Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Irrational Campaign

Here's a short story of the kind of impact that we did not expect to have when we took our trip to Liberia. 

We were featured in the United Methodist Great Rivers Conference newsletter before we left, and a pastor who read that article and had been to Liberia got in contact with us.  We didn't get a chance to meet with him face to face before we left, but we when we got back he was going to be speaking at Quest church here in Champaign. Quest church was beginning a campaign to build a church and a well in a village in Liberia and wanted the pastor to share about his experiences.  They are building a church in Liberia before they build their own - we currently meet in a Holiday Inn lobby.

A couple months later, the church (who we now had become involved with) invited us to speak after they had raised about $6,500 of their $13,000 goal (which they later changed to $15,000 to include scholarshps for 40 village students).  

Raising $6,500 in a couple of months is impressive enough.  But after we spoke and provided some personal inight into the lives of the people they would be helping, and after a few people in the congregation gave some big gifts they had been saving up for...this was announced this morning - the last official day of the campaign.

Donations will continue to come in during the next couple of weeks.  On January 8th, the Pastor and another member of the church will fly to Liberia and have the opportunity to personally present the gift to a village that will never be the same.  Their children will have clean water, they will go to school, and the community itself will have a building that can be used a school, church, gathering place and source of pride and togetherness for years.  

Glad to be a part of it.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Pray the Devil Back to Hell

As we were in Liberia, the overwhelming feeling that we got from witnessing the living conditions, and listening to the stories of war, was it just isn't fair. Through our experiences and through our faith, we have come to understand the unfairness of the world we live in. And it is this realization that we must live with each day, and never hesitate to bring awareness to the lives of thousands of people around the world.

Aaron has put it this way, "If I do not want to live in unsanitary conditions, then my brothers and sisters (in Liberia and the world) should not live in unsanitary conditions. If I do not want to go hungry, then my brothers and sisters should not go hungry. If I do not want to go without education, my brothers and sisters should not go without education. If I do not want to experience the horror of war, then my brothers and sisters should not experience war."

In this sense, a great way to bring awareness to Liberia is a new documentary that is now showing in select cities. It is called, "Pray the Devil Back to Hell." It is about the organization of Liberian women to promote peace during the Liberian civil war. It is a story of hope and peace. Click on the above link to gain more information about the documentary, and where it is showing.

Also, if you would like to see it come to a theater closer to you, click on the link below, and demand that it come to your community. If you get enough people to join you, it may come. (If anyone wants to join me in bringing it to Champaign...)

View all Champaign events at Eventful

Saturday, November 15, 2008

More Pictures!

I have downloaded some more pictures. These feature our visit to a few villages to dedicate some wells and latrines. If you have questions, let me know!

Visit to Villages

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Story #4-The Power of Bed Nets

Preparing to go to Liberia, we had to complete several precautions to ensure that we had a safe and worthwhile stay. We made sure we had the appropriate legal documents, emergency insurance, vaccinations, as well as medicines, a first aid kit, bug repellent, and of course, a malaria bed net. While we did not give a second thought to gathering these things before we traveled to Liberia, the importance of them was magnified throughout the weeks we worked and lived in Africa.

Most of Liberians do not have access or the ability to purchase these lifesaving materials. The typical greeting in Liberia is, "How's the body?" or "How was the night?" Signifying the impact of health upon their lives each day. When they become sick, they can only hope it will pass so that they can see another sunrise.

Not only is malaria a threat to their everyday health, it is also a threat to their hearing. Presently, there are no statistics available as to how many people are deaf or who have a hearing loss in Liberia. If audiologists are available in the country, many do not see them, so there are no statistics on the causes of deafness. But talking to the Principal of the Hope school, David Worlobah, and going through student information sheets, I found that most of the students became deaf after an illness or due to loud noises during the war. These illnesses consisted of malaria, typhoid, or Lassa fever. With these diseases, a high fever is likely, which can cause deafness. Deafness that could be preventable.

As you can see in the picture, our malaria net was put to good use; as was our bug repellent and stomach medicine. We were able to leave a few of our materials behind, but there are still many more that are needed. If you would like to provide a lifesaving malaria net or find out more information on the Nothing but Nets campaign, please take time to visit this site. Or go to Worldvision website to learn how to provide health care to families in need.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Story #3-Reality of Hunger

One morning in Liberia, we saw one of our friends who is a pastor for the United Methodist church in Liberia. Our conversation, like a lot of our conversations, focused around the realities of living in a war-torn country. Today's topic, not for the first time, was hunger. She stated that that day, she ate a handful of peanuts for breakfast, and drank some water. She would not eat again until she ate a bowl of rice with her family that night. She was anxiously waiting for that night.

