In the Red

“Everyone has been made for some particular work, and the desire for that work has been put in every heart”

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I LOVE my job. I don’t make any money. I do not earn fame or recognition for the work I do. There’s no schedule to punch or days off. But there are huge benefits. I get to love and know 18 beautiful kids and 4 special women who make this “job” my greatest passion realized.

I am the director of Lifegate Children’s Home in Sierra Leone, Africa.

Some of my day to day tasks include writing reports and filing paperwork, checking on all the kids and caregivers, going to meetings, and balancing a budget. Some days it includes running kiddos to the doctor and having parent- teacher meetings. Often it is filled with hugs and smiles. Occasionally, it includes tears and hard talks. Every day it is a blessing.

The reason I am writing this is because my biggest job is to make sure all these people I love are taken care of. I want to be sure these kids can go to school, see a doctor when they are sick, have shoes to cover their feet and food to put in their bellies. I want to know we can pay our staff so these kids are taken care of and safe and secure. Unfortunately, these things are not for sure now.

We started 2018 a little rocky. We have had some supporters of LCH reach a point where they were unable to continue giving. We also had to add on the expense of security to meet the laws put in place by social welfare and keep our doors opened. To be honest, we lack $310 a month in support. We are praying for 11 people to come along side us and give a gift of $30 a month, or $1/day, to keep us up and running. Would you be willing?

You cannot fathom what a blessing your donation is to these kids and caregivers. Your monthly gift keeps these kids healthy, fed, and happy. We want to raise these kids up to have opportunities most people in this country never get. Would you please consider partnering with this family? This is our passion. We can’t do it without you.

To partner with us, please click the link HERE TO GIVE  or email me at millersinafrica@gmail.com and I will walk you through it!

THANK YOU SINCERELY

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What I have learned in two years

When I was measuring my life in another country on another continent by days, weeks, and then months, I viewed things a bit differently. Weekly I would discover a new thing, realize a new reality, learn a new custom. I was like a sponge and it was exciting and shocking and often just plain scary. At the start, I wanted to share every little detail. And now, here we are, hitting our second year. Since life became routine and more normal, I fell away from this blog just from sheer busy-ness. I have a full-time job that eats up my days, and the time to jot down the interesting points often escapes me. However, now that we are coming up on the two-year milestone, I thought it would be a good time to jump back on here and connect with you guys. I want to share some of what I’ve learned. Now, please be quick to note that this does not mean I know it all. The major Truth I keep coming back to is that I will never fully understand, or fit, and therefore, I will always be a pupil in so many aspects. Bearing that in mind, here’s a list of five things I have learned. People love lists, myself included. And if you have exactly five minutes to give to read this today, this list is for your skimming pleasure, as much as it is for my scatterbrained sanity 😉

 

1) I’ve changed. Or I’ve had to change …That’s probably more accurate. Had to. You change and grow and in many ways break. That is only normal I think. You must adapt to survive. Adaptability is life for missionaries, or anyone who lives abroad, I’ve come to realize. Adaptability is a part of everyone’s life, yes, but glaringly so for us. Either you change to be comfortable where you are, or you get consumed with the stuff you can’t control and it kills you. I have adapted to speaking a different language most of my days. To the point that, at times, I speak it to my family when I get in the door from working. The kicker is when you speak it in your sleep and wake yourself up having full conversations. I’ve adapted to smells and sights and sounds that first made me think I would soon die here. Dramatic much? Piles of fish lying on the road side and uncovered sewer flowing aimlessly made me dry heave. The topless granny’s sweeping the litter from their yards, blaring car horns screaming down the streets, and deafeningly loud music pouring out of blown speakers used to make me go off on a mini tangent until I felt satisfied that I had lamented sufficiently. That sounds rude and stuck up. I was. Now, by Gods mercy, I don’t notice those things so much. It just is, and I am here and this is the life we live. I have adapted to driving with one hand on the horn myself and the topless granny down the road is one of my favorite people to greet because she is always so happy. I think that’s more due to her season on life and less the nudity, but I’ve never asked. The point is, we have gotten used to these parts that are now our every day’s. They not only are familiar but they feel like home. And that’s a gift in a place that’s so far from what you always thought was home. You don’t realize how much you have changed, until you look back at how you used to view it. The reality is God changes you. And I thank Him that He makes any place comfortable when you’re willing to let Him.

