Hello everyone,

Visiting the Penguins on Boulders Beach in South Africa!
Visiting the Penguins on Boulders Beach in South Africa!

Sorry for the silence for so many months now!  It hasn’t been intentional, as there have been several times we’ve wanted to write to give an update.  But then things would get busy here and there and we’ve wanted to remain intentional about our time of “sabbatical”.  By that I mean that any time we’ve started feeling too busy or a bit too stressed, we’d instead step back and intentionally rest and pray and determine to let God take care of any “work” that’s needed to be done.  After all, taking this time off for sabbatical was entirely his idea, and not ours.  And he’s proved that to us over and over!  In every instance, in every worry or every concern, God’s taken care of things.

Enjoying the beautiful "Hanging Lake" while on vacation with the Willard family in Colorado!
Enjoying the beautiful “Hanging Lake” while on vacation with the Willard family in Colorado!

This time of rest and rejuvenation that God’s given us has been so good for us!  Our time in South Africa with YWAM Worcester was very good for us, and there were several incredible people who helped make it that way.  Though it was busier than expected, it really helped us come out of the rut we felt we were in, and helped us re-orient and point ourselves in the right direction again.  Our time in the US has been much more restful and has included great restorative times both with our families and with the small Christian community at the YWAM Ozarks base here in Arkansas.  Though we never would’ve planned this time ourselves, God has always known what he’s doing and he knows what’s necessary to take care of our needs, even when we don’t realize it ourselves.

Lately we’ve been sensing in prayer that the time for us to return again to Madagascar is coming soon.  Our one big question has been how we should manage our immigration visas and timing for our return.  For a long time we didn’t get any clear direction in prayer, only hearing from God that we shouldn’t push too hard for it ourselves and that he’s taking care of it.  So we considered and tried a few options, but it was going slow and it didn’t seem too positive. 

Then one day a couple weeks ago, Lora felt like she heard something specific from God regarding our visas.  So we followed up on it and in just a few hours we already heard back and it was very positive!  We then got another phone call from Madagascar the next morning letting us know everything should work out just great!  Not only that, but we should be able to get a much longer visa this time than we’ve ever been able to get in the past!  However, one of us would need to come to Madagascar very soon to fill out and submit some paperwork at the appropriate government offices. (In Africa, personal presence is commonly required to accomplish many different things, even things that might normally be considered completely impersonal to us Westerners.)  As I prayed more about it myself, I also felt like God was really confirming this.  

So, I hurried and purchased round-trip tickets for myself and started arranging the paperwork both from my end and through friends in Madagascar.  At first everything seemed to be going smoothly, but then we ran into some (unfortunately common) obstacles and were approaching a deadline just a few days ago.  Stress was mounting again and Lora and I both just took it to God in prayer, reminding him that we want nothing more than to follow his leading, and that we rely on him to complete any work that needs to be done.  And again he’s come through!  That night (the day of the deadline in Madagascar) we received several different phone calls informing us that all the paperwork had been received and passed on to the appropriate persons.

Visiting our former village in South Africa (where we were Peace Corps Volunteers).  It was great to be with our host family again after so many years!
Visiting our former village in South Africa (where we were Peace Corps Volunteers). It was great to be with our host family again after so many years!

Now it’s time for me to fly to Madagascar to continue (and hopefully complete) this process; to prepare the way for our whole family to return to Madagascar soon.  I’ll be leaving tomorrow (Tues, Aug 20th) and after a 37-hour trip, I’ll arrive in Madagascar on Thursday (Aug 22nd).  I’ll have just 10 days in Madagascar’s capital city to make appointments, have meetings, and get all the various papers organized, stamped, certified, and submitted to the appropriate government offices.  I’ll leave Madagascar on Sun morning, Sept 1st and after a 45-hour return trip, I’ll arrive back in the US Monday evening, Sept 2nd.

So, I’ve got a lot of very long trips happening and a lot of work to accomplish in the next couple of weeks!  Not only that, but it will be the longest time I’ll have spent away from my family, and the first time to be in a different country from them.  Please pray for me while traveling, that God will give me good health and enough sleep/rest, so that I can do my part in this process as smoothly as possible.  Pray that all the responsible government officials will be in their offices on the days we need to meet with them, and that they’ll give us favor, accept all of our paperwork, and grant us visas longer than we’ve ever had before.  Please pray for my family and I as we’re apart for so long, that God will take care of Lora and our boys well in my absence.  And pray especially for the months ahead, that each step we take will be ordered and directed by the Holy Spirit, for the purposes of growing God’s Kingdom in Madagascar, that we’ll faithfully fulfill the efforts God’s given to us and that he’ll complete his work!

Matimu and David enjoying a nice boat ride on Table Rock Lake with their grandparents (Lora's parents).
Matimu and David enjoying a nice boat ride on Table Rock Lake with their grandparents (Lora’s parents).

If all goes well with my short trip to Madagascar and regarding our visa paperwork, I believe that we, as a family, will be heading back to Madagascar probably in mid-October.  We’ll continue to work with God in reaching the Antakarana people of northern Madagascar, while based out of the town of Ambilobe.  We believe that God has not stopped working in our absence, that he’s preparing a new team to join us – comprised of those truly chosen and called to join his work there.  And we believe that God is preparing the Antakarana people to receive the good news of Jesus and to be the foundation for his Kingdom in northern Madagascar.  We also believe that the foundation for our participation in his work there is to be fully submitted to him in prayer – seeking him and pleading with him for his will to be done, for a breakthrough among the Antakarana.  Please join us in this work, by also praying with us!

I’ve updated our prayer requests page (after a long absence), so I invite you to please look at them again and be praying with us.  We also have a “Facebook page” that I try to update more frequently, which you can find here:  https://www.facebook.com/WillardsMadagascar/   (It also updates here on our website, if you’d rather see our Facebook page updates here.)  I also hope to write a newsletter again before we return to Madagascar, just to share some of the things that God has taught us during this time of sabbatical.  

Thank you again to all of you for your faithful support, for your patience, and especially for your prayers for us and for the Antakarana people!

In Christ,
Adam, Lora, Matimu, and David Willard

Looking out from a trail near Eureka Springs
Lora looking out from a trail near Eureka Springs, where we celebrated our anniversary.