Global People

Global People

Tears… welling up in my eyes and beginning to stream down my cheeks as I read these words.  Head nodding… as these truths strike so many cords for our family individually and collectively.  Heart rejoicing… that we’ve been privileged with this life in which God has blessed us to be a global people. By now you probably have no idea what I’m talking about but hopefully your curiosity is peaked.  Head on over to A...

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Lending a Voice…

Lending a Voice…

Life in Madagascar.  It’s difficult to explain.  It’s beautiful and it’s ugly.  It’s triumph and it’s defeat.  It’s growth and it’s tearing down.  It’s truth and it’s lies.  In these ways, it’s really no different than anywhere else in the world.  One of the big differences of course is the poverty in which Madagascar is entrapped in.  Some stats place Madagascar as the 4th poorest country in the world while others...

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Tropical Cyclone Hellen

Tropical Cyclone Hellen

(11:30am Monday morning- Madagascar time) If you can’t see it… we’re that massive island (the world’s 4th largest in fact) underneath this storm!  Our city is the “pin mark” in the NW corner of the picture. Cyclone Hellen is building in intensity and is now a category 4 with winds approximately 142 miles/hour at the eye of the storm. It’s moving incredibly slow at just 3-5miles per hour so the potential...

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SMC Sings…

SMC Sings…

A few weeks ago we started singing with the ladies before and after our class sessions.  It’s amazing how singing breaks the darkness and the staleness of the air and replaces it with life and refreshment.  We’re singing about the great love of Christ and singing about God’s grace for us.  Some of the women in our program are Christ-followers.  Some are not.  Some are Muslim while others may worship their ancestors and...

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Little by little at the Sarobidy Maternity Center…

Little by little at the Sarobidy Maternity Center…

It’s been really good to be back to work at the Sarobidy Maternity Center. To be with these women, to build relationships with them, to hear their stories of triumph and defeat, to rejoice with them and mourn with them, to laugh with them, sing with them and pray with them.  To marvel with them over their babies and to giggle together when their baby smiles, rolls over and begins to crawl.  It’s been good and it’s been...

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This girl…

This girl…

This little chick-a-dee of ours just turned 8.  How is that even possible?  I can vividly remember the excited anticipation when she was still in my womb and the moment she entered the world… our hearts and lives were forever changed and we wouldn’t have it any other way.  This girl… she’s pretty amazing.  She’s spunky and full of life, she’s a lover of animals and people.  She’s an amazing...

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Voandalana…

Voandalana…

Say you live in sunny Santa Barbara and you travel to Maine to visit friends and you bring back some still kickin’ lobster for your friends back home.  That’s a voandalana.  Or perhaps you live in Arizona and you’re traveling to California for a vacay and when you return home, you bring your friends some awesome avocados.  That’s a voandalana.   The literal translation of voandalana is “fruit of the...

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This is Madagascar…

This is Madagascar…

We’ve been back in Madagascar for 2 weeks… the journey was quite the adventure– one which you can read here.  No matter how many times we return back and forth, there’s always an adjustment.  When returning to the States, the adjustment is to smooth roads, cleanliness, blending in in a crowd, speaking English at all times, understanding cultural clues, helpful sales people, and general efficiency.  Those are all good...

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The Full Story

The Full Story

I haven’t been posting much lately, or posting practically at all for the last 6’ish months.  Our days have been busy with fundraising and all the State-side work that comes with “home assignment”.  And truth be told, life for me… my life, is a bit uninspiring when in the States.  Life can be pretty uninspiring when in Madagascar too… but it’s different.  I find Madagascar inspiring– the...

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Essential Oils!

Essential Oils!

Last week we were blessed to receive a huge box packed with lots of love by some friends of ours in frosty Ohio.  Truth be told, this friend and I have never officially met, as in, in person.  We’ve emailed, texted and talked on the phone… and without a doubt, we’re sisters from another mother.  She lived and worked in Madagascar for a year back in 2000.  Many people say, after spending any significant amount of time in...

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How to Send a 20-foot Container and Not Go Crazy….

