My son, Zachary, spent the summer in Madagascar. I am so glad that he took advantage of this opportunity. It was definitely a life-changing experience for him, his team, and for the kids and families in Madagascar.
I had a chance to talk to him about his trip. I hope you enjoy hearing about it as much as I did.
1. How did you first find out about Teen Missions? The Madagascar trip?
I first found out about teen missions through my mom.
As a kid, she went on 2 mission trips with Teen Missions. Back in the summer of 2015, I received a pamphlet in the mail from Teen Missions showing all the trips that they were providing for the next year.
I told my mom that I would love to go on a mission trip. She told me to pray about it. After praying, I felt like God wanted me to go to Madagascar.
However, I had to wait until the summer of 2017 because I was not old enough to go yet.
2. What drew you to this trip?
I think the main thing that drew me to this trip was that I felt God calling me to go. Also, I saw the potential to grow in Christ, meet lifelong friends, and teach other people about Christ.
I also loved the idea of riding dirt bikes in a place where most people will never visit.
3. What is boot camp like?
Boot Camp is a two-week training that I had to go through before I went to the field. It is located in Merritt Island, Florida. We slept in tents, got up super early, took classes, and got to know our team better.
Boot camp really helped our team grow in unity and closeness to God. At the end of boot camp, we got commissioned. We flew out the next day ready for the assignment that we had in Madagascar.
4. What kind of things did you do while you were there?
While in Madagascar, we did many things. The main reason we came was to reestablish the circuit riders’ routes to the different villages.
We would ride to each village on dirt bikes because there was really no other way to get to the villages. We would play games with the kids, teach them phonics, and teach them about the Bible in their language.
When we were back at the base, we worked on painting and finishing the rest of the missionary’s new house.
5. How is a child’s life in Madagascar different from a child in America?
A child in Madagascar has a completely different life than an American child. They live in very small huts in rural areas. Most don’t have shoes or if they do it is some sort of flip-flop.
Many of them only have a couple of outfits and only get a shower through the water in a river nearby. There is no running water and food is very scarce and not nutritious.
Many kids don’t go to school because it is so expensive and the country does not have the ability to provide it for them.
6. What was the biggest surprise of your trip?
One day we went to a village that wasn’t on the schedule because a pastor friend of the missionary wanted us to come. That day was super long, and we had many difficulties with the bikes.
Not even half of our team made it to the village.
Even through these struggles, we had a great time with the kids and in the end over half of the adults in the village raised their hands to receive Christ.
It was an awesome moment considering all that we had gone through that day.
7. What was your biggest disappointment?
I think my biggest disappointment was leaving the country and the villages knowing that many are still not saved.
However, I know that we planted a seed that will continue to grow and one day hopefully many of the villagers will come to know Christ and the seeds that we planted will grow tremendously.
As we left and headed back to America, I was reminded that America is just like Madagascar. Many people are lost and I can be an influence for Jesus here just like I was in Madagascar.
8. What is the greatest thing you learned while you were there?
I learned so many things while I was there. One thing I learned, even though it may sound cliché, was that we in America have it so good.
It taught me to be thankful for the freedoms that we have and even the smallest things like real Nutella.
Another thing that I learned was that influence starts with a relationship.The missionary there knew many people and because of this, we were able to reach many for Christ.
For example, in one of the villages that we traveled to, there was a woman pastor who the missionary knew very well. Because of that relationship, we were able to ultimately preach the gospel to a village that was very far from Christ.
As I mentioned before, half of one village gave their hearts to Christ. Without the missionaries relationship with the pastor, it would have been very unlikely that we would have ever gone to that village and been able to be an influence for Jesus.
I hope to apply this concept to my everyday life so that I can be a greater influence for Jesus.
9. What is the general spiritual condition of the Malagasy people?
The main religion in Madagascar is Christianity but many of the villages that we went to were not Christian. A number of villages practiced voodoo and worshiped trees and statues.
One village we went to had a large red scarf like material around one of their tree trunks. The missionary later informed us that it was their god. Another village that we went to had many men in white robes.
They had evil spirits living inside of them and they helped with the village people with worshiping their god.
At that same village, many of the people who lived there came down and mocked us in French and Malagasy. They did this because they were very drunk. We found out later that drinking was one of their forms of worship.
There definitely was spiritual warfare going on in that village.
10. What would you say to someone who is considering taking a trip?
Do it! There is nothing else like it in the world. Teen Missions is a great organization for teens and they have many trips all over the world.
There are so many ways to go on a missions trip. Teens can go with people from their local church, an organization, or even through a friend.
No matter how you do it, the reward of seeing people come to Jesus is something you will never forget.
Thank you again to everyone who supported me financially and in prayer! I’m so glad that I got the opportunity to go on an amazing trip with such an awesome team.
Our team became close to each other, and I made many friendships that I hope will last a lifetime. I will never forget this experience and the incredible life-change that happened while we were there.
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