Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Why are you doing this?

We have prayed for many years that the Lord would open the door for our family to get invovled in missions - either in US or internationally.  While we don't currently feel called to become career missionaries, we are very excited about partnering with Jamie and Alissa to help extend the ministry of Red Island Restoration and to support the incredible work happening in Madagascar.

Why a guesthouse?

Red Island Resoration is growing and the Lord is bringing workers and raising awareness and interest in the projects in Mahajanga.  So much interest in fact, that some people have been turned away due to the time and effort it takes to host visitors.  A guesthouse will allow more people to come and volunteer and support the ministry.  

How much do you need to raise?

We need to raise over $100,000 for the year in Madagascar.  The major expenses include:

- A car ($30k) that will be left with the guesthouse.  Ideally, we need a 4WD car that can be used in the rainy season and can go off the main highways when needed.  This will allow us to travel to forest planting sites and transport visitors and guest outside of the cities.  We also want reliable and safe transportation for getting around town and to make the 10+ hr drive to the capital city of Antananarivo if necessary.  We will leave the car with the guesthouse for future hosts and visitors.  

- Airfare and travel expenses to and from Madagascar ($15k).  Madagascar is quite literally on the opposite side of the globe from California.  Travel from LA to Mahajanga takes almost 24hrs in the air plus a 10-12 hr bus ride.   

- Health Insurance with Medivac ($10k).  Healthcare in Madagascar is limited and poor quality. Any major health issues will require us to travel off the island to South Africa or back to Europe or the US.  We pray that we won't have to use it, but its important to be covered in case something happens.

- Living expenses.  (~$4k/mo) Madagascar is very poor but, like many developing countries, it is expensive for westerners to live there.  Utilities and food are expensive - even compared to U.S. standards.  We will also pay the rent and operation of the guesthouse until there are enough visitors to cover expenses.  In addition to our family, this money will pay for a full-time, on-site guard and a housekeeper.  Hiring local help is common and expected of foreigners and a way to support the local economy and provide jobs to Malagasy people.  We will also hire and train a Malagasy man or woman in the day-to-day operation of the guesthouse. 

What languages do they speak in Madagascar?

The two main languages are Malagasy and French.  School and official business is in French, while the people generally speak Malagasy in day-to-day life.  We will hire a tutor for the first few months to help the family learn basic Malagasy. 

What will you do for the kids school?

The current plan is to homeschool the kids during our year in Madagascar.  However, there will be 4 missionary families living in the community for the year we are there with a total of 11(!) English speaking kids.  We are praying that the Lord provide a teacher to come and teach the children in English for the year.  Do you know anyone that would be interested?

Is Madagascar safe?

Overall, Madagascar is a fairly safe compared to many countries in Africa.  The people are peaceful, generous, and welcoming. But anywhere there is poverty, there is crime.  Theft and burglary is common.  This is part of life and fortunately we can learn from our friends that have lived in Madagascar for many years and benefit from their relationships in the local community.  

Madagascar does have many diseases common in tropical regions including Malaria, Typhoid, and others.  We will get the required immunizations and take all reasonable precautions when in the country.  

Are the kids excited about going to madagascar?

Yes, they are!  While they can't begin to imagine what this year will bring, they are very excited.  It helps that they know the Shattenburg children and have heard stories for years.  Joanna summed it up well: "When we leave, I will miss my friends in Santa Barbara.  When we come back, I will miss my new friends in Madagascar."  Great insight! 

Can we come and visit you in Madagascar?

Absolutely!  We would love to have you come visit us in Madagascar.  We even know a great guest house!  Madagascar is a wonderful place to visit and we guarantee you will have an amazing time.

What about Josh's job in Santa Barbara?

At this time, we expect Josh will have to quit his job.  We have been blessed for many years but have decided to take this step of faith even if it means losing this source of security.  We are confident that the Lord will provide.

What about your home in Santa Barbara?

We will rent our house in Santa Barbara for year we are gone.  Please let us know if you hear of anyone looking for a home rental in Santa Barbara from summer 2016 - summer 2017.

What are your plans for when you return to the US?

We plan to return to Santa Barbara after the year in Madagascar.  We are open to the Lord's leading if He has other plans for our family, but we truly enjoy the community, school, home, and church in Santa Barbara and plan to return after the year in Madagascar.  We look forward to supporting Red Island Restoration in some upon our return to the U.S.

How can I help?

We appreciate your prayers and financial support for our time in Madagascar.  We are trusting the Lord to provide for our family this year as we prepare and next year as we travel.  We would love the opportunity to get together and share more with you!