Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Mystery Photo #4 revealed

We had one correct guess on the mystery photo - it was a woodpile being prepared to make charcoal. After it is nicely stacked as in the first photo, it is doused with fuel and then covered with dirt (as it is pictured here). Sometimes there is a pipe sticking out of the top. They light the woodpile and let it burn for a few days- very slowly and with little air, to make the charcoal. Charcoal is what is used for everyday cooking in Liberia. So far, deforestation due to coal production isn't a big problem in Liberia because a lot of what is used for coal is either from clearing for farming, or for replanting of rubber trees. And if you were here this month, you would understand that it just doesn't take that long for trees and bush to come back - everything grows like crazy in the rainy season. But in Ivory Coast, which has a much bigger population, propane was subsidized to discourage coal use and coal production.

My brother told me that in Atlanta, you have to pay big bucks for "natural" charcoal. We pay about $3 for a 3 foot high rice sack full of coal. Maybe Liberia should be exporting it? (although when I was at the jeweler and saw him pay US $500 for a palm full of gold dust that someone brought in, I realized that Liberia has some pretty valuable stuff to export.....)

eScripts update August 2007

Hello again from Liberia. Thanks so much for your prayers- wouldn’t you like to hear what happened because you prayed?

Here’s what Larry and Sandi Dick reported to their supporters after the Vacation Bible School at ICM, the church on the ELWA campus:
Hawa, the Liberian DVBS Co-coordinator, shared the following with those [the teachers] who gathered for the DVBS closing. During the week of the DVBS program for the children, she had a conversation with a young Muslim boy. The boy comes from a nearby village. He sells foodstuffs. He told her how much he enjoyed the DVBS program and especially the missionary story of Madugu, a Muslim boy who becomes a Christian. He went on to tell her that he had become a Christian and wanted to follow Jesus. Hawa was so excited about this evidence of God’s work in the life of a child as a result of the DVBS program. She challenged the trainees who attended this closing event to do another DVBS next year.
Hawa and her husband, Rev. Ansumana Kamara, the pastor of ICM, grew up in Muslim families, so they rejoice greatly over those who are saved out of Islam. Hawa also shared that her father had just the evening before told them that he has decided to become a follower of Jesus, so she was ready to dance in delight!

Lisa Kejr’s workshops with the ELWA Academy teachers seem to really capture their imagination, and they are talking more about using hands-on learning activities in their teaching next year. Pray for them to have courage to go for it! One of our teachers tried to recruit Lisa to do a workshop in another school, and Lisa said “Why don’t you do it!?” So they worked together and presented sessions on lesson planning and classroom management.

And also because you prayed….we have two more couples signed up to join us here in Liberia. Alan and Cheri Shea will come sometime in 2009 so that Alan can help with the technical side of Radio – Alan grew up here, and he’s an engineer, but he is going to spend some time getting up to speed on radio engineering. Matt and Brenda Carr were upcountry church planting missionaries to a Muslim people group in Liberia in the 80’s. They returned to the US in 1997 to care for Matt’s mom, and now their kids are grown and they feel the Lord is calling them back to Liberia. Matt will serve as the SIM Church Ministries Coordinator, and Brenda will be working with the Academy. These new appointments are KEY positions that we have needed to fill, so the Lord is hearing our prayers and moving in the hearts of his servants.

I’m sure you often wonder if we have some more personal news to share.. well we do. It’s a very long story, but I (Debbie) am going to be teaching grades 5-8 at the new American School for the first semester of this school year. I’m excited, but I know I get pretty involved when I have a new teaching challenge, so I need you to pray that I will not obsess over it. I’ll still have most of my administrative responsibilities, but the revolving door is not spinning quite so quickly in this last quarter of the year. I’m only committed for the first semester because we are planning to be in the US from January-August 2008, but I may need to continue teaching when we return to help with MK scholarships. This semester will give us an idea of what that feels like. (And there is another answer to prayer –Les and Verla Unruh from SIM-USA have agreed to cover for Rick while we are on home assignment)

So keep on praying!
For the Kingdom - Debbie

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Mystery Photo #4

Here it is... the post you've been waiting for... the next mystery photo. What is your guess?

Sunday, August 12, 2007

I want my maypo!

