Friday, December 31, 2010
For a brief time we will be in two different years...spooky...
I always enjoy these last few days of the year...year in review shows, photo montages, tearful in memoriams. If our internet went at more than a snails pace I would consider doing something to that same affect here on the blog. Blog-tage if you will, but due to my limited technical capabilities (aka: uploading speed that rivals a tree sloth) the blog-tage will have to be through words. I don't have the patience to try for more than that at this point. I could explain why my patience is waning at the moment but...well that's another day...another blog post.
What a year it has been! WOWZERS! 2010 will forever be remembered as a big year for the Hoovers. One that we know has built our faith and stretched us far beyond our comfort zone. We stumbled through the first half of the year trying to raise support and figure out when we could make the voyage to Liberia. The middle part of the year we quit our jobs, packed our bags and headed for Canada. The final portion of the year has been spent settling (if that is even possible) into our live here in remote Northern Liberia and figuring out just what we are doing here.
Detail after detail has been taken care of in ways that we can only describe as blessings from God. Family and friends have been incredibly supportive and sent us off with tears of joy and sadness. These images have been burned into our hearts as we gaze back over the past year.
We're blessed. 2010 proves it.
So now what?
Bring on 2011 with all its unexpected unexpectedness...because if we've learned one thing this year it's never to underestimate what God will call you to and how He will mold you and shape you in the midst of it.
HAPPY NEW YEAR READERS!!!!!!!
(aka: Mom, Grandma, miscellaneous friends and family, and the occasional misguided googler)
Ok, a little bit less than what you would expect from something called a blog-tage. Sorry, how bout' you lobby the Liberian government to do something about the internet speed? Let me know how that goes.
Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Jessica's lack of computer = lack of blog posts
No worries, I should have a new computer within the next week. I hope for Kyle's sake that I do. Next week I will post lots of pictures from the holiday and special New Years' greetings from Liberia.
I know you can hardly wait. I know I can't(insert sarcasm here)
For realz, not having a computer makes me realize what a blessing it is to be able to connect with family, friends and complete strangers all over the world through this little blog!
In the meantime check this nifty link out and pray over what this means for God's work here in Liberia!
Amani Comes Full Circle
More on this to come later! I'm super excited about this...(not even a hint of sarcasm)
Monday, December 27, 2010
We enjoyed talking/emailing/chatting/facebook posting with many of you over the last few days. It has made all of our friends and family seem not so far away. We celebrated the holiday with a few new friends here in Monrovia and I'd love to show you some pics. but alas my (Jessica) computer decided to die a violent death on Christmas Eve. I'll upload some pictures soon! Bear with me over the next couple of weeks while I await a new computer. I had just gotten a system of blogging/emailing worked out and it was all going so smoothly...a little too smoothly I suppose...arghhhhh...All that to say that Kyle and I are sharing a computer currently...double arghhhhh
Our holiday was uneventful which in Liberia is a wonderful thing! We were really hoping for some uneventfulness! We have been able to spend some time resting and relaxing before jumping back into addressing the refugee crisis and all the other work that we are responsible for.
What did Santa bring us for our Liberian Christmas?Kyle gave me a new bottle/can opener for Christmas and I gave him a set of three long stem lighters...Romantic gifts, eh?
We had to do our shopping at the grocery. Don't ask.
I hosted my first Christmas dinner...ever...How ironic is that? It was a feast by Liberian and American standards complete with roast chicken, salad (a miracle in Liberia), stuffing (a new recipe that I will definitely be keeping in the repertoire), roasted vegetables, chocolate cake, lambingtons (cake dipped in chocolate courtesy of our Australian friends!), and various other sundry items. Our new friends helped out to make this feast truly delicious and special! Thanks to Nich, Finley, Justin and Ailsa! 3 out of our 6 guests were from Australia and Great Britain and had never had the joy of watching Christmas Vacation...you know...Chevy Chase...the whole bit...a Hoover family tradition. Luckily our friend Justin had it on his iPhone and we were able to watch it on a real t.v.! So we introduced our new friends to a true American classic after dinner!
As I expressed in previous posts this year has been a year to truly reflect on the precious meaning of Christmas. I always spend time meditating on the season, but this year I experienced the season in a way that I won't soon forget. I hope that even though most of you are not far from home this season, and certainly not in Liberia, that you experienced Christmas in a new and fresh way. I ("we" rather because I know Kyle would wish you the same!) pray you have been overwhelmed by God's grace, love and provision through His Son, Jesus.
It gives us strength to go on...courage to be obedient...so on we go to the next week!
This coming week will officially mark two months in Liberia for us! Can you believe it? We will head back upcountry to Ganta on Tuesday. Kyle will be directing his WATSAN team all over Nimba county to respond to water and sanitation needs in the communities directly affected by the refugee situation. Please continue your prayers for Kyle as he has a lot on his shoulders until some of our co-workers come back from holiday to provide some relief.
Weekly Prayer Needs:
Pray for the Ivory Coast. The situation is not improving and there will likely be more refugees in the coming weeks.
Pray for opportunity to minister the Gospel in word and deed.
Pray for the Church in Liberia to be encouraged and grow despite many tribal/cultural barriers and divisions.
Pray that we will be encouraged by other believers working in Liberia.
Pray that we would continue to develop strong relationships with the EQUIP's Liberian staff.
Read the most recent letter from the Waines family for more details about EQUIP Liberia's work and their families commitment to Liberia!
Friday, December 24, 2010
Why do we need missionaries?
Because the only peace came to earth 2,000 years ago.
The only hope of goodwill for men is found in the God-man, Jesus
It’s not found in a mosque. It’s not found in the barrel of a gun. It’s not found in activism. It’s not found in redeeming our past. It’s not found in the latest, greatest, self help craze. It’s not found in round table “peace” talks. It’s not controlled by the U.N.
It’s found in Jesus Christ, Son of God and Son of Man.
This world is not peaceful. Peace came to earth 2,000 years ago so that a fallen world could find hope.
May you find peace in Christ and goodwill for all as you share the Gospel of Christ this Christmas season.
Merry Christmas from the Hoovers in Liberia!
How many pictures does it take the Hoovers to get a normal face out of Kyle? There aren’t memory chips big enough…so hear are a few of the pictures we took…backlighting + poor photography skills = glare (It’s my present to you!)
