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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Abandoned to death, Adopted by love…

Abandoned to death, Adopted by love…

Over the years, many of you have heard stories, seen pictures and have been praying for our friend and ministry partner, Rota. For those who may have missed these, Rota is the national director of the Sarobidy Maternity Center. We’ve known Rota since she was a young girl growing up in the capital city of Madagascar. When Rota finished her midwifery training, we invited her to come to our city 12 hours away for a job interview. That was...

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Of taboos, curses and friendship…

Of taboos, curses and friendship…

For the many who have followed the ministry in Madagascar over the last two decades, you may remember that the remote village of Mahabana was once taboo Jesus Christ and the Bible. At the time, in our single and kid-free days, Jamie and I would travel to Mahabana by Malagasy sailboat—typically a 2-3 day journey, depending on the wind. Upon arrival, the spiritual darkness in the village was palpable– a heavy all-encompassing weight upon...

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The Blind will See…

The Blind will See…

Legally blind by the age of 5, Tovo learned Braille at a school started by Lutheran missionaries in Antsirabe, a small town in the highlands of Madagascar. For the last 25+ years, Tovo has been living with his wife and three kids (ages 9-25 years old) in the region of Mahabana on the northwest coast of Madagascar. Not allowing his loss of vision to deter him, he’s been making and mending fishing nets for local fishermen, fishing with...

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Celebrating Together…

Celebrating Together…

In early August, we enjoyed our fourth annual all staff party for the Sarobidy Maternity Center, Eden Projects leadership team, Sarobidy Creations, Tonga Soa Guesthouse and those who we and other missionary teammates employ. In total, along with their families, we were 160 people for a fun-filled day of lots of play, conversations, and good food at the beach! It’s so good to not only work and pray with this team but to play together as...

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Trading Spaces…

Trading Spaces…

 In July we traded the greenery and the majesty of the Alps for the rugged beauty, coastal breeze and the unmistakable warmth of the Malagasy people.    We traded speaking in French to speaking in Malagasy. We traded our work environment from our desks in the classroom to the walls of the maternity center and being out in the field– either in the mangrove mud flats, the dry deciduous nurseries or reforestation sites....

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Au Revoir France…

Au Revoir France…

It’s hard to believe that 10 months has come and gone and our departure from France and return to Madagascar is upon us. Ten months ago we cried as we left our dear friends and home in Madagascar. Ten months ago we cried the first day as we sat within our apartment on the 3rd floor of a six-story apartment building in a town that was foreign to us and as we thought to ourselves, “what in the world did we just do?!” Today, ten...

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Snippets…

Snippets…

Home Stretch… We’ve entered the home stretch of our formal french language learning here in France. Sadly, our brain cells seem to be shrinking rather than expanding lately– forgetting simple conjugations we knew in the past, becoming confused with grammatical rules we’ve already learned and overall feeling a bit disappointed with our lack of progress lately. We know there are peaks and valleys of language learning and...

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Celebrations…

Celebrations…

In Madagascar… For the last three years, the employees of Eden Reforestation Projects and the employees of the Sarobidy Maternity Center pay a small amount each month into the “SAEDEN” Association (Sarobidy + Eden). This association is one the employees created and manage on their own– with the main purposes to support one another with financial resources in times of loss, sickness and grief and...

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Of tragedies and triumphs…

Of tragedies and triumphs…

Tragedies… Like everywhere in the world, tragedies abound in Madagascar on a daily basis. The difference in a country that consistently ranks amongst the top 10 poorest countries in the world is that these tragedies aren’t just headlines but rather are affecting those we know and love on a weekly, if not more frequent basis.           This past month, a long-time ministry partner and friend lost his...

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Opportunities to serve on the Red Island…

Opportunities to serve on the Red Island…

Half way through… It’s hard to believe that we’re over half way through our time in France!! To be honest, our motivation has stalled a bit– a combination of brain fatigue and wintery cold and dreary days. The teachers recognize this regular pattern in the students each year come February. We’re thankful for gracious and compassionate teachers as they continue to pour into equipping us and the other...

