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December 27, 2012

Christmas in Mahafaly Land

Last week, Steve and Doug took a quick trip out to the 4 main villages.  They really enjoyed their trip and Steve wanted to share what it looked like...however, Doug has already done a blog about it so we're just going to let him tell you...
Doug's blog...
Last week we took a quick village tour in order to celebrate Christmas in each village. Nathan’s home church sent us some toys a while back in order for us to share with the kids in the bush. So in each village we shared about the story of Christ’s birth and gave those gifts to children and families of those who regularly meet with us to pray and study God’s Word. This was a very simple and practical way for the church to share Christ’s love with their fellow brothers and sisters who live thousands of miles away on the other side of the world.
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Seeing a slinky for the first time
 
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Believers in Andremba opening their gifts
Starting in Andremba, we traveled from village to village asking the believers why we celebrate Christmas and sharing the story of the greatest gift that was ever given. Everything went so well and fell into place just perfectly. Each group in each village was available to meet, and very happy to receive their gifts from those in the states. We shared with them that the churches in the states were praying hard for them, which may have made them happier than when they received their gifts! Before giving the gifts to the leaders of each group, we explained that God had already given the greatest gift by sending His Son Jesus Christ into this world to free us from the curse of sin. We shared that we give because He gives.
Giving out the gifts was a funny experience. We didn’t actually distribute the gifts because they have their own cultural way of doing so, and we wanted the gifts to be distributed from the church group in each village. So when we opened each box to explain to the
Kalaha got his gun and hat for the picture. It's all about appearances.
Kalaha got his gun and hat for the picture. It's all about appearances.
leaders what the gifts were, the toy giraffe received some very strange looks. Obviously, villagers in the bush of Madagascar have never seen a giraffe before, but when they saw the toy, their first question was, “Is it mean?” which really means, “Would it hurt me if I came across it in a field?” Haha. We explained to them that it’s basically like a cow with a long neck that eats trees, I mean eats leaves. The other thing that caught them a little off guard were the candy bracelets. I had to explain to them that the string was not ok to eat, just the colorful things on the string! Haha.
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I told them to smile, but used the word for "laugh" by mistake
Our most interesting experience happened in Tanantsoa. When I asked them why we celebrated Christmas every year, we got an answer we didn’t expect. First, they said it was a time to get ready for the New Year. Nope. Secondly, they said that it was a time to thank God for the past year and look forward to the year to come. Wrong again. I asked them if there was any other reason that we celebrated, but they responded that those were the only two reasons. The people of Tanantsoa had never heard what the point of Christmas was or why we celebrated. So I was able to briefly share with them, for the first time, the reason we celebrate the day. I asked them if they remembered the story that we shared previously about the coming Savior and then emphasized that the reason we celebrate Christmas is because that Savior came. I shared that years later he died on a cross in order to free us from the curse of sin. When I broke down the word “Christmasy” in comparison to “Jesosy Christy” it definitely all came together in their minds! Haha. It hit me later on that coming from my little Bible-belt bubble, where everyone knows about or celebrates Christmas (some for the wrong reasons), that
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there are people in this world who have never heard about the true reason for Christmas, for there are many people in this world who have never heard about Jesus. If you have never heard about Jesus, then you don’t know that Jesus was born, or that he is the Savior of the world, or that he died on a cross in order to save humanity from their sins, or that he was resurrected and is alive and well today. Needless to say, this was a great time for the people of Tanantsoa and I’m just thankful that God used someone like me to be His mouthpiece. What amazing grace we receive from the Father, and what a great gift we have received in Jesus; the gift of salvation and eternal life.
So in light of that story and the Christmas season, I want to extend my thanks to all of you whose giving through the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering (LMCO) allows me to work and live among the Mahafaly people. Your faithful giving allows me to share the story of Christ’s birth and the gospel that saves with those who have never heard. Let these stories encourage you to remain faithful in your financial giving as well as your prayers for missionaries around the world living as heralds of the gospel of God’s grace and peace to all peoples.
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Believers in Tanantsoa, just after discovering what Christmas is all about
So again thank you for your fragrant offering to God and may you all have a very Merry Christmas as you reflect on the gift of Jesus and the day that light ripped through the darkness in the form of a little baby boy, the Savior of the world.

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