Rest in his faithfulness…

After 3 months of settling in to village life and immersion language study our team has arrived at the end of our first unit. What does that mean? Well, quite honestly, for me personally, it meant we would see a proper shower with running water and light switches that trigger a bulb to illuminate a room. At the end of each unit, we will take a getaway that offers us a time to rest, relax and reflect upon what God is doing in our midst.

This was taken a week ago at our team's end of the unit retreat...it was restful.

This was taken a week ago at our team’s end of the unit retreat.

Our first unit was focused on orientation and early language study, and together we are becoming more and more familiar with our surroundings and what is required of us to thrive over the next couple years. We have confirmed for ourselves that learning the Sakalava language is an absolute necessity if we hope to better understand the way in which our neighbors view the world and view God. This is no small task and will come with both great sacrifice and, with God’s help, fluency in the Sakalava dialect.

Meet the brilliant children on our team who God is using in ways unimaginable...

Meet the brilliant children on our team who God is using in ways unimaginable…

We have these brilliant children on our team who bring an enormous amount of energy, to culturally fatigued adults; that’s mostly myself, and who are persevering through many difficult changes with joy in their hearts and strength beneath their toes. They have left behind friends, loved ones, and church communities with little to no hesitation in pursuit of following God’s will for their family, however aware or unaware they may be of that fact.

We're proud of this boy...

Camden has a conversation, a bright idea, or infectious laughter to offer anyone who will give him a grain of attention.

The organized children’s program at their churches back home, organized sports, extracurricular activities they were participating in have been replaced by surviving in the jungle. You might say, “That’s awesome!” and it is…it truly is an adventure of a lifetime, yet sometimes I look with concerned eyes at my 4-year old daughter in the morning making her way up to the pit toilet on top of the hill where a new swarm of flies have just emerged from the hole in the ground, and I mumble to myself, “why are we here?”

Keely loves collecting little trinkets wherever she goes...this day it was shells and sticks.

This photo was taken at the retreat where Keely enjoyed the pleasures of a flushing toilet. This precious girl brightens up my day even when swarms of flies come out of the pit toilet or rats forage through the house.

There are many moments like these, whether it’s the rats that come forage through the house in the night, or the reminder from the kids to tuck in their nets so the spiders don’t come to close, or the rough terrain that brings my youngest to her knees everyday, but it’s not just these outward signs of change for the kids.

Myla keeps us all on our toes...

She is a brave soul, a spit-fire and is willing to take risks. She has a unique gift with hearing and repeating correctly the Sakalava language and we have noticed her willingness to move boldly into unfamiliar surroundings.

They’ve gone from homes where people know them, where children can understand what they are saying, and adults listen with a caring ear, to a faraway country where they are often confused by the language, uncertain of their surroundings, and sometimes indifferent about this new way of life. These changes affect, not just their bodies, but also their hearts and minds as they grow and develop. Where will these changes, whether good or bad, leave them?

Camden has friends in each of our surrounding villages, his language learning is excelling, and we are praising God for the blessing of Camden. This photo was taken after a long day of soccer, fishing and food.

Camden has friends in each of our surrounding villages, his language learning is excelling, and we are praising God for the blessing of Camden. This photo was taken after a long day of soccer, fishing and food.

In response, I think of my mother and grandmothers who have proclaimed the scriptures for me in prayer all my life…

“For thus says the Lord: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile. (Jeremiah 29:10-14, ESV)

This is our buddy, Eli, he's a missionary from Canada and a budding artist.

This is our buddy, Eli, he’s a missionary from Canada and a budding artist.

These strong children are in the hands of my LORD and my LORD is faithful, He knows their names and since before they were born He has known about these plans for them because He wrote them in his masterful “Rescue Plan” (as author of The Jesus Storybook Bible, Sally-Loyd Jones puts it). Their stories are one small part of God’s grand narrative and what a joy it will be to look back with them on all these difficult changes and see fruit produced as a result of the journey…

Blessings friends, Rebe

This is Camden and James crossing the sea on a pirogue. James is an expert Lego construction worker and gives our kids new building ideas each time they play together.

This is Camden and James crossing the sea on a pirogue. James is an expert Lego construction worker and gives our kids new building ideas each time they play together.

This is Ben, the youngest brother of James and Eli. He's from Canada and he'll celebrate his 1st birthday this Saturday!

This is Ben, the youngest brother of James and Eli. He’s from Canada and he’ll celebrate his 1st birthday this Saturday!

Camden with a couple of his buddies from the Ambatozavavy village.

Camden with a couple of his buddies from the Ambatozavavy village.

She is a brave soul, a spit-fire and is willing to take risks. She has a unique gift with hearing and repeating correctly the Sakalava language and we are have noticed her willingness to move boldly into unfamiliar surroundings.

Myla keeps us on our toes…

This is the day we crossed the sea from the mainland to Nosy Be island, arriving at our "hut sweet hut."

This is the day we crossed the sea from the mainland to Nosy Be island, arriving at our “hut sweet hut.”

From the left: Eli, Keely, Camden, Myla and James.

From the left: Eli, Keely, Camden, Myla and James.

In the village after a swim...

In the village after a swim…

Waiting to board our boat taxi...

Waiting to board our boat taxi…

This photo was taken during our home-stay. Cooking, eating and most of life happens outside...

This photo was taken during our home-stay. Cooking, eating and most of life happens outside…

Camden has a conversation, a bright idea, or infectious laughter to offer anyone who will give him a grain of attention.

We’re proud of this boy…

This was taken on a long walk to Lokobe Reserve, while the tide was out, with our home-stay family.

This was taken on a long walk to Lokobe Reserve, while the tide was out, with our home-stay family.

The sun was a bit bright that early morning...James, Myla, Camden and Eli.

The sun was a bit bright that early morning…James, Myla, Camden and Eli.

Myla celebrated her 6th birthday last weekend at the retreat! It was a special place to be for her birthday!

Myla celebrated her 6th birthday last weekend at the retreat!