Wednesday, October 26, 2011

On the road again!

Wow, has it really been 9 weeks since I was last in South Africa! The time really did fly by. Everyone told me it would...but I have to admit, at the beginning of this trip I found that to be an impossibility. My last few days in Madagascar were interesting to say the least!

Last Friday my camera was stolen right out of my jacket pocket - I didn't realize it at the time, but I think it happened while I was getting a very crowded bus. So that was definitely a bummer, but fortunately I had saved most of my pictures on my computer already - and fortunately it was the last few days instead of the first few days of my trip. But still...a bummer.

Then Saturday I had a really nice time with my friend Yant - we went into the city and went shopping and had lunch, then at night we had a braai (South African BBQ basically). Unfortunately something didn't settle very well and Saturday night I woke up feeling really nauseated, and then was throwing up and sick all night.

Sunday I was supposed to attend two church services, but woke up still feeling really weak and sick - so I stayed in bed all day on my last Sunday in Madagascar :( I think my body was just telling me I needed a rest!

Monday, I felt better but still not 100%. Monday morning I led a prayer time/Bible study with some of the OMers and volunteers. It was sort of an emotional time for me, saying thank you to everyone for all their kindness and generosity. I will definitely be missing them.

Yesterday I afternoon I headed to the airport and said my final goodbyes! I'll be here in South Africa for a week, it's been very nice and relaxing so far, feels like a mini-vacation! I can't wait to come home, but if you've gotta be somewhere else, South Africa is not a bad place to be.

This week I'll be processing through all the different things I experienced and what I learned. There's something slightly intimidating about returning back home to the familiar when you know you're different now. But God has never been far from me, and I know He'll be with me in Texas also.


Thursday, October 20, 2011

Charcoal Spinach and Quotes

With only 5 days left until I board a plane bound for South Africa, and the very last week of my journey, I'm finding it difficult to stay focused on the task at hand. I've come to love this country very much and I know I'll miss everyone I've come to know - but I still found myself looking at google images of the Dallas skyline a couple nights ago. And I must say the pictures of the Trinity River were pretty deceptive. I was saying, it's hard to feel really driven to finish the work here - but I know I'll be disappointed in myself if I give up now. 

Things to do before I leave:
1. Evangelism/Door-to-door in a suburb of Tana
2. Attend two church services on Sunday...for those of you who've never attended Malagasy church...that means all day
3. Go shopping
4. Finish a load of communications work!
5. Find King Julian - ok...this one probably won't happen

Things I will miss about Madagascar:
1. The delicious and giant mangoes
2. The beautiful sunsets
3. The way people stare at me...okay maybe not...
4. The mountains
5. The daily afternoon rain showers
6. The people 
7. The relaxed atmosphere

Things I will not miss about Madagascar:
1. The bad air
2. The bad roads
3. The way people stare at me - for real this time
4. The unpredictable water and electricity 
5. The extremely loud church next door 
6. The complete lack of toilets/toilet paper everywhere you go

All that said, haven't had many crazy adventures since the last time I wrote. Unless you count burning a pot of spinach a crazy adventure (which I don't) - imagine charcoal in spinach form....ya, it was about as pleasant as it sounds! But I've also learned some important skills - like writing key ministry plans, and things of that nature. Well to wrap it up - I thought I'd share with you some of my favorite quotes right now. They kind of represent what's on my mind and sometimes you just can't say it any better yourself after you've already read it! As always, thanks for reading and praying, I love you all!

"The greatest good you can do for another is not just share your riches, but reveal to them their own." 
- Benjamin Disraeli

"If man is really fashioned, more than anything else, in the image of God, then clearly it follows that there is nothing on earth so near to God as a human being. The conclusion is inescapable, that to be in the presence of even the meanest, lowest, most repulsive specimen of humanity in the world is still to be closer to God than when looking up into a starry sky or at a beautiful sunset."
- Mike Mason

"There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilization - these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit - immortal horrors or everlasting splendors." - 
C.S. Lewis (Weight of Glory)

"The Blood does not cleanse excuses, but always cleanses sin, confessed as sin: then revival is just the daily experience of a soul full of Jesus and running over." 
- Norman P. Grubb

Friday, October 14, 2011

A Few of My Favorite Things

Yesterday I was journalling, and I decided to start reflecting on what's been happening in my life over these past months and years. I thought I'd share a few things here!

8 Things I've Learned Recently:

1. I'm passionate about communications - not just writing, but all forms of communications.
2. God is both mysterious and personal all at once.
3. If something needs to be done, just do it! Still learning this one...
4. My family is the best in the entire world.
5. I like cooking for fun, not because I have to
6. Dry spaghetti is gross
7. You can eat moldy bread if you just take off the moldy parts. Once you get past the smell you'll be okay!
8. God is for me - not against me - I carry His name!

3 Examples of His faithfulness to me:

1. Texas A&M University
If you knew me back when I was deciding where to go to college, you'll probably remember that initially I wasn't too excited about Texas A&M. I had other plans for my life. But God brought me to College Station despite my attitude, and it has been a HUGE blessing! Firstly, the relationships I've built and the things I've learned about Jesus and myself have shaped who I am becoming. Secondly, my education has been supreme. Seriously, I go to a great school - I'm challenged there and supported by the faculty. I love my major! What kind of secular academic institution not only gives you academic credit to do missions for a semester, but also encourages you to do it, and puts you on the front page of their student newspaper? Also Breakaway Ministries and Grace Bible Church have both been pretty life changing!

2. Faith Bible Church Internship
I knew I should be worried when May 2011 arrived and I still had no plans for my summer, but somehow I knew the Lord had good things in store for me. He proved He did when the youth pastor at  Faith called me up and offered me a position as his youth intern! FBC is the church where I grew up, where I really encountered Jesus for the first time, and where I learned what it means to be His disciple. The internship was a BLAST! I also learned a lot about church ministry and got to know the high school kids - they're amazing!

I mean when you really think about it, how in the world did I end up here? Of all the places in the world, I have to admit this is one I never even considered going to. (I decided that on my blog I'm allowed to end sentences with prepositions.) But all the lessons I've learned, the things I've experienced, the people I've met have been invaluable to me! He has never once abandoned me or left me to my own devices. He has given me strength for each day and grace for each moment. Sometimes it takes traveling 10,000 miles away from home and all it's comforts to realize HE IS ENOUGH FOR ME. All the time, everyday, no matter what.

I also picked up the old habit I had freshman year of writing a list of 50 things I'm thankful for everyday. I'll spare you that list though ;) some things are completely ridiculous and some are serious. Either way, I think it's so healthy to sit down and take the time to give thanks. Engage your mind in thinking about how grateful you are instead of how much you want. It wasn't difficult at all to come up with 50 things, I'm sure you could keep going for hours once you get started!

What's something you're thankful for today? I have one week and 4 days left in this country, I'm thankful for that!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

John Piper, Jesus Bumper Sticker and a Prostitute

Well hello everyone!

Since the last time I wrote, I:
1. Rode on the OUTSIDE of the bus in downtown Tana - it was crowded so I had to hang out the back...
2. Attempted to make guacamole - they have the strangest avocados here
3. Showered in the dark
4. Talked to friends on skype!!
5. Attended a prayer meeting at Tana City Church
6. Was really convicted by this thought -- if it's more difficult for me to share Jesus with the lost people in my life than to sit by and not share Him, something is really wrong in my heart...It should be the most difficult and painful thing in my life to keep Him to myself, and that's the truth. 
7. New favorite John Piper quote = "The goal of missions is the gladness of the nations in the glory of God" (see Psalm 67)

I don't have too many cool stories to write this time around, so sorry! I've mostly just been staying at the house in Tana and writing some updates. But I'll share my 5th OM update in my series, they usually edit the stories before they put them on the internet and make them more "OM friendly" I guess...but this what I wrote pre-editing! Thanks for taking the time to check up on me, I appreciate every single one of you!

Also...I just think this is funny - this was on the inside of my taxi haha

The moment I set my foot on the bike pedal the rain started falling. "It's going to be a long 10 km..." I thought to myself. It was on a recent outreach to Manakara, a city in the southeast of Madagascar, that I visited a truly rural village for the first time. This village can only be reached on foot or by bicycle. After carrying the bike through a steep mudslide in the tropical rain, I started to doubt my decision that riding was a better alternative to walking. Nevertheless, 10 km later I was standing in the village of Maroala covered in mud and sand. Though I had tried to mentally prepare myself, I was still shocked at the poverty in front of me. As I looked at the children with swollen bellies and mothers with hopeless looks in their eyes, I wanted to shut them out and cause my heart not to feel for them. The team had brought clothes for these people, which we passed out after a gospel presentation. Still, I was distressed that I had no food to offer, no immediate relief. But I heard Jesus reminding me, "I am the Bread of Life and Living Water, whoever comes to me will never be unsatisfied." He's our great provider and ultimate satisfaction - join with me in praying that His name will be made great in the village of Maroala. 

