Midweek Lenten Series
Wednes­days, March 8 – April 5, 11:00 AM/6:30 PM
Sunday Worship Service
Sin­gle ser­vice at 9:00 AM
Sunday Worship Service
Sin­gle ser­vice at 9:00 AM
Good Friday
Fri­day, April 14, 7:00 PM
Easter Day
Sun­day, April 16, 6:30 AM & 9:00 AM
Palm Sunday
Sun­day, April 9, 9:00 AM
Holy (Maundy) Thursday
Thurs­day, April 13, 11:00 AM & 6:30 PM
Mid­week Lenten Series
Sun­day Wor­ship Service
Sun­day Wor­ship Service
Good Fri­day
Easter Day
Palm Sun­day
Holy (Maundy) Thursday
Open Arms Chris­t­ian Preschool
New Life Festival
Sat­ur­day, April 15, 10:00 AM
The Eagle
Read this month’s newsletter.
Easter Breakfast
Sun­day, April 16, 7:30 AM
First Sunday Eat and Greet
Sun­day, April 2nd, 11:30AM
The Eagle
Read this month’s newsletter.
Spring Congregation Meeting
Sun­day, April 30, 10:30 AM
New Life Festival
The Eagle
Easter Break­fast
First Sun­day Eat and Greet
The Eagle
Spring Con­gre­ga­tion Meeting

Sum­mer Ser­vant Event at Camp Restore: Detroit

The Heseders are plan­ning a trip this sum­mer to Detroit! We would love for you to join us for a week of serv­ing at LCMS’s newest Camp Restore base. Watch the bul­letin, as we will be adver­tis­ing the dates soon. This let­ter from the camp direc­tor out­lines some projects we will be doing while there:

The work assigned to your group will depend on the status/​needs of projects in progress at the time of your arrival, and, to some extent, on the gifts of your par­tic­u­lar group (licensed con­struc­tion work­ers and those with other spe­cial­ized train­ing could obvi­ously serve in ways oth­ers could not). How­ever, I can share with you some of the possibilities!

Mary leads a com­mu­nity ser­vice non­profit with projects assist­ing home­own­ers in Detroit. She began her min­istry with flood assis­tance and soon dis­cov­ered that follow-​up assis­tance was needed for small repair projects. Most of the cost of mate­ri­als is pro­vided by home­own­ers, but if your group is able to raise addi­tional resources, there are those who do not have the sup­plies or the skills to make repairs.

Offi­cer Blue of Detroit’s Ninth Precinct has offered to con­nect us with home­own­ers near Mount Cal­vary who may need small repairs, espe­cially senior cit­i­zens and special-​needs individuals.

Lisa oper­ates a non­profit to develop green spaces in Detroit’s south­west side. She could use assis­tance clear­ing lots, plant­ing and main­tain­ing gar­dens already devel­oped. Mount Cal­vary Lutheran has a playground/​park area and planned gar­den space of its own to develop as well.

Michelle recently con­tacted us with a request for main­te­nance in a church hous­ing a non­profit preschool with which her non­profit orga­ni­za­tion works.

Mount Cal­vary and the Gifts for All God’s Chil­dren non­profit are among those with whom you may work to plan and lead a sum­mer camp pro­gram for com­mu­nity children.

There are just a few of the pos­si­bil­i­ties devel­op­ing in Detroit. I hope they catch your heart as you look for a way to express the love of Jesus in tan­gi­ble ways to a com­mu­nity in need of “a hand up” in rebuild­ing.Rev. John S. Carrier

Won­der­ing why the LCMS chose Detroit? There are at least eigh­teen rea­sons why Detroit needs mercy and help:

  • In 2011, PBS reported 1 , based on recently-​released cen­sus data, that:
    • In the 1950s, Detroit sup­ported about 200,000 man­u­fac­tur­ing jobs. By 2011, that had fallen to 20,000.
    • The state of Michi­gan lost 48% of its man­u­fac­tur­ing jobs between Decem­ber 2000 and Decem­ber 2010.
  • A 2012 study by the Detroit Regional Work­force Fund showed that 47% of adults in Detroit were func­tion­ally illiterate.
  • The Tele­graph reported in 2013 2 that:
    • The pop­u­la­tion of Detroit fell dras­ti­cally from the 1950s (1.8 mil­lion) to 2013 (700,000).
    • The city of Detroit filed bank­ruptcy owing 100,000 cred­i­tors $18.5 billion.
    • Only about a third of Detroit’s ambu­lances were run­ning and 40% of Detroit’s street lights were not working.
  • CNN Money exam­ined the city’s bank­ruptcy fil­ing 3 in 2013 and found that the city claimed:
    • There were sev­enty “Super­fund” haz­ardous waste sites in Detroit.
    • Two-​thirds of the parks in the city of Detroit had been per­ma­nently closed down since 2008.
    • The city’s vio­lent crime rate was five times the national aver­age and the high­est of any city with a pop­u­la­tion exceed­ing 200,000.
  • A 2015 report in The Detroit News4 described the city’s hous­ing decline:
    • Since 2005, over a third of Detroit prop­er­ties had been fore­closed on.
    • 84,000 prop­er­ties were listed on the city’s blight list; 76% of those were homes that had been fore­closed on.
    • Many homes in Detroit were being sold at a frac­tion of their pur­chase cost, many for $500 or even less.
  • The Michi­gan League for Pub­lic Pol­icy pub­lished a study show­ing that 94,000 Detroit chil­dren up to age 17 live in poverty, 57% of the chil­dren in the city.

Please con­sider join­ing us this sum­mer to help some of the peo­ple of Detroit in our 2017 ser­vant event!

  1. Micki May­nard, “Detroit: A Boom Town Goes Bust” (PBS New­shour, March 23, 2011)
  2. Har­riet Alexan­der, “‘Motor City’ Detroit Files for Bank­ruptcy with 100,000 Cred­i­tors” (The Tele­graph, July 19, 2013)
  3. Aaron Smith, “Six­teen Things That Are Wrong in Detroit” (CNN Money, July 19, 2013)
  4. Joel Kurth and Chris­tine Mac­Don­ald, “Vol­ume of Aban­doned Homes ‘Absolutely Ter­ri­fy­ing’” (The Detroit News, May 14, 2015)

Hesed” is a Hebrew word that means “kind­ness,” “mercy,” “loy­alty,” “loving-​kindness” or “stead­fast­ness.” It’s the way God intends us to live together — a “love your neigh­bor as your­self,” active, self­less, sac­ri­fi­cial, caring-​for-​one-​another brand of liv­ing con­tra­dic­tory to our fallen natures. The “Heseders” are con­tin­u­ally look­ing to work together to share some small mea­sure of God’s extra­or­di­nary love. Won’t you join us?

Mada­gas­car Med­ical Mis­sion, Post-​Clinic Days

Sun­day morn­ing came bright and early, as church ser­vices begin very early in Mada­gas­car. The cul­ture here does mostly work off the day­light hours, so get­ting up ear­lier in the day is nor­mal as the sun rises before 6:00 AM. Believe it or not, the first church ser­vices at the Mala­gasy Lutheran churches begin at 6:00 AM, and these ser­vices are packed full. Our hosts, Domoina and Dr. Hari­son, typ­i­cally attend the Mala­gasy Lutheran Church in down­town Antsir­abe. How­ever, the 6:00 church ser­vice is the most pop­u­lar ser­vice here. The feel­ing would be that we would have to stand out­side and lis­ten to the ser­vice if we attended here. Typ­i­cal atten­dance on a Sun­day morn­ing at this down­town church is 4,000 total after all of their ser­vice times.

