Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Good Internet = New Videos!

Well, I’ve raved and raved about the great internet we had in Monrovia this past weekend! It was doubly amazing because it allowed me to upload some videos! So take a look at the handful of short videos that I’ve taken since we’ve been here!  I’m no Steven Spielberg so don’t be surprised when you see the quality and lack of cinematographic vision- sorry Bryce.

International Hoover’s super duper awesome youtube channel!


I give the videos two thumbs up!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Weekend Away

Over the weekend we made a break for it to Monrovia. Kyle’s eyes were beginning to look glassy and I feared I was losing him to the dark side. It was time for a little R&R. We’re feeling much better- amazing what hot water and internet that moves faster than a tree sloth can do for the soul!

Last week was an interesting week. Kyle went to the village where they are transporting refugees to the camp (they call it a way station) to oversee the installation of an emergency water system. Can anyone else put “emergency water system installation” on their resume? Didn’t think so!

I spent a couple of days in maternity ward of Saclepea Comprehensive Health Center (SCHC) and got to see a couple of births and work with some expectant moms! I have to say that I was incredibly impressed with the midwives at SCHC. They have been doing this for years and I learned a lot just watching them. Just my element! Also exciting news is that I was able to finish all requirements to submit for certification with DONA International as a birth doula! I will FINALLY be certified! Kyle is happy about this because he thinks the hoops that I have had to jump through are ABSOLUTELY ridiculous- in some ways he is right…but it’s what you do! Soon and very soon I can put CD(DONA) behind my name…Ahhhhhhh….

We’re headed back up to our Ganta home either today (Monday) or Tuesday morning. We hop right back into the thick of things. The majority of the refugee influx has moved to the south (another county is now being heavily impacted) as fighting has moved south towards the capital of Cote d’Ivoire. The situation in Ivory Coast is increasingly desperate and civil war is imminent. The international press is giving little to no attention to the situation in light of Libya, Japan and the riots in the Middle East.

It’s hard to remember in the midst of all of that is going on in the world that God is always, eternally, now and forever in control. Through our time here in Liberia we have been reminded how little control we have over this world. It’s easy to think in the perceived safety of our daily lives, routines and schedules that we exert some little tidbit of control over everything that happens. That is pride folks. Dirty, stinkin’ rotten pride and God hates it. Sorry to be so blunt- but we live with people who have been through decades of civil war. There is no pretense of control here- lots of other issues- but no pretense of control. No, God is the one that has numbered the hairs on our heads and holds everything together. Living here in Liberia we are reminded just how tenuous life is. It is a lesson that I hope Kyle and I won’t soon forget.

So in that light we move forward- trusting that God has us in the palm of His hand. Won’t you trust Him with us?

Weekly Prayer Needs:

Pray for continued rest in the midst of busyness and craziness!

Pray for safety as we travel

Pray for wisdom as we look towards the future

Pray for a vision for ministry that reaches deep into the needs of those we encounter on a daily basis.

Pray for our marriage as we daily seek to honor God through the gift of marriage.


Saturday, March 26, 2011

Liberia: A Neighbour's Help

While the rest of the world's eyes are locked on Libya and the Middle East this is what is going on in the Ivory Coast and Liberia.

Liberia: A Neighbour's Help

Peace Folks,
K & J

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Liberian Dictionary

So by now Kyle and I have been fully immersed in language study. Not language study in the formal sense, but language study in the “What are these people talking about sense?” Liberians speak English, but that is debatable. Listening to Liberian English is a skill. One interesting thing about Liberian English is some of the words used have all but disappeared from American English. Some of the words are strictly made up by Liberians but they somehow make sense.

Here are a few of our favorites:

Constraints: A constraint is anything that keeps you from being able to complete your work. For instance someone said to me the other day when questioned about why something wasn’t done, “You must understand my constraints.” We hear that word a lot.

Embarrassed: Embarrassment is not meant in the same way we mean embarrassed. It means more or less to be challenged by something. You can say things like, “The car embarrassed me this morning when it wouldn’t start.” It’s amazing how many inanimate objects can embarrass Liberians.

Vexed: This is a favorite word of ours. It is the word you used when anyone has really ticked you off. It sounds way nicer than other words that might get used in those situations. We like to think that just as Justin Timberlake was responsible for bringing sexy back a couple of years ago we would like to be the ones to bring vexed back to America.