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Life on Three Continents…

Life on Three Continents…

A glance back… The year twenty-eighteen has been one for the books for our family. We’ve experienced the mountaintops of being where the Lord would have us, we’ve experienced the depths of deep grief and loss, we’ve experienced the joys of “ah-ha” moments and we’ve experienced the deep peace that only the Lord can bring through it all.  In the last 12 months… * We’ve lived in three...

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An opportunity, a job, a transformed life…

An opportunity, a job, a transformed life…

An opportunity, a job, a transformed life.. Half of Madagascar’s population is under the age of 15 years old. Like many young people in Madagascar, Abid dropped out of school early, took any job he could– shoveling sand or mixing cement so that he could financially help his parents. Growing up in an extremely poor family within the community, Josy has known Abid since he was a young boy. Josy offered Abid a job with Eden Projects a...

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Thin line between life and death…

Thin line between life and death…

Thin line between life and death… We thank you for your prayers this last month for the women that were due in October. 14 babies entered the world… and by God’s grace, all 14 babies and mamas are alive today. It was the busiest month to date for deliveries at the Sarobidy Maternity Center and it was also the most intense month to date for emergency complications. One baby needed resuscitation at birth, three women experienced...

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Meanwhile in Madagascar…

Meanwhile in Madagascar…

Le passé composé et le futur proche… Four weeks ago neither of us would have been able to tell you what these important french grammatical terms were, how to use them and the know a few of the associated verbs to communicate what you actually want to say. Today… amazingly… we can, albeit in our very limited knowledge! Twenty hours a week, Jamie and I sit in our respective classes. We’re learning the rules of grammar (oh...

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Bonjour from France!

Bonjour from France!

Of God’s goodness… Two weeks ago we left our beloved home in Madagascar… it was a hard and tearful goodbye. Leaving all that is known and loved… home, friends, routines, our work and going to a new country where everything is unknown. We stopped off in Kenya for four days to visit Rift Valley Academy (RVA), the boarding school for missionary kids where Jamie spent his junior high and high school years– he would...

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Building for the future…

Building for the future…

In recent months we’ve been growing our program at the Sarobidy Maternity Center in order to provide safe and compassionate care to more moms and babies in our community. In fact, we’ve doubled our numbers. In the upcoming months we’ll be serving nearly 140 women on a weekly basis through our prenatal and postpartum programs. This is in addition to the women that come to our weekly family planning program. We’ve made...

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Bonjour… change on the horizon!

Bonjour… change on the horizon!

Bonjour… Change on the horizon Born to missionary parents 41 years ago, Jamie entered the world in a hospital in the capital city of Madagascar. 19 years ago, I stepped foot for the first time on the red soil of Madagascar with a team that Jamie led. Both of these events have undoubtedly changed the course of our lives. Seven+ years ago, we moved our little family of five back to Madagascar to live and serve the Lord full-time. These past...

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Breath in our lungs…

Breath in our lungs…

Back on this side… Thank you for your prayers last month as Eliana and I made a whirlwind trip half way around the globe for her much-anticipated fourth grade Sacramento trip with her Santa Barbara classmates! The definition of whirlwind in this particular case means 6 different planes for a total of 46 hours in the sky, an additional 23 hours in airports, and nearly 1,600 miles driven in three weeks time! AND… totally worth it on...

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Charcoal Mafia…

Charcoal Mafia…

Morangobe is an area north of our city that contains one of the few and largest old growth coastal mangrove forests in our immediate region. In the past, the villagers of Morangobe have lived off the benefits of a healthy mangrove forest which was once teaming with fish, shrimp and crab. Sadly, this semi-isolated mangrove forest that has stood strong and tall for generations has literally been under attack from the charcoal mafia and tree...

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Airing the Dirty Laundry…

Airing the Dirty Laundry…

Thank you for your prayers as we traveled back to the great red island earlier this month! It was the most seamless travel from the USA to Madagascar to date! We know this was God’s grace to us as the first two weeks of our return were perhaps some of the harder weeks of transition that we’ve endured in past years– or at least it felt so.   Airing the Dirty Laundry…   Madagascar consistently ranks in the top 10...

