It's about time we give everyone a full picture of our first week in Madagascar. So, here is our update since we left Fort Worth on Dec. 27.
1- We are thankful beyond words to everyone involved, in every area of our lives.
2- We give God the glory that since we left Fort Worth we witnessed and experienced a very smooth transition. God's hand was vividly upon us throughout the travel from Fort Worth to Madagascar. We did not experience any complications at all. God orchestrated the rides, the hospitality in Maryland, the transports, the sightseeing, the travel, and the airport transits. Tantely did very well on the plane. Our host in Maryland spoiled us for 10 days at their home. It was really a rest needed and much appreciated. God knew what He was doing in every step of our way. We give Him the glory.
3- We landed safely in Madagascar on Jan. 7. As soon as we came out of the aircraft and stepped down to those airplane stairs, an official in the military, dressed in his uniform, waited for us; it was my uncle, my mom's cousin who works with the President Security at the President Palace. He greeted us as we were an official member of the VIP people and took us a different route than every other passenger takes. Toky and the kids were taken to the VIP Salon where my mother was waiting for them there. We did not go through the line of passport filing; my uncle took our passports and took it to the official, passing everyone behind. He asked me to go straight to the baggage claim and show the porters our luggage so that they can push it for us. Then my uncle took us through customs without opening any bags or even without stopping to talks with the customs officer. All we saw was that they are giving a salute to my uncle, and we followed him outside of the airport where our family and friends were waiting for us. Maybe this is what it feels to walk on the red carpet. Well, we are the sons and daughters of Most High God; we are the King's kids. Glory to God alone.
4- Well enough on the red carpet experience. Let us get back to reality. As soon as we drove out the airport, the traffic was getting worse already. Welcome home and to real-life, Mamitianas. It did take us more than two hours to get to Toky's parents where we are staying right now. The kids were asking on the way a few times, "Are we there yet? How much longer?" Then all the sudden, there were no more questions, and I looked back to see why they were so quiet. I found out that the three of them — Kanto, Nomena, Fitahiana — were fast asleep and dreaming of the road without traffic back in Texas. My heart was melted; I knew that this was the first reverse culture shock that hits all of us, and this is life here in Tana till we go to Fort Dauphin.
5- The next day, Jan. 8, for the first time in the history of our lives, we went to the Toyota Dealership to pick up the brand new, paid-for vehicle that you all know a generous giver bought for us as ministry vehicle. Wow, the difference in driving a new car is amazing. We give God the Glory, and we are very grateful for this generous gift. Really as family, and for the ministry, we have the right vehicle for our situation. We are still learning to live with that feeling; every day we are driving around with it, we can't stop thanking God for allowing us this privilege. We tell our testimony that God did this, especially when they come to us and say, "Wow, a brand new vehicle, you must have lots of money." We usually tell them, "This money, we did not even see. We did not touch it. We were given the privilege to go and pick up a paid-for vehicle with the title on both our names. To God be the glory forever. Yes, we do not want to give the wrong impression to people, but also we are learning that this is life — God is in control and sovereign over everything, and we are giving Him all the glory for all that He allows to happen in our lives. We are thankful and grateful. We have the most robust and powerful V8 Land Cruiser for the ministry, and we are thankful.
6- As far as what happened to that Chevrolet Suburban that we were trying to sell before we left since the original buyer went a new direction and could no longer buy the car, Toky and I prayed after people offered a very low price on the vehicle and we did not have peace at all to sell it that way. However, Toky and I agreed and had the peace that we donate the car to Mandimby and Tiana, fellow Malagasy students at SWBTS. Since it was given for free to us, we gave it freely to them. We talked with John Minton, the family who donated to us, and he was blessed to know that his gift to us we donated to someone else who could be blessed by it. Glory to God alone, it was a win-win-win transaction.