Since I've been in Madagascar, I've experienced things I never imagined I would - like riding a bike through the jungle. Most of these experiences have made for hilarious stories that I'll never forget, but some have broken my heart. For instance, I never thought I would hear a little girl say she wants to grow up and be a prostitute. But the dark reality is that prostitutes on the small island of Sainte Marie, off the northeast coast of Madagascar, appear to be the most wealthy and satisfied individuals. They have the nicest clothes and the most customers. This little girl doesn't realize that these women are used, abused and hurting. She doesn't realize that she's been created with value, she hasn't been taught to dream beyond her small island home. On the other hand, while visiting a Christian children's home in Antananarivo, the capital of Madagascar, I heard a little boy say he wants to grow up and become a pilot (he thinks, "it would be fun to drive around up in the sky, where there's no cars"). His caretakers at the home have encouraged him to follow his dreams; they'll support him in his education. He's flourishing in his environment of love and support.
I felt so saddened at the answer of the little girl, thinking if she only had more love and support perhaps she would dream beyond prostitution; and then it hit me: maybe the Lord looks upon us - His church, and feels the same emotion. He has provided unfailing love and the unending support of a Father, yet what do our dreams look like? Can we see beyond our circumstances - do we believe anything is possible with Christ, that He can really change a nation? The vision of OM Madagascar is to empower Malagasy Christians "to run faster and fly higher," because we serve a big God who is capable of all things. Let us pray for this nation, interceding on their behalf that God would do miraculous and marvelous things among them, not diminishing His might by asking only for small things.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Pictures + Akany Avoko

Here's some pictures from Manakara! 

The "road" we rode our bikes on...and this was a nice stretch

I got a little muddy, good thing I had my chacos!

Typical scene in Madagascar, lots and lots of kids, lots and lots of grass huts

Monster stickers on the back of my bus!

I've been enjoying some down time here in Tana lately. But also writing stories and updates, and some other miscellaneous communications work. On Thursday I went and visited a children's home called Akany Avoko, I was really excited to go visit because I followed their blog before I came to Madagascar. It's an amazing place! They house 120 children, mostly rescued from abusive families or extreme poverty. But Akany was originally started for girls who have been accused of petty crimes and are awaiting trial - the justice system here in Madagascar is very corrupt, and children are guilty until proven innocent, so they stay in prison awaiting trials that may never come. But Akany gives them a safe place to live. You can check out their blog here!

Well, just one month until I board a plane bound for TEXAS! (aka, greatest place on Earth!) Thanks for your prayers for me in this last month - please pray for creativity and inspiration as I try and tell the world about what God is doing here in Madagascar -- it's hard to narrow it down!

Monday, September 26, 2011

10 Adventures

It's the home stretch. I've officially been outside of good ol' America for 2 months now! 5 weeks left to go! I recently returned from an outreach to the city of Manakara, and I can say I experienced some of the craziest events of my life!

10 things that have happened since the last time I wrote:
1. I have ridden in a roach infested bus - woke up to a roach crawling on me!
2. Showered in a roach infested shower - practically put my clothes on soaking wet...
3. Eaten rice and fish for breakfast
4. Preached 3 times
5. Shared the gospel on countless grass hut floors
6. Rode a super old bike through the sand and mud in the pouring down rain, in the JUNGLE for 10+ km to get to an unreached village
7. Fell off said bike and injured myself
8. Passed out clothes and preached the gospel in the unreached village
9. Had my bike cursed by a witch...she was too late, I was already injured ;)
10. Avoided a bandit attack in the middle of the night in Who-Knows-Where, Madagascar

Needless to say I'm learning a lot! Especially about giving your all for the cause of Christ...and increasing the size of my comfort zone. Praise Jesus that He is always with me :] Thank you for your prayers, know that God is doing incredible things in this nation.

I'll try and post some more pictures soon!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Manakara or Bust

Today is the day - outreach numero dos! Manakara here we come!

Well this week has been good here in Tana, restful and productive. This week I: made s'mores over candlelight, washed my clothes in the bathtub, started reading the book of Daniel, finished reading Redeeming Love for the 4th time (SO GOOD), finished the FIRST OM Madagascar newsletter (yaaa!), made a short video presentation about Sainte Marie, showed the presentation on Tuesday when I went and spoke to a group of Christian university students and mobilized them for missions. I also spent a lot of time wishing the internet connection was faster so I could call home to my parents! Love you mom and dad :] I spent two hours looking at my sisters wedding pictures (remember, slow internet) - she was SUCH a beautiful bride.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Back from Sainte Marie!

Wow, so it's been a long time since I last posted! Sorry for the inconsistency, but I've been really busy! On August 31 I left for an island called Sainte Marie off the east coast of Madagascar along with about 30 other people, 9 internationals and the rest nationals from here in Madagascar. We took a 24 hour bus drive and a 2 hour boat drive...yes, very long. But when I first saw the island it looked like something out of King Kong, or like I'd just landed on the island from LOST. (4 8 15 16 23 42) It was SO beautiful! We had an amazing time on the island, and the Holy Spirit was definitely with us, transforming lives. We knew before we arrived that witchcraft is practiced very strongly in that place, so we were very diligent in prayer. Waking up at 5 everyday to pray together...not sure how effective MY prayers were that early ;) just kidding. I didn't keep a count, but I'm guessing around 100 people accepted Christ as their savior while we were there, praise Jesus! I felt really privileged to be a part of such an incredible ministry. I talked to one woman in a small village; while we were sitting in her tiny hut and she was gutting the fish she had just caught, she heard the name of Jesus for the first time ever. Ten minutes later she said she believed and wanted to live for Him, it was unreal! And this was a common story among our team members. The harvest was truly ripe.

So now back in Tana, I have lots to do! Lots of stories to write and newsletters. And tomorrow I'm going to speak to a group of Christian university students and mobilize them for missions! Please be praying that God would give me the right words to speak. I know His words will never return void. Then this coming Friday I'm going on another outreach to a city in the east called Manakara. I'm still recovering from the last outreach...traveling in Madagascar is definitely not easy. So that should be interesting. But if it's anything like the last outreach, no amount of discomfort could be too much to save some souls for the Kingdom. Of course, that's easy to say but I'm still not looking forward to the journey ;)

Anyway here's some pictures from the last outreach!

my mission trip pose, standing in the Indian Ocean, perfect!

the whole team on our last day!

perfect beaches and palm trees

the first morning I woke up and saw this from my porch, God's promises remain!

sharing the gospel in a small rural village

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

3rd entry for OM

Me Giggin' em in Tana!
Here is my 3rd post for the OM news website, where I'm writing a series of posts. Life is crazy here in Madagascar! One of our outreach teams returned yesterday from a city in the south called Bekily where they did a short outreach. The Lord really moved in that place and they have some great stories, hopefully I'll be able to write a few. Just one interesting tidbit on life here in Madagascar...if you think the bus is full, they'll probably cram 50 more people in there, and not only tie their luggage to the top of the bus, but also their goats and sheep :] not something you see everyday in the U.S....
My fearless tour guides/new friends
that's one way to transport a bathtub...

I've also been listening to this song every single day.

Thanks for all your prayers, I really feel God giving me peace and strength because of them. Much love, Caitlin


When I was a little girl, I learned a song - in fact it's the first song I remember learning. Most likely, you've also sung it, it's called "Jesus Loves Me". The words go like this: Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so, little ones to Him belong, they are weak but He is strong...followed by a plethora of "Yes Jesus loves me!"s. Now as many times as I've heard this simple song, I've never realized the profundity of the phrase "they are weak but He is strong". There's nothing like experiencing a new culture to make you realize how weak humankind is. We're all vulnerable, broken and completely dependent on the grace of God. Some countries in our world are more developed; they're cleaner, maybe even safer - yet the people in our world are all the same - weak. This probably sounds like a very negative and pessimistic thing for a missionary to say. I should maybe be saying "all God's children are special!" or "there's only one you, so be the best YOU, you can be!". But the reality is this - none of us have anything valuable to offer this broken world apart from the strength of Jesus. His strength is what runs in our veins, fills our lungs, and gives us the ability to live and love effectively. 
I have been in Antananarivo (Madagascar) for only one week, and several times already I've been approached by fellow believers telling me that my presence here has encouraged them. Encouragement is a word often thrown around in Christian circles, but sometimes I find that the true depth of the word has been lost. One dictionary defines "encourage" as: to give active help or to raise confidence to the point where one dares to do what is difficult. One new friend here in Madagascar told me, "Just your being here gives me strength to carry on in ministry, because I know that someone across the world cares." I'm humbled that in the same way Jesus encouraged me to come to Madagascar and "do what is difficult", my presence here has also encouraged some to do what is difficult - carry the name of Jesus to the unreached. 
All this to say, I am no one extraordinary. I don't have superior intellect, an uncanny sense of humor or even a vast amount of wealth. I don't have it "all together", I'm sure I'm not as compassionate or gentle as some, and I'm as selfish as the next person.   I am weak. But He is strong. We often pray for God to rise up workers to go into the mission field; I would urge you today, be willing to be the answer to that prayer. God is ready to use weak vessels, with lots of cracks and holes, so that His strength will shine through to the nations.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

