Friday, April 30, 2010

#18: Going West!

So today it is time for one of my most favorite places in all of Asheville. Yes, #18 steals my heart with each cup of fresh brewed coffee and delicious pinch of cinnamon roll...sigh...

#18: West End Bakery

Nestled in the West of area that we dare not go if we are in the mood for the one of my favorite AVL jewels: West End Bakery! I stumbled upon West End Bakery when I started volunteering at Asheville Pregnancy Support Services. I needed a good cup of coffee to start my day off with and a little space to spend some time in the Word before I headed into the battle zone that is a crisis pregnancy center. West End Bakery fit the bill perfectly.

A few things to know if you ever go to West End:
1) Everything is good
2) Bring friends if you order a cinnamon roll because attempting to eat one on your own may put you in diabetic shock.
3) People at West End may look, talk, act "different", focus on the coffee and cinnamon rolls if you start feeling out of always works for me...

West End Bakery combines some of my favorite things: locally grown food, local art, fresh bread, eclectic community, tailgate markets (every Wednesday @ West End) and good coffee. If anyone is looking for a going away present for me (Jessica that is) a shirt from West End Bakery will make my heart soar (medium, green, thanks!). Hmmmmm, maybe I'll sneak over there for breakfast tomorrow? Any takers?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

Ever notice how our "Wordless Wednesdays" are rarely wordless? I found this picture on the website for the Australian Redcross. The picture is a bit misleading because I don't think we will be drinking much Coca Cola. Nonetheless, I thought it was a good picture of what Liberian faire is like. A lot of rice...oil...rice and oil...Here is a bit of writing from one of the Australian Red Cross workers on the "joys" of Liberian food.
"On the first of three day-long planning meetings I manage to bring a healthy lunch but then give in to the joys of Liberian food; spicy, salty and oily bush-meat stews on rice. Day two has a base of potato greens, the shredded and boiled leaves of the sweet potato plant, and day three is palm butter, like peanut butter but extracted from local palm nuts that grow in the tall trees." - Jess Letch, Australian Red Cross worker
All that to say PRAY FOR OUR STOMACHS!

Monday, April 26, 2010

"Thank You" Notes

Gratitude is a spiritual discipline. I am more convinced of that than ever. Spiritual disciplines are often difficult to put into practice but the benefits are usually physical, emotional and spiritual. Each month we receive a report from Equip cataloging the financial donations that we have received for the previous month. The report lists each name and address so that we can send "Thank You" notes to our supporters. I have to admit that looking at that list of names makes me a bit overwhelmed to think of writing that many notes. I try to avoid it...not because I am ungrateful but because all I think about is the hand cramp that I will get while writing each note and the time that it will take to think of something sincere and original to feel each card with. If I am anything I am genuine. Genuinely narcissistic most of the time but genuine nonetheless...

The thing is that when I sit down to write these notes my heart begins to swell. It swells up with gratitude to our God who is so amazing to call and send us. It swells up with hope that God will complete the good work that He has begun. It swells with thanksgiving to all of you that are sacrificing to send us to Africa. It changes my outlook and eventually I find that the notes just roll off of my pen.

The discipline of gratitude leads to a heart of gratitude. Gratitude fosters gratitude.

So let this blog post be a giant "Thank You" note to all of you who are reading this blog. It humbles me that you would take time out of your day to read our ramblings on this corner of the web. Some of you will be receiving notes in the near future. Know that those notes are from sincerely grateful hearts. God is at work. What a gift to get to be a part of that work!

In Christ Alone,
Jessica (and Kyle)

Friday, April 23, 2010

Remember your teens? #19 is here...

#19: The, that is really what #19 is...

I mean aren't the teens known for being full of smart comments and sarcasm?

The Mountain Xpress is our local free news/arts/entertainment/classifieds paper. It comes out on Wednesdays and buried within its pages is a piece of satire that will keep you laughing from dawn until dusk. The Asheville Disclaimer is Asheville's fake news page within the Mountain X. The great thing about the Disclaimer is that nothing and no one is off limits. Everyone gets a fair shake down!

