The good, the bad and the ugly…. June 2016 News

The good, the bad and the ugly…. June 2016 News

Life as we all know it is sometimes a mixture of good, bad and ugly… at times, all three are wrapped into a single day. The month of June seemed to be just this for us here in Madagascar. Kalamboro… (the good!) Thank you for your many prayers that went out as we traveled as a group to the remote fishing villages of Kalamboro and Mahabana! In Kalamboro, the reception was unbelievable as lines of people formed to give a formal...

Read More

“Sorry Madagascar, Your Problems Aren’t Hot Enough…”

“Sorry Madagascar, Your Problems Aren’t Hot Enough…”

ISS- AKA the Institute for Security Studies, recently published an article on October 7th about Madagascar written by Simon Allison.  The title: Sorry Madagascar, Your Problems Aren’t Hot Enough.  The title basically sums what we’ve been saying for years, Madagascar is a forgotten corner of the globe that is often overlooked and neglected.  The truth hits hard. The words written in the article, sobering.  We see the reality of...

Read More

Twenty Fourteen

Twenty Fourteen

Twenty Fourteen was quite the year… there was good and there was hard, there were times of joy and sadness, times of growth and steps backward.  Through it all, God has been present and He is good!  It’s good to look back through pictures and SEE that God has been present and He is good– in addition to knowing that truth deep in my heart.  So here’s a look at twenty-fourteen and the things that fed our souls during...

Read More

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...

Read More

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...

Read More

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...

Read More

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...

Read More

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–...

Read More

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...

Read More

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...

Read More

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...

Read More

Saying Good-bye

Saying Good-bye

Though Madagascar often lacks a lot of the medical means to help fight against death, the people of Madagascar certainly know how to be with their deceased.  Traditionally speaking, the Malagasy actually worship their ancestors… but this isn’t what I’m talking about.  What I am talking about is Malagasy seem to know how to mourn the loss of a loved one. In March 2011, just 3 months after we arrived in Madagascar, Jamie’s Malagasy...

Read More

Maman’i Petana

Maman’i Petana

Three days ago we spoke with our good friend and ministry partner, Josy, in Madagascar. He called to tell us that his older sister Maman’i Petana had just passed away. You may remember that I shared about Maman’i Petana in my last blog here. Cancer had wreaked havoc on her body and most likely, had she been somewhere else in the world in a developed country, she would’ve at worst, lived longer and at best, been cured. But sadly, she was in...

Read More

Death in Madagascar

Death in Madagascar

I know… not such a nice title nor subject. Nonetheless death in Madagascar is a huge reality. In one of the poorest countries of the world with little resources and most living in poverty, death is too common. Death from preventable and treatable diseases and conditions. Death that would have never happened had the person been living in a place of opportunity and quality medical care, a place like America. The last three weeks we’ve been...

Read More

Two Worlds

Two Worlds

[singlepic id=71 w=320 h=240 float=center] From the remote fishing village of Mahabana in Madagascar to the sprawling park of Disneyland… this is our life in two worlds.     We’ve been back in the States for 3 weeks now.  It’s been a period of adjustment as we transition from our lives in Madagascar and the Philippines to our life here in Santa Barbara.  On many levels it’s been a fairly easy transition but there has also...

Read More

Life in Olongapo

Life in Olongapo

  We’re on the eve of our departure from the Philippines.  It’s been a blessed 6+ weeks here as we experienced a new culture and new way of life.  Though we’ve written other blog posts about certain aspects of our time here, here’s a larger recap and closer look at our life in Olongapo, Philippines. Bennett Road… our street in Olongapo And our humble little abode The Mercy In Action birth center directly across the street...

Read More

Signs and Such

Signs and Such

  The Philippines, like other cultures is unique. One of the many unique characteristics about the PI is the names of some of the people… sure, there’s some Tom’s and Sally’s, Mike’s and Jenny’s but there’s also names like Jha Jha, Bong, Princess Fay and Baby Jane. Yes, unique. We’ve also come across some pretty great signs. Sadly we didn’t always have a camera with us on such occasions but when we did, we made sure...

Read More

Wisdom in Birth

Wisdom in Birth

My midwifery courses are nearly all complete, my internship is wrapping up in the Philippines, and most of my “required numbers” are fulfilled. In less than a month, Lord willing, my formal midwifery education will be complete and all that will remain will be studying for and sitting for my midwifery board exams in mid-August. It’s at this point that I have total mixed emotions. Am I excited to be done with school? Absolutely!! Especially...