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Take off…

Take off…

And… we’re off! We’re sitting waiting to board our first flight. Goodbyes have been said, tears shed and home assignment is complete. It was intense, in some ways—predictably so and in other ways it was intense in ways we could never imagine. Here’s a snapshot of our last seven months by the numbers… * We moved houses 6 times * 3000+ Sarobidy Creations items that were tagged and priced by countless friends and family that...

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African Rains…

African Rains…

For all of you who have experienced African rains… the dramatic thunder and lightening, rain so loud on a tin roof you can’t hear someone next to you shouting, raindrops the size of small cats and the instantaneous drenching of the land– then you know exactly what we mean when we say “african rains”. Indeed, they are something beautiful! After four years of disappointing rainy seasons and the subsequent drought...

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Now selling online… Sarobidy Creations (and a video update!)

Now selling online… Sarobidy Creations (and a video update!)

Sarobidy Creations website has launched! It’s been a long 2.5 years in the making but we’re absolutely thrilled to share with you that our website for Sarobidy Creations has launched and we are now taking online orders!! Visit www.sarobidycreations.com. Please share this information with your friends and family, on your social media pages and help us spread the word! All proceeds return to support the Sarobidy Maternity Center and...

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In two hands…

In two hands…

In two hands… This last month has felt that we’re often holding life with all of it’s opposing feelings and situations in two hands at the same time. In one hand, soaking in the life-giving days we had in Seattle with Madagascar teammates and college friends while in the other hand, navigating a damaging and destructive situation with employees in Madagascar at the same time. In one hand, the pride of our oldest daughter...

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Earth, Wind and Fire….

Earth, Wind and Fire….

Winds of change… We’ve been back in the USA for two months and thankfully, the winds of change are lessening and life is starting to feel normal again as we juggle the new routines and rhythms of American life. Home assignment is intended to be a time set aside from the demands of ministry on the mission field– a time to be with friends and family, a time to be refreshed in your native language, a time to catch up with...

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Photo Highlight Reel…

Photo Highlight Reel…

Highlight Reel… My brain and heart haven’t been in a place to write a newsletter…. usually my head is spinning all month long with what I want to share. This month it just hasn’t. We decided a highlight reel of images from this last term in Madagascar would be a fantastic substitute… I mean, who doesn’t love photographs– it’s honestly one of my love languages! Easier said than done though–...

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From two sides of the globe…

From two sides of the globe…

Here and there… As I type, we’re on our last day in Madagascar for 2017… late tonight we head to the airport for our 1:50am flight to Paris and then on to Los Angeles. I would be lying to say that it wasn’t with mixed emotions that we’re leaving. peace– we have peace with the place that we were able to leave each of the ministries and peace knowing that the Lord has raised up an amazing ministry team that...

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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 together over...

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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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Can you imagine…?

Can you imagine…?

Can you imagine… The medical system in Madagascar is broken as it is in many countries. Our guard’s wife, Elizabeth has been very very sick for several weeks. It began when I received a phone call from our back-up physician on March 20th telling me that Elizabeth was at her clinic, bleeding from the pores in her skin, her mouth, her eyes! Her hemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen was incredibly low, so low...

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Many Hands… (and pictures!)

Many Hands… (and pictures!)

Many Hands… It’s simply amazing to witness the many hands of the numerous talented, passionate and gifted people that the Lord has brought together to accomplish so much here in our little corner of Madagascar.  In doing so, the Lord has woven our lives together from various backgrounds and nationalities, and as such, has strengthened the strand that brings us together to serve Him and the people on the Red Island. Here are treasured...

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Of turf wars and helping babies breathe…

Of turf wars and helping babies breathe…

Turf wars… Just 30km north, Antsanitia is a small fishing village and is Eden Projects closest dry deciduous planting site to our city. Eden has hired 22 women and men from Antsanitia village to replant the quickly disappearing forest due to charcoal production, clear cutting and fires. For years, there’s been a turf war between Antsanitia and another village further down the beach, Ampanjoany where many villagers make a living off...

