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 our arrival and visiting the family for the wake our first full day in our city.
* The wrongful imprisonment of 12 employees for 14 days (48 hours being the max one can be held without charges). The cell was 8′ x 8′ with one 6″ x 6″ window, held 12 men, there was a small hole to urinate in within the cell, they slept on the ground, their wives brought them food daily, they were held at gunpoint each time they left their cell to shower or use a squat toilet.
* Working within a notoriously C*RR<PT police and judicial system to finally get the employees released, but not without a price.
* Sharing in the holy work of the midwives in caring for pregnant mamas, new babies, sitting with women as they cry and share their burdens, and worshiping in Malagasy together.
* Multiple sleep-overs with our kids and their Malagasy friends back and forth between houses.
* Working with the government in relation to the severance package for several thousand employees of Eden Projects as a result of needing to “right-size” Eden.
* Listening to heart-wrenching stories of mothers worried they won’t be able to feed their children with the recent loss of employment.
* Several days of teaching the midwives and administering associated exams at the Sarobidy Maternity Center.
* Enjoying all our favorite places… a few local restaurants, street food at night, sunsets at the beach, a day of fishing on the Indian Ocean and 4 days away at one of our family’s most relaxing spots!
* Compiling the last year of statistics for the Sarobidy Maternity Center.
* Celebrating the graduation of postpartum moms and their chunky breastfed babies from the Sarobidy Maternity Center.
* Enjoying a day in the mangrove channel tubing and “surfing” behind a boat with our kids and their Malagasy friends.
* Riots in our immediate community.
* Our annual celebration with staff at the beach– lunch, soccer, tubing and laughter!
* Good-byes to our kid’s friends as they head back to France for college and the military.
* A mysterious community-wide illness that spread rampantly through our family, our friends and our co-workers that many, ourselves included, are still recovering from. That was in addition to the stomach flu, strep throat and a double year infection!
Twelve years of living overseas and our family has experienced the multitude of tropical and infectious diseases… malaria, dengue, typhoid, tuberculosis, rabies exposure, etc, etc. Living in one the poorest countries of the world, without a trusted hospital, with extreme lack of resources for testing and treatment, and a severely fractured medical system compounds the reality of the situation when severe illnesses present.
On Christmas night, Isabella spiked a fever and we assumed it was the same sickness that Alissa had and Jamie would get the following day. For the next three days, her fever was dangerously high and despite max doses of Tylenol and Ibuprofen, no amount of medication was capable of bringing her temperature down. On the third day, she began to experience debilitating headaches accompanied by the persistent fever. Once again, no amount of medication was capable of even taking the edge off the headache or the fever. We were communicating regularly with our pediatrician in the USA, consulting with medical evacuation teams, and finally took Isabella to our back-up physician for our maternity center at 11pm. We spent 5 hours in the stark birthing room off her house as Isabella received various medications and IV fluids.
Finally back home at 4am, Alissa and Rota, the national director for our maternity center, continued to administer IV fluids and medication around the clock to Isabella for the next 48 hours. In all honesty, we didn’t know what direction this was going to go, we didn’t know what we were dealing with (meningitis? increased intracranial pressure?), didn’t know how her kidneys and liver were doing with all the medication on board. It was terrifying. We managed to delay our return to Kenya by two days to afford us more time. We prayed. So many of you prayed. And by the Lord’s lavish and tender grace, He brought healing to Isabella. She is continuing to regain her strength and energy but she is healthy once again!
Thank you to the multitude who prayed for Isabella with us, for the comments on our social media posts and the many private messages. Thank you for surrounding our family with your love, concern and prayers!
Veil of Darkness…
For as long as we’ve been in Madagascar, we have always said, “if one isn’t prayed up before going to Madagascar, this country will chew you up and spit you out.” We have been approached by other missionary agencies questioning why families in particular can’t and don’t last more than a few years in the North of Madagascar. The truth is the enemy has such a strong foothold on this beautiful island nation. Since it’s existence, the Malagasy have been steeped in ancestral worship, seek counsel and healing from witchdoctors, invite evil spirits to reside within them, place curses on others, and for many, their lives are directed by various taboos in order to maintain harmony with the dead. In recent years, Islam has been penetrating hard into Madagascar. Even amongst those who claim Christianity, many attend church on Sunday only to turn around and worship their ancestors on Monday.
In the last month, we experienced a deeper veil of darkness over our city than ever before. Wondering if it was just our being away that caused us to sense and see this more clearly, we asked others, Malagasy and foreign, Christian and non-Christian, what they were experiencing. Every.single.one shared the same thing… a pervasive darkness, deeper corruption, greater fear.
The truth is, when we returned to Madagascar, we weren’t “prayed up”. We were weary from a long term at RVA and we were beyond excited to go HOME, but we weren’t ready to enter the front lines of a spiritual battlefield. We have no doubt that some of what we experienced this last month was indeed spiritual warfare. However, the Lord has already won the battle through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ! And in that and through that, we also have victory over darkness.
We ask that you would join us in regular pray for Madagascar and the Malagasy people… that the Lord’s love, mercy, forgiveness and freedom would be received by the multitudes and that the darkness would be pushed back as the Light and Truth of Christ penetrates and transforms the hearts and minds of the Malagasy and the culture.
“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:5)
“The LORD is my light and my salvation– whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life– of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1)
Redefining Eden Projects…
Several months ago, the Founder and CEO of Eden Reforestation Projects, who is also a long-time dear friend and mentor, retired. And with that, Eden has come to a crossroads as we begin a new chapter of environmental restoration to lands and the communities that surround them. Five days after our arrival back in Kenya and three days after the return of students to RVA, Jamie flew to Madagascar (where he is currently) with the new CEO and International COO of Eden Projects. Both of these new leaders are multigenerational missionary kids from Africa and actually went to school with Jamie at Rift Valley Academy back in the day!
While in Madagascar, they’ve been working with the Malagasy leadership team- hearing from the leaders about what’s been working, what they’re proud of and how they envision Eden moving forward on the Red Island while also visiting various reforestation sites. Together, the Malagasy and International Leadership teams are strategizing of how Eden Projects will continue large scale reforestation work while engaging in community transforming activities in partnership with other organizations to help reduce the driving pressures of deforestation.
Please join with us in praying for the new and existing leadership team of Eden Projects as we seek to stabilize and restructure across the globe.
It was wonderful to welcome back the 17 guys plus a new student into the dorm at Rift Valley Academy! We enjoyed hearing about their adventures with family in their various countries and ministry settings, how they slept long hours and enjoyed time with siblings and friends!
We’re winding up the second week and we’re back into the rhythms of cooking massive amounts of dorm treats, dorm devotions, late night conversations, celebrating birthdays, working through homesickness and physical illness and of course, a chaotic house with lots of laughter, joking and activity!
Would you join us in praying for each of the 18 guys in our dorm… that they would continue to bond tightly together as dorm brothers, despite differences of personalities, cultures and hobbies. In like manner, we would ask that you pray for the larger Rift Valley Academy community and leadership. Would you pray with us for healthy transparent transformation that would be God honoring and healing to the community at large.
Thank you for continuing to care and pray for the hurting, those steeped in animism, and the unique and wonderful group of third culture kids!
Alissa, Jamie, Isabella, Eliana and Gavin
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