Madagascar (part zero – preparation)
Our plans to go with a Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod (LCMS) Mercy Medical Team to Madagascar October 9 – 18, 2015 actually began in January as my wife Lisa (a nurse practitioner) explored the idea and we began tossing the possibility around in our minds and conversations.
In June, we got word that flights were filling up fast, and there was some unspent mission money available to help fund a trip. So, we said, “Let’s go!” We got our flights, some travel insurance, and started a Go Fund Me to get some help with expenses. For those who might want to take a trip in the future and are curious about the costs, a round-trip flight cost about $2,500, and ground fees (food, lodging, interpreters, supplies) were $1,500 per person. We are grateful to the church and many generous friends who covered 2/3 of our costs. My daughter kept our dog, saving us kennel costs, and rides to the airport saved on parking fees. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
A few weeks later, Lisa was contacted about leading the trip in October 2016. She said yes, and also mentioned I’d be glad to come along as team chaplain. I hope the trip goes well, cause guess what – we’re going back!
Our focus now shifted to gathering some supplies to take. Organizations like Blessings International and Brother’s Brother offer medications and supplies for trips like this. Because some of their policies had changed since our last trip (Kenya in 2013), we could only order a few thing, but were able to collect supplies from members and friends of the church. Our flight was classified as humanitarian, so we were allowed to check three fifty-pound bags free. Our front bedroom soon filled with medications, vitamins, soaps, shampoos, toothbrushes and toothpaste, bandages, surgical caps and masks, and some handmade quilts and prayer shawls.
Pre-flight preparation required that we renew our passports, which would expire in January 2016. Check. I needed a typhoid immunization. Check. Get a prescription for Malarone, a malaria preventative, from the doctor. Check. Buy a few more rolling duffle bags for supplies. Check. Conference call with the team. Done. Ready to go!