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Sunday, December 23, 2012

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas,

It is hard to believe that in one week we will have lived here for a whole year. There have been lots of changes over this past year and lots of new things to adjust to but we love our new home and the people that we minister to and work with.

We made a video to show you where we live and work, as well as explain a bit more about what it is that we are doing here with MAF.

Thank you for being a part of us here in Madagascar. Have a wonderful Christmas celebrating the birth of our Lord and saviour.

Merry Christmas from Rob Barber on Vimeo.


Thursday, December 13, 2012

Back to Work As Usual

Maintenance on our aircraft had basically come to a standstill until yesterday. We have been waiting for our AMO (which is the license to maintain aircraft) to be renewed by the local aviation authority. Yesterday the guys received the OK to commence work as usual. This is a huge praise item! Praise God. And it also means Rob can get back to doing what he loves the most at MAF, working on the aircraft.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Is There A Doctor In the House?

So we are feeling very thankful today! Rob and I went to bed on Wednesday evening, feeling completely fine  and fell asleep until 1:00 am when I awoke to Rob complaining of back pain on his lower right side. This quickly escalated into episodes of severe vomiting and him writhing in pain like I had never witnessed before.  An hour into this excitement he was begging me to phone a doctor. It was 2:00 am now and, not having any medical numbers on hand, I had to call my neighbor. At this point I was definitely hoping it was nothing too serious, yet hoping it was actually something worthy of waking our friends and calling in medical professionals! We got the number for a local medical assistance line and within an hour a doctor was in our bedroom giving Rob intravenous pain medication. The children slept soundly.... once the doctor had examined him and heard Rob's symptoms he determined it was likely a kidney stone. Once the pain had settled a bit, he took Rob to town to have an ultrasound at 4:00 am. I tried to get a couple more hours of rest, knowing the children would be up and ready to go in 2 short hours. At 6:00 Rob returned with the doctor. And he wanted to take him back to the imaging clinic at noon for a second ultrasound, just to confirm the kidneys looked normal and everything was clear. He took a blood sample and let Rob drink tons of water and a special tea all morning. A couple of hours later, Rob was back to normal and we were able to continue on with our busy day!

We are just so thankful for his restored health, and also for the knowledge that medical help is available if we require it. Our mothers can rest knowing this too, now. :)

Please continue to pray for health and safety, as much of it is out of our control. So often we take our good health for granted, and this week we were reminded that everything continues to be in God's hands!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Crunch Time

The pressure is on right now! Not only is there an extremely high-demand for flights in our new Cessna-182, but our AMO License is about to expire on November 10th. In order to maintain aircraft registered in Madagascar we have to maintain an AMO (Aircraft Maintenance Organization) and along with it all the paperwork required by the local aviation authority here. Rob has been working long hours going through piles of paperwork for ACM (Aviation Civil de Madagascar) to make sure that we can continue to maintain and operate aircraft. ACM was recently audited by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and because of that audit has completely updated all of their rules so that they could maintain ICAO compliance. What this means is that Rob has had to re-write all our manuals (4 manuals) to align with these new rules. Rob's workload has been very high because he has had to re-write the manuals and also maintain the aircraft which are under very high demand which means they need a lot of maintenance. Even though maintenance engineers are typically responsible for lots of paperwork and desk time, Rob says this is a bit extreme due to the special circumstances, but knows that in the long run it will be a good thing for Madagascar because the new system now aligns to internationally recognized standards.

At best ACM will renew our license to maintain aircraft right away. Second best, they could give us an extension on our current license. At worst, our license expires and Rob and Michel can no longer fix any problems on the aircraft or do any routine checks either. The pilots may continue to fly, but if something breaks, the program is on hold until the license is renewed.

Please pray for these circumstances. Pray for peace as Rob feels anxious about all of the submitted paperwork and is ready to see this very large task finished. Please pray for the pilots who are also working on the operations side of the paperwork and have a lot to do, as well as flying. We don't want to see things paused---however God knows the bigger picture and He knows what's best for our program and the timing of everything. We trust in Him.

Until Next Time....

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Life-Saving Medevac

Last week very shortly after a vital component on the C-182 was replaced and Rob and Michel had it flying again, a call came in for an immediate medevac request. Basically, Patrick, one of our pilots, came downstairs asked the guys if they could have the plane ready to leave in 30 minutes!

Dr. Fernand, a regular flier with MAF and part of the MMS (Madagascar Medical Safari) team was ready and waiting for when the flight landed to take the man to the hospital where he could have immediate surgery. It turns out, the man was suffering from a ruptured intestine and if he hadn't have been transported, he would have lost his life. MAF's other aircraft (Cessna 208 Caravan) was away in the north of the island during this time and was unable to make this flight.

We are so thankful for God's grace in this situation. We are praising Him for this opportunity to be used as instruments to help save lives, and ultimately for His healing and protection during the whole process. These locals often live at the mercy of the elements in these isolated villages. There are no fancy hospitals to repair their bodies after injury or sickness. In fact, rarely are there adequate doctors right there.

Thank you for continuing to pray with us as we serve in Madagascar, and thank you for your continued financial support to make these rescues possible!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Around Town

 Thought we would share some photos taken around town. The visit with Oma has been so nice, and as we take her for drives, we are seeing some things with "new eyes" once again.

This is a picture of the famous baobab trees in Madagascar. Mostly they are in the south of the island, but this small one appears in the Tana City Zoo. As we are nearing the end of the dry season, you can tell things are looking browner and not as lush.

This lady is sitting along the side of the road with her little boy selling some goods. You can see the sugar cane on the left side there as well.

 These are the stacks of bricks the people have made after the last rice harvest. The mud comes from their rice patties, and now it is planting time again.

Hair-cut anybody? "Coiffeur" is hair-stylist in french. You see these little beauty parlors everywhere around the city.

 Traffic ....... ............. this boy is selling a local malagasy snack, which when translated to English is called "Dead Man's Leg."

 A local property in the middle of Tana surrounded by rice fields.

Local housing in the city . .  these are all along main roads we frequently drive on.

 Wash day.
 Another local property, with the rice fields behind.
 This man is selling sugar cane along the side of the road.

Hot, hard job.... making piles of gravel. This lady was working right at a major round-about along the side of the "highway" here.

Until next time :)

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Exploring with Oma

We have been having a fantastic week with Oma. She has recovered from jet-lag and the soreness that two 10-hour flights gift you with - and we are starting to explore a little more. Despite some initial shyness, Calvin is starting to warm up to Oma now. It's so nice to see the children enjoying this reunion.

Oma had the opportunity on Saturday to fly with MAF and pick up the Madagascar Medical Safari team and see some of the geography of Madagascar from the air!

Today, after church, we headed up a road and took her to a favorite picnic spot of ours. Along the way we saw this large gathering of people watching a soccer game.

It was a relaxing and warm Sunday.

Bon dimanche!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Anticipating Oma!

We are anticipating the arrival of Oma (Rob's mom) tomorrow evening - late evening, probably close to midnight once she is off the plane and through customs.

It has been a year since we saw her last in Quebec, and everybody is so excited to welcome her to Madagascar and have her experience some of what we've seen over the past 9 months.

Please pray for safety and good health during her long journey here! We are thankful she's no stranger to long-haul travels. Her travel-repertoire includes two visits to Zambia and one to Burma. 

More updates to come :) 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Kids, An Update

Joyanne will be 3 years old in November. She is enjoying childhood so much here, and tries to get involved with Faith's school-work as much as she can. She is a blossoming "lefty," and I anticipate it being difficult to hold her back from starting school a little early! She truly is a Joy to us, and greets us each morning with such a sweet little smile that, without words, says "Good Morning Mommy."

Wesley turned 4 in August. He is a bundle of energy! Much of his time is spent building Lego spaceships, riding his 2-wheeler bike around the driveway of our compound, and generally being loud and boyish. He loves to play rough with Daddy in the evenings, and he is also fascinated with any insects he may find around the yard. As much as he loves being outside and running around, he will stop and listen to a good book (with lots of pictures) and frequently asks for cuddles.

Faith is 6, started Grade 1, and is losing teeth one after another! She also loves to ride bikes with her brother, and run around the yard with the other kids. Anything social pleases her. Her day is "made" when a friend is coming over, even if it's just adults for Mom and Dad to visit with. Faith is a singer! We often hear her humming or singing favorite songs to herself.

Calvin is 1 and almost running around now. His favorite place is outside, and he loves playing with the dishes he can reach in the kitchen and is generally exploring everything within his reach, or climbable reach!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Experiencing MAF in Madagascar

Rob with the children in a village where MAF built a landing strip. MAF is the only one who flies into this village.

 The landing/take-off strip.

 Rice fields.............................................................................................................................................

 Rice fields..................................................................................................

 Excitement, as the locals wait for us to park the airplane and visit them.

It's so exciting to be able to go along on flights and visit some of the places MAF Madagascar flies.  In the next month, MAF will be flying a team of doctors around the island to do another MMS (Madagascar Medical Safari). This is where the doctors give their time and resources to visit isolated villages that do not  have adequate medical care. It's during these medical visits that surgeries are done in tents, and under primitive conditions, yet the medical interventions are necessary and many times, life-saving!

Please keep these doctors in your prayers as they prepare to go and serve in the coming weeks.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

For the Garden

It's time to have fertilizer delivered to our compound for the gardens!

