Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Marathon: Lessons Learned...

Here at SP Liberia, after a big project or event we usually have to give an "After Action Review" (AAR).  In the review we list the "lessons learned" so we can better prepare for the next project, but also to state what we personally learned from participating in the project/event.  

So, here is my AAR-lessons learned from the marathon-both the training and the event-I hope that you can take these and apply some of them to your next "big life project/event" or just read them for pure entertainment sake!(they are serious and not so serious...)
  • Pray-in thankfulness, for strength, wisdom and perseverance.
  • Never go into something without a team to support and pray for you.  My family, SP team and friends-are the BEST!
  • Prepare yourself as much as you can-but remember no matter how prepared you are- life (and marathon's) is/are unpredictable.
  • Enjoy the view and people along the way.
  • Take in fuel along the way-or your tank with empty sooner and you will have no strength for the last push.
  • Smile, even when it hurts!
  • Go to the bathroom before you start...
  • Look before you spit
  • There is always someone else in a worse situation/condition than you.
  • Running is just one foot in front of another.
  • Listen to your body-and when your body wants to quit-listen to your heart.
  • Do it for others, not yourself.
  • Set a goal-even if you don't make it.
  • Don't get upset if someone older or who looks less in shape passes you.  It's good to be humbled!
  • Spend the money for good materials/equipment-like a sports bra!
  • Be an encourager.
  • Involve kids-they keep it fun!
  • Trust-God can take something small and make it big for His purpose.  Just go along for the ride-it will change your life!
  • Make sure you have someone who can keep you accountable to the training, tell you when to rest, calm you down, be there when you to quit, hug you at the finish and tell you it's ok to cry.
  • Have a plan in case someone tries to knock you off course or attack you!!! (I have the best moves ready...)
  • Focus on the bigger picture.
  • Failure is ok.
  • Take time to rest.
  • Say thank you to everyone.
  • Always pick-up the goodie bag with the race t-shirt at the end of the race-no matter how delirious you are!!!
  • Don't be afraid to do something that you think you can't do.
  • No regrets!
  • God is always there and always shows up.
The lessons I learned from the marathon experience will better prepare me for my next marathon or race.  But most of all, I am grateful for lessons I learnt that I can apply to my life. 

Thanks for letting me share these with all of you...and for teaching me these lessons!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Post-Marathon part deux...

It has been a week since I ran the marathon and at times it feels like it was all a dream and it never really happened and at times it feels like it was just yesterday (especially when I get out of bed!).  Here are the last of a few photos from our time in London after the marathon.  To see all of the London pictures you can check out my by Joni.

Bev before the race-notice the nervous energy...

Tower Bridge the highlight of my run! 

Buckingham palace to the left-we turned here towards the finish line.
This is near the finish line-and this is how I felt!

I was not the only one running for SP-we had a SP Team all ran and finished the marathon.  They too were raising money for different projects that the SPUK office support.  Here is the great SP team members!
Jon-he almost couldn't run due to a IT band injury-but after lots of rest/ice he did it in 4:07!!
Connie-the only other woman running-she too had some injury issues and still pushed through!

Matt did a great 3:47 for his first time running a marathon!

Steve, also a first time marathoner

Pastor Simon-also a great finish!

All of us raise over 23,000 Pounds for SP projects, specifically for water, literacy, and HIV/AIDS.  All of us who had injuries stated that we knew we couldn't quit-there were people who we were running for-all we had to do was think about them and keep running!  Whether it was a little girl who has to walk 2-3 hours to get water or a child living with AIDS or anyone of the people I have shared with you-they all pushed us to the finish.

I think about the marathon a lot-I have no doubt I will for a while.  It was such a great experience and I am so grateful for it.  Remember you can still give for the next 3 months towards the projects that I ran for.

So now what?  I have had thoughts of ending the blog-but at the same time I want to keep all of you updated on the people and projects that I was running for.  Also, it's not like I am going to never run again-no, in fact it is KILLING me not being able to run and take two weeks off!!!  There are more stories to tell and more marathons to run-stay tuned for the next running adventure.  It may be sooner than you think!                            


Saturday, April 23, 2011

Post-Marathon Part 1...

