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I’ve Got Your Back!

As we travel the United States this year sharing about what God has been doing in Madagascar, many people have asked us what is happening in Madagascar while we’re gone. The truth is… quite a lot has been happening, thanks to a great team of AGWM missionaries.

The members of our Madagascar mission team.

The members of our Madagascar mission team.

Our mission team, in many ways, is like a church staff. Each of us has particular gifts and talents that we use to help move the Malagasy Assemblies of God church move forward under a united vision. Unlike a church staff, our team is also like a surrogate family, when our real families are 10,000 miles away, we act as aunts and uncles to other MKs (Missionary Kids) and we live life together. We worship together, pray together, and we do ministry together. We like to use the phrase, “I’ve Got Your Back!” We look out for each other and when one of us succeeds, we all succeed. Tammy and I want to take this posting to brag on our teammates who continue the work in Madagascar while we are home on furlough.

Aaron Santmyire providing medical care to an injured Malagasy.

Aaron Santmyire providing medical care to an injured Malagasy.

Aaron and Heather Santmyire have been in Madagascar since 2007. They have two great kids, Isabelle and Josiah. Aaron has his doctorate in nursing and practices medicine through a mobile clinic in many hard to access places in Madagascar. In addition to his medical ministry, Aaron is helping to provide leadership to our team while we are in the States. Both Aaron and Heather teach at the Bible School and together they oversee the Assemblies of God orphanage.

Jay Rostorfer praying for people during an altar call.

Jay Rostorfer praying for people during an altar call.

Jay and Carey Rostorfer have been in Madagascar since 2004 and they have four wonderful girls. Two of them, Jordan and Constance, have returned to America, but their two youngest, Jael, and Candace, are still in Madagascar. Jay is a great preacher and does quite a bit of evangelistic outreach as well as Bible school teaching. Jay is also the National Commander for Royal Rangers and is over seeing the translation and printing of the Royal Rangers curriculum into the Malagasy language. Carey has a huge heart for worship ministry, women’s ministry, and leads a regular discipleship class for pastor’s wives, helping them to disciple and mentor the women in their churches.

Dr. Jim Thacker is helping our Bible School and other training programs in the country to move forward.

Dr. Jim Thacker is helping our Bible School and other training programs in the country to move forward.

Jim and Meg Thacker are new to Madagascar this past year, but are veteran missionaries with an education background having served in Zimbabwe, Kenya, Burundi, and several other countries. They bring their years of teaching experience to Madagascar helping our Bible school and extension schools to grow and expand. New curriculum is being translated and printed and new ideas are being formed to help improve the educational opportunities for our pastors and leaders.

Billy and Jo Wilson are greatly loved on the southeast coast.

Billy and Jo Wilson are greatly loved on the southeast coast.

Billy and Jo Wilson have been in Madagascar since 2012 and are also veteran missionaries who have served in the DRC (Congo), Kenya, and Rwanda. They have a heart to help mentor young pastors and develop leaders for church planting in the bush. They oversee our Madagascar Live Dead team on the Southeast coast, training church planters and building new churches where the church hasn’t gone before. They are such a blessing to that region and the pastors they serve.

Ernest and Elizabeth Kisinga are wonderful church planting missionaries from Tanzania.

Ernest and Elizabeth Kisinga are wonderful church planting missionaries from Tanzania.

In addition to these great teammates, we have others who help form a larger team, missionaries working with us from Tanzania, Romania, Reunion Island, and France. Together we are seeing the kingdom of God in Madagascar advance. Tammy and I are so grateful to have these wonderful people working shoulder to shoulder with us. We are so thankful that we can each look each other in the eye and state, “Hey Friend, I’ve Got Your Back!”

Our Upcoming Service Schedule
Feb. 8- Calvary Christian Assembly – Seattle, WA
Feb. 15- Columbia Heights Assembly Longview, WA
Feb. 16-18 Africa’s Hope Planning Meetings Springfield, MO
Feb. 22 AM- Libby Assembly of God Libby, MT
Feb. 22 PM- Troy Assembly of God Troy, MT
Mar. 1 – Christian Life Center Missoula, MT
Mar. 4 PM- Northwest Family Church Auburn, WA
Mar. 7-8 Faith Assembly Lacey, WA
Mar. 11 PM Yelm Prairie Christian Center Yelm, WA

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year from our house to yours!

