Our departure date for furlough is fast approaching, and everyone is very excited. There is a lot that needs to be done before we leave Madagascar on furlough. In April, we are looking forward to welcoming another BIMI missionary family to Madagascar, and a few weeks after that we will be visited by our BIMI director for Africa, Bro. Eric Bohman.
While we were on deputation, we tried to clearly convey our first term goals. Those goals were to learn the language, see where God would have us establish a church, and establish our immigration situation. We have been able get a grasp of the language. I have been able to continue preaching in Malagasy which gets a little easier each time, but is still challenge. I will be preaching 2 more times before we leave for furlough.
We now know where the Lord is leading us to. When we return from furlough, we will be moving to the Island of Saint Marie, which is a small island off the Northeast coast of Madagascar. Laura and I were able to take a 5 day survey trip there at the beginning of March. We believe God is leading us to begin our church planting efforts on this island, and we look forward to seeing what God does through us there. Please be in prayer about our move, a possible national co-worker, and open doors for the church plant.
As far a the immigration situation, we have an NGO (Non-Governmental Organization) that we are working with, and that is how we are able to be in the country. But, as is normal for Madagascar, the laws change frequently. We don't know what the future holds, and we ask that you continue to pray for direction in relation to our immigration.
Beyond those three goals, our desire, as rookie missionaries, was to help others in any way that we could. One of those ways is through hospitality. We have opened our home to others by inviting them over for meals, taking meals to those who were sick, and even to stay here once we had a guest room available. This hospitality ministry has been a blessing to our family. We have hosted a couple on a survey trip, a language teacher needing a place to stay in town, a missionary returning to the states, and a missionary from the Philippines who was also on a survey trip. In mid-March, we hosted a team of 7 with an organization called Adventure Missions. Their job is to make contact with missionaries in Madagascar for possible future collaboration. We invited this team of young people in their mid-twenties over for dinner, and to share any contacts that we could. Not quite sure of what we were getting into, I picked up the team of 3 young men, and 4 young ladies, and brought them over to our house for dinner. After dinner we talked, then we asked them to join us for family devotions. The devotional time was a sweet time of singing and sharing what God is doing in our lives. These seven young people seemed to be very spiritually minded, and prayed daily for Gods direction for each step of each day of their trip here. Their model for missions is Acts 2 where they seek a person of peace with which to begin contact. It was also nice to see our children interact with this group and realize that there are others besides Dad and Mom that are involved in missions work.
It has also been a blessing for us to be able to help Bro. Ernest, a wonderful Malagasy Christian, in re-establishing a church in the village of Ambohimahatsinjo. For two years, we went out to the village 2 times a month encouraging the church and training two young men for the ministry. This particular ministry was more that we expected to be able to do our first term, but the Lord directed our steps clearly by leading us to work with Bro. Ernest and his family. We were so glad to have been able to serve in a church plant so early on.
Please pray with us as we schedule meetings for furlough and in order to raise the remainder of our support. Also, please pray for the many transitions our family will be faced with. Please pray for wisdom and direction in the steps we take to follow God's will for our lives.
Paul, Laura, James, Andrea, Javan, Evelyn, Ingrid, Jowan & Joram Hostetler