Sunday, January 28, 2007

So Long Trina!

This is Trina Schmitt (the white one) with her friends Famatta (the girl) and Charlie(the boy). Trina has been here for about a year and she's leaving at the end of the week. (boo hoo!) Trina came to do youth and children's ministry. She led a girls' Bible Study, organized a teen sport time on Friday afternoons, helped a local church launch their children's Sunday School and Junior Church programs, spent time in a village helping the pastor and his wife in their kindergarten school and sharing the word of God with people, and lots of fun stuff too. We went to her church today for their good-bye program and it was pretty teary. But as several people said, it was also a celebration, because the purposes for assigning her to that church for the year were accomplished in wonderful ways. Just having someone there to help train teachers (even though she didn't feel she was equipped in that) stimulated the church to get a shelter built for the children's program. The youth group was going through a transition in leadership and she was able to encourage the new leader to be active and develop the program. In conjunction with her girls' Bible Study, she organized a retreat that the church is planning to continue holding. Though the church will miss her a lot, they are equipped, encouraged and completely able to carry on these ministries on their own.

ECF's first Children's Christmas Program

Trina's time here really illustrates for me the role that missionaries still have to play in the church in Liberia. Liberia's churches have many strong believers, who love the Lord and are willing to serve Him. Sometimes they need tools and skills. Sometimes they just need help getting something started because they feel inexperienced or inadequate. It's amazing what can happen in a year - how the ball can really get rolling.

So thanks, Trina for coming! We know you would give the Liberian answer: Thank God. And we do. We know He was the one who sent you and He kept his promise to complete the work that He began in you, and through you. Bon Voyage and a bientot (that means see you soon!)

Monday, January 22, 2007

I just can't resist saying it

The saying "the difference between men and the size of their toys" seemed to come to life last week when Jim Molenhouse, from the Wheaton Bible Church team, spent much of his last 24 hours in Liberia getting this old dinosaur running. It's a road grader and it's about 50 years old. (only MACHINES this old are dinosaurs...) Here he is doing a little work at the end of the driveway next door which had a nasty divet that even our new jeep couldn't get over without a good jolt. He didn't get to do much grading because he needed some good "laterite" clay soil to spread around on the roads and there wasn't time to get it. But he still had fun with the few spots he could do, and the suspensions on our cars are grateful (I often apologize to my car when I can't avoid the most serious holes and ruts- ouch.)

Notice who just had to join Jim in the driver's's Jared of course.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

January Update

We sent this short update out last week. If you get it, sorry that you thought we had a new post and it's old news to you. If you don't get it, you can check here for monthly updates (about) or drop me an email to say you want to get it via email.

I'll write more soon.

Dear Friends –

Happy New Year! We’ve hit the ground running, with a construction team from Wheaton, Illinois, that arrived on January 3. They’ve already got most of the framing for the roof of the new Services Office Building in place (a couple of them arrived the 29th and got started with the Liberian carpenters the next day). In addition, we moved our SIM office to our new location on the ELWA compound this week. (Moved, but not really moved in- but it’s a step in the right direction.)

We enjoyed a great holiday with a nearly 2 week visit from Rick’s dad and his brother Doug and his family (wife Deidre, daughters Haley, Hannah and Maddi). There was lots of beach time, tours of Monrovia and ELWA and even a jaunt out of town (see our blog at for proof!)

It’s a little scary to face this, but our schedule for 2007 is very quickly filling up. We have a steady stream of people coming over the next 6 months, for a variety of reasons. Medical students, short-term docs and nurses, radio consultants, teacher trainers, administrative consultants, and more. It’s even beginning to get tricky to be able to house everyone.

The logistics of getting all these people here and finding a place for them to sleep is a big enough task. But it looks like we will be really having to work a lot on our mentoring and support systems for all our new people, both short term and long term. We have been developing some materials for orientation, but they still need more refinement and some kind of structure to be a real “program” that will help get our new missionaries plugged in to their ministries and the Liberian culture. We want everyone to have a positive experience here but we’ve pretty much been flying by the seat of our pants during the lean years. Admittedly, we haven’t always been successful at that, and we’ll be even less so as we start receiving more people, unless we get more systematic about it.

We do love interacting with newly arrived missionaries -- we enjoy their enthusiasm and zeal for ministry and are happy to help them understand more about the people of Liberia and their way of life. But you can imagine that it is also a challenge to be involved with people as they get through the ups and downs of culture stress and adjustment, finding their niche in ministry and sometimes just growing in the Lord and as a person. Our prayer request this month is for the power of the Holy Spirit to uphold us and flow through in this role – to have love, and joy, and grace, and patience that really come from the heart of God towards our new missionaries and not to be relying our own strength.

These folks are expected in January and early February:
Frieda Schmidt – dental therapist, new SIM member from Canada (arrived 1/5)
Beth Larson – medical student, 5 weeks.
Hannah Cho and Eun Yung Ahn - medical students from Korea, 4 weeks
Tom and Melanie Goodnow, plus 4 – nurse anesthetist, 6 months
Gary and Tammy Dunseath, plus 3 – pastor’s training, new SIM members from USA

Pray for them and for us!
His Kingdom Come, Debbie Sacra

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Happy Birthday Caleb!

Today is Caleb's birthday - he is 10 years old! That's it - all of them are now in double digits. His birthday often gets overlooked, being right after Christmas, so I really wanted to make an effort for him this year, even though when I first asked he didn't really sound like he cared. After a little pressing, he decided he wanted to have a dinner party - Italian food. So we decided on lasagna (no small feat since I have to make the ricotta myself; at least I don't have to make the noodles) - and he adds "with olives on the side, for those who like them..." So I asked, "do you like olives?" and he replies "no, of course not, but someone might." He often cracks us up with such funnies. I know I should write more of them down, but I suspect they will keep coming. (Yes, I did serve olives) Caleb is our people-person - he prefers to be with someone, and actually it doesn't really matter what they are doing- he's flexible on that. He sat in "jail" this evening while playing capture the flag with a high school guy from the construction team that is visiting without much angst - Joel said Caleb said that when they get released they should run out in triumph. Where does he get these images? Actually, I suspect that much of it comes from Calvin and Hobbes.

We love you Caleb! Happy Birthday and God Bless You!