The realities are much more real when they are in your face, and not on the television screen.

The reality is that most Liberians eat one meal per day, if they can.

As guests and as Americans living in Liberia, we were expected to eat three or more times a day. We had food prepared for us each day. While we essentially paid for this luxury, it was hard for us to skip a meal without a caring friend noticing and encouraging us to eat. We are grateful for and amazed at their willingness to go hungry, while we filled our stomachs.

But the hardest thing to do was to go to the school each day, with a full stomach from eggs at breakfast, and face the students and staff who had none. It was even harder to leave the students at lunchtime knowing that I would go and fill my stomach again, while they didn't. And knowing too, that they were not ignorant of this fact. Being told, "I'm hungry," or asked, "Buy food?" was hard to stomach each day. It was no wonder that the students had a hard time concentrating in school, or even coming to school; choosing to work for food instead of receiving an education that they deserve.

Without the ability to feed every student, and without the ability to skip a meal to at least see how they feel, and show them we understand, Aaron and I pacified our frustration at the reality of hunger and privilege each day. It is this reality that has led me to choose to fast each Sunday for the month of October, so that I can feel at least a small part of the hunger that these students face each day. I know that fasting just one day in the week will not compare to the feeling of lifelong hunger, but I will at least experience the beginning. And more than anything, it will give me the opportunity to bring awareness to the reality that millions of people around the world face each day.

If you would like to share in this challenge, have questions, or would like to find out how you can help the students and staff at Hope eat each day, please email me at

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Story #2-Human Rights Workshop

About a week before we left Liberia, Aaron had the opportunity to conduct a workshop titled: The Role of Community Leaders in Community Development. The staff of the Human Rights Monitor of the Liberian Methodist Conference attended, as well as other Human Rights advocates in the community.

Discussions focused around how to partner with the government, and how/why to promote community service among leaders.

The participants were very open, had great questions, and also had great ideas to promote peace and advocacy throughout Liberia. It is our hope that they will take the information they received, and the ideas that they formulated and put them into action. We hope that their passion for their work will be met with local passionate leaders, so that their dream of a better Liberia will become a reality.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Story #1: Teacher Workshops

Sorry for the delay in posting. We have been moving in and getting settled into our new environment in Champaign.

I wanted to post another picture and also tell you another story from the trip. This picture comes from one of the teacher training workshops that I was able to conduct. Out of two workshops, about 12 teachers, principals, and interpreters participated. The participants were from Hope school, as well as other schools for the Deaf in the Monrovia area. All of the participants were excited to be a part of the workshop, and very open to strategies and suggestions. I believe the hardest concept for them to understand or to accept, was the difference in behavior management philosophy. The discipline style of Liberian schools is very different than schools in the United States. While I don't think all of them believed my behavior management strategies would be successful in their classroom, they were very receptive to discussing different ideas, and possible trying something different.

While the workshops were beneficial, they were short. The teachers and staff deserve training to create successful schools, and the students deserve trained teachers so that they can be successful. Not until Liberia's government decides to completely support Special Education programs and their staff ,will the students receive the education that they deserve.

If you would like to know more about the workshops or about Special Education in Liberia, please let me now. I would love to share!

Next time, I will share about the workshop Aaron conducted.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


Finally! Since we've come home, we have had an easier time posting and uploading pictures. So, if you click on the following link, you will be able to see just a little bit of our hundreds of pictures.

Hope Kids

These pictures are mostly of the students at Hope for the Deaf School. Hopefully they will give you the first glimpse of the faces and the friends that we have gained from living in Liberia for the summer. Going through these pictures bring up so many memories, I wish we could share them all. I am going to try to focus on one or two pictures in the future and expand on what those pictures mean and the story behind them, to give you an even deeper glimpse into life in Liberia.

In the mean time, enjoy the first set of pictures from Liberia.

Friday, August 15, 2008


After we got home I spent some time searching for other people who may have blogs about Liberia or time that they spent there. I discovered one in particular that caught my attention. The author has written a lot on Liberia if you want more information than we can give from our time there. She also has a lot of handy links to even more information.