Much to our children's delight  :)

Could having a pile of zebu manure delivered to your backyard be anymore exciting?
By the zebu themselves?

Saturday, August 11, 2012

August Newsletter Is Here

Barber August 2012                                                                                            

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Finding Familiarity

We have experienced a lot of change in the past year! Languages, weather patterns, shopping experiences, relationships, etc.

But there are some things that help us remember home:

We are so thankful for the wonderful house provided for us here in Tana, but it's not without defects. Which is fine, we're not complaining. People have asked us how renovating our house in Canada helped to prepare us for the mission field, and well..... some things just help us find familiarity in this foreign land.

Here is a picture of our dining room, and you can kind of see a wire poking through the ceiling, where we haven't put a light fixture yet. I guess those aren't normally provided by the landlords here?
Seeing wiring like this isn't very different from what we're used to. Even better, here it's out of reach of the children! :)

Also, you can see right beside a piece of the ceiling came down. This came down because of a broken water pipe on the outside wall of the house there. So the water was just pouring in underneath the upstairs floor and the ceiling here. This made the plaster ceiling.... wet plaster again.
But it's all okay. More familiarity! The next picture is a picture of our living room in Mission after a small accident happened while we were building the addition upstairs. This hole just became part of the decor while we finished the rest of the home. It was fixed eventually before we sold the house.

So there it is, a bit of how renovating a house helps make Madagascar feel more familiar to us. :)

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Two Girls

Our daughters are so sweet; they look similar, but boy do we recognize some differences already!

Joyanne loves babies. If given the choice between buying a Barbie or new baby, there's no question, she wants the new baby of course! We bought her this little babydoll stroller in Quebec, managed to bring it to Madagascar, and we still can't believe it's not broken! She takes her babies for walks every day out there. Although Faith also loves "babies," it could be any stuffed animal! I've seen her wrap any number of toy puppies and teddy bears and monkeys in blankets and snuggle with them at nighttime. And Faith is definitely eyeing the BarbieDolls (or cheap knock-offs rather) in Shoprite these days.

Joyanne takes after her mother more when it comes to the creepy-crawlies in Madagascar. If she spots fluff or a little stick on the floor of the bathroom, even, she starts screaming and won't go in there, thinking it might be a bug! (Joyanne does, that is. Karina is a tiny bit braver than that. A tiny bit.) Faith collects these things! She even has the gardeners in our compound collecting grasshoppers and crickets for her. If she finds a "coccinelle" (French for Ladybug) it is immediately named her newest 'pet'. In fact, there might be a surviving ladybug upstairs in a container near the kids' toothbrushes in the bathroom still! Today, our helper caught a large grasshopper (pictured above) for her, and Faith was thrilled to keep it with her all day long. After quiet time this afternoon, we discovered Faith had even snuggled with it in our bed while she was reading! Ah! Even worse, mommy says, "Ew I don't like those. They jump on me and tickle!" And Faith says very matter-of-factly, "It's okay Mommy, Lalao (our helper) took the jumping legs off."

I can't remember who the teacher was, but there was one time in Mission a couple of years ago when we went to church on Sunday and were told after the service that Faith had brought something to show her Sunday School teacher. We were all surprised to discover she had actually smuggled a little salamander or something from our yard all the way to the church. She had hidden it with her in the van, kept it concealed during the singing time, and then managed to share it with everyone in her class. We laughed, in surprise, and the teacher kind of shrugged and, smiling, said something like "Oh well, she's preparing for Africa!"

We love our girls :)

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

A Horse and a Girl

Nearby our house there is an equestrian center and golf course. Faith, in love with horses, was ecstatic at the idea of actually having the opportunity to ride one. After visiting the place and having horse-rides it will probably be impossible not to return. The wide open countryside was relaxing, the kids loved running around the golf course (much to the workers' concern of them being hit by a ball, even though nobody was actually playing golf) and then the horses, of course.

Concern / Item for Prayer

We would also like to inform you that Rob's colleague mechanic has been off work for a couple of weeks, and will likely remain off for at least a month. Michel has had chest pain for a while and after having some tests, it has been confirmed that his triglyceride level is extremely high, therefore at an increased risk for heart attack. He was promptly put on a strict vegetable-only diet and ordered off work to rest. He is in his mid-50's and has a large family/extended-family under his roof to take care of. He is a do-er and staying put doing essentially nothing is a trial in itself for him. Please keep Michel in your prayers. He is a long long time MAF national employee in Madagascar.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Winter in the Tropics

It is winter ..................

In the 'warmth' of the afternoon, children can be found playing outside in the yard, to escape the coolness of our concrete homes.

But come dinnertime, the yard looks a little lonely, and we are indoors building fires, sipping hot soups and tea, and perhaps nursing colds and flu's.