This is Madagascar…
We’ve been back in Madagascar for 2 weeks… the journey was quite the adventure– one which you can read here. No matter how many times we return back and forth, there’s always an adjustment. When returning to the States, the adjustment is to smooth roads, cleanliness, blending in in a crowd, speaking English at all times, understanding cultural clues, helpful sales people, and general efficiency. Those are all good things. There are however, hard things to adjust to– pricetags of certain items, technology that has changed in our absence and looking like a bit of moron when you don’t understand the latest and greatest (no need to sign for credit card charges… when did that happen?). The access to excess is good in some ways and horrendous in others. However, perhaps our hardest transition comes from the importance placed upon the unimportant in many ways. We struggle when we come from one of the poorest countries to one of the wealthiest. We struggle when we come from a world where we recently had the privilege to aid in saving the life of a newborn because her 78-pound mother was starving and couldn’t produce enough milk and we enter into a society where overabundance is the norm and yet people complain about being in debt. This however is for a different post. Today, I’m talking Madagascar.
When readjusting back to life in Madagascar, there’s always things that stick out. Some are good, some are bad. This time, Jamie and I both looked at each other for the first few days and said to one another… “what are we doing???” Yea, that’s pretty normal for both of us upon reentry. It takes time to readjust and two weeks in, thankfully, those thoughts are fewer and further in between and more distant.
There are times when things make sense in this country, there are times when things don’t make sense in this country and there are times when things make sense to everyone around me who is Malagasy and to this vazaha (foreigner) they make no sense at all. There are times when there really is no explanation for the way things are done and the things that are encountered. There are times when you’re beaten down by the ways things work (or don’t work) and you’re quite aware of it. And there are times that the blessings of Madagascar pour out upon the people of Madagascar and this is always good! During all of these times, I simply say to myself or Jamie if he’s in close proximity, this is Madagascar. Not in a nasty or griping way, hopefully not ever in a calloused type of way– though sometimes I admit it’s out my own annoyance over matters… but usually it’s just a way to explain the often unexplainable.
Here are a few of my this is Madagascar occurrences in the last 2 weeks of being back….
— the drastic contrast between the beauty of this island and her people and the pain and suffering that people live entrenched in… this is Madagascar
— the curving around crazy potholes in the road that closely resembles downhill skiing of moguls in the winter olympics… this is Madagascar
— snails the size of small house pets… this is Madagascar (during the rainy season)
— people walking everywhere with no fear of being hit by a car, or a motorcycle, or a pousse-pousse (rickshaw), or a saraty (ox-cart), or a bike… this is Madagascar
— warm-hearted friends popping over to say ‘tonga soa’- welcome home, how was your stay in the USA?, how is your family there?… this is Madagascar
— people who are quick to tell you whether you gained weight or lost weight while in the USA… this is Madagascar
— water outages and power outages… this is Madagascar
— cockroaches, ants, flies and mosquitos, oh my!… this is Madagascar
— temperatures in the high 90’s with 95% humidity and mold growing on nearly everything… clothes, furniture, jewelry, tupperware, plates and glasses… this is Madagascar (in the rainy season)
— massive bridges that have precariously missing pieces of road below your car and that stretch for nearly 200 yards over one of the largest rivers on the island with thousands of tons of red water wildly rushing below you… this is Madagascar (and always a good reason to pray!)
— the refrigerator repair man who promises he’ll come by at 5pm only to later find out that he didn’t really intend to come by at 5pm because he knew he’d still be working on a job so instead he swears to come at 9am the next morning… and he does– and then promises to return at 4pm but when 4pm rolls around and he hasn’t shown up, he explains that ‘nobody drives in this rain’… this is Madagascar
— our sweet girls making fresh lemongrass tea picked from our garden… this is Madagascar (for our girls)
— at almost any given time, you can feel something crawling on you. 9 out of 10 times it’s thankfully just an ant or two or three… this is Madagascar (in the rainy season)
— the shaking of hands and kissing of cheeks (two or three times) as the standard formal greeting, even amongst close friends… this is Madagascar
— the amazing bananas that taste like BANANAS should taste and pineapple and mangoes that explode with flavor in your mouth… this is Madagascar
— our middle daughter, Eliana, screaming ‘this is the best day ever’ as she tromps through the pouring rain and mud-filled puddles fully clothed and barefoot… this is Madagascar (for our kids)
— our same alarm clock that ran consistently slower and slower in one part of the country due to low electric voltages now consistently runs faster and faster in another part of the country due to high electric voltages… this is Madagascar
— the overabundance of opportunities to walk beside people and to offer hope in this life and life in Christ… this is Madagascar
— 70 and 80-year old foreign men walking around with their beautiful Malagasy teenage and early 20-year old girlfriends… this is Madagascar
— for the life of you, you can’t pump your own gas but you must bag your own groceries at the store while the cashier just watches on… this is Madagascar
— the joy of friendships, the laughter shared, the prayers prayed for one another, the breaking of bread together, the doing of life together with those whom we love and cherish and respect… this is Madagascar
Great post.. the picture of the ride on the back of the bike is priceless! Also, the red river is amazing!
How perfectly said. I can add one from this morning: when you go play tennis and in between serves you have to wait for the chickens and ducks to pass through- this is Madagascar. But don’t you just LOOOOVVVVEEE being here? I know I do.:o)
LOVE your posts!! Your heart for the Malagasy clearly shines through!
I LOVE your posts!! Thank you so much for sharing so wisely and beautifully! Your heart for the Malagasy shines through so clearly!
thanks for sharing in few words what we can hardly express
Beautifully written. The contrast of living life in these two cultures is extreme and you two do it with God’s grace. Once again, through your gift of written communication you have drawn me into the Malagasy life. Praying for you as you come alongside the Malagasy and live the “this is Madagascar” life as a family of 5.
Love the post! Love what you guys are doing! It has been an inspiration to Jen and I as we look to confirm our next step. Blessings
That last picture is priceless… Just screams “my brother from another mother”…
Wow, has it been two weeks? So many similarities to Costa during the rainy season, ( always something crawling on you, everything mouldy, brown water out of the tap) and yet in 3 hours you can be shopping at Costco with a whole bunch of gringos (1/2 of whom are ocer 60 year old men with beautiful young costa rican girlfriends). I love Costa and Santa barbara for totally different reasons. But I love them both.
Can’t wait to know Madagascar.
Love you guys!!!!