After a very sound sleep and not getting up until 10am-the first day after the 'Thon started.  It started stiffly and painfully, but I knew I had to keep moving or it would be worse!  So here is a little snap shot of what we did on last Monday...

Alan Matthews, who does media for SPUK, has come to Liberia to film our projects twice in the past 6 months.  He and his son Tim are great blokes and we have a lot of fun together.  Well, Monday was his turn to show us around his 'city' and spoil us small town girls a little bit!  Here are a few photo's of our adventure...thanks Alan!!!!

This was my desk at the hotel with all the cards and goodies!

The view of the last couple of miles from the London eye-the street along the river and then we all turned right at Big Ben towards Buckingham palace.
Joni and Alan at Trafalgar Square...
Alan took us two 'hicks' to afternoon tea at Harrods!
Words cannot describe how good all this was...mercy!

As I walked/limped/shuffled/gimped/dragged my way around some amazing sights of London-it was hard for me to believe that this was the same city I had just run through less than 24 hours earlier!  I found myself thinking about the marathon...a lot...I will share those with you on my next entry 'Post Marathon Part 2'...where Joni and I have some video of the street I ran on and places I ran by.  Stay tuned!

Thursday, April 21, 2011


The past few days I have had time to process the events of Sunday.  After finally getting over the physical pain I have been able to think about that day-and the different things I felt, saw, and are a few:
  • Is that person really going to run in a Rhino suit the whole way? 
  • Man, there is A LOT of people here!
  • Look at all those cool balloons...
  • Did that guy in a banana suit just pass me?
  • Crowd: "Go ELVIS!"  Bev in her head "what the heck?"  Bev turns around and see's Elvis.  I ran with Elvis for about 4 miles so everyone yelled his name when we passed.
  • Crowd: "Go superwoman!"  No, not me-but a woman dressed as the famous female hero who I ran next to for about 4-5 miles.
  • Everytime someone passed me with a "in memory of.." with a loved ones name I was so inspired-it was amazing to see people running for causes that was so personal for them.
  • The Tower this is really cool!!
  • Wow-my hip is starting to really hurt...
  • Time for some Gu-and water. 
  • Ignore the pain.
  • PAIN.
  • Look at the gratitude band...
  • Every mile there was a huge arch of red and white ballons with a big pillar with the mile mark on it.  I lived to see that arch of balloons!
  • where are the balloons...
  • I need to stop
  • I need to run
  • I need to stop
  • I need to run.
  • Look at the band Bev, look at the band...
  • This went on until the finish...
  • Hey, that lady was on the tube last night-(she was limping/walking and looked so tired...)
  • Is that the rhino again!?
  • Great a man juggling the WHOLE way just passed me...
  • Where am I?
  • Where is Joni?
  • 800m are you kidding me!!!!!!!!
  • I can't.
  • I can.
  • no, really I can't
  • No, really, you CAN.
  • 200m...I wonder where Joni is?
  • Smile for the camera Bev, smile for the flipp'n camera! There is a camera at the finish line...
  • Stop. Hands on knees. Nice man at finish line "Miss do you need some help to a medical tent?" Bev "No, I am ok I just need to walk and sit..."
There are some of the thoughts, feelings and sights that occured over the 26.2 miles on Sunday.  When I finally got to sit down, the SP UK gang helped out with some fruit, keeping me warm and getting my shoes off.  Here are some photo's of the "after"...

Trying to smile through pain...

Yeah that look sums it up...

Steve who ran for SP too

Finally, Jo came!

Surprisingly, we don't look too bad after Jo running around London trying to get shots-and me after 26.2!

So there are some of the race reflections.  Over the next couple of days I will share with you some of the highlites of the days after the marathon-including some photo's and video of the marathon route.

One of my favorite things is to go back on to my facebook page and see all of your encouraging words-I serioulsy can't get through them without getting teary...(Yes, Yieko your stoic sister has feelings!! :) Even though the race was really tough on me-I felt like I had all of you behind me-so thank you again and again.  It means so much to me that you supported the reasons why I ran-and I hope you all know how proud I am to know all of you...

Sunday, April 17, 2011


This is just a quick blog I am in a fair bit pain and extremely tired..but I wanted to share my first initial thoughts of this morning and afternoon...

