Short-term service 2010—Report by Doris

Provisional translation by the webmaster:

For me, this year, it was the first “on-site assignment” for the mission center. In the last 20 years I was many times in Madagascar—we visited our relatives there, even in the “bush”—but in the past it just was rather a private visit. This time I was one of the team leaders and I primarily cared about the domestic domain of the short-term missionaries and relieved Roseline (the team leader of the Malagasy team), because as a doctor, translator, interface to the people of the village, travel organizer and and and … she already was more than overburdened. Benjamin (my husband) who could have helped there, got to arrive later. I really wanted to help rather in the health station, but had little time for it.

Doris (front left) gets delivered water by ox cart

Maybe you ask yourself—what on earth has to be done there so great? Cooking, cleaning and washing? You have to imagine that there, in the village, everything is 10 times more toilsome than here. In Ambohitsara there are no electricity, no water. The water must be brought from the river (about 20 minutes from base camp), transported in 2 large barrels on ox carts. Also no “German” sanitary facilities (pit toilet and bucket shower).

One example: in the morning to make coffee one must first get coal from the coal sack, procure small fire wood, candle residues and matchsticks. Then wash your hands—which now are just pitch-black from the coal, coal shovel didn't exist. This is also troublesome, because someone or yourself first has to bring water in a vessel from the barrel and then tip it over the hands—if you are unlucky, your soap goes flying down in the red(!!) dust and then you have to wash the soap first, before you can wash your hands. Then you frond with a piece of cardboard so that the coals burn properly, and only theeeenn you can procure a pot of water (also ladle-in-method), put it on and wait until it boils. Then remove from the fire (careful, do not burn your fingers, there also were no proper potholders, only tiny ones, otherwise a mini sponge or a piece of cardboard), and—thank God—we had brought instant coffee …

The same also applies for cleaning (a corn broom wrapped in a rag and fixed with clothespins that have to be unfastened and clipped on again at each dip). Unfortunately, you have to clean quite a lot, because, as I said, the dust is red and everywhere. If you do not clean regularly you have fleas in the hut.

Bread is also difficult, as it is unknown to the Malagasy in the rural villages. And we Europeans find it difficult to eat only the food of the locals. Either rusk (which is obtainable in the capital) or toilsome bake bread yourself in the coal oven. Meals were cooked in huge pots on the coal fire. Sometimes spaghetti, we had carried along from Tana.

Doing the laundry (hand washing) using the Malagasy method (also applies to dishes): make everything wet (only cold water available), soap with curd soap, scrub piece by piece, rinse 2 times with clean water.

Doris in the village Ambohitsara when cooking on the coal oven

Personally, I really enjoyed it and I also did it with pleasure. One could always invent new things, make something out of nothing, try with the most primitive tools yet still to develop a good "method", just throw everything into a pot and see what comes out …

The people there are so different than here—are able to delight in the slightest details (it was always a crowd and a huge laughter after a photo taken with the Digi-Cam, when you have shown it the people on the display). I had, when I'm gone somewhere, at least 3 little girls by the hand. I think it never happened to these kids before that someone gives them so much (in their view) attention and regard. Our hair was found fantastic by them …

No one there does mind, if one turns up somewhere in a bathrobe or the T-shirt does not go with the skirt, or you're wearing the same 2 days. Or if you (by the bucket shower) have a funny hairstyle. Most of the things upon which is set great value here (clothes, appearance, all this “youth mania” from advertising, having a good figure, status symbols, how often one goes on holiday …) are unknown there or secondary. There are things valuable that are in oneself. Kindness, compassion, regard, friendship, interpersonal relationships. A “life motto” there is: “Better lose money than lose a friend”. Elderly people there enjoy much more respect, the village chief is always the oldest. And it's a blessing if you are not “matchstick thin”. The clocks are set differently there, counting the time in weeks rather than hours. A day may well be “scheduled”, but that's a far cry from saying that that will already take place, which you should do there, and much less at this speed and rush like here.

I've definitely been blessed more than what I have given, despite the dust, the rats, the hygienic conditions, that I could not sleep through any night …

You are wondering how to have fun with something like that? By trying to give up one's “rights” (whatever one believes that one's own indispensable rights are, such as clean environment, enough sleep, the accustomed food, time for yourself …) and accept what Jesus has instead for you. You would be surprised …

Doris Mampionona, 45 years, housewife

Mission trip from 4 August to 7 September 2010

In our online photo albums you will find more pictures of the short-term mission outreaches in 2009 and 2010.

See also: General information about a short-term service in the Mission Center Port-Bergé, Madagascar

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