Monday, January 31, 2011

Officially Monday

Officially at the 3 month mark.

Officially “some” rain has returned (not full on rainy season just the occasional rain to knock the dust off)

Officially seeing a little bit of a slow down from the crazy pace of a couple of weeks ago. A little bit of a slow down…

Officially almost through with Season 2 of House…We officially love Chinese bootleg DVDs.

Officially 30,000+ refugees in Nimba County according to UNHCR.

Last week was busy, but we ended the week with our monthly staff meeting. That is when almost all of the EQUIP Liberia staff come to Ganta for a 3 day meeting of the minds. We talk about the previous month and usually laugh a good bit. It’s a strange/funny/interesting/unpredictable time. It’s meeting in which someone’s chair being taken can result in a 2 hr. long side meeting about chair etiquette. If you ever doubted Liberian’s ability to argue and discuss completely banal things well, just come over for a staff meeting. All I can say is “WOW!”  We eat Liberian food for lunch- rice and greens, pumpkin soup…It’s pretty good. It’s 3 days of surprise every time! I would have taken pictures, but my camera batteries died. Sorry-o

We’re going to go out into the field some this week- hopefully! We’ve had a lot of issues with our vehicles, meaning…

 Too much work + Not enough vehicles = Difficulty in getting stuff done!

Although, word on the street is that there is a new truck in Monrovia! WAHOO!

I’m keeping the Monday update short this week…officially short…

God is officially good. Liberia is officially hot. We are officially blessed.

Weekly Prayer Needs:

Pray for our sanity.

Pray for continued good health.

Pray for our use of time and resources.

Pray for our marriage to grow and be a light to all around us.


Saturday, January 29, 2011

Hero Worship

In a world where 16 year old pop singers are glorified for their cool hair and slick dance moves and professional athletes can shoot up drugs,  hit home runs and still land on the cover of major magazines as World’s Best fill in the blank we have to ask ourselves “Why them?”

Why do we glorify sin and exalt worldly fame?

Why do we pick these people out to lift up above the rest?

Don’t get me wrong. I can watch Entertainment Tonight with the best of em’  (guilty as charged- except not right now- Liberia’s lack of electricity and t.v. stations limit my ET watching) and I know that I am preaching to the choir as many of you that read this blog could care less about pop stars, athletes and reality t.v., but my point is who aren’t we lifting up? I could name hundreds (probably thousands) of movie stars, t.v. starts, pro-athletes, and journalists, but I’m scraping the barrel to name as many mothers and fathers of the faith! This is sad because I would like to think of myself as someone relatively well-read.

In our down-time here we don’t have a whole lot to do past sleeping, watching bootleg Chinese DVDs, and reading. Our friends, the Mabrys, (Thanks again Zach, Rocky and Parker) blessed us with a kindle before we left for Liberia and we have enjoyed the many books that we’ve been able to read. Hauling 25 pounds of books to the interior of Liberia was not an option and anyone who knows Kyle and I knows that we love books! We’ve had plenty to read here which as been a huge blessing and escape after hard days!

Lately I’ve poured over books about Christian homesteaders in the American West, pioneer missionaries to West Africa and Puritan women in Colonial America. Their wisdom, their faith, the reality of how God met them at every step, it’s inspiring. It’s a breath of fresh air in a world that glorifies acts of independence and self-aggrandizement rather than acts of obedient trust to God. These men and women were obedient, humble servants of a God they knew as faithful and mighty to save. Their lives didn’t point to themselves, but always to God and His work in this world.

A little different from this present world, eh? (I threw the “eh?” in for our Canadian readers)

Reading about the first missionaries to travel to the depths of West African jungles and Indian shores is well…rather thrilling! Depictions of their adventures were read like dime store novels by many faithful Christians during the 1800s. After David Livingstone’s death hundreds of Christians applied to work on foreign mission fields the world over. Their work on the field was full of brushes with danger, sometimes fatal disease and above all proclaiming the Word of God to the heathen! (Ok, I had to say that because ever book says it). They were essentially rock stars!

As I’ve spent time learning from the lives of these saints gone before I’ve realized that none of them want to be seen as heroes. Though their stories were thrilling fodder for many Christian’s hearts their hearts were set on a higher prize.

 One that many of them would die on the field preaching and proclaiming.

