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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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Daddy Daycare in the Philippines!!

Daddy Daycare in the Philippines!!

The last three weeks I have shifted not only countries but also roles as Alissa is doing an intensive midwifery internship with the Mercy In Action midwives. As she is working many hours a day and on call 24/7 for births, I am at home with the kids. I have become Mr. Mom in the Philippines. We’re in an unknown country where I have to learn how to and where to shop all over again, where I don’t know the best brand of laundry detergent, or...

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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...

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Third Culture Kids

Third Culture Kids

My husband is a Third Culture Kid (TCK)…. I am not… I’m a Santa Barbara kid! Yet we are raising TCK’s. And what exactly is a TCK? Well, I’m glad you asked… By definition the Third Culture Kid “is a person who has spent a significant part of their developmental years outside the parents’ culture. The TCK frequently builds relationships to all of the cultures, while not having full ownership in any. Although elements...

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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...

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On the Road

On the Road

Traveling between our city of Mahajanga and the capital city of Antananarivo is roughly 350 miles but travel takes 10+ hours with only small towns dotted along the two lane national highway. As such, there are only small take-your-chances-on-getting-sick restaurants along the way. So when hunger pains come and it’s time to stop for lunch, we pull over under a good tree, find a descent rock to sit on and take out our packed lunches. And...

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Loss of Sight…

Loss of Sight…

This last week has been an interesting one with ever-changing plans. The kind of interesting that happens with life in ministry and the associated spiritual battles. Last Thursday our family made the 10-hour drive to the capital city to take care of some things before we leave Madagascar next month. The kids and I were scheduled to fly back to Mahajanga while Jamie stayed in the capital to pick up Steve Fitch, the president of Eden Reforestation...

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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...

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You Never Know What You’re Gonna Get…

You Never Know What You’re Gonna Get…

When it comes to shopping, and I’m talking shopping for food, this statement is so true here in Madagascar…you never know what you’re gonna get.  When we lived here 9 years ago, the food items in terms of variety were limited, very, very limited.  When we returned a year ago, I was absolutely ecstatic how times, and items on the shelf, have changed.   Here’s a sneak peak list of items we CAN get here in Madagascar. *Ketchup,...

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Christmas Joy

Christmas Joy

Last weekend on Christmas Eve we had a family first.  In the days leading up to Christmas, I was in a baking frenzy, making our hot kitchen all the hotter.  In total, I baked 19 dozen cookies as well as some bars.  We celebrated Christmas Eve day by delivering these scrumptious treats to our Malagasy friends and employees.  In Malagasy culture, it’s more of an honor to visit someone in their house.  So, all five of us loaded up into the...

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Puzzle Time

Puzzle Time

A few days a week, after school is over and kids are awake from naps or rest time, our kids play with a regular group of 6-7 Malagasy kids.  It is awesome!  It brings joy all around– to our kids, the Malagasy kids, and to us.  Usually they play games like prison tag, kick-the-can and soccer.  They push each other on the tire swing and the girls braid one another’s hair.  Their play language is Malagasy with our girls trying to teach...

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Life’s Joys!

Life’s Joys!

There is something amazing about seeing my children being cared for by the friends of my youth.  In truth, it is a dream come true.  I love watching my children experience the world of Madagascar that I grew up in, a world one would not appear to fit into and yet where one is welcomed without hesitation. Take for instance, Isabella riding on the back of Armand’s bicycle through the slums of Mahajanga with full confidence that Armand will...

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Mangoes!

Mangoes!

Aaghhh, my favorite time of year in Madagascar… OK, well not really because it’s so unbelievably hot and muggy.  On average, it’s 97 degrees with an outrageous humidity level… somewhere around 80-90%.  However, with this ridiculous weather comes MANGOES, and this my friends, makes me very happy!  Mangoes are everywhere!  The trees are dripping sweetness all around.  Women are carrying them by basin-fulls balancing them on...

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For the Love of Thanksgiving

For the Love of Thanksgiving

Here in Madagascar at this time of year, the air isn’t getting crisp, the leaves aren’t falling from the trees, nor are we sipping hot chocolate by the fireplace but never the less, the holidays are upon us. There are only a handful of Americans living in or around our town… 14 adults that we know of.  Just 14 Americans celebrating a holiday that most here in Madagascar have never heard of before. A few weeks back, I got a crazy bee...

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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...

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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,...

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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...

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Mauritius (part I)

Mauritius (part I)

While my folks were with us, the seven of us ventured over to the neighboring island of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean.  This was a long anticipated and planned trip, we were full of excitement for a vacation in a tropical paradise and Jamie and I were ready for a break from the “dailies” of Madagascar.  We arrived after dark, stepped off the plane and strolled into a beautiful air conditioned airport.  Within the first hour, the contrasts...

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Grandparents

Grandparents

What an absolute joy all around to have my parents with us!  They arrived bearing lots of love and gifts (including Christmas presents) from Santa Barbara.  They also came bearing some fun items from home… a few new movies and coloring books for the kids, some fishing lures for Jamie and coffee for me!  It’s been awesome to enjoy our days together, soaking up the parental and grandparental love that they bring and bestow upon us. The...