 

2) You stop taking pictures like a tourist. That’s because it’s not a trip or a moment. It is your life. And you start seeing life as normal. And that doesn’t warrant a picture. It’s just your everyday grind. Sometimes you get some good photos and want to throw them out there for the world. Often, you get a good picture and store it away for you. I don’t think to snap pics of myself in social welfare waiting for an appointment, or going to a parent-teacher meeting about one of our many kids. It’s not momentous to see me hanging clothes on the line or doing school with our sons.  I don’t have to show the world when I am taking out hair braids, buying produce at the market, or kicking a soccer ball with all the boys. I am not being a martyr and I hope I am not making you feel like I don’t want to share with you. There are things that are worth a share, but mostly, it’s just life. At some point, you say this is good. I’m just going to be here. Be present. Be mindful of the memories I’m making. Because a picture doesn’t capture it all anyway. And all that you do is for an audience of ONE.

 

3) You feel isolated. You are absorbing and living and being part of this culture and country and this new, God-made family, but you’re still the outsider. You will never understand everything. You will probably really only grasp a fraction. You can insert yourself in and be the best “joiner” you can be. But you still aren’t a ___(in my case Sierra Leonian)__. There is always something that highlights to others that you don’t belong and every so often you’re going to feel it.  For me it happens when people speak a language I haven’t picked up… probably to talk about me.  You notice that isolation when others call you by the color of your skin and giggle when you make a faux pas (cause no matter how long you have lived there, you do not know it all and you never will). It’s the most obvious when you go into your house at the end of the day and let out a sigh of relief that you’re back in your comfort zone. Your guard comes down and you relax from the daily stress of being a person living in a place you weren’t born. And the truth is you don’t belong in your own culture anymore, either. Loved ones there don’t get you, and it is not their fault. They live a life separate from you and they’re changing, too. They’re still your family, or friends (and devastatingly, you lose those, too), but they’re on a different continent and you can’t bridge that gap no matter how badly you wish it so. Truthfully, in some ways, you’re alone. And that’s hard at times. That loneliness can be the most consuming feeling in the world. I cannot find the right words to describe this huge hole that feels like you do not belong anywhere. Words are simply inadequate. But, it really hurts- really dang bad. Which is why Jesus must be your focus. (Please don’t groan. I realize that’s cheesy, but Oh how truthful it is).  He is the only one who can fill the holes, and He alone can make you feel like it will be OK. He’s the reason we come and He must be the one we pour it all out to at the end of the day. You cling to the knowledge that He sees you and He loves you and He promises all the things you have sacrificed (which varies from everything to so little- depending on the day) matters to Him and He will redeem it all. There is also the bonus of Number 4 of this list –

 

4) You gotta find your people. Since you’re so isolated and lonely and now so different, you lack on how to explain it all to others back “home”. You don’t even know where to begin and each time you try, you feel frustrated because words fail so hard. You cannot express all this stuff in a text or a broken-up phone call. When you try, after you hang up, you feel somehow emptier. Cue the others God has thrown into this boat of crazy with you. They’re from “out there” also. The other side of the world-  the side you came from. They are “strangers in a foreign land” just like you. And they become your people. They’re here for different callings and for seasons completely separate from yours. Your life becomes a series of goodbyes because you never know what God is going to move you or them onto next. But the gift of having someone who gets it is priceless. This group doesn’t look conventional. It’s a hodge podge of people you would normally never meet- due to age, parenting stages, locations or vocations. But you’re here and you become each other’s safe place. And that’s completely God. You have two major things connecting you- a calling to where you are and an understanding of why it’s so hard- and that’s enough. You pray in the same language, know the same songs and movies, and you can make our own culture together. A sum of what you came from and what you now know. The connection of missionary to missionary is not something to begrudge or dismiss. You’re not in competition or cancelling each other out. The work is plenty and the workers are few. So, I had to learn to find my people and to encourage each other as often as possible. None of this is for the faint of heart. Thankfully, they make the loneliness less obvious and the bad days a bit easier.

 

5) Missionary does not equal sainthood. This last one is a joke and yet a much-needed statement. And just to clarify, I used to think that was the “tip top”.… until I got recruited into it. Everyone can joke about missionaries being the “supreme” of Christians. They are the sanctified ones. They are going straight up the front of the line when the rapture happens. The truth is, the day I checked “missionary” on the occupation box did not matter one bit to the inner me. The one that God sees. I didn’t suddenly become immune to sin or start to heal people with the laying of hands. I have never turned water to wine and I have yet to have more than 1 vision in my life (and the vision happened in a living room in small town Illinois). I am not exceptional or to be revered. The pedestal idea is a lie and I am begging all of you to not buy into it. Many of you will laugh and say “no problem. I knew you when you were 16. You’re not fooling us” and that’s great. I just want to make it clear- I’m a work in progress. I will never be done. If I have breath, I will be trying to be better for Christ, as is every Christian I know. Because He so deserves my up most. And the truth is I have very ugly days where I curse under my breath and I am anything but loving and I just want to go to Target, hit a drive through (“Drive-Thru”? I don’t know, I just want it), take a hot bath, and use internet that doesn’t add to my gray hairs every time I send an email. I am a mess who happened to say “yes” to a life that takes me to hard places and shows me that I am small and God is huge and the only way to live is following Him. And I was pushed into that “yes”. I did not willingly jump. I’ve learned we’re all a mess. And we need Jesus. Whether we’re a reverend or a robber. No checked occupation box changes that truth.