I don’t think we can say as much for our modern day “heroes”.  Everything about being a celebrity is about self. Everything about the lives of the saints I’m talking about was about pointing towards the real hero. The true champion. The only “person” worthy of praise…Jesus, the Christ, the Son of the Living God. Everyone in the world is guilty of some type of “hero worship”. We’re wired to worship. I believe that the saint’s gone before were worshipping the true “Hero”.

So here we are missionaries in a foreign land. Not heroes of the faith by any means just regular people who’ve chosen to follow Christ’s call. We aren’t quite the pioneers that David Livingstone or Mary Slessor of Calabar (google them!) were here in the heart of Africa. No one reads this blog for the thrill of it all. (Although it is interesting to think what those pioneers might have wrote if they had internet access!) All we really know is that like those that have gone before us, those that have paved roads of faith into the deepest jungle,  we want to be pointing towards the Hero. Our Champion. Our Lord and Savior. That is pioneering. That is daring in this present world. It isn’t cannibals and heathen savages. It’s God’s love made manifest in our own lives for our good and His glory.

You don’t have to be a missionary on the foreign field to practice this kind of “Hero Worship”.  You just have to readjust your heart to worship the only hero worth our praise and worship.

FYI: His name doesn’t start with “Justin” and end with “Bieber”

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Community Case Management Program Goes Beyond Helping the Under Five population

Below is a recent story from EQUIP Liberia’s blog. Thousands of Community Health Volunteers are tackling their communities’ health problems each day all over Nimba county!

Esther Yeaney is a newly trained general Community Health Volunteer. Selected not only because she is one of the few women in her community that has achieved a grade 6 education, but also because of her compassion and concern for the health of her community. Her first training was on diarrhea and dehydration Community Case Management (CCM) sponsored by USAID/Rebuilding Health Services in Liberia (RBHS) in partnership with Equip Liberia, back in May 2010. gCHVstory

In September, Esther received further training in Community Case Management of malaria and Acute Respiratory Infections. Esther is well respected in her community of Zahn Boie. “I can be called at any time, “she says, “Sometimes late in the night, but that is what I was trained for.

“I can be called at any time,” she says,

Sometimes late in the night, but that is what I was trained for.”

As the supervisory team looks through Esther’s detailed patient ledger, we see that that she is thorough and accurate. Esther saw 39 cases of suspected malaria (32 cases which proved to be positive through Rapid Diagnostic Test - RDT) and 8 cases of diarrhea within a 3 week period.Esther not only advocates on behalf of the under 5 population in her community but she has been encouraging pregnant women to go to the clinic for antenatal care, IPT and safe delivery.

When a gCHV diarrhea refresher training was happening in Bunadin, she escorted Ma Alice, who was in early labor, to the Bunadin Clinic. Ma Alice delivered a healthy baby boy at the clinic, but when complications developed post delivery, our Equip vehicle was ready to conduct her quickly to the Methodist Hospital for emergency obstetrical care. Esther Yeaney, encouraged her and supported her through the process. Without Esther’s advocacy, another maternal tragedy may have occurred in Nimba County.

Story submitted by Audry Waines, EQUIP Liberia

Monday, January 24, 2011

Three Months In

This week hails the three month mark for us. As of the end of this coming week we will have officially been in country for 3 whole months. We feel like we hardly have time to catch our breath these days and we’re amazed at how quickly three months has passed.

Last week flew by and then we had the weekend to recuperate. The refugee crisis continues, but we feel as if maybe things are shaking out a bit as far our EQUIP Liberia’s role in the situation. At least this is what we hope. Kyle made a trip out to the site that will eventually be the refugee camp. He is sighting potential well sites using some fancy equipment on loan from another NGO. That provided a good break for Kyle from meetings and desk work!

I’ve (Jessica) been hard at work distributing “Mama Kits”. I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned this project before, but it is a project that I am responsible for here. We provide a kit, with essential post-partum and baby items, at each of our clinics that encourage rural women to come in and have their babies in their local medical facilities with trained midwives. This past week I continued to pack and send out kits to our clinics in order to increase the rates of women giving birth in our facilities. I don’t pack these bags on my own, oh no! I recruit help!


My friends (from left to right) Vivien, Martilene, and little Amy helped me pack roughly 100 kits. The kits are on the floor behind them in the picture!

