Goodbye’s, hello’s, repeat, repeat, repeat….

Goodbye’s, hello’s, repeat, repeat, repeat….

Goodbyes… Thank you for your prayers for the three families– the Bright’s, Gough’s, and Jensen’s that left Madagascar earlier this month. The last year has been a gift in so many ways for us personally, as a field, ministry-wise and for each of the families and those they interacted with daily. Goodbyes are never easy but the sadness and tears are truly a testimony to the intensity of the life shared...

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Ten on Ten- June 2017

Ten on Ten- June 2017

How the month of June came and vanished with the blink of an eye is beyond me.  It could’ve been all the extra things to conquer while our team of five families was still on the ground here in Madagascar, or it could’ve been soaking up all the last memories as a large team of 26 adults and kids, or the many tears shed and tender good-byes that we and the Carlstrom’s said to the Bright, Gough and Jensen families.  This has...

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Across the board…

Across the board…

Life on the mission field brings an array of emotions across the board… this letter hits a bit on a few of these. Heavy… (This is part of an original blog post that can be found here….) A first-time mom with joyful expectation of delivering a healthy baby boy at the Sarobidy Maternity Center had been struggling with the results of her 20-week ultrasound that showed her baby had short legs. Unbelieving of the news, she received a...

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Ten on Ten- January 2017

Ten on Ten- January 2017

Ten photos throughout the day on the 10th of the month to capture the beauty of the ordinary in our day.  The 10th landed on a Tuesday this month.  Tuesday is our shopping day that Jamie and I make a date out of… nothing special…  no great restaurants, food, coffee, movie, walk on the beach, etc… merely a day that we set aside each week to catch up and be together sans kiddos and little voices interrupting our conversation....

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Ten on Ten- September

Ten on Ten- September

Ten photos a day on the 10th of the month to capture the beauty in the daily life. This month on September 10th we had a filmmaker from the USA helping us to share what’s happening here in Madagascar.  Chris is ever-so-talented and has made some films in the past for us– you can check those out here, here and here. These quick-snap iPhone photos taken by several different people simply captured the behind the scenes magic of this...

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Ten on Ten- July

Ten on Ten- July

For years I’ve had the burning desire to participate in a little exercise called Ten on Ten…. something that another former SPU alum and acquaintance, Rebekah Gough began.  The premise is simple: 10 pictures a day on the 10th of every month in order to capture the beauty that is life all around.  And so, the day before a planned trip to the capital rather than the standard rush and impatience, I pulled out the camera throughout to...

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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...

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New Life and a Chance for New Beginnings… January News

New Life and a Chance for New Beginnings… January News

Thank you for praying us back to Madagascar earlier this month!  We arrived after only one hiccup due to a passport at the airport which caused us to spend an additional 3 days in the USA.  In the end, the extra time in Santa Barbara was such a gift!  We slept, walked on the beach, went surfing, had additional time with friends and family and even were able to pick up prescription medication for the kids that hadn’t come into the...

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Fingerprints in the Details…. December News

Fingerprints in the Details…. December News

Home Assignment by the Numbers… As we wrap up our time in the USA we look back to all that occurred in such a short amount of time. Historically, our time in the USA has been busier than we plan, hope for or anticipate– this time was no different and we’ve come to the realization that this is our “normal” here– and as such, we simply cannot buck it or complain about it!  🙂  Our time in the States is full...

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Combatting Lies with Truth… November News

Combatting Lies with Truth… November News

   For years we have been praying for like-minded ministry partners to join in the growing work in Madagascar.  In 2014 and early 2015 we hosted several individuals, couples and families that came to Madagascar for vision trips.  Now that we’re back in the States we’re meeting with the same folks as they work on returning to Madagascar to serve with us– some for 6 months, some for a year, some for as long as God keeps them...

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On Transition and Re-Entry…

On Transition and Re-Entry…

Transition and re-entry.  It’s become a regular part of our lives, typically on a 20 month then 5 month then 20 month then 5 month rotation. Each and every time we return to the USA we experience transition.  Each and every time we return to Madagascar we experience transition.  Through the years, the transition and re-entry back home to Madagascar has become easier while the transition and re-entry to the USA has increasingly become...

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The Living Proof… August News

The Living Proof… August News

In the last 6 weeks, we’ve been in Madagascar, Paris, California, Colorado, Idaho and as I write this, Jamie is BACK in Madagascar after having arrived in country over the weekend for work with Eden Projects!  In the next 3 weeks, Jamie and I will add Ghana and Amsterdam to that list before we return back to the USA together!  To read more from our August Newsletter, click here. Like it? Share...

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World’s Apart… July 2015 News

World’s Apart… July 2015 News

It’s a bit of surreal process to travel half way around the world… leaving one world in which we’re settled and at home and coming back to our American world and the transition that it warrants.  The sights, sounds, experiences, foods, work, routines, friends, commonalities, climate, culture, currency and language are all totally different between the two worlds. As I downloaded our pictures from our camera recently, these...

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Our Happy Place…

Our Happy Place…

A couple months ago I was telling Jamie how much I would love it if he swept me away someplace as a surprise.  At that time, it was talk and I was loftily dreaming of someplace in Europe or Asia… walking the streets, exploring the culture, eating yummy cuisine, snapping pictures and enjoying each other, sans children.  I put my dream on the back burner because you know… REALITY. Last month we “celebrated” our 12-year...

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Lakana at Sunset

Lakana at Sunset

The crew of 4 students from Westmont College are with us this month and we’re joining efforts with a team of 20+ Malagasy young people from our Eden Crew and Maternity Center crew for a month-long mission trip.  Each morning we meet in the gazebo at the Sarobidy Maternity Center.  Jamie leads a fun challenge and pretends that he’s Jeff Probst from Survivor for the day.  We then sing songs in Malagasy and English and someone shares...