The start was amazing so many people-I was so excited!  At mile 13 I was feeling not too bad-a little behind my time but I was ok with that.  Over the Tower Bridge was amazing-very, very cool.  At about mile 16 I was experiencing a lot of pain in my hips, specifically my hip flexor muscles...this then led to my knees and by mile 19 I was in A LOT of pain.  I had to walk for about 1/4 of a mile each mile from that point on.  As I looked at my watch I realized I was not going to even come CLOSE to my goal time...I was upset for a bit-then I looked down at my gratitude band soaked with sweat-mile 20 "Anita"  the lady with HIV/AIDS-whose husband not only gave her the disease but then left her once he found out she had it...a pain that I cannot even imagine.

Many times after mile 21-I wanted to just stop.  Just a look down to my band helped-there were some moments that the band couldn't even help but they were small small moments.  As I came down the road with Big Ben to my right-I knew the end was near.  The crowds were loud and encouraging it seemed that whenever I stopped someone saw me and yelled "Come on Bev!" (say that in a British accent way cooler :)

Then there was the finish-I looked for Joni but couldn't see her in the crowd -she was there but somehow we missed each other.  It was probably best-because I was very emotional and knew if I saw her I would just stop and cry -200m from the finish.  As I crossed the line I leaned over and grabbed my legs-they were shaking and so sore I felt like throwing up-literally almost did-I got my medal but missed getting my bag somehow so I didn't get a t-shirt...sigh. 

Tim Holmes, SP UK projects director saw me and helped me to the "S" section where we were meeting-I sat and tried to just focus on anything but the pain-after an interview I am not sure I remember, Joni and Alan, who were filming, came and then my tears flowed. 

I missed my time BIG TIME-but as my good friend Buzz said on my fb wall "may not be the time you desired to finish in,  but it was God's time for you to finish"  when I read these words I cried again-he is right-If I would have got my time it would have been about me...and I have said this whole time it is NOT about me-instead God used that suffering to draw me back to why I was thankful that He did...

Will post more and some pictures tomorrow-if I can get out of bed!

ps. remember you can donate up to 3 months after today-thanks again to all of those who donated in the last 24 hours I am getting closer to the goal that matters!!!!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Attitude of Gratitude...

It's the night before and I am about to go to bed and try and sleep.  But before I do I want to thank all of you...I recently read a running book that talk about the 'attitude of gratitude'-instead of saying "I have to..." try saying "I can do"  Instead of saying I have to do 12 miles on this training run I started saying I can do 12 miles...try it-it totally changes things. 

This journey has made me so grateful every second of everyday.  I made my pace/gratitude band with a time on it...yes, you read that right-I set a time...But next to every mile with the time I should be at I have names/groups of people.  Here is a picture of it:

gratitude pace band...

It may be hard to read and some of it is in abbreviation due to space.  So there is my family, both of them Mayes' and Kauffeldts, there is everyone from Vancouver and Vancouver Island that donated (Hlina's, Kara, Lois, Missy and everyone else!)  Everyone from Salmon Arm (family, Roberts' and the others), Everyone else in Canada (Janice,Toth's!), then there is the people from the U.S. (SP USA peeps, Sacra's, Brooklyn Tabernacle church, Deb H. and others...) From the UK (SPUK staff, Krista, Drew and others) Liberia- my SP family, Spencer kids, SP staff (my son!!)...Everyone-just because your name is not on here doesn't mean you will be forgotten tomorrow...I have circled the miles that Joni will be at to take video and photo's.  I am incredibly grateful for Joni-all that she has done and how she has taken care of me this week-and throughout this journey-so grateful for all of it!!!

I also have Terese, Rebecca, little Tomba, and at mile 20 when i hit the wall there is Anita...mile 23 Augustine, Finda, Ma Jenna...I have 3 Bible verses-one for the beginning Hebrews 12:1-2-I have had 4 separate people encourage me with this verse the past week!  At mile 13-Phil. 4:13 and at mile 20 Ephesians 3:20.  If you don't know these verse find a Bible and look them up-you will soon see why I chose them.

Anyway- I need to go to bed...thank you again for all of you-this is why I run!!

Pre-marathon fun!