You prayed me here!

Well, you prayed me here -- all the way to Madagascar! And here I am, alive and well. I prayed that I would have internet access (yes...that might be very materialistic of me...) and (despite my materialistic American mindset) the Lord provided it (most of the time)! Miracle #1. 

Today is a good day! Woke up, had some time in the Word, then had breakfast with Yant and her niece, whose name I cannot remember/pronounce properly. We talked all about Madagascar and it's different regions. She told me that in the south it's a big cattle economy, but they don't drink milk -- it's a source of shame to drink milk. Yet they're starving and experiencing a famine, and they have all this milk that they don't drink. But the pastor there is trying to teach people how to make cheese from the milk so that they can use it in some respect, very creative. Makes me think about my own life, what are things that the Lord has provided that I refuse to acknowledge, that I think are beneath me? Also, she said the hierarchy is: men, cows, women. They even have a market for women, where they're just sold like any other item. Men can come and barter over women, and when they're done with them just sell them back. Also it's a polygamous society. They need Jesus so desperately. Please be in prayer for this area of the world, especially for the women to find freedom from their oppression. 

Also, next door to the house where I'm staying, there is a church/center where they meet 3 times a day to cast out demons. It's unbelievably loud. The people are so involved in witchcraft and ancestor worship, I don't doubt that they have lots of demons to cast out. Also Yant said sometimes they're demon possessed because of unforgiveness they have in their families. When a family came and they all forgave each other the demon left. So there's definitely a lot of spiritual darkness here, but Jesus is also present. I hear them all yelling and screaming and casting out demons right now, it's probably one of the strangest experiences I've had. Just two minutes ago they were all singing in worship, what a contrast to the yelling and shouting I hear now. Meanwhile the song "God of this City" is playing on my itunes. You're the God of this city, You're the King of these people, You're the Lord of this nation - has a whole new meaning to me. 

One lessons I've been learning lately is about trust. So easy to talk about and SO difficult to practice in my life. I've been thinking about when Peter stepped out of the boat and started to walk on the water, the moment he looked down he started to drown. In my life it's no different, when I trust in the Lord, it's like I'm walking on the water - but the moment I start thinking about the future, and all the days to come I start to drown. All the doubts seep in and I wonder "What if there's no water for me to drink? What if I'm unbearably lonely? What if I get really sick?" But Jesus is saying to me "don't look down at the water" or "don't look to the future and worry about tomorrow. I'm here now, I'm carrying you right now." 

Love from Madagascar, Caitlin

Monday, August 15, 2011

Mambo Sawa Sawa!

Hello y'all :] (I need to say y'all somewhere...)

This is my second writing for the OM news website. You can find the first one posted here if you're interested!

Pray for me tomorrow as I travel to Madagascar, I know the Lord is doing mighty things in my life through your prayers. Thanks so much, I love you!


You might be wondering, what exactly does an OM intern do during orientation? For me, it has involved some traveling, some eating, and lots and lots of learning. I'm so grateful that I was given the opportunity to travel to Kabwe, Zambia for the annual "Love Africa" conference hosted by OM; missionaries from all over Africa and all over the world meet in Zambia once a year to recount the incredible ways God is moving on this continent. However, when 4 a.m. rolled around and it was time to head to the airport - I was less than enthusiastic. Despite the early departure, the conference was an amazing experience and I felt privileged to glean some knowledge from these men and women who are following Jesus. The main hall at the conference center was practically shaking with the voices lifted in worship singing, "Mambo sawa sawa! Mambo sawa sawa! Yesu akiwa enzini, Mambo sawa sawa!" (Translation: Things are getting better! Things are getting better! When the Lord is on the throne, things are getting better!). 

