Trip Start Aug 15, 2012
16Trip End Ongoing
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Where I stayed
Lovasoa (Norwegian Missionary Center)
After a week of orientation in Chicago and 36 hours of travel, I am finally in Madagascar! I am definitely still recovering from the journey and the 9-hour time difference, but it is so exciting to be here after months of anticipation. While I am disappointed that I was not greeted off the plane by herds of lemurs as the nature documentaries so readily assured me I would, I was welcomed by another common experience in Antananarivo, Madagascar: lost baggage. To be fair it was not completely the airline’s fault. Our Lufthansa flight from Frankfurt, Germany, was 20 minutes late, making a very short layover even shorter. While coming off the plane, we were called over and taken out a special door, and we then proceeded to sprint across the airport with our overloaded carry-ons
Before I talk about that journey and destination, I want to mention the orientation in Chicago. I was lucky enough to spend a week with the whole YAGM crew as well as some alumni of the program. The week was filled with classes and great conversation about how to live out the accompaniment model of mission. While I enjoyed most of the classes, they can basically be boiled down to this message, "Everybody is completely equal, and you are not always right. Get over it!" There was talk of mutuality, cultural sensitivity, power structure, building relationships, and taking care of ourselves in foreign countries, but that statement pretty much wraps it up nicely. Our week in Chicago at LTSC (Lutheran Theological Seminary in Chicago) was also just an awesome time of community and fun. We were all going through some seriously confusing emotions and thoughts, and it was sweet to have a group of others to empathize with and on whom to rely. The conversations I had this week revitalized my soul and made me even more stoked for the coming year. In fact, I spent two nights in a row up till 4 AM talking about everything from social justice to our role in the future of the church, if any
Our journey began in the Chicago O’Hare Airport. We left at 10:30 PM on Wednesday August 22, alongside the folks heading to South Africa. By the way, if you have never flown Lufthansa, do it! Comfortable seats, T.V. and movies on demand, good food and beverages, and great service. But I digress... The first leg to Frankfurt was uneventful, but fun nonetheless. The 14 of us were all seated together, and we only stopped laughing and goofing off when we were sleeping. I’m sure the other passengers appreciated those brief breaks! Seven hours later, Frankfurt had its own fun in store. We left the airport and spent a few hours wandering around downtown. I haven’t been to Germany since I was 16, and this trip brought back some great memories if not very much of my German-speaking skills. I struggled to even order food, but it still felt great to be surrounded by it again
We stayed that first night at the Norwegian Mission Society’s center in Tana. It was a beautiful compound of buildings just outside of downtown Tana filled beautiful exotic plants with birds and lizards to boot. The best part of that first day was being greeted with OVERWHELMING enthusiasm by Honorine, a woman whose 4-foot-nothing frame was filled with joy and smiles. She made us ginger chicken and rice, a traditional Malagasy dish. Everything I have eaten here has been different and amazing
I will be spending the next 3 weeks in Antsirabe for Malagasy language and culture studies at the Norwegian Missionary school here. I am excited to learn and explore more about this amazing place. We have already explored the market, all the while being called , “Vasa”, the Malagasy word for foreigner or white person. It probably doesn’t help that we brought our coordinators’ dog along, which is weird in a culture where no on has pets.
In summary, I am thrilled to be here even though it is still difficult to comprehend that I am actually in Madagascar, in spite of the new smells, sights, and sounds. I am literally on the other side of the world from Fairbanks, Alaska. Looking at the globe is the only way I can get that through my head. I miss everyone back in the states, but I am excited to see where this journey takes me. More to come!