 

So, as we move away from year two and barrel clumsily towards year three, I have so much more to learn, and I’m so grateful to be just where I am, doing just what I do. Thanks to everyone who has joined us on this journey. God bless you all.

 

what do your days look like?

So some people have asked me about what my days look like. Now that this has become life I often forget to take photos and sometimes I simply don’t share because its too hard to put into words all the things I have been experiencing. Its not something that anyone would understand without living here. However, it is just nice to connect with you all. I love to see the things that are happening in your worlds. How your kids are growing, how work is coming, what you ate lately. Especially what you ate lately. I miss American restaurants like nobodies business. I would marry Coldstone Creamery now if he would have me… I am getting off track. Anyhow I tried to be intentional for a couple weeks and documented some of my days. Here is what the result is-

At the beginning of each month, the first Tuesday, funds come in for the Lifegate Children’s Home. We use them to pay the salaries of our caregivers, to pay for school fees and medication and we also buy supplies. Lots of supplies. Feeding all the kids ain’t easy or cheap. Which is why its such a blessing have sponsors who care enough to take from what they have and send it here. I carefully manage every penny and often add my own pennies, so to speak, so that every donation is intentionally used. When its time to buy all those supplies, I head up to the home in the morning after the kids have left for school, pick up one of our caregivers- and head to the market. But first I wait 45 minutes for her to prepare. I am the only planner here. In this country.  Except the other american’s. This culture does not plan. And you cant make them!- and we go to Waterloo market for the day. Being in waterloo market is like walking through the state fairgrounds in August. Its dirty and hot and people are shoulder to shoulder at times. Except this is like when you’ve won (nope-bought) 500 pounds of prizes to tote back to your car. We buy 4 giant bags of rice, a huge bag of onions, a carton of 50 tins tomato paste, 36 bars of soap, 10 large toothpaste tubes, 50 packets of juice, 50 cups of flour, 45 cups of sugar,50 cups of dry beans, boxes of seasoning, and the list goes on and on. I have three pages of paper that I take to buy with. Don’t forget the hair cream and lotion. My girls can not live without their pomades and cocoa butter lotions. Soft and sweet smelling. That is our monthly buying. The weekly happens every Wednesday and Saturday for me. Gotta get the fresh stuff, too. Once we get it all home we count every item cup by cup again because we watch everything we use carefully. Everyone in the home helps.

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Preparing to enter the twilight zone… 😉 Waterloo Market

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The supplies are jammed in the middle and very back.

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Everyone helps unload. Except me. I liaded it all in there. That’s why we have all these kids 😉

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We begin to count every cup of rice and document every item brought it.

Wednesday and Thursday I generally go up and see the kids. Our new house is nearly finished and we are so thrilled to move! I check on progress and I play with the kids and check in with our caregivers. I find cool selfies and weird videos on my phone when I get home. Our kids have a slight level of narcissism. They’re still young enough that its cute.

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Our new house

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Another shot of the new place. We are so excited!

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Alpha’s selfie 😉

Friday I have a meeting at the home with my boss Rick and our national director to go over anything. Last week the girls home got plaster done and a storage closet was completed for all the food! We love to see progress. A church generously donated for the construction project. Thank you churches and givers, who make these things happen. Of course after the meetings more playing happens.

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Saturday the 11th was Isha’s birthday. She turned 13. We celebrated with cake and a gift. But her birthday was also her beach day. So Martha, John, and Isha went to the beach with us for the day. We ate  and swam and built a giant sand fort. My favorite days off are ones at the beach with our kiddos.

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Car selfies

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Trying to get everyone in

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Sunday is church and generally a bit of time with the kids up at the home after. And hopefully phone calls with family and by Gods mercy a movie. We have pizza night every Sunday- homemade of course. Papa Johns, why have you left me?!?. But anyhow, we like to relax.

Monday is back to school again for the boys. We do school Monday through Friday. Ty helps when I have to go work and vice versa. Its nice partnering. Friday is test day. The boys favorite! However, this past week was my art week. So I went to the schools teaching an art class and telling the story of Cain and Abel. We are going through the stories one by one. Can’t skip the murderous brother, so we embraced it. Every kid in our school has siblings. Legit. Every kid. SO I taught-Give God your best. And, When you get jealous and angry, give it to God. Chill DON’T Kill. The kids gave great contributions and asked good questions and I am happy to report they were all quite disappointed in Cain. So Monday, Tuesday, and Friday art classes happened. When I was done I went to the home and checked on the kids.