Just a few pictures of the last couple of days as we get ready for the marathon!
On the London tube to the Expo "mind the Gap"

Heading in...

The biggest watch EVER!

Lots of cool little poems like this one...

Getting my 'packet'

My number!!!

Cool wall that we could write on...

I wrote: "Liberia CLP/WASH All Hail Liberia!"

ummm maybe not...

Testing our my gear..

So there you have it-that has been the last couple of days.  Today was full of rest, proper eating and hydration.  Met with the rest of Team SP for a pasta dinner it was great to finally meet them all!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Two. More. Days...

Yes, the reality of running 26.2 miles through the streets of London is starting to hit home...However, I have had a great time at the Samaritan's Purse UK office, such a great staff-so encouraging, love them to bits! 

Yesterday Joni flew in and she will be helping with the filming of this event for SP.  It is also great for me to have my good friend here as I run the marathon.  For any of you who have run a marathon you know the feelings of doubt, worry and anxiousness that you go through before a marathon-not to mention after the marathon the flood of emotions that you go through.  So, to have a good friend who can calm me down, encourage me and be there when I finish is such a huge blessing. 

After some office 'work' we did some filming of me running in a park for the SPUK/US office.  Here are a couple photo's Jo took...
All Hail Liberia, Hail!!!

Hopefully I will look as fresh as this at the finish line!

Joni has an amazing gift in her work-especially in the area of communications-both in photography and doing videos.  Here is a video that she did on me for this marathon.  I can't load it on the blog but check it out on my facebook at this link:!/video/video.php?v=10150166357703672&subj=874260511

My prayer is that when you watch this video you will get a better glimpse of why I am running.  I can't explain to you what an amazing experience this has been.  I often think "Bev, you are just a small town Canadian girl (from the Yukon/B.C. at that!) what are you even doing here!!!"  I hope that my life is a testament of when God takes something small, like me-He can make it great for Him. 

I will update my blog one more time before running on Sunday.  After the marathon I will give a full report on the events of that day...I can't wait to share them with you...

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Deep thoughts by Bev...

I am often asked, "What do you think about when you run?"  This is a valid, good question-but a dangerous one...As many of you know, my mind never stops, well rarely-even at night-I dream almost every night and I wake up with something on my mind.  You may think "how exhausting!" not really, just because I think a lot doesn't mean I always say what I think...which is a very good thing! Mercy!

In deep thought on the jungle road...

So here are some of the thoughts running through my head as I do loops around ELWA for up to 2 hours!
  • Sigh...thanks Lord that I can run.
  • Must start my watch-I wonder what my time will be like today?
  • Man, it is HOT!
  • This run is not for me-go faster!
  • Ooh yeah, good song (if I am wearing my ipod)
  • Great, why does that guy have to pee right now as I pass him...
  • I have to go pee...
  • What are the boys doing!!!??? (As I pass my house)
  • Wow-something smells really bad...
  • No, I will not give you my ipod (As someone yells "white woma you give me that thing!" pointing to my ipod)
  • What should I make for dinner?
  • PHD-hmmm I think a good intro needs to have more on water and development...(I have seriously written my thesis out in my head at least 50 times...)
  • I can't wait until the marathon...
  • Could I sweat anymore please!
  • Oh, good there is Kendell walking home-boys will have some parental supervision now...
  • Don't look at your watch
  • Wow that is a pretty good time!
  • Wonder what the fam at home is doing right now?
As I get more and more tired and the miles start to pile on the thoughts start to get a little more focused and intense...
  • DO NOT start thinking of how far you have left!
  • How far do I have left?
  • Therese and Rebecca-all the CLP people...
  • DO NOT think of how thirsty you are!!
  • Man, I am thirsty!
  • Community of Barfely-with their filters
  • WASH staff-Taya and the new programs she is doing-lots of thoughts of different water interventions-and praying for Tay-tay!
  • Karpie and Kimbolou women walking down that hill to get their dirty water
  • I wonder how we can get that water up there?
  • I can't wait until the London marathon-running through all that history-hearing the crowds...(Bev starts to get butterflies)
  • Stop thinking of the marathon it's making you breath too fast!
  • I have to stop..
  • All the ladies who hold a pencil for the first time- I wonder what that feels like?
  • HOT!!!!!! HUMID!!!!!!!!
  • Sweat is everywhere I feel like I have wet my shorts...
  • I am thirsty, I am thirsty, oh so thirsty, oh so thirsty (to the tune of "are you sleeping, are you sleeping brother John?)  I am being serious...
  • Sweet, the girls left some water on their porch for me!  Must. have. water. now.
  • I wonder what type of latrines the communities will build with the money raised...
  • I have to go to the bathroom.
  • What was the name of that woman who was blind in Foya-and her husband left her?  I need to ask Jo...
  • Lord I need help for this last lap-seriously, please strength.
  • Thank goodness for Joni-putting up with me as I sweat and am so tired I don't talk (As she films me on one of my runs).
  • Bev, suck. it. up.  This is NOTHING compared to those who you run for.
  • Jesus...You are the only one that can get me through this!
  • In.Pain...
  • Thank you-Lord! -Mercy there is the end!
As you see I go through a range of emotions during a run.  This is just a a glimpse of what goes through my grey matter as I sweat around the 2 mile figure eight on ELWA, around, around and around I go...or on the RIA road and trying not get mowed down by taxi's...

