Thursday, 11 January 2018

A Time of Transition

Transition is never easy.... we have had more opportunity to practice the art of skillful packing, living with bare essentials and saying goodbyes but that does not mean we necessarily enjoy it or find it easy. 

Unfortunately our new MAF house is not complete so between 27th and 31st Dec we were busy packing and moving to a temporary home on compound. Yes, there were tears at leaving our first home in Liberia, moving farther from play mates that have been immediate neighbours and become close friends and lessons to be learned about the temporal nature of  life here on earth, when  a piece of furniture fell from the truck and some treasured possessions got damaged. 

In all of it I have been constantly reminded to find the grace and strength for this season through deliberate thankfulness.  God is good and as our family continues to look forward to a new home there are many things to be thankful for every day;

  • We enjoyed some wonderful days celebrating Christmas, relaxing at the beach and enjoying family time.
  • Fostering Beulah for this season has been refreshing for my soul...her wonder and amazement at so many things that are new to her but had become part of the scenery for me. (I'm going miss our morning walks together!)
  • Our temporary house has the most amazing beach view from the lounge where I can enjoy my coffee and soak up Gods splendour
  • We have amazing friends  and workers here that gave up their family time over Christmas and were so helpful in getting us moved.  

While we were busy with our own transition and remained on the compound for most of Christmas break the nation of Liberia voted in the second round of elections.  We are thankful that the elections were peaceful with a jubilant mood in the city on the day the results were announced (we know because we found ourselves stuck in the traffic for 5 hours that day!!).  The Inauguration of George Weah (former footballer) takes place on 22nd January.  Pray for wisdom, integrity and humility as he leads this country. Pray that the coming years would be a time of stability and development for Liberia.


Whilst stuck in traffic on the day the results were announced we saw quite a few sights we normally miss because we go by them much faster.  Amongst the things that caught my eye was this dining set....a location for a future date night perhaps? maybe not...the odour was not exactly likely to give you an appetite!

Wednesday, 20 December 2017

A taste of Christmas in Liberia

Well, Christmas is almost here and one thing we are certain of is that there will be no white Christmas here!  Our family maintains some of the English traditions Mark & I grew up with and have developed a few family traditions of our own.  While childhood memories of chilly Christmas days of ten feature a red robin on a snow covered branch, Liberia has it's own Christmas bird. The white egrets pass by our home for a few weeks at this time of year.

We have our artificial tree that has travelled the world with us, containing ornaments reminding us of many friends and places. It's a small part of family and friends with us.

Here in Liberia the locals decorate their yards by painting the rocks, trees and road ways white with Christmas greetings!

As a family we celebrate advent by lighting a candle during dinner and find some good advent readings to read together at the end of our meal.
Despite the heat of Africa, we usually still have a full roast meal on Christmas Day. I always make a Christmas cake, mince pies and Christmas pudding (usually bringing essential ingredients back from UK with us) and get excited about various other edible treats we manage to find in the local supermarkets.  This year we discovered treats from two well known UK supermarkets!!
Since, fresh veggies are so expensive here in Liberia we also treat ourselves to some imported favourites...this selection cost us £27.

Most of all we look forward to having time to spend as a family, relaxing on the beach and spending time focusing on Jesus, God's most precious gift.

Monday, 30 October 2017

African Adventures

What a weekend it has been!!
It has been full of exciting moments and glimpses of Gods awesome creativity. As I write I am listening to the constant sound of waves crashing up on the beach just 50 m from our home and am reminded once again that His power is never ending.

The first event this weekend was about the only one that was planned.  In Africa the most amazing blessings usually are not expected and are often found in the simple joys of living life in community.

Jet the Puppy
When we arrived here 18 months ago we promised our children a puppy to replace the pets we said goodbye to in Uganda.  We have been trying to put it off until we have our own permanent house...and fenced in yard.  That is taking longer than expected and so we just decided to jump in the deep end of puppy parenting.

