Our time in Liberia is over for now and we finally had to say goodbye. Our last few weeks were filled with packing, cleaning, and fixing a temporary room for OJ. The day before our flight, I was installing the plumbing in Ojuku's bathroom. I was hoping to have a few days to rest and reflect on our first term, but it just wasn’t possible. We came right down to the wire.
We even had to leave a few tasks for OJ to finish while we are gone. Folo and Oretha came to the house and just sat on the porch for the last few days. I think they were sad to see their friends go. We made it to the airport and told OJ goodbye. It was not easy. After he left to go back home we started getting texts from him saying he didn't think he could last a year. We have been home for two weeks now and we talk to him almost everyday. He has settled into a schedule now and I think he will be just fine. He told us the football team entered another tournament and won their first game 4 to 1. He says everyone is behaving pretty well. Please pray they will continue in the things they have been taught. It is common for the people to show you what they want you to see and then revert back to their old way after the missionaries are gone. There is one man I know that has turned up drunk the next day after the missionaries leave the last three times they have gone. The truth is we really don't know how genuine any of the people are that we deal with. Ojuku has lived with our family for the last year and a half and I believe he truly is a christian, but the pressure to do wrong, or to even mislead people is overwhelming. A few days after we were gone one of the boys who is a pastor's kid told OJ that we were gone now so he should go get a girl pregnant and we would never know. Thankfully we have heard that some of the true christian people in Liberia have taken him under their wing. Please pray for Ojuku and the football team. Pray for the few christian people that are struggling to do right among those doing wrong.
Looking to the Future...
There are a few projects we would like to develop for our future in Liberia. The football team is my main focus moving forward. As some of you may know the World Cup is taking place right now in Russia. Liberia, like the rest of the world is crazy about football. It is a great inroad to be able to preach the gospel. Our team has grown over the past three years and is looking to make the jump to a third division team. What that means is we will have to travel to more places and get to preach to more people. What we would like to have moving forward is football equipment, and a place to call home. Our current field is not enough to accommodate the number of players we have coming, and is not completely under our control. We have been limited as to what we can do there as far as expansion, or improvements. We need a place big enough for two full size fields and a couple of buildings. A place that size would not only accommodate everyone but also draw more in. The best field in Gbarnga is like a gravel parking lot. There is very little grass on the field. As I drive around Toledo, I see soccer fields everywhere, most of which are not even being used. I drove past a field where they had about five sets of goals just stacked up in a pile with weeds growing all around them. Our government uses tax dollars to put in recreation areas we don't even use. In Liberia, they have nothing like that happening. Most fields are private because the government wastes, or steals the money. Government fields are are in terrible shape and are not open to the public.
We also like to trade in our vehicle in for something that can carry 15+ people and is rugged enough to go in the bush. Currently we all pile in the truck. It is functional, but not safe. I have to put two people in the front, six people in the backseat and about ten in the truck bed (with the cap on) plus all our gear and water. Sometimes we ride for an hour or two all mashed in together. Like I said, we make it work, but it is not safe for the kids and it is hard on the truck. I think I will try and sell the truck when I return and try to upgrade to a Land cruiser 15 passenger truck. It will allow us to safely travel around the country, but is also rugged enough to go way into the bush.
The buildings on the property would be a personal dwelling and a multipurpose building for tutoring/club house/chapel use. Our housing for our next term is secure, but only for a short time. As you know we lost our first house and another missionary allowed us to stay in a house on their property. However, that option is only temporary now. The house we are going to stay in for the first year of our next term is mainly used for visiting teams from the US. We have the option to stay, but then we will have to help build another facility to house missionary teams. If we will have to build anyway we might as well find our own area where we do not have to ask permission for everything and build there. We will be free to do as God directs us. Please pray with us about these things as we look to the future.
Adjusting to America...
We have been home for a couple of weeks now and we are still getting adjusted. Everyday about six or seven in the evening we all get sleepy and will fall asleep if we are sitting down. We are four hours ahead in Liberia, so seven o'clock here is like eleven to us. Jennifer cannot stay in the frozen foods section of the grocery store for more than about ten minutes before she is freezing. We are all cold here when it’s seventy five degrees outside. Everyone has had stomach problems from our change in diet. We all take forty five minute showers because we have access to hot water now. Jennifer can do all the laundry, dishes, and cooking in no time flat because of modern appliances. Everything is upside down to us but we are warming up to our old life here. It is really strange to be home again though. I find myself talking to people the way we talk to Liberians. A woman in the store asked me which item I wanted and I said, "all two," meaning I want both. I beep my horn at people when I am driving (because that is common in Liberia) and they just look at me like I am crazy. Everyone looks well fed to me. Walking through a grocery store gives me a headache because of all the choices. Do not get me wrong, they have grocery stores in Liberia that are fine but nothing like a Super Walmart. There are twenty-five kinds of mustard and soy sauce. There is no gluten, low sodium, no high fructose, organic, mustard with honey, whole grain, and half a dozen other varieties, it is weird to me. When you buy mustard in Liberia there are maybe two, or three kinds tops. I notice things that I never noticed before like how we as Americans tend to be a little more sensitive generally speaking. If we see anything suffering we immediately have compassion for it, but some things we consider suffering really is not suffering. I saw an ad about poor dogs that were supposed to be starving and I thought, "that dog looks pretty healthy, healthier than some of my neighbors that's for sure." The way we see things shows just how much we have changed and how different our worlds are. Some things I used to care about now just seem trivial to me. One thing is for sure, there is no country on the earth like America. We all should really appreciate the blessings God has lavished on us.
Our goal while we are home is to meet with all our supporters and raise funds for our return trip and future projects in Liberia. We will be traveling to/through Ohio, Kentucky, North Carolina, New Jersey , Tennessee, Georgia, Florida and anywhere else the Lord opens the opportunity . We are currently in Ohio and will begin scheduling meetings as soon as we have a vehicle. We will be contacting all of our supporters to let you know when we will be in your area. If you have a particular request time for us to visit your church, or know of other churches and individuals that would be interested in hearing about our time in Liberia please let us know. We are looking forward to seeing as many of you as we are able!
We have been looking for a vehicle for our year’s travels. We were offered a car to use from a friend of ours, but I don’t think it will work for us. It is an older model with almost 200,000 miles on it and we will be traveling to seven states this year. So we are planning to buy a reasonable SUV/van then hopefully sell it when we return to Liberia. It doesn't make sense to me to lease a car because we are just throwing money away with nothing in return. If we finance a reasonable car and make payments we can sell it again and hopefully get the money back. We have been looking around, but our options are limited. My mother and stepfather have graciously added us to their insurance and have been letting us use their car until we find something, but we can't take their car for extended trips so pray we find something soon.
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