Another learning opportunity presented itself after the conference. I arrived back in South Africa, and the very next day began learning important communications skills at a communications seminar led by OMer Greg Kernaghan. Lessons like "less is more" and "remember your audience" were drilled into me and the other members of the OM communications team. I gained a new perspective on effective communication and a new desire to utilize these skills in Madagascar! 

So here I am, on my last day at the OM Africa office in Pretoria, where the rain is steadily falling and the temperature steadily dropping. I'm staring out the window thinking about what adventures tomorrow will hold for me. "Will my luggage arrive? Will I forget all the French I used to be able to speak? What if I catch some tropical disease?" The questions keep flowing. Nevertheless, after months of preparation and praying, tomorrow is the day I will finally set foot in Antananarivo, Madagascar. One question I need not ask is "Will my God be with me?" - He is always there. Whatever tomorrow brings, He is faithful and will never leave me. 

Saturday, August 13, 2011

My Kingdom go...

Well it's about time for an update, now that I finally have a little while to write one! I spent 5 days last week in Zambia at the Love Africa conference, and this past week I've been attending the Communications Training seminar hosted by OMer Greg Kernaghan. There were 650 people in attendance at the Love Africa conference and it was amazing! The schedule went something like this: 6 am - wake up, music, sermon, music, sermon, tea, music, sermon, lunch, workshop, workshop, music, sermon, music, sermon, music, case you didn't catch my drift, it was a VERY full conference. But it was really inspiring to hear all the stories about how God is moving in Africa, about all the lives being turned to Christ and the miracles He's doing!  There were missionaries from all over Africa and all over the world. Two men, one from South Africa and one from Zimbabwe, started walking from Zimbabwe on June 13 to make it to the conference in Zambia - and they were stopping in villages and cities along the way to share the Gospel. They said they plan to keep walking until the end of the year, and then walk the whole year next year. Talk about dedication to spreading the Gospel. The communications conference was also a great experience for me. It was really in-depth about how to be the most effective communicator for a missions organization, I learned SO much and I'm getting excited to see how I can put these skills to use in Madagascar. Speaking of Madagascar, I'm leaving for Tana in 3 days! Ahhh. 

I went this morning with a couple of friends to work at Mamelodi AIDS Hope center. Some OM missionaries run the center, and kids come from all over Mamelodi (a township outside of Pretoria) come for the after school program or on Saturdays for the Kids Club. It's mostly kids who have been either infected or affected by AIDS. They were adorable and had a great time playing soccer, on the playground, or coloring. I asked one girl what her favorite thing to do is, and she responded "play princess" and her friend said "play house" -- I guess kids are really the same no matter where you go!

To sum things up I think I'll go ahead and write 5 lessons I've learned since I've been in Africa:
1. You'll feel much better if you learn to laugh at the small things and especially at your own mistakes.
2. Learning to use the metric system and celsius temperature scale would've been extremely helpful. C'mon America, fahrenheit really?
3. I sleep better with ear plugs in no matter how quiet it is.
4. Carry toilet paper with you wherever you go.
5. Before I can pray "Thy Kingdom come", I must pray "My Kingdom go..."

Here's a couple pictures from the Love Africa conference:

                                             Dinner time!

                                                     a cute little girl

Thanks for all your prayers! I love you all.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

First Writing for OM

Here is my first post to appear on the OM website! The first part I had to write in 3rd person which is a little strange :] but enjoy! Also, tomorrow I leave for Zambia, so please be praying for that.

Caitlin is a university student from Texas who is currently spending a semester interning with OM in Madagascar. From August 1 - November 1 Caitlin will be learning how to do communications with OM. During this time, she is an assistant communications facilitator for the OM Madagascar team, helping to write stories and gather photos. The following post is written by Caitlin; her thoughts and insights into what it is like for a young woman from the USA to be on the mission field in Madagascar. 

It feels like just yesterday that I heard direction from the Lord telling me to pursue a position with OM in Madagascar! I had never heard of Antananarivo (the capital of Madagascar), and now I will be living there in just a few short days. Preparing for this trip was exciting and nerve-racking all at once; exciting because I was preparing to go to a new land and nerve-racking because for three months I will be apart from everything and everyone with whom I am comfortable. However, the Lord made it clear to me that this was His plan. I obtained my new passport, visa to Madagascar, and all my vaccinations with no problems. Yet, as I said goodbye to my family in Texas and boarded my plane, I wondered if I was making a huge mistake or embarking on one of my life's greatest adventures. 