Meet Jet, our 13 week old puppy.  He only slept for four hours the first night (between muted barks and whines for his mama) but I am thankful he has slept much better on nights two and three.
He has come to us from missionary friends who needed to find homes for their litter of puppies before leaving on Home Assignment. The children were up early this morning to run him around the compound before leaving for school....we will see how long their enthusiasm lasts!

Baby Sea Turtles

On our first evening walk with Jet we spotted something we have only ever seen on nature shows.
Mark found two baby sea turtles trying to climb the wall of our house.
We are not sure if Mama Turtle somehow laid her eggs too far from the beach. Maybe the hatch-lings did not know how to find their way around our house and through the dense undergrowth to reach the ocean? It's also possible our outside lights had confused the turtles and they followed them instead of the moon in their efforts to find the sea.

The children made it their mission to search for and rescue as many as they could. We researched Atlantic green turtles online and the while event became a great lesson in wildlife conservation. 
In total around eight baby sea turtles were found over the weekend.  We placed them in a container of sea water and released them on the beach.  Just maybe, one of them will survive long enough to be the 1 in 1,000 that lives to adulthood!

Gods never ending promise
Walks on the beach are a frequent past time for our family. This weekend, as we looked up in the sky we noticed that the sun was encircled by a complete rainbow.  It was quite spectacular!
Unfortunately, we could only get a photo through the lens of Marks sunglasses as the sun was so bright.

Friday, 2 June 2017

Christmas, propellers and avionics…

Well, if anyone has been seeing my Facebook posts then you will already know that Christmas came early (or late – depending on your perspective) in Liberia…..
The long awaited container of tools and equipment finally arrived….the clearing process went pretty quick and we had it delivered to the airport about 1 1/weeks after it arrived!  Of course the timing of its arrival coincided with a busy week of maintenance, so I had only one day to get in there and start figuring out what was what and where things were.  Fortunately it had all been packed really well with clearly numbered boxes and a detailed packing list so I could even find a particular piece of equipment I needed for some of the maintenance being done the following week.  Knowing that the next week was going to be busy with maintenance, Josh and I went to the airport on Saturday morning to continue with unpacking some items – our aim was to get to the crate at the back that contained the Kubota tractor that is to be our aircraft tug.  Since MAF has been in Liberia we have been reliant on other operator’s kindness and so we are looking forward to being a bit more independent and, being in a position to return some favours!!!
So that was Christmas…

Then there are propellers.  Our aircrafts propeller was due to be changed.  You may remember that in January I went on a course in the US on how to assemble propellers?  Well, now it was time to put the training into practice.  There were a couple issues during the re-assembly that delayed things a little but the plane was booked to be down for some checks on the avionics that gave me the down time needed to get the job done. 
There were also a couple of distractions of the reptile three young snakes were found around the hangar and aircraft over two days!

The avionics checks were carried out by Hannu, an engineer with MAF in Kenya, and so he worked on those tasks while I worked on the prop and we managed to synchronise things so that we didn’t get in each other’s way.  Hannu was also able to repair a radio problem that had been plaguing us for a while.

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Festivities All Around

This past week has been filled with Fun and Festivities for just about every member of the family.

International schools around the world often find their own ways of celebrating the many countries and cultures represented in the school. The American School of Monrovia  is no exception. Amy and Joshua's school has around 90 students and they represent 23 countries around the world!  Last Friday the school celebrated this diversity. Festivities included a parade of flags,and Joshua carried the flag of United Kingdom. Then there was  Liberian dancing and drumming performed by various students  which was all followed by a "Feast of the Nations" potluck meal. My British scones were a hit...and the Lebanese mums have been asking for the recipe.
Standing for the Liberian anthem after the children have paraded in with all the flags. Joshua is top left.

