Switching Over: New Blog

For those of you who followed my 2 year plus journey in Madagascar, I wanted to let you know that the story is continuing at another location. As Tessa, our daughter, Chyella, and I get ready to move over to Madagascar for the foreseeable future we are switching over to another, combined, blog at nandtbaker2013.wordpress.com. 

Thank you so much for your love, support, and readership and please follow us as we again plant our lives in the red island of Madagascar!


A Special Celebration

Today we were blessed by our Malagasy church families and our mission family with a celebration of our marriage! Our church families knew us both as single missionaries, friends, and co-workers, and today we were able to celebrate with them as a married couple. We started the time with lots of singing and praise to God – Malagasy people love to sing together! Then Bill, one of our teammates, preached on how we love God and love our neighbors by telling them what Jesus has done to save us and transform our lives. Nathan and I shared our story, and then we all shared a delicious meal that the women of the church had worked tirelessly in preparing! It was a precious time of celebration and we are so thankful.

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Seminary in Toliara

We’ve had the honor of being with some of our dear friends at the seminary here in Toliara, Southwest Madagascar. All of us have been discussing the importance of following God’s law in church planting. We’ve been sharing stories from the Bible and our lives while thinking through some of the cultural implications and barriers for the Malagasy when sharing the gospel. 

One older man revealed that his father is an ombiasa, a powerful witch doctor, and talked about the time he told him a story. He told his father the story of how God created the first ancestors, Adam and Eve, the ones who had brought the curse into the world and broken relationship with God. Then he told him how God had sent his son Jesus to a better ancestor for us, our ultimate ancestor, who restored our relationship with God and brought freedom back to the world. His father understood, but didn’t want to hear any more stories like this. It’s hard for these Malagasy believers to traverse the two worlds of following Christ and respecting their customs and their elders. 

Our teaching has focused on learning God’s law in order to learn the His character. We Christians are moving from our American or Malagasy culture into the new culture of God’s kingdom. The transition is hard for us all, but we have been discussing how to remain faithful to God’s kingdom while still respecting the customs of this world. 

Our next step is to go out into the bush villages that lie to the north and south of Toliara, our team from Southbridge along with the national seminarians, sharing the gospel story and implementing the teaching from this week. Please pray for us to walk in the Holy Spirit’s power as we journey along with God and ask that we may understand his vision for the island.


Mada Return

As many of you know, Tessa and I are so excited to have the opportunity to return to Madagascar for a couple weeks. We will be going with Southbridge Fellowship, our church here in Raleigh, North Carolina. Along with visiting our missionary and Malagasy friends there, we plan to help teach a seminary course to local Malagasy believers in Tulear. Then we will accompany the believers out to the rural village areas, where we can encourage them in teaching what they’ve learned. 

We need your prayers! Please be praying:

– for preparation: We are preparing the seminary material, as well as raising support for our trip

– for God’s direction over all our plans while in Madagascar

– for opportunities to teach His Word

– for the other missionaries and Malagasy believers in Madagascar to be encouraged

Also, we need your help to go! If you desire to partner with us financially for our trip, please let us know. There are two ways you can give financially towards the trip expenses of $3,500 each. First, you can give online at the Southbridge website at : http://tinyurl.com/madagascar2014fall; or if you prefer to send a check, please also include a separate note that it is for the Bakers – Madagascar 2014. The note and check can be sent to the church office at 9311 Focal Point, Suite 101 Raleigh, NC 27617. Please make your check out to Southbridge Fellowship Church and indicate on the memo line that is it for Madagascar 2014. Do not put our names anywhere on the check. Thank you so much to those of you who have already given – your gifts are a blessing!

 We would love to hear from you and to pray for you as well. We’ll keep you updated as much as possible as the Lord works on our trip. Thank you for your prayers!


Anniversary

A year ago yesterday I officially arrived in the Atlanta airport, back home after two years living overseas in Madagascar. Even though I know I haven’t been writing here, I am startled to see I haven’t visited this blog in a year. I’m married now, a seminary student trying to make things make sense on this side of the world. My writing assignment for this week was to write about where you were a year ago, which I think is more than happenstance. And so I share with you my scribbled thoughts on a year’s journey:

I found myself walking today, feet slapping hot asphalt–everything is hard here. Large vehicles passed me, staring. What was I doing walking through the shopping center? I smiled. A year ago we were vagrant 20-something walking down well worn halls of shame, sand-filled streets that took our feet and made them strong. We traveled on, launching from that sand filled street into dark orbit. The back-alley streets of last year, that somehow felt firmer than asphalt, now shimmer behind. 

They were all there watching us go: our family. The different colored faces and personalities who held our feet down in the sand, all stood there waving as the curtain fell on our act of 22 months. The hands were firm as they said goodbye, yanked us up with an awful sigh, packed us in, bound our mouths shut, and dared us to share our 3rd world stories. Metal swans gathered around, plucked us up from the sand and set us down in a terminal, left us in another world.

But the sand still clung to our roots. 

Love filtered through bright, waiting eyes and embrace, penetrating the dark for a moment. Their sheer pleasure assuaged the rending, as the funeral wailed within us. Our courage didn’t last and eventually the obituary landed at our feet, so we waited with family and friends to mourn over the casket–the life we left behind. The world here sped by like a drug induced coma and our arms grew tired swimming upstream, holding our smiles high. 

The flames of love and family stoked me as I shivered behind the curtain. I found myself wearing just a mask with a index card taped to the brow, reading “Missionary”. I screamed through that mask though it didn’t have a mouth, and I’m not sure anyone heard me. Not wanting to sit and too sick to move, we waited in the dark.

My roots turned brittle and dried.

But hope arrived in sunrise bursts, enveloping the tears and bruises. I’ve learned to hold my roots gingerly. I have learned to love the sands of Madagascar, the grating, grinding in my soul, the constant bell, tolling, tolling, the tears trapped deep, the guilt when I sleep, a lamba wrapped too tight, chocking my vision of a world out of sight and daring me to share. This sand I’ve consumed is my grit, planted deep and growing in my belly now, spreading . . . always spreading. It is a good infection. The body, broken and uprooted, is fertilizer, catalyst and human incubator. 

And we are all uprooted, aren’t we?