Thursday, November 27, 2008

Our in between Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you back in America! Obviously, it's not a holiday here, but we had kind of an in between day. Caleb didn't have school, and Jared only did a few lessons (for those who haven't heard, Jared is now homeschooling via the internet). But Rick worked a very full day (and as you can see from the picture, didn't make it home for dinner which we wanted to eat while it was hot). It was kind of an in between meal, too. We had rice and Liberian pumpkin soup (it's like butternut squash), apple crisp and green bean casserole. (I saved megabucks -like seven- on french-fried onion rings by figuring out how to make them myself- it was easy, actually.)

It occurred to me that "in between" must be a bit how our kids feel about American Thanksgiving. Did you know that Caleb has only been in the US for 2 Thanksgiving holidays (1999 and 2004)? He actually does not remember either of those Thanksgivings at all (I asked him). He does, however, know the history of the holiday- go figure. Max has been able to develop some sense of tradition while he's been at D.A. They have a big intramural football tournament on Wednesday before the holiday and then he gets to have Thanksgiving dinner with the other SIM missionaries in Dakar.

Such is the in between life of a missionary kid.

By the way, please pray for Max and his schoolmates this weekend. They will be on an outreach to a rural area in Senegal, sharing the love of God and doing service projects. The school has developed a long term relationship with a group of villages through outreach visits over several years and it is having an impact.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

The Rest of the SIM Liberia team

Last month, I posted some pics of some of the SIM-Liberia team. Now that I have gathered a few more pictures, here are the rest of the group.

This is Gary and Tammy Dunseath, with their kids (from l. to r.) Jedidiah, Micah, Mateo and Hadassah. Gary works along with the ECUL churches, and teaches at the ETSEL Seminary in pastoral ministry. Tammy homeschools this crew, certainly a full time job. They are from the USA, but Gary is originally from N. Ireland. They've been with us in Liberia since April 2007.

Frieda Schmidt just returned from her short home assignment in Canada - she joined us off Mercy Ship back in 2005 to open a dental clinic at the ELWA Hospital with some donated equipment. In 2006 she joined SIM and came back to the field in 2007. She and Keith Chapman (see the other post about the new team) are anxious to get their newly renovated and equipped clinic opened up in the coming weeks! This is a really exciting expansion for our ministry here!
Tim Hart arrived in September from New Zealand to be here for a year - a big sacrifice considering he had just gotten engaged before he left! He is working to build relationships with young adults and the leaders of youth ministries in some ECUL churches. He just moved into the apartment next door to us so we are getting to know him. His ministry is a tough one because it really requires initiative and discovering how God can use him in a pretty unstructured area.

Kreig and Karen Ecklund, with Kaitlyn and Kaleb, are also on loan to us from Mercy Ships, in a way. They are trying to adopt this adorable little Liberian girl, Kiara, and are having trouble with the paperwork, so they have moved onto land and will be in Liberia until it can be processed. Kreig is helping ELWA in their newly opened central business office, getting the financial record keeping and procedures in place. He is a real Godsend, though we know that his time with us may be limited. (makes it hard to pray with an unbiased heart, but the uncertainty of their situation is a trial really) Karen is another one of our full-time homeschooling moms.

Last but by no means least, this is Naomi Olson. She is the only one of our team not based in Monrovia. She lives in Greenville, where she is the Nursing Director for the ELWA Hospital/EU project to help re-open the government hospital there. She carries a lot of responsibility in a difficult situation but her presence is greatly appreciated in Greenville. She comes into town about once a month to rest and visit.

So that technically puts us up to 16 people on the team. But wait, there's more... Steve and Carol Kejr arrived this weekend to be with us for 6 months while the new generator gets installed and to help navigate some changes at ELWA Services, making us 18! There are more, but it's getting tedious. I'll let you know as people arrive: teams, short-termers and a few other long term folks. Is this not an amazing change???? We're blown away.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

November Prayer update

Here's our prayer update for November in case it didn't come to you by email:

Dear Praying Friends -
It’s a new month again. Is it just me or do the months seems to go by so quickly?

I’m going to focus on Rick’s work this month, since he’s the one who’s kind of on the forefront of ministry right now. As I mentioned last month, Rick is really working full time at the hospital again. He loves that, but he had forgotten that it can be pretty exhausting.

Recently, Rick has been reminded about the many opportunities that his job allows him to speak into people’s lives, sometimes at very critical moments. One day in the clinic, he saw one man who was suffering with several venereal diseases. He agreed to be tested for HIV and the test turned out to be negative, much to his relief. Nonetheless, Rick told him, he was on the road going towards a positive HIV test if he did not turn and go in the opposite direction – God was giving him a second chance at life.

Another woman came for an ultrasound. She was surprised to find out she was pregnant, and told Rick that her fiancé has been out of the country but he will come soon. The baby is not his. Rick could see that she was overwhelmed with sorrow at facing the situation, and he sensed she would be tempted to consider an illegal and dangerous abortion. He printed a picture of the baby in her womb, prayed with her and encouraged her to believe that God would strengthen her if she did what was right.

There have been several cancer patients. Some have been from doctor to doctor and no one has been willing to tell them the truth about their condition. Many doctors will not explain that a cancer is terminal because the next stop is usually the “sand-cutter” or fortuneteller, to see who placed a curse on the victim, and what revenge or remedy can be sought through witchcraft. Accusations fly, families and communities are divided as a result. Rick makes an effort to address that response when he has a difficult diagnosis, encouraging the family to pull together and affirm the life of the cancer patient so that he can live his last days with love and peace.

Because he sees many of these patients in a clinic setting, Rick may never see them again. But women have come to him with their 3-year old child and said, “Here he is, I kept the baby because of what you said.” I remember being present when someone thanked him for his honesty about the terminal condition of their child and how they were able to say goodbye to him in peace and with their family’s support as he went to be with Jesus.

Please continue to PRAY for Rick to minister the word of life through the Holy Spirit in his daily encounters with his patients and their families. We trust in the promise that his Word does not go out “for nothing” as they say here – that it will accomplish God’s purposes.

Thanks always for your prayers and your encouragement through your gifts. We finished our fiscal year at almost 100% support, probably just because a few gifts did not get in by the last day of September. We are praying for all of you, too, in the current economic crisis- that God will provide in every way for your needs.

God bless you. Keep checking our blog as well for more news and especially photos. We always love hearing from you too!

For the Kingdom, Debbie Sacra for Rick and the boys.