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, bleaching fruits and vegetables and speaking in Malagasy. As we all know, these days are not normal and neither are current circumstances. We are feeling this exquisitely as our hearts and minds and lives are split between three worlds.
As many of you recall, the borders to Madagascar closed in March 2020 when Covid hit the scene. In the last 23 months, the borders to Madagascar have been sporadically reopened and then closed tight again. Finally, in October, the primary International Airport partially opened for the first time in 19 months! Within a few short weeks, Covid cases skyrocketed in Madagascar, flights were cancelled, borders partially re-closed leaving only 2 flights a week connecting Madagascar to the rest of the world– well, to be specific, Paris. And only Paris.
Several months ago, we began to see the writing on the wall as it relates to Madagascar, Covid and the instability of access into and out of the country. As a result, we began talking and praying about the impact of this on our family, our kids, their education, the ministry, and our physical, emotional and mental health.
After much discussion, processing and prayer, we decided there were 4 things that were essential before we could/would return to Madagascar.
1. The borders would reopen in Madagascar and stay open for a minimum of 3 months, with a relatively “normal” amount of Covid cases.
2. Direct flights would resume between Madagascar and Kenya. No more of this business of taking three flights each way, including the renting of a private airplane or traveling all the way to New York(!), to get our daughter to and from high school in Kenya!
3. We would get a handle on the diseases that have been plaguing our family’s health and gain ground on reclaiming our physical well-being.
4. We would take time and allow for space to debrief multiple traumas and address burnout so that we could return to Madagascar with a renewed head and heart space.
As you can see, half of these include external factors in which we have ZERO control.
* Currently, the border situation is still quite tenuous in and out of Madagascar.
* Currently, there are no direct flights between Madagascar and Kenya and we’re NOT willing to fly via France to get our daughter to school— call us crazy, I know!
* Currently, through aggressive treatment, we’re beginning to feel better, some days more so than others, but we’re hopeful that health is on the horizon.
* Healing from chronic stress/trauma/burnout isn’t linear and the journey to health and wholeness continues.
As you may imagine, this has been an unsettling and confusing time for us. We have loved and valued our time in the USA– we have seen the goodness of the Lord in ways we only dreamed of, and yet, we dearly miss our friends and the ministry in Madagascar AND we miss the excellent education and relatable friends and community in Kenya.
So… Now What?
For many years, and long before our oldest daughter, Isabella, began attending Rift Valley Academy, Jamie and I have discussed the desire to serve at RVA in a short-term capacity while our kids are there. Up until a few months ago, we haven’t known if, when, and what that may look like.
When the writing on the wall came into focus regarding Madagascar and its borders, we reached out to Rift Valley Academy to see if they had any needs. In this season of Covid, the needs are many and exceedingly difficult to fill. Through a series of conversations and prayers, we’ve committed to serve at RVA for the duration of 3rd Term as they finish out the current school year. In April, we’ll be traveling to Kenya to serve as interim DORM PARENTS for ten 7th grade boys as their current dorm parents will be on home assignment in the USA. Our role will be to walk with these boys as they navigate growing independence, school, friendships, sports and their relationship with the Lord. For this short period of time, we will stand in the gap for their parents, who like us, have entrusted their children into the hands of this beautiful boarding school overlooking the great Rift Valley.
In many ways, too numerous to mention, this will also serve as a time of launching our own children well into life and school at RVA. Our desire is that this will help lay a strong foundation for this next chapter of life, ministry, and education in Madagascar/Kenya for our family.
And an extra bonus, the main office for Eden Reforestation Projects in Africa is just 45 minutes from Rift Valley Academy! Eden Projects is growing exponentially and starting to spread across Africa, with the work in Madagascar serving as a primary example to new project nations. While the kids are in classes, Jamie is looking forward to continuing to work with the leadership team in Kenya as they launch into new countries on the continent!
We earnestly ask that you join us in praying for the months ahead– for our hearts and minds as we prepare to leave America, for guidance and grace as we prepare to take on new roles for a season in caring and loving this group of boys, for wisdom and peace as we prepare with great uncertainty for our return to Madagascar.
The Essentiality of Team…
In our newsletter last month, we recounted the many ways in which the Malagasy team is continuing the ministry in Madagascar with grit, grace, determination and wisdom and doing so in remarkable ways! We praise the Lord for the gift of our Malagasy teammates who continue the ministry of the Sarobidy Maternity Center and the work of Eden Projects whether we are in Madagascar or not!
Malagasy deeply value education and it’s not uncommon to send their children to live with other family members so that their kids have the opportunity to go to school. As such, our Malagasy friends and teammates support our delayed return. We’re incredibly thankful for their encouragement during this extended time.
We appreciate your continued prayers for our Malagasy teammates and ministry partners. We ask that you specifically pray for Rota, Josy, Paquerette, Dina, Mr. Frederik, Tanjona and Ravo.
Less than two weeks ago, Madagascar was hit with Tropical Cyclone Ana which caused heavy flooding, damage and loss of life. Within the next few hours, Tropical Cyclone Batsirai, which is larger than the country of France, is expected to make landfall on the east coast of Madagascar. Will you pray with us for Madagascar and the many remote villages where the cyclone is projected to tear through. May the Lord’s gracious hand of protection be upon this beloved island nation and the people!
Thank you for standing with us in these uncertain times! Thank you for covering our family, our teammates and the ministry in Madagascar with prayer!
Alissa, Jamie, Isabella, Eliana and Gavin