Happy New Year from our family to yours!

We hope that all of you had a wonderful Christmas and New Year’s celebration! This past month we were able to spend some great time with our kids as Becca came home from college at Evangel University and we were able to hang out together with Caleb and Alyssa (our new daughter-in-law) quite a bit. We were also very happy to be able to participate in a small family reunion with all of my family for several nights at a rented cabin, with all the cousins under one roof.

Tammy's parents and all the children and grandchildren together under one roof.

Tammy’s parents and all the children and grandchildren together under one roof.

Please continue to pray for Madagascar. While the date is not yet set, there will soon be elections held for new church leadership. Satan would love to bring division to these elections. Please pray that God would lead and guide the Malagasies to choose good leaders to these important positions.

I, Tammy, have been reading a book entitled, “A Long Obedience in the Same Direction” by Eugene Peterson. I think its an excellent title. The book is about the psalms of ascent, the chapters on Psalms 131 and 133 particularly challenged me, but each chapter was sprinkled with nuggets of truth.

We continue to do what we do so that the Malagasy people can find freedom in Christ from the  deception of ancestor worship and Islam!

We continue to do what we do so that the Malagasy people can find freedom in Christ from the deception of ancestor worship and Islam!

A long obedience in the same direction is a description of the process of discipleship to which we have been called. Upon our salvation, we have not arrived, but on the contrary, we have just begun. We have not entered a short and fast sprint but rather a life-long marathon. As we continue to study, learn and apply Scripture, we are progressively discipled, we become more like Christ. It is a life-long process.

So in this new year, when many of us are thinking about resolutions, diets and goals, let us not forget or give up on our long obedience to Christ in the same direction.

Happy New Year from Montana! Thanks for your continued prayers and support for our ministry and for Madagascar!

Happy New Year from Montana! Thanks for your continued prayers and support for our ministry and for Madagascar!

Thank you for your continued prayers and support as we travel the country this year. We are still in need of nearly $1000 in monthly support. But we know that God is faithful and the needed funds will come in. Below is our upcoming travel schedule. If you are in the area, we would love to see you.

Sun. Jan. 11 AM River City Church- Boise, ID
Sun. Jan 11 PM First A/G – Caldwell, ID
Wed. Jan 14 PM Nyssa Community Church- Nyssa, OR
Thurs. Jan 15 PM Lighthouse A/G Ontario, OR
Sun. Jan 18 AM NW Family Fellowship Great Falls, MT
Sun. Jan 18 PM New Life A/G- Lewistown, MT
Jan. 19-21 Montana Minister’s Renewal Great Falls, MT

Sun. Jan 25 AM Neighborhood A/G -Helena, MT

Sun. Jan 25 PM Boulder A/G – Boulder, MT

Sun. Feb 1 AM Dillon A/G- Dillon, MT

Sun. Feb 1 PM Ennis A/G- Ennis, MT

Wed. Feb 4 PM Hamilton A/G Youth – Hamilton, MT

Sun. Feb 8 AM Calvary Christian Assembly- Seattle, WA

Giving Thanks!

It is with great excitement that we share this news with you!

On Saturday, November 8th, four Malagasy pastors graduated from the West Africa Advanced School of Theology (WAAST) in Lomé, Togo, receiving their degrees in theology. This is an historic moment for the Assemblies of God in Madagascar. Though we have nearly 700 pastors in the country, it marks the first time ever that an A/G Malagasy pastor has received any sort of an advanced degree. Two of our students graduated cum laude (with honors) while another graduated summa cum laude (with highest honors). This French degree in theology, is similar to a B.A. in America, and is a huge step towards seeing many more pastors and leaders receive the education they need to help lead the Assemblies of God into the future. It is a part of our continuing effort to help the church to grow Deep and Wide.

Our four Malagasy graduates!

Our four Malagasy graduates!

This moment has been a long time in the making. Some of these pastors have been studying for early 14 years, taking correspondence courses from Global University classes in French. This was a long and slow process, one course at a time over a period of many months. Since creating a relationship with WAAST, last year, we have been able to serve more students, offer higher level education opportunities, and speed up the entire process.

Pastor Hasina graduated Summa Cum Laude, near the top of her class.

Pastor Hasina graduated in Togo this November, Summa Cum Laude, near the top of her class.

Providing training opportunities for Malagasy pastors to attain advanced degrees is crucial if we are to help the church become self-sustaining and indigenous. But offering this level of training is not cheap. Three times a year we fly French speaking African professors into Madagascar from West Africa so that they can hold block classes with our advanced extension school students, then after several years of study, those students that have enough credits must fly to Lomé, Togo to finish their final coursework and graduate.

Churches often ask us if we have a project in which they could participate. Would you or your church consider becoming a partner in this training endeavor? By sending us a quick email at nate.lashway@agmd.org you can get more information on how to join the Madagascar Dive Club. We have called this effort the “Dive Club” because we are helping pastors to dive deeper into God’s Word than they ever thought possible. These pastors are taking Greek, Ethics, Issues in Contemporary Theology, Administration and so much more. We are not only developing better pastors but statesmen who will lead the church of the future.

Our extension school students this past winter with one of their visiting teachers from Togo.

Our extension school students this past winter with one of their visiting teachers from Togo.

God is not done with Madagascar and in this season of thankfulness, we are thankful for all of you who make our work possible. Helping the church in Madagascar to grow Deep theologically, so that it can grow Wide and reach every valley and village.

Thankful and Grateful

Each time we come home, we get a new prayer card made to pass out to ask for prayer. Recently, we “house-sat”, between services, for a family from one of our supporting churches. When I was getting ready for bed, I noticed the mirror in the bedroom was decorated with many, many prayer cards. It struck me that we will never know the power of those prayers or the miracles that happened because they were faithful to pray. We want to say thank you for your prayers for us, for the Malagasy church and the ministry there. We do not take your prayers for granted. We greatly appreciate your prayers.

A bed room mirror covered in missionary prayer cards.

A bed room mirror covered in missionary prayer cards.

Here are some of the specific things that you can join with us in prayer:

The Call to Missions Pray that the Lord will call more laborers to Madagascar. As a mission team, we have identified several key areas of ministry in Madagascar where we have strategic needs. These include children’s ministry, university ministry, an international church plant and regional missionaries who would be willing to live and work in different regions of the country to mentor and encourage pastors as well as help in church planting. We don’t know how God will meet the needs that we see, but we know that He has a plan.

Personal Spiritual Life Missionaries are in no way spiritual giants. We daily struggle to die to ourselves, to walk in obedience and to keep in step with the Spirit, showing the fruit of the Spirit, not only in ministry, but with our family and colleagues. We need to take the time to study the Word and apply it to our lives.

Our first prayer card in 2002.

Our first prayer card in 2002.

Family Life Our family is going through several life transitions. Please pray for our son, Caleb and his new wife, Alyssa as they begin a new life as a married couple. Our daughter, Becca is adjusting to life in the USA and at Evangel University. We, Nate and Tammy, are dealing with an empty nest as well as traveling full-time this year. Pray with us that we not only adjust to these new circumstances, but that we glorify God and grow through them.

Team One of the top reasons that missionaries leave the field is because of conflict between missionaries. It is one of Satan’s oldest strategies, to divide and conquer. We are blessed with a great mission team, but just like a marriage, having a great team is a lot of work. Pray with us that our team will continue to learn to appreciate, value and respect each other. As our Africa regional director once told us, “One of the greatest gifts that we can give the Malagasy church is a united team.”

Relationships Pray with us that God will give us favor with the Malagasy Assembly of God Church. Pray for strengthened friendships with pastors and leaders. Pray that God will increase our love and understanding of them and their culture. Pray that we will value their partnership and their unique giftings and callings.

Safety and Physical Health Pray for traveling mercies for us as we travel and visit so many churches for the next 8 months. We have already put nearly 10,000 miles on our car! Pray that the car will keep running and that icy roads will melt before we get there! Please pray for our health, as we encounter new germs and viruses in the USA.

Our 2011 prayer card

Our 2011 prayer card

Everyday Stress Living overseas brings a unique stress. We often tease that we have a flat spot on our foreheads from banging our heads against the wall. And while we joke about it, routine chores can be mind bogglingly difficult in a foreign context. This year, while we are in the USA, we are enjoying the efficiency and convenience of America. But our new everyday stress includes packing up our suitcases and moving them in and out of a hotel or home 3, 4 or 5 times a week. Pray for us that we can keep a sweet spirit and not become irritable with each other as we grow road weary.

Provision As we travel, we often don’t know where we will stay or what we will eat, but we know, most assuredly, that we will stay somewhere and that we will eat something! God has been more than faithful, providing homes, shared meals with friends (old and new), and even great hotel deals on Priceline.com occasionally. He knows just what we need and how to provide it! Even though we are traveling the country this year sharing what God is doing in Madagascar in order to raise financial and prayer support, it has to be about more than that! We pray for divine appointments with pastors, friends, believers in churches, maids in a hotel, or waitresses in a restaurant. We pray that God will speak through us to encourage, to bless or to challenge someone. We don’t need to know the details of how God uses us, but pray with us that God will use us in someone else’s life as we travel.

Our latest prayer card

Our latest prayer card

Perseverance As we retell our story several times each week, the Lord confirms his call over and over in our hearts. It keeps us excited to get back to Madagascar. Training leaders and planting churches in unreached areas can be slow work. Day to day, it often seems that there isn’t much progress, but when we step back and recall all that God has done these past years, it is amazing. We want to be faithful to what the Lord has called us. Pray with us that we will run the race with endurance, fixing our eyes on Jesus. If you are praying for missionaries like us, THANK YOU!

Our November Travel Schedule:

Sun. AM Nov. 2- Central Assembly Great Falls, MT

Sun. PM Nov. 2- Fairfield AG

Wed. PM Nov 5- Bigfork AG

Sat./Sun Nov 8-9 Canvas Church Kalispell, MT

Wed. Nov.12- Light of the Valley Stevensville, MT

Sun. AM Nov. 16- New Life Christian Center Polson, MT

Wed. PM Nov. 19- Chi Alpha Missoula

Sun. AM Nov. 23- Christian Center Bozeman, MT

Sun. PM Nov. 23- New Beginnings Sheridan, MT

Tues. Nov. 25- Home Group Swant’s Deer Lodge, MT

Sun. Nov. 30- New Life Worship Center Missoula, MT

On The Road

Greetings from the Road!

As our last posting emphasized, the past two months have been amazingly busy. On September 28th, we finally returned to Montana after clocking more than 8,000 miles on our mini-van and visiting churches in Missouri, Arkansas, Alabama, Florida, Texas, Iowa, and Wyoming. It was so great to connect with Nate’s parents, numerous old friends, lots of supporters, and make several new contacts as well.

Ready to greet some folks in Humble, TX!

Ready to greet some great folks in Humble, TX!

Becca is doing great at Evangel University, making friends and loving her classes! The newlyweds, Caleb and Alyssa, are staying very busy. Caleb has started his classes at the University of Montana and is also working 25 hours a week at the nearby Holiday Inn. Alyssa is working full time at the Missoula Federal Credit Union as she continues taking classes online through Liberty University to complete her degree in Business Administration.

Saying goodbye to Becca at Evangel University this past month before heading north towards Montana!

Saying goodbye to Becca at Evangel University this past month before heading north towards Montana!

This month, October, we will be traveling mostly around southeastern Montana visiting churches, encouraging pastors, and reconnecting with old friends.

Great to spend time at Chapel of Hope with Rick and Tamara Grieve. We served in staff together in Helena when we became missionaries.

Great to spend time at Chapel of Hope with Rick and Tamara Grieve. We served in staff together in Helena when we became missionaries.

Continue to pray for our safety as we travel the highways and byways of Montana this fall. Our car has held up great and numerous people have been gracious to open their homes to us along the way between services. We look forward to November when we can return to Missoula and be nearer to Caleb and Alyssa and also have a home base for a few months.

Got to spend some time with a few nieces and a nephew in Billings at a corn maze.

Got to spend some time with a few nieces and a nephew in Billings at a corn maze.

We have included a calendar of services below. If you are in the area, we would love to see you. Thanks for your continued prayers and support.

Wed. PM Oct. 1st, Chapel of Hope- Lockwood, MT

Sun. AM Oct. 5th, Parkhill Assembly- Billings, MT

Sun. PM Oct. 5th, Heights Family Worship Center- Billings, MT

Tues. PM Oct. 7th, Columbus A/G- Columbus, MT

Wed. PM Oct. 8th, Faith Chapel- Harlowton, MT

Sun. AM Oct. 12th, Life’s Journey Church- Colstrip, MT

Sun. PM Oct. 12th, Lighthouse Assembly- Miles City, MT

Wed. PM Oct. 15th, Broadus Assembly, Broadus, MT

Fri. Oct 17- Montana Youth Convention STL Emphasis- Great Falls, MT

Sun. AM Oct. 19th, Baker Assembly- Baker, MT

Sun. PM Oct. 19th, Calvary Temple- Wibaux, MT

Wed. PM Oct. 22nd, Jordan Assembly- Jordan, MT

Thurs. Oct. 24-Tues. Oct. 28th Missions Convention 1st A/G Griffin, GA

The 30 Day Whirlwind

The past thirty days have been pretty much a blur as we have returned from overseas and begun this season of itineration, visiting churches this year and sharing about all the great things that God is doing in Madagascar.

We returned near the end of July and jumped immediately into wedding preparations for our son Caleb who married his fiancée, Alyssa Smith, in a beautiful ceremony on August 9th in Lolo, MT. The two of them met through the Chi Alpha student ministry at the University of Montana. Alyssa is a wonderful young lady and we are so happy to have a daughter–in-law in the family.

Our son, Caleb, married his fiancee, Alyssa Smith, in Lolo, MT on August 9th.

Our son, Caleb, married his fiancee, Alyssa Smith, in Lolo, MT on August 9th.

During those first two weeks in the States, we were also able to find a great vehicle to drive this year, a 2009 Chrysler Town and Country mini-van that is big enough to carry all of our stuff as we travel the country, but also dependable enough to handle the roads.

God has provided for us with housing and a great dependable mini-van for the year.

God has provided for us with some temporary housing for a few weeks and a great dependable mini-van for the year.

The Lord also faithfully provided a great house for us to live in for the first three weeks of our return to America. We were able to house sit for some friends who were out of town and offered to let us stay there for free. The house was plenty big enough for us and for my parents when they flew out for the wedding. God is so good. God has also provided another house for us in Missoula from November through March that will allow us to be near the newlyweds while we tour the central and western parts of Montana later this year.

Becca on the campus of Evangel University in Springfield, MO.

Becca on the campus of Evangel University in Springfield, MO.

This month our daughter, Becca, has also begun a new stage in her life as a college student. A week after the wedding, we loaded up the mini-van and headed out from Montana to Springfield, MO to get Becca set up at Evangel University. It was nice for us to be able to travel with her and stay down in the area for a few days as she moved in and got adjusted to life in college on her own.

Becca and her new roommate!

Becca and her new roommate!

On August 27th, we left Springfield and headed out to visit several churches in Arkansas and Alabama. Being in the south at the moment has allowed us to drive down to spend three or four days with Nate’s parents who live in Venice, Florida. We are so thankful to spend whatever opportunity possible with family as we crisscross the country this year. In the September we will have several weeks of services in the Houston, TX area before we begin our trek back to Montana, where we will devote most of the month of October to visiting many of our south eastern Montana churches.

It has been so great to spend a few days with Nate's parents in Venice, FL. Madagascar is a long way from family.

