Thursday, July 26, 2012

July edition of the Sierra Leone Tribune

Hello, how de day?

The time just flies by here... I can't believe two weeks from today we'll be in Michigan. Anxious to see our kids, grandkids and all our friends:)

We have both been so busy... The pineapple farmers are in full swing, after a few hiccups, and we are planting every day. Did you know when a pineapple plant matures and grows for the first time, it also gives "birth" to additional shoots, which are called suckers. A single plant can produce anywhere from one to five suckers, which means that plant has multiplied by that number. Instead of planting the crowns, the tops of the pineapples, we plant the shoots/suckers. When the suckers mature, in about 8-12 months, we will then have 2-5 times more pineapple plants than we started with. So... we are planting 550,000 suckers and in a years' time we will have about three million suckers to replant. This is great news as we now have to travel to Guinea to purchase suckers. It's quite the process. If all goes well, in a few years people will be coming to Newton to purchase suckers and it will mean such a boost to the local economy here.

Each morning we load up 2,000 to 4,000 suckers in whatever vehicles are "running" and travel to the farms to deliver them. Most of the farms are remote so we can't just take a dump truck full and leave them as they may sprout legs and "walk". It's funny because in the mornings I usually meet the farmers walking to their fields and they jump on the truck. Riding in or outside of a vehicle is a very big deal here, not many have opportunities to even ride in "taxies", they wave (the Princess Di type) and yell at everyone we pass like we are part of a parade:) I then drive to each farm at least once a day to monitor their progress. I am so thankful for the Jeep (strong one, it's been named by the locals) we have, it gets me through to all the farms which isn't an easy feat. The roads are no more than foot paths that have been increased by traffic. Some of the holes, or should I say craters, are huge and when it rains really hard it's tough to tell where the holes are.... My first couple of times driving out to the farms was nerve wracking:) It was a challenge finding them and remembering where they are, no such thing as road signs here. So I make notes to self, second turn at two large palm trees, turn right in front of red falling down house or take a left at the HUGE hole/crevice in the road. It works... The paths are barely one lane so meeting oncoming traffic is very difficult, especially now with rainy season every inch of open ground is planted with some type of crop so driving off the path would result in destroying someones' food:(

On site Davids' crew is putting the finishing touches on the second floor of the admin/security building. They are whitewashing it now and will paint as soon as we get a few days without major rain. Many of his workers are also planting pineapples within the site. The first group we planted are beginning to come up and they are beautiful! They've been in the ground for about six months now. You can plant them any time of year, but irrigation can be such a problem, it's wise to plant before rainy season and take advantage of Gods' irrigation system.

The party for the workers was a huge success. We were able to feed over 200 people chicken, rice and vegetables. We had a big pray walk in the morning, games for the kids and I baked for a week ahead of time so everyone got a treat. There was even a DJ booming out Sierra Leonean rap music and imagine my joy at watching guys fast dancing together. Not at all shy, they were having a great time! We really enjoyed meeting many of the workers' wives and children. It was a opportunity for the women to get dressed up and they looked stunning. Many men brought their children and fathers and sons had shirts on made from the same material. Beautiful! Many learned how to play volleyball and then.... the big football match. All of the sudden there were at least 300-400 people here. We played against the juice factory workers and it was a great game. We won 2-1!!! In the evening we held a drawing and gave away prizes to over 25 workers. Great day... and no rain!