How to Send a 20-foot Container and Not Go Crazy….

Boxes.  Totes.  Purchasing.  Receiving donations.  Sorting.  Packing.  Itemizing.  Applying value for each item.  Numbering.  Taping itemized list and box number.  Zip-tying.  Packing Truck.  Driving Truck to Sacramento.  Unpacking Truck into holding container.   94 boxes/totes later.   All of these are awaiting to be packed on a 20-foot (or maybe 40-foot) ocean freight container which will then be shipped across the world to...

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What it takes for US to return to Madagascar…

What it takes for US to return to Madagascar…

You may remember when we first went to Madagascar it was a bit of a trial… a trial to make sure that our family wouldn’t merely survive but thrive in ministry on the Red Island.  As a result, we decided it was in our best interest to go to Madagascar as “mid-term” missionaries. Mid-term being roughly 2 years with the possibility of extending.  This has been our status for the last 3+ years. We have continually sensed...

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Heartline in Haiti

Heartline in Haiti

Earlier this month, Jamie and I (sans kiddos), traveled to Haiti with our awesome new teammates, Neal and Danielle Carlstrom and their wee one, Jolie.   Though our time was short in Haiti (Tuesday morning to Friday), our time was rich– full of learning, conversation, encouragement, ideas, prayers and oh so much more.  The major goal of our trip was to visit the Heartline Maternity Center, one of the maternity center’s that...

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Josy Update #8- Amazing News!

Josy Update #8- Amazing News!

  Last week we shared with you the most recent news about Josy and Redy– that the surgery had been performed and the only news we had was that we knew they were both OK.  On Friday morning, November 1st, we received a phone call at 4:30am from India.  Josy was on the other end of the line.  His voice ecstatic, he shared the good news that the initial kidney function tests revealed that his new kidney was working perfectly!  The...

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Video Ministry Update- October 2013

Video Ministry Update- October 2013

We’re excited to share with you our newest ministry video of 2013 as God restores health, forests, and hope in Madagascar! Restoring Health– through the Sarobidy Maternity Center as we strive to empower impoverished women with truth, education, and culturally sensitive and compassionate medical care during pregnancy, labor and delivery, and the newborn period. Restoring Forests– through the planting of over 55 million coastal...

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Hopping over to Haiti

Hopping over to Haiti

On Monday, Jamie and I are traveling, sans kiddos, to Haiti for 5 days! You may wonder, Haiti– why Haiti?  In truth… it’s a good excuse to have some much needed time away from our tribe of little crazies, er… kids.  The first time ever actually…in over 7 years!  But really, there’s an even better reason why we’re traveling to Haiti– to visit the Heartline Maternity Center.  This awesome...

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Before… and …After

Before… and …After

It’s almost indescribable the transformation that took place at the house where Jamie grew up into what is now the Sarobidy Maternity Center.  I think Rota, our Malagasy midwife said it best after living in the house for a few months before and during the construction and renovations… her words to be exact, “I felt like I was living in a house within a horror movie”.  Note that Rota comes from a lower middle class...

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It Takes a Village…

It Takes a Village…

We often think of the remainder of this line as it takes a village to raise a child… this is indeed the case in Madagascar and we love this aspect of Malagasy community life.  This last year, we’ve been blessed and encouraged to find that it also takes a village to open a maternity center. The community– both our Malagasy friends within Madagascar and internationally, our American friends living in the USA, the Philippines and...

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3 Countries and A Familiar Outsider

3 Countries and A Familiar Outsider

We’ve been back in the States for close to two weeks now.  It was smooth sailing across the world on each and every leg of travel.  The 10-hour drive from our home in Mahajanga to the capital city of Tana.  The 11-hour plane ride from Tana to Paris.  The 11.5-hour plane ride from Paris to Los Angeles and the 3-hour traffic-jammed drive from Los Angeles to Santa Barbara.  Smoooooth sailing.  Honestly. Done back to back, this journey...

