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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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Expectant Midwives…

Expectant Midwives…

There must’ve been something in the air in Mahajanga as up until just this month, three of our Malagasy midwives were expecting babies!!! We praise the Lord for the safe delivery of two of these three babies over the last few weeks!    A sweet baby boy born to midwife and first-time mama, Stéphanie (far right, above)– little Liam decided to make his appearance far earlier than expected and hence was born at...

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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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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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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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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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The Sarobidy Maternity Center turns FIVE

The Sarobidy Maternity Center turns FIVE

It’s 3:04am. I typically keep my nighttime festivities to a bit earlier but jet lag is keeping me and our 10-year old awake after arriving back from our whirlwind trip to America just last night. We’ve already had 2am munchies of salami, cheese and crackers, played mad libs, lathered ourselves with essential oils and taken meds to help us get into a sleepy state. Still nothing. Knowing that I’ll likely never get around to...

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For unto us…

For unto us…

For unto us a child is born… Advent has come and passed, the Christmas decorations are taken down and packed away, the kids are counting the days until Christmas 2018… and yet, the wonder and glory of the birth of Christ remains. The Lord of the heavens and earth born in human form– that of a helpless infant, reliant upon humble earthly parents and yet, the LORD.   It’s amazing to bear witness to the birth of a...

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Sarobidy Maternity Center Video Update

Sarobidy Maternity Center Video Update

The Sarobidy Maternity Center opened in May 2013– to be honest, it was a completely unconventional wild-whirlwind-not-the-most-strategically-planned opening. Six months before opening day, we didn’t have any money, didn’t have any staff, had an entire house to renovate to become a functioning maternity center, didn’t have any charts or educational material, didn’t have any supplies and certainly didn’t have a...

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2017 Video Update!!

2017 Video Update!!

Nearly seven years since our return to Madagascar as a family and like a good and loving father, our God is so gracious! This powerful video captures the essence of the ministry that the Lord has allowed our team to be a part of as we seek to restore health, forests, and Hope in Madagascar. If you’re a cryer, grab your tissues…. I know it makes me shed a few tears each time as I see the Lord’s goodness and His mercy in our midst. Special thanks...

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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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Ten on Ten- July 2017

Ten on Ten- July 2017

Ten (or more) images a month on the 10th of the month in an attempt to capture the ordinary of life wherever we may and whatever we may be doing at the time. This month the 10th fell on a Monday– a Monday during our kid’s summer vacation, a typical Monday of prenatal program at the Sarobidy Maternity Center, a Monday just two weeks before our departure from our city of Mahajanga to begin the journey back to the USA.  In other words,...

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Heavy…

Heavy…

It’s been months, if not going on years, since I’ve actually written in this space.  My heart aches to write and too often I push this desire aside to complete the unending list of tasks and self-imposed deadlines. Alas I’m putting it off no longer… there’s too much to say, too much to share, too much that I want to invite others into to better understand what full-time life and ministry in Madagascar is really...

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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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Ten on Ten– February 2017

Ten on Ten– February 2017

Ten images a month to catch the beauty of the everyday for us… occasionally the everyday is in America, most of the time it’s in Madagascar, and I dream of days that it would be in places like Spain or Italy, Guatemala or Peru… a girl can dream!  Project from www.rebekahgough.com. We’re rehabilitating this little sifaka lemur… we’re calling her “Rosie”… and she is really the sweetest thing!...

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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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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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Ministry Video Update– October 2016

Ministry Video Update– October 2016

It’s been a really, really long time since we ourselves have created a ministry video update.  We both enjoy capturing the footage but the act of putting it all together into a short video is another story.  We’re thankful we have a teammate here, Mark Bright that loves and is good at that stuff!!  So without further delay, our 2016 video update!     To view this update and/or past Red Island Restoration updates, click...

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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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