Liberian dancing

A day later, Mark & I were celebrating the graduation (pinning ceremony as it is known here) of the therapy students from SALT, the rehab clinic where Sarah volunteers as a Speech therapist. 
 Fifteen students had completed a 9 month diploma course, passed their exams (in speech, occupational or physical therapy) and have been eagerly anticipating this day. I have come to know some of them fairly well as I work with and mentor them at the clinic each week and  it was an honour to be invited to join them.
 I was especially privileged to be the main speaker at the event and to be given the freedom to share with them how my faith affects my approach to therapy and those I work with.  It also, will go down in our memories as one of the few events we have attended in Africa that started on time and finished early!

Dr Kamara (SALT founder) Sarah and the graduates

Mark and I with Pious, the Physio therapist who treated Mark and has now graduated in Speech Therapy also.
Some of our paediatric patients whose mothers came to the ceremony. To my right is Martha, the lead speech clinician whom I work closely with.

This week has been one of praise and excitement for our MAF team but especially for Mark. He has spent so many hours over the past year occupied with the job of ordering all the tools, equipment and spare parts needed to get the maintenance base in Liberia set up. 
 He finally saw the 'fruit' of some of those hours sat in front of a computer screen this week!
A container full of equipment and tools had safely travelled the seas from the US, been cleared through customs and was offloaded next to the hangar.
It's like Christmas!! Eager to get inside and start unpacking, Mark headed to the airport with Joshua this weekend to start digging in. They had fun but were certainly hot and sweaty at the end of the morning.

Thursday, 2 March 2017

A month in pictures

Well it's been quite a month (plus a few days but whose counting?)
I thought the simplest way to give the highlights were in pictures.

The children have been asking about a pet since we arrived. Since this is not our permanent home we had been a little reluctant to make the commitment.  Towards the end of January we Oreo, our new kitten.  Mummy is just thankful he is great at using the litter tray.

Then at the end of January I (Sarah), celebrated the big 40!! I was spoilt with cakes, meals out that lasted the whole week.  I felt so blessed.  I do believe that cards may still be on the way...nothing like the African postal services (snail mail still exists).

The month has been full with work activities.
Mark had a week of meetings and training in Kenya with all of  the MAF Africa region Senior engineers.
Sarah is keeping busy with Speech Therapy and MAF story writing. Check out my first published story on MAF UK website.

We have also fitted in school Joshua's class visited the Firestone Rubber Plantation.
We learnt all about tapping the trees, grafting new rubber trees and what can be made from the liquid latex.

Awards at school....Amy won the award for Positive attitude among all the grade 5 & 6 students.

We are incredibly proud of the enthusiastic, caring and determined young lady she is growing up to be.

We are also incredibly thankful for your prayers....MAF has now found funding to build two more MAF houses (one will be a permanent home for us).  We are still praying that contracts and final plans can be drawn up quickly and work can begin while the dry weather lasts.

The best Day of my Life - A post from Joshua

This was last Thursday. My mum and dad decided that I can go on a plane, yes, a plane by myself! By the way my name is Josh, I am 9 years old and have 2 lovely sisters. The oldest Amy, she is 11 and Abby is 4 years old.

On Thursday my dad woke me up at 5.30 in the morning. I got up and got showered and fed the neighbours dog (they work for SP Samaritans purse and they had gone on retreat). I and my dad got in to the car, a big Toyota car.  We went to the Sheppards home to pick them and their bags up.  We all went to the airport where my dad works. His good friend the pilot Arjan was the pilot that day.
We sat in the waiting room eating our snacks, then my dad said “come”, so we boarded the airplane. We got in the plane and when everyone was seated we prayed to God. Arjan started the plane… one of the best parts was I got to sit where the pilot sits. It was so awesome!!!

We flew to Voinjama, Liberia to take the Sheppard family back home.  They do Bible translation there. The weather was really cloudy so we could not land at Foya, the second destination, and went back to Voinjama.  It was cool to see Liberia from the sky…lots of trees.  

My favourite things about the day was getting to sit in the front and ‘be a pilot’ for the day. I also got to help my dad tow the plane back in the hangar. I would love to be a pilot when I grow up.