Our team attended a dif­fer­ent Mala­gasy Lutheran Church in Antsir­abe. Dr. Hari­son met with the pas­tor on Sat­ur­day and made reser­va­tions for us to attend at 6:00. The pas­tors reserved seats for us in the front rows. The entire church was full. The esti­mate is that there were 1,000 peo­ple in atten­dance for the ser­vice. There was another ser­vice fol­low­ing at 10:00 AM, and there are two pas­tors serv­ing this large con­gre­ga­tion. The ser­vice fol­lowed an order sim­i­lar to what you would expe­ri­ence in a LCMS church on a Sun­day morn­ing. The ser­mon was in the for­mat of teach­ing as the pas­tor had mem­bers use their Bibles and help to answer ques­tions dur­ing the ser­mon. The focus of the ser­mon was on the Power of the Word, an applic­a­ble mes­sage for us all. A large choir was in the front of the church with fifty to sixty mem­bers. The chil­dren of the choir mem­bers sat with them through­out the ser­vice and even stood with them to sing. It was neat to see church involve­ment of young mem­bers. The voices of the choir were amazing.

After the ser­mon was a long sec­tion of announce­ments. Dur­ing this time Pas­tor Matt intro­duced our MMT group and shared mean­ing­ful words with the con­gre­ga­tion. Offer­ing involved all of the church mem­bers walk­ing up to the front and plac­ing offer­ings in six dif­fer­ent bas­kets. Each bas­ket sup­ported a dif­fer­ent cause, such as church build­ing projects, salaries of the staff, gen­eral offer­ing, etc. By this time it was 7:45 AM. Our MMT group left right after offer­ing. Com­mu­nion was to occur next, which occurs in a pro­gres­sive style as well. The esti­mate is that church would have lasted another hour or so with com­mu­nion and the final por­tions of the church ser­vice. It is neat to see the size, faith and wor­ship of the Mala­gasy Lutheran Church. It is thriv­ing and growing.

Fol­low­ing church we took a Sun­day after­noon drive to Ambositre. This town is a two hour drive to the south and is famous for its arts and crafts. The drive took us through a canyon that pro­vided new views of the Mada­gas­car land­scape with large rocks and more agri­cul­tural ter­races. Ambositre is more of a touristy town. We ate lunch at a very nice hotel/​lodge. We were able to visit a shop where we saw a demon­stra­tion for how the carved wood items are crafted, and we shopped at sev­eral places.

Sun­day evening brought a spe­cial bar­be­cue for the Mala­gasy and Amer­i­can teams that worked together dur­ing the week. Domoina’s brother, our chef for the week, cooked a feast that included zebu kabobs, chicken, fried shrimp and sev­eral sal­ads. We ate out­side the guest­house under tents, vis­ited and sang together. The gen­eros­ity, faith and love of the Mala­gasy team really stands out. To con­clude the evening songs were sung among the group. The final song was “Thank You, Thank You, Jesus for Your Love.” This was sung in Mala­gasy, French and Eng­lish. The chil­dren in atten­dance really enjoyed this song. This cel­e­bra­tory evening is a spe­cial way to con­clude a week of ser­vice, new friend­ships and bonds of faith.

Mon­day morn­ing we packed up to leave Antsir­abe and begin a few days of sight­see­ing and dis­cov­er­ing other parts of Mada­gas­car. The drive from Antsir­abe to Anda­sibe took about seven hours of actual dri­ving time, but we also stopped to shop along the way at a road­side mar­ket for hand­crafted bas­kets and then in Tana at a shop­ping mall and at a mar­ket for hand­crafted goods. The after­noon drive took us through the moun­tains towards Anda­sibe. The effects of defor­esta­tion are very promi­nent in this area as res­i­dents con­tinue to burn the for­est to cre­ate char­coal for cook­ing. The drive was chal­leng­ing as there are many semi trucks on the road head­ing to the ports on the east coast of Mada­gas­car for exports and imports. The roads are full of pot holes, very hilly and not wide enough for two lane traf­fic. Our dri­ver, Pas­tor Tan­tely, did an amaz­ing job in chal­leng­ing cir­cum­stances to keep us safe in our travels.