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Sissy and Vanna

Sissy and Vanna

The Story of their Lives…                     Sisters, Sissy (16) and Vanna (14) are the oldest of 5 kids.  We first met Sissy and Vanna in the remote fishing village of Mahabana in 2000.  At the time, they were young girls but their lives were already on the common track in such areas to be married at 13 years old, most likely pregnant by 14 and abandoned shortly thereafter, leaving...

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Clarisse and Andry

Clarisse and Andry

The Story of their Lives… Cousins, Clarisse (16) and Andry (13) have experienced a dramatic turn of events in their young lives.  Clarisse is the 3rd child of six.  She grew up in the small town of Anjijia, a farming community in the countryside of Madagascar.  Life in Madagascar is hard, and even harder in rural areas like Anjijia.  From an early age, children are taught and expected to help their parents to plant and tend the...

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Transportation

Transportation

Transportation in Madagascar is as varied as the people here.  For most, transportation is easy, free and God-given: their feet.  However, for some, transportation is on a sarety or ox cart.  For others, its by pousse pousse, bicycle or small motorcycle with the all-too-familiar sight of a family of five aboard.  Recently, there has been an influx of ATV’s in our beach community.  Then of course there is the car, both the old jalopy as...

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Unsung Heroes (part II)

Unsung Heroes (part II)

Last month, we started part I in a series entitled “Unsung Heroes”; 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. Just outside of Antsirabe lies a small wet valley where 7 families work long, hard, dirty days making bricks.  Bricks are used, especially on the high plateau for houses, buildings and walls. Men, women and children are working, they...

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Hello

Hello

Here on the island there’s a hundred different ways to say “hello”… or at least close to a 100.  Because the country is made up of 18 different tribes, all Malagasy, they each have their traditional way of saying “hey”.  Some of my favorites and their translations…   Countrywide, “salama” — “hello” The northwest coast, “karakory” — “what’s up” The north, “mbola tsara” —...

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Trilingual

Trilingual

We hope and pray, that one day, our 3 kids will be trilingual like their daddy.  As they play with Malagasy friends they’re picking up Malagasy and as they attend French School, they’ll soon be speaking French. In the picture above, our five-year-old drew a picture of a recent weekend trip to the beach English:        Beach French:         La plage Malagasy:     Ranomasina It looks like we’re on our way… Like it? Share...

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Cooking Challenges (part II)

Cooking Challenges (part II)

As I’ve said before, cooking in Madagascar is no easy feat at times.  Though it has drastically improved with the number of items we can get for which I’m so incredibly thankful!  There are however, still a number of ingredients we can’t get or we need to improvise with, etc.  Case in point.  I was feeling eager a while back and decided I would make our favorite chocolate chip, oatmeal, walnut cookies that my dad bakes and are awesome!...

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French School

French School

The kids just completed their second week at the French School here in Mahajanga.  Isabella entered Grande Section, the French equivalent to kindergarten and attends 5 days a week.  Eliana started Petite Section, or preschool and attends 3 mornings a week.  Now brace yourself… school STARTS at 7:15am! In and of itself, French School provides an opportunity for culture shock all over again, not necessarily in a bad way, but in a...

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Catch of the Day…

Catch of the Day…

  A few weeks ago we went for a little fishing adventure.  In the past we’ve always done this sort of thing in a Malagasy lakana or outrigger canoe.  Kids have a funny way of changing things though … and this time we went in a small motorboat where the risk of capsizing is a little less.  It was a great Saturday on the Mozambique Channel in the Indian Ocean.       ready and excited for a day of fishing! the...

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2nd Casualties

2nd Casualties

Last month I celebrated my birthday… I won’t tell you what exact year… just that I’m one year closer to 40!  Ohh! My birthday was a little of “this and that” this year.  We celebrated the day before with a birthday lunch and on the actual day, made the 10 hour drive to Mahajanga.  Jamie was a fabulous hubby and made me feel incredibly special throughout the day despite the lack of “ideal” birthday circumstances.  3...

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Preschool Graduation

Preschool Graduation

Two weeks ago, Jamie wrapped up Sekoly (preschool) with the kids, Isabella (5), Eliana (3), and Oliver (3).  We celebrated this milestone for all of them with a little graduation ceremony.  They sang their favorite songs, showed us how they know their letters and the sounds they make, showed us the world map and where their hometowns are as well as Madagascar, and presented their parents with the last 6 months of their artwork and letters...

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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...

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Special Guests & Birthday Celebrations

Special Guests & Birthday Celebrations

    Our long-time good friend and main ministry partner, Josy, left his wife home with their 3 kids and made the 15 hour drive to spend a few days with us and our 3 kids.  It was fantastic!!  We learned something new with our time together…. kids are kids wherever they are and whatever culture they’re from.  Josy felt like he was transplanted back into the chaos of the three small children that he left behind and that chaos was...

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