Manaona! (Hello!) Greetings from Madagascar.
It's hard to believe that I've been here for almost a week. I don't even know where to begin, so I'll just start at the beginning (the very best place to start).
Our flight into Johannesburg, South Africa, took about fifteen hours. It was quite a long flight and I didn't sleep much more than two hours. In Johannesburg we had about a one and a half hour layover, most of which we spent going through security and just getting to our next plane. We met another Christian who was on his way to Tanzania, and it was really cool to be able to talk to him about missions. At our terminal there was a bus that took us to the airplane; it was the first time I'd ever gotten onto a plane outside rather than using one of those hallways into the airport.
After another three hour plane ride we got to Antananarivo (Tana), the capital of Madagascar. That night we met the AIM missionaries here in Tana, Daniel and Sarah Zagami (and their baby son, Orion). That night we had pizza with egg, shrimp, and ground beef on it. I thought it was delicious, but no one else did (I just finished the leftovers today). For the first couple of days we spent time touring Tana, having basic language lessons, getting to know each other and the Zagamis, and planning for the English clubs.
On Sunday we attended the Zagamis' church, which meets in a three-sided school garage. The fourth side has blankets strung across it to keep a semblance of warmth. The service was in Malagasy, but there was someone there to translate for us. Some of the songs were in English, and some in Malagasy, but once we learned the Malagasy vowel sounds we were able to sing along on the slower songs. They had a long discussion time about a passage in 1 John and we were able to participate in the English-speaking group.
The past three days we've been holding our English clubs. The children actually understand a lot more English than we thought they would, so it's really turned into more of a VBS with a little English lessons thrown in. So far we've taught that Jesus is the Good Shepherd, Jesus is the Living Water, and Jesus is Our Savior. We've been using Bible stories to illustrate these concepts (the Lost Sheep, the Woman at the Well, and the Prodigal Son). Every day we sing songs, hear a story, go over a memory verse, have small groups (during which we try to re-explain the story and teach basic English grammar), have a snack, and do crafts and games. I'm in charge of crafts, which is fun and also tests my creative ability with limited resources. It's been a lot of fun to get to know the kids and to play games with them every day. They love it when we play their version of "Red light, Green light," and "Catch tag" (freeze tag).
Being here has been an amazing experience, already. I have so many stories, but I'll just have to share those later! :)