Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Baby John Doe

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

Long Days, Short Nights

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

When Thanksgiving Finds You

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

Dollar, Dollar Bills, Ya’ll


These are Liberian dollars. Impressed with our riches yet?

The first person to correctly guess the amount of money in U.S. dollars that is pictured above will win a personalized pair of Liberian bottle cap earrings.


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Grocery Shopping

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. DSCN2550

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

Into the Bush

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

Made in the Image of God

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

Snakes on a Plane

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

Speechless Wednesday

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

Home Sweet Home

Welcome to our home! We really like our new place. Our humble abode has just the right amount of space. We have running water (for bathing) and a well pump (for drinking) right outside our door! That is luxury!

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

Upcountry Living

Finally "home"! We made it to Ganta on Thursday evening and were welcomed with a big dinner by our new neighbors/coworkers! Our home is part of a compound adjacent to a leprosy and TB rehab community. We refer to it simply as "rehab" and is run by Italian nuns. The sisters are just precious and we really couldn't ask for better landlords!

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

Waiting Game

Uncertainty is the name of the game.

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

Too Plenty!

It seems since I (Kyle) haven't had a chance to check the email in a week or so (not so bad mind you) I was given the chance to blog for Monday. For the past week I have been supervising the concrete work for a second floor roof addition for the Waines home in Monrovia. To put it gently - things are not built here like they are in the States. Concrete forms are not made out of steel and well cut wood. They are made out of wahwah and bush poles....which work well! In addition to materials - how workers "think" about their work is different as well. Its not about how well things are constructed - but how little work can I do to get paid - wait..maybe its not all that different....

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

Stating the Obvious

We have had many interesting Liberian experiences thus far. Way more than we have time to share on the blog. However, here is a quick interaction that should bring a few laughs!

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

Happy Thanksgiving!

Yesterday we found out that today is Liberian Thanksgiving! We asked around, but we've gotten few details on what goes on during Liberian Thanksgiving! All we know is that it is a holiday and kids are out of school and people are off of work. Some told us that they go to church, eat and then do nothing.

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

1st Blog Post from Liberia!

First things first:
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
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