Thursday we had to get the other supplies for the kids. They need shoes and clothes. We buy shoes every month and by week 3 most of them have broken their shoes. It doesn’t matter the kind you buy or the material used. The terrain here is rocky and hard to navigate. Sometimes people here (not me of course- just others) fall a lot. And our kids love to play and run and kick balls. So we spend about $1 per pair of sandals and let them go. We go to Freetown for the clothes shopping because you get the best deals. This month our boys got new shirts for church (and they looked so handsome) and our girls got some pretty new skirts.

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Shopping in freetown

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Sitting in one of the clothing “junks”. They are tarp made stalls with all the items packed in

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Handsome in their new clothes!

This Saturday we played soccer with all the kids. Again, no stinking photos. I’m sorry. But the boys won their game and we girls played each other. It was tied one to one. I’m coming for a rematch soon. Sunday my body hurt everywhere. We went to church and then went up to spend time with the kids. (you’re seeing a theme for my days, right?)

Tuesday I taught art at the bible telling school for the first time. The BTS is Rick’s newest baby. It is our adult education school. They learn bible telling in the early morning, sewing and tie dyeing in the later morning, and there is an adult literacy class in the afternoons. These ladies (and men are welcome but right now we don’t have any enrolled) are getting a chance to learn a trade and provide for themselves. If you think they might like coloring, you are wrong. They LOVED it. Who doesn’t enjoy a chance to relax and color? Its just peaceful. In this culture creativity is not nurtured. Its not something that people think about because you’re so busy just surviving. Forget thriving. One of the ladies asked for an “example” on how to color her sheep. I politely refused and told her she gets to get “crazy” with it. She had some of the best colors. That is my favorite.

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Wednesday, it was back up to the home to see the kids and check in with the caregivers and give hugs and kisses and kick the soccer ball and talk about school and work on math problems and practice how to tell time and get more hugs and kisses and….

Its a great life.

Three months summed up ;)

I hope all of you have had a wonderful Thanksgiving and Christmas. We have been really busy with everything going on here these days. I blame the 20 kids!  However, we really have not been good at keeping you all in the loop. This is a recap of the last 3 month. As always, thank you for your patience and grace as we try to straddle two worlds. Sometimes its difficult to juggle being fully here and keeping all of you up to date. However, you as our family, friends, and supporters are always in our thoughts.I will try to do a highlights reel for the last couple months. *Full disclosure- I have been drafting  (and appropriately edting) this thing for over a month. Seriously, sorry!*

In October, we really enjoyed having one of my best friends, Ginger, here for a wonderful week and a half. She and I went to the villages Lifegate reaches. We taught art projects, gathered testimonies from the people of Lifegate, shopped for items for her new fundraising business -(stay tuned for that)- and spent a lot of time with the kiddos at the Children’s home. These kids are why God called us here and it is also Ginger and her husband Chance’s heart as well. It was great having my two worlds collide and it blessed me so much to see the friend I have had for nearly a decade.

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Ginger and I before she headed back.

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Teaching the story of creation at the Brigitte school.

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Ginger and some of the school kiddos!

We celebrated Konnah’s birthday, too. She is one of our older girls. She is one of the shiest girls we have, but she has really blossomed since coming to the home. She is also the only child in the home in need of monthly support. In case you were wanting to partner with us. $60 a month is all that is lacking. We are so grateful to all of you who have chosen to invest in these amazing kids, who are the future of Sierra Leone.

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Konnah is a gorgeous young lady! This was from her baptism day!

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She wanted me to make her chocolate cake 🙂 She also got some headphones!

In November, we had Thanksgiving with friends at the beach! It was a nice way to celebrate. Sometimes it’s difficult to be away from people we love, but new traditions like that are such a gift.

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Could not ask for a better view!

We celebrated one year of living in Sierra Leone. What an amazing year God has given us! We are so thrilled for this life and the year God has brought us through. A huge thank you goes to our mentors and ministry partners, Rick and Paula Miller. We came to help with the vision God gave them. We are extremely blessed and thankful to play a small part in the things happening with Lifegate because of their dreams and dilligence. We pray God grows this ministry more and that He continues to bless our families and the staff we serve wit here. We also thank all of you for sacrificing financially so we can be here doing this work. You all can not understand what a gift you have given us. This year has been lots of learning and loving and growing. Thank you all.

 

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Thankful for these friends. 

And again, we celebrated lots of birthdays. Musa and Jariatu, two of our caregivers in the home, had birthdays as well as their baby boy J.J. turned 1. He was born the day we arrived and we have loved watching him grow.

 

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Musa, Jariatu, and Junior Turay

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Connor and JJ playing.

In November, I taught about Adam and Eve at the Lifegate schools. They painted serpents for the art project. It is so much fun watching the kids play with the art supplies and really understand the stories.

