Where Would You Like To Go?

January 31, 2012

Update from Ryleigh

Quite a good bit has been going on in my life lately and mom hasn’t written about it, so I decided I needed to! I’ve been having so much fun with my Rock & Lhi Lhi and I wanted to share a few things with you!
Right after my birthday, I went and got my ears pierced…it hurt then, but now I think they look pretty!
I also learned how to take care of (aka play with the lid) of my guinea pigs that I got for my bday (they were from mommy & daddy’s language teacher)…
I think they are cute but my parents say that I will have to tell them "bye bye" before we leave for Tulear…
Rock taught me how to make funny sounds when I stick my tongue out like this…
He also brought me lots of new things to play with…we had lots of fun!!
Lhi Lhi and I go on walks everyday while daddy & mommy are in language school, she's trying to teach me how to blow a kiss...it seems a little harder than she makes it look!
Everyone keeps wondering when I'm going to start walking, but why would I walk when Lhi Lhi will hold me??
I guess that’s all for now, but I’m sure lots of adventures await us in Tulear – so I’ll be back one day soon to let you know what’s going on there!

January 28, 2012

Quiet Times

After a year of being a mom, my definition of “quiet times” has changed quite a bit. Thanks to my husband’s diligent efforts, we work together to make sure we each have time every morning to spend in the Word and pray – and for that I am forever grateful.
My 2nd favorite quiet times though are often spent with my daughter. She’s quite the talker & seems to be continually on the go, therefore quiet times usually only occur when she's sleeping! However, when she wakes up from a nap, she’ll often just bury herself in my shoulder when I pick her up. I take these precious, sweet moments to sit in her glider and just hold her close.
 I pray, I sing, I cherish…
I have a feeling these moments will be gone before I know it.

January 25, 2012

Home

Recently a new pastor friend brought to my attention a passage found in Acts 12. This pastor was explaining that the passage is about the night before Peter was to be executed.  I'm just going to use his exact words..."Peter was asleep and Luke uses an old Greek word to describe the cell he was in. The New Testament only uses that word in this passage. It literally means "a dwelling," a "house/home." Even on that night when he was about to be executed, he slept like he was at home. The point: The only place a believer should ever be truly at home is in the will of God. Peter made a choice to follow Christ and live in His will regardless of what happened in his future. All of us have to answer that same call. "

  I had never known about the use of that word in that particular story and it brought great peace to my heart the night that he shared what he had been studying.  I've often struggled in how to explain to someone how we feel about living here.  People ask us how we are and what do we miss - we know they mean well but it's hard to describe the fact that we don't dwell on what we miss every moment of every day.  Sure we love our families and are beyond grateful for them but this is our home.  From the moment we set foot in Mada, the Lord has confirmed over and over again that this is our home.  This is where He wants us to live, to raise our daughter, & to tell His story.  Of course any time Chik-Fil-A wants to open a restaurant here we'd be okay with that too! :)

 Obviously, if you have read our blog, you know there are hard days - but even through the tears or the frustrations over cultural differences there is a truly unexplainable peace.  More than peace, there is joy, there is relief in knowing that no matter what, we are exactly where He has planned for us to be.  Overwhelming situations happen - as in the trip out to the bush back in November - but the fact is, He planned our steps long ago.  Every single thing that happens works out for His glory and hopefully works as a fire to shape us into the vessels He desires for us to be.

We have both felt called to foreign missions long before we met one another and fell in love.  Everyone always told us that that fact would be such assurance during the hard days on the field...that we had felt the call for SO long.  However, what I've come to discover in the past 6 months is that the assurance comes in knowing Who my Savior is.  I am a sinner, a worrier, a wife, a mother, a language learner, a daughter, but more than any of that - 1st and foremost, I am a child of the King.  My relationship with Him is what keeps me grounded.  The promises He has written on my heart since I was a little girl keeps me focused.  I fail so miserably...but the thing is I would no matter what continent I lived on or what language I spoke. 
 I am inadequate. 
 I do not know the answers. 
I am proof that missionaries are just ordinary people. 
There is nothing special in and of myself. 
 It is all Him. 
 It's His story
 - this is the role He has written for me to play. 
 I couldn't do it without His script, His wisdom, His coaching, His redirection, His discipline, His refinement.  We wouldn't be here without Him.
So what is "home"? What enables us to sleep as Peter did wherever we may be laying our heads?
It's simple - He does.
Without Him - there is no home for us.  With Him - home is wherever He asks us to be.

