African Rains…

Posted by on February 6, 2018 in Blog | 0 comments

African Rains…

For all of you who have experienced African rains… the dramatic thunder and lightening, rain so loud on a tin roof you can’t hear someone next to you shouting, raindrops the size of small cats and the instantaneous drenching of the land– then you know exactly what we mean when we say “african rains”. Indeed, they are something beautiful!

After four years of disappointing rainy seasons and the subsequent drought conditions, our corner of Madagascar is once again experiencing the glorious African rains as it should be!

These rains of course are fantastic for the farmers, the animals, the water tables and the work of Eden Projects as we seek to restore forests on the great red island! The germination rate of our dry deciduous seedlings has increased tremendously thanks to the rain and the distribution and planting process began as scheduled on January 8th at six different sites.

At the same time, torrential rains bring knee-deep mud on already bad roads thus making transportation difficult… but not totally impossible. Our team in Madagascar is resourceful and determined. So far we’ve used motorboats, tractors, oxcarts, our city’s army personnel transport vehicle and Eden’s two trucks to deliver the mature seedlings to their planting sites.


Likewise, wages are equally difficult to deliver and can often take several days travel by motorcycle to get into the hands of the planters. Transporters have to wait for rivers to go down in order to safely cross and when that doesn’t happen, they wade through the river and then the wages are delivered by oxcart the rest of the way. With Madagascar being a cash system (i.e. no direct deposit or paycheck), you can imagine that this is stressful job. We pray often for this process and invite you to pray with us for safety and integrity at all times!

By the end of the planting season which will be sometime in March, over 900,000 dry deciduous trees should be planted in addition to the nearly two million mangrove propagules that are planted each and every month.



Please join us in praying for continued healthy rain and for the leaders at each site– that they would grow in wisdom and integrity. As new sites are opened to the reforestation work, relationships are developing with new communities, many of which don’t know the Lord. As relationships continue, please pray for opportunity to share the true hope that is only found through Jesus.


New Sites…

More and more, the Malagasy government is entering into partnership with the work of Eden Projects. Sometimes this means that we’re planting trees for the government and sometimes it means that the Minister of Water and Forestry is seeking training and expertise from our leaders. This time, the government granted Eden Projects a large piece of land, including a pocket of forest, to plant and protect. This healthy remnant forest is filled with endemic animals… lemurs and chameleons and birds that have sought shelter in the forest and have survived the fires all around.


At the same time, the longtime dream of our crew has started at Fara Be, the lighthouse just across the channel from our city. Here, there is a remnant forest that houses six different species of lemurs and we long to see the small forest grow. We’re opening the project site this year by planting thousands of endemic dry deciduous trees. Please pray for discernment as we seek out and build a new leadership team in this area.

 To read more about the amazing work of Eden Projects, click here!


Sacrifices and heart care…

There’s no way around it, when going to the mission field, there’s a lot of sacrifice. The sacrifice of stepping out of the known and walking into the unknown, the sacrifice of leaving loved ones, the sacrifice of quality education and medical care, the sacrifice of comfort. These are expected sacrifices and don’t necessarily come as a surprise.

Living in Madagascar for the past seven years, there’s also been the sacrifice of “insulating oneself”… for better and worse. The truth is, working with the poorest of the poor is hard, walking with the poor and bearing witness to their life struggles is hard, being the voice for the voiceless in the medical system is hard, navigating corruption and lack of integrity amongst officials and sometimes, employees, is hard, a nightly heightened awareness of potential break-ins is hard, untimely and preventable deaths are hard, fighting for life and justice is hard, maternal care in the developing world is hard. Our teammates have been known to say, “If I signed up for easy, I wouldn’t have come to Madagascar”. And that’s just it. It’s not easy and we’re ok with that.
If you’ve been reading our newsletters over the past years, you’ve read about some of these situations. Josy’s health, loss of teammates, habitual deceit of employees and the removal of said employees, being targets in a mob riot, the death of Elizabeth, and difficult births to name just a few.
In the last weeks we’ve both been increasingly ready to return home to Madagascar and yet… there’s been something unsettling. The tragic mudslides of our community brought it to the surface… we’ve endured a lot of tragedy and grief over the years and we just need a *pause*, a bit of space to do some debrief work and some heart care before we return to Madagascar later this month. To be very clear, we’re NOT at the end of our rope… our marriage isn’t falling apart, we love one another, our kids, and the ministry that God has before us! We just don’t want to get to the end of our rope! 🙂 
Please be in prayer for us as we spend next week at WorldVenture headquarters in Colorado, along with other missionaries for a time of debrief. We leave with total peace that this is what the unsettling feelings were and we know with full confidence that God sees us, cares for our hurts and needs and that He will meet with us in deep ways during this time.




MontecitoStrong.January2018Santa Barbara is home while in the USA. Alissa was born and raised here, we were married and lived here prior to Madagascar, our kids go to school here, we have amazing friends and churches here that love and support the work in Madagascar. The past two months our community of Santa Barbara has been hard hit. The Thomas Fire was the largest fire on record in California history and was the backdrop of our city for weeks, forcing tens of thousands of people to be evacuated and schools to close for all but four days in December. Two weeks later, the largest natural disaster in our city struck at 3:30am on January 9th when massive mud and debris flows due to heavy rains on the recent burn scars, came raging through our community, obliterating houses, burying the freeway, literally ripping families apart and killing 23 people (of which two are still missing). Our community is small— one degree of separation from nearly everyone and for us, one degree of separation on multiple levels from half of those on the victims list, including a 12-year old girl that Isabella went to youth group with. Along with our community, we have grieved deeply for the loss of life in the face of this tragic event that has forever changed the face of our community. Read this article to get a sense of the magnitude of these mudslides. To give an idea of the one degree of separation that we’re talking about, Alissa went to school with the daughter of the main family in this article.

Would you join us in praying for Santa Barbara and Montecito? Prayers for the families, for those who lost homes, for businesses who have suffered tremendously, for our first-responders, for our community. Like us, we have full confidence that God sees our community, cares for the hurts and needs of our community and that He will meet with those in our community in deep ways during this time.
**Montecito Stong painting by friend, Pedro de la Cruz**


Horicia’s Story….

We shared this video link last month, but in case you didn’t get a chance to see it…


This newest video features Horicia’s story and captures the essence of the ministry that the Lord has allowed our Sarobidy Maternity Center team to be a part of as we seek to empower women in Madagascar with truth, education and compassionate medical care during pregnancy, labor and birth, and the newborn period.

Click here to watch this short video. 

Thank you for caring, praying for and loving the women and babies of the Sarobidy Maternity Center! We are humbled by your sacrificial partnership that makes this ministry possible! We covet your continued prayers as our maternity center expands both in staff and in families seeking care. As our services grow so does our operating budget. We are currently seeking to raise an additional $1,000/month to meet the ongoing needs of the Sarobidy Maternity Center. If you’re interested in partnering with us, please click here to visit our mission organization, WorldVenture, where 100% of your tax deductible donation is used to care for women and babies!

In like manner, we’d be so grateful if you would share this video with your social media circles so that we can continue to build awareness of all that God is doing at the Sarobidy Maternity Center!


With love and deep gratitude for standing with us through prayer and partnership.

Alissa, Jamie, Isabella, Eliana and Gavin


*** To see this newsletter in it’s original format, click here. ***

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