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 it to Kenya in time for meetings to begin. In the end, these extra 30 hours were such a gift in multiple ways– one of which, Gavin had his first ever Easter in the USA and we were able to attend Sonrise Easter service with our home church for the first time in 12 years!
Four days after our own arrival in Kenya, eight of the 10 boys that we’re caring for in the dorm also arrived. The following day, our dorm was complete when the last two boys arrived. Within 24 hours, our family of 5 jumped to a family of 15 and our house is blissfully lively and full… with a 10th grader (Isabella), an 8th grader (Eliana), ten 7th grade boys and a 6th grader (Gavin). Classes resumed at RVA the following day and our kids quickly jumped into friendships, sports and activities.
To say that it’s odd to be here would be an understatement. Jamie spent 6 years here throughout junior high and high school and it’s surreal for him to be back now as a staff member– he’s able to walk into the staff rooms that have always been off limits to him in the past! It’s odd to shift our ministry focus for this short period of time to that of stepping in to fully invest into the lives of missionary kids. There is something sweet about doing so– knowing exquisitely ourselves the heartbreak of separation between parents and kids, knowing ourselves the gift it is when others are able to step in and care for our kids when we’re in another country, knowing that these kids are in various places in their own faith journeys and knowing that some of these kids will likely return to the mission field themselves as adults. This looks like home-cooked meals and surprise baked treats, four times a week dorm devotionals, helping with homework or wrapping sprained knees, stovetop popcorn and movie nights, board games spread across the floor or helping to coach junior high boys rugby and girls volleyball, playing indoor soccer in the gym or outdoors on the field. It looks like imposing limits on technology time, reminding boys to shower (!), ensuring they take their medication, respect themselves and others in the dorm and get ample sleep. It looks like difficult conversations about where “home” is and the challenges faced by these young men as they navigate life in multiple cultures and sometimes hostile countries, meeting them in their moments of homesickness, learning about their families and their ministries and praying together for their parents and siblings spread across Africa. It’s a privilege to journey with this group of guys for this time! Please pray with us for each of them– that they would witness the vastness of the Lord and His love for them– in the dorms, in the classroom, in friendships, in conversation and across this beautiful campus that overlooks the mighty Rift Valley.
There in Madagascar…
While we’re present here in Kenya, we find our hearts straddling two worlds– the one which surrounds us with joy in the here and now and the one that comes with deep sadness as our hearts long for Madagascar, friends, community and ministries there. It’s the continual paradox of holding two strong and opposing emotions at the same time.
We’re thrilled that as of last week, flights between mainland Africa and Madagascar resumed after 2+ years of non-operation!!
We’re thankful to now be in the same timezone as teammates in Madagascar, making frequent communication so much easier! Daily messages bring celebration over victories yet heartache as the teams face attack on multiple levels. Eden Reforestation Projects has become the largest employer in our region of Madagascar.
The success of the projects and as a result, the transformed lives, has brought change to an entire community, however it has also disrupted the powers of those who have oppressed others– who have paid scant wages for years and who have held others in debt bondage. As a result, there are many in high places of power who are upset because they’ve lost their nearly-free labor force. For others who are seeking employment, there simply aren’t enough jobs for all. This creates tension and enemies as people desperately want a job in order to provide for their families. In addition, there remains an underlying but often unspoken societal hierarchy in Madagascar amongst the 18 tribes. Josy, our dear friend and teammate, who is the National Director of Eden Projects is Betsirebaka, the so called, “lowest of the tribes”. As a result, many are angry with Josy and with Eden Projects because the leader of such a large organization is from what some consider “a savage tribe”.
The situation has become serious enough in our city that the Deputy, an elected official to represent the voice of the people, was invited onto television to share his thoughts of Eden Projects. In his recent television address, the Deputy openly shared his appreciation for Eden Projects and the hard work we’ve done in the last 16 years. He shared that thievery and pick-pocketing has decreased in Mahajanga and that quality of life has improved as a result of Eden Projects. He specifically addressed those who are being racist and commended Josy for his leadership that has brought employees from all 18 tribes together into one project where all are working together. Finally, the Deputy thanked Josy, the National Director of Eden Projects, as well as the International Director and home office in the USA for the great work that has been done in Madagascar– with the Malagasy people and for the Malagasy people.
We would appreciate your continued prayers for the entire Eden Reforestation Projects leadership team in Madagascar– would you stand with us in prayer for their safety, for steadfastness when faced with opposition, for wisdom in their words, decision-making and actions and for deep love and compassion even when in the line of flaming arrows.
International Day of the Midwife…
Today, on this International Day of the Midwife, there are no other midwives I’m missing more and that I’d rather be working alongside than the strong, dedicated and compassionate midwives of the Sarobidy Maternity Center.
Tahina, a former patient who has brought two beautiful babies into the world at the Sarobidy Maternity Center posted these words and pictures today in honor of the SMC midwives. “It’s the celebration of midwives today. They are wonderful friends who help us become mothers here. So I would like to express my special greetings to all my friends and family who are involved in this work. What you have done is really huge, not sleeping day or night, sharing all the emotions with us, both mother and child. Yes, it’s a crown for you in heaven. Blessed be what your hands touch, blessed be where you go and what you do… You are really an instrument used by God to show His glory.”
We praise God for each of the midwives at the Sarobidy Maternity Center and their commitment to build healthier communities, families, and to lavish mothers and babies with the tender love of Christ.
In addition, without sharing details, we ask that you would join us in praying for a dear teammate at SMC who just experienced a tragic loss. As she leans into the Lord, may the Prince of Peace be her great comforter.
Your financial generosity not only provides full-scope maternal care to women throughout their pregnancies, deliveries and the postpartum period, it also covers monthly salaries for these dedicated midwives. If you’d like to partner in providing safe and compassionate care to women and babies, click here to be directed to WorldVenture, where all donations are 100% tax deductible!
With love and gratitude,
Alissa, Jamie, Isabella, Eliana and Gavin