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First Babies

First Babies

The first two women of the Sarobidy Maternity Center had their babies in the last week! Judicia had a beautiful baby girl and Prisca, a sweet baby boy! Both moms and babies are doing well and are settled in at home.  Rota, the malagasy midwife and I have already had a few home visits with each mama and baby as we make sure both are healthy, breastfeeding well, watching the weight of the baby, healing, educating and praying for them.  The home...

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It’s time…

It’s time…

It’s mind-boggling to us that in less than 8 days, we’ll be on the first leg of our journey back to the USA for the fall.  It’s only been a year since we were last in the States for the main purpose of completing my midwifery license and taking my certifying board exams.  In reality, one year isn’t very long to be away from the States.  In reality, one year isn’t very long that we’ve been back in Madagascar...

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Expectant…

Expectant…

I wanted to take the time to introduce you to the 10 women currently enrolled in the Sarobidy Maternity Center’s prenatal program.  The staff and I consider it an honor and privilege to get to know these women and walk alongside of them during these months leading up to the birth of their babies and then for the 6 months after their babies are born while they are in the postpartum/child development program.   Rose, 27 years old,...

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Josy Update #4

Josy Update #4

    It’s been several months since I last wrote an update about Josy.  If you receive our monthly newsletters, (or if you don’t and want to… sign up by dropping us a line here) you know that his health has stabilized, he’s been receiving dialysis 3 times a week while living in Tana which is a 12-hour drive from his family.  Life has returned to Josy… to his body, to his eyes, to his spirit.  Back in...

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Opening weeks…

Opening weeks…

On Monday, May 13th, just 1 day after American Mother’s Day (Malagasy Mother’s Day is actually the 26 of May), we officially opened the doors of the Sarobidy Maternity Center.  What a feeling!  We received the first 5 pregnant women that day and the joy in the air was palpable. The second week, we added the education component to the prenatal program.  As you can see from the picture… we started with the...

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On the Eve of Opening Day…

On the Eve of Opening Day…

It’s the eve of opening day… not the eve of the opening day of baseball season… though I have desperately missed the last few years of these. Not the eve of a summer break or the eve of a beautiful relaxing vacation, though both of those would be great too.  Rather, it’s the eve of the opening day of the Sarobidy Maternity Center. It’s CRAZY to think back to summer 2007 when God whispered this plan to me, the way...

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Smoked Fish- A micro-loan project

Smoked Fish- A micro-loan project

60-year old Eliza is a single mother to 7 children and a grandmother to 7 grandchildren.  For some time, she’s been struggling to keep her last 2 children in the government college.  The fact that they’ve been attending college is actually quite remarkable! Eliza lives in Antanimajaja and has long attended the Baptist there.  In fact, she used to help care for Jamie in church when he was a child.   Eliza, like many, lives in an...

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Glory School: A micro-loan project

Glory School: A micro-loan project

When 1+1+1= 42… Forty-two is the number of boys and girls that are now receiving a preschool and early elementary school education after a father and his two adult daughters each took out a $95 loan and then combined them to open the Glory School.   Forty-two kids who no longer need to walk 2 hours to go to school in town.  Their favorite subjects?  Math, reading, writing and of course PE… which includes playing soccer and using...

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Micro-Finance Loan Projects

Micro-Finance Loan Projects

In early 2012 we started a small micro-finance loan project after some friends gave a generous gift to get this started.  Last month, we did a year-end review of the project.  We’re thrilled to share that in the last 12 months, 108 women and men have a received small loan to start or grow their existing businesses!!  So far, all 108 individuals who received loans are people who are known by the micro-finance committee from different...

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Around Here

Around Here

Around here, life has been intense.  Our days have been beyond full and our nights of sleep sometimes a little a lot too short.  Around here, our minds have been swirling with the need-to-do’s, the want-to-do’s, the must-do-nows, and the emergency-do’s.  Around here, our bodies sometimes feel like they are keeping up simply with the force of adrenaline and a little afternoon caffeine. Around here, our hearts have been heavy...

