Hello blog friends!
I'm baaaack...from Africa, that is! The much anticipated mission trip to Liberia has started...and ended already. It was an unbelievable trip, and I have so much to share with you. I've had tons of calls and emails asking for updates (and, thank you for your patience as it's taking me some time to get back with you), and there's simply *so* much to tell, that I felt it best to share some of that in a blog format. I'm still recovering a bit from jetlag and start back at work today, so it's taking me a little while to get back into the swing of things. So...bear with me, as I plan to break this down into segments. If I wrote it all into one blog post, it would turn into a mini novel. I journaled while I was in Liberia in hopes that I wouldn't forget some of those emotions and events as they were happening. I plan to share some parts of those journal entries with you in these blog posts, along with pictures!
Journal Entry - June 5
It's here. The day I've been preparing for for months. Today, I begin my first of 3 flights that will eventually bring me to Africa. I'm a literal fruit basket of emotions right now. I'm full of excitement, wonder, anxiety, a hint of fear, humility, doubt (just a little), and amazement. I'm utterly amazed that God has given me this opportunity to teach His precious Liberian women. I feel so incapable of doing this, and I am. But God - God is *totally* capable of achieving His plans and simply useing me as a vessel. I love Him so!
I now sit at the Charlotte, NC airport waiting for my flight to take me to Newark, NJ where I'll meet (for the first time) Ginger and Frankie - the other 2 team members traveling with me. Lorie - our sweet sister - that put this group together can no longer go with us, because God opened her womb again after 7 years. She's expecting a precious baby right around Christmas. While I don't understand God's timing, I trust His sovereignty.
I said goodbye to my precious husband and daughter just a little over an hour ago. It was hard, but I'm trusting God with them too. He adores them!
Journal Entry - June 6
Now I can truly say that overseas travel is tough, and I'm not finished yet. I'm sitting in the Brussels, Belgium airport having my first experience with jetlag. It's 10:20 am Brussels time and 4:30 am back home. I was unable to sleep at all on the flight here. I was simply too uncomfortable. I'm trying not to complain - it's just going to take some getting used to.
Sitting at the gate, I'm surrounded by Africans - such beautiful, ebony-skinned people. We met a precious Liberian woman right after we got into the aiport. I was drawn to her, as she was singing humns of praise to God while walking through the airport. I commented on her voice, and as we began speaking with her further, we learned she's a doctor - resident of the US but Liberian born. She may try to come to one of our workshops!
Journal Entry - June 7
We made it to Liberia yesterday evening after another long flight from Brussels - via a stop in Abijan in the Ivory Coast. My lack of sleep finally got the best of me, and I was very sick on the plane. I prayed that God would deliver me from that mess, and He did by allowing me to finally sleep on the plane. I felt like a new person after even a little bit of sleep!
After finally making it to the Monrovia airport, we felt like like royalty when the staff from our mission partner agency had such good people help us get through the airport craziness. After getting outside, we were happily greeted by Maria, Francis, and Willette.
We journeyed through the dark streets of Monrovia on our way back to the compound, where we were staying. After showing us to our rooms, we enjoyed a nice dinner of pork chops (in a delicous gravy), french fries, salad, and yummy pineapple. I even had mango juice to drink! After a late evening dinner, it was time for bed! I slept so well - even missed the hard rain that came through. (It's the rainy season in Liberia right now.) Monday morning (today) brought delicious bread and bananas for breakfast. We lounged about for several hours, and met some new friends - Konah and Zimah (twin 8-year-old Liberian boys thatr live at the compound awaiting adoption by an American). They are precious! We were walked down to the beach and saw many interesting sites - poverty at its fullest in shacks being used to house families of 5-6, wild hogs, and little "hoglets". The ocean was beautiful as were the rock formations that were jutting out of its waters. We eventually made our way back to the compound and had what Irving (head cook) called a chikcen sandwich. It was actually more like a chicken wrap stuffed also with potatoes, cabbage, lettuce, tomatoes, and a delicious sauce. Yummy! We also had pineapple on the side. The pineapple here is outstanding!
Following lunch, we worked on some items for the workshops - stuffed goody bags to give to the women, etc. The workshops begin tomorrow! God, please prepare my lips. We spent the rest of the afternoon shopping in Monrovia for African souvenirs to take home.
We ended the evening with another of Irving's tasty meals: fish (casava, I think it's called), rice, vegetables, and the African version of okra. It was all very, very good!
Here are some pictures from our first full day in Liberia: