Ultrasounds, Reuniting and Shopping with a Purpose…

Ultrasounds, Reuniting and Shopping with a Purpose…

Ultrasound Training… In 2016, the Sarobidy Maternity Center received a partial grant for a beautiful ultrasound machine and probes to be used as part of our prenatal care. Later, we coordinated with Hope Imaging for two sonographers to travel to Madagascar for two weeks to teach the art of ultrasound for basic scanning of pregnancies, dating, fetal weight, position, etc. Over the last 5 years, three of the Malagasy midwives have been...

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We’re Learning…

We’re Learning…

Over these many years, the Lord, in His mercy, has grown us and taught us through various trials and hardships, revealing to us His character– one of love, forgiveness, and unceasing grace. We have seen the vastness of His protection, His sovereignty, His compassion and His Holiness.   We have so much more to learn about His nature and about ourselves as we desire to be more like Christ. We are thankful that He is never done...

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Education for Life…

Education for Life…

Thank you for all your prayers for our family during our time home in Madagascar. It was full and fruitful, and in an all-encompassing exhaustive way, it was deeply soul satisfying to be back in the land of our hearts with the people and place and ministries that we love. And praise the Lord… there were no major illnesses to report!  After two days of travel, including a 12-hour drive on the pothole ridden two-lane national highway,...

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After God’s Own Heart

After God’s Own Heart

It’s 10pm on Friday night here in Madagascar. As I type this, voices of our kids and their Malagasy friends fill our home as they speak a conglomeration of Malagasy, French and English. There’s 9 teenagers and 4 younger siblings having a sleepover at our place… a normal occurrence when we’re back on the Red Island.  As we sit fully emerged in this world, it’s a hard to believe that just a week ago, we said farewell...

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2 Countries, 3 Ministries, All 4 Christ

2 Countries, 3 Ministries, All 4 Christ

Raising Up a Generation of Healthy TCK’s… Upon returning to Kenya from Madagascar, Rift Valley Academy arranged for Lauren Wells, Founder and CEO of TCK Training to provide a two-day workshop on Third Culture Kids. This is a topic near and dear to our hearts as we love and raise our own TCK’s, as well as, have the privilege to care for other TCK’s in our home and in our midst.  “Expatriates often experience more...

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Join us in CELEBRATING!!! ❤️ (+video)

Join us in CELEBRATING!!! ❤️ (+video)

Thank you all for your prayers as we traveled home to Madagascar last month. It was far too short, but what we lacked in duration, was made up for in the sweetness of our time on the Red Island!  A Slice of Home to Carry us on… During the short but jam-packed time that we were in Madagascar, we enjoyed friends and shared meals, the kids enjoyed their friends and sleepovers, we enjoyed working long hours alongside our teammates and...

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Poverty as Broken Relationships…

Poverty as Broken Relationships…

The second term of the RVA school year is over, the students have spread across Africa back to their families and their countries of service and a hush has settled over the campus. Roadblocks… Over the last 20+ years of traveling to Madagascar or to remote villages within Madagascar, we have experienced multiple unexpected roadblocks to our departure… passport and visa problems, sickness, theft, accusations and so much more. Honestly, we...

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From Premature to Thriving…

From Premature to Thriving…

Life-Saving Impact… “I feel very blessed and happy to care for my baby. Thank you very much to the Sarobidy Maternity Center for the help and the prayers you have given me and my baby. This is my first baby and she was born prematurely… you really helped me with the money I needed in the hospital and especially encouraged and taught me how to care for my underweight and premature baby. At this time, she is very healthy and has...

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Vital Partnership…

Vital Partnership…

Partnering with Parents… BOARDING SCHOOL… what thoughts or feelings does this conjure up for you? For some, it may be a foreign concept. For others, it may come with negative connotations, beliefs or experiences. And for a relatively small percent of the US population that has lived it, it may have been not only an extremely positive experience but also a vital educational lifeline. I married a boarding school kid and I have three...

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Hope Amidst Darkness and Illness (+ pictures!)

Hope Amidst Darkness and Illness (+ pictures!)

Thank you to all who prayed for our return to Madagascar!! The amount that transpired in that month was a bit intense… good, hard, scary… we’re thankful for the ways the Lord protected and sustained us during this time! A Brief Recap…  * An armed break-in of the main Eden office 4 days before our arrival. * The unexpected death of the mother of one of the midwives at the Sarobidy Maternity Center the night of...

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Bittersweet…

Bittersweet…

Thank you all for your prayers last month as we wrapped up the first term of the school year at Rift Valley Academy (RVA) and as we traveled to Madagascar without being affected by the Kenyan Airways strike!  End of Term in Kenya… The end of term at RVA was fully packed with performances, end of season games, final exams and end of term celebrations— homemade dinners with the guys, ice cream parties and a...

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A Week in the Life…

A Week in the Life…

There is rarely a quiet day at the Sarobidy Maternity Center. Mondays are prenatal days and are buzzing with women singing first thing in the morning, Bible study on the front porch as birds chirp in the trees overhead. Sounds of baby’s perfect and strong heartbeats come through the dopplers and echo down the halls. Health education lessons are taught in Malagasy and one can hear the roar of laughter from the ladies when various...

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Saving Lives…

Saving Lives…

Birth work is beautiful. It is also quite primitive. The flow of hormones and surges and work and strength to bring a new life into the world. The tenderness of a woman becoming a mother for the first time or perhaps the 6th time. It is a sacred space where Jesus fills the room and one can easily be left breathless at the beauty of His intricate creation.  Birth work is also dangerous. Every 11 seconds, a pregnant woman or newborn...

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Trust Without Borders…

Trust Without Borders…

For the last 15+ years, Jamie and I have known with certainty, where the Lord has been calling us individually, as a couple and as a family. Madagascar. That big beautiful Red Island that is home to nearly 28 million people and that exquisitely feels like home to us. In the fall of last year, while on home assignment in the USA and waiting for borders to reopen in Madagascar, we sensed that the Lord was leading our family to serve at Rift...

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Favorite Things…

Favorite Things…

As we’ve been in the USA for the last few weeks, we’re so thankful for the new life that abounds at the Sarobidy Maternity Center. New babies, new mamas, new papas… the exquisiteness of watching a family be born is breathtaking.  We praise the Lord for His care of these women and babies, we praise Him for the ways He is drawing whole families to Himself and we praise Him for the ways He is using the midwives of the Sarobidy...

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A Bit of Home

A Bit of Home

A bit of home in Kenya… Earlier this month we welcomed several of our dear Malagasy friends and co-workers to Kenya for the Eden Projects International Leaders conference. Eden has become one of the largest reforestation organizations in the world– and as such, numerous leaders from various countries, Madagascar included, converged in Kenya! It was surreal and so much fun to be together with our friends in this place!...

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Restoration of a Lost Mangrove Forest…

Restoration of a Lost Mangrove Forest…

Previously barren mudflats, these mangroves were planted in 2018 by the Mahajanga-based Eden team. Over 4 years later, a 6-foot canopy spreads as far as you can see. The local fisherman share that they are catching fish, shrimp and crab in the waters surrounding the mangroves that have been absent from these estuaries for years. It is amazing how life changes when forests return and are allowed to do what God created them to...

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Life is Like a Pair of Ducks

Life is Like a Pair of Ducks

Revisiting the Pair-of-Ducks… Years ago, in one of our newsletters, we wrote about the Paradox of life on the mission field. Also, lovingly referred to as the Pair-of-Ducks when our kids were younger. When our kids were little, we would often sit around the dinner table and each would share their “yay duck” and “yuck duck” for the day. Twelve+ years of living on the mission field and we still talk about the paradox...