For the marathon I will have a 'pace band'- it will have the times I need to be at for every mile of the race to reach my goal time (which I have not set yet...).  But beside each mile I am going to also write in people's names, like Teresa and Rebecca, little Tomba and his family, Bible verses, names of communities that we have SP WASH/CLP projects in, my boys, those who have donated to this cause, those who have helped me to get here-and I will pray for each person-each mile.  My pace band will be full-just as I am-full of thankfulness and joy to be doing this.  The last .2, 385 yards, will be left for my Savior-actually, all of it is for Him-but that last push-will be full of pain mixed with extreme joy, and I will once again lean on Him-the source of my strength. 

That is what I will be thinking about on Sunday-I am sure there will be much more too-but mostly on those who I am running for and the One who I can't run without...

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

My Academic Marathon...

In our second year in Liberia-and after working with SP for about 6 years, I faced a difficult question that I could not answer.  Although I had a Masters degree in International development and had worked in the field for a time-I laid in bed at nights with this question that I had no answer for:  "Is what I am doing really helping people here in Liberia?"  Many of you may read this and think "Of course!" But let me explain a little further...

I know that the work we do does make a difference-but could I as the then WASH program manager implement projects better?  Could our WASH projects have a deeper impact for those that we were working with?  I know that the BSF filter helps with making clean water available for people-but for the people in Liberia who had just gone through a brutal civil war-could it impact them further than just their health?  For a woman who had lost everything-could the filter give them a sense of ownership and help re-establish their lives?  There were many other questions I had-but most of all I wanted to know how to do my job better...

I decided that I wanted to learn more about my work and try and answer my questions.  As I read and researched I realized there was not a lot of literature on implementing projects in rural-post war societies like the areas we work in, in Liberia.  I started looking at PhD programs-I know, I know, for those who have known me since school days-Bev-the jock?  But to make a long story short-I met a Professor, who was in Liberia doing a water assessment from Cranfield University in the UK-and as we discussed my questions he encouraged me to apply to the University-in a PhD program...

I was accepted-a miracle!  And in the fall of 2006 I  I can only say that the journey is a lot like training for a marathon-long, hard, frustrating, tiring and exhausting-however, it has also been amazing, stretching, rewarding and I have learned sooooo much-which has helped me be a better person and aid worker.  Here is proof that I am really doing this!
Testing the water filter...I am not a scientist!

Every year I present my research in this room...

After many interviews, surveys and water testing-my data collection is done-and today I met with my great professors to establish a "THID" Thesis hand in date...the end is in sight! My goal is by the end of this year to defend and be done...

Much like the marathon-my PhD is not about me.  I am not doing this just to be called Dr. Bev-please don't call me that!  It is about my work-the people of Liberia-and hopefully my work will help other organizations working in post-war countries with their project implementation. But if it doesn't, I know that many of the things I have learnt are being done in our projects.  It is more than just about clean water-it is about meeting people where they are- after living through a war that torn them apart.  Instead of coming in and telling them what they need, ask about them-their lives before the war, what they lost and learn to listen before doing...My research led me to some amazing people and because of their answers I believe our WASH projects are better.