Merry Christmas from Kyle’s happy face.
Merry Christmas from Kyle’s woodchuck face.
Merry Christmas from Kyle’s surprised face!
Merry Christmas from Kyle’s serious face.
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
Kyle likes to say that Liberia is the place where everything washes up on shore. If you ever visit Monrovia you will be able to attest to this fact. The city would never be considered beautiful, but the beaches…well, the beaches have potential…that is if you know where to go!
Sunday evening we went out for a new friend’s birthday. We ate at a tiny Liberian place with a great view of the ocean and sunset. Nothing like pepper chicken and Liberian sunsets!
Monday, December 20, 2010
Live from Monrovia this blessed Christmas week! Yes, country has come to town! We are living it up Monrovia style in what we like to refer to as “a proper house”. We were really blessed to be offered the opportunity to stay at the head doctor for USAID’s house over the Christmas break. It is one of the nicest houses in Monrovia. What does that mean? Air conditioning and minimal bugs/snakes inside of the house. It’s awesome.
We’ve come to the conclusion that every week of this adventure is different. It defies description most of the time and leaves us reeling and in need of a good long sleep. Last week was no different. How bout’ I bullet the week for ya? Yeah, lets make this easy…Imagine Billy Joel singing that crazy part from “We Didn’t Start The Fire”
- Monday morning rooster crows
- Ride to work pothole dodging
- WATSAN has a lot to do
- Joe Suomie training still
- Olive’s malaria makes her very ill
- Kristen and Patty off to the states
- Refugees flooding through our gates
- Dr. Rick’s house
- No food in our house
- Cars going everywhere
- Oil filters upside down
- Kyle’s in charge
- Justin is back
- Dave is himself
- Cheeseburger cardiac attack
- Santa is a secret Christmas parties
- Kyle’s still in charge
I could go on, but for all our sakes I won’t. Unless you beg…you are begging small…here’s a few more
- Traffic for no reason
- It’s the Christmas season
- Dogs behind a Chinese restaurant
- Kyle’s in charge of the refugees- all of them
Ok, so for those of you that didn’t get the Billy Joel reference…look it up…I think if this version had a chorus it would go like this:
“We didn’t start the crisis. There were always refugees since West Africa…started…” or something like that.
I’m losing it…Can you tell? This is what Liberia does to you…
I wish I had pictorials for each of those points. My camera died when I tried to take a picture of the pack of dogs behind the Chinese restaurant.
In other news:
We are in Monrovia for a few days. We are house sitting for a doctor and his wife over the holiday. The only downside is that we have to continue with activities in Nimba and addressing the refugee crisis which is growing in the wake of continued violence in Cote D’Ivoire’s capital Abidjan. We will be going up to Ganta and coming back again before Christmas!
We hope to talk to many of you over the holiday. We would love to try out some skyping while we are here if anyone is up for it. We just might have a strong enough signal to make it happen! Email us if you want to give it a try!
For those of that we won’t talk to over the holidays know that we love and miss you. For those of you that have never even met us but read this blog- Thanks…we’re humbled, we’re blessed, we’re blown away that you choose to spend a tiny portion of your time following this crazy journey. Read and be blessed. Ponder God’s grace through these posts. Because let’s be honest- It’s all grace. It’s exhausting- but it’s all grace.
Weekly Prayer Needs:
-Pray for rest and relaxation over the holiday in the midst of craziness.
-Pray for peace to reign in Ivory Coast
-Pray for our ministry of the Gospel to everyone we come in contact with
-Pray for Kyle and I to be drawn closer to one another and to the throne of Grace.
-Pray that we would be protected from the evil one. That peace would reign in our hearts.
Friday, December 17, 2010
We didn’t sign up for this. I’ve said it once…I’ve said it twice…I’m even shamefully guilty of saying it three times.
We didn’t sign up for this.
West Africa’s not the most stable place in the world. It just takes one misfire election and people start lining up to cross over the borders into seemingly safer land. In West Africa borders are little more than streams, and dense forests. Fear rises in a neighboring country and suddenly already resource strapped communities see 1, 2, 30, 40, 120, 220, 320, 500, 1,000…more people added to their populations.
People who have left all; clothes, food, jobs, homes to come to a foreign land because the other option promises an uncertain future.
“You shall not wrong a sojourner or oppress him, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt.” Exodus 22:21
We didn’t sign up for this…but wait…maybe we did.
The truth is when you throw your hands up to the sky and tell God, “Here am I send me” you don’t really know what you’re doing.
You don’t really know what you are signing up for.
He told us to “Go” but He never said what we’d find when we got there.
We look around and we realize that we've found refugees.
Then it dawns on us “We signed up for this.” Yes, actually somewhere between "Here am I Lord" and "Send me" we signed up for this.
So they’re here (more and more everyday) and so are we and they are strangers and foreigners and so are we…in so many ways... and we have to learn how to serve “the least of these” because it doesn’t always come naturally. Sometimes we balk in our hearts and more often with our mouths at the ministry God gives us even when it is running over the border towards us by the thousands.
Pray for us as we serve those that enter our lives from across borders and from across town. Pray for us this Christmas season as we imagine Joseph, Mary and Jesus searching for safety as refugees in a foreign land. Pray for us as we search out what it is exactly that we did sign up for.
May it always be for the sake of the Gospel that we give our holidays, hearts and lives.
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Ok, who am I kidding? I have to use words. They’re my crack.
No “Name that Fruit” (echo,echo,echo) this week. No worries, the competition will continue in the coming weeks. Congrats to the winners! Particularly to Kyle’s cousin Paige who did the work and found the Liberian name for last weeks contest. For those of you that didn’t hear the news! Avocado in Liberia is better known as “butter pear”
This weeks picture:
We’ve missed all of our friends and families’ faces so we thought that you might be missing ours.
A couple of pictures to let you all know that we are alive and well…although Kyle’s face in the second one may lead you to believe otherwise. Notice the nice glow that our faces have? Yeah, that’s sweat.
Monday, December 13, 2010
Welcome to another week in Liberia!
