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!)