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Josy- Update #3

Josy- Update #3

It was just 3 short weeks yet what-feels-like-forever-ago, that we wrote to you with the devastating news of the prognosis for our dear friend and ministry partner Josy.  Three weeks ago that we were preparing ourselves that Josy might not live another week.  And truth be told, according to the physician, he was that close to death. God’s truth that He knows the number of our days is so apparent and we’re thankful that Josy has...

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A Brutal Reality…

A Brutal Reality…

A brutal reality is the medical care or lack-there-of, in this country. Madagascar doesn’t stand alone in this reality as I’ve experienced the same truths in other developing countries. We’ve recently been forced to look at this nasty reality square in the eyes as Josy, our long-time close friend and ministry partner has been in two different hospitals for the past 6 weeks in the capital city.  To read the back story, click...

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Josy- Update #2

Josy- Update #2

Friends, thank you for your continued prayers for our dear friend Josy.  It’s been 2 weeks since our last update just after Josy had surgery.      There’s been several times that I’ve sat down to write a letter but the suspected diagnosis and prognosis hasn’t been concrete enough to share, until now.      Two days ago, Josy was readmitted to the hospital for monitoring and seen by a nephrologist yesterday.  We...

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What would you do?

What would you do?

Friday. A grandmother in her late 40’s is seeking help frantically.  Her first daughter of 8 children is in labor with her first child.  She’s in the home of an extended family member, hemorrhaging with no medical attention– no doctor, no midwife. This daughter lost her husband to murder just 2 months prior.  She grieved deeply, she stopped eating, she stopped taking care for the life growing within her womb.  She was...

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UPDATE- An Urgent Call to Prayer

UPDATE- An Urgent Call to Prayer

   Friends, we are humbled by your prayers! We are humbled by your love and care for a dear friend of ours that many of you have never met but have only heard stories of over the years. We are humbled by your notes of encouragement to send along to Josy and notes for us.  We received well over 125 messages on email and facebook.  Many of you passed our prayer request on to others, emailed it to your friends and families, sent it to prayer...

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Provision

Provision

God provides.  That’s all there is to it.  He provides.  For our work in Madagascar, He provides the resources, the finances, the people.  In our life, He provides the peace that passes all understanding.  He provides His incomparable love.  He provided His Son.  Not to say that we can sit back, lazy, just waiting for Him to provide.  Not saying that at all.  But I do know that He calls us to faith that He WILL provide–...

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An Urgent Call to Prayer

An Urgent Call to Prayer

It is with a heavy heart yet a heart still full of hope that we write to you today to ask you to pray for Josy, our closest friend and partner in ministry.  As you read this, he is laying in a hospital in the capital city awaiting emergency surgery on Monday.  I say emergent because the surgery should have been performed Friday, but his blood count was too low.  Yesterday, his brother Dina searched the city’s hospitals looking for...

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A Photographic Journey

A Photographic Journey

Over New Year’s we went to Antananarivo for some cooler temps, some fellowship with other English speakers, some play, some work, and alas, some shopping.. though shopping for stuff like Oatmeal and Sundried Tomatoes is not necessarily what I consider exhilarating shopping. The beauty of this rugged landscape that is Madagascar never ceases to amaze me.  Every time we make this 10-hour drive, I stand in awe of God’s awesome creation...

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A Little Taste of Paradise

A Little Taste of Paradise

The kids having been asking me to bake lately.  In fact, Gavin and Eliana both attempted to bake their own renditions of dessert yesterday… for Gavin it was chocolate pizza and for Eliana, it was chocolate cake.  Of course the measurements were all askew and Eliana was heartbroken and distraught when her cake came out of the oven still in liquid form.  I promised, “tomorrow we’ll make chocolate chip cookies!”  Squeels...

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Antananarivo

Antananarivo

Antananarivo, try saying that fast 10 times.  Antananarivo or Tana for short, is the capital city of Madagascar and is where we recently spent a week over New Years for business but also play and fellowship with other English speaking friends in the missionary community.  Some people despise Tana while others seem to enjoy it.  We enjoy it in somewhat small doses.  Like most capital cities, especially in developing countries, Tana is a city...