Last week really kept us on our toes. On Monday we went deep into the far reaches of Tappita (pronounce tap-PEE-tah, a region within our county) to a village called Gblarlay (pronounced BLAH-lay) to take a look at the situation with the refugees from the Ivory Coast. It was a daunting journey over the roughest roads imaginable, but we made it there and back in one piece but not until after we had endured 10 hours of driving (round trip that is!), a nights sleep on the floor of an EQUIP clinic and a motorbike ride to one of the small villages where the refugees are crossing the border
Somehow even though we were in one of the most remote regions in Liberia we managed to find a man wearing this t-shirt:
Some of you may not understand the significance of the shirt, but for those of you that do I’ll give you a moment to pick your jaw up off the ground. Veronica, we will send this photo in an email with the GPS coordinates attached.
The refugee situation is continuing to grow, but appears to be somewhat stabilizing. Only time will tell at this point. There has not been any type of resolution to the situation in the Ivory Coast. If you are asking yourself, “What are they talking about?” just hop on the BBCs website and cruise for stories on the the Ivory Coast. EQUIP is involved with other organizations that are engaged in meeting the needs of the communities affected by this influx of refugees. Pray for us as we continue to respond to the needs of our communities here in Nimba.
I (Jessica) have found it rather interesting during this Christmas season that we are involved with working with refugees..
I feel a blog post coming on…look for it later in the week.
In other non-refugee related news: Some of you have asked for an update on the child that was brought to EQUIP and abandoned. One of the Liberian staff took the boy home for a couple of weeks, but due to certain circumstances was not able to keep the child. He is now in the care of an orphanage. Continue to keep this child in your prayers. He is still in need of advanced medical care.
This week we are trying to wrap up a lot of projects before some of our ex-pat friends leave for holidays home in America and our Liberian friends take a break for the Christmas season. We have our monthly staff meeting and a Christmas Party that promises to be a good time. We will have a couple of weeks “off” after this week. Pray for us as we make decisions about what we will be doing for the holidays. Even though we have only been in Liberia for 1 1/2 months we are looking forward to a time of rest!
Weekly Prayer Needs:
Pray that we will be diligent in building relationships with our Liberian friends and taking advantage of opportunities to share the Gospel.
Pray for us as we work to open doors for local pastors to receive training.
Pray for us as we consider how to spend our holiday. Don’t forget our family during this season that we are away.
Pray for our response to the refugee situation.
Friday, December 10, 2010
It’s Christmas…All over the world…
Except in my world Christmas usually comes barreling through with lights, holiday music, political correctness about how to greet someone during the month of December, undisguised materialism, and awkward office parties. This year our house is decidedly bare of Christmas decor. No tree, no lights, and only the occasional iTunes Christmas music selection. We’re waiting on a cold snap in the weather that will bring the temperature down to a balmy 85 degrees. It doesn’t feel much like Christmas.
Which begs the question what does Christmas really mean to us? Does it mean tradition? Does it mean decorations? Does it mean family? Those are all nice and good and decent things…but if that is what Christmas means to you or I then we’ve missed it. We’ve missed Christ. We’ve missed the baby that stands front and center of our heirloom nativity on the mantle. We’ve missed it.
Jesus Christ, God-child. Son of God and Son of Man. Born to die and overcome death, hell, the grave and our sin. What wondrous love is this?
Here, in this lack, where the scent of pine is non-existent and snow is something never experienced by a Liberian and only seen in pictures from back home I hope to reclaim Christmas. This year I will ponder in silence and without fanfare the arrival in human skin of our blessed Lord. Donkey ride, dusty roads, Mary- the girl who birthed God, Jesus the child who fulfilled the words of the law and the prophets, shepherds in fields abiding, a great light to signal the greatest of Lights in human form come to dwell for the sake of you and I. Born for us who were dead in sin.
Next year I will pull around me every good and blessed tradition and cook a feast for friends and family to remind us of all the good and sacred gifts that come down from the Father of Lights in whom there is no shadow or turning away. I will line my mantle with my stored away heirloom nativity, but it will mean something very different. I can sense it. I can feel it here in the midst of nowhere Liberia.
Christmas has come and I will ever more be changed.
In abundance or deficiency my song will ever ring the same.
“Glory be to God on high and to the earth be peace, goodwill henceforth from God to man begin and never cease” ~ Andrew Peterson.
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
Another round of NAME THAT FRUIT! (echo,echo,echo) In this round I want you to guess what we (non-Liberians) would call this and then I will give a bonus to anyone that can track down the Liberian name for it.
Clue 1) The nearby coffee mug should give a clue about the size of the fruit.
Clue 2) There may be some argument about whether or not this is a fruit or a vegetable.
Guessing will end on Friday at 9:00 pm EST. Guess via the comments or on Facebook. Winner will be chosen at random from among the correct answers!
Monday, December 6, 2010
Last week was a blur of busyness. We made a trip to Monrovia at the beginning of the week. Grocery stores are a glorious thing. We stocked up on a few groceries. Yes, cheese was purchased- cheddar, mozzarella and havarti. The biggest Monrovia surprise was that a few minutes before departing to come back to Ganta Kyle was asked to drive an extra vehicle back here. Six hours and 1,000 potholes later the two cars in our caravan made it back to Ganta! If you are wondering why that is such a big deal feel free to read a recent NPR story about Liberian roads for a better mental image.
On Wednesday we learned of refugees that are crossing over Liberia’s eastern border into Nimba County in the aftermath of the Ivory Coast’s recent election. EQUIP sent a team to the border to assess the need of the refugees and assist the response of other NGOs working in the area. The election results have resulted in violence in the capital city (no worries, it is far away from us!) and clashes amongst the divided Muslim and Christian populations.
So all in all an eventful week. Maybe a little too eventful…
The next couple of weeks will be extremely busy as we complete a lot of tasks in preparation for a short break for Christmas and the New Year. Even though we have only been in country for a short while we are looking forward to a little break. We have hit the ground running and we would like a few days to get our wits about us before plowing forward!
On another note when did December get here? I looked at my calendar the other day and I was convinced that it was wrong…How did this happen? December, really? Already?
We’ve been in Liberia for over a month now and the Christmas season is upon us! To be quite honest it is hard for us to even imagine being cold right now and since electricity is scarce there aren’t a whole lot of Christmas lights dangling from the eaves of the Ganta neighborhood houses. What we’re praying for is a deep sense of knowing the power of our Saviors birth, life, death and glorious Resurrection in the wake of this very different Christmas season. We’re praying the same for you and your family this Christmas season
Weekly Prayer Needs:
-Pray for rest and focus as we head into each new week.