If you scroll down the main page you will find a posting about the Truth and Reconiliation Commission and the job they are doing. I took the time to share my impressions from the Liberian people in comparison to the notes that she takes from a report by Amnesty International. The mood: disappointed. You can find all of that right here.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Updates on Blog

Hello everyone!
We are settling into life back home and are getting ready to move, start a new job, and start law school, so we are keeping busy. We did our first trip presentation at our home church in Hudson. We will be doing more in the next couple of months. We would like to keep the blog going for now. We will post pictures and stories from the trip. It will be much easier now that we are home. So, enjoy the stories, and if you have any questions, let us know!


Friday, August 1, 2008

Home Sweet Home

Hello everyone. We just wanted to write and let you know that we made it home safe and sound. The traveling was long (almost 30 straight hours) but went smoothly.

We have to adjust a little bit to being home. Drinks with ice are almost too cold for our teeth (AC is almost too cold as well, we almost needed a blanket in the coffee shop last night). And we forget sometimes that the electricity isn't going to be turned off.

We have taken a couple of days off to regroup and are spending the next couple of weeks traveling around IL visiting with family and friends so give us a call.

Our first formal presentation about the trip will be at the Hudson UMC in Hudson, IL on August 10th.

Okay, I guess that's all for now.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Catching up

Hello friends!
We know we haven't been posting lately, but we have been busy. This past week, I have been working with the kids, getting them ready for the closing ceremony for the school. I have taught them some Deaf jokes and stories. The ceremony will be next Wednesday, and Aaron and I are guest speakers. We have had our speeches prepared for about week now. We have been doing our mothers proud! :)

Aaron is conducting a workshop with the human rights monitors tomrrow (saturday) on engaging community leaders into human rights efforts. He has been preparing for that all this week.

We have also been doing a lot of paperwork, writing up reports for the organizations we have been working with. So we are getting tired. We only have 8 more days left! We can't believe it. So, we are starting to get ready to go. This may be the last post before we get back...the computer on the compound has been used alot lately, but we will be sure to post when we get back in the states and reflect on everything we have experienced.

Hope all is well.


Monday, July 7, 2008

A Typical Day in Africa

Hello all,
Just wanted to share with you a day in Africa, or at least Liberia...We have gotten accostumed to having our days not go as planned...and this last Saturday was no exception. Here's how it went.

9:15-Woke up, having missed 16 calls, on each of our phones. (It is almost a sin not to answer your phone here...even if you are in church)

9:30-Planned a "possible" lunch date around 1:00 or 2:00 but cannot go past 3:00 because we have another engagement

10:30-a friend stopped by and told me he heard we had a lunch date set, but I had not received a call back confirming yet

10:35-Call confirming lunch date, pick us up at 12:30

12:00-Student from school stops by to visit

12:45-Driver comes to pick us up and we say goodbye to student; we thought out friend was going to be in the car with us but is nowhere to be found-so we leave anyways

12:55-Call from friend-he is coming to our house-and he hangs up

1:00-Call friend back and ask where he is...we will come and pick him up

1:10-Pick our friend up, and he asks, " Where is E.?" He is back at our house, he was supposed to come with us, as well as the student who came by to visit (we had no idea and sent her home); so we head back into town

1:20-Stop by school-the local Federation for the Deaf decided to hold a meeting, that I (Tricia) am supposed to attend, but that we had no idea about since they never confirmed the meeting-they just showed up and expected for it to work out

1:30-finally leave for lunch

1:40-Have lunch

2:45-Get ready to leave for 3:00 appointment

3:30-Arrive at last appointment

So...hopefully this helps you experience what it can be like sometimes here. My mom thinks that we don't plan or schedule things out very well or far in advance....we plan far in advance compared to our Liberian friends.

Just a taste of Africa...

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Deaf Educator Workshops

As Aaron stated in the last post, I have had the opportunity to conduct some Deaf Educator Workshops at the schools in Monrovia. The first one was completed this last week, and two more will be completed in the following weeks at different schools. Since there is no training for Special Education teachers, let alone, Deaf Educators, the teachers were excited to be participants.

I originally planned to do a five day workshop but as Africa goes, it got narrowed down to two days, and it was really rainy the second day, so attendance was lower...but overall, I believe it was successful. Even though it was hard to share the knowledge I gained in 4 years at ISU in just two days, I was able to share some important points. Hopefully the information will stick with the teachers.

The rest of this week, I plan to do some more observations in the classroom at Hope for the Deaf, to gather more information about the students before I go. I am starting to write up a report about my work here, so that will keep me busy as well.

Hope all is well for you.


Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Middle of Nowhere

Yesterday we got the chance to travel out into rural Liberia, (the bush). The Community Development Program of the UMC here had project where they built wells and latrines for 3 villages in Grand Bassa and Margibi Counties. Yesterday was the dedication ceremonies for those projects. We were along with the Human Rights Monitor who had brought the need for clean water to the attention of the Community Development Program.

We left at just before 8 AM and got home a little after 8 PM. It was fun to spend that much time with several people from the church office that we don't spend much time with, but it was a long time to be in a van driving on those "roads". Some of them really were nothing more than paths going through the jungle, but those were almost better than the rocky paved roads. Thankfully we never got stuck, but there were some close calls.

Here in Monrovia we have seen a lifestyle that has redefined poverty (little running water, electricity, widespread unemployment, etc). But in the villages, it is redefined again. The villages are so isolated that many of them never leave. The nearest schools, clinics, markets, electricity, running water, or clean water (until these wells were built) are 5 or 6 hours walks away. They live in huts made of mud and thatch that leak or collapse during heavy rain. In one villages where we had a chance to talk to some villagers we found out that the for village and surrounding area (population 1,000) there is no school (no clinic either).

There is one lady in that village who volunteers to teach the children all by herself, all 125 of them. She has just an 11th grade education herself and teaching the children in a small one room church. There were 6 deaf children in that village alone who have no way of communicating with anyone. The teacher there doesn't even know that sign language exist. These children will never be able to read/ write or communicate beyond simple gestures or crying. They don't and will probably never know their own name, or even what a name is.

As a result of this visit (and another planned for this weekend to Bomi County) the Human Rights Monitor is taking advantage of our presence to focus on an universal education campaign. The Director will be visiting with the Ministry of Education tomorow to discuss the plans for educating the rural areas and especially those children with disabilities (in urban areas as well). There are even more remote parts of Liberia than where we were. Most of those children will never recieve an education, especially those who are deaf. Even in the capital city most parents see educating children with disabilities as a waste of time. Tricia will be facilitating a Deaf Educators Workshop this week to train teachers and promote deaf awareness. She will also appear on several radio programs to promote the importance of universal education.

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

A look on the lighter side


Tricia and I have spent a good portion of the last few days in the bathroom, so instead of filling you in with those details I am going give you all a list of the food that we miss most and are craving. We sat down and quickly filled a sheet of paper with some very detailed requests.


There is a pizza place here but it just isn't the same. We want Monical's pizza with bread sticks and cheddar dipping sauce. We didn't talk about toppings, but there should be some French dressing involved.

We would also like some Villa from Mattoon and Tobin's from Bloomington. We would enjoy some homemade Alfredo pizza from Tricia's mom and I have very specific request from Papa John's. BBQ sauce, hamburger, extra cheese, bacon, mushroom, ham, and banana peppers.


We want to go to a good sandwich shop. Tricia's order: a croissant with mayo, melted provolone cheese, tomatoes and cucumbers. Aaron's: a hogie with roast beef (really quality roast beef), BBQ sauce, mushrooms, banana peppers, swiss cheese, and tomato. Toasted.

Tricia has more sandwich requests: Grilled cheese with tomato soup; and fake BLT with mayo on toast. I would take any sandwich that Tricia makes.

Tricia's Other Cravings:

Toast with cinnamon and sugar.
DQ french fries.
Cinnamon Toast Crunch with cold milk.
Dark Chocolate
A big salad with green lettuce and veggies, ranch, croutons, and cheese.
Macaroni and Cheese.
A Jamaican Rum & Coke
Veggie Burger with Chipotle sauce from Chili's.
Jamaican Coffee
Dark Chocolate

Aaron's Other Cravings:

Wendy's cheeseburger
Fruity Pebbles
Big bowl of mom's spaghetti
A cookout at dad's with burgers, cottage cheese, and mac and cheese.
Big breakfast with eggs, hashbrowns, sausage, ham and bottomless pot of coffee.
A jumbo magarita
Chocolate pie
A Steak'n'Shake Frisco melt at 1 AM (Tricia will take a Strawberry Shake)

I am craving anything with mushrooms and BBQ sauce, and Tricia would do anything for some cheese. It's funny the things you miss.


We also thought it might be fun to let you know that we started a game of Rummy when we first got here and decided to keep a running tally for the summer. Unfortunately I have fallen quite a bit behind. Score: Tricia-6410 Aaron-5340. We still have a long way to go.

Word of Wisdom:

However far a man urinates, the last drop always comes back to his feet.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Deaf Schools in Monrovia

Sorry it has taken so long to post. We have not had access to the computer as much, and have been busy.

