The Terry Family - The Final Stretch
The final stretch...
At the request of one of our dear friends and supporters we decided to make this monthly report about the family. So I gave everyone a chance to say what they wanted. Ojuku is like an adopted son and he lives with us, so I gave him the option to write his own as well. Each portion is from each person, I only helped in editing grammar and spelling.
We are on the last leg of our time in Liberia. In less than a year we will be traveling back home for our first furlough. Many things have changed in America as well as in us. The thought of transition back to America has provoked many feelings and concerns, but the thought of seeing our loved ones again gives us great joy. We have a lot of work to do here before that time comes but I know it will pass quickly. We are still busy with the same things we have been doing for the past two years. I am still coaching the football team, preaching in the village, helping Bellimue start their church, Youth Bible study (Sunday night) and we are looking at starting a youth only bible study/tutoring center for the kids here in town. Jennifer has been working with the school and still takes very good care of all of us. She is also quickly becoming the person the children come to for help with their assignments (hence the tutoring program). The kids, well they are kids. They do their school work and play. They have fun introducing OJ to different things in American culture. He is now a big fan of the Cosby Show, The Andy Griffith Show, I Love Lucy, and the Three Stooges. They spend the afternoons playing Lapa Ball (like dodge ball but only four people) and picking coconuts (cutting them open not climbing the trees); and yes I let Nathan use a machete. I know, what am I thinking right? Most of my days consist of writing sermons and Bible study papers and coaching the team in the afternoon/evenings. Jennifer goes to school in the mornings until about noon and then starts supper, and cares for the children in the yard. The kids do school until about 2 and then go outside. OJ comes home from school around the same time. By three our yard is usually full of children playing, and at four thirty I take all the boys to football practice until about seven. When we come home from practice we have a snack and get cleaned up turn in for the night.
As for the tutoring/youth bible study. We have found that the young people are often neglected in everything. The schools here are absolutely unbelievable. Students are often given assignments and tests that they have zero chance of completing or passing (for the specific reason that they will have to pay their teachers to re-test). So what happens is someone finds an answer somewhere and they all copy from each other. We saw this when Jennifer gave a basic math test to the sixth grade class. Someone incorrectly did the math dividing instead of multiplying on a calculator which gave a decimal answer like .000547393289. About ten students all had the same answer on their paper. When Jennifer asked why they cheated they at first denied it but then later said they were "sharing ideas". The reality is that they are able to do the work but there are no real resources to complete the work. OJ came home one day and said he needed help with French class. He was supposed to conjugate verbs in French and then translate several sentences. I asked him if he studied the verbs or the conjugation in class and he said no it was the first time he had seen the words. How is he supposed to find the answers? There are very few places that you can find the answers here. If we have a tutoring center we will be able to help the children and it provides one on one relationships to share the Gospel with them. It will also double as a Wednesday night Youth Bible study. There are probably 30-40 kids that come to football practice that I continually encourage to go to church. There are maybe 5 that actually go. The truth is that there are some in the church that look down on kids who do not dress in fine clothes so they don't come. I want to start a Wednesday night Bible study at the local video club to see if it makes a difference. There are a few good people who want to help me and we have already struck a verbal agreement for the rental of the building. In a few weeks we will give it a try to see what happens. I already have five kids that come to my Sunday night Bible study and many have asked to join but we can only fit a few people in our house. Hopefully it will provide a place where the kids can come and learn about God and ask honest questions without any pressure. Please continue to pray for us as we finish out our final year.
So, what do I share?? Matt has been laughing and making his own updates from me: "S.O.S. I am trapped here constantly sweeping and washing dishes" to "I plan to tour the country with my friend Susan when we come home"... The reality, I do sweep and wash dishes - A LOT! So I plan to sit and drink coffee with my friends and just go for a drive somewhere because I can when we are back home - A LOT! Ha ha!