January 22, 2012

The Blind WILL See

Thursday morning we went back to the school for the blind that we had visited in December.  This time we were able to walk around to the classrooms and talk with the students.  The school is set up similar to a boarding school.  These children eat, sleep, & study all in the same place.  The school is set up on the side of a huge hill and the views are breathtaking.  After entering a few classrooms and gazing out the windows at what incredible views there were to see...I was deeply moved at the similarites there were between the students at this school and the Mahafaly of whom we are called to work among.
This school is set to where there are magnificent views to see from the classroom windows - however, the students are blind.  They have no idea what the views from those windows look like.  How my heart suddenly felt overwhelmed with sorrow over all of the spiritualy blind on this island.  How much more are they missing out on, not being able to "see" the Creator of these beautiful sights? 
As tears welled up in my eyes, my heart ached for the Mahafaly...and truly for all of the lost.  Those who are kin to me, those I went to school with, those who live in Meridian, in Mississippi, in the USA, in Madagascar, & in the world.  They are blind.  They can not see the gloriousness of our Lord and Savior because they do not know Him.  They need the Source of sight. 
Praising Him for His promises in the book of Isaiah...
"On that day the deaf will hear words of a book, And out of their gloom and darkness the eyes of the blind will see..." Isaiah 29:18
"Then the eyes of the blind will be opened And the ears of the deaf will be unstopped..." Isaiah 35:5
Please lift up the spirtually & physically blind of Madagascar and around the world.

January 15, 2012

Friendly Faces

I want to share something today that has truly made me think during our time here in Antsirabe...

Every Sunday morning we go to church...there are 4 Christian churches here in town that have been founded by different missionaries throughout the years.  Obviously, when we first arrived here in Mada we could speak no Malagasy.  All we had to communicate with was the love of Jesus.  We would walk in these churches that often look very different from any church we have set foot in, not to mention how different we look!  Our southern accents, our American dress, our baby girl who likes to touch people's hair and babble away to them...the list could go on.  However, there has not been a single moment that we have not felt overwhelmingly welcome.  Hands extended to shake the foreigner's, smiles to greet us when they realize we don't understand their verbal greetings, welcoming arms that want to take care of our baby, and once again the list could go on.

However, what makes me stop and wonder is this...do foreigners feel the same upon entering our churches back at home?  How about your church?  If someone comes in who is as different from you as night and day - how are they welcomed?

My prayer, my hope, & my desire is that no one would enter your life...be it at church, at work, or if you are just out and about...that would not feel as welcome as we have during our time here in Antsirabe.

January 11, 2012

6 months

On January 1st it had been 6 months since we boarded a plane with our 6 month old and headed to Madagascar.

Sometimes I can’t believe it’s been that long ago and on other days I wonder how it could have only been that long ago. Does that make sense? I’ve been wanting to do a 6 month update for a while, but when I sit down to write it the thoughts don’t seem to line up. They all just rush together and I end up just sitting in awe of all He has done. While I am still very much in awe of His faithfulness, I figured it was time to put it on paper so to speak and share it with you.

6 months ago we truly left everything we knew. Thankfully, the One who had already given us “all that we knew” is the same One who led us here to new things to know. We have dived into a culture that has welcomed us with open arms. Sweet & friendly people who quite possibly don’t know how to be mean to someone even if they tried, have become our friends and some have become like family. Our language teachers have been wonderfully patient and encouraging. We have gone from saying simple greetings to now being able to keep up a dialogue with friends & strangers alike. Ryleigh has grown from barely sitting up on her own to cruising around on our furniture.

The Lord’s blessings have been abundant in the small & the big details. I feel as if I’m continually saying how much your prayers mean to us but at the same time I’m scared that I can never adequately express how much we appreciate them. The tracts we hand out, the conversations we have, the ministry opportunities that are presented, the Bibles that have been purchased, etc. etc. etc. – all are because of the Lord and His answering of your faithful prayers.

After living “on the road” for the 1st half of 2011, we have made a home here in Antsirabe. Now, in Feburary we will move to Tulear. We’d be lying if we said we weren’t the tiniest bit excited to think this may actually be our home for a good little while – perhaps the longest we’ve been in one place since we were married 4 ½ years ago! We ask that you still be praying for our language abilities. We have come a long way but there is still so far to go in being able to express the Gospel in an understandable way to the Mahafaly people, especially considering they will not be able to read it for themselves. Upon arriving in Tulear, we will begin studying the Mahafaly dialect of the Malagasy language that we have learned. We will also start working on memorizing story sets from the Bible.
Tulear is a big & exciting move – it will also mean changes in our day to day routine. Please be praying for us as we adjust to all of the newness – especially Ryleigh! Know we will keep you posted on what’s going on! Thank you!