-Pray for relationships among the ex-pat staff. We truly desire to be a blessing and point towards the Gospel in all we say and do.
-Pray for opportunities to disciple and encourage Liberian believers
-Pray that we would be seeking out daily time in God’s Word.
-Pray for discernment about how to aid the Ivorian refugees through the possible fall-out from the recent election results.
Friday, December 3, 2010
This past Sunday, I (Kyle) had the opportunity to sit with an elder in the church we are attending – a church planted by Liberians in an area of Ganta that they felt needed to have a place to hear the Word of God. This particular man has several children who are now in the USA studying at different universities across the country. We talked about many things – he had many questions about life in the USA. I told him about our home in North Carolina. I told him of the great food (it was past lunch time) and the different landscapes that he might see there. I also told him of how difficult life can be when children leave home and never come back, families that rarely see each other, or when you live next to your neighbors for years and never know them. He was shocked – this is a foreign concept in Liberia. Jessica and I have been having an ongoing discussion since we arrived in Liberia about how to share with our friends, family, and supporters about our life here. We want to be as real as we can in our words and the photos we post – however we have found ourselves “vexed” (a new favorite Liberian word) as of late.
As part of our preparations to come to Africa we took several training courses from EQUIP – one in particular made a deep impact on us and is challenging us as we work day to day with rural communities in Liberia. We as westerners tend to think of poverty as a lack of material things – food, water, shelter, income. etc. We feel compelled, perhaps out of our own human needs or perhaps out of a movement of The Holy Spirit – a fruit of Christ’s working in your life to take up the cause of poverty alleviation. This is a good thing – However, the truth of the matter is that the western world is deeply impoverished itself. It is not a material poverty we necessarily face in the U.S.A. (though it is alive and well) but we struggle with a deep seated spiritual, emotional, and relational poverty that we tend to medicate or “self-educate” away though one of our many programs, activities, or philosophies.
I say all of that to say this: we will not be sharing photos of many of the places we go. Don’t worry the blog won’t be photo-less. It just won’t have a lot of pictures of the physical poverty that we see around us each day. Trust us- it’s here and we have nothing to hide – but we do not want to aid in the lie that poverty exists only in photos of developing countries. When you see such images – search your heart for why it moves you. Do you see the poverty in your family? on your street? In your office? In your church? You don't have to go downtown to find it – its sitting in your chest – as it is in mine. Please pray that you and I will see poverty for what it is – our own sin and alleviate it wherever we may be. Not for our sake – but for Christ’s Glory.
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
Another competition on Wordless Wednesday! What kind of fruit is pictured above? It’s nothing exotic. I promise you know what it is, but it does look a little different than our American version. The winner will get a special prize in a year! (Sorry we can’t send the prizes sooner!)
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
We have a Protection Department here at EQUIP Liberia. Protection/GBV (that stands for Gender Based Violence) deals with all types of abuse and abandonment issues with children and adults. It is no small task to confront the atrocities of rape, child abandonment, sexual abuse, etc… in a culture that has a broken justice system, but EQUIP’s GBV program is doing just that.
This past week in the midst of the staff meeting a 7 month old baby boy was dropped off. I (Jessica) met the little guy as he was crying and clearly struggling. His head was enlarged pointing clearly to his condition as hydro-cephalic. His mother had abandoned him and his father dropped him off at another local NGO and left. The back story led us to believe that because of the baby’s disorder the community that he is from had determined him to be a witch. Yes, you read that right; a witch. In Liberia when this happens it is nearly certain that the baby will die because of abandonment or the community will kill it. God, by His great grace and mercy allowed him to be dropped of on EQUIP’s doorstep. EQUIP is currently working to place him with an orphanage and assure that he gets the proper medical care.
Pray for this little one. We don’t know his name, but God does.
Monday, November 29, 2010
Every morning when we get to the EQUIP Liberia office we spend time greeting the Liberian staff. We always ask one another “How’s the night?” We were asked that one morning last week Kyle’s response was “Too short!” to which one of our Liberian friends responded “Nights in Liberia are always too short.” I wish someone would have informed us of that before we came here!
We have been so busy this past week that we nearly fall into bed at night. We went deep into the bush for a visit to two of EQUIP’s 23 clinics last Tuesday. It was a bumpy ride that ended with red dirt in our ears- the red dust comes in the windows of the car and you don’t realize you’re covered until you look in the mirror! My brain was mush by the end of the trip due to the constant bashing against my skull that it took. We’re gonna have to get used to these bush adventures! They put American 4 wheelin’ to shame!
The end of the week held another first for us! The monthly staff meeting with approximately 30 Liberian staff from all over Nimba county. It lasts for a couple of days and everyone reports on what is going on in their part of the county. We were able to learn the official way that the Liberian EQUIP staff (and Liberian’s in general) clap for one another. We will have to make a video to show you. It is the best clap ever! Although I don’t think that we can exude the Liberian joy with which they do their clap. Kyle and I both agreed we would have made the journey over here just to learn the clap.
You must be thinking, “When did they have time for Thanksgiving?” Well, we squeezed in somewhere in between our trip to the bush and staff meeting. Unfortunately the first day of staff meeting was scheduled for Thursday which put a damper on our American Thanksgiving. Liberians and Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving on a different day so it wasn’t a big deal to them. We managed (along with our co-workers, friends, fellow Americans -Patty, Kristen and Debbie) to throw together a nice meal on Wednesday evening. It came complete with stuffed chickens that we continuously referred to as “turkey”, mashed potatoes, pumpkin, corn, biscuits, green bean casserole, fried okra and apple spice cake.
Not the greatest picture but you can tell we had a spread!
This coming week is not going be a slow down for us! We are going to Monrovia for a much needed shopping trip and meetings. When we get back to Ganta we have a couple of meetings and more travelling to do. Pray that our Liberian nights will get longer so that we can get the sleep we need!
Weekly Prayer Needs:
-Pray for our protection and safety as we travel back and forth to Monrovia and the bush
-Pray for our relationships with those that we are working with. Pray that we would be an encouragement to them.
-Pray for us during the holidays that God would work out a way for us to have a special and relaxing holiday while we are away from friends and family.
