Sunday, January 1, 2017

Even to Odd but Same Job

As we start up a New Year we have found ourselves looking ahead while at the same time looking back.  This has been healthy, encouraging and discouraging, challenging, and full of hope for us.  We have been amazed at how the Lord has done so many amazing things among the people groups here in the South of Madagascar.  In particular how He has allowed us to be a part of His work among the Tandroy and Tanosy peoples.  As we see His hand at work we continuously find ourselves being humbled as we are so unworthy of the many blessings that He has poured out on us.  Not just with some of the fruits of ministry but with the love given, kindness shown and prayers prayed on our behalf.  We are most definitely unworthy of it all.  So as we close out this even year of 2016 and enter into an odd year of 2017 we say to you all that our job hasn't changed.  Our desire is to make much of Jesus Christ the King of Kings and to see His Kingdom come.  So as we push forward we turn our eyes, thoughts, dreams and needs upon Him who can do more than we ever thought or imagined.  To Him be the Glory and Honor!

What Happened in 2016:

The number of leaders in Androy and Tanosy Regions increased.  We now have 90+ leaders living out their faith.
The number of churches has increased.  We now have 14 churches meeting in the Androy and Tanosy Regions.
The number of believers involved in Bible Study has increased by over 300 in both regions.
We have provided aide through school supplies, Bibles, food and training for over 1300 people in both regions.
We had leaders disappoint us and fall into temptation
We had major health issues arise and questioned if we could complete the year
We have spent too much time worrying about how the future will work. (Money, college for kids, job security, cars for kiddos as they go off to college, the work here in general, health)
We saw the team in Fort Dauphin deplete to only our family left do to different reasons
We have felt overwhelmed and incapable of doing the job alone without any other IMB units with us
Had wonderful Hands On students come and serve alongside us.
We were able to visit family and friends in the US thanks to a training that was not on the calendar at the beginning of the year.
God provided GCC Teammates
God has been good!

How can you pray for 2017:

Leaders to stay founded on the Word of God.
New leaders to rise-up
Churches to plant other churches
Finances for it all
Our health to get better and for continued health
Phoebe as she graduates High School and begins life at TAMU
Emma to finish her Junior year well
Baylee to find new friends here in Fort Dauphin
River to continue to grow in knowledge and wisdom of God
For our GCC teammates the Karyuki's and Diana
SoMad team members to live out justice, love compassion and to follow God with humble hearts
New Team members to come from within the IMB

Thanks for everything!

 Phoebe and Emma back to RVA and Baylee got to go to Camp

 Were privileged to serve alongside these two young ladies

 Made special memories while we were all together


 Enjoyed a hot Christmas

 Trained leaders and got updates on the work in Androy and Tanosy lands

 River is 3!!!



 We fed our national partners American food.  It's an acquired taste for them



Helped and attended the wedding at our local church

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Leading from the Outside in an Inside Community


This past month has been one of many trainings.  We started off the month by doing trainings with our national partners and continued with some language training, and finished with a time of learning how to better work within our master strategy plans, while packing in time for Suzie to have surgery on her leg.  This has been a busy month and it has entailed a lot of traveling.  Praise the Lord we made all our flights and we have stayed relatively healthy through it all.

As we have participated and led out in these trainings we have realized that we still have a lot of work in becoming native with our people.  We love the Malagasy people, we attempt to live life in a way that shows honor to their culture (food, lifestyle, business practices, greetings, etc…), work hand in hand with them and speak their language. However, we have also realized that it might be that we will always be outsiders in an insider community.

What does this mean?  It means that in most the places where we have invested ourselves the people live in community.  They make decisions together, they farm together, they eat together, they plan life together etc...  That doesn’t mean there aren’t individualities in the people it just means that when the big picture is given there is a togetherness in how they live out their lives.  Our desire is to one day be an insider with them.  We know that they love us and respect us and we all have a desire to see the Kingdom of God come.

This is the key to how we can be effective in our ministry.  We take the One thing that matters most and set Him as the vision for us all to follow.  Therefore, we ourselves aren’t the ones leading.  We just follow and obey the one who has all power and authority.  We follow Christ and trust that He will be the uniting factor for the work that He has called us to.  This is in only reason that we have a hint of success.  It is all because of Him.  He has allowed us clear outsiders to have influence in communities.  He has allowed us to train and equip these people so that the Gospel of Christ can be heard by all in Madagascar not by means of the outsider’s but by those who are insiders within their own communities.  Therefore, we faithfully submit ourselves to the Lord and ask and pray for Him to bring up leaders within the Malagasy people themselves.  We expect to see thousands of new believers grow up in Christ Jesus and we expect to see thousands of disciples going and sharing with their friends, families, neighbors, regions, provinces, country and to other nations the amazing story about Jesus Christ.
Praises:
The Trainings went very well and our national partners are motivated to seeing God's Kingdom come
We had safe travels to all of our destinations so far
Suzie had a successful procedure on her leg
Baylee and River are getting over their colds and feeling much better
The Lord is alive and at work

Prayer Request:
Adam's back surgery and recuperation
Suzie to continue to heal well
Safe travels back to Madagascar
National partners, hands on girls and Diana
Phoebe, Emma and Baylee have lots of school work to complete
Wisdom for us all.