Mon­day night we stayed at a resort in Anda­sibe, where the team stayed in bun­ga­lows that had four sin­gle beds upstairs, a dou­ble bed down­stairs and a great bal­cony over­look­ing the rain­for­est. It rained most of the night, which had us con­cerned about our abil­ity to visit the lemurs in the morn­ing. How­ever, the rains cleared in the morn­ing and the sun came out. Our group headed to Vakona For­est Lodge to see the lemurs. A canoe ride of about two pad­dles takes vis­i­tors across a stream to the island where the lemurs live. We brought bananas with us to share with the lemurs, and they jumped right onto our heads and shoul­ders to meet us and enjoy the treats. The ini­tial team pic­tures with our star­tled expres­sions really tell the story well. On this island we saw brown lemurs and then black and white lemurs.

We then divided up into dif­fer­ent canoes to pad­dle around and go far­ther into the rain­for­est to visit with the ring-​tailed lemurs. They jumped right on to our canoes to enjoy the banana treats. The canoe expe­ri­ence really brings the best story of the trip. Each canoe had a Mala­gasy guide from the pre­serve pad­dling while two or three oth­ers rode and enjoyed. How­ever, Pas­tor Matt served as the pad­dler for his canoe that con­tained two of our Mala­gasy team mem­bers. Each time Pas­tor Matt came to a bend, the cur­rent would take the canoe off course and into the river­bank. The two Mala­gasy in the canoe would shriek each time. With the lan­guage bar­rier Pas­tor Matt would unsuc­cess­fully pro­vide them with direc­tions to get them unstuck. One of the other canoes with a pre­serve guide did fol­low Pas­tor Matt’s canoe to assist if needed and pro­vide direc­tions. On the way back to the dock the canoe got caught in a cur­rent right near a water­fall that one could hear but not see. Pas­tor Matt pur­posely took the boat into the bank to pre­vent the group going over the water­fall. Lots of laugh­ter about these events filled the rest of the trip as the two Mala­gasy in the boat told their ver­sion and the Amer­i­cans relived their thoughts and actions. The def­i­n­i­tion of suc­cess that morn­ing was not going over the waterfall.

Through­out the rest of the day we made a cou­ple other stops to see other inhab­i­tants of the Mada­gas­car rain for­est. We were able to see Nile croc­o­diles, col­or­ful chameleons, geckos, snakes, spi­ders and more.

Today in the area around Anda­sibe is the first time we have seen dam­age from the recent cyclone that hit Mada­gas­car. The river and sur­round­ing banks showed flood dam­age. The after­noon drive took us back to the cap­i­tal city of Anta­narivo. In the evening we headed back to the head­quar­ters of the Mala­gasy Lutheran Church and met briefly with Pas­tor David, who is the new pres­i­dent of this thriv­ing church body. Our team then went to din­ner with him in down­town Tana to close out our time in Tana.

As our team waited in the Tana air­port for our 01:50 AM flight back to Europe (to begin the thirty-​plus hour jour­ney back to our homes in the United States), we began some reflec­tion on our time, expe­ri­ences and how we can fur­ther pro­vide impact with our ser­vice expe­ri­ences. Each indi­vid­ual has unique per­spec­tives and mean­ing­ful mem­o­ries they are tak­ing home. Our thoughts will con­tinue to pon­der how we can con­tinue to help our Mala­gasy col­leagues and con­tinue to bring health and faith to the peo­ple there. And back home we face chal­lenges for how to grow from our expe­ri­ences and use them to influ­ence oth­ers and to per­haps work to grow the Lutheran church in America.

It has been a great time for growth, reflec­tion, ser­vice and friend­ship. Thank you to all who par­tic­i­pated, sup­ported, and encour­aged our Mercy Med­ical Team suc­cess in Madagascar.

Hesed” is a Hebrew word that means “kind­ness,” “mercy,” “loy­alty,” “loving-​kindness” or “stead­fast­ness.” It’s the way God intends us to live together — a “love your neigh­bor as your­self,” active, self­less, sac­ri­fi­cial, caring-​for-​one-​another brand of liv­ing con­tra­dic­tory to our fallen natures. The “Heseders” are con­tin­u­ally look­ing to work together to share some small mea­sure of God’s extra­or­di­nary love. Won’t you join us?