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“I never thought it possible…” January News

“I never thought it possible…” January News

“I never thought it possible…” Those were the words spoken by Josy nearly four years ago when he thought about living to see his 40th birthday. He didn’t think he would make it. He was literally at death’s door and given just days to live by the doctor when we received the phone call telling us to come quickly if we wanted to see our dear friend before he passed away. Immediately we made the 12-hour drive to the...

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In Closing…. December 2016

In Closing…. December 2016

2016 by the numbers… Yet another year is drawing to a close and the hopeful anticipation of a new year is upon us. We’re typically not ones that look back on the year but we’re thankful for this forum of newsletters that cause us to pause and replay all that the Lord has done here in Madagascar and in our lives.     A glimpse into 2016 by the numbers…  * 584 employees hired by Eden Projects, Sarobidy Maternity...

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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 were piled in...

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Surprise! October 2016 News

Surprise!  October 2016 News

Surprise!! Earlier this month our kids experienced the largest surprise of their young lives to date when both my mom (AND dad!) walked off the plane in our city of Mahajanga! Isabella, Eliana and Gavin knew that grandma was coming and mourned the fact that grandpa wouldn’t be joining her due to his business. You can only imagine the squeals of delight reverberating off the walls of our tiny airport when grandpa walked in too! Comments in...

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It’s so much more… September 2016 News

It’s so much more… September 2016 News

More than just trees… September has proved to be most likely our busiest month this term in Madagascar. Amongst a sea of other things, we received and hosted a major Eden Projects group, including Steve, the founder and president of Eden, two board members, six major donors and two cinematographers. For 9 days this large group plus Jamie, Neal and our Malagasy crew traveled by helicopter to visit 3 mangrove planting sites, 5 dry deciduous...

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Final Days…

Final Days…

Growth!    The week is just starting at the Sarobidy Maternity Center and already the place is full! This morning brought 8 new women applying to be in our prenatal program. One new first-time mama will come back into the postpartum program on Thursday after having her baby at the center two weeks ago. At the same time on Thursday, 3 women and their 4 beautifully chubby breastfed babies will graduate with diplomas and another 6 months of...

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Expect the Unexpected… July 2016 News

Expect the Unexpected… July 2016 News

Expect the Unexpected…    That’s what we tell all people coming out to Madagascar, whether to visit or to live…. “expect the unexpected”.  Things can change quickly here–sometimes at a drop of a hat all plans for the day are flipped upside.  Maybe it’s because of a birth, or a death, or thievery, or an unplanned meeting with one of the minister’s of health or water and forestry. Sometimes...

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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 welcome...

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A Special Invitation to Create Lasting Impact…

A Special Invitation to Create Lasting Impact…

New Life Abounds…     We’ve received dozens of visitors over the last few years as they come to visit the work at the Sarobidy Center– some have specifically come to see the reforestation nursery, some have come to see the maternity center, while others have been friends, family, bosses and potential future teammates. The common observation that people share with us as they leave is that the center is a place where NEW LIFE...

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Growing Up (an update in pictures!)… May News

Growing Up (an update in pictures!)… May News

Growing Up… Five and half years into ministry here and we’re so thankful the various ministries are continuing to grow up– new opportunities, project expansions, growing in skills and knowledge, and adding a few more wrinkles to our faces along the way! Ultrasound Arrival!    We recently received a grant for a portable Ultrasound machine that we’ll soon begin using at the Sarobidy Maternity Center. This amazing piece of...

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Putting Out Fires– April News

Putting Out Fires– April News

Deforestation in Madagascar is estimated between 88-90%– quite the staggering rate!  The two largest culprits of the continued destruction of the forests are 1) charcoal production to be used for cooking and heating purposes and 2) slash and burn farming.  When traveling on the two-lane national highway during the dry season, one can easily count 15 or 20 plumes of smoke from various areas dotting the landscape.  Of course with continued...

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Unsurpassed Love… March News

Unsurpassed Love… March News

You may remember towards the end of 2015 that many of you gave generously for necessary renovations at the Sarobidy Maternity Center.  All these renovations and improvements are in preparation for when we begin deliveries at the center later this year.  A few have asked us, “why the improvements? or “doesn’t the center function now?”.  While the answer is Yes, the center does function… the more important answer is...

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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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