 Tsihombe Training

 Relaxing in Indonesia

 New Animal Adventures

 Working Hard

 Second Group

 Becoming more of an Insider

 Stroll

Places to go and When

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Workers from the Harvest

As of Oct. 4th, we have been serving in Madagascar for FIVE YEARS!  In some ways, it seems like we’ve been here for FOREVER.  In other ways, it’s been no time at all.  What a great time to reflect and see all that God has done, is doing and still desires to do!
As I write this, there are over 30 people being trained in the city of Tsihombe by a Malagasy pastor from Toliara.  He is teaching them how to train trainers.  The goal is reproducibility.  Even more than the reproducibility, the question remains, is the disciple REPRODUCING?  Men and women from around Androy have come together to be better equipped to share their faith.  They are hungry not only for Spiritual food, but for clarity on the best way to share that Spiritual food and tell the story of Jesus.  This weekend the training will continue but for another group meeting here in Fort Dauphin.  Many Antanosy people and other tribes will come together to receive the same training.
About a year ago, we went to a training on church planting.  As we were being faced with IMB personnel leaving the field for various reasons, Luke 10:2 was revealed to us in new light.  It says, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.  Therefore, pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into the harvest.”  In the 5 years we’ve been here and particularly the 3 ½ that we’ve been in Fort Dauphin and working hard in Androy, we’ve seen workers being raised up from the harvest and going back out into the harvest!  It’s an incredible and beautiful thing to see!  It’s come with some failures and heart-ache, but so much more with rejoicing and excitement for how God can use those who desire to be his children!
The timing of this training is key as we will spend the next 5-6 weeks out of the country.  Our desire and continued prayer is that these men and women who are being trained will immediately put their training to practice.  We hope to have a few teams of Malagasy believers going out to the villages and checking the progress.  We can barely contain our excitement for how we see the Lord’s hand leading this movement!!!

Praises:
*We’ve had a great month living alongside a missionary family from another organization.  We’ve both learned so much from each other and our kids have also enjoyed each other’s company.  We will part ways on Oct. 4th, but will stay in touch and continue learning from each other.
*Phoebe and Emma are half way through their first term of this school year at RVA.
*Our Hands-On girls and Ecuadorian missionary are doing an incredible job learning language, developing relationships and discipling some young ladies.
*Adam only had one major flare-up with his back this month.

Prayer Requests:
*Continued leadership development and execution of the trainings for our Malagasy leaders.
*Upcoming travels, meetings and surgeries. 
*Hands-On girls and Ecuadorian missionary as they hold the fort down while we’re gone.
*Ecuadorian missionary, Diana, as she’s dealing with a bad rash.

 River Having Fun with his friends

 Beach Time

 Silly kid

 Blazing New Trails with Diana and the Hands On Girls

 Sharing the Gospel in Behazomanga

Having Fun in Marovato with National Partners

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Time


As we look over the past couple of months we have realized how precious time is.  Time is fleeting.  We have traveled back to the past and then to the future again.  We have lived/stayed in different time zones and visited multiple countries and States.  As we made all of these travels and events we learned that adjusting to time and all of its changes can be challenging.

We enjoyed our time in the US but as we look back it was just a Texas tornado.  It came and it went and it was a wild ride for the entire time.  It was so nice to see some friends and family but we mixed in so many things that by the time it came to pack up to leave we were exhausted.  This is not to say that we wouldn’t do this again but it is to say that we have learned a little from this time spent in the US.

Time teaches us things as well.  As we have been here in Madagascar we have realized that time has taught us many things about our Malagasy friends.  We have learned so much about the culture and we are forever different because of it.  We have also learned to try and make the most of the time given to us.  There are so many things happening around us that if we don’t just take some time and breathe it begins to overwhelm us.