This past week has been packed full. Tuesday and Wednesday, we did a lot of traveling around the greater Monrovia area to visit other schools for the deaf. In all, we were able to visit five schools. The schools varied in sizes and styles; there was a boarding school, a school within an orphanage, a one year old school with only chalkboards to accommodate learning, and a school that integrated students who are deaf into general classrooms with hearing peers. Even though the schools were different, at each one, we were met by bright-eyed, eager children and young adults who surrounded us and loved to get their picture taken.

After visiting these schools, it is apparent the lack of support that deaf people receive from the community or the government. These schools are functioning on very little, with many students and few teachers. It is not surprising to hear, that some students attend school very little or stop coming at all. It is hard to become motivated to go to school when the future does not look bright.

The last Thursday was also a big day for the community of people with disabilities in Liberia. There was a march through town and the final stop was the capital building to bring a petition before the legislature to ratify the UN Convention on the rights of the disabled. Aaron and I were able to walk alongside our deaf brothers and sisters. I was actually able to see many of the students I met at other schools during the march. We will see if the legislature will put their support behind their citizens with disabilities.

This week I will be at the school, hopefully doing some interviews with the kids. Next week, there is a workshop planned for the teachers of which I will be conducting.

We will try to post as soon as we can. Hope everyone is well back home.


Sunday, June 8, 2008

Out and About

Hello Everyone:

We have been busy lately visiting places in and around Monrovia and meeting lots of new people. Let's hope I remember everything:

Children's village-

The other day we drove out to visit a childrens villages located on a large peice of land own by the UMC on the outskirts of Monrovia. The village has 19 cottages for the children to live in and a newly built school on the grounds that provides education up to 9th grade. Almost half of the cottages are currently empty, although there are about 75 children who live there. Many of the cottages need some repair as does the the chapel building. On the other hand, the grounds are very nice our brief meeting with the program director was very encouraging.

Mr. Kotoh-

Mr. Kotoh is a blind man who has worked as an advocate for the blind in Liberia (and now disabled peoples in general) for over 20 years and has much to show for his work. We visting a workshop that he was holding at boarding school for the blind facility that he has helped build and develop through his advocacy. We had a very good meeting with him discussing his career in advocacy, the state of disabled in Liberia, and the future for other groups (especially the deaf).


The other day the director of the Human Rights Monitor took us out to visit the Owengrove district where the Firestone Plantation and factory are. We visited a small village just across the river from the factory to get a sense of the environmental impact that Firestone has had on that village. Also there, we saw a small concrete building with two small vents near the top that the distict had been using a prison before the Monitor worked to have it shut down. We were able to meet with the distict commissioner, magistrate, and a local school principle while during our visit. The school at one point had an enrollment of 400, but it has recently dropped to 200. During our visit we saw 3 students. It was the middle of a school day. All of these people were very gracious to interview us when we arrived unannounced, but we really enjoyed talking about their accomplished, goals, and challenges. I wish I had room to right about all of that.

The Beach-

Then finally we made some time to head out to a clean beach last night. It was a cloudy day, but still plenty warm to enjoy the water and the relaxation. In fact this entire weekend has been very nice. We didn't get a chance to go to the market on Saturday like we had planned (plans change quickly and often here) but spent the reading listening to the waves just outside our compound, taking turns laying on a hammock hanging in the shade of a couple of palms. It's odd to see such poverty and stuggle in a place that's so close to paradise.

Thanks for reading.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Aaron's Turn

Sorry it took so long for me to share what I have been up to. But surprisingly, our internet connection hasn't been as reliable as we had hoped.

We are actually getting pretty busy, and we haven't started the busy part of the trip yet when we start traveling around rural Monrovia.

I have been principally working with the United Methodist Human Rights Monitors, basically it is an office of the church that works to protect human rights here in Liberia. They do a lot of work in the rural areas educating people about their, and bringing human rights violations that they observe to the attention of the government and the press. I have spent a lot of time discussing the human rights situation in Liberia, getting to know the officers, drafting and editing project proposals and doing some other multimedia things. Also this weekend we celebrated Peace with Justice Sunday with a parade of students and indoor program where they invited me to give a short speech. I also appeared in an interview on their radio program, which basically makes me a celebrity.

