Hope Orphan Home is not very big in terms of kids. We are currently at 17 children- 9 boys and 8 girls. However, a great blessing of that is nobody gets lots in the “shuffle”. Everyone has their birthday celebrated with cake and a present, and gets extra gifts at Christmas. Each ones likes and dislikes, joys and sorrows, and strengths and weaknesses are known and cared about. There’s value in both a BIG center full of kids who are in great need, and a smaller one with more intimate relationships. Since we have been on this journey, we only tackle what we can financially manage- and even then it’s tight at times. Thanks to our wonderful Director of Partnerships, Chance, anyone who supports Hope Orphan Home with a monthly gift gets a regular update on the kids and some of the happenings. However, there are so many of you who have committed to pray for and give in different ways and we don’t want to exclude you or make you feel as though you aren’t valued. Of course, we always need more donors (college is coming up for some and we have lots of needed improvements in the homes themselves) but there’s NOTHING as important as prayer. I was encouraged to share some individual pictures and information on the kids we are blessed to care for and felt this might be the best platform. Now you pray even more intimately for these beautiful kids we get to love and serve. So, here are our wonderful kiddos-
This is Samuel. He is 5 and his birthday is February 2nd. He loves anything with wheels 😉 He is also fairly ornery and forgets his size/ age a lot! This is his first time attending school!
This is Fatmata. She is 8 and her birthday is January 1st. FA loves playing dolls and giggling. Her laugh is contagious.
This is Gibril. His nickname is Gibu (gee-boo) He is 9 and his birthday is May 1st. Gibu likes to read books and kick the soccer ball around.
This is Idridda. His nickname is ID (eeh- dee) and his birthday is April 12. He’s 9, too. ID likes to ride bikes and dance. He’s shy at first but once he warms up, he’s a ham!
Thus is Juliana. Julie’s birthday is June 28th and she is 12. She likes to play any sport there is and loves to help in the kitchen. Cleaning fish is one of her favorite things to assist with.
This is Mariama. We call her Ya Marie- which is like “young Mariama”. Ya Marie is 12 and her birthday is June 13. She likes to go to the market with the aunties and watch movies.
This is Santigie. He is 13 and his birthday is April 1st. Santigie loves the color Red and he likes to talk- too much 😉 He’s also very outgoing!
This is John. His birthday is April 15th and he’s 14. John loves to go swimming and likes to help dad (Tyler) do any kind of work.
This is Ishmael. His birthday is also April 15th and he is 14, too. Ishmael wants to fly planes when he gets bigger and he loves to take stuff apart and put it back together. He’s so curious.
This is Mabinty. She is 15 and her birthday is August 16th. Mabinty is GREAT at math and she loves to watch movies and chit chat. She’s the loudest kiddo for sure!
This is Musa. Musa is 15 and his birthday is March 18th. Musa loves the color Blue and he is very shy. He enjoys school the most of the kids and works very hard.
This is Isatu- but we call her Isha. She is 15 and her birthday is February 11th. Isha loves yellow and she’s a wonderful big sister. She has a heart for animals and will often take in strays she finds… much to our surprise sometimes! haha
This is Lahai. Lahai is 15 and his birthday is June 9th. Lahai is very bright- always getting the best marks on his papers. He also loves to play soccer and teach the younger kids.
This is Konnah she is 15 and her birthday is October 20th. Konnah has the best smile and likes going on outings most. she is very shy and sweet. She wants to be a flight attendant one day.
This is Fatmata. FA is 15 and her birthday is June 6th FA wants to be a banker when she grows up. She loves fashion and music and is very pensive.
This is Alpha. Alpha is 16 and his birthday is January 10th. Alpha loves to play goalie in soccer and also loves fixing things. He wants to do construction work when he grows up.
This is Martha. She is 17 and her birthday is June 8th. Martha is preparing to go to college and wants to be a nurse. She has a beautiful voice that matches her personality.
we hope you feel like you know our kids a bit more. Please keep praying for them all and if you would like to give a donation, please email us by contacting chance HERE OR, you can give a donation by clicking RIGHT HERE and selecting “Hope Orphan Home” from the drop down menu. We appreciate it and 100% of your donation goes directly to the needs of the kids. Thank you SO much. May God bless you all!
Hey everyone!! It has been such a long time. Working three full time jobs has not left a lot of time for blogging. SO much has happened in the past year plus, we felt we better jump on here and get you guys up to speed!
So far, we have been on the ground in Sierra Leone for 3 and a half years! It will be 4 years in November 2019. We have learned so much, and we will forever be students in a country and culture that is not our own, but that we hold in hearts dearly.
Our family has grown, in non conventional ways- in ways that God alone can do. Sarah is the Country Director for Hope Orphan Home, which was formerly Lifegate Children’s Home. In 2019, the U.S. Board made the decision to separate the orphanage from the other parts of the ministry, and let it operate as its own entity. This allows us to focus even more on the kids, the future, the fundraising, and the plan God has designed for it. Today, we have 17 kids, 5 caregivers, a Home Manager, 2 security guards, 3 tutors, a nurse, and myself (Sarah) working tirelessly on the ground in Sierra Leone to keep things running. Its a huge job, but it is the MOST rewarding, greatest thing I have been able to be part of. Here is a photo of all our kids and most of our staff on a trip to the beach for Easter 2019.
We absolutely love all our kiddos at HOH, and we are so excited to see what God does with their lives.
Tyler has also been working very hard as the Shop Manager for Water4ever, an organization dedicated to providing clean drinking water to remote places that would not have access to it otherwise. Tyler was longing to put his skills to good use, and when the opportunity met him to help, he was so excited. Ty serves water4ever by building metal kiosks that are used as water distribution sites. Here, the first two buildings Tyler made (and you can see our oldest son Connor inside, ready to give clean drinking water) and the last photo is a picture of the system set up- There is a building placed and above it, tanks and solar panels to operate the system. The Water4Ever team drills a well, and from there they pump it into the tanks, filters it and makes sure its purified, and then it is emptied into tanks inside the building at the bottom for distribution.
In the process of Tyler’s new gig, he has been able to experience Sierra Leone emergency rooms and get some stitches in his hand… Not his favorite experience. Thankfully, God absolutely saved his hand.
We both love the work we get to do here, but there’s also fun things happening at home too. The boys are trucking away with homeschool, and they have been able to participate in a scouts program we are doing with some other missionaries. There has been fun camping trips, project building, and lots of play time. Here they are with their buddies!
We are blessed with some great friends here who are serving in different ways and areas. There’s so much work to do here!
There’s a new Tyler in town… Ty’s name-sake. Foday, our security guard who is truly family, had a baby boy in September 2018. Little Tyler is ridiculously cute and growing so much. The first photos are from baby Tyler’s naming ceremony. His mom Eveet and dad Foday are super proud.
Of Course, as I talk about our ever growing family, I can’t forget to mention the pets. We have 3 dogs, a crocodile, and we recently have had a chameleon and a kitten we kept for a while. I said no to the snake..’cause I have to draw the line. We also were offered another monkey recently, but past experience led me to decline.
So, basically, we are still in Sierra Leone. We are still INSANE, and we are still completely in love with the people God has called us to serve. Please keep us in your prayers, and the ones we are doing life with. If you want to know more, or have any questions please feel free to email us HERE or HERE. Thanks again for loving us and keeping up on all the things happening with our ever growing family 😉
“Everyone has been made for some particular work, and the desire for that work has been put in every heart”
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.
THANK YOU SINCERELY
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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!
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).
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!
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.
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.
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.
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 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.