Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Reflections and Deep thoughts...

I should be studying or getting ready for bed-but my mind won't shut-off.  I find when I leave Liberia and have time alone ( I have barely talked to anyone for about 2 days!) I start to reflect and my head gets full.  I call it "being in my head"- for those who know me you know what that is let me share a few of nuggets (isn't that big of me?).

Most of my reflection has been on the amazing, crazy, busy, fun, hard year that we have had at SP Liberia.  Let's give a quick picture re-cap and trust me when I say that this is just a snap shot of all that went on!
Early in the year we had some SP UK staff come and see us...

Just before the Festival we had a SP media crew come out to film some of our projects...CLP!

Some guests had too much fun with the bunnies! :)

In the fall we had another UK team come out to see our water/sanitation projects-they were real troopers in the bush!

The boys got to meet daddy's "bossman" :)

We had a kids camp team from our own Salmon Arm Broadview church come-we had so much fun!

Those are just a few of the visitors we had-and what they did.  I am so thankful for every single one for taking the time to come and see what SP Liberia is doing and what they are a part of.  I hope and pray that their visits changed them-and that they can share the story of what God is doing in Liberia with their friends and families.  I know that everyone who came impacted our staff and the Liberian people they met-so thank you!

Then there were the projects...we were busy-oh!

Anita-part of our HIV/OVC program-her and her mom were one of the highlites of my year...

Bunnies were born!!!

This day was a hard day-but one that I will never forget-being able to spend time with on of our beneficiaries at the foya hospital

Latrines were built...

This is the house that recently burnt-I was able to go there last week to take some pictures and see the brother of the house owner.

Goats were born!

We didn't let anything stop us from getting to our project sites!

Christmas came early for some special kids...

Fish was harvested!

This is seriously just a drop in a bucket of all that was accomplished in 2011.  As I reflected on the year (as I was daydreaming at the Library!) I remembered many moments that really impacted me-both happy and some tough ones.  Like the story that Joni posted on her blog about a young girl given infected blood at a hospital and is now dying of HIV-she is 16 years old-loosing 4 our our Liberian staff members in the first few months of the year to sickness...but you know what-God saw us through and continues to also shower us with moments of joy.  When a CLP lady first learns how to write her name, the smile and laughter of a child receiving a shoe box, people running to receive God's amazing grace, the excitement of a fish harvest and so many more.

Coupled with all of this- I ran.  I ran a lot. Our staff ran with me too! It was worth every painful, joyful, sweaty step!  Running-yes, running often got me through many of the hard days-I vividly remember the run after meeting and hearing Anita's story-how I cried through that whole run. I started this blog (painfully, but still did) because I was running with a purpose-a purpose that I wanted to share with you.  All of you were a huge part of 2011-your support and encouragement throughout the year was so inspiring-I was overwhelmed by your words and responses-thank you!

Team SP!

2011 was a big year.  For me personally it was a huge year (hello 40!).  I ran the London marathon-not very well but I ran it-it was amazing.  Tomorrow I defend my PhD-a journey that has helped be better at my job and strive to never forget of being a good steward in what I do.  As many of you know-I don't do things just to do them-I don't run a marathon to just to run, I didn't undertake a PhD just because I want people to call me Dr. Bev (Please don't!).  Everything that I did this year and in my life really, I do because I want to be a good steward with what God has given to me.  To use my running and my PhD to do the best I can in my job/life-for all of those who because of circumstances out of their control are suffering physically and spiritually.  As I have said about my running before-I run, not for me-but for everyone that you have met on this blog this year and many more. 

On my own I can't do these things.  With God -He can, I just have to trust and serve. When I am running I have a little motto/mantra that I say "Not me but HIM in me" (will be saying it my head tomorrow morning too!)... I leave you with this verse-one of my faves as we end 2011...and get ready for 2012-the adventure continues!

"For we are God's masterpiece.  He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so that we can do the good things He has panned for us long ago"- Ephesians 2:10 NLT

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Animal Life!!!

One of the perks of the job over here is the I am not talking about lions, elephants or giraffes (we don't have giraffes in Liberia!).  I am talking about our small ruminants, livestock, livelihoods and fishponds.  When I am in Foya and go for an early morning run, the goats and sheep are often still slumbering on the road, the roosters are crowing, chickens are scratching-their morning in their little world has started! Sometimes I feel like Dr. Doolittle, holding bunnies, chasing down goats, getting muddy in a fish harvest-it is so much fun!  Here are some pictures of what I mean...(pictures by joni.)

I took this picture-love the self portraits with the bunny!

Second year students for CLP are given chickens to raise.

Goats!  (picture by Loretta :)

Fish harvest-this guy is headed to market!

On a more serious side-these projects have a huge impact on our beneficiaries.  As you have already read-our livelihood and literacy women receive rabbits their first year and chickens their second year to raise for food or to sell.  This brings in another income that can help with school fees or to provide much needed protein to their diet.  Fishponds are managed by community leaders, mostly pastors, and a fish pond (that has 6 ponds in total) can be harvested once a month.  Money raised from fishpond harvests' have helped build new community buildings, churches and have helped vulnerable widows with much needed food.  The SP goat, sheep, pigs and cattle program has also had great success with beneficiaries able to use the meat for food-or to sell  (after they have had offspring) using the money to purchase land, pay for school fees or help re-build their homes.

This man helps his wife take care of the rabbits, this was the first time he had held a rabbit!  He said that he is very proud of his wife for learning and that because of it he also is learning.

One of our woman goat farmers.  They each have to build their own shelter before receiving a goat.

One of the little kids helping with his church's fish harvest.

This year we also have pigs!!! Thanks to our women's empowerment agricultural program.

After the war there was no cattle in Liberia, SP was the first to introduce cattle back into the country.

Animal/Livelihood projects can be difficult to do, animals get sick, or are stolen-BUT they also have great reward for the beneficiary.  One of the programs that I am running for is our livelihood programs such as these-all maintained and run by community farmers/caretakers, who have been trained by our amazing SP staff.  Here are a couple more photos of our cute little animals (don't think about that they may be eaten...think that they will be sold!)

Our Church mobilization program manager Eleanor-with her little baby goat.  Eleanor goes crazy over the baby animals!  She also is helping churches with livelihood programs that will help their communities.

Seriously...can something get any cuter!

The majority of rural Liberians are farmers.  Yes, they grow rice and other veggies, but many of them are also animal farmers.  During the war their animals were taken from them -killed and eaten by soldiers.  When I ask many of the farmers if they had goats or sheep before the war, they all adamantly reply "Yes, but the war came!" 

As I have said before-the projects that I am running for are just small steps to re-building a broken nation and restoring broken lives.  All of these smelly, cute, bleeting, running in the middle of the road, mooing, clucking, snorting animals and fish are playing a HUGE role in doing both.