We had finished the catechism, when one of the faithful of our Church asked me to come his home. The houses of the indigenous people of Madagascar are 2m x 3m straw huts, where parents are literally stacked in together with their young children: usually three or four in number, but often - many times more.
Catechism has already begun. According to the inhabitants of the village we are in, they have been waiting for years to be catechized. We felt obliged to fulfil the requests of these people by instilling in them a few seeds of faith from those that the most merciful God has instilled in us: being, from our infancy, children of the Orthodox Church.
The happiness was truly indescribable when, in the heat and the prolonged dryness of the day, they saw a fountain of water flowing from the water tanker into their water tanks. They were also overjoyed when we unexpectedly let them fill the water containers they had brought for their homes with the water that was left over in the water tanker.
To follow the path of the Mission, one must support oneself on two fundamental laws: the love of God and his fellow man, and the love of pain. The second follows from the first, which in turn is the first commandment of the Spiritual Law of the Gospel.
One day, we planned to perform christenings in a village called Andranobinaly, which suffers greatly because of drought. People walk 15 kilometres to get to the nearest source of water for their daily requirements. The children in this village are particularly underweight and malnourished. Even their livestock, buffaloes and goats are dying because of the drought, and we often see the carcasses of some of their animals.
I remember an incident concerning a child who, while trying to get close to a fire to warm up, had stumbled and fallen into it: burning almost all of the left side of his body. His burns were extensive. The treatment that was necessary, bearing in mind the means at our disposal, meant it was extremely painful.
We started out from the Mission to reach a very isolated village in the Anjabaky region in the south of Madagascar. Our goal was to distribute food and school materials to the poor families in this area. The journey lasted about 12 hours, and during this time, we were afraid of the bandits, who are common in the south and operate at night. When we finally arrived the next day, we were greeted by some obviously anxious and frightened villagers.