Gocome: It’s as simple as this: I am going somewhere and then I will come right back. “I will gocome to the bank, ok?”

Add these to your Liberian English dictionary and before you know it you’ll be as confused as we are about what our Liberian friends are saying! We’ll add more words to this “dictionary” as they come to our mind.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Mouse in the House on a Monday

Top of the Mornin’ to Ya! (said in my best leprechaun voice- sorry we missed St. Patrick’s Day)

Hope that Monday in North America is all you ever dreamed it could be. Phhhhhhttttttttt…..yeah, right.

We’re sleepin’ off the week and heeding God’s command to take a day of rest as I write this. Problem is we need more than one day of rest. When I say “we” I mean Kyle. Kyle is exhausted from work and playing mean tricks on me. What is that you say? Kyle? Play tricks on you? No. Never. It just can’t be. Yes, mean tricks on his gorgeous, hard working, intelligent, incredibly forgiving wife.

Picture the scene:

I’m walking across our front yard with arms full of brooms, mops, household cleaners with my heart, mind and muscles set to destroy that black icky stuff growing in our shower. Kyle, walking to the car, passes me by with a smile and sweetly says there is a surprise for me in the house. Awwwwww, my husband in the midst of exhaustion and stress has taken the time to remember his (insert description from the end of the previous paragraph) wife. He gets in the car because his work for the week is not yet through and he must continue on to the far reaches of Nimba County, my knight…sigh….I rush to the front door, unlock it with trembling hands, dropping the broom and mop. I enter the room eyes scanning for a glimpse of my surprise! Then I see it...lying supine on the floor, nose pointed to the ceiling.

WARNING: The following photos may induce panic attacks in those of you that suffer from musophobia (fear of mice).



My surprise was a dead mouse.

Not really what I was hoping for. Panic attacks are not good surprises…ironically enough. The panic didn’t come from the dead mouse. No, the mouse was not the problem. It was the unknown killer of the dead mouse. Is it me or does it seem weird that a mouse would die mid-stride in the middle of the floor? My first thought was a snake! As you recall we had a snake in our house about a week after getting here, but Kyle reminded me that the snake would have eaten the mouse. Then I thought maybe it’s a spider! If it was the spider left no marks and disappeared into the ether (otherwise known as our ceiling). So that leaves a short list of ways that the mouseketeer could have died; a health issue (I’ve heard heart disease is the #1 leading cause of death in mice- all that cheese and peanut butter they steal off of mouse traps) or a tragic accident. I guess we’ll never know.

That is life in Liberia- dead mice in your house, lizards and spiders ogling you from the walls, disgusting smells that you can’t locate wafting across your olfactory nerves on a near constant basis. Yes, life in Liberia- truly unforgettable. (cue the Nat King Cole)

What else happened last week you might ask? Kyle managed to finish up sighting some new well locations at the 1st refugee camp along with his hundred other responsibilities. I finished up a few projects that I’ve been working on and spent some more time getting to know the kiddos that I’m investing in for my Bible Club of sorts. Martin is still my favorite.

Next week Kyle is headed back out to New Yourpea along the border to finish installing a water system. The rush of refugees has calmed over the last week as the conflict has moved to the south of Nimba, so breathe out and know that it’s still safe for Kyle to go out there. I will be spending some time in the maternity ward at Saclepea Comprehensive Health Center. I am excited to spend some time observing there and hopefully giving some input so that Liberian nurses and midwives can better serve their patients.

God continues to be faithful to us here in Liberia. Though we have had times in recent days that we thought we just couldn’t be stretched any further God always proves one step ahead and endlessly merciful. Isn’t that what this is all about anyway? Glorifying God and enjoying Him forever? Right now is a part of forever so we are living here in Liberia, ministering out of our weakness and trying to live out a life of glorifying and enjoying Him in the here and now forever. Thanks for journeying along with us.

Weekly Prayer Needs:

Pray for our safety as we travel and work.

Pray for rest in the midst of busyness.

Pray for our hearts to be softened to the Word of God.

Pray for those we work with to be softened by the Holy Spirit to the truth of the Gospel.


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Super Cool Guy

This is Sam.


Sam is 5. Sam is wearing Kyle’s Cubs hat and sunglasses. We had to wrestle them away from him. Sam has a constantly ailing foot (sometimes it is because he stepped on a sharp rock, sometimes it is a splinter)- whatever the reason it requires him to wear two different shoes- a flip flop (a slipper as they say here) on the injured foot and a boot on the other foot. Sam is constantly covered in dirt, mud, snot, ya know the stuff 5 year old boys are made of.

