Sunday, October 26, 2008

Road trip to Marshall

Hi! What is the best thing to do with a free Saturday??? Take a road trip! So yesterday, the Sacra clan (along with Naomi Olson, our missionary nurse and family friend) drove about an hour down the road to Marshall, on the coast, not far from the airport.... It's a fishing town, populated by Fanti people (originally from Ghana) who are famous for colorful painting on their canoes, and Bassa folk who are Liberian natives... Here is Jared being eaten by one of the big cotton trees in Marshall... we were joking about "where is Tom Bombadil when you need him?"...

Here is Isaac, one of the young fisherman, repairing his nets, and one of the freshly painted dugout canoes.

Imagine my surprise at this one... "No one is perfect No 1" seemed to make sense and was African enough, but to see the Tommy Hilfiger logo (complete with the registered trademark symbol painted there, too small to see in this view!) was a bit surprising... I guess modern culture has reached Africa!

We thought it would be a waste not to buy fish in Marshall... so I went and exchanged some US dollars at a local shop, and when we asked around for fish we got to meet the fish drying family... They have a "factory" with two large smokers for drying "bony", the small shad that is the staple protein for many Liberians. Deb bought about 15 of the small dry fish for about $2.50. We enjoyed seeing this rather professional outfit with their fish on the dryers in layer upon layer carefully laid out. The drying process takes 24 - 48 hours. Drying the fish allows your typical Liberian, who doesn't have an icebox, to buy their fish in advance and keep it a few days without going bad.

In all, we enjoyed Marshall, and will think about taking you there when you come to visit! Love, Rick for all of us.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Some of the New SIM Liberia team - more to come

Les Unruh is the new SIM-Liberia Associate Director. Les and Verla and their family were the first up-country church planting missionaries in Liberia from 1978 into the 80s. They have agreed to serve in the position for a year. Two of their daughters are also missionaries in W. Africa, so being here is a nice opportunity to squeeze in visits with them.

Matt and Brenda Carr are also "returnees". They served as church planters in Liberia before the 1990 civil war and then in Ivory Coast in the 90s. Having "launched" their kids, they felt God was calling them back to the mission field. Matt is getting to know the ECUL church leaders in his position as Church Relations Coordinator and Brenda has taken over Debbie's work as Personnel Director and helping at the Academy in staff development.
Keith and Kristen Chapman are with the SIM team through Mercy Ships. Keith is a dentist and dental surgeon who teamed up with Frieda Schmidt on our SIM team to expand the dental services that will be offered through ELWA Hospital. Their clinic is called Trinity Dental Clinic and you can read more about it their website: . They also have a vision for training dental health providers and bringing dental services into remote areas with teams. The clinic is still under construction, but I'm sure that as soon as Frieda is back in November, they will be working to get it up and running. Kristen has her hands full, as you can see - she is homeschooling their kids, Taylor (in glasses), Lauren, and Samuel.

You may recognize Do Young and Kyung Ok Choi if you have been in contact with us over the years. They first came to Liberia in 2003, only to evacuate with us 6 weeks later. After an extended home assignment in S. Korea (due to the arrival of their third daughter, Hay Young) they returned in June. Do Young loves to train and encourage pastors and will work closely with Matt and ECUL. Kyung Ok is homeschooling their middle daughter, Yeju and Minju attends school with our boys.
Here's our monthly prayer update.

Dear Praying friends -

Since we’ve been back in Liberia a month, it’s time for an update. It’s been a pretty quick month. It’s still raining a lot, so we didn’t manage to escape the season entirely. But it has been nice to make the transition back while it is still cooler. We’re still cleaning up musty-smelling books, clothes, and linens.

Rick is pretty much full time at the hospital, since the current medical staff includes only him and one other full-time doctor. PLEASE PRAY for them to be able to find another local doctor (or 2) to hire. Or go for the big one and pray for more missionary doctors!

Debbie is getting a kind of slow start, held up by her temporary position as general contractor for a home improvement project: tiling the house. It’ll be done by the end of next week and it’s a nice change. Once it’s done we can really unpack and get settled into life.

Jared and Caleb are back at the American School, where the enrollment in the upper grades has just about doubled. They are enjoying having more classmates, but we’re feeling sorry for the teacher who is still juggling four grade levels in one room. In light of this, Debbie has offered her services to the school to teach part-time if it would help. It seems to be a more complicated decision than just whether a qualified teacher is available for hire, so we are still waiting to hear.

If Deb isn’t needed at the American School, she’ll jump into things at the ELWA Academy in the next couple of weeks. Much to our surprise, the school year opened the week after we arrived (it usually starts mid-September) by government decree. There are quite a few new teachers who were not fully oriented before classes began. And then Deb’s main goal is to get the curriculum written up. PRAY for the re-connecting process for Debbie – she is feeling very out of the loop with regards to the Academy.

Debbie may be applying her general contracting skills (this is a joke) to the Academy building project. The new kindergarten building is up to roof level, waiting for the rain to stop and for some paperwork to be processed before moving on. Unfortunately, building materials have really increased in cost, so we are not sure how far the funds we raised are going to go as we continue the construction. PRAY especially for trustworthy construction workers who feel accountable before the Lord for the way they do business.

Not to forget Sacra #5 – Max – at Dakar Academy in Senegal. He reports that he is busy with his social life and homework. And having a good time- always his top priority. Others also report that they enjoy having him around. We miss him. PRAY for his school to find a replacement for the Chemistry teacher who suddenly resigned. Yes, Max is taking Chemistry.

This email probably sounds a LOT DIFFERENT from our last term- nothing here about administrative duties and short termers. We’re very thankful that those responsibilities have been taken up by others with support from us. It is a little strange to not be central to what is happening in SIM-Liberia anymore, but a relief. Sometimes Rick looks at how many people are sharing the responsibilities we used to carry and he just shakes his head: what was he thinking? No wonder it wasn’t working. THANK GOD for Les Unruh, the Liberia Associate Director (and his wife, Verla, who is going to be his administrative assistant); Matt Carr, the new church relations coordinator and Brenda Carr, who is replacing Debbie as Personnel Director. Pray for them as they fully take on these roles. They arrived about the same time we did.

Thanks for your friendship, concern, support and especially for your prayers. We really had a restful home assignment in your midst. PRAISE GOD for His answers to your prayers for us: administrative help, financing for the Academy building and our personal restoration from a tough term. We’re happy to be back to our ministries.

For the Kingdom – Rick and Debbie Sacra