Working in the front lines of missions we have learned that time can stand still as well.  Time means so much to us as Americans but to our nationals it isn’t as big of a priority.  In church planting we tend to try to work on timetables but one thing the Lord has shown over and over through his word and throughout history is that His timetable is not our timetable.  He doesn’t work according to our desires.  We have a responsibility to submit ourselves to Lord and to His desires and His timetable. 

What does this mean?  Trust in the Lord and believe that He has a plan.  He holds all things together and He is in charge of time.  The Lord will bring about the harvest in His do time and provide the workers.  We are to just be faithful servants.  As we go through time the only thing that really matters is that we are being obedient to the Lord and His calling.  The accolades of man and any earthly rewards don’t matter if we aren’t walking in the Lord’s plan/timetable.


Praises:
We had a great trip to the US and enjoyed time with friends and family
Phoebe and Emma had a good time in F/D and have made it back to RVA safely
We have seen the Lord use His vision to motivate others to want to serve Him
Our Hands on Girls and Diana have arrived safely
We think the Land Cruiser is back in working order.

Prayer Request:
For the upcoming events happening.  Trainings, bush trips, friends coming and going, and family times.
For our Church leaders to stay motivated and committed to the Lord
For the extreme drought taking place in the South of Mada.  May we have wisdom on how to proceed with help
For Phoebe in her Senior year of High School, Emma in her Junior year of High School and Baylee as she works on 6th Grade.
For future plans for universities for P and E, financial blessing to pay for said universities and for Baylee and River to continue to grow in the Lord.

 We were able to see a few sights in London

 We enjoyed some really good food in the States

 Catching up with some SoMad peeps. 
 Sweet times with family

 Good byes are so hard but thankful for Grace at airports

 Visited Church in Toliara

 Two men from Androy land finished their Biblical Training program

 New Workers for SoMad Team

 Everyone headed their separate ways once again.

Shared at the CEIM Convention

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Pressure

We have had a great month of ministry and seeing the Lord at work.  It seems hard to believe that the Lord has done all that has been accomplished in just one month.  We are so thankful for how He is working and we desire to give Him all the glory and the honor for all the good things that are happening here in the South of Madagascar.  We have reached five years of service with the IMB and we are reminded many times of why we came here in the first place.  We have been reminded of the urgency to see the Lord do great things. 

Thus, we do find ourselves living under pressure.  We feel it in many different ways but one of the issues we face is how much time do we really have to work here in Madagascar?  How long will the Lord wait until He comes again?  The answer is simply that we don't know.  We just seek to be faithful to the gift he gives us each day here on earth.  We also are people of vision, planning and strategy.  We want to do things at the right time, for the right reasons and to make much of the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.  We also just don't want to follow commercialized methods of ministry but be sensitive to the Holy Spirit's leading.  So we find ourselves asking this question:  If we knew Christ was coming back in six months what would we do differently?  We hope and pray that many things would be the same but there are also little simple daily actions that we would absolutely change.  We believe that we are in a very important season of seeing the Lord's work flourish.  We have more leaders trained, more believers, more baptisms, and more churches than ever before here in the South of Mada but there is so much more to do.  We haven't even begun to shatter the silence.

We were able to watch the final of the Copa America and see the penalty kick shootout.  We as Argentina fans were ecstatic when Romero stopped the first Chilean PK but then we as so many others were just speechless as we saw the best player in the world miss his kick.  It was evident that he stepped up there wanting to make the kick not just for himself but for all the Argentines.  The inner-pressure and the external pressures were just too much and he over did it.  In our ministry here in the South of Madagascar we just have to remember to be faithful in the moment.  We don't do things for our church, convention, family, friends or even ourselves.  We do them to make much of Jesus Christ.  We don't want to step beyond where the Spirit of God is moving.  We don't want to over do it or under do it.  We have to trust that God is in control and that He will work things out according to His good, perfect and pleasing will.  We have to remember that it is not about us but it is us just being willing to take those steps of faith that will allow God's Kingdom and His will to come here on earth as in heaven.

Praises:
The trainings in Fort Dauphin went very well.  People have been taking what they learned and are sharing and training up others.
Phoebe and Emma have finished up another school year
We had a safe bush trip.
We have some teammates from different organizations joining us

Prayer Request:
For our national partners to stay founded in the Lord and willing to share and train others
The famine in the Madagascar and Sub-Saharan Africa
Baylee as she starts 6th grade
New career teammates to join us here in the South of Madagascar.  We will be working alone for a while.

Teaching out in Beloha

Visited a new village and cast vision and shared out of Mark 1

Praising God for time with the Kayiuki's.  They are a neat couple

 Closing Ceremonies of SWBTS Class

Serve to Lead
 Gathering to Head out and share