Heavy…

Heavy…

It’s been months, if not going on years, since I’ve actually written in this space.  My heart aches to write and too often I push this desire aside to complete the unending list of tasks and self-imposed deadlines. Alas I’m putting it off no longer… there’s too much to say, too much to share, too much that I want to invite others into to better understand what full-time life and ministry in Madagascar is really...

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Even in riots and betrayal… (and a video update!)

Even in riots and betrayal… (and a video update!)

 In all things and in all ways… give thanks!    Give thanks… even in the riots    The month of November started amazing as we were wrapping up a much-needed vacation with my folks and our teammates on the beautiful island of Nosy Be!  You can read more about that here.        Our vacation abruptly came to a halt when we found ourselves at the center of a riot on the drive home. Literally. The 14 of us...

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Unexpected… February News

Unexpected… February News

Unexpected birth… It was 11:15pm and amazingly, we were already in bed and had just fallen asleep. I received a phone call from Rota, the Malagasy midwife at the maternity center.  She was talking fast and was a bit winded as she walked down the dark dirt road telling me that Elizabeth, who was pregnant with twins and at term, was laboring at her home and progressing quickly.  I texted Danielle, our American ministry partner, threw on...

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Sharing Our Burden… October News

Sharing Our Burden… October News

Twins x 2! Last month two mama’s-to-be in our prenatal program went in for their first ultrasound… both walked out with surprising news– both expecting TWINS, both with the same expected due date of February 22nd!  Elizabeth and Nathalie, the special mamas and these four babies are the first twins in our program!  They have begun receiving dual care– continuing to come each week to the Sarobidy Maternity Center to...

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“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...

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Replanting the Forests of Madagascar – a featured article

Replanting the Forests of Madagascar – a featured article

We’re excited to share with you that our work with Eden Projects in Madagascar was the recent featured article in the Inside WorldVenture magazine!  To quote the article, “WorldVenture missionaries are leading one of the largest reforestation projects in the world, alleviating poverty and changing hearts as they go”. Take a look at this awesome article by clicking here, then use the arrow to start reading at page 17! Like it?...

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Holding Her Head High…

Holding Her Head High…

Nearly all of the women at the Sarobidy Maternity Center have led difficult lives.  Abject poverty, physical and emotional abuse, lack of education or total illiteracy, children from multiple fathers, prostitution, rape, oppression by their society and government, and women without a voice in their communities.  The hardships are unimaginable and they.are.so.real….. click here to read the rest of this story as written in our April...

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Exposure…

Exposure…

“Uterine rupture stands as a single obstetric accident that exposes the flaws and inequities of health systems and the society at large due to the degree of neglect that it entails”.  –Ghana Medical Journal (A Two-Year Review of Uterine Rupture in a Regional Hospital) Tuesday: February 17th, 12:15am. I’ve always known there is abuse on multiple levels to women during labor and birth worldwide.  I’ve always known...

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STOLEN at the Sarobidy Maternity Center

STOLEN at the Sarobidy Maternity Center

We’re super sad to report that the Sarobidy Maternity Center was broken into just before dawn on Sunday morning.  Every-one is OK.  There was no threat to life or injuries for which we’re extremely thankful after a few other burglaries in our city this weekend where this wasn’t the case!!   Nonetheless, it comes with a whole host of emotions… anger, frustration, sadness, the sense of violation and an underlying...

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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Part of the Solution to Poverty… part 2

Part of the Solution to Poverty… part 2

The other day I wrote the post, Part of the Solution to Poverty… part 1.  If you haven’t read it yet, check it out as it’s a reflection of my thoughts and emotions.  This post below is NOT written by me… oh, how I wish I had the writing talents of Ann Voskamp.  Incredible.  This online journal of hers was shared with me by a dear friend about 2 weeks after all my reflections while in yoga class.  It’s long....

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Part of the Solution to Poverty…part 1

Part of the Solution to Poverty…part 1

“Part of the solution to poverty is doing whatever it takes to get your heart to stay with the poor.”  ~Ann Voskamp Back in July when we were still in the States I had all these thoughts swarming around in my head.  Thoughts of extreme poverty and extreme wealth.  Of injustice and justice, of ignorance and knowledge, of faith and action. We had just come from 2 impoverished countries (Madagascar and the Philippines) and then...

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Back to…

Back to…

We landed back in Madagascar just about 3 weeks ago.  Time goes fast. The first few days back hit me hard.  Not like being rushed and tackled by a 300-pound 6.5-foot linebacker with a grudge…. but more innocently– like being rushed and tackled by our giggling two-year old.   Here’s a few of the things that hit me: …back to crazy driving– dodging people, cars, rickshaws, chickens, ox-carts, cows and...

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Break the Silence

Break the Silence

During my time both here in the Philippines as well as in Madagascar, I’ve been with women during childbirth in hospital settings. On this blog, I can’t describe in detail the things I’ve witnessed, experienced and heard… they are not my stories to tell and to be honest, they are too gruesome to share in such a public setting. However, what I can share is my feelings in relation to what I’ve seen. I’ve always known to an extent...

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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...

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Medical Care in Madagascar

Medical Care in Madagascar

Last post I told you about our Family Outing to a Birth and promised that the story wasn’t over yet.  Unfortunately it wasn’t over… and three weeks after the birth of this little girl, the story still continues.  Medical care in Madagascar is, we’ll just say, sub-optimal to put it nicely.  Case in point… The baby in my previous post was born at 35 weeks gestation and weighed just over 5 pounds at birth.  The mom and baby...

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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...

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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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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...

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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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“For how long shall we let our women continue to die?”

“For how long shall we let our women continue to die?”

Last weekend our family traveled to Antananarivo, the capital city, so that I could attend a conference about “Ideas For Women’s Cancer Control in Africa”.  This conference, organized by TEDx, brought in specialists from several countries, including Italy, France, India, Zimbabwe, the UK, South Africa, Madagascar and the good ole‘ US of A.  The speakers were as varied as the countries represented… medical directors, researchers,...

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Field Trip to the School for the Visually Impaired

Field Trip to the School for the Visually Impaired

Yesterday our Malagasy class took a field trip to a school for visually impaired children.  The purpose of such field trips is to not only to be able to listen and speak in Malagasy but also to raise our cultural awareness.  I love these field trips and find them absolutely fascinating.  This school is the largest center on the island of Madagascar.  It was started in 1924 and moved to it’s current location in the town of Antsirabe in...

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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...

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