Trip to Maroamboka

Trip to Maroamboka

A week ago Jurgen and Issa travelled to Maroamboka to pay a visit to the building site of our house. Maroamboka is situated just 5km from Sandrohy.


We wanted to visit the side earlier but putting all the car papers in our name took much longer than anticipated. Finally, we received all the papers… that is to say, the temporary papers. Hopefully he official papers will be ready at the end of December 2016. Jurgen’s Malagasy drivers licence is a whole different story. To get the official licence we need a visa that has to be still six months valid. This is not so straightforward as it might sound. When we apply for a visa (for the new year) we receive a paper that says that we have applied. With this paper we can travel but it is not the same as the official visa. Still, the validity of the visa starts as soon as we apply. In other words, if we receive the official visa after 4 months it will only be valid for eight more months. Our hope is that we will get our visa in time to transform the temporary licence to a permanent one.


Slowly but surely the car is equipped with the necessities to deal with the hard conditions in which we are going to use it. One of the changes is a big roofrack (2,30 bij 1,20). Local metalworkers worked hard to make us a strong one. We are very happy with the rack as this gives us the possibility to move our belongings in and out of the area.

Jurgen used the visit to move many of our furniture. On the roof we transported a heavy cupboard together with two small tables. In the car we stacked our chairs and kitchen appliance. Jurgen and Issa left on the 11th of December at about 5 in the morning. After only 45 minutes a police officer stopped them. The load on the roof was no problem but apparently Jurgen needed a permit for the load in the car. Luckily Jurgen managed to persuade the officer to write him a permit on the spot. So, with all the right papers they could continue their trip.

Bad Roads

The national roads on Madagascar look very much like Dutch cheese with holes. This makes travelling very tiresome. At noon Issa and Jurgen arrived in a place called Abohimahasoa. There they stopped to spend the night in a hotel. The next day they travelled the second part. Near Ifanadiana one of the tires went flat, a piece of wood stuck right through. Fortunately help was not far. Jurgen stopped the car near one of the many police checkpoints and asked one of the officers for help. The officer first had to put his AK47 aside and then he stopped a lorry. He told the driver that the foreigners needed help. The lorry driver, together with a local, changed the wheel and said that there was no need for Jurgen to get his hands dirty. A few miles further the tire was repaired in Ifanadiana for about € 1,70.


It is not hard to hear the car coming. The people of Sandrohy al ready waited at the side of the road. The children sheered and clapped their hands and the adults came to shake hands. After some brief chats the trip continued to Maroamboka, about five kilometres from Sandrohy. This road was a good test for the car. Deep gullies, big rocks and steep climbs (sometimes 35% and more).

Passing through the last curve the house became visible. Quickly the local people ran towards the car to greet Jurgen and Issa. The car could be parked next to the house of our contact person. After the inspection of the car by all the ‘experts they started to unload the car, which didn’t took long with all the extra hands.


The House

We were already informed about the fact that the builders didn’t fully followed the drawings. Our drawings where way to modest. The house will be bigger because, according to the builder, we need enough space for all our children. On the ground floor we will have a bedroom and a combination of a living room with a kitchen. Going up the stairs we find ourselves on the first floor with a corridor and two more bedrooms for the children. Outside is a separate place to wash ourselves and about 15 metres further the builders dug a toilet. The house is situated next to a water-well with clean water. Most of the time there is enough pressure to install some plumbing. This is something the builder will look at. However, during Jurgen’s and Issa’s visit the well didn’t give much water due to a lack of rain. We will have to see whether we can solve this with a water reservoir that can collect and store rainwater. The house is mainly built of wood from the nearby rainforest. We will have, however, a tin roof and the ground floor is made of cement. The traditional houses have a leaf roof and a wooden or mud floor. This is a set up for trouble during the rainy season. Coming month we will look for a solar panel system. Solar panels are more common as many have a little system to recharge phones and the like.


During the two days, Jurgen and Issa visited three villages. The mpanjakas (kings) of two villages where absent. Jurgen brought the promised photos from our last visit and left it together with his greetings for the mpanjaka. The mpanjaka of the last village was present and he welcomed Jurgen and Issa into his house. It was a good meeting in which the mpanjaka did his utmost to understand Jurgen’s official Malagasy. The conversation was relaxed and amusing—especially when Jurgen started to pronounce the differences in several Malagasy dialects. The mpanjaka said that he was very happy to hear Jurgen’s progress in the language.

Meanwhile, Jurgen and Issa are back in Antananarivo. The came back with a lot of fruit given by the locals. We are planning another trip to Maroamboka soon. We will have to bring more furniture and other things like our bed and school material for the children. The builder estimated that we can move as a family somewhere in January 2017.

We are excited! Finally, after months of preparation, we are going to live among the Tanala.

Steady As She Goes!