Back when I was a kid, one of our favorite breakfasts was MAYPO..."with just a touch of maple flavor" or something like that. Somehow it is associated especially with my oldest brother Dave in my memory. I really loved maypo-- it was a great hearty hot breakfast. Much mre interesting than oatmeal, I thought.

Then all those instant oatmeals came out, and the makers of Maypo knuckled under, and changed Maypo into oatmeal. It still said "Maypo", but it wasn't maypo anymore! I wondered to myself "what was that stuff that was in Maypo" but I never did figure it out.

Recently Deb started fixing bulgur wheat for us sometimes for breakfast--and lo and behold, it was MAYPO!!!! I couldn't believe it. So I feel like I've gotten something back from my childhood. Bulgur wheat is actually brought into Liberia as relief food, given out free to people in need, but some finds its way into the market (because the people who receive it need some cash for school supplies or medicine or whatever), and we buy some every now and then. And now, a new generation of Sacras is enjoying Maypo! (that's Caleb)

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Here's another

Here is the second of my Liberian moments to share with you...

Last week I took Cheri Shea, wife of Alan, to town for her first shopping trip. I also had quite a bit to do and Lisa Kejr was with us. We were running a bit late for something- probably just that I wanted to get home so my househelpers could feel free to leave. But I try to not be in a hurry when I drive in Liberia - there are too many opportunities to get into an accident and the extra 4-5 minutes it takes to drive sanely won't really bother anyone. Someday we should take a video of what it's like to drive here and post it.

Anyway, we were just leaving a congested area of town when a traffic officer stopped me at the intersection to let someone turning left into the traffic. We have exactly one working stoplight in Liberia, so most of the traffic control is done by policemen. By and large, these officers put in long days doing a rather tedious and thankless job with a pretty good attitude. But after I stopped and the other car entered the traffic, the officer signalled me to pull over. Oh no, what is he going to say that I did (after all, I stopped in plenty of time at his signal...) I was grumbling behind my closed window but I pulled over. He strolled up to the car as I let the window down and greeted him in as friendly a manner as I could muster. "What is your name?" he asked, and I replied with my name, "Mrs. Debbie Sacra". "Thank you," he said, "my name is Frances - I see you passing here every day and I wanted to know you. Have a nice day." Lisa, Cheri and I just cracked up - he pulled me over out of curiosity? To introduce himself by name? I told him he really scared me, pulling me over like that, but why feel bad? Liberians are friendly, maybe to a fault, but overall, it makes Liberia a nice place to live.

Friday, August 03, 2007

A Liberian moment

I've had several Liberian moments that I (Debbie) want to share with you in this and future posts. They have been moments that made me laugh and think how much I enjoy getting to live here (sometimes).
In order to understand this one, you have to know that in Liberia, this is called a lemon.
In America, we call it a tangerine or maybe a mandarin orange.
And a lemon is called a lime because the limes that we have here are key limes and they start out green and turn yellow when they get ripe. So all the sour fruits, whether they are green or yellow, whether they are the regular citrus lemons or limes, are called limes.
So here is the story: one of our favorite powdered drink mixes (like Kool-aid) here is the "lemon" (not tangerine) flavor of Foster and Clark's. Best powdered lemonade I've ever had. But since about June, it hasn't been available (a normal phenomenon here - things come and go and come again later). So everywhere I go in town, if I see someone selling Foster and Clark's drink mixes, I ask if they have lemon. Last week, I was in my car waiting for someone and a guy with a pushcart loaded with drink mixes walked by (Melanie Goodnow once said, if you can't find something in the store, don't worry, sooner or later someone will walk by selling it). So I asked him, "do you have lemon?" Now the package for what I call lemon says LEMON (just like that in all caps) right on it. But what does he pull out? "MANDARIN" - tangerine - and that's what it says right on the package. But the picture shows..... a lemon, as he sees it. I laughed - sure, I know that is what YOU call a lemon, but I want the one that SAYS lemon on the envelope. Oh, he says, you mean you want lime, the sour one. Yes, I know it's sour like a lime, but it SAYS lemon! Yes, but, you're in Liberia and that's how we call it, no matter what the package says. "Mandarin" is lemon, and "Lemon" is lime.
And this is all in English! I'm sure that translating all that into a different language would really be a recipe for confusion! But it was good for a laugh last week - and I had a good one. Hope you've had at least a little chuckle over this too. More later.....