In the future we will do some traveling to different areas where they work and see some of the situations in the country where human rights are threatened, including the Firestone district. We also met with a lady who runs an interdemonoation youth and children ministry. The children put together a special welcome service for us and we had a lot of fun with them yesterday afternoon. We will spend a few of our Saturdays getting to know those kids a little bit better; and hopefully some of you back in the states will fall in love with and decide to sponsor them.

So this has been a big work week, but we really enjoy the work we are doing. If they paid us for this we might not ever go home. Actually thats not true, I am barely surviving this internet shortage. We will let you know about all of the other exciting things we are doing in the future. And unfortunately there probably will not be many picture because the connection is so slow.

It's almost dinner time, so I have to go.

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Meeting with Ministry of Education

Hello all,
It has been a good, busy week so far. I have met the students at the school, and almost have all 40 some names down. Hopefully I will have them down by the end of the week. I have just been doing some observing of the classes, to see how the teachers manage their classroom, and to assess what level the students are working at.

This week, we also were supposed to meet with the Minister of Education of Liberia. Unfortunately, the minister's plans changed, but I was still able to meet with the second in command, the Deputy Minister of Administration. This was after being stuck in traffic, walking the rest of the way, climbing to the 6th floor where her office is, and hearing that she had just left because we were late. Fortunately, she came back while we were still in the area, and I had to climb the 6th floors again. I am sure I did not smell the best. Her name is Hawah Goll-Kotchi. I was able to ask her questions about Liberia's education system, and the plans they have for special education.

Overall, Liberia's education system is in desperate need. After the war, the few schools that remained in tact, are jam packed. Overflowing with students. There are few teachers left, since most fled during the war. The children who grew up during the war, are now illiterate adults. And there are a countless amount of children who are now physically disabled with no hands or legs.

The hardest thing for me to swallo, is that there is no special education in place. None. They have established an office and a "department," but there are no trained people to work in it. There is no training for special ed teachers at the university, and no laws to protect the many people with special needs, including the deaf.

There is hope. The ministry is starting to rebuild their education system. And the hope for the deaf, lie in the hands of the few Liberian who are willing to fight for their education and their acceptance, as well as the deaf Liberians themselves. I am working with these kinds of people now, and am encouraged daily by their faith and their determination.

Well, that is what I have been doing. Aaron will post soon about his buisness. I am still working on pictures. Our connection is not very good so it takes a long time!


Sunday, May 25, 2008

Outside the Compound

This weekend we really got to see a little bit of life here in Monrovia outside the UMC compound where we are staying. We took a trip to a local pizza place and went into a few markets and grocery stores. Then later on in the afternoon we got a walking tour of the Sinkor neighborhood in Monrovia (where the compound is). Then last we we out for dinner and to a small party at a friend of Joel's.

This morning we attended church with Joel. It was a lively service, much more so than we are used to. Although the preacher this morning was from California, go figure.

We are starting to pick up a bit of Liberian culture, the handshake, some lingo, it's a lot of fun.

Tomorow our work begins, we are very excited but don't really know what to expect. We will let you know how it goes.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

We are in Africa!

We arrived in Monrovia Wednesay afternoon around 4:30, after almost a full 24 hours of traveling. We were happy to be in Liberia, but exhausted from the trip and out bodies have still yet to adjust to the new time zone, and of course, the heat. Especially Aaron's body.

At our connection flight in Brussels, we met up with a Liberian woman we had met in the states. She was our livesaver at the Liberian airport, helping us get through immigration smoothly, and finding our luggage admist the chaos. We got out of the airport without hassle and were greeted joyously by David Worlobah, his assistant, Eric, and Joel, our host.

Our trip to Monrovia from the airport was about 30 minutes, and we arrived at the UMC compound around 6:00pm. Our home for the next couple of months is nice. We have our own room with a bathroom, which includes running water and a shower. It was a pleasant surprise. We also have electricity for part of the day, starting at 6:30pm until 9:00am. Which means no fans in the afternoon, but we are surviving. We at least have them when we sleep.

So far, we have met all of our neighbors, including a man from the states. We also got a driving tour of the city today. We hope to see more tomorrow, and hopefully will get our phones to contact you back home more easily. Well, we need to go have dinner. Our first meal was spaghetti and barbecue chicken, we will see what it is tonight.

Hope all is well in the states!

Monday, May 19, 2008

We Leave Tomorow

Our flight leaves from Chicago tomorrow afternoon and we will arrive in Liberia on Wednesday at about 5 pm local time. We can't believe this day has actually come, it still somehow seems like it's far away.