It was certainly a long flight to South Africa, but when I landed there I had a great sense of peace and realized that when following the Lord's direction there is never any reason to fear. Everything I am experiencing here in South Africa is new and unfamiliar and, while struggling with jetlag, it is easy to feel slightly overwhelmed; but I can feel the Lord reassuring me everyday that He is in control. He will complete in me the good work which He began - part of that completion might be bringing me here, to Africa. Before I left the USA, my mother encouraged me with these words from 1 Chronicles 28:20, "...Be strong and courageous and do it. Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed, for the LORD God, even my God, is with you. He will not leave you or forsake you, until all the work for the service of the house of the LORD is finished." 

Some people have asked me if I feel as though I'm wasting a semester of college, while others have told me how great I am for sacrificing my time in college to go to Africa. In those times, I'm reminded of a quote by the missionary David Livingstone, "If a commission by an earthly king is considered a honor, how can a commission by a Heavenly King be considered a sacrifice?" I feel so honored and blessed beyond words to be chosen by God for this task. I'm looking forward to arriving in Madagascar!

To God Be the Glory,

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Here I Am!

Well, it's my first day in Africa! It is definitely winter here. I'm glad I brought winter clothes because there's no indoor heating, but it's only morning so hopefully the day will warm up. There was a box of "Jungle Crunch" waiting for me on the counter for breakfast this morning. Yep...I'm definitely in Africa :]

Today Thelma is showing me how to communicate from Madagascar. She's asked me to keep a blog also that they will be sharing on the OM website, and also I'll be writing stories about Madagascar for their OM News website. I'll be reporting on the 3 week outreach we'll be doing, and also sharing stories about how people's lives have been impacted. I'm really excited, feels like something I can definitely do! 

 My flights were all pretty uneventful, except for the fact that I didn't realize we had a layover in Dakar, Senegal until the plane stopped there. But it was fine, I never even got off the plane. We just refueled and picked up a few passengers. I can already tell that God is going to stretch me on this trip. I'm feeling sort of lonely and homesick already, but I know the Lord is going to give me strength for each day. I'm reminded of Psalm 139:7-10 

"Where can I go from your Spirit? 
   Where can I flee from your presence? 
If I go up to the heavens, you are there; 
   if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. 
If I rise on the wings of the dawn, 
   if I settle on the far side of the sea, 
even there your hand will guide me, 

   your right hand will hold me fast." 

So even though I'm thousands of miles away the Lord is still right by my side. I love you all, thanks for checking in!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Countdown to departure: 7 days, 12 hours

One week until I go leavin' on a jet plane for the continent of Africa, where I will be for 3 months! I really can't believe how the time has flown, it feels like just yesterday I heard direction from the Lord telling me to "go for it", take the internship in Antananarivo, Madagascar (a place, I'll admit, I'd never heard of before)! 

I'll be departing DFW airport bright and early, final destination Pretoria, South Africa! I also have been given the incredible opportunity to attend a missions conference called Love Africa (hosted by Operation Mobilization) in Kabwe, Zambia. 

I will be a Communications Intern with Operation Mobilization this coming semester in Antananarivo (Tana) and could not feel more blessed and excited. God has provided for me every single step of the way in preparing for my journey, and I trust Him completely to provide for me every single day while I am gone. I have doubted myself and my capabilities, and every time He has reassured me that He is God, He is sovereign, He is trustworthy, and He has equipped me -- not to mention He loves to use weak vessels, like myself, to show His glory! I pray that is exactly what happens, that Jesus is glorified in my every conversation in Africa. 

Well, I'm definitely not a seasoned blogger, considering this is my first ever attempt -- so forgive me if I ramble :] For those of you who would like to keep up with me while I'm overseas I will try and post with some regularity, hopefully my internet access will allow that. Please be in prayer for me this week before my trip and especially while I'm traveling. Thanks for checking out my blog! I'll leave you with a passage that's been on my heart recently, Isaiah 60:1-3 :: 

1Arise, shine, for your light has come,
   and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you.
2For behold, darkness shall cover the earth,
   and thick darkness the peoples;
but the LORD will arise upon you,
   and his glory will be seen upon you.
3And nations shall come to your light,
   and kings to the brightness of your rising