Well, I’m writing this final Liberia blog post from the airport in Minneapolis. The last few days have been such a blur, it’s going to take me a while to sort through all the events and emotions. But before I arrive home and get swept up in my day to day life (and in seeing my amazing kids again!), I want to quickly try to record what the One Body One Hope team did during our final days in Liberia.
On Friday we kicked off the day with a teacher’s workshop. Emmanuel told us earlier in the week that the teachers were interested in having a little Q&A time with us. Todd and I are both certified teachers (Art and English), but Julie also taught a very relevant crash course in First Aid and CPR, and even Tim got involved by giving a little lesson on biology and livestock farming techniques. The teachers at Abide in the Vine school system (the school that holds the equivalent of K-8th grade classes at Christ Our Hope orphanage) are a fantastic group of very giving, dedicated men and women who are committed to providing the best education possible for the kids they instruct. They asked tons of questions and seemed very engaged in our rather thrown together “lessons.” I don’t know about anyone else, but the morning definitely gave me a passion for creating more professional development opportunities for these teachers! They care so much about the kids, and I long to give them the tools necessary to be the best teachers they can be. (BTW, our teachers are also available for sponsorship! Since the kids cannot afford tuition, we have committed to pay the teachers at Abide in the Vine school system a fair, livable wage. By sponsoring a teacher at $80 a month, or co-sponsoring at $40, not only to you provide for a teacher, you ensure his or her entire family is able to survive--and thrive!--in Liberia. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like more information.)
While Todd, Julie, Tim, and I were having our own Pro-D day, Nick, Brent, and Aaron went to spend some time with Robert (the pastor of the Jacobtown branch of Abide in the Vine). Robert’s wife, Lucia, lost her father unexpectedly this week. He went into the hospital because he was not feeling well, and passed away very unexpectedly that same night. As far as we can tell, it was some sort of respiratory problem. Our hearts go out to Lucia, her younger brother, and their entire family. And we are reminded of how tenuous life is... especially in a place like Liberia.
On Friday afternoon the entire team (minus two) went shopping for backpacks! The Kid’s Connection program at Bridge of Hope raised money this fall to purchase a backpack for all the children at Christ Our Hope. We took the money along so we could buy the backpacks in-country and save on shipping costs.
And the two who didn’t go backpack shopping went to the airport. :-( Instead of helping to pick out backpacks, Aaron and Emmanuel brought me to the airport in Monrovia on Friday afternoon. I’ve been traveling alone for over thirty hours, and I’m a mess of emotions. The airport in Monrovia is a nightmare to say the least, and the twelve and a half hour flight from Accra, Ghana to Atlanta, Georgia was enough to mess with my head. Long layovers haven’t helped much... I’m a weepy, homesick, Africa-sick puddle of exhaustion. I miss my kids on both sides of the planet, and I’ve already had several good crys hiding in bathroom stalls as I prayed for and thought about all my sweet, sweet children. Isaac, Judah, and Matthias, but also Robert, Jennifer, Elizabeth, Christiana, Amos, Fatu, Reuben, Uriah, Emmanuel, and the list goes on and on. It’s 58 kids long to be exact.
Stay tuned for much, much more as the board of OBOH starts to process all we learned. We have big things in store, and we are looking for partners to embrace what is a slowly materializing, but undeniably thrilling vision. And, of course, please come back to see some of our pictures and videos! I know I told you I’d try to post pictures while we were in Liberia, but the internet connection was simply too spotty. In fact, I’m quite sure that God allowed us to post blogs and not much more! Every time I tried to post a blog it would upload quickly and smoothly, but if I ever tried to do anything else on the internet it froze immediately. I think God has a good sense of humor. ;-)
Love and hugs to you from Minneapolis,
Nicole (aka, a global mommy in transit...)
PS - Please pray for the rest of the team as they leave for home tomorrow. Pray for safe travels and for peace and acceptance as they depart Liberia. It’s hard leaving those kids and those friendships behind...