Only barely returned from our trip to Nosy Mitsio, Jurgen embarked on a survey to the east of Madagascar, to the Tanala. The Tanala are amongst Madagascar’s least reached people groups. The evangelical Christians number less than 1%. Churches are only found in cities. The churches lack vision to share the gospel with their fellow tribesmen, who are in geographically difficult to reach areas.
The results of the trip are very encouraging: in all the villages, missionaries are more than welcome. Some villagers had heard of Jesus when selling their produce on the markets in towns, others told of a yearly visit of an evangelist. There was a great felt need of education on what the Bible teaches. The elders in one of the villages said: ‘If what you preach is truly good news, our people need to hear it.’ They would have us come yesterday rather than tomorrow. Below, you’ll can watch a video report of the trip.
Engaging the Tanala has been the longing of AIM Madagascar for some time. It seems we have come to Madagascar at the right time. The next step is to return to Sandrohy, a central village surrounded by many smaller villages, to see what we need to live there.
Before we can go, we require our own vehicle, though. There is no public transportation to Sandrohy. The roads are very bad, so we need a sturdy 4×4. The need for a car is not just practical: it involves our safety too. Drivers in Madagascar seem to be in constant haste. Big risks are taken. Only recently, 3 accidents with buses happened in Tana due to reckless driving. The results: 13 casualties. Rules are now more strictly adhered to, making it even more difficult to catch a ride as a family.
We would be most grateful for any gift towards our purchasing a car. You can find information about giving on our support page. We are very grateful for your gift!
Katja ordered two Dutch books. The were shipped to Madagascar. To collect the parcel she had to travel to Analakely, Tana (17km). Because all Buses were full she had to take a taxi for the first stretch. There she took a bus for the second part. With a second bus she arrived at Analakely. Ones there she had to walk up a hill to a post-office to get a stamp and a signature. With that she walked down to another post-office. There they wanted to see her passport and she had to give two signatures and after receiving another stamp and paying 2000 Ariary she received her parcel. She was able to take a bus that drove back home in one stretch. The trip to collect her parcel took her 4 hours.
Today Vanya and I (Jurgen) had to go to the pharmacy in Akorondrano, Tana (14km) to get Simeon vaccination. We left at 10am with the first taxi-bé (bus), Thirty minutes later we took the second bus and arrived at 12 o’clock. We bought some whole wheat flour at Jumbo (supermarket) and then walked to the pharmacy just to discover that they were closed until 13:30. So we bought some bread to eat and waited. After getting the vaccination we had to get back to Mandriambero. Not one bus stopped as they were all loaded with people. After an hour of waiting it started to rain and we decided to take a taxi. Just in time as it started to pour. The window of the taxi was not there any more and the roof did not cooperate with us (leaking). The taxi had to drive very slowly. The engine stopped several times due to water… All in all we arrived home at 15:40 AND best of all… we have the vaccination! It ‘only’ took us almost six hours total 🙂
Our departure to Madagascar is drawing nearer. For years we have been preparing ourselves, but how?
The language amongst missionaries and within most missionary organisations is English. That is one of the reasons why we have decided to raise our children bilingually from an early age. From about 3 years of age – when they have an age appropriate fluency in Dutch – Katja speaks as much English to and with them as possible. After having learned to read and write Dutch at beginner’s level, we start teaching them the same in English. Sofar this approach works for our family: our children are capable of conversing in 2 languages and are confident about their abilities. On the mission field they will be able to communicate with other missionaries and their children from the start.
Compared to thirty years ago, when we were in primary education, the world seems to have ‘shrunk’! The world comes closer in the books we read, the television programmes we see and even through people living around us who have come from a different culture.
Since we will be living in a vastly different culture than our own, we read and talk a lot about the continents, climates, cultures and religions in the world. We hope to get a better understanding of what culture is and how important it is in everyday life. We read books on Madagascar in particular, so we will have some idea in advance of what we might experience and see.
Children of missionaries generally have more identity problems than their peers who have no cross-cultural experience. It is often heard that the live between 2 or more cultures and have difficulty identifying any which country as home. Ties with the country of origin can be weaker than the ties with the country they, as a familly, have served in.
For these reasons we emphasize our own cultural identity as well. Through history lessons, typical Dutch celebrations and family traditions we enforce our identity as a familly, Christians, Dutch and Europeans. We trust this will enable us to move and feel freely in both our own and our host cultures.
Last month has been intense for us. We got word that, on second thought, we could not join the Betroka team. It was a pretty hard blow to take. As we understand, the teamleaders feel that they will not be able to give us the support we – as newcomers – will need with. Apparently the current situation on the field is already demanding enough. This has been very disappointing to us.
The good news is that a very fitting solution has been found. The unit leader of Madagascar has offered us to start our ministry in the capital, Antananarivo (Tana for short). We will be part of a ministry that trains Malagasy Christians to become missionaries to unreached people groups in their own country. Meanwhile we will learn the language, study the culture and gain insight into the vision and strategies of AIM Madagascar.
There are still many unreached people groups on Madagascar, especially in the south where also the Bara are located. AIM is surveying what people groups still need to be reached and what means and methods might be suitable to that end. In time we will be able to travel to different locations and people groups to see for ourselves and to help in the survey. Lord willing, we will be part of a new ministry to an unreached people group.
We look forward to our envolvement in the training of Malagasy missionaries and – in time – in starting a new ministry amongst an unreached people group of Madagascar.
The ideal is that we leave for Tana in January 2015. To be able to go we need enough financial support. Would you like to be part of our ministry to the unreached peoples of Madagascar? We thank you deeply if you do.
We have waited three months, but finally we have received word: we can go and serve amongst the Bara of Madagascar! We hope to leave for Madagascar in January 2015 to live in Betroka, a small town central to many Bara settlements. Since 2013 a team has been serving there.
The Bara are an unreached people group. This means they have no effective access to the gospel message. There are few Bara believers and Christians from other tribes don’t pay them attention. The Bara are hard to reach geographically: they live in settlements in the hills of 50-300 people. There are no roads leading to their villages, travel has to be done on foot.
We have always longed to work amongst an unreached people group, such as the Bara, so we are very happy to have found our destination for the coming years. More information on the Bara can be found on this prayer sheet.