Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Madagascar vignettes

Several people have been requesting pictures and updates regarding our trip to Madagascar.  So, if you are one of those people, this will probably be of interest to you.

Madagascar is an island off the eastern coast of Africa.  Although it is considered part of Africa, the people there come from an Indonesian background rather than an African background.  They culture has a lot of island culture mixed in with some African culture.

  • The average wage is $1 per day
  • The average age at death is 57
  • The climate is moderate (somewhat equivalent to Alexandria, Louisiana with less humidity)
  • There is no heat nor a/c in most homes and buildings. 
  • The concrete/brick/cinderblock structures make the homes terribly cold in winter, but more pleasant in summer
  • It is in the southern hemisphere, so their winters are our summers and our summers are their winters
  • The country has not been "westernized." There are no American restaurant or hotel chains.  
  • The country has a high Christian population, but is still bound by much "dark" religious tradition

The method of carrying loads on the head just mesmerizes me.  The very young to the very old do it.  It doesn't matter what it is.  They will find a way to put it on their heads and take off marching down the road!

Poverty looks and smells the same in every country...

Much of life revolves around the rice fields.  They bathe in them, wash their clothes in them, grow their food in them, and build their houses in the middle of them.

A good soccer game is fun regardless of the equipment or the field!

The scenes are filled with layers of stories.  Taking the produce to market...

...who needs a dryer? Just make sure you have a big back yard...

...headed home after a long, hard day that began before sunrise...

...a hard day that included making bricks from the mud from the rice fields...

...but at the end of the day, there is still beauty.

There is still color.

There are still flowers.

And at the end of the day, evidently the language of flowers is the same around the world.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


It is a land of contrasts.

Modern vehicles bouncing up ancient cobblestone streets.

The rice field worker hand-washing clothes in a basin outside the walled entrance to a nice, modern dwelling.

Hand-pushing carts of belongings while talking on a cell phone.

Sleeping outside at the General Conference and cooking over an open fire while the speaker has flown 10,000 miles and sleeps in central air/heat.

Making $1 per day and collectively giving thousands of dollars to see the Gospel spread.

Madagascar and America: the two nations are worlds apart.

But the level ground at the foot of the Cross joins them both.

I will stand at judgment beside these people.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Nona Freeman Prayer for Night People

Kendra recently tweeted about praying the "Nona Freeman prayer" and how God took her up on it and she wasn't sure if she was glad about that or not. (Posted tongue-in-cheek, of course.) We got several questions as to what we were talking about and the explanation takes up more than the 140 characters Twitter allots.

Here is the story behind what we call "The Nona Freeman Prayer for Night People":

Nona Freeman was a veteran missionary for many years to Africa.  She told incredible stories and  probably died with more stories in her head and heart than ever came out.

She was a woman of faith and of prayer and a believer that God could and would do anything for His people...the problem was/is that we just don't ask Him enough and specifically.

She described herself as a night person.  One who was more alert in the evening, who would rather stay up late and sleep later in the morning.  She was not one who woke up early, chirping with the birds, and ready to conquer the world.  That came later in the day.  She was a night person.

However, she was a firm believer that God needed the first part of our day.  Therefore, she knew that in order to give that to Him, she must not sleep until the last minute, but must wake up earlier than necessary in order to have time with Him.  So, she prayed a prayer that went something like this:  "Lord, I know that I need to talk to you first thing in the morning.  But it is so hard for me to wake up and even though I set my alarm to get up earlier, I end up shutting it off to sleep until the last possible minute.  So Lord, I'm asking you to wake me up 30 minutes early every morning.  YOU wake me up.  Don't let me go back to sleep.  Wake up my mind and my heart so that You and I can have quality time together before our day begins.  I want to, Lord, but my flesh is weak.  So YOU help me.  YOU wake me up!"

I heard her tell this story at our church when I was just a young girl and will never forget when she said, "And the Lord has done just that.  Regardless of what time I go to bed or how little sleep I have received, He always wakes me up 30 minutes before I must begin my day."

I didn't pray that prayer for many years, because I am the ultimate Night Person and, quite honestly, didn't want God to answer it.  (Confession.) But as I matured in Him, I realized that it was absolutely vital that I spend time with him FIRST before anything else had a chance to enter my mind, my heart, and my spirit in the morning.  I realized all the scriptures in the Word that speak of spending time with Him first in the day, and was convicted.  So, I prayed the prayer.  He not only wakes me up 30 minutes early...He usually wakes me up 1 - 1 1/2 hours early!  And I'm fine with it!  I love it...there is no sweeter communion than the communion of first fruits.

I have challenged many of the young women in our church to pray that prayer.  I have tried to convey the necessity, the beauty, the love, the wonder that comes with meeting with Him first in the day.  I let them know they must mean it before they pray it, because He WILL answer it.

So, it takes them a while.  It's serious business.  And when they are finally ready to get serious about it, they pray it.  And He answers them.

It's "The Nona Freeman Prayer for Night People."

It's a prayer that will change your life if you are willing to allow your life to be changed.

Of all the things I have missed this year. . .

. . .I think I have missed blogging the most!

Time without reading and writing starves the deepest part of me.  And the schedule of this year has been one of insanity.  We have hurtled through the year.

I am just stunned that it is September 2.  How did that happen?

Although our insane travel schedule doesn't officially end until November 5, I have decided to officially end the Blog Drought!  If a spinning plate must crash to the ground in order for me to resume spinning the Blog Plate, so be it!

And thanks, Dennis, for missing me.  I miss you, too.