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Here and There…

Here and There…

Here in Kenya…. Thank you all for your prayers over these last few weeks of packing, traveling and transitioning to Kenya. Just 10 hours before we were set to leave for the airport, Gavin spiked a fever and was feeling miserable. Within a few hours we determined it best to change our tickets and postpone our flights by 30 hours– enough time to figure out what was going on, hoping he would feel better for the flight, yet still make...

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Exponential Impact

Exponential Impact

A Time for Celebration…  Each year, within the first few months of the year, the staff of the Sarobidy Maternity Center come together to celebrate God’s goodness over the past year and commit the year ahead to Him. We do so through recounting His faithfulness, through praises and prayer, through song, dance, games and of course, delicious Malagasy food. Because of the nature of our maternity center in which...

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Banding Together…

Banding Together…

There is something unique and really special about pregnancy, birth and the early newborn period that has banded women together throughout history, across generations and around the globe. At the Sarobidy Maternity Center, we have the privilege of witnessing this special event happen daily before our eyes– nervous first time moms whispering to each other or receiving advice from women who have already brought several babies into the...

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Under Normal Circumstances…

Under Normal Circumstances…

Anything but Normal… Under normal circumstances, we would be writing this update from Madagascar. Under normal circumstances, we would be sharing about how crazy or perhaps, how seamless, the return trip to Madagascar was and how excruciatingly painful it was to leave our daughter in Kenya for high school. Under normal circumstances, our bodies would be readjusting to the 11-hour time change and the daily rhythms of filtering water,...

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It Takes a Team…

It Takes a Team…

New Life… The first baby of 2022, a little boy, was born at the Sarobidy Maternity Center early this morning. I never cease to be amazed by God’s intricate design when it comes to pregnancy, birth and the bonding of mom and baby. We’re so thankful for the team of compassionate and dedicated midwives that shepherd life into the world on any given day, at any given hour at the Sarobidy Maternity Center!  We praise...

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For this reason…

For this reason…

Everyday tragedy…  The world over, there’s a massive disparity in maternal mortality with higher rates of death in impoverished communities and women of color. Madagascar, of course, is no exception and reports an average of 10 women a day dying in childbirth and just one qualified midwife per 7,000 people.       Earlier this month, a prominent leader and friend in the Malagasy government in...

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Handmade with love…

Handmade with love…

While in high school, Alissa took several jewelry classes which she quickly fell in love with. The process of creating, cutting, soldering, and polishing sterling silver, gold and precious stones became a passion and creative outlet and continued after graduation– until eventually, it went on the shelf for some time. Later, in the years of having babies and working as a nurse practitioner while still in Santa Barbara, jewelry making was a...

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Unrelenting love…

Unrelenting love…

The Unrelenting Love of a Father… We’ve known Fredy since he was a young child. At two years old, his parents made the decision to ask Dina and Maman’i Aby to raise Fredy because they couldn’t afford to raise him themselves. His parents were young, without work and living in extreme poverty. The poverty cycle appeared as though it would continue with Fredy– as he ran around the community while other kids were in...

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Bandits…

Bandits…

The work of Eden Reforestation Projects continues to grow and flourish in Madagascar– new reforestation sites spreading across the red island, new land contracts with the government, new managers rising into leadership, new employees receiving steady wages, new trees being planted which will in time, lead to new forests emerging once again. It is both exciting and thrilling as well as overwhelming and daunting. In some ways, it’s...

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The Power of Education…

The Power of Education…

Invitation to Education  When we began the work of the Sarobidy Maternity Center 8+ years ago, we reached out to a well-respected local physician who has her own full-scope clinic and asked if she would consider being the back-up consulting physician for our program. She agreed and in these past 8+ years, she’s been an incredible gift– sharing her knowledge and wisdom, receiving our patients when we need to refer them to her...