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One of the little artists at the Bunga Wharf school

 

We went to our first Sierra Leonean wedding. They make clothing from matching fabric, called an Ashobi. We all had an outfit made, because who wouldn’t want to have something so pink! 😉 We did have a really nice time.

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Missing a few, but most of us before the reception

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All dressed up and looking good 😉

We started back up beach days with the kids. Its kind of the only thing to do here as an “outing,  but were not complaining. It gives us some extra time with the kids and allows them to ride in the car (which is a big deal!) and feel special for a day. We are looking forward to doing it every month with 3-4 kids at a time until everyone gets their turn to go.

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Fatmata, Alpha and Alfred all took their turn at the beach in November

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Swimming with Papa Tyler

December was a lot of crazy excitement. We welcomed Tyler’s mom and dad on the 10th and they will be here until the 12th of January. We are so happy to have them with us. We surprised the boys by telling them we were picking up a visiting missionary for our partners, Rick and Paula Miller. When they saw their grandparents come out instead, they were stunned and overjoyed. We can’t believe we were able to keep it a secret.
In their time, we have gone swimming, gone to church, and taken them to some of our favorite spots. Of course, they have been with us when we go to the Children’s Home for work and visiting, too. Everyone loves grandpa and grandma!

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Out for the day in Freetown, the capitol of Sierra Leone

We were able to be there for the unveiling of a new podium at the Bunga Wharf Lifegate Church. As with all the Lifegate branches, the people who make it up are family and it is a privilege to be with them.

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Praying over the podium before it was uncovered

Our head Pastor, Lamin, asked me to tell the story a couple Sundays and it was really fun getting to practice my Krio, as well as dig deeper into some of the old testament stories. Everyone suffered with my attempt without complaint. I love to learn from the way they tell these stories. It stays with me more than reading it on my own!

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Pastor Lamin helping me teach on fasting.

We also had the great pleasure of spending another Christmas with our kids and caregivers up at the home. We did cotton candy and had a big meal of Jollof rice and chicken, a tasty Sierra Leone dish. We played games and opened gifts and watched Elf. The kids got new soccer cleats, socks, balls, and pinny jerseys sent over from generous donors in America. My cousin Christi and her husband Chad headed up the task finding generous people to help make this happen. It was a great surprise. The kids here love soccer so much and they play barefoot often. This new stuff made them feel like pros. Thank you everyone who made this happen. Lots of fun was had. We also spent time preparing for the big Christmas party we had on Sunday at the church in Brigitte Village. Sadly, my phone died during before the party . One of the struggles of living in place where there’s rarely electricity- no way to charge my phone = I didn’t get photos at the party!

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Getting the soccer presents all sorted out. Pictures of the kiddos with their new gear coming soon when my phone is charged. Blah!

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Us with the caregivers. They are such a blessing!

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Peeling Ginger for homemade Ginger Ale for Christmas Sunday. Note Paula helping too, those are here purty white feet!

We were blessed with a donation from a fundraiser done by Ginger and Chance Newingham, our director of partnerships. That, with help from our personal donors, met the needs for a big Christmas party. We had music and contests headed up by our National Director, Jonathan. Food was prepared by our aunties and older girls at the Children’s Home. There was so much food that we fed close to 400 people! We worshipped and celebrated Christmas with Muslims, Christians, non-believers and anyone who wanted to join. We talked about the meaning of Christmas and the program ended by showing the “Jesus film” which is a movie showing the life of Christ. It was an exciting day. I didn’t get any pictures of the crowd at the church, because we were so busy serving up food. However, the front yard of the church was packed! (if you’re sensing a theme, yes, I am terrible at playing photographer).

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Christmas Sunday outside the church

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Me and some gorgeous girls on Christmas

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Our heartbreaker, Idrissa on Christmas Sunday

So far January has been filled with blessings as well. We celebrated the birthdays of Fatmata, who turned 6, and Alfred, who turned 12. This month we have 4 left to celebrate. SO MUCH CAKE!

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FA ‘po-poing” her baby. (How women carry their babies here)

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Papa Tyler helping FA with her baby she named “Blessing Grace”

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Alfred requested some headphones for his birthday.

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Papa Tyler teaching him how to work them.

In between the highlights, we spent time with all our kids. We had them all over here at our house and went to visit them. We celebrated birthdays and good grades. We doled out discipline and had meetings. We have bought supplies and planned for school activities.
We have worked on projects around our home, like broken cars, and planned projects up at the Children’s home like shelving units and solar panels.

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Tyler being Mr Fix It.

We struggled with sickness and discouragement. Some of our kiddos in the home had the typical illnesses like malaria or flu, and John had surgery to remove his hernia. God continually heals though, and we praise Him for that! Connor had terrible malaria and had to go to the hospital for IVs twice. He was a trooper in it all, and we praise God he’s healed. And that Ty’s parents were here to help with the other boys.

