Traveling in the US

We’ve been working on our travel and speaking schedule while here in the US, and we’re excited about all the opportunities that have come up. Read here for an up-to-date list of our travel and speaking schedule while in the US.

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VIDEO: On Distant Shores

This video is about our ongoing mission to reach the Antakarana people of Madagascar. It showcases the lifestyle of the Antakarana on Nosy Mitsio, their religious beliefs and rituals, and our team’s efforts at church-planting among them.

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Visiting the US Next Year!

That’s what our last few years have been like here on Nosy Mitsio: exciting! Challenging! Full of promise, hope, struggles, loss, and gain. In it all we see God at work. He’s maintained us, given us strength and perseverance when we’ve needed it most, and he’s opened our eyes to see…

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Praying With Our Eyes Open

I knelt down and put my hand on the young boy’s foot, right next to the gaping wound made from an ax that chopped in the wrong direction. I bowed my head, closed my eyes, and asked God to heal the injured boy. When I finished praying, I opened my eyes…

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Donate to the Mission

If you would like to be a part of the work the Willards are doing in Madagascar, you can give a tax-deductible gift today.

Video Introduction

Watch this video for an introduction to the Antakarana people and our work among them

Latest News

We just finished a very nice, relaxing, and restful week-long vacation at Nosy Be! The last five months have been both very stressful and incredibly busy, bringing us to the point of exhaustion. So it was nice to finally take a break from it all and just enjoy time as a family. We found an affordable place right on the beach and there were plenty of nice restaurants to eat at. We even saw a couple of local friends while there. Now we're feeling well rejuvenated and ready to move forward again! ... See MoreSee Less

6 days ago

 

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Glad that you all got to take time out & relax as a family. Looks amazing!

This morning we went to a Lutheran church here in our neighborhood. Most of the service was quite traditional (including it being almost entirely in official Malagasy, a language that most local people here neither speak nor understand well), but there were a few parts that were really cool.

For about 5 minutes at the beginning of his sermon, the pastor was teaching the kids (sitting in their own section at the front of the church) and he taught entirely in the local language and it was really cool! Though when he directed his sermon to the adults (and the rest of the service he led) he did it all in official Malagasy. I'm sure the pastor realized there was no chance at all the kids could understand him preaching in official Malagasy, so he was able to teach the kids in a way he was sure they could understand. But I also wonder if those first 5 minutes for the kids were also the most effective preaching/teaching time for most of the adults as well. It was the first time we've heard a national Christian teach the Gospel in the local language here and it was just really great to hear it (and what he shared was great too).

Another cool thing was at the end of the service. First they had their regular assortment of cash offerings, which they called "replacement for the harvest/fruit." (African churches rarely have just one offering.) Then they also had a big collection where people gave not cash but produce from their fields (like pumpkins, eggplant, or mangos) or baked/fried breads or things like that. Then they auctioned it all off one by one and used that as part of their offerings income. Of course this was the actual "harvest/fruit", not the "replacement" - so we figured out why they first called their cash offerings the "replacement"! It was really cool to see that local people who may not have had much cash to give could still give to the church in meaningful ways and it was a fun time for everyone! If we return again sometime, I'll buy some of their auctioned produce next time!
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2 weeks ago

We visited one of the churches here in town this morning with a couple of our neighbors. I was interested to see that the only musical instrument they had was a full drum set (with a young kid, maybe 8-yrs-old, playing it). At first I thought it an odd choice if you were going to have only one musical instrument. And the first (fairly standard, slow-going) worship song increased my doubts - just some really loud drumming over a couple of ladies singing. (Though the drummer kid was good and he busted out some great solos in not-quite-appropriate portions of the song!) However, by the second song, I realized why drums were their instrument of choice. It was a very fast song, entirely done in the local rhythm (one we're very experienced with because it's the same fast 3-beat rhythm used for everything from holiday parties to calling on the spirits of the ancestors). Everyone there in the church really got into it and started moving around, and the song lyrics (which I couldn't actually hear/understand over the drums) at some points followed the same standard quick and repetitive call-and-response as is popular in the local style. Just like the typical festivals and non-Christian spiritual rituals practiced around here, the primary thing is that fast repetitive beat, and it doesn't matter at all if there are no other instruments at all - as long as there's plenty of loud percussion! It was probably the first time I've seen a worship song in Madagascar that was truly indigenous to the local styles/rhythm (not just the language), and it was impressive to see the difference it made on the people attending! And it certainly explained why they picked a drum set (i.e. loud percussion) over any other possible instruments. ... See MoreSee Less

3 weeks ago

 

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The rest of the church service was just so-so. The pastor had clearly borrowed from more-typical charismatic stylings (in accordance with the denomination of their church) and spent over two hours mostly just yelling, and yelling loud enough that their speaker system just kind of muffled and distorted it quite a bit - so also hard to follow and understand. When he occasionally spoke softly (thus we could understand him) he had some solid stuff to say though. And we met with the pastor afterwards and he was very friendly and said they're very open to working together with us in any way at all and are looking forward to meeting with us again. So that's a cool opportunity that we'll probably have a chance to follow up on in the future. Churches here are nearly always lacking in good opportunities for discipleship. But it's through discipleship that people grow in the Lord and become passionate about God's Kingdom coming to their unreached neighbors and surrounding areas. So, there's definitely a chance to look into those opportunities in the future, maybe doing some discipleship training or helping them start programs for discipleship within their church; and through that to hopefully find those God is leading towards reaching their unreached neighbors, and thus find more co-workers for the work here!

Madagascar is my love country and I continually pray for this country and your family. Thank you for these updates, they give direction on how and what to pray for as your family continues serving in frontier missions...God bless you

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