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 kind....as 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 succumbed...meet 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.   www.maf-uk.org/story/trusting-god-for-great-things-for-the-manya



We have also fitted in school trips....as 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.








Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Christmas Around The World

Wow, only four days until Christmas.  There is no snow (although our children would love that), no Christmas music in shops, only a few decorations on sale in some supermarkets and no carol service to attend.
So,what have we been doing to prepare for Christmas?

We do have our tree that has traveled the globe with us. I love decorating it as our ornaments are filled with reminders of friends who gifted them to us or happy memories of Christmas' past.


For many reasons, our other decorations are mostly home made.  This year the children and I have had fun making paper chains, snowflakes and giant paper bag stars.



















With no advent candles or readings at church here we usually follow some advent readings of our own,  This year we have enjoyed using 'Jesse Tree' advent readings, with a symbol to add each day as a reminder of that days story.


The schools that the children attend have been busy collecting donations & gifts for less advantaged children in the community.  They put on some great Christmas programmes too which have been a highlight for me as a mum!  Amy & Josh performed 'Twas the night before Christmas' poem.  Being an International school several songs were sung in multiple languages.
Abigail attends preschool at a Christian school and they put on a fabulous nativity....it was Abigails first school performance and she did really well.  Her class sang " Happy Birthday Jesus" and reminded us what Christmas is all about.


















This week we are busy with Christmas baking.  Gingerbread yesterday and mince pies today!
We shall have a traditional English roast and open family gifts on Christmas eve this year.
Christmas Day will be spent at our little church making Christmas special for the 60+ children in the community. After service we will have cake, koolaid and games.  We will share in lunch (Jolof Rice, fried chicken and coleslaw) and then we will watch a Nativity Movie.

Whatever, your Christmas holds we pray you will have time to pause and reflect on the reason we celebrate,  May you marvel anew at the details of the events as you celebrate Jesus, God's greatest gift.

“I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all people. Today, in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:10





Sunday, 11 December 2016

back it up...

Some people ask periodically, and I guess a lot of you wonder, how my back is doing after the motorbike accident I had just before leaving Uganda.
After the MRI scan in the UK and appointments with the Orthopaedic Doctor I was referred to do intensive physiotherapy in order to relieve the stiffness in my neck and back a hopefully help with the aching I get in my mid back.  I was able to find a new Centre that had just started in Liberia that provides physio, occupational and speech therapy that had been set up by a physio therapist from the USA.  Salt Rehabilitation was even conveniently located only about 5km from where we live.
I have been receiving therapy 3 times a week for the last three months and am now having a break for at least 8 weeks and will then review to see how things are.



My therapy has consisted of a lot of different exercises to stretch and strengthen my back muscles, ultrasonic therapy, Electronic Muscle Stimulator (EMS) and Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS).



On the whole things have improved a lot, in particular the range of movement I have, has increased and the stiffness I had has really reduced.  The aching I get in my middle back has improved but is still an issue when I am in certain positions – the typical position it aches in when standing at the sink doing the washing up......but I haven’t managed to get out of it yet! Also, on days when I am particularly active doing practical work like maintenance on the plane the aching is an issue.

Me with Dr Kamara who set up Salt Rehabilitation

Pius - one of the two therapists that treated me