Read More

Flyers

Flyers

Mercy Midwives Birthing Home is the birth center through Mercy In Action that I’m interning at here in Olongapo. Though Mercy In Action has initiated, successfully operated and turned over many birth centers in the last 21 years here in the Philippines, this particular birth center has only been open for just over a year. Word is still getting out. The first week that we were here, I helped Lanie, a Philippino friend and employee of Mercy...

Read More

To Miss and Not To Miss….

To Miss and Not To Miss….

It’s been a week since we left the great Red Island of Madagascar. There are several aspects of our life that we already miss… and there are some aspects for which we’re happy to have a break from. Here’s our top few…. TO MISS… 1. Friends… We’ll all miss our Malagasy friends who are an integral part of our lives. 2. Jamie will miss his direct involvement with the  management of the large scale mangrove...

Read More

12 Years Of Transformation

12 Years Of Transformation

Flashback to October 9, 1999– I stepped off a Malagasy sailboat and into life within the village of Mahabana. A village barely touched by the outside world and so entrapped by the vices of poverty on every level. A village where 30% of the population controlled the other 70% simply due to ownership of canoes and fishing supplies. A village were many of the desperate 70% were enslaved to the manipulating 30% through debt bondage, as...

Read More

Choosing Poverty

Choosing Poverty

These two words don’t seem to make a lot of sense when put together… why would someone choose poverty? Why when someone has lived their entire life in poverty, married into poverty, birthed their babies into poverty and currently are raising their kids in poverty, why would they choose to continue to live in life debilitating extreme poverty? Why when given an opportunity to enter a women’s training program where they can make money...

Read More

Running for their Life

Running for their Life

A week and a half ago we made the drive to the capital city, Antananarivo. 2/3 of the way there, we pulled over on the side of the road for a potty break and to stretch our legs. As we got out of the car, there was a man and two women walking towards us along the road. We said hello to them and then they turned off the main road onto a footpath to continue on to their destination. Jamie, being the wonderful dad that he is, decided to play hide...

Read More

Contrasts

Contrasts

The drastic contrasts we experience in our life in Madagascar on a daily basis is phenomenal and sometimes overwhelming. The cold of our air conditioned car to the oppressive heat outside, the filth on the streets to the cleanliness of a nice restaurant, but by and far, the biggest contrast we’re faced with daily is the extreme poverty and the rich. In America, we’re not rich… we’re middle class folks. In Madagascar however, we’re...

Read More

Family Outing To a Birth

Family Outing To a Birth

Family Outing to a Birth My days lately have all been running together, but sometime before Christmas we experienced a new type of family outing… to the birth of a baby.  We were enjoying dinner out with a couple who are considering returning to Madagascar when I received a text from the doctor I’m working with.  First time mom, 35-weeks along in her pregnancy and 4 centimeters dilated.  Could I come?  Absolutely! ...

Read More

A Birth Story

A Birth Story

If you didn’t already know, I’m a Master’s trained Family Nurse Practitioner and practiced for 5 years in the States before returning to school once again to attain my Midwifery licensure.  For the past 2 years, I’ve been slowly chipping away at my midwifery academics as well as attending prenatals and births.  A few weeks ago, I attended my first birth here in Madagascar.  As could be expected, it was different than the lovely home...

Read More

One Days Wage

Some exciting news was released yesterday.. One Day’s Wages is partnering with Eden Reforestation Projects who is partnering with us, Jamie and Alissa Shattenberg, to plant 100,000 more trees in Madagascar!  If you don’t know about One Day’s Wages… you should. Taken from their website, “One Day’s Wages (ODW) is a new grassroots movement of people, stories, and actions to alleviate extreme global...

Read More

Village Life According to a 5-year old

Village Life According to a 5-year old

I have to admit, I was a little nervous as to how our kids would handle the village life of Mahabana.  It’s not easy living.  Hot and humid temperatures without escape, no electricity, no running water, no toilets, and only bucket showers.  Granted, it’s been a long time since I was 5 years old… but I should’ve remembered.  To our kids, once the excitement factor of our arrival vanished and the village kids weren’t so...

Read More

Transportation to Mahabana

Transportation to Mahabana

Getting to Mahabana is no easy task!  Though only 120 miles from the large city of Mahajanga, there are no roads, not even the semblance of a road.  In 2000, Jamie attempted to drive it once, it took 7 days, one way, and when they had driven as far as they could and after several problems with the car, including a small engine fire, they gave up and turned around.  They didn’t even make it half the distance to Mahabana. In the past, Jamie...

Read More

Mahabana: A History

Mahabana: A History

Mahabana is a small yet growing fishing village 120 miles south of where we live in the large city of Mahajanga.  When Jamie first went to Mahabana in 1999, the village consisted of just 100 people; today, it’s home to close to 400. After living there, Josy, a good Malagasy friend, took Jamie to Mahabana for the first time in 1999 with the hopes of good fishing and the chance to share the sweet message of Christ.  Just prior to their arrival...

Read More

Weighing In

Weighing In

Two weeks ago while in the capital city, Antananarivo, we saw quite the entrepreneurial spirit at work.  The guy in the photo above, was making his way through the neighborhoods, weighing people for 50 Ariary, the equivalent to 2.5 cents.  The crazy thing for this American mind of mine…. people were lined up to weigh in, especially women!  A lady would stop whatever she was doing, step on the scale with crowds of people surrounding her,...

Read More

Friendly Skies

Friendly Skies

While my folks were visiting, we decided to forego the normal 10-hour drive to the capital city and instead take the quick 45-minute flight.  It sounds a bit like a no brainer but in fact, this was the first time we’ve done this… and it was so nice! We arrived at the airport the required 90 minutes prior to our flight, tickets and passports in hand.  I stepped up to the counter, gave them our electronic tickets and within minutes, all...

Read More

Unsung Heroes (part I)

Unsung Heroes (part I)

  We decided to start a little “Unsung Heroes” series… a tribute to all the Malagasy people who work so hard, day after day, to eek out a living in order to care for their family the best they can.  The stories are unique and they are endless.  Our goal is that these circumstances and lives may not go unnoticed in the world…. at least in our small world and the circle of friends and family who view this blog. We found are...

Read More

Ramadan in Madagascar

Ramadan in Madagascar

Though Malagasy religious beliefs mostly comprise of indigenous animistic worship (52%) and Christian (41%), 7% of the population claim Islam.  As such, Ramadan is celebrated in Madagascar.  August 1st marked the first day of Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. This month, Muslims here in Madagascar as well as around the world are gathering together to “fast, pray, connect with family and friends, and re-evaluate their lives in...

Read More

The Rice of Life…

The Rice of Life…

Rice is not only a way of life here in Madagascar, rice IS life!  The Malagasy people are a blend of african and malayo-indonesian and signs of this heritage are seen throughout the country.  Rice fields can be seen in the wet rain forests of the east coast, the savanna of the high plateau, as well as the dry and arid west coast.  The average Malagasy adult can eat roughly 1 kg (or 2.2 pounds) of rice everyday between breakfast, lunch and...

Read More

Easter- Malagasy style

Easter- Malagasy style

Easter here in Madagascar is celebrated a little different than in the States… no dyed eggs, Easter bunny or candy stuffed in plastic eggs, but that’s not to say there’s not a party.  The town of Antsirabe where we currently live is the party capital when it comes to Easter celebrations here on the island.  It consists of a week-long street party, complete with street vendors selling clothes and food, bounce houses and train rides...

Read More

Hidden Gems

Hidden Gems

Two weekends ago, we hopped in the car and drove 90 minutes south to the town of Ambositra, the wood-carving capital of the island.  While there, someone pointed out where we could find raffia handmade items.  We climbed up a steep trail and emerged at the top of the hill outside a traditional Malagasy house.  We were warmly welcomed in with a “Mandroso!”  There we met a sweet elderly woman sitting on the floor of her bedroom amidst a...

Read More

Money Matters

Money Matters

Money is an interesting thing here in Madagascar.  Though we have been paid for medical services in the form of livestock, fruit and/or vegetables before, this quite obviously is not the standard.  Malagasy money has quite the history of changing on several occasions.  For example, when we lived here before, we used the Malagasy Franc (MGF) but in recent years, the currency has returned to the pre-colonial Ariary.  The Ariary is 1/5 the...

Read More
%d bloggers like this: