Dear Friends & Family,
Merry Christmas to you and your family! Our Christmas update is a bit different this year as this season finds the Jensen family at the beginning of a new adventure.
The Lord has given us the opportunity to pursue a long time desire to live and serve overseas, work with the poor, and support missionaries that are changing lives in amazing ways! We are preparing to move to Madagascar in July 2016 to spend one year supporting missionary friends Jamie and Alissa Shattenberg and to help them with several projects to enable their ministry to the Malagasy people.
We will work with the ministries of Red Island Restoration which are focused on enabling people in one of the poorest nations on earth. They bring dignity and hope to families by employing locals at living wages to replant forests that have been destroyed. They provide health services for women and newborns through the Sarobidy Maternity Center, and run an artisan craft project to provide women with jobs. Most importantly, they are building relationships which allow them to share about Jesus - the one that we celebrate this Christmas. Our family will help in several ways:
Tonga Soa Guesthouse:
Our primary goal for the year is to help start a guesthouse. As the ministry of Red Island Restoration grows, many people want to come and support the work. But many have been turned away because of the time and work to host visitors. The guesthouse will allow more partners, volunteers, and others to visit and support the ministry without taking time and resources away from the core work of reforestation, the maternity center, and artisan projects. We will help equip the guesthouse, train local Malagasy employees on operation of the house, and document the procedures and policies to enable the guesthouse to become a self-sustaining part of the ministry. Check out www.tongasoaguesthouse.com for pictures of the house and more information.
Support for Eden Reforestation Projects:
Eden Projects in Madagascar employs over 300 people who plant over 1 million trees per month(!). 90% of the forests in Madagascar have been cut down and people are suffering as a result. Slash-and-burn clearing continues as people cut forests for charcoal, wood, and grazing land for cattle. Eden employs the local villagers to restore the forest, provides living wage jobs, and teaches the local people the economic benefits of the forests.
Our family will assist Eden by digitizing planting records, organizing planting site images, and training Malagasy with necessary computer skills to manage record keeping. Computerizing these records is more efficient and necessary for research studies needed to attract new partners and donors.
Support for the Sarobidy Maternity Center & Sarobidy Creations (artisan crafts):
There will also be opportunities to help with projects around the maternity center and to support the expansion of Sarobidy Creations. Crafts, jewelry, and home goods made by local women are marketed and sold internationally to provide women with employment and help cover the expenses of the maternity center.
We are looking for partners to support our family in this opportunity. We cannot do this alone. We need your prayers as our family prepares for this major change. Prayers that our hearts would be ready to serve, and for health and safety for our family both during the preparations and once we depart in July 2016. Prayers that Caleb, Joanna, and Selah would make this transition well and adapt to new surroundings quickly. And prayers for the community where we will serve.
We also need financial partners. Would you consider supporting our family by including us in your end of the year 2015 giving or with a one-time gift in 2016? Or would you be able to make a monthly donation during 2016 and through our return in mid-2017? All gifts are tax deductible and will be used to equip the guesthouse with household items and a vehicle, cover the guesthouse expenses during the year including salaries for Malagasy employees, plus travel expenses and monthly expenses for our family. You can make donations online by clicking on this link and selecting "MidTermer Support" and "Jensen-JoshandAmanda-2016900WV".
Amanda and I are excited to step out in faith and be a part of this ministry that is restoring hope and dignity to the people of Madagascar and that is focused on long term solutions to break the cycle of poverty! We are humbled and encouraged by the generosity of so many family, friends, and others that have committed to supporting our family. Thank you!
We hope that you and your family have a wonderful Christmas and Happy New Year!
Josh, Amanda, Caleb, Joanna, and Selah