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 Valley Academy for three months to help finish out the school year. Isabella, our oldest had already attended and boarded at RVA, Eliana our middle daughter, was preparing to attend and board for the 2022/2023 school year. It seemed like it was a prime opportunity to serve in Africa rather than waiting in the USA for borders to reopen to Madagascar. A prime opportunity to come alongside both of our girls to help them with adjusting to RVA and to be better equipped to advocate for our kids from 1200 miles away while back in Madagascar. As we prayed fervently about this, we sensed a great peace with going to RVA for three months however, no matter how much we prayed, we couldn’t see beyond the three months. We couldn’t see how the Lord was leading us after RVA. For a planner like myself, it was torturous. We asked several others to pray specifically with us, both in person, and while away. Within two weeks of being at RVA, it became very apparent to Jamie and I that though this is a wonderful school and community, sending our kids to board here isn’t the best fit for our girls or our family. A few weeks later, after having been in Kenya together for over a month, we asked our kids if they could imagine moving into the dorms and us returning to Madagascar. All three, without skipping a beat or hesitating, said “no”. Our kids (ages 16, 14, 12) pointedly asked us if we would stay in Kenya.
Our hearts were torn… our first love and first ministry has been and remains, our children. Our passion and community is in Madagascar. We prayed. We cried– daily!We pressed into the Lord. We attempted to trust. We deeply lamented. We spoke with others– bosses, leadership, Malagasy ministry partners and trusted friends. Others faithfully prayed with us. And somewhere along the line, we knew that the Lord was leading us to step into the world of RVA for longer than those initial three months. And to be honest, despite continued mourning, the deep peace of the Holy Spirit has been with us– knowing that this is exactly where the Lord wants us in this season, even though we don’t know just how long this season will be.
The Next Generation…
Last school year while here, we stepped into the role of Dorm Parents for ten 7th grade boys. We discovered that we loved this role– this intentional walking alongside the younger generation. The generation that has been raised in the church and on the mission field but may or may not have a personal relationship with Christ. This intentional stepping in, partnering with parents, and helping to care for third culture kids while they’re separated from their families. This intentional investing into the lives of missionary kids through conversations, meals, homework, coaching, Sunday School, devotions, birthday celebrations, and various activities. All of this is with the desire that these young people would intimately know and love and serve Jesus with their lives.
We arrived back to Rift Valley Academy a few weeks ago and for this season, we will continue to stand in the gap for parents as they entrust us to care for their SEVENTEEN 9th grade boys! These guys make up six nationalities with their families serving in nine countries across Africa. Just about half of them are new to RVA, new to boarding and being away from their families.
We ask that you would pray with us for these guys– for their continued transition to high school, to living in community, to our relationships with them and their relationships with one another and the Lord. Would you pray for eternal and meaningful conversations as we build a foundation of trust and open communication.
What About Madagascar???
You may be wondering about the ministry in Madagascar…. thankfully, like much of the world, we have navigated the ins and outs of working remotely during this time of Covid. Thankfully, the Sarobidy Maternity Center is thriving under the daily leadership of Rota, the Malagasy National director. Thankfully, women and babies continue to receive life-giving care while hearing the life-saving news of Christ. Thankfully, I’m still able to develop midwifery curriculum for the midwives and will teach in person multiple times a year.
Thankfully, Jamie continues full-time with Eden Reforestation Projects as the International Director of Madagascar in addition to working with the Kenyan office just 45 minutes away. Thankfully, he’s able to travel regularly to Madagascar and various Eden sites.
Thankfully, our family will travel to Madagascar multiple times a year while on break between school terms for work, ministry, to enjoy being home and with our Malagasy community!
In no way are we sensing the Lord leading us away from Madagascar! Rather we fully sense the Lord asking us to place our children first. In processing and sharing with our closest Malagasy friends and leaders, they are fully in agreement and support this shift, sharing that it’s essential for us to be with our kids during these vital and quickly fleeting teenage years.
So many of you have faithfully prayed and sacrificially supported our family, our Malagasy teammates and the ministries in Madagascar for well over a decade. Thank you… we can never repay your kindness and care of us! We ask that you would continue to journey with us during this time, both financially (our budget is even more now!) and prayerfully– when emotions roll heavy, when we feel a bit lost, when we long for home even though we are making a new home in a new community and ministering to third culture kids. Would you pray with us as we fully engage in the ministries in Madagascar from afar while also engaging the young people in our living room and around our dinner table. In like manner, would you continue to pray for the Malagasy teams with the Sarobidy Maternity Center and Eden Reforestation Projects– that they would continue to lead with wisdom and grace, reflecting Christ in all that they do and with all whom they engage.
The powerful words of this song, Oceans by Hillsong, have continued to echo in my heart and mind…
Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior
We deeply desire that our trust of our Savior is not only without borders but that it spans all borders…that we, individually and as a family, would faithfully follow Him wherever He may lead us…. whether to Kenya, Madagascar or across this vast globe!
With deep gratitude and love,
Alissa, Jamie, Isabella, Eliana and Gavin
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