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Fifa & Jessica Rakotovao Newsletter (Spring 2021)

Madagascar and COVID-19

Madagascar has been healing from the Corona Virus. Recently we had a relapse and increase in COVID cases, especially in areas with more population like the capital. The President and the government officials decided to reopen some counties such as Mahajanga, but the roads are still closed to public transport. They also received 250,000 vaccines and are only giving them to those who are weak, sick or elderly. 

The virus here is called the South African variant, which is considered more dangerous than the others. If you have contracted the virus and have all the symptoms the test never says positive and the symptoms are harder to diagnose because it’s different for each person. This variant also kills faster than the first wave of the virus from last year. The government has set up the mask mandate and has closed schools all over Madagascar. Whoever doesn’t wear a mask has to do an hour work service when they’re caught. 

Since the government allowed Mahajanga to open back up, that means there is school once again for all of the children! Praise the Lord! For the past year, school and church have been off and on due to the government shutting them down and reopening many many times and there is no Skype or FaceTime here. Sadly, this means that many children will have to stay behind a grade to catch up on all of their missed lessons. 

This also means that churches here and in some other counties are able to open back up. This has been a difficult time for believers and many are torn whether to risk getting together or not. Some think this is the most important time to get together and pray. Others want to stay home to keep themselves safe from the risk of catching the virus. And for a lot of people, church is the only source of hearing God’s Word because of illiteracy. 

Teen Missions Ministry in Madagascar

Teen Missions ministry here in Madagascar is going fairly well. Although the government closed schools for 15 days, the Bible school students at both the north and south bases were able to stay on the base for the most part. 

In Vangaindrano, they continued to work on constructing a building for their base and here in Mahajanga we’ve worked on taking care of the base doing yard work and some painting. We were a little unfortunate, though, as one by one, the staff and students fell sick to the Corona Virus. This had Fifa rushing many people to the doctor every morning to get vaccines and receive medicine for their ailments. We are happy to tell you that everyone has gotten a lot better and most of the staff and students are back on their feet! Praise the Lord!

There is another part of the ministry that has been faithfully going on despite the government initiated lockdown and that’s the Sunday School circuit ministry. This is where a couple of Circuit Riders (trained here at the base) go out on a circuit of 6-8 villages each week to host Sunday schools, just like we have in church every Sunday for all of the children. Not only are they able to minister to children of all ages, but also their parents too! Some villages are afraid to receive visitors and other villages are in lockdown and are not allowing people to gather. For those villages, the Circuit Riders have been doing community service as it’s now harvest time here. 

New Additions to our Family

We just gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, Phoebe Lynn Notiavana, on May 14th. She is 6 lbs 6 oz and was born at 8:30 AM after 13 hours of labor and 48 hours of prelabor. Thank you so much for your prayers on our behalf, as I was weak from two nights of no sleep and was exhausted after 12 hours of labor. God REALLY showed a miracle in her birth!

Due to your faithful and gracious support, we were able to buy a car for us to use! This is very helpful as we go grocery shopping or taking sick people to the doctor. It’s especially helpful in transporting our growing family! From the bottom of our hearts, thank you! 

Prayer Requests

That the government would open up to giving out the COVID-19 vaccines to everyone. 

That the roads would open up to public transport, so Fifa’s mom can come meet her grandchild. 

For schools to stay open so the kids can learn once again. (Especially for Juline; we’re looking into hiring a tutor for her) 

For churches and believers to not be afraid to take a risk, and that they would be empowered to live their lives in the fear of the Lord! 

Continued prayers for the safety and protection of the staff and students here in Madagascar who are still actively reaching out and sharing the Gospel. 

Please pray for Phoebe’s health and for Jessica to have a quick recovery.

Zinà’s Testimony

Hello, my name is Zinà and I’m on my third term here at Mahajanga’s Bible, Missionary and Work Training Center where we train tomorrow’s missionaries today with indepth Bible classes and hands-on work training. Before coming here, I always dreamed of being a missionary to go out and preach the Gospel. Since coming, my character has changed to be more bold to go out and talk to people because before I was pretty shy. I really enjoy the lessons they teach here and they’ve helped me to become better at building relationships with others. My family was in conflict and I was at odds with my mother. After having a time of fasting here at the base, I received a Word from the Lord on forgiveness and reconciliation. God wanted me to forgive and reconcile with my mother. So I called my mom and asked her if she wanted to work on our relationship, but she refused. As you can imagine, this was difficult for me to hear and so I prayed all the more. Then my uncle intervened without me asking, and my mom decided to forgive me! Now we are reunited together again and I believe it’s because I committed myself to the Lord. Glory to His Name! 

Thanks

Thank you so much for all of your faithful prayers, love and support of us during this time. I know this is a trying time for all of us as we navigate our workloads and the times we are in; Jesus is coming soon! We appreciate all of you and have been extremely blessed by all of your love, advice and encouragement. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! 

Please, let us know how we can be specifically praying for you. We’d love to hear from you. You can call us at +261 034 32 989 20 or email us at [email protected] We’re also available on Messenger. 

We’re keeping each one of you in our thoughts and prayers! God bless you! 

Love in Christ,

Fifaliana & Jessica Rakotovao