Weird Alert:

Sorry to interrupt the regularly scheduled Monday update, but something important and of global significance has come up. On the road back from Saclepea the other day we stopped at a village market along the roadside. Continuously in the hunt for good fruit and butter pear (avocado, remember from the “Name that Fruit”?) we felt this was a good idea. We hop out of the car and begin to peruse the stacks of fresh pineapple. When what to our wondering eyes should appear? Stacks of dried, dead bats! Yes, bats, not the wooden thing you hit a baseball with, the creepy bird/rat animal. They eat them some places in the bush. FREAKY! I didn’t get a picture because unfortunately my camera was in the bottom of  my backpack and my backpack was behind a seat…sorry to be anticlimactic and void of a photo. FREAKY nonetheless!

We now return you to your regularly scheduled blog…already in progress…

As we enter in to the fourth month of being here we are trusting that God is going to continue to stretch us. Kyle is ready to begin digging more wells before dry season ends! His WATSAN team has done impressive work in the past two months and they have much work ahead of them, but God has blessed EQUIP Liberia with the funding to continue to expand water and sanitation projects across all of the communities we work in. Pray for Kyle as he trains his team to go into these communities and provide the gift of water.

Over the next month I will be planning trainings on managing victims of sexual violence in the clinic setting and reproductive health. These are week long trainings for certified midwives and the heads of our clinics. Pray that all will go smoothly and that the Lord will provide opportunity in these trainings for hope and healing for many.

We have 9 months stretching our before us, but we know that isn’t that long in reality. It will fly by in a blink and before we know it we will be hopping a plane back across the Atlantic, shaking our heads at the year behind us.  Pray that we will live right here in the moment. This moment of all that God has given us here in Liberia.


Weekly Prayer Needs:

Pray for our health and energy! We’ve been really blessed with good health thus far, but long days equal exhaustion!

Pray for Kyle as he is pulled in 100 different directions.

Pray for us as we work to find time for one another during super busy weeks.

Pray for us as we work to enter fully into the ministry opportunities we have before us.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

charity:water partners with EQUIP Liberia


EQUIP Liberia is partnering with charity:water to expand Water and Sanitation all over Nimba county! We were pleased to see EQUIP Liberia’s work featured on charity:water’s blog! Kyle is super excited about another year of funding from charity:water. charity: water’s support allows EQUIP to train WATSAN technicians as well as provide community based sanitation efforts.

Read about charity:water’s visit to Liberia on their blog! Link below!

charity:water blogs about EQUIP Liberia’s WATSAN projects!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Special Reminder: It’s Monday

In case you had forgotten. Yes, that drowsy feeling and the lack of energy or desire to work signifies that it is indeed a Monday. Yes, having a “Case of the Mondays” is a worldwide epidemic.

On to other business. We are all moved out of our 1st Ganta home and into our 2nd, more spacious, less outfitted, but still livable Ganta home.

As promised here are some pictures:


Our daybed lounging area. Complete with mosquito net.


Make shift kitchen. Unfortunately this place doesn’t have a built in kitchen. We’re making do. So far we’ve had black beans (a Hoover staple), Burger night (with the last of the ground beef from Monrovia), and the infamous flat bread pizzas.


Our kitchen table/multi-purpose workspace. Note the lappa with hens and baby chicks.


Bathroom, we are proud to say that the toilet seats in this place are actually attached to the toilet. Major improvement!


We hung a little art. Our friend Jerry is running for office in his district. He’s already the unofficial mayor so I think this is a step in the right direction for him. He will be what Barack Obama never could be, except in Liberia. In case you can’t read the sign says,

 “G. Jerry S. Tompoe,

The Vision for the People,

The Leader for the People’s Heart!”

We know Jerry. We are inclined to say this is true. By the way one of Jerry’s twin daughters is my name sake. Yes, he informed me of this last time I saw him.

Sorry about the lack of pictures of the bedroom. The space is great, but I couldn’t get in shots to do it justice, but believe me it is more than adequate.

What about last week? Did we do anything other than move?

Our colleagues got back which was a relief and a welcome change. Patti’s bags finally made it which meant a small package from home! Thanks Mom for sending along a card, skirts, a movie and lots uh love.

Refugees are still here. They probably aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. Please continue to pray for us as we work to provide assistance to Ivorians and Liberian’s in need. I plan to do an update on the work and situation very soon, like later this week, so watch for it.

I wish I could show you how hard Kyle’s team of men are working to respond to the refugees as well as all of the normal work they would be doing. His WATSAN guys are some of the hardest workers we’ve met here in Liberia. Kyle really desires to build their knowledge and capacity to care for the needs of their own people.

