God called me to Madagascar November 2007 when I heard Rev. Patsy McGregor speak in Miami. After three short term missions I finally arrived in March 2018 with a commitment to be here for 3 years to work at the Women’s Center in Toliara. I retired from teaching high school March 2017.
I thought my purpose here was to teach the women and as I had experienced time here as a short term missionary I unfortunately assumed I knew what to expect. Was I wrong, for three months I studied the language (a very difficult language and each area has their own dialect). I have always struggled with language learning and this was no different. I felt isolated and lonely, living on a compound with mostly Malagasy people and two couples from the West. I lived in a room at the women’s center that has all the basic amenities, electricity and running water. I craved communication with people who speak the same language and have experienced a similar culture.
I struggled for nine months, talking regularly with God and often angry and frustrated, asking Why am I here, when I feel like a fish out of water. I would have what I called regular melt downs and say I‘m going home, but something kept me here. I have to say a thank you to my son James who always told me to stay because I had worked hard for a long time to come here.
December 2018 I decided to take a break. I went to England for Christmas and spent time with my two brothers and family and actually enjoyed the cold and rain after the intense dryness & heat of Madagascar. During the time I was in England I felt Jesus telling me to rest in his arms and to spend time walking and visiting with extended family.
I then went to a SAMS retreat in Cape Town in February and God revealed to me why I was in Madagascar. Teaching is a small part of my work, but my main purpose is to be a prayer warrior.
In England I had attended a silent retreat and learnt what a Postinia is and actually used one. At the retreat the speaker, Rev. Richard Copeland talked at length about prayer and also what a Postinia is, a room usually with no windows where one goes to pray and meditate. I do not have a Postinia in Madagascar but most afternoons I go outside and sit under the trees to pray and meditate.
God persevered with me and his call for me to be here with the people of Madagascar to give them hope and joy. This year I have found joy and peace and there are still struggles but God is there with me in the suffering and I learn more each day.
Phil. 4:13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
Friday June 8, I made demonstrated oatmeal raisin cookies to the women, with an emphasis on hygiene and hand washing. Zaphy was my interpreter and the women asked lots of questions. There is a lot of sickness here and handwashing is important. I gave out small bars of soap to the women to use at home. Soap is a luxury for them. The oven in the kitchen has no temperature control, so Josianne & I practiced the cookies before the demonstration & discovered that the oven was very hot and we burnt the cookies but the people who live in the compound still enjoyed them. So on Friday I put the oven on low and watched cookies bake so as not to burn them and praise the Lord it worked.
I asked Nolavy to speak to the women while the cookies were baking. Nolavy is the wife of Rev. Victor and they live in Morandavo. They are both here in Toliara to teach the student Evangelists. Nolavy was mentored by Rev. Patsy as a teenager and has studied Theology in Kenya. March 2018 she attended the United Nations conference in New York and talked about the difficulties of women here in Madagascar. The women were very attentive of the information she gave them, she is an inspiration to all the women in Madagascar. giftShe is to be ordained a Deacon in September here at the Cathedral.
There is an active Mothers Union here and the women made jewelry for Mother’s Day and sold tickets for 5000 Ariary each and those who bought the tickets received a gift for Mother’s Day. The money raised is to purchase T-shirts for each women for the annual Mothers Union Conference here in September. The women had a lot of fun making the gifts for the small bags you see them holding in the photo.
On Pentecost Sunday we had three baptisms at the Cathedral. Bishop Samitiana was the officiant and the service was wonderful, many people were wearing red outfits, and you could feel the Holy Spirit in the church. The three boys who were baptized were very cute and they stood by the font for their baptism and Bishop spoke to each one of them.
People are very creative with transportation here, nothing is impossible. I have seen a teenager riding a bicycle with 3 small passengers, 1 on the back, 1 on the front and 1 on the cross bar. I saw a Father riding a motorbike with his 3 sons and the most creative was the whole family on a motorbike, Mum, Dad and 3 children the young girl at the back was holding her Mother very tightly. I bought a chair for my room and last Tuesday went to collect it, in a pousse. I checked the chair and then Bruno the pousse driver brought the chair home for me. Bruno is Mesa husband she attends the women’s center. Josianne & I then went to the market to do the weekly shopping.
It has been a busy month and life has a Malagasy routine, July will be busy as Sue & Simon Babbs will be visiting from Chicago. They have visited Toliara several times Simon helps with Quickbooks and Sue with crafts & Days for girls. Days for Girls teaches health & hygiene and they make sanitary napkins from fabric for the women and girls.
Please pray for Venerable Hery and his family and all the people in Sakaraha, also Rev. Victor and his family in Morondavo there are people there who are terrorizing the local people to steal money, and people are being killed.
Psalm 56:3 whenever I am afraid I will trust you.
This verse has been my mantra this past month and it works.
“Come with me and I will make you fishers of men” and at once they left their nets and followed him.” Mark 1:17-18
At the Women’s Center in the Diocese of Toliara, Madagascar
Needlecraft, embroidery, crochet, and culinary arts are fulfilling hobbies for many of us. To women in Southwest Madagascar, skills gained in these crafts enable them to launch small businesses and lift their families out of poverty. God is using SAMS missionary Jacky Lowe to provide them the training that makes these transformations possible. Jacky first served in Madagascar as a Bridger. She was called to serve after hearing SAMS Missionary Rev. Patsy Mcgregor speak at the Diocesan conference in Flordia. Now, she will return there this March to serve long-term.
Jacky will train women in these crafts in the Diocese of Toliara. When she was first there she says of her time, “For five weeks I lived in community with people who have nothing and are full of joy. I hope to carry that joy with me every day.” Now, carrying out that Joy, she prepares to return.
Teacher and students give what they have – knowledge and joy, willingness to work cross-culturally in community – and grow what they have established. Workshop students “go back to their parishes and teach the women there,” Jacky says.
Since last summer, new crafts are being taught. One, in particular, is bead and jewelry making. One young mother is able to take care of her child with the money she earns from making the beads.
Jacky (left) with Rev. Patsy McGregor
“A committee of women in Toliara, with SAMS Missionary Patsy McGregor’s help, sets standards and prices paid to women,” Jacky adds. “We hope, with time, that women throughout the diocese of Toliara will be able to develop work and leadership skills to provide for their families.” As she prepares to leave very soon, you can visit her SAMS page and consider praying and supporting her.
“Join us in a journey of hope, to empower the women and children of Madagascar to overcome poverty through education and the love of Jesus Christ.”
Support Jacky here. You can also support by check:
SAMS USA, PO Box 399, Ambridge, PA 15003
Checks should be payable to: SAMS USA; memo: Jacky/women
by Howard McClellan, SAMS Staff