Mada­gas­car Med­ical Mis­sion, Day Six: Clinic in Ilem­pona

Our day began later today and yet we were all still up early with the wildlife out­side and the early sun­rise. Today was cloudy, colder and driz­zly. It was actu­ally long-​sleeve weather. Domoina’s brother, our chef and the other assis­tants had our morn­ing ready with French pas­tries and eggs. We com­pleted our morn­ing devo­tions and then headed north for about an hour drive toward Tana. We arrived at a large Mala­gasy Lutheran Church in the town of Ilempona.

The drive today offered majes­tic views again of the rice fields and agri­cul­tural land. The fields were full of work­ers today har­vest­ing crops, till­ing by hand and car­ing for their land. We drove through the area today where all of the apples are har­vested, and the peo­ple were walk­ing out onto the main road with full bas­kets of apples on their heads.

This par­tic­u­lar church is large with beau­ti­ful stained glass win­dows, a tiled aisle and dec­o­ra­tive altar with wood carv­ings on each side. The pul­pit was in the shape of a chal­ice and was high up in the air, about fif­teen stairs up, so that the pas­tor can reach the large con­gre­ga­tion. Upon our arrival, the pas­tor began a brief church ser­vice of hymns and pro­vided a brief homily to those wait­ing in the pews. He pro­vided an anal­ogy that us as for­eign­ers are fat­ter and the Mala­gasy are skin­nier because they have worms but that God will pro­vide care. The pas­tor had a sec­ond anal­ogy that some are phys­i­cally sick but we are all sick with sin and have Jesus as our healer. One obser­va­tion our team made this week is that faith is abun­dant here. We noticed peo­ple walk­ing into the church and pray­ing before receiv­ing care.

Today we were able to pro­vide care for 436 patients. We had a smooth, steady day. The team main­tained the same roles so we could keep our rhythm. Com­mon diag­noses were high blood pres­sure, seizures, fun­gal infec­tions and lots of den­tal cav­i­ties. Sev­eral more patients were referred for sur­gi­cal pro­ce­dures includ­ing patients with a goi­ter, her­nia and enlarged spleen. At the end of the day we were able to hand out extra children’s vit­a­mins and tooth­brushes to the chil­dren. There was one lit­tle girl who was very chatty and kept com­ing back to Lisa to see what else she could get from her. She even offered a small amount of Ari­ary (the Mala­gasy cur­rency) to exchange her old tooth­brush for a new tooth­brush. Then she came through the line a sec­ond time after she had washed the mark of her hand to get another tooth­brush. Most of the chil­dren are quiet around us, so this lit­tle girl was quite the sur­prise. Today Lor­rie was able to assist many patients with read­ing glasses. It seemed toward the end of the day that word spread in the vil­lage that read­ing glasses were avail­able, so it seems we were able to help many read their Bibles and sew with more atten­tion to detail.

Over­all this week we were able to pro­vide care to 2126 patients.

Smil­ing children.
Lor­rie fit­ting read­ing glasses.
Bright eyes of the children.
Key women in the pharmacy.
Beau­ti­ful Mala­gasy children.

Health­care here in Mada­gas­car is actu­ally quite expen­sive based on the monthly wage that most Mala­gasy make. The min­i­mum wage in Mada­gas­car is $30 per month. This does not mean that all peo­ple make this much money, though. The aver­age wage for a nurse is $40 per month. To be hos­pi­tal­ized in a semi­pri­vate room at the Lutheran hos­pi­tal here on the prop­erty is $2.50 per day. The cost to stay in a pri­vate room is $5 – $10 per day. There is addi­tional cost for surgery, med­ica­tion and other parts of the stay. The fam­ily pro­vides care, foo and laun­dry for the patients. This means that hos­pi­tal­iza­tion for a per­son would cost more than they make each month, and sav­ing money or using the bank sys­tem is not part of daily life.

