Some update letters are easy and exciting to write and others are raw and hard. This one is the later. We moved out to Ile St. Marie in February with plans and dreams. We passed out over 3,000 fliers that all had gospel presentations on them. We went out into so many little villages while doing so and started conversations with various people. We got to know local business owners and shop keepers. We got the paperwork done for the first Baptist church on the island. We began friendships and worked on making that tiny island home. However, not everything that we plan always works out the way we imagine, and not everything God asks of us in faith ends the way we originally envisioned. There were many, many challenges there. We were expecting and were working through many. Some were beyond what we could manage. Living on a remote island has its challenges, and we tried to prepare for those. However, when rough seas means no boats come in, the markets go empty and no food is available. Trying to keep 8 people fed with nothing in the market is a bit rough. The adults dropping weight is a good thing. The children dropping weight isn’t. There were so many facets of struggles, and I don’t even know which ones to share and which ones to leave out. Simply put, we came to realize that we can not give proper care to our children (basics like food, water, hygiene) and live there. We are not done with St. Marie, and we are planning on going back about once a year for around a month to continue the things we have started. This decision was not made lightly nor quickly. We prayed, talked, and sought council about this decision before making the move back up to Tana. We are reminded that we are in a war. You may not win every battle, but you don’t give up the war. We are returning to a more secure location (which still has challenges of its own) so we can regroup and plan our next steps. Even in the short time we have been back in Tana, we see God opening doors for ministries here that will allow us to further the cause of Christ, but still be able to go back to St. Marie occasionally.
We may never know all of the reasons why for our time in St. Marie, but we took some time to list (for ourselves) some of the blessings and good things God did in us and through us during our time there.
-Our languages skills deepened
-Our children became more open to the culture and interacting with people here and picked
up more language skills as well
-Our eyes were opened to some creative ways to reach people that might work better as
we continue to serve
-Around 3,000 gospel presentations were handed out in an isolated area that desperately
-Our co-worker ( a Malagasy young man), who would not have gone without us, has
started a few Bible studies.
-We were able to build relationships with people there and will be able to utilize those as
as we seek ways to still minister occasionally in St. Marie
-As we were selling things, Paul was able to have a long conversation with an older man
who had tons of questions and was willing to listen to so many Bible verses and kept
asking good questions and listening to God’s Word in response.
-We have grown closer as a couple and as a family
-We are much more thankful for the things available in Tana. (Power cut for 8 hours means
that we have 16 hours with power!) Tana has its issues, but being able to take showers and get adequate food is a huge blessing.
There are others lessons and blessing from our time there, but I will stop there. St. Marie is a beautiful place, and its need for the gospel is huge. We aren’t done with it, but we believe this move is best for our family and are prayerfully looking for ways to serve both here and there as well.
We would ask that you continue to pray for us as we transition yet again and as we have meetings with people in the next few weeks to judge what the best use of our time here will be as we strive to do God’s will for our lives. Thank you for your continued support and care for us.
Paul, Laura, Andrea, Javan, Evelyn, Ingrid, Jowan & Joram Hostetler