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Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton
Wow. Here we go. My wife and I have been praying and discerning this leap of faith for quite some time now, so I’ll fill you in on how we got to the point of moving our 3 kids to work with orphans in Liberia, West Africa.
In January of 2017 I was hired on as one of Orphan Aid, Liberia’s first full-time employees. It was an exciting opportunity for me and it happened fresh off my first trip to Liberia in which was suppose to be a simple photoshoot trip for my friend and Founder of OAL, Daryl Roberts. On that trip I got to experience firsthand what OAL does to assist the children orphaned by war and Ebola. I still hear welcome songs from the children echoing through my mind, as I contemplate my very first trip. Their faces so beautiful, but eyes that still hold a lot of pain. My objective for that trip was to help Daryl develop some digital content to bring back to share to his current donors and as well help with new fundraising projects. My mind was spinning to say the least.
As I switched from photo to video I couldn’t get enough of the children’s faces. As I shot intently I could just imagine these images bringing light to their unfortunate situation, and in response people lining up to lend a hand.
I remember having a moment with Daryl at the founding orphanage, Children’s Ministry. After a long day of work, I looked at him and said, “I think this is what I’m called to do.”
God convicted me in Liberia. Not to do something miracoulous like start my own non-profit, or to start finding ways to cure malaria, he simply told me to do more, which at the time was not hard to do since I was mainly focused on how I could be successful in my business endeavors and make a lot of money one day. Yes, I was a good guy, and I did little things here and there, but in no way had I been trying to give as much as receive.
As I sat on the plane headed back home, those children’s faces flickered through my mind like I was pulling the lever on an old view master toy. And they all had names. Maybe they were made up names, but they all had an identity, a purpose, just as I did. I’ll never forget those faces and encounters on my first trip.
As my job at OAL extended so did my trips to Liberia. Every a few months I would leave my family at home, to go visit my family in Africa to gather more content. Projects were picking up, and more work was to be done. There are thousands and thousands of orphans in Liberia due to the war and Ebola outbreak, along with the issue of Pa leaving Ma or the child being abandoned due to extreme poverty within the family.
I don’t like to use words like “overwhelming” because I believe that brings a sense that the goal is unreachable, but Liberia is a lot to take in regarding needs. They’re one of the poorest countries in the world. Most families do intense work to scrape together $1 a day. It’s very unfortunate, but there is a solution, and God has made us (all of us) responsible for helping our brothers and sisters in need.
I began daydreaming about what more I could do besides take the standard 2-3 trips per year for photography purposes. All of my ideas led me right back to living in Liberia for an extended period, and at that time, while having 1.5 year old twin boys and another boy on the way, that just seemed comical. It was especially funny to my wife when I brought it up. I still felt something deep inside that kept pulling me back, so I prayed. Every morning I would wake up, do my morning readings, devotion, and prayer time. I would try to forget, and think about the difficulties that would come with taking my family to a 3rd world country, in hopes that it would deter me and help me see why it couldn’t be done. I would have thoughts of my children getting malaria, or my wife being utterly depressed from lonliness and seperation from her family back home. All of these thoughts kept rolling through my head, but I continued to be dragged right back to the foot of that Cross, where I would watch Jesus Christ hang from nails. This image continued to pierce my mind so hard I would break down in tears. He gave it all so I would have the chance and opportunity to fill the love that comes from sacrificing for others. It was obvious that God was pushing me to Liberia, so I finally told him he was going to have to convince my wife (like he didn’t know that already)…
Hey guys, it’s Allie!
It all started about a year ago when Zach first approached me about a move to Liberia. He had come back from his 4th trip, on this trip he came back with a fire I had not seen before. He threw the idea of moving over there out and my jaw dropped to the floor. I was pregnant with Max at the time and I immediately shot back with “you are crazzzzzyyyyyy.” A logistical nightmare, I’m pregnant with our 3rd baby, where would we live, the flight is 24 hours, what would we eat, we will miss our families, just absolutely not. Not happening. No no no. My mind didn’t change, but Zach kept mentioning it ever so often, and with a smile and a laugh I’d brush it off and roll my eyes.
Fast forward, Max was born and we were busy busy with 3 kiddos under 3. Zach went back overseas a couple times, his latest trip was a few months ago when Max was about 4 months old. At this point I had begun to pray about this decision, and pray hard. If my husband (who I am in full support of) felt so strongly about this, I was going to leave the ultimate decision up to God. Show me something, ANYTHING to change my mind if this is what we are supposed to do with our family. Nothing, crickets. No big flashing signs, no feelings or feeling pulled toward the decision to move. Until….
One night, like any regular night we put the boys to bed, and shortly after had a conversation about Africa. We talk a lot about the kids and I love hearing all of Zach’s stories he brings back from his visits. He mentioned the move again in this conversation and again, I just laughed it off. In my head I couldn’t wrap my head around it, little did I know God had a plan for my heart. That night we went to sleep. During that night of sleep I had the most intense, vivid dream. I dreamt of my family moving to Africa. I saw my 3 boys playing with orphaned children and the joy it brought to all of their faces. I saw myself being able to bring comfort and love to those who need it most. I saw Zach being able to fulfill all of his job duties with ease having those at the end of the camera lens right at his fingertips. I saw all of us learning what hard living is all about. Sacrifice, culture shock, hardships, home sickness, and so much more. This dream had the bad and good. Mainly, I saw how much we’d miss our families. This was the most heart wrenching part of my dream. I felt like I was going to be taking someone’s grandchildren and nephews from them, they’d miss a year of their life. Who am I to do that to someone? Then almost like Jesus himself was speaking to me, I heard, these children have NO ONE. They don’t have a family to miss. They don’t have parents to hug or FaceTime when they are lonely or scared. This is what YOU and YOUR family are meant to do. It may be a short term, a year or so, but this is what your plan has been all along. It just took until that moment to see the path.
So here we are. Planning to relocate our family to Liberia, West Africa.
People will think we are crazy. Heck, I think it’s crazy. But I am excited for it. So many things had to line up for this to happen. Things that were ultimately out of our control. There is no denying that it is going to be very hard. We will have hard days and days we question all the decisions we made, but those days are test days. We just have to make it through.
We are so excited for this next adventure. We have quite some time to prepare and a move like this takes time so we are excited to start the preparation.
Life is short. It comes as no surprise to anyone that one day our life on Earth will come to an end. We don’t know how and don’t know when but it’s something that is going to happen whether we like it or not. That being said, I really had to look deep down inside myself and step back to look at my family to come to the realization that we need to be doing MORE during our short life here. We need to be giving back, making sacrifices, living minimally, being thankful, serving others, and so much more. This is why we are going on this adventure in 2019. This is why is we exist to begin with.
For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. – Galatians 5:13
We love each and everyone of you.
Zach, Allie, Isaac, Brady & Max
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