[sam-ba-chra] blessed to be happy|happy to be blessed

From Christina, a YAGM Volunteer in Antananarivo.

Many of you might find yourself in heavy Christmas and Holiday traffic.  Maybe you are even reading this in the car (be carful!).  But Espi, one of the YAGM Ate’s serving in Madagascar gives some wonderful insight about traffic in her life of service:


Tana Traffic

I’ve never been good at meditation. I have a natural talent for being anxious, and when my body is still, my mind flits frantically between making lists of things that need doing, reconstructing past experiences, predicting future scenarios, planning you name it (this blog post for example) in great detail, and so on. This tendency served me well in my life in America, where we learn very early on, “time is money,” and you are worth as much as you do (measured in a dollar amount or a letter grade).

And then came Antananarivo traffic. A number of people who I have met with here who have come from America have asked me how far away I live from my work (or some other destination). A valid question, to which the answer is always more complicated than they anticipate. In Tana, physical measured distance does not have any bearing on how long it will take you to get from A to B. When I head to church on Sunday morning at 5:15, I live 15 minutes away. When I return home on Tuesday afternoon at 4:00 after women’s group, I live an hour and a half away, and that’s if I chase down the first bus I see and throw enough elbows to actually make it on.

On the average morning between 6-9, around the time I head into work, I can count on the bus taking between an hour and an hour and a half to get me to my destination. Up to two hours if there is some sort of accident or car trouble. I am frequently late to my first class (or miss it all-together) due to the only semi-predictable traffic patterns, but once I am on the bus there is no use worrying about being on time. The only thing to do is wait.

I have been known to do any number of things on the bus: review lesson plans, memorize songs for choir, go through my Malagasy flashcards or dictionary, read a book or the Bible (which has resulted in pathetic attempts to evangelize in Malagasy prompted by my seat mates), work on friendship bracelets, eat breakfast. But sometimes, I’m just not in the mood to be productive and I stare out the window letting my mind make it’s lists and scenarios. After a half an hour of this activity, my mind quiets and my eyes passively take in my surroundings and I simply am.

I am learning how to wait. In America we superficially uplift this ability (“patience is a virtue,” “good things come to those who wait”), but everything about the rat race we participate in teaches us the opposite.

In Malagasy the word for wait is miandry [me-AHN-dgry]. When you insert a “p” after the “m” of any verb (all infinitive verbs start with “m”) the word becomes a noun for one who does that action. So one who waits is a mpiandry [pee-AHN-dgry]. This is also the word for shepherd; one who waits for sheep.

When we think of Jesus as The Shepherd, it’s appealing to think of Him heroically rescuing the one lost sheep from a thicket of thorns or circling wolves, then striding purposefully back to the 99 with the straggler triumphantly perched on His shoulders. And it’s easy to forget that the majority of the job description is sitting, passively looking around at sheep. Maybe even taking, goodness-forbid, a nap.

Perhaps waiting, simply being in a place and time, meditating, is a part of the call of Christianity that the West is particularly good at ignoring. So, the next time you’re sitting in traffic, consider it a Sabbath.

by: Christina Espegren

Mad YAGM Ate’s First Retreat

Our first retreat has come and gone, yet the stories will last a lifetime. We reflected about what the Spirit is up to in Madagascar, played in God’s beautiful creation, and worshiped together. Enjoy some silly clips with the YAGM Madagascar Ate’s:

Familiarity in a Foreign Land


Kelsey is making all kinds of cross cultural connections. Read her blog below to see the awesome familiarity she is discovering!

Originally posted on She Is on Her Way:

Some days I really miss home. I miss convenience, reliable utilities and most of all I miss my friends and family. That thing about not really knowing how much people mean to you until they aren’t there has never been more true than it is now. My time in Madagascar up until this point has largely been about adapting to a new way of life and getting used to all of the differences that evade my understanding and are impossible to begin to describe. Time is an entirely different concept here and no one gives hugs. Communicating in broken Malagasy is one of the biggest differences and though I know the basics and have been blessed with many English speakers in my communities, communication is by far the biggest difference in my life. However, there are also similarities between life at home and life here. For instance, I’m convinced that…

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Happy Birthday Puba!

Today is Puba’s Birthday.  So, Puba turns 3(ish) today.  She is part of our family and brings us endless love and entertainment.  Enjoy a silly clip of her, as we get to enjoy her everyday!

We don’t really know how old she.  We don’t know where exactly she came from.  We don’t know who her parents, brothers and/or sisters are.  We don’t know much about her genes.  But we know that today, October 13, is the day we chose to celebrate Puba’s life!

Puba is our mix-breed street dog, who we rescued here in Madagascar.  Puba came into our lives in May 2012 and unofficially became ours in late June 2012 – once we actually had a place to live.  Having only been in Madagascar 4 months, with a place to call home 1 week, Puba was unexpected and joyously welcomed into our family. Puba called the streets of Antsirabe home for the first 10 or so months of her life.  She roamed and played and scrapped by for food.  Puba was about 9 kilos (almost 20 pounds) when we brought her home; today she is a happy 16.5 kilos (about 36 pounds).

Puba is beautiful, lazy, funny, alert, kind, spoiled, affectionate, silly, a barker, hunter, lover of walks, licker, chewer of bones, digger and lover of belly rubs.

Happy Birthday Puba!!!










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