Lemurs, Chameleons and Orchids, O My!

It was was a delightful and exciting Saturday exploring God’s unique and fascinating creation in the Madagascar rain forest.

A group of 6 intrepid adventurers left at 6:30 am, well after the sun had risen and the lemurs had begun their “singing,” for what turned out to be a rather strenuous 6 hour hike into the Zahamena National Park at Toamasina, just outside of Andasibe.  Our guide was a patient and knowledgeable man, skillfully finding and pointing out flora and fauna at every turn.

Crossing a bridge as our group enters the Zahamena National Park at the beginning of our hike into the rain forest

Frequently along the trail, he’d ask us to wait as he ran into the forest and returned to guide us to our next discovery – sleeping owls, nocturnal lemurs, chameleons, geckos, frogs and orchids.   Barbara Clark and I came equipped with our binoculars and “Birds of Madagascar” guidebook and tried to identify the many varieties of endemic birds we encountered along the way.  Deeper into the forest our guide led us, up and down hillsides to find families of Indri, Diademed sifaka and brown lemurs.  When we found them high up in the trees, we quietly stood beneath them, positioning ourselves for photos, observing them and listening to their songs, awestruck by the wonder of God’s creation.

A view of one of the Diademed sifaka lemurs.

The next adventure was truly a tourist excursion, to a hotel with an island known as “Lemur Island,” where we saw lemurs close up.  As the guides instructed us we fed them from our palms and the small lemurs jumped onto our shoulders, walked on our heads and around our necks.   It was an unusual, fun and wet experience.  A very heavy rainfall drenched us to the bone as we left and got into canoes to return soaked to the bus.
At our evening devotions we shared how we experienced God’s presence during the day.
As each of us looked back on our day’s experience, we felt how God has been with us in the mystery and beauty of nature and in our new encounters .
We were filled with gratitude and felt truly blessed to be visiting this unique island as a part of the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program’s travel study seminar with the capable leadership of our  mission CoWorkers Elizabeth and Dan Turk.
Contributed by Lucy Janjigian,Sunnyvale Presbyterian Church, Sunnyvale, CA


About the Travel Study Seminar –

The Presbyterian Church (USA)’s partner, the five million-member Church of Jesus Christ in Madagascar (known by its Malagasy acronym, FJKM), has multifaceted and holistic ministries that seek to respond to the challenges of poverty, human exploitation, social and political conflict, and environmental degradation as an integral part of what it means to follow Christ.

A group of ten US Presbyterians is visiting Madagascar November 7 to 17 under the auspices of the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program and Environmental Ministries to learn more about the FJKM’s various ministries of reconciliation and peace-building, as well as its efforts to promote sustainable human development whilst protecting the integrity of creation.

The group includes Rev. Carl Horton, the coordinator of the Peacemaking Program, and Douglas Tilton, the PC(USA)’s Regional Liaison for Southern Africa. In-country leadership is provided by PC(USA) Mission Co-workers Dan and Elizabeth Turk and two representatives of our FJKM hosts: Pastor Lala Rasendrahasina, the immediate past President of the FJKM, and Pastor Lala Nirina Rakotoarisoa, the former head of the FJKM’s Chaplaincy Program.

Leave a Reply

  • (will not be published)