I just wanted to post once more before we left and let everyone know that we should be able to regularly update the blog from Liberia. It will be much easier for me to post everything here, rather than sending emails. So if you know anyone who wants updates on what we are, this is the place to send them.

We are unbelievably excited about this trip, and have had such a great time so far in the past few months, as busy as they have been. We want to thank everyone for all of your support, and let you know that it's not too late to contribute to our work as we have expenses to pay still, and will have to repay some of what we borrowed for the trip .

We already have several meetings scheduled to share our stories when we are back in August. If you want to come see us, or have us visit just send us an email, or leave a comment. We should have no trouble using our gmail accounts, but just in case I have set up a Yahoo! account for us to use while we are there. The address is, we will check this regularly while we are in Liberia.

I could write a lot more about how I excited we are and everything we are doing, but I will save the rest for after we arrive. Check back often, send us emails, pray for us, see you when we get back!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Hope for the Deaf School

Hello All!
I have recently received some pictures from the school I will be working at in Liberia. The pictures are of students I will be teaching and the staff I will working with. I am glad to see some of the faces I will be meeting. It brings me great excitement to our ever closer departure date. I have also received an draft itinerary while I am there. David has me meeting some education officials, along with teaching several classes. I am a little nervous, but know it will be a life changing opportunity.

Enjoy the pictures, and if you have any questions, please let us know.


Friday, April 18, 2008

Back to work--AND NEW STUFF!

Well the vacation went by quickly, and I didn't do quite as much work as I thought, but it was a good vacation. I am extremely relaxed right now. Tonight we are driving to Denver and I fly back tomorrow. We are still going to Pikes Peak today though, which should be a lot of fun.

You will notice a few new things along the side of this page. First of all I started using twitter (sort of) and there's a box for that. More importantly, there are a couple of Liberia related news feeds. One is from and the other is from Google News. You can go to those pages and subscribe to those feeds yourself, or you can simply follow them from this page. This will be a good way for everyone to learn more about the situation that we are heading to, and possibly the best way to keep track of what is happening in Liberia while we are away.

Also, I am going to try and start offering some of Tricia's excellent photography for sale as a way to help cover some outstanding trip cost and then in the long run, support the people of Liberia, specifically we would love to raise some money to help send kids to school, and also help the School for the Deaf that Tricia is going to be working at. The site for this shop is stil VERY much in its infancy but you can find it at

We are starting with photography, but plan on adding more in the future.

I have another new page, also VERY much in its infancy. I'm not sure exactly what I am going to do with it, but my vision is a less personal view of the work we are doing in Liberia. I hope to add more objective views of the situation in Liberia and some of the institutions that are working there. That page can be found at Squidoo looks like a very neat site, so I encourage you to look around and possibly get involved.

Finally, you will notice a button at the bottom of this post to email it to anyone you think might be interested, and you are invited to do so.

I think that is all for now, I am writing this in a bit of a rush, as I am already late to pick up Tricia from school, I can fix the grammar mistakes later. Thanks to everyone who contacted to me to let me know that you are was very encouraging.

'till next time.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Break Time

I am trying to post more regularly now that the trip is coming up in just over a month. Tricia and I have been pretty busy putting together the details of the trip and what we are going to do when we get back. I plan on posting some details about that later.

As some of you might know, Tricia has been student teaching in Colorado Springs for about a month and a half now, and she will be there until she graduates on May 10. I've been home by myself while she has been away, but I was able to come out visit this week. If you haven't ever been out to Colorado it's pretty amazing. We spent the weekend at a nice little resort town just outside of Rocky Mountain National Park, and did some hiking yesterday. Everywhere you look you can see something stunning, I love it.

Tricia is still teaching during the week so I am just wandering around Colorado Springs enjoying my vacation, and seeing what there is to see.

So how is this post related to Liberia? Well first of all, I wanted to remind you all about Tricia's teaching experience and the awesome professional opportunity that this trip is for her. And also remember the expertise and experience that Tricia will bring to the School for the Deaf while we are in Liberia.

This is week is going to be a great opportunity for me to relax and think creatively about the work that Tricia and I are doing in Liberia and the type of life we would like to have after we get back. I am also doing some brainstorming about how we can do the work we want to do, most effectively. Hopefully this week I will post some sort of insightful ideas that occur to me this week.

Finally, I would like to ask a favor of anyone who reads this. I am not sure how many of you there are out there, so please feel free to email me or leave a comment, even an anonymous one. Since I have been posting so irregularly you can subscribe to this blog (Google Reader is a really neat program for this, I love it.) But you should definitely expect for frequent posting from me. At least until we get to Liberia, I have no idea what to expect as far as Internet access goes there.

