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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New Life

And so begins our bold ministry to the Antakarana. Whether working in the rice fields, sitting on our porches or fishing, we will speak of the God of creation and boast of him in all that we do, lifting up prayers and thanks to him as our friends watch and see that he is a part of every aspect of our lives.

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Death and Life

Several scattered skulls, the stench of rotting flesh, and a handful of abandoned shacks were the only things remaining from the week’s festivities that ended just that morning. The quietness of our village was a huge difference from the hundreds of people partying and worshiping their ancestors here during the preceding days.

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South Africa – Best Of Photos

These are a collection of our best photos from our time in Peace Corps South Africa, living in Dumphries in Mpumalanga province (near the border of Kruger), and working in the School and Community Resources Project. It was a great time, from July 2008 to November 2010. 513 photos.

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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

This has been my first full day and night alone with our boys, and it was certainly eventful! I woke up to the sound of Matimu scolding David for raiding the banana stash before breakfast. Then one of the boys favorite toys was stolen and we spent time searching for it. (One girl said a smaller boy took it and his mom was pretty upset about it; in the afternoon we found out the girl herself took it and her mom made her give it back.) Then, while trying to do Matimus science project for the week (dyeing a piece of cloth with natural dyes) I accidentally knocked over a pot of boiling vinegar water and as I jumped away it splashed all over one of my legs. So now Ive got second-degree burns over quite a bit of my leg. (But thankfully Matimu and David werent in the room when it happened, because that couldve been *bad*!) Unfortunately we couldnt finish the project because that was the last of our vinegar.

But we ended well. We boys ate a LOT of pancakes for dinner! Then we watched a couple fun shows together before I put them to bed. Alls well that ends well!

Loras gone because she took a quick overnight trip to Diego to go to the post office there. Well all be happy to have her back tomorrow morning! (But please pray for my leg, that it would stay free from infection during the process of healing - thats the main concern with wide-area burns like that.)

This has been my first full day and night alone with our boys, and it was certainly eventful! I woke up to the sound of Matimu scolding David for raiding the banana stash before breakfast. Then one of the boys' favorite toys was stolen and we spent time searching for it. (One girl said a smaller boy took it and his mom was pretty upset about it; in the afternoon we found out the girl herself took it and her mom made her give it back.) Then, while trying to do Matimu's science project for the week (dyeing a piece of cloth with natural dyes) I accidentally knocked over a pot of boiling vinegar water and as I jumped away it splashed all over one of my legs. So now I've got second-degree burns over quite a bit of my leg. (But thankfully Matimu and David weren't in the room when it happened, because that could've been *bad*!) Unfortunately we couldn't finish the project because that was the last of our vinegar.

But we ended well. We boys ate a LOT of pancakes for dinner! Then we watched a couple fun shows together before I put them to bed. All's well that ends well!

Lora's gone because she took a quick overnight trip to Diego to go to the post office there. We'll all be happy to have her back tomorrow morning! (But please pray for my leg, that it would stay free from infection during the process of healing - that's the main concern with wide-area burns like that.)
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1 day ago

Haha, this picture keeps making its rounds on Malagasy Facebook groups - this is probably the third or fourth time that we know of.  This time it was on a page with about 75,000 followers, and this picture has nearly 3,000 responses!  I dont know if thats enough to count as viral or not, haha!  

This picture is from back in 2012 when we were working in the rural areas near Tamatave (east coast Madagascar).  We were learning a process of rice transplanting called manetsa that many Malagasy people feel is a cultural practice at the core of their identity as Malagasy.  Being our first time to learn, we werent doing it perfectly and some Malagasy people can see that in the photo.  

So the comments are often many and varied but follow a standard pattern: many are very happy to know that foreigners are trying to learn their ways; quite a few comment about how urban Malagasy no longer know the traditional ways but here are foreigners doing it and it should encourage their countrymen to take the lead in maintaining the traditional ways; but some just comment (probably with some ethnocentric pride) that clearly were doing it the wrong way and tourists shouldnt bother; a few commenters even appear offended that we would take a picture of ourselves trying.  Not that those commenters realize were not tourists and this was just the beginning of many years spent adapting to Malagasy life and culture.  It all makes for an interesting consideration of what our lives here (particularly the photos we take) look like through the eyes of the local people here - though of course, only through the eyes of that minority of the population that has access to Facebook!