Last week, out of nowhere, George had a baby monkey in his arms. No one knows where the baby monkey came from but it looked like a newborn. George bonded instantly and would not let go of the baby. David had to pry the baby out of his arms so we could syringe feed it. Unfortunately, the baby died on Sunday morning. We walked outside and George was holding it tightly. He screamed the whole time David pried the babys' body from him and he never took his eyes off the baby while the guard buried it. All day he stared at that spot and just cried and yelled. It was heartbreaking. I walked outside later to find David talking to George about grief. So sweet... The dogs have rallied around George and he's bouncing back. I wish you could see these two "ferocious" dogs playing hide and seek with a monkey. It's so funny, people around come to watch. The minute we untie the dogs at night, Walter and Diesel become very scary guard dogs. It's strange, we've never had dogs quite like this before. I hired a man to help me clean the yard and the dogs were tied up but as the man began walking to me, I thought Diesel would hang himself trying to get to the man. Rocky, the oldest cat, must be hitting his teen years early, he wants to be out all night, come home and eat and then sleep all day:) Bullwinkle is still a frisky kitten and he loves to torment Rocky.

This past month has been tough but we have learned so much. First, we remembered to humble ourselves and ask for prayers and your response to our request just blew us away! Second, we were reassured that we must be doing something right because the devil never bothers us if we aren't:) and once again we were made aware that only God can provide people, prayers and strength for us to conquer any situation. Our God is HUGE!

So excited that the container has been released with the barrels containing the new DVD/Projector and generator that was donated for our Jesus Film Project. We should have it in our hands by early next week!!! It's been limiting trying to crowd numerous people around a small portable DVD player and this new projector will enable us to reach so many more people! Thank you again Hillside and East Michigan District!

We hope to see many of you while we are home on furlough, we have fallen short on our funding needs, please join us in praying that God will speak to people and the funds will be available to allow us to continue our work here. Follow the link to help..

David and Mam:)

P.S. Thank you to those who have donated towards our "boot" fund. We have $200 so far... please consider helping to supply our workers with boots to save their poor feet:) Pineapples are not pleasant to deal with and rebar and mortar along with tools and nails are not kind to bare feet. Please pray with us that the funds will be made available!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

June edition of the Sierra Leone Tribune

Greetings from the "swamp"... and Happy Fathers' Day!

Mango season is winding down for the juice factory. It was crazy those first few weeks. Truck breakdowns, lack of crates, cellular texting not working properly but we got through it. The mangoes here are delicious and many different varieties which I don't remember from Zambia. In just six weeks, the World Hope Outgrower project (farmers from around the Makeni area) have gathered and sold over 43,000 crates of mangoes, compared to last years' numbers, that's a 300% increase. Many farmers and their families have benefited. We are now involved in a pineapple planting project that will eventually supply the factory. I'm overseeing farms, each 5 acres in size, that will be planting pineapple suckers during the next month. Our program supplies those farms with tools, pineapple suckers and food for each day. They, in turn, supply the labor and their land. Upon harvest they will garner a nice portion of the profit from selling the pineapples to the factory. It's a great program and we are hoping to expand to 200 acres very soon. It's wonderful to see how excited the farmers are and what progress they've made in readying their land.

Rainy season has arrived.... did I say I wanted rain? Well, I got it! We woke up at 3:30 AM this morning to what sounded like rain coming through the roof. It was raining so hard and didn't stop until 7 AM. It's beginning to rain each day, sometimes for a few hours but we hear it will continue to get heavier each day. Supposedly July is the worst, it just rains nonstop. The water finds its' way in every nook and cranny. Each day this week I'm finding more little "holes" in the body of the Jeep. My attire is interesting, where are those stylish womens' rain boots with little designs, I've got big black "rubbers" (as they are called) boots:) We are now experiencing an invasion of frog/toads...they are everywhere! A little big to step on:) but how does one "shoo" them away?

Walter and Diesel are not happy with the rain but seem thrilled to roll in every mud puddle they can find. George is living on the back "porch" now and he's so funny. He cackles when he is hungry and runs up and down the roof cawing (?) like a large bird when he's angry. We had a female monkey show up one day, apparently someone in the area thought we might like to have her. NO, we do not want baby monkeys everywhere! So she went home...she didn't seem to think much of George:) It's funny to see that George now plays with the dogs and when it's raining can be seen cuddled up to Walter or Diesel. Rocky and Bullwinkle have even accepted him, they love to bat their paws at each other.

