We have been busy the last few weeks! First, we took a trip as a team to Mahajanga, a city on the west coast of Madagascar, where we met up with other AIM missionaries for a retreat. It was great to meet brothers and sisters from all over the world serving in Madagascar. Just when we thought it couldn’t get any better, we arrived home and within a week received some exciting news. First, some background information:
– Rosina, our Malagasy team leader, owns a villa (“sweet house” in French) on the beach of Nosy Be
– Dion, a South African Christian/husband/father/contractor/surfer/fisherman has brought a catamaran yacht to Nosy Be to be used for missions and business.
– This catamaran is anchored in the bay in front of Rosina’s villa and Dion: is awesome/loves to fish/loves to explore/wants to get to know our team.
– We have a Malagasy friend, Gerdenie, who built our house, and our chicken’s house, and who teaches us language, who is currently living on Nosy Mitsio, which is several miles away. Although you won’t see it on Google maps, Nosy Mitsio is actually the largest island of an incredible archipelago just northeast of Nosy Be.
– The island of Nosy Mitsio will have a team of missionaries living there next year, much like our team, except much more remote and rustic.
– Rebe and I want to: see everything/visit Gerdenie/see Nosy Mitsio/go fishing/explore the world.
Well, everything came together and Dion took us on a trip to Nosy Mitsio to: fish/snorkel/surf/visit Gerdenie and villagers/explore/fish some more…please enjoy this photo blog of our last few weeks, but first, a story that must be told.
On day 3 of our voyage, we anchored near a beach on the main island of Nosy Mitsio. It was 2pm, and everyone was tired from exploring/snorkeling/fishing/swimming the whole day. That being said, Camden saw some nice waves and wanted to build on his new-found surfing skills. He also wanted me to go with him to the beach (100 yards away) because there was a village nearby and he wanted to make sure it was O.K. to play on the beach there. I finally gave in and said I would go with him, and both Myla and Keely immediately said they wanted to go too. So, we jumped in, Camden on his surf board and the girls and I in a 2-man kayak. About 20 yards in, we all immediately regretted our decision. We were tired, the waves were strong, and my kayaking skills are limited. In front of us: large waves, coral, and rocks. The result: rolling our kayak, crying kids, frustrated dad, and the realization that it is going to be HARD to get back.
I immediately see an old man from the village walking toward me. By now I can speak enough of the local language to get by, so we start talking, and he says that I need to move to the other end of the beach (200 yards away) because there are too many rocks where we are now. He proceeds to pick up the front of my kayak, and I pick up the back, and we start walking… only I soon realize that this plan is no good because I will only have to move the kayak back when I want to return to the catamaran. 50 yards into our journey, I tell him to stop. He then asks for money, which I have none. Then he says in Sakalava, “Can I have your shirt?” I don’t want to give him my shirt because it is the only Longhorn shirt that I brought! He seems equal parts frustrated and intrigued that I can speak his language, and walks back to the village.
30 minutes later (although it seems like 3 days) we are still trying to figure out how we are going to get back to the boat. Meanwhile, I notice that the people of the village are trying to move their one, huge, communal lakana, to an area above the tide line. A lakana is a canoe with an outrigger, and this particular one is extremely large. In fact, the entire (small) village is out trying to move it before the tide comes in, women and children included. Most likely, it is in need of repair, as the lakanas in my village are always leaking. I see that they are struggling, and I decide to walk over and introduce myself to the village. They receive me warmly, and I ask if I can help them bring their canoe in (FYI-I am about twice the size of the nearest villager). They immediately say yes, and we proceed to haul in the giant canoe to an area where they can fix the problem without the fear of it rolling into the sea. When everything is complete, I casually walk over to the old man from the beginning of the story and say, “Can I have YOUR shirt?” He looks at me with a wry smile and starts laughing so hard, I have to hold him up. Apparently sarcasm crosses cultures…
Here are a few photos from our team retreat in Mahajanga…