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Mariama (ya Marie) was dealing with malaria. Thankfully, Nurse Letty fixed her up!

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John after his surgery. He is all better, praise God.

We have major praises as the money needed for the house is 3/4 of the way provided! Thank you all who gave and partnered along with us. We are simply overwhelmed. May God bless you all in return. We can not wait to move and see the kids every day. We are there about 5 days a week now and we drive for an hour at least. This is an amazing gift you have given us.

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Us with all the kids outside the new house! Can not wait!

We are excited for 2017 and everything that God is planning. So far it has been filled with joy and blessings. We wish you the same! Thank you all so much for loving us and praying for us.

We need to move.

We have been in Sierra Leone for just shy of a year. What an amazing year. We have grown and learned. We have been broken and pieced back together. We have been changed forever. And now we need to move.

When we first moved here, we traveled over 6,000 miles to get to this place we call home. Our next move will be about 20 miles. You see, all the things we are doing are in Brigitte Village. The orphanage kids we care for are there and the Lifegate head quarters church is there. The construction work Tyler is tasked with is centrally located there. In essence, its the hub of the ministry.

The home we have in Newton village has been great. It has a nice big yard, nearby markets for day to day needs, and it was secluded enough to give us time to acclimate to this new life. Now that we have gotten comfortable and have been able to pinpoint what we are called here for specifically, we became aware of how much we needed to move. We knew we needed to see the kids every day and be within walking distance for emergencies. We know that we belong there with our new family. However, we had no idea when or how that move would happen.

About 4 months ago, when Ty and I really started to see this move as a need, our current landlord contacted us and explained he was planning to sell our house. Simply put, we have to move. That just affirmed to Ty and I what we already felt in our hearts. Early into our time here in Sierra Leone we noticed a house that was at the bottom of the hill and across the street from the orphanage. We loved that is was a 2 minute walk to the orphanage and joked “thats where we need to move”, assuming that the house was occupied and not for rent.

We began talking with our friends and loved ones in Brigitte village about finding a home there for our family. They urged us to check out the very house we dreamed of living in. We immediately fell in love. The pros are incredible. Its actually two houses. The front  house is perfect for our family with room for the kids to come over and play. The back house is a  guest house with two bedrooms, a bathroom, comfortable living room, and a small kitchen. Its perfect for hosting visitors and mission teams while allowing them their own space.

We have a deadline to move in the next couple months. We have to leave this house when our rent is up so the current owner can sell it. We are so eager to move forward in our work here, and be as close to the kids as possible. We are excited to walk two minutes instead of drive for 45. We are asking for your help. In Sierra Leone, you pay rent by the year, not by the month.We have a chunk of money that we are required to pay before moving in, and we need help coming up with it. We have amazing monthly donors who provide us with our day to day needs, but as this was an unforeseen need, we have no budget to pay for this new home. Please consider giving a one time gift to help us move. No amount is too small. If you have thought about giving before but do not want the commitment of a regular partnership, please consider giving a gift towards this need. If you’ve got a few minutes to spare; Lifegate’s director of partnerships, Chance Newingham, and his wife, Ginger, made a video called “Moving the millers”  to help share the need.  Its explains a bit more and shows a bit of our life here!

Lastly, if you want to give now, please click here. In the memo box write “moving the millers”. We so appreciate you, your prayers and your help.

Amazing kids

As you all know, our Lifegate Children’s Home has grown by 6 kids.We have grown in love and in joy and in happiness, too. These kids are simply amazing and we are thrilled to have them join our family. We still need sponsors for 5 of them though, and we are asking you to consider helping. Read this post and share it with your church, your small group, your co-workers. You can sponsor a child collectively with others or just with your family. You can sponsor the full amount needed per month, or any denomination otherwise. There is no wrong amount to give, nothing too small. The blessing about sponsoring one of our kids is that I personally know and love all these kids. I will send you updates and pictures, and you can even come visit if you want. These kids are real, the need is real, and as their “Momma” I am asking you to make a sacrifice for them. They appreciate it more than you will ever know.

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Alfred Samba and his little brother Andrew Samba have been through a lot in their short lives. Their father died when they were 7 and 3 respectively. People here are exposed to lots of different illnesses, which are not life threatening unless you simply can not afford treatment. Alfred’s dad could not afford medical care needed and he died. Shortly after his passing, their mother also fell ill and passed. With nobody to care for them, Alfred was sent to live with his dads only sister. While caring for him, she went out to harvest some cassava leaf to feed them and to sell when she was bitten by a snake. She died 3 days after. Alfred then was sent to live with his younger brother, Andrew, who was being cared for by their blind uncle. He could not care for these boys and asked our organization to help. They both now live at the Lifegate Children’s Home. Andrew has been fully sponsored, praise God, but Alfred is still without full sponsorship. He needs $70 a month to take care of his meals, clothing, medical needs, schooling and daily care. He’s 11 years old, and very sweet. He craves hugs and affection and we are so thrilled to meet that need. Please consider helping us meet his other needs.