A pickup truck with a bed is rarely seen empty, if it's not full of supplies, it's full of people. It's next to impossible not to stop when so many are needing rides. My favorite is when my timing is right and I can pick up a bunch of school kids, riding in the back of a truck is a very big deal here and the kids wave and smile at everyone we pass, like they are in a parade. It's heartwarming! I've yet to brave public transportation here, it doesn't seem nearly as stable and reliable as transport in Zambia. Frames on vehicles that go sideways, tires coming off and the chassis dragging on the ground:)

We have a team of architects and engineers here this week. They are part of a group, eMI, Engineering Ministries International based out of Colorado Springs, CO. Nice group of people from all different parts of the US , one from South Africa and another from Ghana. I'm learning the difference between engineers, architects and structural designers. They are drawing up plans for two new factories and our next wave of "dream" structures. Things we would love to have on site when God opens the doors with new funding donors. Eventually... a guest house on premises (similar to the one in Zambia) for teams and out of country guests. We're hoping to use the experience we garnered in Zambia to help put this idea into motion.

This has undoubtedly been the hardest month we've had on the field. Satan has been attacking left and right so, as our pastor says, we must be doing the right things. He tends to ignore those he already "has". It's been so difficult for us and a few days the thought of running was very tempting. But then... we chose to run and dive into the word instead, and He provided just what we needed. Just as God was providing the verses we needed to read we were strengthened knowing your prayers were also covering us. Thank you again.

We are so grateful that you read and enjoy what God is doing in and through us and we wish that your joy may be full (1 John 1:4) and that you may pray for us (Colossians 4:3a); however, our present challenge has us searching for more faithful partners from amongst you. Already, several have increased their giving, while others have made special gifts. Will you join with us and with those who already have committed to financially partnering with us? All you need to do is to go to our donor page and click ‘Donate online’ or you can call World Hope at 1-888-466-4673 and let them know that your donation is going to our fund # 28163. Last, but not least, you can always mail a check to the address lion their website and include our fund number on your check. We will be home in August and if you would like us to visit, please let me know.


David and Mom (that's me now, I have acquired hundreds of additional children/grownups....)

P.S. We are having a big cookout/party for the site workers on Saturday with games, entertainment, food and a big football match between our workers and the juice factory personnel. The workers have been through a lot and First Step wants to thank them for all they do. Please join us in praying that we have a nice day and very little rain!

P.P.S. . David and I keep praying for Gods' direction with a very big need here, none of the workers can afford work boots and many work in flip flops. Their feet are bruised, cut and swollen. Pineapples are not pleasant to deal with and rebar and mortar along with tools and nails are not kind to bare feet. Please pray with us for a solution!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Pineapple farmers get their tools:)

May edition of the Sierra Leone Tribune

Happy Mothers' Day!

What a terrific month we have had! The men completed the roof on the second floor of the security/administration building. It was fascinating to watch them pour the roof, by hand. I posted a video on Facebook and also our blog. Check it out...

The greatest thing of all.... we have water!!! Three men spent 10 days digging a well by hand, got down about 30 feet and they starting hitting the water table. A crew of men then spent five days with some sort (? my tool knowledge is not the greatest) of hand drill and finished it. They sunk a electric pump in the ground and ran a pipe underground to our water tank. We also had them put in a outside faucet so we could share with all the neighbors. I could not believe how many people just appeared.... hundreds came with buckets, pans, jugs and containers. Everyone was dancing and singing, it was a perfect day! Besides our own water tank, we are pumping over 1600 gallons of water each day into barrels and a big tank for the neighbors.