This evening we had some down time and were able to unpack all of the remain­ing sup­plies that will be left here in Mada­gas­car and used at the hos­pi­tal to care for the “poor” peo­ple who can­not afford care or med­ica­tions. Pas­tor Jeff and Pas­tor Matt put together a divine ser­vice for our team tonight to end the week of clin­ics and ser­vice. Tomor­row we will expe­ri­ence the Mala­gasy Lutheran Church ser­vice, and we look for­ward to wor­ship­ing with our broth­ers and sis­ters in Christ.

Hesed” is a Hebrew word that means “kind­ness,” “mercy,” “loy­alty,” “loving-​kindness” or “stead­fast­ness.” It’s the way God intends us to live together — a “love your neigh­bor as your­self,” active, self­less, sac­ri­fi­cial, caring-​for-​one-​another brand of liv­ing con­tra­dic­tory to our fallen natures. The “Heseders” are con­tin­u­ally look­ing to work together to share some small mea­sure of God’s extra­or­di­nary love. Won’t you join us?

Mada­gas­car Med­ical Mis­sion, Day Five: Clinic in Ankazo

The morn­ing rou­tine here in Mada­gas­car starts the day off quite well. Today fol­low­ing break­fast and devo­tions we departed ear­lier as we trav­eled an hour and a half west to the town of Ankazo. The drive again pro­vided mag­nif­i­cent views of the Mada­gas­car land­scape. As we left Antsir­abe we drove into agri­cul­tural land where it seems the Mala­gasy farm every avail­able piece of land, includ­ing the very tops of the hill­sides. The farm­ing is done by hand or with zebu and plow for the most part. As we ven­tured far­ther west we began to notice a drier cli­mate, and the tem­per­a­ture quickly warmed up. We left rain clouds and cooler tem­per­a­tures for blue skies and bright sun.

Upon our arrival we greeted the pas­tors and mem­bers of the con­gre­ga­tion, and shared songs, gospel read­ing, the Apostle’s Creed and the Lord’s Prayer with the peo­ple wait­ing before we began. It was really neat to see the peo­ple pull out their Bibles and fol­low along with the gospel read­ing. There was a loud speaker sys­tem set up out­side today where the church played Chris­t­ian music all day. This pro­vided some enter­tain­ment for our team, but it was also neat to watch the Mala­gasy sing and dance along. The immense faith of these peo­ple shows true passion.

Our clinic today was set up in the Lutheran school on the same cam­pus as the church. Three rooms were uti­lized for reg­is­tra­tion and intake (vital signs), nurse triage and doc­tor assess­ment, and the phar­macy. As we began we quickly were reminded that orga­nized lines are chal­leng­ing at times here in Africa. After many room lay­out rearrange­ments and expla­na­tions to the Mala­gasy church mem­bers assist­ing, we even­tu­ally came up with a func­tion­ing flow of peo­ple in the room with the nurses and doc­tors. And through all of the trial and error, the Mala­gasy were patient, kind and understanding.

For the day we were able to see 423 patients and help pro­vide them with needed care. Com­mon diag­noses today included high blood pres­sure, seizures and body wounds. A cou­ple inter­est­ing cases included surgery refer­rals for a rup­tured Achilles’ ten­don and a goi­ter. Our team con­firmed a cou­ple preg­nan­cies for two women who were hop­ing for dif­fer­ent results. Coun­sel­ing and prayer was offered to them as well. The phar­macy has come up with a new flow sys­tem that has increased effi­ciency immensely. Lisa was able to com­plete her health edu­ca­tion again with the chil­dren and pro­vided valu­able infor­ma­tion on hand wash­ing and teeth brush­ing. Pas­tor Matt was able to spend some time with the chil­dren play­ing foot­ball and bas­ket­ball. Addi­tion­ally he enjoyed time with the chil­dren in an empty class­room where they worked on learn­ing num­bers, the alpha­bet and John 3:16.

Nurse triage and doc­tor assess­ment room
Doc­tor hard at work.
Phar­macy crew.

Our team is tired tonight, so we are headed to bed. We antic­i­pate serv­ing a new town and church with our final Mercy Med­ical Team clinic of the week tomorrow.

