I Like To Move It

In the hit movie Madgascar, perhaps the most famous scene is the eccentric and fun-loving ruler of the lemur kingdom King Julian dancing and chanting “I like to move it move it.” Then his subjects answer him, “You like to move it.”


I feel a bit like King Julian today. Since my health scare earlier this year I have not been able to travel anywhere. Over the last few months, I’ve been like a caged tiger pacing back and forth awaiting the day when I would finally be able to get back to the field. While there have been plenty of administrative tasks to keep me busy, I am not one that enjoys sitting around in an office. I like to move it! Well, the time has finally arrived for me to move it.


On Saturday evening I began the long journey to Madagascar (hence the movie reference). Even the 14-hour flight from Newark to Johannesburg could not quench my enthusiasm for getting back in the saddle. Fortunately, an exit row seat made the journey a little more bearable. The only negative being that I sat right behind the Premium Plus Cabin with their ample seats and wide screen entertainment systems. I only occasionally became jealous, however. The most disappointing aspect of the flight was the food. Not to call out an airline or anything but United must have the worst meals I’ve ever eaten on a long-distance flight. In fact, it’s been my experience that non-American airlines consistently outperform the American airlines in this department.


After finding my way to the hotel in Johannesburg I checked in, ordered room service and was able to get a hot shower. Perhaps my last for a while? I polished the night off with some delicious cheesecake, which is becoming a tradition for me when I am in Johannesburg. It is one of the few places you can find good cheesecake in Africa.

Awakening early to catch the shuttle to the airport, it was then on to Antananarivo, the capital of the island country of Madagascar. I have always been intrigued by this far-away country and I never imagined that I would be able to go there, especially to do ministry. Having arrived at the airport after a short 3-hour flight, I was greeted by our coordinator Pastor Najo. Then it was off to the Bible college for a meeting.


Madagascar is inhabited by the Malagasy people who are the offspring of Indonesian and East African settlers on the island. With a population of approximately 20 million people, the primary languages are Malagasy and French. In many places I go in Africa people know some English. Not here. Thank the Lord for Google Translator!

Driving anywhere in Africa is never boring. Antananarivo is no different. An irenic scene of pristine lakes, verdant rice fields, and rocky hill formations greet you along the way from the airport toward the capital. But inevitably we enter chaos. Antananarivo is perched on a hill ascending some 4,700 feet in the air. Consequently, the winding and exceedingly narrow streets that snake throughout the city make for some dicey games of chicken, particularly at rush hour. The sheer mass of people flowing onto the streets is overwhelming. School children walking home in their uniforms, day laborers getting off work, public buses and bus stops teeming with people, taxis careening blindly around street corners without fear or thought of what they may encounter at the next turn, chickens blithely crossing the road, and the ubiquitous death defying

Boda-Bodas carrying entire families as they weave in and out of the snarled traffic like drunken sailors.

While commiserating over the traffic, Pastor Najo told me that since he doesn’t have a car, he must either walk or take the bus everywhere he goes. I asked him if he takes the public bus to church every Sunday. He informed that he and his family walk to church. I assumed he must live close to his church since he walks there every Sunday with his family, which consists of his wife and four children. When I asked him the distance from his home to the church, he told me it was about an hour-and-fifteen-minute walk. I’m sure he must have wondered at my stunned silence and jaw hanging on the floor. Here is a man who walks with his wife and four children for over an hour to and from church every week, and many of us can’t drive even ten minutes to church in our luxury cars.


I’m looking forward to the remainder of the week. Tomorrow I’ll be teaching at the local Bible school. Then Thursday it is on to Ambohimandroso to begin training. I covet your prayers this week.


Until next time. . . good night from Madagascar