We love it, we have met so many people and are having so much fun with all the kids. The first night David hooked a big blue piece of tubing to the faucet so we could fill barrels easily....these six little boys walked up in their underwear with their buckets and David said "Oh if you come for water in your underwear, you get a free shower"! He squirted them all and they were laughing and jumping around. Imagine never having had a shower before, water being so precious you don't waste a drop. The generator has to be on for the pump to work so we fill it in morning and when we return in the evening people are lined up all over the road, waiting for us. The first night we pulled in they were cheering and clapping, it was hard not to cry. They keep saying thank you to us, but we refer them to our Father then to First Step. I enjoy spending time outside playing with the kids, teaching them to blow bubbles, I would have never thought .50 bubbles would be such a hit! The kids are also learning English..."I want to try to blow a bubble". (I posted a video on our blog and Facebook). David spends most evenings outside with everyone. He loves the kids... Of course, my Janet is right with me, she stands in front of me, so the other kids know I belong to her:) I love that girl!

New addition to the family, a "blue" monkey named George. David found him on the main road and had to have him, he traded a goat for him. George looks like an organ grinder monkey. He certainly has personality! I'm not feeling too warm and fuzzy about him, which obviously he senses, but he loves David. George lives outside during the day, entertaining the kids and the guard while people come for water. In the late evenings he comes in (on leash) and David feeds him and then he sleeps in the bathroom. Between the dogs and whatever I don't know how he would fare outside. He's rather fascinating to watch as he uses his hands and feet to eat. He makes the weirdest noises, like cackling then this chirping thing followed by a clucking noise. It's cute for a few minutes, but then.... Every night David goes into the kitchen and whatever he comes out with, George sits on his hind legs, holds out his arms and waves at David to bring it to him. But he is a great assistant in my war on bugs, he loves them!

The rains have begun, sporadic but it's cooler in the evenings. The first and second time it rained.... I was not prepared for the invasion. I kid you not, flying termites (like 2 in long), flying LARGE "things" and these yucky beetle/roach type things that live under ground. We literally were dive bombed inside the house. Out came the weapons....but the smell almost killed us:) It's getting better now.

I have been so busy learning more than I thought possible about mangoes and pineapples. Working with a group of local farmers who will be planting pineapples, tromping through bush doing soil samples (?), buying tools (do you know that tools here are sold with/without handles?) I didn't and flipped out when my huge delivery of over 1000 different tools arrived with no handles. Can you imagine going to Lowe's and buying a shovel with no handle? The locals here like to have their own handles made and then use a blacksmith to attach the handle to the tool. I'll post a few pictures on the blog of the farmers when we delivered their tools, so happy! I've never seen such smiles. Did you know there are MANY varieties and sizes of mangoes and only certain ones are good for making juice? Been involved in the logistics of coordinating transport, payment and delivery of over 8,000 crates of mangoes in just the last 10 days. Such a wonderful opportunity for the local farmers here. Getting ready to plant 400,000 pineapples soon with local farmers, great things happening!

Exciting.... looks like we have a team coming at the first of the year! David is excited to have other men to "play/work" with... me I'm all about the Oreos (for those of you that know me). We can't wait!! Great friends of ours... David is happily getting dirty and playing with tools all day:)

This past week has been an emotional rollercoaster for us, one thing after another, I pick up my devotional and there it is...Taken from John, Isaiah and Philippians "Do not long for the absence of problems in your life. That is an unrealistic goal, sine in this world you will have trouble. You have an eternity of problem-free living reserved for you in heaven. Rejoice in that inheritance, which no one can take away from you, but do not seek your heaven on earth ...begin each day anticipating problems, asking me to equip you for whatever difficulties you will encounter." This life, although it's all we've truly seen with our eyes, is temporary and it's comforting to know that his hand never lets go of me, even when I keep running from his grasp. He is always awaiting my return!

God continues to open our eyes to his peoples' needs and hurts, it's hard to handle at times. Living in a foreign country (unlike "living abroad") as a missionary is never an easy task. It's touching, delightful, inspiring, heart breaking, frustrating, lonely, frightening, confusing and still I can't imagine us anywhere else right now. Please continue to lift us in prayer, we've had some difficult situations to deal with recently, along with all the other missionaries in your lives. Our newsletters usually portray cheery, funny, interesting God filled days, but as with anything, there is another side we don't expound on. It wouldn't glorify our Father and I refuse to give Satan "any" air time:) Just continue to pray, please... God has big plans for this country and its' people and we are thrilled to see them begin to unfold.

