09 May 2014

Maddie in Madagascar!

I have officially decided to accept the call to global mission, specifically through the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America's Young Adults in Global Mission program! Seven other young adults and I, along with our country coordinators Austin and Tanya, will be serving in Madagascar for the year from August 2014 through July 2015. 


Here are a few questions I have been commonly asked that will hopefully answer some of your questions, too!

What is Young Adults in Global Mission?

Young Adults in Global Mission, or YAGM (pronounced yag-um) is a year-long mission program through the ELCA that provides volunteers age 19-29 to share their gifts and walk alongside Lutheran congregations in eight countries around the world. This year there will be 65 volunteers, including myself, serving in the United Kingdom, Jerusalem/West Bank, Rwanda, Mexico, Central Europe, South Africa, Argentina/Uruguay, and Madagascar. 

For more information on YAGM, follow this link:
http://www.elca.org/Our-Work/Global-Church/Global-Mission/Young-Adults-in-Global-Mission 

What does it mean to be a "missionary"?

Although I was initially a bit concerned with the idea of being called a "missionary", I really identify with the role of a missionary within the ELCA. The YAGM program as a whole really emphasizes the idea of accompaniment and walking alongside our brothers and sisters in Christ here and around the world. It's not up to me to convert anyone or change the way they live their life. I am simply called to love God and love people, meeting them right where they are, today. And throughout the whole experience I know I am going to see God at work in incredible ways. It's also exciting to be able to bring this experience back to the United States with me and watch God at work within the church here, too.

 Why Madagascar?

I applied to the YAGM program as a whole and then was selected to interview for the Madagascar and South Africa programs. I was thrilled for the possibility to experience either country, but Madagascar was definitely my first choice. I've always been really interested in the francophone world outside of France. As French is one of two official languages in Madagascar, I am excited for the possibility of using my fluency in a productive way. Also, last summer I had the opportunity to work as a counselor at Sky Ranch Lutheran Camp with my friend Hasina. She is from Madagascar and I really enjoyed talking to her about her family, culture, language, and life in Madagascar. However I had no idea when we said good-bye at the end of the summer that I would actually have the opportunity to experience everything she described! I still have a lot to learn about life in Madagascar, but here is a great link for more information if you're curious about daily life outside of Dreamworks movies and lemurs!
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-13861843

Hasina and I in Colorado.

Who are the other volunteers?

I met the other volunteers at a discernment event in Wisconsin in April and it was so exciting to be part of a group of engaged people from such diverse backgrounds. There are international relations majors from the East Coast, Spanish majors from the Plains, Religion majors from the West Coast, and everything in between! Most volunteers just finished their last semester of undergrad, but there are some who are both older and younger as well. We will all meet together again in August for a week of orientation before flying off to our various country placements on August 20th.

Where are you going to live? What are you going to do?

Although I won't have an official placement community or work placement until July, here's what I know so far:
  • I will be placed within a community in connection with a local congregation of the Malagasy Lutheran Church.
  • I will most likely be living with a host family.
  • I will take language intensive courses during in-country orientation to start learning Malagasy, the official language of Madagascar. 
  • I will most likely be teaching English in some capacity, whether it be to church leaders, local students, or others.
  • I will volunteer a normal work week within my various placements with local non-profit organizations or churches.
  • I will receive a living stipend to cover basic needs at a level similar to members of my host community.

What can I do to help?

Most importantly, you can pray and send lots of positive thoughts! 
Pray for Madagascar, for my future host community, for the current YAGM volunteers as they complete their final weeks in global mission, for our country coordinators, for the church-wide program staff in Chicago, for safe travels, and for the relationships within the church that will be built throughout the coming year.

As a YAGM volunteer, I am also committed to raising $4,000 of the $11,000 it costs to send a missionary to Madagascar for the year. If you feel called to support the YAGM efforts financially, please email me at mthomas1@adrian.edu and I can forward you more information. 

I'll be sharing more updates here throughout the summer so check back soon!


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