He’s got style, he’s got class…

Sam is one super cool guy.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Prayers for Franklin

Remember our friend/driver Franklin? Yeah, the one who eats bats…


Well, take a moment to lift Frankie up to the Lord today. Yesterday he started having trouble walking and then lost the ability to speak- we feared the worst, but this morning found out that he was diagnosed with a bad case of malaria. Scary, but treatable. Cerebral malaria can be nasty, but thankfully there are drugs that can knock it out. Pray that this is all that it is.

Pray for him and his family as he recovers at home.

Monday, March 14, 2011

No Two Days are Alike But Every Day is the Same

Welp, another week has come and gone in northern Liberia. It’s honestly been a blur. A blur of craziness- every day is different, but full of the same problems and hurdles. Liberia is not the place to come if you value doing things in a timely fashion or expect things to go as planned. You will not survive if that is the case. If you don’t believe that ask Kyle- a guy inquired about working here via email the other day and well, Kyle shot him straight- Liberia is not for anyone that can’t go with the flow.

We did have a public holiday on Wednesday- Decoration Day! That is the day that everyone goes and puts flowers on the graves of their loved ones. I actually think that is a day that we could use in America. A day to set aside to remember the one’s we love that have died. Someone want to start a petition for that? Cuz, petitions seem to work so effectively.

Last week I spent some time doing a little field work. By field work I mean playing with kids. I’ve been getting to know the kids that I am starting a Bible Club for and so far my favorite is this little guy named Martin. I don’t have a pictures of him yet because once you break out a camera in front of Liberian kids you have to be prepared to take everyone’s picture…multiple times. But let me offer up a description in lieu of a picture. Martin lives down at Hope for the Nations (rehab for malnourished kiddos) and he has a huge head. Not just huge because of malnourishment issues, but like huge because that is the way he looks- like a funny lookin’ kid (FLK, if you will). Martin, the FLK, has a head the size of an adult, but a body the size of a 3 year old. He’s been malnourished so who knows he might be 17 there is no real way to know for sure, but nonetheless he is one FLK. He is also a funny actin’ kid, the other day when I was having some of the kids help me with a small work project (yes, I do enlist child labor on a regular basis- it’s what missionaries do) and most of the kids are more than eager to help- obnoxiously eager at times- and in walks Martin. Martin, all 3 feet of him, struts around the place (without any pants on mind you) scoping out the work and doing what only can be described as “supervising”. Not once does he make a motion to help or act eager like the other children. Nope, Martin struts around the place, checks out the lay of the land, tips his proverbial hat to me and with a spring in his step exits the building.

I’m in love.

What a man.

Speaking of amazing men, Kyle is hanging on for dear life. Somewhere in the last 4 months he became the person that everyone calls for the answers to life’s most burning questions like, “Mr. Kyle, when are you coming to the office?”, “Mr. Kyle, where is my money for unloading the truck?”, “Mr. Kyle, Mobile 3 needs new bushings…so we need some money.” “Mr. Kyle, Mr. Kyle, Mr. Kyle, MR.KYLE!!!!!” I think God’s preparing him for children…yeah, I’ll stick with that answer.

So that leads us to this week. A week where the only certain thing is that life in Liberia is full of uncertainty…and weird smells…really, there is some weird smell in our house that I can’t find and it is driving me crazy. Arggggghhhhhhh….so pray for us, mmmmkkkkk?

Weekly Prayer Needs:

Pray we maintain sanity.

Pray for rest.

Pray for communion for us as husband and wife and with the Lord.

Pray for us as we minister to those around us who need to be touched by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Pray for vision and purpose as we plan for the next 7 months and beyond.


Friday, March 11, 2011

BBC News Africa

Our friend Tas, a BBC reporter, wrote this story after going out to the field with some of the EQUIP staff. Please don’t be alarmed, neither Kyle or myself was with her!


Read the full story about the Scramble to Flee the Ivory Coast’s Unrest.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Pineapple Under the Sea


You could actually have a roomy home inside of this thing. Kyle found it on his way to the border in one of the many villages that he passed through. He told one of his WATSAN guys, Sackie, that it was as big as he is…Sackie is a small man- but nonetheless.