Running has helped me in this academic marathon-clearing my mind and helping my thoughts come together.  I went for a run today and the crisp air was nice-my legs felt light, but my chest felt a little sore from all my coughing! 

So that's why I am here at Cranfield-(which is just north of London near Bedford) to meet with my professors and set the stage for my final year as a student!  Tomorrow I head back down to London to meet with our SPUK office staff.  I look forward to seeing them and getting focused for the run this weekend!!!  Wow-it's getting closer...

Monday, April 11, 2011

Surprise SP Send off!!!

Yesterday afternoon I finished packing and re-packing my bags and got ready to leave for Roberts International Airport-just outside of Monrovia.  Little did I know my SP family had a special send-off ready for me-and little did I know that I almost ruined the surprise-which I have knack of doing...

Instead of waiting for Joni to come and pick me up at my house I was so nervous about getting on the road I drove to the staffhouse to pick her up.  Little did I realize that a bunch of the SP staff were supposed to be meeting at the staffhouse and when we drove by they were going to be cheering on the front lawn-since I was a little earlier-Joni had to think fast and got everyone to go up on the road on the way out of ELWA to cheer as the truck went by.  I of course was clueless to what was going on-and didn't see anyone...Joni took some pictures of me and my boys before I left then we piled into the car and off we went. 

Mom and her boys...

As we got closer to the exit of ELWA a group of crazy people came jumping out on the road!!!  Check out these pictures of my awesome SP peeps!!!

Much to my surprise...

SP 'family' seeing me the signs!

The SP staff that could not be there called me and sent me text messages with encouraging words.  Once again, I was so thankful for such a great supportive friends that I work with!  They are a little nuts at times but that's what makes me love them more!

So even though I ruined how the surprise was supposed to happen it was still a surprise to me.  After we left Joni exclaimed, "why do you always ruin surprises!!!?" Yes, I have a history of ruining surprises that are meant for me...

At this point of my blog entry I would like once again to apologize to my younger brother, why you ask?  Well, he was given the task on my 16th birthday to get me out of the house so my friends and mom could decorate the house for my 'surprise' birthday.  Poor Bub, (his name is Daron but I call him Bub:)- I didn't want to go walk the dog and 15 min. into our walk I insisted on going back home-my bro was beside himself-I can still hear him pleading with me, "Sis, please let's just go a little farther!!!" I got annoyed and proceeded to hit him with the dog leash...(I was not always the nicest big sister but I do love my brother very much!)  With my brother in tears-we headed home-where I ruined the surprise and got into a lot of trouble with the parentals...Bub, I am sorry, Joni I am sorry-maybe I shouldn't be surprised!

Here is a picture of my brother when he came to visit me in Liberia-I put him to work to help load WASH supplies into the helicopter net-and i didn't have to beat him to do it!!  So he, like my sister, have seen first hand the work that our WASH programs are doing.  It was awesome having him come out as we are very close and he cracks me up!
My very funny brother-he like his muscles...:)

Anyway, back to yesterday-after a delay at the airport our flight finally took off-my head was pounding with a sinus headache but I manage to sleep small small.  I woke up an hour before landing in Brussels and realized that I was not going to make my connecting flight to London...ugh.  However, the nice SN Brussels people re-booked me onto the 10am flight and also gave me a food voucher-yeah!  I finally arrived in London and made my way to Cranfield University where I am for the next two days...why you ask? (again)  That will be answered in tomorrow's blog entry...

Thanks again to all my SP peeps at home in Liberia for the great send off and prayers!  All of you and the people I am running for are on my mind and in my heart...

Saturday, April 9, 2011

One last push...

Tomorrow I leave for the UK.  I am a little nervous that this event has crept on me so fast...not to mention I have a serious head cold right now!  But it is time for one last 'push' and recap why I am running. 

When I look back at the start of this journey-I knew it was going to be a great experience-running with purpose.  What I don't think I realized was how it would motivate me to push me to train the hardest I ever have-and how gratifying it is to run for something other than yourself.  I want to share with you some CLP/WASH stories and what program managers, Joni Byker and Taya Riane are planning to do with the money raised through the marathon...

