Monday, June 23, 2014

Margaret's War Widows

The Sierra Leone Civil War left many women widowed, including our friend Margaret. Margaret's formed her War Widows for Christ, a type for support group and co-op. They help and support eachother through a little farming and other projects. They also meet regularly for bible study. I adore they ladies!!! 

Saturday morning we walked down to the wet land where they were working up the ground to plant rice. You can see them way down there in this picture above. Gideon was excited about trekking down this huge hill! 
(Jedi was asleep on my back the entire time! Like a good little African baby, ha!)

When we finally arrived they all cheered, clapped and welcomed us with hugs and kisses. They showed the kids how to work! 

makes my heart smile :)

A party for Margaret's Oldest Boys.

During our time here we have been spending special time with Margaret's orphans in small groups. 

The older boys have been patiently waiting for their turn! Saturday night we had them over for fun & games. These teenagers are fun and so easy to love! We had a special dinner for them- Gideon called it a feast and they did too. We were able to bless them with fried chicken & chips (fries). 

It probably doesn't sound fancy to our US friends who pick up drive thru all the time. But it was more extravagent than anything they have had all year. They we CRAZY excited and thankful- left full and happy! Isabel made them Jello and was smiling big as she passed it out for dessert. A first for them! So fun. They, of course watched a little superheroes with the boys, also another treat. They enjoyed themselves! 
Before they left they gathered around our family and prayed for us. Amazing young men! 
We are blessed to know them!

Friday, June 20, 2014

What I've learned about water by Zeke

At home in the United States if I want a drink of water I go to the faucet at the kitchen sink. Some people even have refrigerators that have drinking water in the door. Here in Africa we have to buy clean water to drink. They sell it in bottles but it cost more money, most people buy bag water.

 If they don't have money sometimes there is a well where they can pump water but it may not be safe to drink and it might be a long ways away. 

Even on the street where we live there are some holes in the ground by the road where we see some people get water but some people go to the bathroom on the side of road too. We have seen lots of people by the river and creeks washing clothes and taking baths. Some people have filters to clean their water when it's dirty. We have water in our Africa house because we have water tanks on the roof. Every day someone pumps water out of the well and fills the water tanks. This lets us clean our clothes, dishes and ourselves but it's not safe to drink. We even use bag water to brush our teeth so we don't get sick. We walk down the street to a little store to buy our water. Sometimes we buy water there. Isabel is in there buying biscuits.  Which are really cookies, they call them biscuits.  Sometimes Dad let's you buy a soda. 

 today we bought water from this little shop on the side of the road. Then we carried it back home.

People who live here carry water on their heads, everything else too. 

Clean drinking water is very important but not everybody gets to have it. Some people can get very sick from dirty water, some die. People can learn how to clean their water. 


It's a scary reality. I'm sure many of you in the US have heard about it on the news. We have been following it closely both in our preparation to come & while we have been here. Just recently a mission team from Texas cancelled their trip here just days before departure and our church has postponed plans for a fall trip because if the serious risks. 
This week I had the opportunity to support our friends here at the Hope Center has they held a community meeting on Ebola. 

Community leaders and medical professionals came and filled the center's meeting room to receive information and ask questions. Incorrect information, confusion and fear can spread so quickly around the world, from person to person, in the news and social media. Can you imagine it here? From village to village? So many people reacting in different ways- some in fear and panic, some not taking the threat seriously, some indifferent, many uneducated and uninformed, some not knowing anything at about it at all- except for a billboard or sign they may have seen on the side of the road (if they can read). 
  I watched hand after hand raise with questions about the virus.
 We handed out materials so these leaders can take this information and share it with their neighbors and communities. 
They had lots of questions?!?
What is Ebola? What are the actual up to date statistics of how it's effecting the country? How is it spread? What are signs and symptoms? Who is at risk? How can it be prevented? 
It was a blessing to sit next to Donald and other friends and help them share this information- including my friend Chuck, a registered nurse who speaks amazing Krio. (It was his last morning here in Sierra Leone and after the meeting he rushed off to the airport.)
Ebola is a serious threat but education is the key. So true of many life threatening issues here in Africa. There are many threats that carry some of the same symptoms and can result in death that effect the people of Sierra Leone. Cholera, typhoid, malaria, dengue fever and other hemorrhagic fevers are serious threats and dangers. Some are treatable and unfortunately, some not curable at all. It's a heartbreaking fact that where people live and if they have access to health care can dictate whether one survives illness and disease. The government is offering free Ebola treatment in all government health facilities here, but some people do not seek medical care when they are sick and some people may not know it's free. 
Praying for the people of Africa! 
Please join us! 

