I know everyone who reads our blog is always excited about what Nickolee is going to type up next. Well this time I, Steve, decided to change things up. I am going to tell you guys about an exciting thing that happened just this week while we were in Mahafaly land. Hopefully, you will not be too disappointed that it is me and stop reading this book, I mean blog post.
As a team, we have been talking to the village of Kilimary for a long time about going to a nearby village, Andohasatra, to share the gospel there. We have been telling them that they could do it and they have always said they would go, but never got around to it. Recently, we have been talking a lot more about it with them and on the way to the funeral that Doug and Nathan attended with Kilimary, some villagers from Andohasatra asked us, the white men, to come and share with them. We decided that it was time to give Kilimary that extra little nudge to go and share, so we told them on Monday, of this week, as we were passing by to go farther south for two days, that we would be back on Wednesday afternoon to set up going to Andohasatra with them.
Doug, Nathan, and I finished up all of our other teaching in the villages that we were working in and on Wednesday afternoon we headed to Kilimary. Our plan was to show up and do the current story with them and then talk about going to Andohasatra; timing, story, and such. To our surprise, when we arrived in Kilimary, the president (leader of village) greeted us at our truck and told us we were late for going to Andohasatra. We were confused because we had set up to be in Kilimary at 2:00pm and that is when we showed up. They informed us that they had gone to Andohasatra the day before and set up for us to be there at 2:00pm to share with the village. Remember, we are in Africa and the time was not really that big of a deal, but we were excited that they were finally ready to go and had done the legwork without us pushing. The president told us to sit down and wait for a few minutes while he and one of his brothers changed and put on their good clothes to go share. So, we went and sat down and waited and after a few minutes they came out in their nice clothes and said they were ready to go. We slowed them down a little bit to discuss what would happen after we arrived in Andohasatra. We asked them what they would share with someone else to tell them about God or Jesus. They shared the creation story with us and said they would share that. We asked them if they remembered any of the other stories and could share any about Jesus. We all agreed they would share the creation story and that we could share the other stories. We also stressed to them that they were the leaders and we were following them and helping them in this.
So, the five of us piled in the truck and started driving the 3km to Andohasatra. When we arrived, we pulled through the village and parked by the president's house. We got out and greeted him and his family. He told us to sit down for a few minutes and he would gather the people underneath the big tree. He then went and rang the bell (tire drum hanging from tree) for the people to meet. We sat by his house for a few minutes more and then made our way to the big tree. As we got there the people started gathering and coming out from the huts. In total we had around 45 people gather to hear what we had come to share. The president of Andohasatra did the formal greetings and then introduced us and told the villagers why we had come: to preach the gospel. The president of Kilimary responded in the traditional way of thanking them for letting us come and share. After that, his brother began to share the stories. He started with sharing the story of creation and then told about Adam and Eve and their disobedience and what that meant for us. Next, he moved to Jesus and told about how He was God come to earth to be the sacrifice for our sins and His death on the cross for us. Doug, Nathan, and I just sat and listened and watched as he told creation to Christ without missing a beat and did not ask once for us to chime in. When he finished telling the story the president of Andohasatra said they understood and they appreciated the teachings they had heard. They then began to talk about the story, for example; we all (Vazaha and Malagasy) came from one man - Adam, asking if we still need to sacrifice to our ancestors, can we use charms from witch doctor, and so on. The brother answered all of the questions very well. When asked about sacrificing to ancestors, he said that Grant had not come in giving them rules to follow, but that over time and through his teaching of the Bible stories that they had seen that it was wrong for them to do and they had stopped doing it. One man asked what us white men had to say and Nathan answered that we agreed with everything that the brother had taught and just emphasized that following Jesus meant that He alone was Lord of our lives and that it was contradictory to say you trusted Jesus to help you and then go to the witch doctor for a charm. The time went very well and seemed to be well received by the village of Andohasatra. They asked us when we could come back and teach them again. We told them that we would work it out with Kilimary to set up future teachings.
We then said our goodbyes and made our way to the truck. The president of Andohasatra followed us back to the truck and emphasized again that they wanted us to come back and teach them more. We drove back to Kilimary and sat down with them to debrief the time and set up future teachings. They were really excited and told some of the villagers about what all had happened. We told them to set up and go back next week to Andohasatra and teach just the story of creation. We asked them to tell us the story like we had never heard it before and helped them practice it. We told them that after they told the story, to then get two or three people from Andohasatra to retell the story to them and make sure they understood it. Their eyes kinda lit up and they were like, "hey, that is what you do with us every time". We then told them to ask us the six questions that we always ask them. They told us they did not know the questions, but once we started telling them the questions they realized they did in fact know the questions. When Nathan asked them about why they should ask the questions, the brother said so they (the ones listening) will talk about the story and not just sit there. Once again, they lit up again and were like, "hey that is why you do that with us every time". It was amazing to see them realize that what we wanted them to do in Andohasatra, Grant had been doing in Kilimary with them for years now.
Please lift up the believers in Kilimary that they will continue to share Bible stories in Andohasatra. I did not put the names of the men because I do not know them and if I did, I would not be able to spell them and they would be impossible to pronounce. We only know the leader of Kilimary as president because that is what everyone calls him and we only know that the other guy is one of his brothers. Also, lift up the village of Andohasatra as they hear stories from the Bible, that they will see the truth and be set free from their bondage of darkness that surrounds them.