Taya has shared with me many stories from our WASH projects-countless stories of families who no longer suffer from diarrhea and how it has changed their lives.  One lady who had received a BSF stated: "I was always carrying my children to the clinic-but we don't get diarrhea anymore".  Here are some photos of Taya and her staff in action!

Installing a BioSand Water Filter...

Taya and her WASH team showing off a SP latrine

Tay getting down and dirty into a well!

I recently asked Taya how she would like to use the money raised by my running the marathon.  Here's a summary of what she had to say:  "I am really excited about this year, because more than ever we are doing community WASH projects that will engage the community and as a result the project will have a longer impact."  "Through our community development programs-communities are identifying their WASH needs and then communicating these WASH needs with our WASH staff.  Our WASH staff then facilitates discussions with the community on why they have chosen a particular WASH intervention and a plan is put together.  This year we have received 6 applications from communities who have requested latrines-and I would like to use the money raised to help these communities meet their sanitation needs."

Me and Taya...

I have loved learning more about the Women's Literacy and Livelihood program in the last few months-I have been so inspired by these women who are so eager to learn!  Here is a short story from Joni about Massa Johnson in the CLP program:

Before attending CLP, Massa was involved in a business with her husband, but since she didn't have any experience or knowledge in business, he cheated her in many ways.  But now with the basic business skills that CLP has given Massa, she now knows how to perform with successful results.  “Actually, I am a farmer. But if I don’t make a farm I am still able to sustain my family through my business.  I have been tremendously changed by the word of God and the education I have received. I can read and write for the first time in my life.”

Massa writing her name...

Joni informed me that the money raised will be used to assist women to start their own businesses.  In new classes that are being formed in Foya and the Belleh jungle, a new aspect of the livelihood part of the CLP program will be micro-finance.  Joni is very excited: "this gives us at SP the opportunity to meet these women at the business level where they are at right now and help increase that. It gives them the opportunity to go to the 'next' level in supporting themselves and their families."  Here is a link to the SP CLP video that was the SP broadcast team did on Joni and her program-she's a natural in front of the camera too!!! 

Here is a CLP highlight-I mentioned in one of my past posts that I had the opportunity to play soccer with the CLP ladies at Sorlumba...Here is a special video-but I must put a disclaimer on this...remember my age-and no comments on my belt hanging out!

I have been pushed by all of these ladies to run harder and further knowing that these ladies are all working so hard to make a better life for themselves and their families.  They have been through so much-surviving a civil war, struggling to feed their families, sickness-and so much more.  I know there will be times during the marathon that I will need to push-through pain and exhaustion-but all of the people I have met in these programs will be on the forefront of my mind and give me strength to give one last push...

Again-THEY are why I run...

Wednesday, April 6, 2011


Kids are interesting little beings.  No matter where you go in Liberia-you are going to find kids-actually, it's more like they find you especially for us not from Liberia!  The constant "Aunty hello" (aunty is what they would call an older woman) or if you are in the Foya area "PUMWEEE" which is Kgissi (pronounced Geesy), the main people group in that area, for 'white man/woman'. 

Kids are a big part of our CLP and WASH programs-it's not that these programs are for them-but their parents are-which then filters down to their little ones!  Here are some pictures of some of the kiddies who are 'part' of the WASH and CLP programs...
These twin boys are often visiting 'students' with their mom
at the CLP Kelimabendu class.
Kids excited about their new latrine!!!

Kids watch everything that us adults do-no matter if they are from Liberia, Canada, U.S., or the U.K.  When they see their mom's learning they want to learn, when they see their parents using a latrine, a well, or a filter they are more likely to also use it.  Our example as adults is very important to kids around us whether they are our children or not.  We want our projects to engage children and let them be part of the what their parents are doing-because we know that they are the future of Liberia!  Sometimes, though, it is just about spending time with them, playing with them and loving them...that's my favorite part :)
This little girl is one of our favorites from the village of Karpie
She really wanted my hat...

There are some other pretty special kidelts that I get to hang out with every Friday at around 5pm.  Every Friday we have Kids running Club where we live on ELWA compound.  These are kids whose parents are here working with Samaritan's Purse or other Mission organizations.  We have a blast! (At least I do!)  Our ages range from 2-12 and even some of the mom's join in :)  Here is a little video of one of our running drills...