On the serious side, I never thought about getting involved in the school system here before we came, but it is a door that opened and it has a huge impact on the children who are in this system. I was planning to only be at the school 1, or 2 days a week this school year until the passing of our friend, Pastor Thomas. Instead, it is mostly 4-5 days a week. We had heard all the problems of Liberian schools: corruption, stealing money, charging the students for their grades, teachers sleeping with students etc., but it is really eye opening to be inside. I am not always very welcome and questioning the problems does not make me a very popular person! I have considered walking away from the school many times, but every time I am almost settled on that I hear from a child asking where I have been, or what we are doing in class the next day. My biggest concern is that I see the "Christian" schools here pushing the kids away from Christ. I pray we can do something to help give the kids here a better opportunity for their lives and that by teaching and caring about them they will be willing to hear the truth about Christ.
I know a lot of my family and friends will be reading this so I wanted to say hi and that I miss you all. Pretty soon we will be on our way back home and we will be able to see you again!
Life here has been interesting to say the least. It is not easy to move to a third-world country from America; but I think I have seen and learned a lot more than I would have living in the States. All of us kids can speak Liberian English fairly well, and we have made several friends. The only really difficult part of living here is that I don't think we will ever really fit in with the people because of the cultural differences between us. But I guess that is the same with missionaries all over the world. Even though it is different, Liberia feels almost like home to me. I do miss the seasons in America though. Well, I guess that is about it. I miss everyone and I really appreciate all of your prayers. God has protected us here and has always provided for us. Thank you all so much for everything and please remember to pray for us.
I would also like to say hello to all my friends and family, and I would like to thank you for all your prayers.
When we first got here I was a little surprised about how drastic the culture change was. I was a little worried that living here would be harder than I anticipated. When I got off the plane, one thing that stuck out to me was how unorganized, broken down, and dirty everything seemed. Thankfully the place we are living is much better than the airport. Fitting in was not easy. I tried to make friends by working with the Liberians, but I could never do things as well as they could. Everything did get better with time, and now I have plenty of friends. I can speak and understand their English and I play football with the guys on my Dad's team. Liberia is home to me. I enjoy certain aspects of the culture that I found odd at first. The Liberians are really open and friendly and I try to adopt some of those traits. I really like eating sugar palm and coconuts, and I also like the nationwide love of football the Liberians have. It will be strange going back to America where people seem more isolated, but I guess I will just have to adjust like always.
This is Charissa. We are all doing fine. I would like to say hello to my family and my friends in Chattanooga. We have had a lot of animals here. We have three dogs and three puppies, and we used to have five mongoose, and a Congo Serpent Eagle. We raised the eagle and released it a while ago. He still comes to visit us. We also have a chicken named Henny. I like to play with the animals and climb trees, and I play on our tire swing. When we first got here it was hotter than I expected, but I like it. It was hard to get used to everything at first (like the way they talk) but it is OK now. I can understand everyone and I have plenty of friends.
I would like to extend my greeting to all of you, and say thank you so much for your support. May God provide as you give. Being part of the Terry family was something from the Lord. Because I never knew these people or interacted with them. I just found myself pronounced as part of their family. To be realistic, this family is my only hope in Liberia. If they never decided to come to Liberia, it would not have ended up good for me. They really mean a lot to me. When I first became a part of this family, it was hard for me to understand their culture and English. I found it difficult to understand how a typical Liberian can live with Americans and understand their style of living in his own country with Liberian culture and traditions all around. I thought it would have been hard for me, but I got into the American culture in a month because I was touched with it. Now I am deep in American culture and forsake my own culture because I think there is a lot of problems in following Liberian culture. There is a lot of breakdown in your Christian journey in following culture in Liberia. Over the last two years I noticed that Christianity in Liberia is a battle. Even being in this family has caused my own friends to envy me because I am part of a white person's family. I am rejected all over besides my current family. Thank you!
Christian Ojuku Kollie (OJ/Ojuku)