Saturday, April 2, 2016

The Stories You Hear…

When you are in the Interior of Liberia, and have time to sit and listen, you can hear a lot of different stories.  I have listened to two in the past few days that I found very interesting.
Last Sunday morning it was announced in church that a young lady was bitten by a snake.  Prayer was offered for her physical being and hopeful recovery.  A few days later I asked someone for an update on her condition.  I was told that she was doing much better.  It seems that a snake had crawled into the hut where she was sleeping during the night and bit her on the foot.  Someone killed the snake, but no one seems to know what kind of snake it was, only that it was very dangerous – poisonous.  The family immediately begin to call for anyone that had a “snake rock”.  As explained to me – the “snake rock” is placed directly on the site of the bite.  The rock will stick to the skin, only releasing itself when all the venom is drawn from the body.  When the venom is completely removed, the stone will fall off by itself.  Everyone knows to not touch the stone with their hands or any body part since the stone is now full of snake venom.  It is carefully picked up with sticks or leaves and placed in a pot.  Milk is poured over the stone and left to sit for several hours.  From the explanation, it seems to me that the milk neutralizes the venom.  After a certain time the stone can be taken from the pot and it is now ready for the next use.  The girl is alive and seems to be doing okay!  By the way, I “Goggled” snake stone. Umm, sure enough – it was there!
One person told me about the time that a chimpanzee was seen roaming the forest.  When news was broadcast of the chimpanzee’s appearance it paralyzed the village.  No one would go to work their farms, or even travel from one village to another.  The sighting of this chimpanzee initiated the forming of several hunting parties.  He was hunted until found, and then was disposed of.  Listening to this story was a bit difficult for me since I was continually trying to invasion a chimpanzee that would terrorize an entire village.  In my mind, I kept seeing the adorable little chimp, all dressed up, and being the almost-perfect pet.  I couldn’t help myself, so I asked how it was that a small little chimp would be considered so dangerous.  The person telling the story looked at me and said, “Rev., that chimpanzee is your size and well able to turn a car over on it’s top.”  Thinking about this I inquired if the name could possible be gorilla rather than a chimpanzee.  He told me that we call it a gorilla, but they call it a chimpanzee.  Phraseology has never been my strong suit!




From January 1 up to today, March 16 equals 76 days.  How much can you pack into 76 days?  A LOT!  Really, I mean a whole lot!  In fact, it is unbelievable what you can do in 76 days.

In January, we traveled to Assinie, Coté d’Ivoiré, to attend our West Africa Retreat.  We joined colleagues from Mali, Senegal, Coté d’Ivoiré, Togo, Sierra Leone, Gambia and Benin.  Other special guests included, Africa Regional Director, Greg and Danna Beggs, and Africa Oasis Project representative Mark Alexander.  This was a great time of refreshing and renewal.  It was good to be together, pray together, and dream together for West Africa!

We returned to Liberia with only enough time to take a good deep breath before traveling to Gbarnga for our semi-annual Assemblies of God in Liberia General Conference.  This year’s theme was Focus 2020 and emphasized missions and church planting.  The goal of the national church is to plant 650 new churches by 2020.  I was both privileged and honored to be the keynote speaker each night during the conference.  The last service of the conference, Sunday morning, a special offering was received for the work of missions and church planting.  This offering was the largest offering ever received in the history of the AGL according to most pastors.  It was an unbelievable conference filled with a spirit of faith, confidence, and the power of God.

In early February, we traveled to Sierra Leone, where I serve as Team Leader.  We met missionaries, Brant and Joanne Jordan, who have just arrived as the latest addition to the team.  Later in March another couple, Danny and Cindy McCollor will join them in the work.  While in Freetown, Sierra Leone, I made a wonderful discovery… Baby Ruth!  Sure enough, I found the candy bar, Baby Ruth!  I was beyond ecstatic!!

The first of March we embarked upon a trek that has taken us to the hinterlands of Liberia – the Interior.  Upon our return to Monrovia – sometime in early April – there will be four new Assembly of God churches.  This trip is challenging in so many different ways it is difficult to explain.  But the rewards are tremendous!  We meet so many friends, make new friends, discover churches and ministries that we did not know existed.  We are privileged to both see and experience what our brothers and sisters endure on a daily basis.  The experience makes us happy and sad at the same time.  And, as always, Fredna is able to find a baby or two – or twenty or… -  to hold!  And this makes her happy.

Today marks 76 days since January 1.  Maybe we will get to rest a bit during the next 76 days – or maybe not!  As they say here, “Only God knows!”