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A Grim Reality, A Stark Contrast…

A Grim Reality, A Stark Contrast…

A Grim Reality…  In Madagascar, like many developing countries throughout the world, women die all too frequently due to preventable complications in pregnancy, labor and delivery, and the immediate postpartum period– globally 800 girls and women die everyday in pregnancy and childbirth (Unicef).  In January, a young family came to the Sarobidy Maternity Center, the mother holding the hand of her 2-year...

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Traversing the Globe… literally!

Traversing the Globe… literally!

Thank you for your steadfast prayers that traversed the globe with us…. quite literally! If you missed our newsletter last month, we made the decision to return to the USA two months earlier than our scheduled home assignment in order to get Isabella, our oldest, back to RVA, her school in Kenya so she could complete her third term. The five of us departing together was the ONLY way for us to get her safely back to Kenya without being...

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Across the Generations…

Across the Generations…

Maman’i Pao and her family are one of the longer standing families in our community. Historically, they’ve also been one of the most materially poor families in our community. Mother to 14 children, only 7 babies survived birth, infancy and early childhood!! The 7 that did survive all have families of their own now.   Over three decades ago, Maman’i Pao worked with Jamie’s mom, Bonnie, to do some odd jobs...

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You Can’t Make this Stuff Up!

You Can’t Make this Stuff Up!

Grace Abounds…  As many of you know, in January, our oldest daughter, Isabella, began Rift Valley Academy, a boarding school for missionary kids in Kenya. She has loved her time at RVA– the friends, the sports, the community! RVA operates with three terms a year separated by a month-long vacation between the terms where students return home to their various African countries. Our family was eagerly counting down the days for...

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Leading with Grace…

Leading with Grace…

…At the Sarobidy Maternity Center Rota is the National Director for the Sarobidy Maternity Center. Before the center even opened, she moved 12 hours from the capital city to the coast to help open the center. She was young and a new graduate midwife. Over these last eight years, Rota has grown leaps and bounds in knowledge, wisdom and grace as both a midwife and as a leader.   Earlier this month, the Sarobidy Maternity...

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Courage… every second of every day

Courage… every second of every day

Thank you for your gracious prayers, emails and messages of encouragement since sharing the news last month about the imminent transition of taking our oldest to Kenya to begin high school at Rift Valley Academy!  The Lord was incredibly gracious to us amidst the seamless travel of 6 flights, 13 negative PCR Covid tests, entrance back into Madagascar, and the airplane safely landing after two failed attempts in the midst...

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A New Chapter after 10 Years…

A New Chapter after 10 Years…

Ten Year Anniversary… On this day, 10 years ago exactly, we arrived in Madagascar as a family of five. At the time, our kids were 4 years, 2 years and 6 months old. We arrived in the wee hours of the morning on January 1, 2011… the five of us and all 26 pieces of luggage plus 3 car seats and 3 strollers. Officially, we were nuts!!  The Expected… The last ten years of ministry have been full of things...

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4 Lives, 3 Generations, 1 Maternity Center…

4 Lives, 3 Generations, 1 Maternity Center…

In September 2014, Patricia delivered a beautiful baby girl with Rota, the national director and one of the midwives of the Sarobidy Maternity Center. This sweet baby girl was named, Sarobidy (precious), and was the first namesake of the Sarobidy Maternity Center.  This past August, Elisa, a young 19-year old entered our prenatal program. She looked incredibly familiar but I simply couldn’t place her. As we talked and I...

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Fighting fires, planting hope, eternal growth…

Fighting fires, planting hope, eternal growth…

Fighting fires…. Wildfires continue to be a devastating force to the islandof Madagascar. High temperatures, extremely dry landscape, slash and burn farming, and charcoal pits that lose control are a recipe for disaster. This year we’ve had multiple fires in various sites and one which burnt a large portion of one of Eden Project’s reforestation sites. The Eden team of site guards have been trained as lay...