It has been so great to spend a few days with Nate’s parents in Venice, FL. Madagascar is a long way from family.

It has been quite a whirlwind of activity these past 30 days and we have already traveled over 3500 miles with many more to come. Please continue to pray for us that God would grant us favor as we share with churches and pastors about the work in Madagascar and that many new churches and individuals would feel lead to partner with us on a monthly basis to send us back to Madagascar to continue our work there. Thanks to all of you for your faithful prayers and support,

This Is It!

When I was about four years old my dad went on a mission’s trip to Tanzania. Upon returning from that trip, and after discussing it with my mom of course, my daddy announced, “Guys, Your mom and I have been praying about this and we are moving to Africa!” He then filled my brother and me in on all the details of how we would soon be moving to Madagascar.

Our first prayer card in 2002.

Our first prayer card in 2002.

My Dad said that in Africa we would have: guards, a wall around our house, and maybe even lemurs. The gears in my head began to turn as I imagined what this could mean. Guards? The only guards I knew of were the ones that guarded the queen of England. Those Buckingham Palace guards, that dressed in red coats with big furry hats. Our house would have walls he had said? Maybe we would live in a hut inside a conservatory like the one at butterfly enclosures. Lemurs are like monkeys aren’t they? So that’s what my life would be? My family would be living in a hut in a conservatory with monkeys, and Buckingham Palace guards. What better adventure could there be?

Would we have guards like at Buckingham Palace?

Would we have guards like at Buckingham Palace?

Though the dreams I had of my future were a bit out of perspective, my actual life was filled with plenty of adventure. God has given me an abundance of opportunities to spread his glory as well as witness it. I’ve spent the last 10 years of my life in Madagascar and I wouldn’t change that for the world.

Being an MK growing up in Madagascar has been so awesome!

Being an MK growing up in Madagascar has been so awesome!

Leading a double life is often associated with the idea of spy life, civilian by day, spy by night. Though I am not a spy, the life I live is most certainly double. That is the way of it in the life of a missionary kid as well as the life of a boarding school student.

Being a missionary kid is a bit like being a spy. You have sort of a double life.

Being a missionary kid is a bit like being a spy. You have sort of a double life.

I began my double life when I first left America. I began to live a new sort of life that was entirely different than the one I’d come to know back in the U.S. However, I soon became flexible enough to jump back and forth between these two lives. When in America do as the Americans do. When in Madagascar, I do as the Vazaha do (Vazaha is the Malagasy word for foreigner pronounced VAH-ZAH). In America, I had blood relatives and ate “American” food, which in my mind consisted of fast food, Grandma’s cooking, and Reese’s peanut butter cups. In Madagascar, I had lots of missionary aunts, uncles, and cousins and ate “Malagasy food” which included rice and some sort of sauce. I became comfortable switching between my lives.

At the airport heading off to boarding school for the first time.

At the airport heading off to boarding school for the first time.

My second double life started at age 15 when I became a boarding student at Rift Valley Academy in Kenya. Once again I created a new life for myself, one in which 9 months of my year would be spent in Kenya. There I was a student at an American school, and 3 times a year, at term breaks, I would spend a month with my parents back at home in Madagascar. This was a pretty simple transition for me. At school I was Becca, the girl from Madagascar who likes Doctor Who and whistling. In Madagascar, I was the missionary’s daughter who smiled and politely shook everybody’s hand at church. It wasn’t long before I discovered my niche and was just as comfortable with this new double life as I was with the last.

However, it is time for me to leave all these double lives behind now to begin an entirely new one, the life of an American college student. This could prove to be one of the most interesting adventures of all.

This girl is an RVA graduate!

This girl is an RVA graduate!

This August, I will begin my new life in Springfield, Missouri at Evangel University. Though I will be leaving my big red island home in Madagascar, I trust that God is in control. The ISMK (International Society of Missionary Kids) symbol is a chameleon because they can change their colors to adapt to their environment. I believe that with God’s help that is exactly what I’ll do once again this summer. I will adapt again, because “This is it!” Now this week, my family and I are back in America once again and I can’t wait to see what God has in store in this new adventure.

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