We will be home on furlough in August and part of September. If you would like us to come visit you/your church, we'll be happy to try to get there! Please let me know.


David and Mrs. David (alias Bath or Maim)

If you would like to contribute financially to our work, please follow this link.

Monday, May 7, 2012

English lesson....with fun!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Hand pouring the roof... can you imagine??

Happy Easter!!

Greetings from the land of dust...

We don't think we have ever, in our lives, wanted rain so badly! I can remember thinking the dust in Zambia was bad but it doesn't compare to the terrible air quality right now. Hopefully, we are only about 2 weeks from rainy season, my head feels like it will burst. No amount of sinus medication, cold tablets, aleve or cold compresses seem to relieve the headaches and coughing we are both experiencing. In spite of the weather, life here is really quite nice. David and I seem to have finally cleared that hurdle we run into each time we move to a new country. Feeling comfortable, getting to know people, beginning to learn the language and just knowing in our hearts that this is where we are supposed to be. You know you are "use-d" when you don't even hear the generator running or the chickens squawking:)

We are excited to spend our first Easter here celebrating our risen Savior. We will attend our church for service, come home to cook (David will, of course, nap) and then off to a pot luck, fellowship and a praise and worship service with our expat family. It was refreshing to see Good Friday still observed as a revered holy day and a national holiday. The churches were packed and most of the businesses closed.

For those of you that know David well, I'm sure you remember what a man of few words he is/was... He has been asked several times to emcee sport relay days and has graciously accepted each time. He sits on the platform, gives a short speech and presents all the awards and certificates. For a man that was so shy... everywhere God has sent us his grace has proved to be more than sufficient. David has always been vocal and visible everywhere we have been sent and once again "Watters" is a familiar call as we drive down the road. The children flock to him and once again he charms the cook... Myla, the woman who brings cooked food (lunch here is called chop) for workers to purchase each day, is spoiling him by feeding him every day. The men working on the site are thrilled a "restaurant/bus stop" has been enhanced on site to offer them shade and a place to sit while having lunch. Just little things ..

Grandma and Janet are doing quite well. After our last visit to the Dr. on the way home (about 125 yards from our driveway) I stopped and put Janet in my lap and let her "drive" home. Oh my... she was beside herself, she is now a celebrity as she has "driven a motor car". Every time a friend comes to visit her she brings them to our house and gives them a "tour" of the motor car, explaining its' glory and where she sat while driving. It's the cutest thing... We have been so blessed, we wrote a proposal to a church in Waterville OH requesting a donation from their endowment fund for a used vehicle and they approved it! We found a 95 Jeep Wrangler for sale here and have purchased it. Funny...a vehicle made so close to home in the states. It's been running well and is so helpful in our ministry work. It's perfect for those mountain paths (what they call roads). I've been branching out from Newton and visiting neighboring villages. I've been asked to teach "computer" to many who are interested in villages around us. Can't wait until the DVD projector arrives so we can start visiting villages and sharing with others the Jesus film and other great Christian films.