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Raising the Bar…

Raising the Bar…

Continuing medical education for doctors, nurses, midwives or any other health professional is not a requirement in Madagascar. Once a diploma is granted, learning can essentially cease. This lack of continuing medical education, coupled with rogue memorization only heightens the deep fractures that are found in both the educational system and medical system here on the red island.  Though our midwives at the Sarobidy Maternity Center have...

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A week in Madagascar…

A week in Madagascar…

Some of the most common questions we encounter when we’re in the USA on home assignment are:  1. So what’s Madagascar like? 2. Do you like living there?  3. What do you eat there? 4. What’s a typical day look like for you?     Three of the four of these questions are not necessarily the easiest to answer in the matter of just a few seconds.  To be clear, we’re not in the USA and...

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Camouflage and Grace…

Camouflage and Grace…

Last month Jamie and the Tahirin’Ala team drove 30km up the coast to a quickly disappearing forest. This dry deciduous remnant forest is illegally being divided and small plots of land sold to people. Sadly, the first thing most people do when they acquire land is clear cut the trees and bushes and burn the land. Sometimes this is to stake their claim or “clean” the land, other times, to make way to plant crops or build a...

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Valued Forest, Valued Lives…

Valued Forest, Valued Lives…

Did you know…? * Madagascar is the world’s fourth-largest island.  * Despite Madagascar’s close proximity to the African continent, ocean currents have isolated the island, resulting in high rates of endemic plant and animal species. * Approximately 90% of the flora and fauna found on Madagascar are found nowhere else. * Madagascar consistently ranks one of the top 10 poorest countries in the world. * Madagascar is nearly 90%...

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Small victories…

Small victories…

Amidst the Covid pandemic, Dengue Fever epidemic and continuing to live in planet prison as one friend hilariously referred to it as….  this month has been sprinkled with several small victories to celebrate.      In our newsletter last month we shared about the Dengue Fever epidemic our community was facing. At the time, Jamie and I were recovering and slowly regaining our strength. In these last 4...

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Counting the losses…

Counting the losses…

An epidemic amidst the pandemic… Amidst the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, our city on the northwest coast of Madagascar is facing a DENGUE FEVER epidemic! The last such epidemic on the island was in 2007. Dengue Fever is a nasty disease transmitted by an infected mosquito and is often referred to as “breakbone fever” because of the bone-crushing pain associated with it. Unfortunately, Jamie and I can now testify...

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Navigating New Waters…

Navigating New Waters…

Like each of you and most of the rest of the world, we are navigating new waters here in Madagascar. March 20th marked the first confirmed case of COVID-19 on the island. In the week prior to this first documented case, we saw the writing on the wall and began making plans and preparations for COVID to hit Madagascar with its full force.        Though we certainly haven’t experienced a pandemic such as COVID-19,...

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The Paradox of Returning…

The Paradox of Returning…

Thank you all for your prayers for our safe return home! We arrived in country 2 weeks ago and after taking care of some business and seeing friends in the capital city, we made the 10.5 hour drive to our home city last weekend.     The mission field is often described as a massive paradox… deep joys in the face of severe struggles often mingle at the same time. The emotional paradox of our return home is real. After moving between five...

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Casting Blame…

Casting Blame…

Throughout Madagascar, life is ruled by taboos as an attempt to maintain harmony with the ancestors in whom the Malagasy worship in order to communicate with the Creator God. There are varying levels of taboos… individual, family, community, land and even tribal taboos as is evidenced by the story of the twin babies that Rota and Andry recently rescued and adopted! Since taboos are put into place to maintain harmony, when...

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Closing out a decade… (a review in pictures)

Closing out a decade… (a review in pictures)

As I’m sure many can echo, the last decade has been an eventful one. As we remember the milestones of the last ten years, we’re astonished and ever so thankful for the sweetness of the Lord that has sustained us, encouraged us and propelled us forward throughout the many transitions of living in four countries on four different continents.  2010… Originally slotted to leave for Madagascar in 2010, we knew without a shadow...

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