The Baobab tree grows to a height of 90 feet and has roots as deep as the tree is tall. It stores water in its trunk and may store up to 25,000 gallons. Many of the trees we saw are estimated to be over 800 years old. The tree just grows a few millimeters each year.
The fruit has a velvety shell and is about the size of a coconut. It has an acidic, tart flavor, described as somewhere between grapefruit, pear, and vanilla.
Of the nine species, six are native to Madagascar.
7 Know ye not that there are more nations than one? Know ye not that I, the Lord your God, have created all men, and that I remember those who are upon the isles of the sea; and that I rule in the heavens above and in the earth beneath; and I bring forth my word unto the children of men, yea, even upon all the nations of the earth?
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is thriving in Madagascar.
We were able to see church buildings in several cities including in the small branch in Moramonga which was just formed a few months ago. We met the caretaker of the building and his family.
Tomorrow a beautiful new stake center near the American Embassy will be dedicated.
We had dinner with two of the young missionaries serving here. One of the missionaries who is from Tahiti told us the story of a man who was recently baptized into the church. He was a pastor in another faith. He met with the missionaries and had a witness at the time of that first visit of the truthfulness of the restored gospel. Shortly thereafter he had a dream in which he saw himself and his wife at the temple. He was baptized and is doing well despite opposition from his former congregation. The elders noted that often when someone accepts the message of the restoration, it happens on their first visit with the missionaries. "For mine elect hear my voice and harden not their hearts." Doctrine and Covenants 29:7
The poinsettia is the national flower of Madagascar.
I have seen many gigantic poinsettia trees or bushes, including several near the Mission home.
If you pick a leaf and turn it over, you will notice that it includes the three colors of the Madagascar flag: red, green, and white. If you fold the leaf lengthwise, it makes the shape of the island of Madagascar.
Madagascar is a country of vibrant colors, wherever you look.
Today we taught two Helping Babies Breathe courses in Tulear which is in southern Madagascar on the Mozambique Channel. We taught 12 midwives who will become local trainers for this region.
After an accelerated course that started early in the morning, they helped us teach 50 physicians, nurses, and midwives in another course today. None of them had ever used a bag and mask to resuscitate a baby.
In addition to the course certificate, each provider received a bag and mask and a stethoscope in a small LDS Charities duffle.
Some of the participants came from very remote areas of this region where malaria is rampant and where there is no cell service or internet access, so follow up may be difficult.
The regional director for the ministry of health and the regional advisor for UNICEF attended and spoke at the closing ceremony.
Today we visited the maternity ward of a hospital in Tana. It is a referral hospital for 23 local health centers.
They have about 12 deliveries per day. Many of the patients are high risk since they are referred from other facilities.
These twin girls were born earlier this week.
The hospital is able to perform cesarean sections, but there is no intensive care nursery due to lack of trained staff and lack of equipment.
We were very impressed with the hard-working and capable chief doctor of the maternity ward. One of her colleagues was trained in our neonatal resuscitation course earlier this week. She will train the other providers at this hospital with the teaching kit provided by LDS Charities.