-Pray that we would have opportunities to invest and disciple those around us.
Thursday, November 25, 2010
It’s the simplicity here that drives my heart to Thanksgiving. In the scope of life and things we are living on slim pickings these days, but somehow my sense of gratitude has swelled bigger than I can remember. This past year has put our faith to the test. We wondered how we would ever make it to this little plastered concrete home with our gas stove and bucket for bathing, but God did it. We watched it. He did it. We’re amazed.
We now have faces in place of the waiting and wondering. We’ve met some amazing people so far. Liberians working and praying for their country. Men and women who believe that God can and will do a work among their people.
It’s the end of the rainy season, beginning of dry, but the rain just won’t quite let go. As I write this I’m listening to a storm from far off roll across the sky and pour cool rain over dry earth. The rain reminds me of my own abundant blessings. The way that this year and all that I have learned about myself, my heart and the God I serve has overwhelmed me and driven me to a sense of gratitude I’ve never known.
I hope this Thanksgiving finds you where you are.
Even in the midst of nowhere Africa it has found me.
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
I’ve eluded to the fact that the market is an interesting place here in Ganta. I will share pictures of the market very soon, but first I thought I would share a picture of the spoils of our Saturday shopping trip.
Soap, crackers, bananas, tomatoes, onions, bread, potatoes, and garlic. Kyle got a big bottle of water and a container of kerosene, but it didn’t make it into the photo shoot.
Another view of the spoils! These are the basics that you can get in Ganta. We are looking forward to a trip to Monrovia in a month to stock up on perishable items like cheese! Yes, I am a cheeseaholic and the lack thereof is quite a struggle. I can’t get any real milk either to make my own!
I hope that this picture doesn’t frighten anyone (mom and grandma). We are actually eating pretty well. We even had chocolate pudding for dessert on Friday night. DELISH!
Monday, November 22, 2010
We’re off to the bush (let’s just call it the sticks for all our Southern peeps) this week. USAID has come to do a tour of the infrastructure at a few clinics. EQUIP Liberia runs 23 clinics/health centers in Nimba county for Liberia’s Ministry of Health (MOH). This is all part of the Rebuilding Basic Health Services (RBHS) program supported by the MOH. Some of the clinics are deep, deep into the bush. Kyle and I will be going along on these trips.
On top of Kyle’s WATSAN responsibilities he will be working with his WATSAN teams on clinic infrastructure improvements. I am working with the RBHS program on maternal and child health. These trips will allow me to see the labor and delivery rooms at some of these remote clinics!
This is our 4th full week in Liberia and we are beginning to get settled into some semblance of a routine. We are praying about ministry opportunities. There is so much need and we want to be discerning about the resources, gifts and opportunities that the Lord gives us. Kyle has a group of men that are his WATSAN team. This provides a cohesive group of men that Kyle will be able to minister too. Pray that he will take advantage of opportunities to encourage and speak into the lives of these men.
Weekly Prayer Need:
-Pray that the Holy Spirit will lead and guide us as we look for ministry opportunities.
-Pray for God’s protection as we drive into the bush. Pray that our vehicles hold up!
-Pray for our families during this week of Thanksgiving. Pray that they would know how grateful we are for their love and support and would enjoy the holiday in spite of our absence.
Friday, November 19, 2010
Almost three weeks ago we set out for Liberia. That seems like millenia away today. We've witnessed scenes that defy description. I often find myself grasping desperately to paint a picture of our life, this life, Liberian life- and it is life even amidst poverty and death.
Last Sunday we attended our first church service in Ganta. It was wonderful and uncomfortable for us. Afterwards I spent a lot of time figuring out what I thought about our experience of African village church. Revelation followed soon after.
We know we're made in God's image as humans- that's Sunday School 101. White Americans tend ( at least I know I'm guilty of this) to imagine God's image as white. At church on Sunday I saw god's image imprinted deeply on a black face and it wrecked me. Africans, and every other ethnicity and culture for that matter, are made to reflect God's image in a way that if they didn't exist God would not be known. God has never been a white man.
Amidst the drum beats, dancing and preaching God's image was radiant.
We live in a fallen world. By God's grace we can witness Him hovering in the midst of our fallenness.
Thursday, November 18, 2010
O.k., not snakes on a plane. Snakes in our house. Yes, it has already happened. I hadn’t planned on posting today, but then this happened last night
Yes, on top of our toilet paper roller (sigh of relief because it is broken and we haven’t been using it!) we found that beaut. Yep, another baby green mamba. I know it doesn’t look like much, but they are super dangerous. I wish we had documentation of what followed. Our guards will kill snakes for 100LD (about $1.50 USD) so we called Joseph over and asked him to kill it for us. After locating the snake Joseph whacked at him with a stick as the snake flipped and twirled around.
As our friend Patti said- “I’m scared for Joseph, but not scared enough to help.”
Finally the snake gave up the ghost! Joseph is my new hero. Really. Forever. I’m making an “I heart Joseph” t-shirt.
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
This is the Methodist church in Ganta. This beautiful old church survived through repeated attack during the war. There is a story from the war that an RPG once went through the front window and out a back window without exploding. It is clear that God has preserved this beautful old church.
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Sorry about the size, but the smaller the photo the quicker the upload. Trust me it is excruciating! Get out your magnifying glass!
We only have generator power for a few hours a day (in the morning and the evening). Enough to keep our fridge and freezer cool. Kyle has rigged up a battery system to provide lights after the generator turns off at night. The lights are rope lights like what you would see in a tiki bar at the beach. Every night is a party at the Hoovers' house! Kyle also rigged a car battery to power a fan (a must have during the night!).
We are supposedly only temporarily in this space. An older lady who lived in the rehab compound formany years will be returning to live in our place. This means we will have to move next door which is a very different spacef rom where we are now. It is essentially two rooms without a kitchen. Pray that the Lord would work it out that we can stay in our current "home"!
Monday, November 15, 2010
Friday, we unpacked our bags and headed into town to get our bearing this involved setting up a bank account and having lunch (jolla rice- basically rice, onions, beans, chicken and lots of spice!). Upon our return to rehab the sisters showed us our first snake by their front door, a dead (chopped in half by the guard) baby green mamba! Yowzers- no thank you- this is the part where Kyle and I go and stuff anything we can find underneath our doors so that we don't have an unwelcomed visitors. We can deal with the lizards on the walls- they eat bugs and won't kill us- but not green mambas on our floors!
Saturday we came to the Equip office and helped out for a few hours. Afterwards we continued into town for our introduction to the open air market. Clothes, rice, produce and the very distrubing bush meat section. Imagine charred animal (chimpanzee arms, deer legs, etc..) parts rotting in the heat. Needless to say I won't be buying a lot from that section...
Sunday we went to church in the nearby village- the leprosy and TB rehab village. Unbeknownst to us it was mission Sunday and we got to go through the village talking with folks and encouraging them to come to church the next Sunday. It was a good way to learn about the community which is right at our back door. This is our "Jerusalem" so please pray that we would be intentional with this isolated community.
We've been able to talk with our family via our cellphones and we have a surprisingly clear connection and good signal! The bonus is that it is only between 5-10 cents a minutes! So don't be surprised if you get a phone call from us one day! It is an incredible blessing to hear familar voices!
Today we start "work". Kyle has a mountain of work ahead of him. He is working on a proposal due at the end of the month for charity water that would given the Equip Liberia's WATSAN (water and sanitation) dept. $150,000 to work with! I'm going to be working on a maternal health project called "Mama Kits" that is meant to improve the rate of women giving birth in the clinics. We've got our hands full!
Weekly Prayer Needs:
Pray that we would continue to get settled in and that we would continue to improve our grasp of the culture and dialect- our Liberian friends are speaking English but it certainly doesn't sound like it sometimes.
Pray that we would be intentional in encouraging the other expats (non-Liberians) towards the Gospel.
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
We still haven't moved up country. We hope that it will happen by the latest at the end of next weekend. We're really hoping for Thursday. The end of the weekend is the absolute latest that we can bare for it to happen I think. Please pray that it would all come together and that we would practice patience and humility in the mean time.
Otherwise we are doing fine. Sunday we enjoyed our first dose of Liberian church and got a scenic tour of Monrovia. There is still a sense that something terrible and dark happened here. Kyle and I both sensed it as we toured the downtown area. Pray that we would be a light of hope to a people still very much recovering from an awful conflict.
I still haven't uploaded any pictures but I am hoping for a fast enough internet connection to start uploading a video log once a week! How great will that be? Much love from Liberia!
Monday, November 8, 2010
I spent a better part of the week trying to "encourage" them to revisit how they mix their concrete. Little did I know that a small blip in my life when I designed/mixed/inspected concrete would be so handy! For our project we needed "rich" concrete and instructed them what we needed for the mix. When the materials exceeded the usual amounts used to make Liberian concrete out came screams of TOO PLENTY! TOO PLENTY! (translated: TOO MUCH MAN!) When I insisted on a different way to mix the concrete - out came TOO PLENTY! TOO PLENTY! When I stated how much concrete we needed to mix you guessed it TOO PLENTY! TOO PLENTY! God in His Grace allowed my pea brain to calcuate the right amounts that it wasnt too plenty - but just enough. By the end of the week - they were mixing the amounts of materials without prodding - they mixed it in the proper manner (that required more work), and they started to see that quality work is just as important as getting paid - or so I hope.
Thank you Lord for a week to work with Liberians - and may this week lead to a change in their hearts that changes their character as professing men of God, and a change in their culture, country, and this continent. May Your Grace never be TOO Plenty.
Friday, November 5, 2010
Kyle has been working outside these 1st few days. On a couple of occasions, including yesterday, he has made a trip down to the beach. The beach is only a short walk from the house we are staying in. After work Kyle made his way with Equip Liberia's director (Dave) down to the beach for a swim. There were quite a few Liberians out on the beach and when they saw Kyle and Dave this is what they said:
"Look, Look, white men go swimming!" (obviously said with a Liberian accent)
Liberians apparently don't really swim so this was an event! Someone was not only going swimming, but they were also white! I am sure that this is the first of many similar experiences.
Thursday, November 4, 2010
Even though the Liberians are having a holiday it is business as usual for all the expats. We are hopefully heading up country to Ganta on Friday or Saturday of this week!
We will try post some pictures soon. It would help if I would take some!
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
We're alive! I know some of you were beginning to have your doubts! Hugs and kisses and immense gratitude for all your prayers and encouragement. The Lord carried us over the Atlantic safely. Boy, were we glad to be done with flying and by "we" I mean me, Jessica.
We arrived to Monrovia at 8:00pm (West African time- 3:00 pm for the East coast of the U.S.). We wrangled our way through Liberian customs and baggage. We were guided through the "diplomats" line because of our wise decision to sport our homemade EQUIP Liberia I.D. tags. This was a relief because it meant that our bags would not be searched!(again) David Waines' face was a welcome sight when we exited the airport doors. We quickly loaded our bags amidst the chaos and were taken to a wonderful dinner. After a couple of days of airport/airplane food fiery Liberian pepper chicken (I mean fiery!) was a delicious and welcome treat! By the end of dinner we were close to falling asleep in our plates, but our next stop wasn't quite bed. I won't even begin to describe what the other stop was for, but will suffice it to say that I ended up with shoes full of sand and still was uncertain what we had just done. When our heads hit the pillow under the mosquito net that night we were out!
Our first couple of days have been full of firsts. First Liberian driving lessons (defensive driving to say the least), Liberian meals, Liberian building supply stores, Liberian heat, Liberian humidity, Liberian thunderstorms, Liberian roads (a bit bumpy and our vehicles have snorkels). We're working on a few things around Monrovia and by the end of the week hope to be heading to our new "home" up country in Ganta. We are really looking forward to settling in and diving in to work there. As we've been briefed it is clear that there is much work for both Kyle and I to do.
Please pray for us as our bodies continue to adjust to Liberia. We're still a bit jet-lagged and our bodies are trying to figure out what "normal" is, imagine that?!
Our blog posts will be spotty over the next few days until we get to where we are headed. Then we will get on more of a regular schedule and maybe even share some pictures. I am sorry that we don't have pictures to prove that we are alive and well. For now trust that we are in good health and spirits!
We're here! We're here! We're finally here!
Live from Liberia,
Kyle and Jessica
Saturday, October 30, 2010
Can we ask for one more thing? Again? Pray?! Please pray for our hearts, minds and bodies to be sustained through this time of traveling and the days ahead!