For instance this was the "top story" in the disclaimer this week:

Obama, 1st Family Visiting Asheville: President reportedly has eye on decorative mushroom-shaped table-skull from Octopus' Garden

The article following was a riot! The Disclaimer also has a couple of regular columns such as "Kid care with Arnold" in which a Korean War Veteran dispenses indispensable child rearing advice! One of my personal favorites is the Fur it or Agin' it column in which a local gas station clerk gives her opinion Fur or Agin' any number of things...priceless...

So some of you are at this point thinking that I have lost it. This countdown was supposed to be about wholesome tourist attractions and moderately priced restaurants! You must not know us...because if you did you would know that it is all the little things that make up why you love something or somewhere and sometimes those things aren't your run of the mill type things. So thank you Disclaimer for making the fake news sound better than the actual news!

WARNING: Some of you may be offended by the Disclaimer that is not our fault. That is our Disclaimer disclaimer.

Oh, and in case you hadn't heard this from your Google news feed here is the latest from the Disclaimer:

-Local black hair stylist not as sassy as the ones in the movies, customer reports.

-Coup in Kyrgyzstan doesn't put country on the map. according to reporter's unsuccessful attempt to locate it on a map.

See what we mean?

P.S. That part about the President coming to town for the weekend? True. We saw it with our own eyes.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Madame President

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

Liberia's President: Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. She is the first woman president in all of Africa!
The soccer picture is perhaps not the most flattering photo but I just loved it so much I couldn't resist putting it up!

Monday, April 19, 2010

The way of the cross...

"Foxes have holes,
and birds of the air have nests,
the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head."

Matthew 8:20

This journey is beginning to intensify and it is our deep desire that as this journey shifts into the next stage that we would be drawn more closely to our Savior. That we would identify more deeply with His sufferings as we commit more fully day by day to the way of cross. When Jesus walked this earth he identified deeply with our struggles as humans and it is through His perfect example that we can follow with confidence.

Currently Kyle and I (Jessica) are in the midst of trying to figure out where we will be living in the remaining interim months between here and Liberia. We have to divide all of our stuff into categories; store, yardsale, trash, ebay/craigslist/, burn in effigy, etc...Then there is the financial end of all of this. Questions continuously loom about our funding and how it is all going to come together in the end. It is all a bit overwhelming and at times supremely uncomfortable, but it is they way of the cross which is rocky and uncertain at times. All I can say is that each day that we choose to trust and follow God's call our faith is increased that HE WILL BE FAITHFUL.

I would encourage everyone reading this blog to read Matthew 8:18-22 because it is such a clear picture of how our lives should be lived. Jesus' statements cut to the core of the matter. If you choose to follow Him be prepared because it requires courage and sacrifice. Kyle and I aren't special. We are all called to the Words of Jesus in Matthew 8. If we step into the truth found in that passage God will do things that we never imagined with our lives. I am more confident of that every day. Thanks for following this blog...but follow Christ harder...

Peace Friends,
Jessica (and Kyle)

Friday, April 16, 2010


A quick head's up to those of you who are reading this and are really confused. We started the 25 Countdown to showcase all of our favorite places/things/etc. about Western NC. There are 25 of them because at the beginning that was the approximate number of weeks until we set sail for Liberia. Each Friday I update with this week's Top 25 (in no particular order) feature. Today we present #20...

#20: Pritchard Park

Free entertainment or public nuisance...ok, the verdict is still out...However, in what other city can you find a park (by park I mean brick, triangular amphitheater-like structure) that is surrounded by Urban Outfitters (recent addition), Tupelo Honey (a future Top 25 award recipient), a comedy club, art galleries and more eclectic loitering than almost anywhere in the U.S.? People watchin' your thing? Well, wait till you get a load of this...Pritchard Park, right in the heart of downtown Ashevegas is a mecca of eclecticism, homelessness : ( and general tourism...not to mention the greatest drum circle just about anywhere...

Now, I know that there are some Ashevillians that are going to whole-heartedly disagree with me about the placement of Pritchard Park anywhere near the other 24 items on the list. However, I would encourage you to look at this list not as a list of the usual about Asheville but as a list of the UN-usual...and sometimes downright for that reason we pay homage to the park that is Pritchard...the haven of the homeless...a true opus for the onlooker...a loiter's paradise...Don't believe me? Just look at this photo...typical...