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Musa Bengeh lost his father, Salieu Bengeh to sickness, like most of the orphaned kids in Sierra Leone. His father was a hardworking man who did his best to provide for his family. After Salieu passed, Musas mom Kadiatu was left to care for her son alone. She got very sick and had a stroke, leaving her completely unable to care for Musa. The doctors predict she does not have long to live, sadly. Musa has living grandparents but they can not afford to care for him either and have asked Lifegate Children’s Home to step in and help. He’s now living at the home and he is doing so well! He is a soft spoken twelve year old boy who loves to laugh. We are so happy have him in our family, but we need help meeting his daily needs. He still needs $40 in monthly sponsorship. We ask you to please consider helping Musa.

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Eddie Johnnymore is a 6 year old boy from a small village called Kpangbama. His mother got pregnant with Eddie when she was young and his biological father abandoned he and his mother. His mom, Abie, tried her best to take care of Eddie, but she got very sick and passed away. With nobody to care of Eddie, he was given to Lifegate Children’s Home. We are so sad for this sweet little guy’s past, but we praise God that He redeems and restores. Eddie is so happy and loves his new home and family. We are thankful to love and care for him. We still need monthly support for Eddie, though. He still lacks $20 a month for his food, clothing, schooling, and medical needs. We know he has a bright future and we ask you to consider investing in it!

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Fatmata Jalloh is a bright, sweet 13 year old girl born into a rough life. Her mom, Amie Jalloh, had dreams but was her parents were very poor. They forced her to marry a man named Ali Jalloh because he was wealthy. Alie had many wives besides Amie and the situation was not good. Amie was abused by the other wives. Ali, Fatmata’s dad, got sick and died, and Amie was left without a place to live and no means to take care of Fatmata. She asked Lifegate Children’s Home to care for her daughter. Fatmata has really changed just in the short weeks she has been with us. She is less shy and more outgoing, and she loves having sisters in the home to talk to. Her previous situation left her ostracized and abused, and now she can have a normal life and be treated with love. Fatmata still needs the full $90 in sponsorship to meet her needs. We are asking you to please consider helping. Recently she drew a picture for her future sponsors and she wrote “I love you” on it. She is grateful for her new start. Please help us help her.

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Mabinty Turay is a brilliant 13 year old girl. She amazes me with her intelligence and kindness. She is from Bunga Wharf which is named after the sweet bunga fish that is caught there in the village right off the ocean coast. Mabinty’s father, Allusine Turay, was Bunga Wharf’s headman. As a result, he took several wives, one of which was Mabinty’s mom. Mabinty’s mom became sick and passed away. Shortly after, Mabinty’s father, Allusine, became very ill and he is not able to care for his family. This resulted in Mabinty being left to be cared for by one of her step-moms. Sadly, in this culture, step children are often mistreated to inhumane degrees. Mabinty was beaten, locked out of her house, and starved. We have brought her into the Lifegate Children’s Home to live and be cared for. She is getting enough to eat now and she will be able to attend school. She still needs the full $90 in monthly support. We are so grateful she’s in our home and in our family. We love her and we want to see her life be great. Please consider helping!

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A group shot of our 17 kiddos. This is truly a family and we ask for you to help us by blessing these kids.

You can find out about sponsorship by emailing us at millersinafrica@gmail.com or going to our site http://www.lifegateinafrica.org/contact/ and contacting us from there, where you can call or email our director of partnerships,Chance Newingham. If you are ready to start donating, follow this link: http://www.lifegateinafrica.org/sponsor-an-orphan .We look forward to hearing from you!

Baptism and boys (and girls too)

We have lots to celebrate! We were so privileged to watch so many people accept Christ on Sunday August 7th. We were up to our shins in water with all the rains, and Ty has finished the toilet houses. The ceiling in the second home just got placed in 3 bedrooms, and in a matter of days our Children’s Home will grow by 6 more kids. We are really enjoying this season of life right now!

To jump right in, we had baptisms on Sunday the 7th of August. Twelve Lifegate members publicly declared their choice to follow Christ fully. Included in that were our two oldest sons, Connor and Finn. You can not imagine our joy and pride I felt standing with them while Tyler baptized them. To add to the blessing, we watched our 7 oldest kids in the Lifegate Children’s Home make that same decision, as well as one of our caregivers, Bondu. Everyone at church walked from the church down to the beach. The congregation waiting on the shore sang worship songs. Everyone being baptized came up with the biggest smiles. It was one of the most amazing things I have ever been part of. After their baptisms, they got to take their first communion.

