Soccer, Swimming, and new jobs
We have been really busy lately, but things have been exciting! We’ve lived here for six months now, and in that time God has helped us to grow in ministry and relational ways that are only from Him. I have only done monthly blog updates because first of all, we are so busy! its good though. Secondly, it takes hours to do it. For real! Were in Africa where internet speed resembles DSL in the 90s. Its not awesome. Nobody wants to read a blog without pictures. I am like a toddler in blog world. “ooh interesting title. Does it have pictures? Ok I will read it”. Hence, the hours of devotion that goes into this. Thank you for reading. Seriously. We need you! 🙂
We have been given an exciting task. We are now the international directors of the Lifegate Children’s Home. We have grown really close to our kids up at the home, and we have been praying for a way to be useful and helpful in their care. Rick and Paula were tackling this responsibility previously. Lifegate has a lot of branches to it. Rick oversees 2 schools, 3 churches, the radio program and the bible telling school construction, along with many other projects. We are now able to take on the job of overseeing the orphanage and making sure everyone and everything is running smoothly. With this new position, we can be more hands on with the kids care and needs, which is such a gift to us as we love these kids like crazy. As part of our new role, I get to help purchase the clothing and shoes for the kids. Auntie Marie and I did this together with the help of our oldest girl, Martha. It was a lot of fun getting to spend that time with them and get the kids some new church clothes. We really love this new role and all our kids!
In other orphanage news, we have a new girl in the house! Her name is Mariama, typically Marie for short, but everyone calls her Yay Marie. We already have an auntie Marie, and yay is like saying “junior” in a way. She is the middle sister of Idrissa and Isha. We prayed for her to come live with her siblings and we were able to see those prayers answered. She’s an incredibly sweet 8 year old girl. She also needs monthly sponsorship. In addition to Yay Marie, we will be bringing in 5 more waiting kids to the Lifegate Children’s Home as soon as the second house is finished with construction. It just got a new roof placed last week, and Tyler will be putting in a ceiling very soon. These other 5 kids are in need of sponsors as well. You can be one of three givers who donate $30 a month, or give the full $90 a month for the needs of one child. If this is something that is convicting you, please contact our Director of Partnerships, Chance Newingham via firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Some fun stuff we have had going on include beach days and soccer matches. Ty and I were able to get some football (soccer) games going here in the villages connected to Lifegate churches. We have really seen it grow over these last few weeks! We started out playing with the orphanage kids and workers, but as the village communities have come to watch, we have been able to invite huge amounts join in. Through that its become quite a ministry. We invite the school kids and their parents to come play, and anyone else in the community that wants to join in is welcome also. Jonathan Kamba, the national director of Lifegate, handles sound equipment so we can begin the games with prayer and invitation, and our Pastor, Lamin Conteh, referees for us. We have seen our church grow and we have been able to make friendships with so many people in the villages. Through these relationships, we get a chance to show the love of Christ.
We have also been able to go on more beach trips in May. So far 10 of our wonderful kids have gotten to come with us for a day of fun and a meal at the restaurant. Most of our kiddos have never been to a restaurant before, so its really funny and endearing to see what they do. They all threw their chicken bones down under the table as that’s what you normally do when eating. Garbage cans are not common in homes and most everyone eats outside anyway. Due to this, there is always an animal of some kind to come “clean up” be it goat or dog or other 🙂 . We have also noticed several wadded up napkins under the table when the kids are finished.Its like a confetti of sorts under that table. Our wait staff is always so gracious. We learned most of the kids weren’t sure how to open soda cans, but now they’re experts. It was neat to watch them experience new things. It also makes us appreciate the blessings we take for granted, like what a treat a meal out can be. The kids loved the meal and all of them got so excited about “chips” (what they call french fries). They don’t get to eat them typically but know of them because some street vendors sell them. When it came to the swimming, they learned a lot as well. Since a lot of people here have stories about the ocean being scary, due to fisherman drowning and most people never been taught to swim, 7 of the kids were afraid of the water at first. With a little help and holding Ty and my hands, they warmed up well and everyone ended up loving the water! Seeing the big boys head into the water with floaties on their arms, holding Ty’s hand, was the sweetest thing ever. We have loved getting to spend quality time with the kids by ourselves and giving them words of love and affirmation on these trips.
We had Mothers Day Sunday in May and it was really great to show these special women in our church how valued they are. I was able to speak for a short while about God’s heart for women and mamas. When I finished we gave all the ladies a cold bottle of soda and a package of cookies as a thank you for the things they do. The dads and kids also got some since we brought enough of share. Its such a blessing to be with these brothers and sisters.
Also, we have a dog now. We knew we wanted one for a while but were waiting to get settled. When we went to Freetown for supplies one day, we passed a man carrying two tiny puppies with red ribbons. We asked how much he wanted, and he told us 70,000 Leones, which is the equivalent of $12 USD. Needless to say, we couldn’t say no. We asked the kids what they wanted to name the puppy and Sulli yelled out “Ralph”. We realized that Ralph was a girl, but he was so adamant, we couldn’t change it. So now Ralph the girl dog spends her days chasing lizards, laying on the cold tile in the living room, and eating rice and potato leaf. We bought her a bag of dog food and she was utterly unimpressed. She did not eat for two days! I made african one day and she started howling and whimpering until she got her own dish of it. Turns out all the dogs in this country eat rice. She is a Sierra Leonian dog so it makes sense. 🙂
I was able to take a rainbow painting art project to both the Lifegate Brigitte Preschool in Brigitte Village and the Kassie school, which is a Lifegate preschool in the village of Kassie. The kids loved it, and they were able to tell their parents about the story of Noah, and the rainbow they made, which symbolizes God’s promises. Once school resumes after rainy season I’ll start doing a monthly bible story and art project for each school. It makes our hearts so happy to see these kids learning about a God who loves them and sharing that news with others!
Ty has gotten a lot finished on the toilet houses. Soon they will have roofs and doors and be open for business, literally 😛 As I mentioned, once thats complete he’ll head over to the orphanage to put in a ceiling and eventually tile. He’s got a lot of projects in the works but were really excited to see God move to make them all happen!
June is sure to be an equally busy month as we have 5 kids with birthdays, and they are coming to our house for a day of fun soon! Thanks for following along with us and thank you for your monthly gifts that make this all possible. They are so needed. Thank you also for covering us with your prayers. We continually pray for you as well. God bless you all!!!