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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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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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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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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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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