This was my training last Friday :)

My boys, Isaac and Felix are part of the running club-and most days they like it!  I want my boys to see that running can be fun and something that they can do with mom.  But I also want them to see that running can be used for something to help others-I want them to see that I am so grateful to God for every opportunity He has given me-that I am going to return that gratefulness through my running...does that make sense?

Training- I am still recovering from my bad run on Sunday-turns out I was pretty dehydrated which led to a little fatigue...Monday was a much needed day off, yesterday was a good walk and today I will go out for a few miles. The other day Isaac told me to make sure I drank enough water so I wouldn't be sick like I was on Sunday...See, kids watch everything-whether it's the little kids in the CLP communities watching their mom's go to school or the little boy who watches his dad wash his hands-they are always watching.  They too are why I run...

Monday, April 4, 2011


If I was asked to describe what living in Liberia is like, to be very honest, it is a struggle at times.  I would also describe it as an adventure, extreme joys, and many other good things-but struggle would be one of the first words to come to my mind.  I don't say this to describe my life, no, I say this to describe the life for the many Liberians I have met through our projects.

The month of March is over, and it was a crazy month!  As I reflect back on it I had many encounters with people who by our standards are 'struggling'.  But instead of seeing sad faces, distraught with the reality of their own struggles-(none which were brought on by their own doing either) I saw something different.  I saw joy.  A joy that I am pretty sure I would have a hard time showing if I was in their situation.  Here are some of the beautiful people who are struggling, but reflect a joy that radiates...(pictures taken by Joni).

There is Anita (holding the stick) with her amazing mother.  Anita is going blind from HIV/AIDS and her mother takes care of her and her children-both of them are true reflections of joy in the midst of struggles.

We had an opportunity to pray with this young girl from Sorlumba (where we visited the CLP program) who is also struggling with sickness.  When we arrived she was so happy to see visitors and asked us to pray for her.

Ma Jenna who we were able to interview-struggled as the only Christian in her village-being beaten and mocked-but stayed steady and true to "the one true God" as she stated with great joy...

Many of the stories I have posted on this blog have talked about the everyday struggles that many women in rural Liberia face-not being able to read or write, no access to clean water, sickness, and the list goes on.  And then there are women like these three who not only struggle through these but have experienced the struggles of life on a deeper, intense level that you and I may never understand or experience.  All of them express a joy doesn't make sense to many of us. 

There is a verse that I found to help me understand this-found in 1Thes. 5:16-18 (NLT) "Always be joyful. Keep on praying.  No  matter what happens, always be thankful, for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus". These ladies despite what struggles life has thrown at them, belong to Jesus-they are doing exactly what God's will for them is-being joyful, praying and being thankful no matter what has happened.  

Training...Sigh...I was not joyful as I struggled through my run on Sunday.  Seriously, I hit a brick wall physically that made me feel like I had been hit by a truck-here are the pictures to prove it...(Joni took the pictures and also brought me my 'fuel' of water, Gatorade and Gu)
This pretty much sums up how I felt...

It was muggy and hot-at the half way mark I had to change my shirt as it was soaked with sweat...I took it off and wrung it out-and watched a good full cup of Bev sweat hit the ground (at this point Joni literally gagged).


I quit at ten miles-yes, I quit.  It's not something I am proud of-not something I usually do-but dehydration and heat won out.  Today I was going to write about something else on my blog-but yesterday's experience made me change my mind-at one point of my run I passed a young man on crutches, his left leg amputated from the mid-thigh down.  He had his soccer cleats on-he was heading to go play soccer-soccer with one leg-and I struggled?  Good grief...Once again, I was humbled, everywhere around me this past month I have met people who have struggled-like Anita and Ma Jenna-and their response was very different than mine. 

I don't know what will happen during the marathon-I won't lie to you I am a little scared.  But no matter what happens I will be joyful, praying, and thankful that I belong to the same Jesus as Anita, her beautiful mom and the many more women I have had the honour to meet here in Liberia. They have all taught me what true joy is -despite the struggles-they are why I run.