Saturday, April 26, 2014

Passing the Baton

 I hope these words find each of you in places of hope and grace. My blogs have been few and far between lately. So many travels and transitions are happening. Many times I become overwhelmed to the point of giving up on putting it all into words. I will give it a go today and hope that the chain of events will not confuse you! ;-)

Since my last blog, I traveled home for two months to America (February-April).  I had a chance to spend time with my family. It is always good to be loved on by my siblings and friends, and they went out of their way to do so. We all got to spend a long weekend together at the beach – which is a stretch when you have seven siblings! We laughed and caught up on life. We made memories that will forever be remembered. Thanks guys!
I had opportunities to see some of my donors and to speak at various churches while home. A special thanks goes out to Crosspointe Church of Valdosta, Georgia, First Baptist Church of Lake Park, Georgia and Northside Baptist Church of Valdosta, Georgia.
I had a wonderful time home connecting with other missionaries at Pioneers’ base camp in Orlando. I was refreshed and pointed in a slightly new direction as I sought God on my future work. Many of you have been in the loop of the growth and progress of our Tree of Life ministry. Last year, our first year, we served over 110 students and 5 communities teaching community health, Moringa education and the Gospel. As a result, a house church was planted by our lead instructor Pastor Emmanuel Sesay. I cannot say how thankful to God I am to see his passion and desire to use Tree of Life as a tool in bringing hope and health to Sierra Leone. Pastor Emmanuel will be traveling to Ghana this month for training with Pioneers Africa. I am excited to see how this opportunity will grow him and challenge him as he perseveres in doing God’s work in Sierra Leone. I also would like to share that last Sunday Pastor baptized 9 new believers at his church in Deep Eye Water.

My good friend, Mark, is now back in Jui and closer to Pastor Emmanuel. He is co-teaching with Pastor and telling the Bible stories within the class. Pastor has nothing but praises to ring about Mark and has taken him under his wing to be mentored. This is exactly what I have been praying for through the birth of Tree of Life – disciples training disciples. Mark has even shared with me that he is feeling that God may be calling him to be a pastor. Please pray for both Pastor Emmanuel and Mark as they continue to follow the path God lays out for them.
I will be here in Sierra Leone for the next two months and will return in June. I feel that it is time to pass the Tree of Life baton in Sierra Leone to Pastor Emmanuel and Mark. This will mean that they will take my place as a in-country director of the ministry. I will move into more of a consultant/support role as I pray about expanding the project to other countries and people groups. Because West Africa is predominantly comprised of French speaking countries, I have been advised to learn French. This will allow me to travel into countries that have an interest in Tree of Life and do training in the national language of those countries. Because immersion is the best way to learn French, I will be raising funds to spend a year in France at a language school. This is a leap of faith for me and a big cultural shift from where I am living now. I will be coming home in June to begin fundraising for the extra monthly funding needed for the difference in the cost of living expenses.
·         Please pray for me as I enter this time of transition. I still will be traveling to Sierra Leone each year to reinforce the work and to encourage Pastor and Mark.

·         Pray for Pastor and Mark as they take on more responsibility and realize their autonomy in making Tree of Life a thriving ministry in Sierra Leone.

·         Pray for more students to come forward as teachers within Tree of Life – Sierra Leone.

·         Pray for my team that I will be leaving behind (temporarily) as they continue to be faithful to God’s call on their lives and to the people of Sierra Leone.

·         Pray for the Ebola outbreak in Guinea and Liberia that potentially could affect Sierra Leone and other surrounding countries.

·         Pray for me as I strive to raise the monthly quota needed to make my transition to France.
I love you all and encourage you to share this blog and prayer requests with your churches, small groups, and others. I am forever grateful for your partnership, love and support. We all are beginning a new chapter of this adventure. Thank you for walking with me! LG+LP

Thursday, January 9, 2014

A New Year and New Beginnings

Happy New Year to you all! I am a little late with my compliments of the season and blog. My internet connection has been unreliable the past month or so, and I wanted to wait write about the holiday season here in Sierra Leone.
Christmas was celebrated at my house with Mark, his wife Teresa and their Son Charles – my namesake. I cooked a big pot of soup and we watch Home Alone. I know, I know….don’t laugh, but my options to bring any form of American Christmas nostalgia is limited. We had a great time of fellowship and I was blessed to have someone to spend Christmas with.
We are still plugging away with our Tree of Life class in Binkolo near Makeni. The class has just completed their community project by building a tippy tap. A tippy tap is something that allows people to wash their hands when they come from the latrine. This will improve hygiene, sanitation and help prevent many other sicknesses like cholera, worms, etc. I have enclosed a picture to show the class working on building the tippy tap with their own resources. Pastor Emmanuel is also finishing up his class in Deep Eye Water and they will be graduating this month. His church is still thriving and growing!
I am also encouraged because of Mark’s involvement with the project. He has begun teaching the Bible Stories in our class sessions in Binkolo. This is a new venture for him, yet he is doing an amazing job. He confessed to me that he has always felt inadequate for such a task, so I am so happy to see his confidence and reliance upon God growing more and more. He is sharing his faith and learning to be a leader. It is beautiful to watch.
I will be coming home February 19th through April 15th. Due to some losses in monthly funding, I will be speaking and trying to raise support to continue my work here in Sierra Leone. I invite you all to contact me to come and speak or meet with any groups to share about our work here in Sierra Leone. I will just need to know in advance so that I can schedule the appointments for the limited time I am home.
I love you all and ask you to pray for me concerning decisions on the horizon that I am faced with. Continue to pray that God will undergird me and my team with his love and protection as enemies press in close. Pray for God to send true encouragers near me who can walk with me as I continue my work here in Sierra Leone. LG+LP

Psalm 10:17