Almost everyone wanted a new Christian name after their baptism so I was really blessed to help come up with a list of choices for them. I think the names they had were already great but I understood their desire to identify themselves even more with their faith. They will still go by their birth names, but now they have another name that is from The Bible. One of our caregivers, Bondu, has really blossomed since becoming part of Lifegate. I have only known her for 9 months, but Rick and Paula have been blessed to watch her transform over the last couple of years. She doesn’t often speak about her past but I know she has been deeply hurt by old relationships. She asked me to help choose a new name for her and while I was compiling a list of names and meanings I stumbled upon Abigail. It means The Fathers Joy. I felt it was what God had chosen for her to show her His unconditional love for her. She was delighted with her new name. Moments like that are what makes this all matter so much.

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Beautiful Bondu!

Another great blessing is that the toilet houses are complete! They officially opened them with a ceremonial ribbon cutting on the same baptism Sunday. I think everyone is super excited to have a toilet. One of the caregivers, Auntie Marie, said she wanted to have her photo taken in the toilet houses. She was serious! Its nice having everyone so excited and proud of their church. We see new people coming all the time, the registration in the schools is huge, and we give God all the glory. This ministry is taking off by Gods grace!

As I mentioned,Ty and Musa got the ceilings in the bedrooms placed and they will be complete soon. For the moment, Ty is welding new bunk beds for the boys house. The new kiddos arrive Sunday, August 28th. School begins on September 7th so we are praying for smooth transitions and lots of blessings in the lives of all these kids! We already love them and can not wait to show them!

A family that paints together stays together. Or something 🙂

We are in rainy season now. We actually haven’t been hit too hard for the time of year it is. The rains were much needed for our family as our well ran dry in June. God is so faithful though. The rains started earlier than usual this year and the heavy August rains are not the constant down pour thats typical for now. Little waterfalls and streams seem to pop up overnight all over the place. Its beautiful but also hard for so many people here who already struggle to survive. The rains can keep fisherman out of their boats, and taxi drivers who use motorcycles off the roads. Houses and businesses built in valley areas will flood and  of course this can cause lots of damage. We give thanks for the rain but also pray for protection and provision of these people. For the moment the rains have really slowed down and it seems it will end uneventfully.

Lastly, we have a huge need as a ministry. We desperately need donors for the new kids. We need to have money for their daily food, schooling, medical care and to pay the salaries of their amazing caregivers. This need comes to $90/ month per kid, however you can give ANY amount and it will be a blessing. We currently lack a total of $310 per month in sponsorship. These kids will be here in less than a week,and were trusting that God will fill that need. Please consider helping. Im including pictures of the final 5 kids who need support. If you feel like you can give a dollar a day, or $10 a month, or maybe the full $3 a day to sponsor one child entirely, contact me via facebook or my email- millersinafrica@gmail.com – and I will walk you through it all. I won’t beg you for much but for these kids, I am begging you to consider helping. You cant fathom how much they appreciate you as their sponsors. They pray for you, ask about you, and love you. Truly, any amount is a blessing.

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This is Eddie. He is 6 and super sweet. He lost both of his parents but he still has that amazing smile. We cant wait to love on him at the home. He needs $20 more in monthly support

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This is Mabinty and shes 14. She is very shy but very sweet. When her mom passed she was left without care. We look forward to her joining our family. She needs $90 a month in support.

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This is Musa. He is 12 years old. He lost both of his parents. He currently needs $40 to a month. We know he will be especially loved by his new brothers in the home.

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This is Fatmata. She is 13 years old. Both of her parents have passed. She is very bright and we know a good education and a loving home will help her go far. She currently needs $90 a month in giving.

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Lastly, this is Alfred. He is 12 years old. When their parents passed there was nobody to care for them. I say they because he has a little brother coming with him who is already sponsored. He needs $70 more in monthly support.

Please consider helping these amazing kids. Whats unique about Lifegate Childrens Home is this is a personal relationship. I can send you photos and updates, and you have an opportunity to travel with a yearly team to visit your sponsored child personally if you are able. Maybe your small group or church is willing to sponsor a child. Please contact me for any information or with any questions. God Bless you all!

Here are a few other things to join us in prayer over, please.

  1. We pray for the new kids and the current kids to bond together well and for our family to be blessed as it grows.
  2. We are looking for a house for us in Brigitte so we can be close to the orphanage.In July the lease is up on our current home and the owner wants to sell it instead of renting it yearly. Please pray for a perfect place and for financial blessings to move our container from our current house to our new one.
  3. We give God glory for the baptism of our loved ones. We ask that He guide them and help them as they walk in their faith every day.

Thanks for your love and support over our family and all the on goings happening here in Sierra Leone. Its an amazing life we are blessed to live.

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