Current Ebola information: 
As of Monday June 16th's the update from the Ministry of Health and Sanitation, Sierra Leone says--
A total of 193 cases have been officially tested with 83 Laboratory Confirmed cases and 20 confirmed deaths.  (That was almost a week ago, numbers can change quickly.)

The majority of active cases are located near the boarders of Guinea & Liberia. These statistics are only the lab tested and confirmed cases. If people do not seek medical care there is not record of the illness or official cause of death. 
Ebola is a virus. There is no cure or vaccine. It is possible to survive the effects of the virus as it runs it's course with medical care. It spreads quickly from person to person. 
Ebola is spread through:
Direct contact with wounds, body fluids like blood, saliva, vomit, urine or stool of an infected person. Handling of persons who have died of Ebola. Eating dead animals especially monkeys, chimpanzees and bats. Eating fruits that have been bitten by or partially eaten by bats or wild animals. 
Signs & symptoms:
Usually starts with a high fever and any one of the following: diarrhea, vomiting, body weakness, headache, sore throat, abdominal pain, skin rash- the affected person may also suffer from bleeding in vomit, stool & urine or from any part of the body. 
As you can imagine in areas with minimal/no sanitation or poor hygiene the dangers are great.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

My friend Mark by Isabel

This is my friend Mark. He is nice and funny. He works here and keeps us safe. I like to go down to the guard house  to visit him. One day I tried to play with his little boy, I even had bubbles! but he was too afraid to talk to me.  Today I made his little boy a teddy bear, I stuffed it with empty water bags. I wrote a note for the pocket, it said "Jesus loves you, Isabel." 

Wednesday, June 11, 2014


Today we visited the drop-in center for the Waterloo street boys. What a mighty work God has done in such a short amount of time! When I first visited Waterloo and learned that hundreds of boys were literally sleeping on the street, and in market stalls, I couldn't believe it was true- my heart broke. 

Since then, our friend, Charles has continued to visit the boys, gaining their trust and friendship. We asked him how we could help? We started a feeding program- so, once a week the boys could meet with Charles and get a plate of rice. He continued to build relationships. Now with the help of the 25project- there are 33 boys who are sponsored! They have been placed in homes and are attending school!!! WOW! God is so good!! There is also a "drop-in center" where they can meet safely and talk with Charles and his helpers. A church heard about this amazing project and doubled our rice funds- so these boys are now gathering twice a week to eat a meal. Amazing! 
Here is a picture of our Isabel with Ibrahim & Phillip- former street boys now doing a great job in school! 

There are boys waiting for sponsors!! Hoping to get to attend school next fall!!! For what we would consider a small amount of money a month, you can change a life in a big way!!! You can find a link to the 25project here on our blog! 

We thank The Lord for Charles!! 
Hope filled!!!-

Monday, June 9, 2014

Hosetta Part two!

We played games with the kids and helped in one class. They were tracing circles and coloring them yellow. We helped them. 

I had a lot of fun playing with the kids, it made my heart happy. They were really excited about their new name tags! 

Auntie Edna kissed me on my cheek and said "I LOVE you!" 

I rolled tires back and forth with one girl and she was so, so so happy! 

Their classroom is almost like Ms. Lisa's class, they have colors, numbers and letters but no lights or e-tricity. The kids there are special because God made them special!

We went to a school for special kids. The teachers all hugged and kissed me, I usually wipe kisses off! Some of the kids know sign language and some of them can talk. We played and visited their class. 

Mom's friend Edna helps take care of the kids there. She lives in this house and a few of the kids stay with her, it looks smaller than my bedroom at home in Missouri. She was very nice and happy to meet us. 

Hosetta. Part one!

Today we went to Hosetta, the school for special needs children we have worked with every year since we started missions work here in Sierra Leone. These children, teachers & caretakers are hold special places in our hearts. Our kids played with the students during their rec & recess time. Justin is working there today with Tom & his crew.

This is sweet Enda with my babies! Enda lives in the back of this school and loves & takes care of these wonderful children.
A few of the children who live too far to travel daily for school stay with Enda. She is beautiful inside & out and Oh! how I love her. 