In the evenings we take a walk and visit with the neighbors, from the road you would never even know there are houses tucked behind the trees and hills. There are still a few little ones that are frightened by "obotu" but most are very happy to see us and stop and chat. Lots of building happening in our neighborhood, the site is attracting many people. We then enjoy sitting outside on the porch and watching the foot traffic in front of the house. Janet and Thomas come over and I read them books, try to teach them to do puzzles (did you know that in every country we have been in no one has ever seen puzzles) and work with them on counting and colors. They seem to think that if the piece doesn't fit, you just need to pound it in place:) (Dawnette, thank you so much for the donations of kids books/puzzles) Janet is like a sponge, she is here every night waiting... I can't believe the difference in her, she must be feeling more comfortable around us. She smiles all the time and is talking quite a bit in English. She and Thomas "help" me do wash, they help load the clothes and fight over who gets to push the button to start it. Then they sit and watch the washer while munching crackers. I love it! While filling the water barrel to feed into the washer, the kids gathered so the water splashes into their faces. They were just beaming and enjoying the impromptu shower, what a true blessing water is, I don't think I ever appreciated it until these last five years. To think I took it for granted, for years!

Well, my life of "luxury" and idleness has quickly come to an end. The onset of mango season is looming... the trees are getting heavier each day with big green pods that will become delicious mangoes in the coming weeks. I will be working closely with World Hopes' outgrower program, founded with Houghton College, to assist in facilitating the sale, transportation and delivery of mangoes to the juice factory on site. First Step is also coming alongside the local farmers to assist them in planting pineapples that will supply the juice factory. I will be working with a local company to work out how to make this happen. It is all very exciting!

David is thriving, he's working very hard. The men will be pouring the concrete roof on the second floor of the security building this week. There will be fifty men who will form an assembly line to move mortar in pans (similar to dishpans) from the ground to the second floor. It needs to be poured into a rebar and wooden form and smoothed before it hardens. We've seen it done and it moves so fluidly, it's amazing to watch. I'll try to video it and share with you. It now looks like he will be even busier... We had a number of visitors from various countries last week and they were very excited to see what is happening here in Sierra Leone. One or two are ready to sign on the dotted line! Pray these contracts come to fruition, it will mean many more jobs for Sierra Leonean people and an additional boost to the economy. Another new solar system was just installed to power the security/admin building. It's amazing to think of how technology has "harnessed" the sun to provide power. It's wonderful and will save so much money in the future.

We have been asked to stay another year! There are many things in the works..a friend we met in Zambia wants to visit this fall and teach English, friends want to share of themselves and their talents with our new family/friends here and it will be great to continue to see how God moves. We should be home late summer on furlough and to do additional fund raising. Hope during our church visits we get to see you!

Once again, as I've struggled with feeling disconnected, God provides a clear answer. I love this devotional book (Jesus Calling) that my good friend, Mary Ellen gave me before we went to Haiti. Taken from Genesis, Romans and Hebrews "I am with you and for you, your constant Companion and Provider. The question is whether you are with me and for me. Though I never leave you, you can essentially leave Me by ignoring Me: thinking or acting as if I am not with you. When you feel distance in our relationship, you know where the problem lies. My love for you is constant: I am the same yesterday, today and forever." and He loves me!!!

May you have a blessed Easter celebrating our risen Savior!


David and Beth

P. S. We have cleared and planted a large community garden behind our house. Got some great organic seeds in the states that are really liking this climate. It should provide great veggies for us and all the neighbors. Our daytime guard helped me to build a make shift fence to keep the chickens out. They can get through the smallest holes...I've been threatening to let Diesel loose and give the chickens something else to do:)

Rocky was bitten by a snake a few weeks ago. He came crying (you know how cats do) into the house and we discovered a huge lump and two puncture wounds on his hind quarter. We were able to squeeze it all out (yuck), give him antibiotics and nurse him back to health (with only a few scratches between us).

Shopping here in any town is like a huge drive thru.. the traffic moves so slowly that vendors move from car to car selling any number of things and you even have time to jump out, buy something (as long as you don't need a receipt:) and return to the vehicle, which probably hasn't moved far.

Stepped outside the other day to find a frog, frozen in mid stride... He must have gotten in the path of diesel fuel going to the generator and it seemed to have killed him instantly, the kids were fascinated, he looked like a statue.

We are still behind in our cash/pledge yearly goal amount. If you wish to contribute, please follow this link We could never do this without your prayers and support, thank you.