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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Philippines

Philippines

Last week we arrived in Olongapo, Philippines where we’ll call home for the next 6+ weeks. We were blessed beyond measure as our teammates here had already found and furnished a small house for us… no easy feat in a developing country! As though this isn’t gift enough, the house is literally right across the street from the Mercy Midwives Birthing Home where I’ll continue my midwifery training. Within 2 hours of our arrival, I was...

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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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Chicken Count

Chicken Count

Quiz: A customary gift of friendship here in Madagascar is: flowers a froofy-smelling candle a chicken a stuffed fish on a plaque to hang on the wall   If you guessed C. a chicken, congratulations!  Yes, a chicken is the traditional gift of friendship here in Madagascar.  There’s not any hard and fast rules about this (that I know of), however it’s the typical fomba or custom. Since we moved back to Mahajanga in July, we’ve...

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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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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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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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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...

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Mauritius (part II)

Mauritius (part II)

As I said in my last post, our family along with my parents, went to the beauty country island of Mauritius for a vacation earlier this month.  One word sums up Mauritius… AMAZING!  By no means is the island a first world country but it is a long ways from Madagascar…. in fact, Mauritius is one of the developing world’s most “successful democracies”  compared to Madagascar that recently earned the title, “the World’s...

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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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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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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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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 replaced...

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We’ve found a COW!

We’ve found a COW!

One of the great benefits of living in Antsirabe was the close proximity to a Swiss missionary who had milking cows and as a result, twice a week, we received fresh milk delivered to our house as well as thick blocks of cheese.  Since our move to Mahajanga, we’ve had to return to UHT long-life boxed milk and we haven’t been thrilled about it.  It’s terribly expensive ($7 to $8 a gallon), the taste isn’t great and I often wonder what...

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Sites of the Road

Sites of the Road

Traveling in Madagascar is never dull.  The roads in the city are congested with cars, bikes, rickshaws, people, pushcarts, oxcarts, broken down vehicles, and a whole host of livestock.  The only difference between the cities and the countryside is it’s less congested.  There is nothing that even comes close to a freeway on this large island.  The national “highway”, if you can call it a highway, is a narrow two lane road without...

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Ony

Ony

Ony has become a favorite friend for Gavin (right) and his little buddy, Alex (left).  She’s a sweet woman who watches the boys while we’re in formal language study.  She has the magic touch and these boys LOVE her just as much as we do!  We’ll certainly miss her when we make the big move to Mahajanga this coming week. Like it? Share it!SharePrintGoogleTwitterLinkedInFacebookLike this:Like...

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Ranomafana

Ranomafana

Two weeks ago, over Pentecost, we had a long holiday weekend… after all, doesn’t everybody have Pentecost Monday as a national holiday?  Along with our guests, we went to a lush rainforest, Ranomafana (literally translated as Hot Water because of the natural hot springs).  It’s one of the “must see” tourist sites on the island.  A large rainforest with a river meandering through the valley floor, full of lemurs, chameleons,...

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Gavin’s Birthday

Gavin’s Birthday

It’s still hard to believe that last Sunday we celebrated Gavin’s 1st birthday!  He’s a sweet, fun-loving, quiet little guy, his eyes twinkle and he brings smiles to all he meets!  He loves to stand on chairs, open and close the dryer, take all the tupperware out of the drawer and sit in wash basins.  During church on his birthday, he took his first steps unassisted!  He’s trying to master this skill daily.  I keep telling him to...

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Early Missionaries

Early Missionaries

Last week our Malagasy class w ent on a field trip to a center for adults who are blind.  This center teaches them a variety of trades so that in time, they may be employed as rug weavers, scarf and sweater knitters, basket makers, etc.  The center and the people were impressive however what really intrigued me was the early missionaries that started this center and lived in this remote location.  I’ve always been fascinated with the daily...

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Field Meetings

Field Meetings

Earlier this month, we had our annual WorldVenture field meetings, which consisted of a day of prayer, a day of business, a day of team building and a day of play.  Our immediate team recently tripled in size when our family of five and the Casurella family of four, arrived on the field this past January.  As a result, our team now consists of 7 adults and 5 kids.  We also had the privilege of our Malagasy office partners, Germain and...

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HOUSE!

HOUSE!

OK, so this is NOT our house… in fact, it’s NOTHING like our house… this house is in the remote village of Mahabana that we’ve been going to for the last 12 years… HOWEVER.. we DID GET THE HOUSE we were hoping and praying for!  If you don’t get our newsletters, here’s the story behind the house.  In March, we traveled 13 hours to the northwest coast and large city of Mahajanga where we’ll move to in the beginning of...

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OUCH!

OUCH!

Last week I finally had a chance to pull out my mother-in-law’s old Singer sewing machine.  Sewing was a wonderful hobby that Bonnie and I enjoyed doing when we lived together 9 years ago.  She passed away in January 2010 and I consider this sewing machine to be a bit of an heirloom that I have the privilege to borrow right now.  The machine is one of those old-school, work-horse, they don’t-make-them-like-this-anymore machines.  I’ve...

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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...

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Easter Surprises

Easter Surprises

As Easter approached this year, I realized I was disappointed in that we weren’t going to give the kids the Easter festivities that they’re accustomed to… church would look different, Easter with family would look different, and the Easter egg hunt would look different.  I grieved at the loss of these but didn’t speak of the disappointment of the absence of the plastic eggs filled with candy, the fake green easter grass and the...

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