 This is Bel & Gid playing in front of her home- she was crazy excited to show me that our friend Tom just had tarps placed over her roof. Dancing would be more of an actuate description :)
Rain was pouring in on them and rainy season is almost here. It's hard to explain the rains here but (constant waterfalls!!) 
I am so thankful her roof is now fixed!!! 
She tried over & over to get Jedi to let her hold him- she just kept smiling & laughing saying "JJ, why you don't love me?" 
Ha!!! Oh he will one day :) but not today! Ha ha!! 

With a heart full of smiles :)
...Look for part two from the kids! 

Saturday, June 7, 2014

One Life Camp

We were crazy blessed to have the opportunity to be a part of Youth Leadership Camp this week. Twenty- seven youth from all around Sierra Leone were chosen by their pastors to attend this camp which just happens to have been at the same place we are living. The camp theme for this week was One Life- emphasizing on team leadership, purity, integrity, and leading through service. It has been several years since we have been involved with a camp like this or even with youth in general. Well, let me tell you, we have been refreshed and encouraged!!! The kids, if you can call them that, were excited to be here and ready to learn and receive the teachings of scriptural leadership. It was such a joy to watch as they lead each other in worship through song and prayer. This year each family group also had Sierra Leonian leaders, many of whom have come to the camp in past years! It is such an energizing and motivating experience to be a part of something when the fruit of that very thing is right in front of you! These kids are the future and current leaders of their churches, communities, and country, and it has been an honor to work with and get to know them this week. 

Chris & I lead recreation this week. These kids are fierce competitors! Like if you think of the most aggressive competitor you know, now imagine 27 of that person split into four teams playing games against each other, that was rec time. So much FUN!! We had scripture that went with the games for meditation and conversation. This group is so passionate in all they do whether it is play or pray or talk or live or learn or share or love.   The camp was so well organized that honestly Chris & I just showed up and played with the kids. Thanks to Gabe & Sada for their love for The Lord & these youth. 

It was a joy to watch our children grow to love some of these youth and our co-leaders but Jedi became especially fond of our friends Chuck & Chase- even immediately jumping out of our arms to be held by either of them (I'm rather fond of them myself but I'm certain Chuck wouldn't want to carry me around).

We finished our week with a service project Friday. The teams each went to a  near by schools to speak & share. They also cleaned up the grounds around the school. 
These kids decided to help Gid pick up trash. 

Being a part of this camp has shown us yet another way God is working and moving in the lives of the people around us.
Refreshed & Exhausted, (not as young as I once was)

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Meeting Mohamed & Shaku

This weekend we traveled to Bo to visit Mohamed, a boy our family has sponsored for the past several years, and his brother Shaku. Our children have referred to him as their "brother in Africa" and have been praying for him for a long time. Chris and I were very excited for our kids to finally meet him. I got to watch as my kids met and accept him as a brother. I was filled with joy as they walked, played, talked, and ate together. By the end of the day Saturday they were close enough to even get in trouble together. Sunday we met with them again at the church gathering where we worshiped and learned together. We are so glad that as a family we have taken the opportunity to sponsor Mohamed who, as a result, he gets to go to school and have access medical care, food and spiritual enrichment. 
It's hard to imagine the immensity of life change that a sponsored child receives. It can be life defining for a child that may have no other opportunity for education. If your family hasn't considered orphan sponsorship I can tell you it's an investment with great reward. 

This weekend we met Mohamed and his little brother Shaku. Shaku is 7 like me! Mohamed is 10 years old. Their parents died a long time ago. It  made me happy to be with them!! 
- Gideon

Mohamed was sad and cried because we were leaving. He didn't want us to leave him. 
- Isabel 

Monday, June 2, 2014

Getting to know Margaret's kids!

Over the weekend we spent a little fun time with Margaret's kids. We thought it would be easiest for our kids to get to know them better by spending time with them in small group settings. Friday night we had Margaret's younger boys over for some games & American pizza! These boys loved playing headbands! 

Pizza was a first for them! Most of them liked it. Simon loved it! (Simon is Margaret's sweet boy with Down's syndrome. His smiles are contagious!) 

Sunday night we had Margaret's girls over. They made jewelry and painted with Isabel.

They also played Headbands with the kids. These children are a blessing to get to know! We look forward to visiting with the older boys sometime soon!