"On the Road back from Zwedru"
We are back safe after 3 days of traveling from Zwedru to Nashua. On Saturday, July the 10th we left Zwedru in the morning around 8:30. We had received a send off the night before at the Central Church in Zwedru, Pastor Galladay’s church. The congregation put on a wonderful service to say good-bye. Pastor Geoff and Tom both spoke and expressed for all of us just how blessed we were for their acceptance of us and their gracious hospitality. We learned so much from them and we developed lasting relationships. Many of these same people showed up Saturday morning to send us off again, Pastor Galladay, Pastor Augustine our master brick layer, Enoch for a final good-bye.
We finally said our good-byes and drove away. We were only on the road a short time, maybe 10 minutes before we met our first issue, a security check point. They delayed us for about 30 minutes. They were trying to force a “pay-off”. Pastor Daniel Johnson said fine, no problem just provide us with an official receipt which they refused, but continued to delay us. We finally called Pastor William Grant who arrived and immediately got us released without a fee.
The remainder of the trip was somewhat uneventful except for the near rollover of our truck driven by Moosa. We did a 180 on the road and slammed thankfully into a small hill and not a gully. He refused to slow down despite our repeated attempts at telling him to slow down. He eventually slowed down and at lunch time Pastor Johnson firmly instructed him to stay in between the other 2 vehicles. The only other mishap was another ball bearing failure in our truck; we had to wait for 2 hours for it to be repaired. Fortunately this happened in Ganta City where we had stopped for lunch at Pastor David’s church. We finally arrived back in Monrovia at 10 PM at night at the Baptist Church Guest House.
We awoke early and had breakfast at the Palm Springs Hotel next door to our guest house. It was a beautiful setting overlooking the ocean and it we enjoyed a delicious buffet. We then split up into 3 groups for church services. We all crammed into a rented van to be dropped off at the various churches. We had an eye opening experience driving through some of the poorer neighborhoods of Monrovia. Again we all experienced warm welcomes and beautiful services. The singing was exceptional at all 3.
Geoff and I had attended the Outreach Church which is the church that Pastor Daniel Johnson attends when he is home. We were greeted there by Devin, Jennifer and Sadie whom we had met briefly on our first day in Monrovia. They are from the Nazarene Youth in Mission program and have been in Liberia for 5 1/2 weeks now and have 10 more days to go before returning to the US. These young girls who are in the late teens and early twenties and in college are truly inspiring. They have gone all over Liberia putting on vacation bible schools (VBS) for the children. We wish them well and we ask all of you to pray for them.
Finally, we headed for the airport. We arrived at 5 and went through customs with no problem; we had a 3 hour wait at the airport. At 8:15 we left Liberia for Brussels. After a 6 + hour flight we landed in Brussels and after a short nap by some of us we headed into Brussels via train for a short tour and a lunch. We then headed back to the airport where our flight was delayed another hour so. Finally we left there and made it to Frankfurt for the final 7 hour flight to Boston. This was uneventful and we arrived in Boston at 8 PM and we made it through customs quickly and we arrived at the Community Chapel at 10 PM. We were greeted by many of our family members and friends. It was a wonderful reunion.
Though it is over, we will not forget our Liberian brothers and sisters. God has truly blessed us all with many new friends and memories. I know that our presence among them encouraged them and strengthened their faith because ( I think I can say this for the group) all of us have had our faith encouraged and strengthened by their humility, their graciousness and their love for God. May God bless them and us; and thank you for all your support and prayers.
In A Shepherd's Word - Liberia Edition
"Just Come Home"
It is amazing what you discover at a distance. Absence does make the heart grow fonder. When away from family and church and friends, those who matter most to you in life, you realize what you have and miss it terribly when separated from it. So, I am very grateful to be home. I also am wrestling with my own emotions about leaving behind my Liberian "family". Today, emotions are close to the surface for me. I miss Pastor Augustine and Pastor Galladay. I want to hear Alfred's unique way of leading a worship surface. I want to do push ups with children who are amazed at my camera. I want to encourage people who still live with (and always will) the deep scars that a horrific civil war left behind. Yes, absence makes the heart grow fonder.
It makes me think O god's heart toward us as well. Whether the people of war torn Liberia or the neighbors I bump into each day, God's heart is very fond for us...especially when we are absent from Him. In fact, He is dying to be with us so much so that Jesus died for us to be with Him. And it is that awareness, that love from God, that makes me want to live and love for Him wherever I am.
"God so loved the world that He gave His only son that whoever believes in him will not perish but have everlasting life." (John 3:16) That is the heart of the God who loves us so much and yearns to be with us. It is the heart of God that reminds me that I am a missionary wherever my feet take me, whether the streets of Nashua or the road to Zwedru. It is the heart of God that makes me know that the Liberian people will indeed find hope and healing in a land ravage by hopelessness. It is God's heart for us all. The heart that says, "I miss you. Just come home."
So, the reminder to me, in this final post is simply that God's heart is for all of us to be with Him...to live for Him...and to bring Him to our world. After all, He misses each one of us when we are at a distance from Him. And simply wants us to come home.
In HIS Adventure,