We're doing it! Finally! Next week the blog will be coming from Liberia! WAHOO!
Friday, October 29, 2010
Kyle's a geologist. I tease him about this- kind of a lot, but don't let my teasing fool you. I think he's awesome. We've been transient for about 3 months and it hasn't been easy. No home, no job, having to depend on others, but I have seen my husband rise to the challenge because he sees the bigger picture. He sees the work of his hands as a path way for the Gospel. He's determined to walk that path in faith.
When I agreed to marry him about 6 years ago (it's a long story- but a good one) I knew it would mean walking in the direction of the unknown. 5 years into it the unknown is about all that we have known for sure thus far. He's my rock (ironic considering the geologist thing!) and I've watched our marriage grow as he has stepped forward in faith. I know I am stepping into the unknown with a faithful God and the bonus of a husband whose eyes are fixed on Christ.
So tomorrow we leave for Liberia. This journey doesn't begin tomorrow. It began long ago with seeds that God has planted,watered and is only now bringing to fruition in our lives. I'm grateful for a God who gives good gifts. I am overwhelmed with love for a husband whose faith encourages my own to put aside fear and anxiety and take up the cross of Christ.
Pray for our marriage through this next year. Pray that we would love each other well. Kyle, by God's grace, has done a great job so far.
What a great love that has been given to all that would receive it in Christ Jesus!
It's All Grace,
"How deep the Father's Love for us, how vast beyond all measure. That He would give His only Son to make a wretch His treasure."
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Just checking in...
time with family- in process
packing- in process
car- sold, awaiting delivery
to do list- slowly but surely
The devil's in the details. Sometimes I think that this is a literal statement. We need your prayers to finish this leg of the race strong.
Monday, October 25, 2010
time with family
last minute details
dealing with anxiety
loving each other well
protection from the evil one
Like I said on Friday, don't count on a whole lot out of the blog this week. It's gonna be a crazy one!
Friday, October 22, 2010
We're taking everything plus...
You read it right...the kitchen sink...
(yes, Jenn. I do wear that shirt all.the.time.)
Next week begins the real countdown. We are almost Liberia Bound for real! We fly out of Raleigh/Durham on Saturday the 30th. This next week will involve a lot of family time, more packing, last minute errands, and a lot of hugs and prayers. Blogging isn't our top priority in this next week, but we will try to keep you apprised on everything all the way up to the big leaving day!
Thursday, October 21, 2010
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
We leave in 10 days and we need your prayers. We are going to a country that war has ravaged. We are going to live amidst people that look and act very different from us. The reality is that the answers may be hard to swallow. The answers may change us more than we are able to change anything that we see and experience. This isn't a request for pity. It is a call to get on your knees and plead for God to guide, teach and protect us as we go. Scratch that- you don't have to get on your knees. Sit right where you are in front of your blinking computer screen and lift our names up to the Heavenly Father.
We've got so many questions. Luckily we know the One with the answers.
Monday, October 18, 2010
The following video is of Kyle's well drilling team trying out there newly finished well. Well dug, pump installed, now let's take it for a spin! Watch this video and more on our new youtube channel!
Kyle trying out the new well! He thinks he looks like Patton with the boots rolled up and the hard hat...I think, well...nevermind what I think...
Here is a picture of Kyle's entire team + Kieth the head instructor (in the middle)!
It's been beautiful weather here in Marion,NC. Kyle has really made the most of it. 75% of class time is spent outdoors working! I (Jessica) on the other hand have been opening all the windows in the knock-off Airstream, staring dreamily out the window and tip-typing away on the laptop. I've had a lot of last minute projects to finish up before we leave for Liberia. I've emailed, blogged, added to my to-do list and written newsletters until I swear I have tiny bruises on my fingertips! Check your mailbox soon for our October newsletter!
We can hardly believe that we are less than two weeks away from leaving for Liberia! Then on the other hand we are so ready to go!
Weekly Prayer Need: Pray for our relationships with those we will be working with in Liberia. What I mean is pray for the other workers that we will be working alongside. Pray that our relationships would be God honoring and pray that we would be a gracious light of the Gospel to those we might work alongside of that don't yet know the saving power of Christ. Pray that we would find Christian community and that we would be intentional in living out the Gospel to anyone we have opportunity to minister too.
Friday, October 15, 2010
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
When do you leave? October 30th, 2010
How long will you be there?
Our commitment is currently for a year, but we will have to see how God leads! Read this passage of Scripture if you have any other questions.
What will your living accommodations be like?
We don't have a lot of info on this subject. We will have a water pump by our living quarters. Rumor has it our water pump has hot water. That is almost unheard of! We will also have access to a gas stove. On the other hand we won't have a refrigerator. We will have electricity only when the generator is turned on which is just a couple of hours a day.
Are you going to continue blogging?
Yes, but the blog schedule may be a bit altered. Electricity will be in short supply so we will have to learn to work around it. No electricity means no internet.
What is the time difference?
Liberia is 4 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time.
Can we send packages?
Yes, but it is a bit complicated. If you are interested in doing this please contact us directly and we can get you the appropriate information to send us mail.
These are questions we get asked a ton. If there is any other burning questions shoot us an email or leave it in the comments.
Monday, October 11, 2010
FYI: We leave exactly 3 weeks from this past Saturday! Gulp.
Yeah, you read that right. Three weeks from this past Saturday we will be on a plane headed to Europe and then from there it will be on to Liberia! God has prepared us for this journey. We've seen God's hand from the beginning to the end (which is still yet to be seen) and every bump of the road in between.
Weekly Prayer Need: This might sound like a small request, but I promise it comes from a genuine heart and out of a place of real need. Please pray for our travels, but it's more than that, specifically pray that God would protect and keep me (Jessica) in the midst of anxiety. I HATE TO FLY! I do. Truly. It makes me anxious, nauseous and difficult to be around. Pray that Kyle will be able to love and comfort me through the 20+ hours of flying that we will endure to get to Liberia.
Friday, October 8, 2010
God is trustworthy. His Word is true. We've only touched the tip of the iceberg these last 3 months.
I was young and now I am old,
yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken
or their children begging bread.
I hope this weekend finds you with your own stones of remembrance. Remembrance of all that God has done in your life and all that God is doing. Thanks for reading this blog. We can't wait to share with you more of God's faithfulness as this journey unfolds.