Anyway, it seems that every year or two this picture pops up somewhere and one of our Malagasy friends sends us a message asking if we knew it was being posted (and we never do).  Its funny to me how the comments about it always stay about the same.  And it makes me wonder how many times this picture has been passed around and we didnt have a friend to tell us about it!  Who knew that in coming to Madagascar Lora and Matimu would become a local viral sensation!  ;-)

Haha, this picture keeps making its rounds on Malagasy Facebook groups - this is probably the third or fourth time that we know of. This time it was on a page with about 75,000 followers, and this picture has nearly 3,000 responses! I don't know if that's enough to count as viral or not, haha!

This picture is from back in 2012 when we were working in the rural areas near Tamatave (east coast Madagascar). We were learning a process of rice transplanting called "manetsa" that many Malagasy people feel is a cultural practice at the core of their identity as Malagasy. Being our first time to learn, we weren't doing it perfectly and some Malagasy people can see that in the photo.

So the comments are often many and varied but follow a standard pattern: many are very happy to know that foreigners are trying to learn their ways; quite a few comment about how urban Malagasy no longer know the traditional ways but here are foreigners doing it and it should encourage their countrymen to take the lead in maintaining the traditional ways; but some just comment (probably with some ethnocentric pride) that clearly we're doing it the wrong way and tourists shouldn't bother; a few commenters even appear offended that we would take a picture of ourselves trying. Not that those commenters realize we're not tourists and this was just the beginning of many years spent adapting to Malagasy life and culture. It all makes for an interesting consideration of what our lives here (particularly the photos we take) look like through the eyes of the local people here - though of course, only through the eyes of that minority of the population that has access to Facebook!

Anyway, it seems that every year or two this picture pops up somewhere and one of our Malagasy friends sends us a message asking if we knew it was being posted (and we never do). It's funny to me how the comments about it always stay about the same. And it makes me wonder how many times this picture has been passed around and we didn't have a friend to tell us about it! Who knew that in coming to Madagascar Lora and Matimu would become a local viral sensation! ;-)Ataon ny vahiny indray...
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6 days ago

Madagascar's former President, Ravolomanana (2002-2009), just landed by helicopter in a dusty soccer field near the back of our house! That was an interesting surprise! Hundreds of people ran out from all the nearby neighborhoods (including Matimu and me) to see the helicopter land. Unfortunately, a big wave of dust and sand also followed the helicopter's landing and dirtied up all of Lora's fresh laundry hanging on the line. As the former President got into the back of a truck and headed into the main part of town, quite a few people followed alongside his truck; but most of the crowd stayed behind to stare in awe at the helicopter winding down. They were more impressed by the helicopter than the chance to see Madagascar's former President, haha! The Madagascar presidential election should be next month, so all the former Presidents are campaigning for the new election. That's how Madagascar's politics go: all the old choices and not many new ones. ... See MoreSee Less

1 week ago

This is an important issue that we've frequently seen in our time in Madagascar. (More details in the comments.)

We stand for #landrightsnow
Hungry for change? ✅

This World Food Day, from 15 - 26 October, we are calling on governments around the world to respect Indigenous and community land rights and defend our food from land grabs. Join us: www.landrightsnow.org/wfd2018
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1 week ago

Comment on Facebook

Most people in developing countries who've inherited land from their ancestors, and who've cultivated it for centuries, don't actually have legal paperwork declaring them the owners. So when rich outsiders or foreign corporations decide they want the land for themselves (for example, the beautiful beaches of Nosy Mitsio) there's often little to stand in the way of them bribing some government officials and taking the land for themselves. Just recently, Madagascar's former President signed an agreement with China, just days before he resigned as President (in order to run for re-election), that gave China very large fishing rights to the already overfished seas around Madagascar. Not only would this further damage the ecology of the local oceans, it also would likely provide ZERO jobs or income to local people. But this sort of practice happens all the time in Africa - foreign governments or foreign corporations gain the rights to own the land or exploit the natural resources and it rarely benefits the local people in even the smallest ways, yet it often destroys the environment the local people rely on for subsistence agriculture. So, this is a very important issue to be aware of throughout the world. It's a very different and foreign idea for most of us Americans (since most Americans aren't involved in farming, and most food Americans eat comes from the largest corporate-owned food producers). But the small-scale agricultural methods and land ownership status of most of the world is something we should be aware of and we need to do whatever we can to support local people's ownership of the land that's theirs.

😢😬 Tena hainao mihitsy ny zavatra mampalahelo izay mitranga matetika eto Madagasikara...Mampalahelo be mihitsy izany sady mahasosotra! 😣 Indraindray tena te hiteny mihisy hoe hoe aleo tsy manana filoha ny Malagasy. 😢

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