind the side wall of our house.

Now, our land lady owns the lot next door, but this lot, the front of it, is covered with thorny plants as a anti-theft mechanism. What to do? I went as close to the wall as posible and just used those God given long legs of mine to step over-ISH the thorns. A few pricks and holes in the jeans later (my favorite jeans AND one of two that I have here) and I was over the first hurdle. Breathe Megan, you can do this.

Now to hurdle the wall. UM....those of you who know me know that i'm about as graceful as a five legged giraffe. I found an old paint can, one of the bonuses of having trash everywhere, that I used to step up on to give myself a little “umph” trying to climb the wall. Got myself half way up propped on my stomach. Ok, this is good, half way there. I then throw my left leg up and over the wall. Great, perfect time for a leg cramp. Really? Now? Try straightening a leg while it's halfway hoisted over a wall. I finally was able to get myself in a sitting position on the wall.

Oh boy, I forgot about having to jump down. Um. Ok so I very gracefully go from a sitting position to rolling over on my stomach with my legs hanging over the side of the wall that our yard is on. Slowly slowly...umph...ground....ahhhhh lovely ground. I HATE heights, even small ones. So I go inside the house, wash off my scrapes and sit down to have my God date. The gate door opens up and in walks Mr. Jean Pierre 5 minutes after I leave half my skin and pride on the prickle bushes, the wall...and the ground. Well, at least it made for a good blog story.