Steady As She Goes!

It has been few months since our family visit to Sandrohy and the surrouding area. Many things have happened since: we bought a four-wheel-drive, received approval from AIM Madagascar’s leadership to move to Maroamboka, a village about a mile from Sandrohy. The construction is under way and the car is ready to make the trip. Jurgen hopes to travel down there this month with Issa, our eldest son, to take a look, maybe help some and meet with people we met previously.

The car

This is it: our Nissan Patrol, built 1999. We had to search a long time for this mechanical vehicle, but now we have succeeded. It is important that the car is not only a four-wheel-drive, but also that it is mechanical rather than electrical. Mechanical cars are easier to repair; if necessary even by non-mechanics. Some simple tools and a phone in hand will come a long way. For the car-lovers among you: the engine is a 4.2 litre diesel, 6 cylinders. Click on the photo to see more pictures.

We are tremendously happy about the car since it allows us to travel safely to and from Sandrohy in every season. We were able to purchase the car from the money in our car-fund. So far there even seems to be enough for the repairs and adjustments that are needed. We are impressed with the Lord’s provision. It underlines that we are not here on our own. Thank you so very much!

Although we can drive the car now, there are still some things that have to be done: we need a new dashboard (some meters don’t work); a strong grille at the front and extra steel welded underneath to support our extra high jack; a roof rack; a new steeringpump and some repairs to the front axle. On Madagascar it can take a while to find the needed parts, so in the meantime we are glad to put the car to use.

Home Sweet Home

The builders al ready started to build our house. A couple of weeks ago we heard that the house was al ready finished for 50%. Initially we thought that they meant to say that the builder collected 50% of all the material, but no! He send us some pictures, which amazed us. We have good hopes that the house will be finished at the end of this month. However, the builder told us that the rain does make things harder. Still, we expect that we can move, as a family, at the beginning of the new year.

We have provided the drawings for the house ourselves. The builder adjusted a few things… and, as you can see, during the construction things have been changed a bit more. The ground surface will be around the 40m2. On each side of the house we will have a second floor with two bedrooms: One for the girls and one for the boys. The master bedroom will be on the ground floor with at the other side a living room with kitchen. Outside the house we will get a toilet and a washroom. Attached to the house we will get a porch where we can sit and dry our clothes. The builders use local material: the house will be made of wood with a concrete floor and a tin roof.

Jurgen is planning a trip to Maroamboka to take a look at the building side. He will also take some big furniture along. We will keep you informed!

First Impressions

First Impressions

We have arrived! After an almost 8 hour flight we have landed in Nairobi, Kenya, on Saturday 10th in the evening. During travel we enjoyed the good food and the views of the Mediterranean Sea and the Sahara Desert. It was quite an experience!

After arrival we have stayed at AIM’s guesthouse in Nairobi for three days. That way we could rest awhile after the busy months we have had and be better prepared for the the conference we are now attending. A video about our journey from Schiphol to Nairobi you can find on our multimedia page.

On Tuesday 13th October we travelled in over 3 hours to the conference location. We saw men in business suits and just around corner one of the many slums of Nairobi, where houses are only for the rich. Halfway we passed by Rift Valley. Close to Nakuru we were treated to grazing antelopes and zebra. A video of the sights we saw can be found here.

Sofar we are very thankful for the preparation to missionary life in Africa we receive. The first week we have learned much about African culture, values and worldview. The tutor is an African who has studied in England and thus understands both Western and African culture. We also benefit from the contact with the other attending missionaries – some unexperienced, some with many years of service behind them.

In the the week to come we will dig deeper into African worldview and we will discuss safety and health. The third week will be about transformational development and world religions. Activities will include visiting local churches, a mosque and a visit to a Kenyan family. It is an interesting but worthwhile programme.

Another Move

Another Move

It is almost half a year since we left England to return temporarily to the Netherlands. We had hoped to be sent to the mission field this spring, but we have learned this is not so. If we become members of Africa Inland Mission (AIM) and serve on one of their teams, we expect to go to Africa no sooner than in 2014. We have changed our mindset and accepted that we are in Holland for a longer time than anticipated.

A longer stay means we are in need of a long term house. It was very difficult to find a house, but the Lord has provided. Next month we hope to move to the center of Den Helder, the northwest tip of the Netherlands. Jurgen and Issa have already started to build a closet and two desks for the new house.

The past few months have not been easy. There was much uncertainty as to when we would be able to go to Africa, whether we would be allowed to continue home education, and with respect to our new house. We are thankful that these things have all worked out, but we would very much appreciate your prayers for peace in our family. Although we see ourselves grow in the capability of adapting to changing circumstances, it can still feel like tidal waves are coming over us sometimes. That is not a nice feeeling. We won’t give up, but please don’t give up on praying for us either!