Thanks everyone.

Monday, March 31, 2008


We have canceled the April 4th fund raiser. Thank you to Otterbein United Methodist church for all of your support, I had a great visit there this past Sunday.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Dates are Set


The April issue of the Illinois Great Rivers Conference newsletter is up. There is an article about our trip and other articles about the work in Liberia as well. You can download that newsletter here: The Current: April 2008

If you have read the article and are visiting here for the first time, thanks for checking us out. I do have some news to share. We have our departure and return dates set. We are flying out of O'hare airport on May 20 and will return July 27, things are getting real now.

Fund raising Update:

First of all, I would like to think everyone that has supported us by coming out to a fund raiser or by writing us. We appreciate it very much and are glad to see that so many people (even people we have never met) believe in what we are doing and are willing to demonstrate that; it's been a humbling experience. The fund raisers have been very successful and I would like to thank Megan Devenport for coming to Mansfield to share about her recent trip (she's in the newsletter as well).

We are finally going to be in the Mattoon/ Charleston area over the next couple of weeks, at least I will be. This Sunday, March 30th, I will be speaking at the Otterbein United Methodist Church in Charleston at 9 Am. Here is a MAP to the church.

Then, next Friday at 6 Pm we will be having a fundraiser at the same church. I think I want to have a pie auction. So it would help if I had an idea of how many people vs how many pies will be there. I would very much appreciate it if you could RSVP here, by calling or by emailing me so I can know. Donations are welcome (both financial donations and pie donations).

Thanks, maybe if I update more often I won't have to post so much at once :).

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Just an Update


It's been a while since my last post, I have had some connectivity issues at the apartment.

We can tell that the trip is getting closer, we have started fund raisers and have had the opportunity to meet with a couple of people in the past week and talk about the trip.

The Hudson Fundraiser went very well and I want to thank everyone for coming out, and a lot of thanks to everyone that helped us out with it. We had about 40 come out and support us and that is very encouraging.

The other day we went to an event featuring Rev. Fannah T. Tartieh the District Superintendent of the Grand Gedah District in Liberia. We were able to talk to him for a few minutes and he told stories and showed pictures of his work in the rural areas of Liberia. If I am lucky I may see him when while in Liberia this summer.

Last night Tricia and I had dinner with Paul Black, the Director of Communications for the Illinos Great Rivers Conference. Keep an eye on his site for a story about our trip and the work in Liberia.

We have another fund raiser in Mansfield tomorrow night and I hope to see a lot of you there. If you need information about the the event give me or Tricia a call.

Thanks for reading and I will try to post more regularly in the future.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008



I haven't posted anything in a while, but I just wanted to give everyone an update on our fundraising events. The Valentine banquet in Hudson (Just north of Bloomington/Norma) has been changed from its original date to February 16th at 5:3o PM.

We also finalized the plans for the Mansfield dinner which will be March 2nd at 5:00 PM. This flyer has some more information about that.

We are going to have a dinner or something in Mattoon, but we are still finalizing the details, I will keep you posted.

Thanks everyone.

Friday, January 18, 2008


So we got some good news this week. Bunny Wolfe has been helping us with a lot of the logistics and planning on this trip and she let us know that she has settled our housing situation while we are in Liberia.

We will be staying with a missionary couple from Burundi on the United Methodist Mission compound. There names are Joel and Anne-Marie and it sounds like they will be happy to host us while we are there. Anne-Marie is a teacher Joel is a financial manager.

It is nice to have some of these details coming into place, and I may have found a placement for me in the reconciliation movement. I'll post more details when I get them.

Until next time...

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Liberia Information Letter

Here is the Information letter we mailed out in January for anyone who may have missed.

Download Liberia Newsletter.pdf

It takes a few seconds for the download to be ready. If you need a .pdf reader you can go here.

Being Deaf in Liberia

The following links are articles about David Worlobah's work in Liberia with the deaf. These articles shed light on the challenges they face, and the hope that David is giving them.

Missionary teaches deaf Liberian children how to communicate.

Deaf School for Liberia
(make sure you watch the video!)

Saturday, January 5, 2008


Hello everyone. Thanks for checking in.

This is just the first post to say hello. We will be posting more later on. We plan to update pretty regularly with some fundraising dates, details on our trip, and news from Liberia. Hopefully we will be able to update from Liberia as well. Thanks for being involved and check back often.