Amdria­mamo­voka Falls.

Hesed” is a Hebrew word that means “kind­ness,” “mercy,” “loy­alty,” “loving-​kindness” or “stead­fast­ness.” It’s the way God intends us to live together — a “love your neigh­bor as your­self,” active, self­less, sac­ri­fi­cial, caring-​for-​one-​another brand of liv­ing con­tra­dic­tory to our fallen natures. The “Heseders” are con­tin­u­ally look­ing to work together to share some small mea­sure of God’s extra­or­di­nary love. Won’t you join us?

Mada­gas­car Med­ical Mis­sion, Day Four: Clinic in Ambo­hipo­nana

The rains of last night resulted in a beau­ti­ful sun­rise. Our morn­ing began per usual with French pas­tries, eggs and devo­tions. A won­der­ful way to begin! We left a bit ear­lier today as we trav­eled about an hour to the south­ern part of Mada­gas­car to the town of Ambo­hipo­nana. The drive brought amaz­ing views as we headed into a more rural area. We drove through some flat plains and then into hilly, moun­tain­ous coun­try. There were many corn fields and rice pad­dies in var­i­ous stages of growth. Our route took a main road until near to the town when we turned off onto a coun­try road. The Mala­gasy Lutheran Church, our des­ti­na­tion, could be seen up on the hill­side. The dirt road pro­vided a bit of a chal­lenge for Pas­tor Tan­tely, our dri­ver. At one point we all piled out as he nav­i­gated a muddy bridge. The last part of the trek involved us walk­ing up the hill with the clinic sup­plies. We were four wheel­ing our suit­cases up the incline and sev­eral Mala­gasy men from the church came to assist. They slung the bags on their backs and sprinted up the hill. I feel like lug­gage might need a dif­fer­ent design for the Malagasy.

Our clinic day began once again with singing and prayer with the church work­ers and patients wait­ing. The peo­ple sang a Lutheran hymn from mem­ory, which just has me in awe. All of the team mem­bers resumed sim­i­lar roles today in the clinic as we do not want to dis­rupt our rhythm and flow. Lisa began the clinic with her daily health edu­ca­tion top­ics with the chil­dren, and patients began to work through the var­i­ous sta­tions of the clinic.

Over­all, today we were able to treat 455 patients in both body and spirit. This region of the coun­try brought many patients with goi­ters, which develop from a lack of iodine in the diet. This area must have an iodine defi­ciency. We saw many patients with early stage goi­ters that can be treated with med­ica­tion that pro­vides iodine. The larger and more devel­oped goi­ters require sur­gi­cal removal. One woman shared that she has had her goi­ter for twenty years. At this point there are com­pli­ca­tions from the goi­ter not being removed that include a poten­tial tumor growth in the goi­ter and heart com­pli­ca­tions related to her body work­ing harder. Many chil­dren were seen with her­nias, and sev­eral were referred to the hos­pi­tal for surgery. High blood pres­sure was another com­mon diag­no­sis today. We are also see­ing infec­tions that develop when worms enter the person’s skin while they are in water. With rice farm­ing being so pop­u­lar, this worm infec­tion seems to be quite com­mon. Fun­gal infec­tions and skin rashes are also prevalent.

LaDonna and Mialy.
Dr. Hari­son treat­ing a patient.
Kim­berly and Eleanor in triage.
The phar­macy crew.

One obser­va­tion from today is the joy the Mala­gasy peo­ple have in their eyes. Despite the hard work and chal­leng­ing lifestyles they are faced with daily, they remain happy and con­tent. I met an elderly cou­ple in their eight­ies who have been mar­ried for about sixty years (they were not cer­tain how many years!). They have four­teen chil­dren together and still farm the land to make their liv­ing. The smiles on their faces and the joy in their eyes is mag­nif­i­cent. Just pic­ture the sound of their laughs.