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Year-End Newsletter

Year-End Newsletter

It’s that time of year again… time for families and friends to share Christmas letters and cards, photos of how the kids have changed and stories of their latest news, accomplishments and/or tribulations.  So… we decided to do the same…               Like it? Share it!SharePrintTwitterLinkedInFacebookLike this:Like...

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Is it Christmas???

Is it Christmas???

It’s the afternoon of December 20th.  Christmas is 5 days away…. so technically 4 more days until Christmas. Have I done any shopping?  No. Have I sung any familiar Christmas hymns in church?  No.  Have I done any holiday baking?  No.  Have I seen any Christmas lights glittering the neighborhoods and lighted trees, dotting the streets?  Sadly, no.  The truth is, it’s haarrrrrddddddd to get into the Christmas spirit...

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Market Day

Market Day

Tuesday is market day in our house.  There’s nothing really special about why Tuesday is the market day other than the largest deliveries of fresh produce arrive on Tuesday and Friday mornings at the market that I shop at.  Of course, when I say “market”, I don’t mean the clean, nicely manicured, air conditioned market with music overhead, lots of lights and a shopping cart to tote all our soon-to-be purchases in.  I...

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Traditional Midwives…

Traditional Midwives…

I’m not sure of the number of traditional midwives here in Madagascar but I know there’s a good number of them.  These women have no formal training but rather their knowledge has been passed down from older generations.  Dadan’i Sisy, pictured here with her youngest grandson, Jedi in 2002, was a traditional midwife in Mahabana for several years.  She has since moved to our city of Mahajanga where she cares for Jedi and his...

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O Holy Night

O Holy Night

This is a guest post from Tara Livesay.  Tara is a gifted writer, a fellow worker and soon-to-be midwife doing what we’re getting ready to do in terms of providing maternity care to some of the “least of these”.   Tara and her family live and work in Haiti with Heartline Ministries.  You can read more of Tara’s blogs here.         O Holy Night Every direction you turn, images of Christmas are...

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A sickness and a prayer…

A sickness and a prayer…

You may have read about our doozy of a Thanksgiving last week… if not, my last post will give you the back story. I was sick.  Sick as a dog.  5 full days of raging fever, intense body aches, and extreme fatigue… and that’s all.  No respiratory symptoms, no GI symptoms, no rash.  In fact, this bout of illness put the bout of Malaria I had in 2001 to shame.  Or maybe time has faded my recollection of the intensity of...

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Holiday Doozies

Holiday Doozies

Celebrating major American holidays and living in Madagascar somehow just don’t go together very well… or maybe we just haven’t found our groove with them just yet.  In fact, the last 4 holidays we’ve celebrated in Madagascar have been doozies… starting with Christmas, then New Year’s, Halloween and most recently, Thanksgiving.  Some more have been doozier than others. Christmas of 2011 was bad, real bad....

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Of Poverty and Injustice…

Of Poverty and Injustice…

Not necessarily a fun topic to think about or address but it’s a killer (quite literally) to live with day in and day out, everyday of one’s life.  Poverty and Injustice.  They happen all around us.  Sometimes we’re aware of them and often times, unintentionally, we’re completely oblivious to the realities that surround the people we live amongst. Last week I was told about two tragic stories that reflect this poverty...

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An Anniversary… of a sheep’s butt

An Anniversary… of a sheep’s butt

You read that right… Jamie and I had our 10-year vodiondry anniversary November 2.  Vodiondry in Malagasy is literally translated as sheep’s butt, so yes, in fact we did celebrate our 10th sheep’s butt anniversary!  Or in other terms, we celebrated our 10-year anniversary of when we got married Malagasy-style.  The name for this Malagasy wedding ceremony between the families… you guessed it… sheep’s butt or...

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Mahabana By Air

Mahabana By Air

Many of you have heard about Mahabana over the last 13 years. Mahabana is an incredibly special place to us for many reasons… the people, the relationships, the simplicity of life, the fishing, the history, the ways God has worked, the ways He has transformed lives there, the ways He has allowed us to witness His hand at work.  You can read about the history of Mahabana here and the transformation that has occurred in Mahabana here. The...

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