Best Version Liberia

Our family has been back in the states now for almost 13 weeks.  Each week brings a different challenge.  Different feelings and emotions. From those first few weeks of feeling so detached from a world we knew so well before. To now just as we knew it would happen, we are adjusting back to life in the first world easily, with all of the frills and ease that it provides. However, I find myself having to stop and catch my breath much more often. It is funny that when life is easier, and things are more accessible, how much busier and chaotic things can get. Our need of having to fill every second of every day with things whether it be voluntary, a job, sports programs, shopping, cooking, cleaning etc. is so very real. In Liberia our family (the boys and I, Zach obviously had more of an agenda) did not have places to go and times to be somewhere every day.  We were just present, in that very day, sometimes looking for things to fill the day so as not to feel like the walls were closing in.  Going on our visits to an orphanage, the beach, a weekend trip to the bush, etc. these things weren’t every day things we did.  They became special days and trips we looked forward to each week.  We miss those trips.  We miss those experiences we looked forward to so much.  They were so special to us, and always will be. 

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Brady doing his favorite thing and handing out candy after taking deworming meds.

Our children have adjusted well and are enjoying things they didn’t have ease of access to in Liberia. Mostly just being outside, parks, and playgrounds. Their questions about Liberia have not ceased and they miss it just as much as we do. They talk about their friends from school there, friends from the orphanages, all their animal friends, and so much more. They came home with very little from Liberia, we pretty much had to leave all their toys we brought or bought from expats there. They found good homes with our Liberian friends or other missionary families who will find use for them. I don’t hear them complain about it and I am hoping that the time we had in Liberia helped even children as young as them see what’s truly important in our lives. We have pictures around the house of our friends as small daily reminders of our time there and we talk about it often.

When I think or write about Liberia the tears flow.  It is and will always be our home away from home.  If we had the opportunity to go back tomorrow as a family I would not think twice.  We are remaining prayerful and letting God take hold of everything, we have let go and have given it all to Him.  He is the writer of our story, of our lives.  He has made it clear that right now this is where we belong even though some days in our human nature and lack of trust it doesn’t feel so. I read the following every day, sometimes multiple times. 

“May today there be peace within.

May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be.

May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith.

May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you.

May you be content knowing you are a child of God.

Let this presence settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love.

It is there for each and every one of us.”

In these weeks we have seen many people. We have been approached by complete strangers telling us that they prayed for our family during our time in Liberia. We have been invited to speak at good friends small group, and spoke at our own church to all of those that supported us while we were gone.  I have been embraced by people like I have known them for the entirety of my life.  On the days I feel the most out of place God shows me how to not close up, He shows us that nothing good will come of being a hermit, that the more we speak about our time in Liberia and our family there, including all of the wonderful missionary families that became part of our own, are the times His light shines the brightest.  His steadfast love and protection are what got us to this moment, to be able to share His works in a third world country an ocean away is further proof of His existence, His love,and His mercy. 

Many people we have encountered have asked about Isaac and his health.  Isaac is thriving.  He has not had any further complications from his issue or the surgery.  The GI issue and abdominal surgery has not hindered his ability to be an energetic little boy who doesn’t quite think things 100% through all the time resulting in a broken arm about 4.5 weeks ago.  Luckily, the break did not require surgery, just sedation and setting.  When we first returned home he was experiencing some PTSD from the entire experience on our furlough trip.  Nights were a little rocky for a bit and he still doesn’t like when we leave his sight for long, but it is getting better day by day.  He is truly a miracle.  There is no denying that.  I find myself rewinding to 18 weeks pregnant with the twins sitting in a cold meeting room at Cincinnati Childrens Hospital in Cincinnati, Ohio in March of 2015, when a staff of professionals told us based on statistics and studies, Isaac would likely not make it into the world.  Fast forward to this July on our furlough trip as we watched our boy hang on yet again. We stood in disbelief after the surgery knowing that had this happened in Liberia the end result would have been different.  We don’t know Isaacs plan, we don’t know the things the Lord has in store for him, but we do know that He has plan for him. We are thankful and reminded every day of this with the presence of our son.   

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Isaac on a field trip to the Pettit Environmental Preserve. He is making a bird feeder here with his good arm.

Zach and I, along with a dear friend will return to Liberia in November for a short trip. A trip that will mean so much to me as I get to see and hug those that I did not get to return to in July. I cannot wait to see my friends and be able to tell them all of the things I would have wanted to had I known I was going to be saying goodbye for a little while. We have been off social media since we have been back and plan to continue using it very little but we will share about this trip and what the team is doing in Liberia right now in the group. The current economic situation has not gotten any better and the people continue to get more frustrated for answers. Please continue to pray for Liberia and it’s people.

Last but not least I wanted to share about Etta. Etta was the baby girl that was very sick and brought into the city before we left for furlough. During this time Zach and I began to talk about bringing Etta into our family. We began to pray about this, and felt a strong pull that this was something our family was being called to do. We began the adoption process for Etta and got to spend some time with her before leaving Liberia for our trip. Of course not returning to Liberia meant also not returning to Etta which made things more difficult. The adoption agency worked tirelessly trying to get Etta’s history so we could begin the process and her paperwork. Things were looking very positive the day her main caretaker from her orphanage and her biological father signed papers for her to be able to be adopted, but as time went on many more bumps in the road began to appear. Etta has 3 siblings we did not know about, and many other things that the agency did not feel comfortable dealing with happened one after the other. Sadly the agency told us they did not feel comfortable going forward with the adoption. We are heartbroken. Etta will stay in the city for some time to assure she stays healthy. She will be 1 year old in December and she will always be considered part of our family. Please continue to pray for Etta. We have told very few about this but I have been asked about it by a few people, which is fine. I understand that news travels, especially in our small town, and at the beginning it was good news. It still is, Etta is receiving care she needs and deserves and she has opened the adoption door for us. We truly believe if it’s not Etta it will be another child. We can’t wait to see her in November.

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Etta getting her hair plated. So healthy and strong.

Mother Teresa said it best, “Poverty is not made by God, it is made by you and me when we don’t share what we have.” Go where you are called. Give away what you can give, even if it’s not money, even if it’s time or a specific talent. Use it. Use what you have been given. We are the answer to the worlds poverty. In our own communities or far across the world. We have to stop talking about it and start putting our words into action. 

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Love you all. We hope that you are all well and you find time to stop by the LOVE store under the bridge in downtown Cartersville. The grand opening is Saturday (10/5). They have hundreds of different LOVE shirts including long sleeves, and baseball tees. Also, they have bags, wallets, wrap skirts made from lappa purchased in Liberia. There is Liberian artwork crafted by artisans located throughout the country. You will also find jewelry made there as well. All purchases directly impact Orphan Aid, Liberias programs.

Matthew 25:40

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