Through­out the day we all took breaks to go out­side and enjoy the spec­tac­u­lar views from the hill­side. The vibrant col­ors and expan­sive hori­zon were mag­nif­i­cent. The rains moved in this after­noon and caused a down­pour for almost an hour. The peo­ple all piled into the church and waited it out. This cre­ated new mud for us to tra­verse on the way back down the hill­side at the end of the day. I can only imag­ine how the locals safely com­plete that trek on a daily basis in the rainy sea­son. It could be like a slide of mud at times.

This evening we were able to expe­ri­ence a bit of the Mala­gasy cul­ture. One of the nurses who works at the Lutheran Hos­pi­tal and who served with us early in the week had his mother pass away this morn­ing. Tonight was the wake, and we joined many of the hos­pi­tal staff to go pro­vide our con­do­lences to the nurse and his fam­ily. We walked in the mud to visit the fam­ily at their home, which is a very small two-​bedroom house where at least six fam­ily mem­bers live. All of the fur­ni­ture is moved out of the home. The body of the deceased is pre­pared by the fam­ily and placed in one room. Large groups of fam­ily and friends come to see the fam­ily. A mem­ber of the vis­it­ing group offers a speech to the fam­ily to share the con­do­lences. A fam­ily mem­ber spokesper­son then offers a recep­tive speech of grat­i­tude. Those in atten­dance then pro­vide the fam­ily with envelopes of money that are gifts to help the fam­ily pay for the funeral. Another prayer and speech is given and then the vis­i­tors pro­vide con­do­lences to each fam­ily mem­ber in the room through a receiv­ing line. It was very inter­est­ing to observe this cus­tom and how the body is pre­pared. There are no mor­tu­ar­ies or fune­real homes so the fam­ily com­pletes all of the body prepa­ra­tion. This wake con­tin­ues for two days, and then the funeral will be held at the Lutheran church in Antsir­abe. Depend­ing on fam­ily tra­di­tion, the body will either be placed in a fam­ily tomb or buried in the ground.

As we learned more about this cus­tom, we dis­cov­ered that tribes of Mala­gasy in south­ern Mada­gas­car have slightly dif­fer­ent tra­di­tions. For instance, when a man dies his fam­ily has to get rid of all of his live­stock. This means that if a man has 100 zebu, then the fam­ily needs to kill all of the 100 zebu before the body can be buried. It can take two or three months for this process to occur and for all the meat to be con­sumed. The fam­ily feels it is an honor to feed all of the peo­ple offer­ing their sup­port. Once all of the zebu are gone, the body is placed in the fam­ily tomb along with all 100 zebu horns. We ques­tioned why the zebu would not be passed on to the next fam­ily mem­ber, such as a son or daugh­ter. The thought is that each per­son needs to earn their own liv­ing, but the honor of feed­ing all of those sup­port­ing the fam­ily is very important.

In dis­cussing cul­tural tra­di­tions, we also learned that Mala­gasy peo­ple have a tra­di­tion of dowries for mar­riages. In some parts of Mada­gas­car, money is the dowry, and in other places live­stock serves as the cost. When a woman is mar­ried, she leaves her fam­ily and joins the husband’s fam­ily. In the south­ern part of Mada­gas­car, part of the dowry process is to steal a cer­tain amount of zebu to pro­vide to the bride’s fam­ily. It seems that over time fam­i­lies are con­tin­u­ally steal­ing live­stock for this practice.

This evening the rains have ceased. Our med­ica­tions are pre­pared for tomor­row. And we are all hop­ing for a rest­ful night as we are weary and need­ing rest so we can be dili­gent in the care we provide.

Hesed” is a Hebrew word that means “kind­ness,” “mercy,” “loy­alty,” “loving-​kindness” or “stead­fast­ness.” It’s the way God intends us to live together — a “love your neigh­bor as your­self,” active, self­less, sac­ri­fi­cial, caring-​for-​one-​another brand of liv­ing con­tra­dic­tory to our fallen natures. The “Heseders” are con­tin­u­ally look­ing to work together to share some small mea­sure of God’s extra­or­di­nary love. Won’t you join us?

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