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 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

Monday, 7 November 2016

Church...the missionary dilemma.

I  believe there are many things to love about church in Africa.
Vibrant and authentic worship.
A new cultural perspective on Biblical stories and teaching.
The chance to understand another culture and build deep friendships, are just a few.

There are also challenges, particularly  when you have a young family.
I have wandered along open porches, dancing with my toddler during worship that lasts over an hour.
I have tried hard to entertain children with books and colouring through long sermons.
I have invested hours in training Sunday school teachers in order to improve the quality of what was being taught to the children.

We found a wonderful church in Uganda that became 'home'. We enjoyed fellowship with our Ugandan friends, benefited from great teaching and the children had some wonderful role models to learn from.  Yes, services could be long but it was worth it.

As we moved to Liberia we prayed that we would find the right church here for our family.
Mark and I were immediately drawn to a large evangelical church in town. The  Liberian Pastor taught the Word and was not afraid to speak the Truth.  However, the Sunday school was very large (50 children in the 1-3yr age group) and our children were not comfortable there. They also struggled with the very loud music.

We also visited a small community outreach run a by a Liberian/Canadian couple.  The services were only an hour long and another missionary family with children the same age attended.  This is where our children wanted to be!
Right now, we want them to be excited about worshiping the Lord and attending church, not to go just because we make them go.  Mark & I can find more in depth teaching in other areas (Bible study, pod casts etc). So, New Gate Community Church is where we worship each Sunday.  It is a fabulous little church with a congregation that is 75% children, We sing action songs, learn to pray together, and have a fairly short sermon.  After church the children all receive a snack or meal and get to play,  and we get to show them the love of Jesus in small ways (many of them come from neglected or abusive homes).

I often used to begin Sunday school teachers training by looking at Jesus as The Good Shepherd, focussing on the primary role of a shepherd to care for, protect, nurture, and feed his sheep.
We have been entrusted with our own little flock and therefore right now, this is how we feel we need to care for and feed our sheep.

Worship time at church

Pot luck Sunday once a month - That means Rice with a variety of 'soups'

The children also come during the week for library time and some vocational courses

Football - These boys take their football very seriously!

Those too young for football enjoy the play ground

Wednesday, 28 September 2016


I love the way God speaks to us differently.  I often hear his voice when surrounded by nature which is why I am so blessed to live right beside the ocean, and walk along the beach here in Liberia.

I also find God often speaks to me through songs. In March, as I drove to the hospital to meet Mark after his motorcycle accident, the song playing in the car was ‘Oceans’ by Hillsong.
At the time the chorus spoke to me, for God was certainly taking me deeper than my feet would ever choose to wander. He was asking me to trust him with my husbands life and health, two weeks before we would relocate to the other side of Africa. God was with us then and my faith in Him grew through that trial.
The whole song is one I have listened to many times this year. It has become my song for 2016. We knew God was clearly calling us to Liberia.  The reality of moving to ‘a great unknown’ when on some days I have felt a little like I am drowning in the waves has been tougher than I imagined.  As I wake up each morning not knowing what each day will bring, I know that His grace is enough for that day, he has never failed me and as I choose to call upon His Name to be all I need, he will answer.
I will look back at this challenge one day, knowing that my faith has been made stronger and I pray His name will have been glorified through my obedience.

Lyrics of Oceans courtesy of Hillsong:

You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep
My faith will stand

And I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You've never failed and You won't start now

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Saviour

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Early morning's.....

Following a lovely break over Christmas and New Year it was off to Liberia again for me (Mark) to carry out a scheduled inspection on the MAF aircraft based there, 5X-OPE. 

At 01.30....yes that's in, in the alarm clock goes off.  I quickly silence it and pause for a minute to listen and see if anyone else in the house stirs.  All is quiet, so I got away with it.  Forty five minutes later I am in the taxi on the way to the airport.  My route to Liberia should go like this:  Entebbe-Nairobi-Accra-Monrovia.  My return will go Monrovia-Freetown-Accra-Nairobi-Entebbe.  However once on board in Nairobi it is announced that we will also stop in Douala, Cameroon so that adds 1.30 hours on an already long day.
Despite the extended travel I eventually arrive safely at Roberts International Airport in Liberia and am met by Arjan, one of the pilots already based there.  An hour and a bit later we are at the ELWA compound at Arjan and Aartje's house drinking coffee.  The plan is to keep awake for the rest of the afternoon and get an early night ready for the next day.  I sleep at the house next door - hosted by Emil and Margrit.  Emil is Country Director/Pilot and Margrit is Finance Manager (and a lot more as I see during my brief stay!)

At 05.00....yes that's in, in the alarm clock goes off.  No need to quickly silence it as the whole house needs to get up.  If we leave the house at 6am we get to the airport around 6.25.  If we left at 07.00 we get there somewhere between 08.30 and 09.00.  We have a long day ahead so early it is!

Me removing the spinner to give access to inspect the propeller.

We all get stuck right into the inspection with Emil doing some servicing items on the engine, Arjan checking the first aid and survival kits and me carrying out the visual inspection items .  A couple of hours later a couple of other guys with previous experience on the Caravan help by checking the wheels and brakes.

Sometime during the morning I check my watch thinking it feels like coffee time but am dismayed to see it is only just after 9 - its that early morning messing with my head!  Still, by the time 10.30 rolls around and we do stop for a coffee it feels like we have achieved so much!
We wander over a couple of hangars down and pop in to the Samaritan Purse hangar to say hi and invite ourselves in for coffee.  The timing is perfect as they have a visitor from the states that has brought new stock of good quality filter coffee.  After this and having borrowed a couple of pieces of equipment from them we head back to the MAF hangar and continue.
Emil checking the brakes.

We continue working through the day, with a stop for lunch at a restaurant close by, and get the inspection completed and even some snags (defects) repaired that were outstanding from the last inspection.
Its then getting late in the day and around 5 we carry out the post inspection run to check out the various systems and do a performance run to check the health of the engine.  All is well except for the idle speed of the engine being slightly low which I adjust.

Replacing a static wick on the rudder.  These dissipate
static electricity which builds up on the airframe as the
plane fly's through the air.

We head back to ELWA and enjoy a walk down the beach and then have a late dinner.

I do the papers for the inspection in the evening (they say the plane isn't ready to fly until the weight of the papers is equal to the weight of the aircraft......) but we plan to head back early again to work off another snag and a couple of final checks.

Guess what? 05.00....yes that's in, in the alarm clock goes off.  We head back to the airport and finish the work on the plane and the final papers are done. 

We then head to MAF office, a few minutes walk away and Emil and I discuss some issues and make some plans for our impending arrival and ordering stocks of spare parts and equipment for the hangar.
We arrive back at ELWA around 11.30 and head to the other side of the compound so I can take another look at the house that we will be living in when we arrive.  I take some pictures to show Sarah and kids what it looks like with furniture in.
Its then back to Emil and Margrits house for some final packing and we head for Roberts around 12.30 for my flight back to Uganda.
Journey back is good although not much sleep is had, due to all the stops.  I arrive back in Entebbe at 9am and then its home to see the family!

At 01.30....yes that's in, in the morning....I sleep.   At 05.00....yes that's in, in the morning....I sleep..... ahhhhh finally a much needed lay in.