We’ve also been “working” with some of the young leprosy/TB fellas. We are praying about how to provide financial planning training/discipleship/practical skills with them. It isn’t easy because there are a lot of negative cultural beliefs and practices that permeate the way these guys behave and respond to the “white man”. Pray that we would be firm and sensitive to the needs of these young men.

We have a new doctor, a Mr. Chris Carpenter,  coming to work with EQUIP. He arrived in Monrovia Sunday evening. He’s making his Ganta debut sometime in the next couple of weeks! His sole role will be to address refugee health needs. WAHOO! We are so happy to have him coming. Read his blog, Backpacks and Stethoscopes, to find out more about what he will be up against in the coming weeks!

The week stretches out before us and if we’ve learned anything we have learned that Liberia is full of surprises. Almost three months in we know that for sure!

Weekly Prayer Needs:

Pray for us as we work long days and have short nights!

Pray for us as we actively try to disciple and teach God’s Word through our words and actions to those around us.

Pray for our attitudes to be guided by the Holy Spirit.

Pray that our marriage would be growing and healthy despite exhaustion and little time for one another.

Pray that we would be steadfast in our personal walk with Christ.


Friday, January 14, 2011

Movin’ Out! (Another Billy Joel Reference)

We’ve moved. Yes, one whole door down. Still in the same compound. Still with the same neighbors…still under the provision of Sister Augusta and the other miscellaneous, sweet as they can be nuns…just one door down from the old place. They tell us “Auntie Betty is coming” (said in my best Italian nun voice) and we’ve been livin’ in Auntie Betty’s place.

I would share our change of address, but as we’ve already discussed mail doesn’t come here. I’ll post pictures later, but I have to say after all my whining and belly aching about having to move I think we will like this place better than our old in the long term. It’s spacious, has two bathrooms, and extra beds that we’ve made into our lounging area. Fancy pants!

Last night we spent our first night in the new digs. We had black beans and rocked out to the Black Crowes. All in all a good homecoming.

Pictures to come!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Welcome Back!


Our Liberian friends love to welcome people! This sign was made by the Health Staff in the office for my friend Kristen’s return!

In case you can’t read it:

“Welcome, What a blessed day to see a sister, a mother and a friend back after a long break. Sister Kristen, Medical Department says you are whole heartedly welcome, your Town Town, Bonlay, Bunadin, etc. await you. Happy New Year!"

I want to go away and come back just so we can have signs like this one made for us!

Monday, January 10, 2011

How Many Ways Can You Say “Monday Update”

Last week was the first “official” week back in the EQUIP office after the holidays. We’ve spent many “unofficial” days at the office and working all over Nimba county throughout the holidays. Needless to say last week was a busy one!

Kyle is very popular around the office. I’ll leave it at that. You can just call him “Mr. Moneybags”. We had expected our colleagues from the States to be back this week, but unfortunately a luggage problem kept them detained in Monrovia. So we’ve continued to hold down the fort here in Ganta.

The fort is hurtin’…we need them to get back!

Our friends Steve and Sandy are here from Atlanta, Georgia. They do ongoing ministry in Saclepea through their ministry, West Africa Crossroads. EQUIP runs a Health Center in Saclepea so we are familiar with the area. Please pray for them as they spend the month of January ministering and working Saclepea.

In the past week Kyle and I have started considering some new and different ministry opportunities. We’ve told you about the TB/Leprosy Rehab hospital/community that our compound is adjacent too. We have had the opportunity to get to know many of the young men that have received treatment or who have come with family members that are receiving treatment to live in the community. Many of them are struggling to pay their school fees and financially provide for their families (many of them live with parents or grandparents that are disabled). The people in the Rehab community, including these young men, have used their skills as artists and wood workers to make items to sell. Carvings, baskets, earrings, they are really talented guys. The only problem is that they would like to sell their things, but don’t have much of a market here in Ganta and let’s be honest Kyle and I can only buy so many baskets. Also, many of them have come asking us for school fees, business start-up money, etc. We don’t just want to give them a hand out. We passionately believe in breaking that cycle here in Liberia and empowering the people, particularly young men, to make wise decisions about money and plans for the future. We are prayerfully considering how to help train them to manage their finances wisely and according to God’s Word and get their products into the hands of interested buyers. We’ll definitely be writing more about this project here on the blog as God opens doors.

Here’s some of the goods that we’ve snagged from our Rehab friends:


Baskets, super practical and really well made!


Carvings- (left) a traditional Liberian guitar (right) what they call the “Hand of Authority” or a hand holding an egg. I’ll let Kyle explain that some other time.


Up close of one of the baskets.

I’ll post more pictures of their crafts along the way.

In other news…

There is no end in sight to the refugee situation. Each day new reports come out of the Ivory Coast, but none of the reports sound like they are heading towards a resolution. Continue to pray for us as we work day and night to meet the needs of those affected along Liberia’s eastern border.

We will finally make our move to the rooms next door to live. We aren’t exactly excited about this, but we are making it work! We will share pictures once we get moved.

Weekly Prayer Needs:

Pray for rest in the midst of extreme busyness!

Pray for the unfolding of ministry opportunities among the Rehab community.

Pray for us as we travel this week. We are trying improve the infrastructure of our clinics which means going 5-6 hours away from Ganta to reach them all.

Pray for our co-workers as they return from vacation. Pray that we can be salt and light as we work alongside them.

Pray for our relationship with those we live with here at the Rehab compound. If you’ve ever lived in an apartment complex you know that their can be conflict…this is kind of similar…kind of…

Pray for our friends Steve and Sandy as they minister in Saclepea for the month of January!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Liberian English

Hey Ya’ll

I’m opening with a little Southern English for ya because we’ve got a confession to make. We sound like the biggest weirdos and we can’t make it stop. Most of you have gathered by now that among the cultural adjustments we’ve had to make one thing we have not had to do is learn a new language…well…sort of…

You see we were told over and over again before coming here that Liberians speak English, save some random tribal languages and and the occasional visitor (ok, we didn’t count on refugees) from the Ivory Coast or Guinea that speak French. The truth is , yes, Liberian’s speak English. The slight lie behind that is that they run all their words together and add “Oh” to the end of EVERYTHING. Everyone said, “Give it six weeks and you’ll understand Liberian English!” We gave it six weeks and we can now say that not only do we understand Liberian English we have had almost mastered the art of speaking it and we sound ridiculous.

Kyle can’t turn it off.

I can turn it off…sometimes…

So head’s up on when we return home. We sound ridiculous, but the truth is…you’ll love it!


Wednesday, January 5, 2011

No Christmas Cards in Liberia...Except!

It was difficult being away from home for the holidays. Especially when you get "cards" from family like this one. A little explanation is needed- Kyle's mom calls us her "Roaming Gnomes" hence the gnome statue, the flag I hope you will recognize as Liberia's and finally all the names are from the Hoover side of the family. Needless to say this put a big smile on our face!

Monday, January 3, 2011

First Post of the Year!

2011 is here...for a whole year.

We welcomed the New Year in by calling family and friends to taunt them about living in the past. After all there aren't that many perks when you live in Liberia. Hitting the New Year 5 hours before our friends and family qualifies as one in this perk-less place.

Kyle was pretty well worn out by New Year's Eve so we laid low (as if there was anything else to do) and have spent more time around our little house than we did in the whole previous two months combined! We learned that indeed we will have to move into the space next door in the coming weeks...bummer...but all in God's plan and good timing. It will be an adjustment as the next door space is not equipped with a real kitchen, but we will make do.

Today everyone returns to work at EQUIP Liberia. Our colleagues that went home for the holiday should be making their way back to Liberian shores and boy are we glad! There is a lot of work ahead between refugees and regular EQUIP work, but that is what we came here to do so we are happy to be back to a regular schedule.

I'm gonna leave it at that for this week...I've got the whole year to ramble on about our Liberian adventures. Next week, once my new computer is here, I think I might just catch everyone up via pictures. I'm still yet to post holiday pictures...sorry...I'm a bad person. Pray for me...

No, really pray for me/us...

Weekly Prayer Needs:

Pray for the work ahead! Between refugees and regular work we are going to be scrambling!

Pray for peace in Ivory Coast- The situation continues to deteriorate.

Pray for our safety and protection as we travel.

Pray that our health would be protected. Liberia is not super conducive to good health.

Pray that ministry opportunities would continue to grow and be revealed to us in our daily work. Pray that we would be bold to take advantage of those opportunities.

Pray for our relationships with those we work with and live with. (we share a compound with six other people.)

Pray for us as we move into our new little "home".
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