The pineapple to the left is a “normal” size pineapple. The one to the right is the victim of some type of nuclear experiment. We paid $1.25 (90 Liberian dollars) for this beauty. Now we just have to find a chainsaw to cut it with!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Runnin’ On Empty

In the last week we’ve felt like a pinball machine being shot all around Liberia. Ganta to Monrovia, Ganta to some of the border villages, back to Ganta from Monrovia, back from the border villages only to turn around and go back out. We’re exhausted. Kyle especially.

The situation in Ivory Coast continues to deteriorate and it doesn’t look like our work will be letting up any time soon. UNHCR is establishing a second camp and the rumor is that there could be up to 12 camps established. The total number of refugees in Nimba could be close to 200,000 by the end of the month! We’ve definitely seen the direct effects that it is having on the clinics that we support and the water points that EQUIP is responsible for. Our facilities are stressed and resources are scarce. Please pray for us as we respond to these needs.


EQUIP has been distributing jerry cans for safe water storage among the Liberian host population and the Ivorian refugee population.


Remember the bats? Yeah, this is Frankie, aka Batman. Totally non-refugee related, but still relevant to our life in Liberia- note the sport coat he is rocking on a Monday morning- our drivers are class-eeeee

On a non-refugee note, I (Jessica) had a great time last week taking two of our Liberian staff to Monrovia to do a presentation. Genni and Lawrina are our Reproductive Health Supervisors and they work with traditional midwives in the communities surrounding our 23 health centers and clinics. They are constantly working on strategies to improve the rate at which women give birth safely in the clinic. Their success has been impressive, so impressive that the big wigs with USAID wanted to hear about it! So me and our Medical Coordinator, Kristen took them down to Monrovia to present! They did an amazing job and received extremely high praise from a very tough audience! It was a really proud moment! I wish I had pictures, but in the rush to leave I left my camera here in Ganta- boo-hiss!

So that is a brief overview of the last week- minus the giant spiders and detailed accounts of bumpy car rides and sketchy nights sleeping in illegal gold operations- wait what am I talking about? I’ll safe that for another post…if you’re lucky.

Weekly Prayer Needs:

Pray for our sanity- really it’s quite stressful right now!

Pray for Christ to overflow our hearts and out weigh our stress.

Pray for the current Franklin Graham Festival that Samaritan’s Purse is putting on across the country this month. Pray that it would be a fruitful work that leads to dedicated disciples of Christ.

Pray for rest and refreshment for our bodies, hearts and mind.


Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Looking for a Mission’s Outreach Project?

We’ve got one for you!

One of the greatest needs that we have seen here in Liberia- particularly the rural area that we live in- is the lack of access that the churches have to discipleship materials. There is no Lifeway Christian Store that pastors and church leaders can look to for access to books, curriculums, training materials. It’s hard to imagine that being the case in our American Churches. We have an over abundance of materials. Here in Liberia the materials either have to be made- which requires things like computers/printers/copiers which are expensive and subsequently require electricity (money and electricity- commodities in short supply here) or they have to be donated from outside of Liberia.

Kyle has been in touch with Desiring God- the resource ministry of Pastor/Author/Generally Awesome Guy John Piper- to arrange the shipment of a pastor’s library. My grandmother has taken it upon herself to do a collection at her church of used Sunday School materials. She’s had a really great response and the collection has spread from her Sunday School class to all of the Sunday Schools! The need is for Sunday School/discipleship/pastor’s training books and materials that are in good shape (no writing and intact) and tailored to all ages and education levels.

We spoke with the pastor that heads EQUIP’s Church Empowerment Program, Pastor John Troseh,  and he was very excited and thankful for the possibility of much needed church resources making it here to Nimba County. These resources will provide foundational teaching to encourage churches all over Nimba to reject harmful (sometimes literally) traditional religious practices and cling to the truth of Scripture. What believer doesn’t want to be a part of that? What believer doesn’t want to be a part of providing life changing resources to brothers and sisters in Liberia? Resources that will encourage and strengthen the Body of Christ in Liberia ultimately encourage and strengthen the whole Body. So rummage through your shelves and find your old Sunday School quarterlies or the Teacher’s Guide from the children’s VBS you did 2 years ago and contact us to find out how you can get those materials into the hands of Liberian believers.

If you are interested in getting involved with this project please contact Kyle and I either through the comments here or via email for more information.


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