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
Believe it or not this is a water filtration system, a bio-sand filter to be exact. Imagine if our friends nose was running...that's where the water comes out! If you'd like to learn how to make this filtration system check out Equip International's website for details and a course schedule.
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
What is Liberia's climate like?
Well, we've probably answered this a time or two, but I (Jessica) figure that the subject is worth looking at a little more closely. Liberia is located just north of the equator. I assume that most folks reading this blog know what that means, but just in case here's a little diagram:
Close to the equator = really stinkin' hot
Liberia is tropical. The wonderful part is that tropical means fruit! Pineapples, mangoes, other miscellaneous unidentifiable fruit! Tropical also means steamy. Humidity that just slaps you in the face and floods your lungs the second you walk out of your door. Imagine North Carolina at the height of the summer when the heat and the humidity are almost unbearable. It's that, but worse we are told. Good thing Kyle and I both grew up in central N.C.! Although we've been spoiled by our mild mountain weather! It will definitely be an adjustment! I'm of the opinion that God prepares us and gives us grace even to endure the weather/climate.
We will miss out on the changing of the four seasons. In its place we will have the rainy and the rainier season. David Waines said that the Liberian people call it the small, small rain and the lotta rain. That sounds better than the rainy and rainier seasons. Takes the edge off of it a bit.
We've been told that Liberia's climate is harsh by any standards. The result is lots of mosquitoes and "interesting" wildlife. We've discussed the mosquito issue. Mosquitoes (of the anophales kind) mean malaria. Malaria=boo.
What does all this mean? We adjust our packing list to account for the climate and all that it brings with it. Screen for the windows, a fan (to make sleeping possible), light weight and SPF clothing, hats, sunscreen, ultra healing lotion, etc.
Monday, October 4, 2010
We wrapped up our time with friends in Andrews last week. A great big hug and kiss to the Mcsweens. They so graciously hosted us for almost 3 weeks while we were hanging our hats in Andrews. It was such a blessing to have encouragement from our SWO family for an extended period of time.
We've been transient for 3 months at this point. It's been a wild ride and we would be lying if we said that we're not itching for this ride to settle down. Keep in mind that up to this point we have stayed in creekside cabins, a storage shed, with a multitude of friends and families homes and now a beautiful Airstream knock-off. We are trying out our dream of living in an "Airstream" for the next 3 weeks. This too will be awesome.
Squinty faced in front of the Airstream knock-off
Our current abode...a dream come true.
We're blessed to be spending a few more weeks at Equip. Pray that God would teach us much and that Kyle would be able to help other missionaries grow and learn how to share the Water of Life through the gift of clean water.
Weekly Prayer Need: Pray that we would have focused time with the Lord. Pray that we would find time to be alone and quiet before the Lord as we make the final preparations before leaving in a couple of weeks.
Here is the promised picture of the car. Isn't it nice? Don't you want to buy it?
Friday, October 1, 2010
Yesterday marked the one month mark. We are now officially less than a month away from leaving for Liberia. So many details are still coming together and we anxiously await their completion. We've watched God do so much in the last couple of months to make it possible for us to go to Liberia for this next year. We're amazed and grateful. He truly goes before us.
This leads us back to what we said the other day about selling the car. We're selling the car. We've sold/given away the majority of our "stuff". We're leaving North Carolina with 4 large suitcases and our carry ons. These are the facts.
The less known things are what God is going to do in our lives in the next year. How will this year change us? How is God trying to grow us in through this calling to missions? What difficulties and joys we will encounter in the next year? What will we do when we come back? At this point we can't answer those questions. What we do know is that God asks us to follow Him in obedience.
Jesus said to them, "No one who puts His hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God." Luke 9:62
We're putting our hand to the plow. We've been putting our hand to the plow for the last couple of months actually. We know that God is faithful to complete the good work that He has started in our hearts and minds. That is why we can sell our car and everything else and move in the direction He has called us. We move towards Christ for our good and His glory.
We realize that makes some folks uncomfortable. Jesus made folks uncomfortable. We want to be like Jesus. Thanks for your love and support dear friends. We rest in God's sovereignty and find strength in your prayers.
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
That is possibly the #1 question we get asked. No lie.
Well, the answer is simple. We're selling it. Yep, our Toyota Corolla is set to bring miles of smiles to someone else's face. A lot of people have asked us about the car and questioned why we would sell it since our current commitment in Liberia is only for a year. That is a great question and one that is going to be addressed further in a blog post later in the week. For now I am just going to say that we want to be able to minister freely while in Liberia. Selling the car is one of the many things that will allow us to do that.
All that to say if you know anyone in the market for a reliable vehicle. Let us know! It is a 2005, Toyota Corolla and has (or will have in a couple of weeks) approximately 120,000 miles on it. I'll try to put a picture up later. It's fantastic on gas mileage. We've gotten close to 40 mpg on the highway! So the benefit is twofold: someone gets a car, missionaries get helped out!
That leads us to this weeks prayer need: Pray that the Lord would send someone along to buy our car!
Monday, September 27, 2010
We went on a little camp out at the East Fork of the Pigeon River with the Davis' family. It was great fun to go along on the OLD School backpacking resupply. Nothing like encountering 11 foul smelling guys and gals in the middle of the woods and loading them up with fresh food and snickers bars.
We're really starting to get into the nitty gritty details of getting to Liberia. We're waiting on our visas. We've started our series of oral typhoid vaccine. We're finishing up our sheet that lets everyone know how they can send us packages and letters. So much to do!
This next week we are heading back to High Point for a couple of days before heading to Marion for the water technologies courses. We're taking to the highway again, but we are ready to continue on this journey and finally be heading for Liberia on October 30th.
Here are few pictures from this past week:
Kyle (still not quite awake yet) awaiting his extra cheesy cheese grits.
I'm recalling all of my backcountry cooking skills. I love the MSR whisperlite!
Someone ate too many rocks and dirt then proceeded to fall asleep. Camping is tough.
The OLD School girls enjoying breakfast at the East Fork of the Pigeon River
OLD School boys pounding the nutella. It's like a nutella ad. Everyone looks so happy!
We've had a wonderful time visiting our SWO family. It's been fun to catch up with friends and share more about Liberia and the work ahead!