January 8, 2012

Rock & Lhi-Lhi in Mada

*Disclaimer* I know that this is a little late in posting...forgive me - we've been enjoying their company :)

For starters...for those of you who don't know, Rock is Nickolee's dad - Flint and Lhi Lhi is her mom - Lessa.  I'm not sure there is quite enough room on this blog to explain the process of the coming about of their unique grandparent names - but that's what they are and we'll see if they stick :)
Ryleigh was anxious for them to come...she checked out the hotel room to make sure it was appropriate...
I could hardly contain myself  (even thought it was midnight) when I saw them through the glass at the airport...I was waving like crazy and Steve felt sure I was going to knock someone's head off :)
No reunion pics because the airport is slightly crazy here BUT trust me that it was a sweet though hectic time!
Our first trip the next day was to the big craft market, where I had to try and convince my mom she didn't have to buy from every single seller :)
and next we headed to the Croc Farm.  We had never been so it was a new experience for all of us. 
We had lots of fun and got up close & personal with quite a few animals!
We are now safely back in Antsirabe where more adventures await!  We'll keep you posted!!

January 5, 2012

A Day of Celebrating Ryleigh

We started off the morning waking up to a room full of balloons thanks to daddy (& pinterest!)
Once we played with the balloons, we skyped with Pop, Nanna, & Aunt Alanna and Ryleigh opened a gift from them!
After we got ready, Rock & Lhi Lhi had to go ahead and give her a few gifts!
Next, we headed over to the Hailes' house to have her 1st birthday party!
Thank you SO much guys for letting us use your house!!
Our "family" here in Antsirabe :)  So thankful for each of them!
Mom & I (with the help of a few things from the USA) made Ryleigh's birthday cake & cupcakes...
which she loved and quickly devoured!
 
Finally, we ended our day celebrating with GranGran & Grandma via Skype!  Ryleigh smiled so big when she saw them!!
We had lots of fun celebrating with friends, family, & our missionary family.  We definitely missed everyone else back at home but were still very blessed with lots of people who love Ryleigh over here!

 Thank you Lord for a wonderful year of memories with our Ryleigh Elizabeth!!

January 4, 2012

Address Change!

In Feburary we will be moving to Tulear, Madagascar...this means our address will be changing.  We thought this might be the quickest and most efficent way to let everyone know!

Steve Roberts
BP 43
601 Tulear (Toliara)
Madagascar

If you start to send a care package or a letter - it might be wise to go ahead and address it to Tulear.  Mail has been a little slower over the holidays and this will be the best way to make sure it gets to us!  Thank you!!

Happy 1st Birthday!!

Can you believe it's been an entire year?!?! 
This precious little baby...
has grown into this beautiful little girl...
You have grown a lot over the past month!  You now weigh 20 3/4 lbs and are 29 1/2 inches long!
Ryleigh, you are quite the mover...you always want to be on the go!  You have finally started crawling instead of doing an army crawl and you still love walking around holding on to whatever/whoever is near.  This past week you even figured out how to go up the stairs by yourself (hope daddy is getting that baby gate built!)
Your favorite food is your baby cereal you eat every morning with daddy (with an occasional piece of a poptart from the most recent package) and pretzels are your favorite snack.
You will not eat baby food if any other food is in sight.  You definitely think you are an adult when it comes to eating!
You love using your fingers to pick up and examine anything in your path.  Playing with toys that go in and out of a box or bowl have become your favorites.
There's no doubt you are definitely spoiled...you are the treasure that the Lord has given us and we love you SO very much!!
Happy 1st birthday baby girl!!

January 2, 2012

A Merry Madagascar Christmas

This was our 1st Christmas in a foreign country
 and it ended up being a Christmas that was a 1st in many ways!

1st one that we spent Christmas Eve at the pool...

1st one that we were a family of 3...

1st one that we were able to "help" Santa...

 1st time we had a chimmney to hang our stockings on...all though it was 90 degrees outside ;)

 Admist all the "1sts", we are thankful that there is one thing that never changes...the Reason for it all!
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