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Opportunities to serve

Through the mighty mystery of internet technology - I (Kyle) had the chance to speak with the Director of EQUIP Liberia this evening. Aside from being envious of Western North Carolina's weather- he shared with me two pressing needs for their work in Liberia. I told him that I would spread the word about the two positions that they are actively looking for - so to the blog we go!

EQUIP Liberia is in search of a Financial Accounts Manager to serve for a year in Liberia. Duration would last for at least one year and would require you to start ASAP. This is a supported position (i.e; paid) and requires a background/degree in finance,business administration, accounting or similar training. Experience in the financial administration world would be a big plus - but if you're interested, feel free to send me an Email. There are many more details than what I mentioned here - if you think you might fit AND you want to be apart of God's work in transforming hearts and lives in Liberia in the name of Christ contact me.

Also - EQUIP Liberia is looking for a Gender Based Violence (GBV) program manager. This position will be responsible for the management of the GBV program that seeks justice for women who have been affected by GBV. If you know what this is then there is a good chance you might be interested. This position is also supported. If your interested, please Email me for more information.

Lighting up the night sky...or not...

Do you see that dark blob on the Northwest Coast of Africa? You just found Liberia.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Devil is in the Details...

Well, the Hoovers are currently trying to soak up every bit of Spring here in Ashevegas. Over the weekend we spent time out and about at our favorite locations around town. Keep following Friday's 25 countdown for more of these favorites in the coming weeks.

Along with the beauty of Spring we are beginning to encounter more and more details that have to be worked out and questions that require an answer on this road to Liberia. As they (you know "they" the group that is the world's authority on everything!) say "the devil is in the details." When you are thinking about packing up your life and moving to the third world in theory the details don't occur to you. However, when you are in the thick of things the details can be overwhelming.

The temptation is to just drown in the details. To move or not to move (our lease on our current apartment is up soon)? What to keep, what to sell, what to give to my brother who is circling like a hawk for our memory foam mattress topper (j/k John). When do we quit our jobs? How is this all going to happen? Thus, goes the downward spiral into anxiety and despair. Our Heavenly Father is steadfast in the face of these questions. He gently reaches down and plucks us from anxiety and despair. After all we aren't the one's doing this work anyway, He is...what a relief!

Also, Kyle and I have been dreaming about Africa. It is a bit weird to dream of a place that you have never been. However, I like to think it is the Lord's way of easing us in to our new home away from home. Nonetheless, as most of my dreams go they are not "normal" so to speak. Anyone who knows me should be well aware of my bizarro world dreams that happen just about every night. Last night I dreamed about a monkey in Liberia that attached itself to my arm. It had a mouth like one of those crazy monsters from Sesame Street that have the plunger things for mouths (you know the "one of these things is not like the other one" monsters) and it kept shooting spiders at me. Kyle says that what I saw in my dream isn't real. Well, if we get off of the plane and one of those plunger mouthed spider monkies jump on me I am going to be really angry.

Praying through the details,

Jessica (and Kyle)

Friday, April 9, 2010


#21: 88.7 WNCW

So #21 is actually not a physical location although arguably Studio B on the campus of Isothermal Community College (where 88.7 is broadcast out of) is an actual location. If you live in Western NC and have any interest in music that doesn't make the Top 40 then WNCW is the remedy. Kyle calls me a music snob, which is true, but he also really likes WNCW so he has no room to talk. You can hear bluegrass back to back with Afro-Caribbean much good local/indie music so little time. I call it adventure radio. Plus it is one of our local NPR stations which plays World Cafe as well as other NPR favorites. Enough talk about WNCW, listen for yourself here

You can also pick up WNCW in:
Charlotte @ 100.3
Greenville @ 97.3
Boone @ 92.9
Wilkesboro @ 90.9

Happy Listening Folks,
Jessica (and Kyle)

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Prayer Guide

Our friend Melanie posted an excellent guide for those wanting to pray for overseas missionaries. You can check her out over at her blog The Tales of Thai Currie. I thought I would repost it on our site for those of you who will be supporting us with prayer throughout this journey. I know it can sometimes be difficult to know specifically how to pray so I hope this will be of some assistance and serve as a general guide.

MONDAY-Missionary’s Ministry

TUESDAY-Missionary’s Family

WEDNESDAY-Missionary’s Relationship with Fellow Workers

THURSDAY-Missionary’s Place of Service

FRIDAY-Missionary’s Ability to Communicate

SATURDAY-Missionary’s Physical Needs

SUNDAY-Missionary’s Spiritual Life

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

Recent photo not us...gotta insert the goofy somewhere

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Ladies night!

Although we had to drive back to Asheville on the wings of the night we were thrilled to spend Monday evening with the Women's Missionary group at Rolesville Baptist Church. We love to share about our heart for missions and the work ahead in Liberia and these ladies (as well as a few gentlemen) were all ears. I meant to take some pictures to post but as usual my mind went elsewhere and photos of the event were an afterthought.

Thank you to everyone that attended the meeting last night! We were so blessed by your generosity in all areas! I have been so blessed by my grandmother's support and enthusiasm for our work in Liberia. She helped put on the meeting and introduced Kyle and myself. It was great to see her taking such an active part in this process alongside us.

I was especially blessed by one of the ladies that hugged me as we left and told me not to fear that we would have much prayer support behind our work. I have no doubt that this precious lady will be taking us to the Lord on a regular basis! What a very humbling blessing.

Due to our late night drive we had a difficult time getting out of bed this morning. The Birthday boy (Happy Birthday Kyle!) wished that everyone got their birthdays as a holiday. So if you get a chance wish him a "HAPPY BIRTHDAY!"

Thanks for following all that the Lord is doing in our lives and along the road of this journey.

Peace friends,
Jessica (and Kyle)

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Resurrection --> Great Commission

Happy Resurrection Day! I was overwhelmed today as I read the Resurrection account in a couple of the different Gospels. The Resurrection is a call for celebration and for action. Read through the Resurrection account today and then keep going further in the Scriptures. What you will find is the Great Commission. Coincidence? I think not.

Friday, April 2, 2010

#22 on the countdown

How are we at #22 already? The Asheville/WNC favorite thing's salute marches on!
#22: Filo

Part coffee shop, part patisserie, part Greek pantheon of goodness...Do you get the point? I like Filo! When we moved across town to where we live now I was so sad because we wouldn't have any cute shops within walking distance. Not so my friends! From the outside Filo is very odd. It sticks out because it is unlike any of the other surrounding buildings. So when I walked inside and found it to be a cafe' that felt as if it was straight out of Europe I was more than a little surprised.

Let me list my favorite things about Filo:
Chocolate Bread
Local art
Good coffee and tea
Soup (a different one each day)
Cakes, cookies, beignets, etc

Filo is a jewel among jewels. I will miss it deeply and will probably spend the rest of my life trying to find something equitable everywhere else we live.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Ears to hear...

John 15: 15-17 "No longer do I call you servants for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends; for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give it to you. These things I command you , so that you will love one another. "

Today I got to talk with a wonderful "old" friend. I didn't ask if I could write about her on this blog so I won't use her name, but I will say that this friend is such a wonderful example of how we should serve and trust our faithful Savior each and every day well into old(er) age. She has been such a sweet encouragement each time Kyle and I have shared with her and her husband about our plans to work in missions. Today was no different.

Our conversation was brief, but as I have learned over the years that it is sometimes the brief conversations and passing words from a fellow believer that can make the most difference. As we have been going through the process of support raising we have received much needed advice, warnings, encouragements, etc. One of the primary things that comes up again and again is to not be surprised when large portions of our needs aren't met until the last minute. Well, that just sets my stomach to churning. I don't want to have to have that kind of faith.

She shared with me a story about a missionary couple that did not have the money to buy their plane tickets on the day that they had planned to leave for the field. Nonetheless, they packed up all of their belongings and went to the airport. They waited there until someone walked up to them with an envelope with the funds they needed to buy their tickets. Listening to this story I realized that it isn't that I don't believe that God can provide. I am just not sure that I have the faith to pack all of my stuff up and wait. I've heard stories like that a million times. What I realized today is that I believe that God will fulfill His part of the story, but I am a little wary of being the one in the story. It means that I am not in control.

I can say this on behalf of both myself and Kyle, pray that we would be willing to give that control over to the Lord. He is sufficient.

Thanks sweet friend for allowing the Lord to use you to reveal the hard spots in my heart.
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