I can't believe that 5 months has passed and I am 2 weeks from going back to the states for 2 months. If you recall, when I initially came to the field, I was only at 87% of my support. I booked my time in Liberia based on that, planning on an extended survey trip, and then returning for additional meetings. I have had very mixed emotions as it feels as though I am just starting to settle in, but I have decided that the Lord would have me return as scheduled. I have a few medical issues I need to address and several meetings. I am looking forward to reporting to some of my sending churches that have been patiently and faithfully supporting me through my long deputation! Whether long-standing or recent, I need and appreciate each and everyone of you that have prayed and given so that I might serve the Lord on your behalf in Liberia.
I continue to adjust to life in Liberia. I was told that March and April were the hottest months and they did not disappoint, although it lasted well into May. I am not yet proficient in speaking Liberian English, but my understanding has expanded a lot! There are few that I can't understand, although I may have to ask them to "slow down, small". With the passing of several birthdays and Hailey's Kindergarten graduation to name a few, I am starting to feel the pain of missing family events back home. It is never easy. I am thankful for technology that keep us connected, but it is very difficult and I am very homesick at these times. I am looking forward to spending some time with my family!
I continue to live at the ELWUO Orphanage. There is so much that has transpired in the last 2 months, I barely know where to start. From a broken transmission to my first serious case of malaria, it has been an eventful few months. It seems like my focus has been very much on physical needs! God has provided in miraculous ways. He has teamed me with an organization that focuses on assisting orphanages in Liberia. They are helping with provisions and projects at the orphanage as well as providing emotional support and spiritual encouragement as they have been dealing with orphanages here for 10 years plus! Many of you have come along side and helped with bicycles, new windows for the school house, new mattresses and fans for the bedrooms, a new diesel generator, allowing us to get off of unreliable community current, a medication fund to help buy a supply of malaria test kits and malaria meds. God continues to answer prayers and meet needs before I have even made them known. I love it when he works that way. It is just the confirming hug you need on some many days.
The beginning of May, my friend Robin Baker joined me. She has given me a much needed reprieve from the constant demands on my attention. There are 20 children here that would love to have your constant and undivided attention. Sometimes it is just love they need, but there are medical and dental needs, help with school work and monitoring meal times and their activities that simply is above and beyond what one person can manage, not to mention I am still caring for Titus, the 2 year old I am essentially fostering for the time. It is really above and beyond what 2 people can manage, but she has been a helpful addition, although she too has been overwhelmed with the demands and adjusting to the heat and humidity of the climate!
Robin has been spear-heading the children's reading/discipleship program using the curriculum we purchased from Lamp & Light. It is a Bible-based reading and phonics curriculum. It comes with a reading book and workbook that helps the children with reading, writing, phonics and English all rolled into one. The children are all well behind where they should be in school, even by Liberian standards, and it is very difficult but they are eager to learn. The material is a great opportunity to work with them on their reading, which is our primary goal, and lends itself well to Spiritual discussions. Again, there are about 15 of the older children and 2 of the women we are working with, but because of the attention they need you can not work with more than one or two at the time. Again, thank God Robin arrived when she did!
As our time to leave approaches, we are working hard to make sure the orphanage is stocked up with supplies they will need in our 8 week absence and to start preparing for the next school year. One thing I believe is necessary is a sponsorship program. We are working out the final details, but please be in prayer with us. It is important for us to be able to provide the children with the resources they need to receive a decent education . We are also in need of transportation, something that would enable us to move the children off the orphanage in a group (think 15-passenger van, diesel, 4X4, with a VERY high lift). There are options we are considering and praying about. Please join us in that.
We continue to attend Temple Baptist in Johnsonville, helping with the Children's Church there. The last 2 services, even in my 4X4, we have not been able to make it up the muddy road to the church at the top of the hill! Fortunately, there is another less used road that we can hike up! We have seen 2 professions of faith in the last few months. We are careful with the "raise your hand" response as every child will raise their hand if asked to. There are still some communication barriers, meaning they do not always fully understand US, even though we speak "English", they can't "hear" (understand) us. We have been inviting them to seek us out and so far, 2 have done so, brother and sister, please pray for them and their discipleship. Pray for the ladies of Temple Baptist who will be running the Children's Church in our absence. The Reimers are also going home for several months for the birth of their 4th child. We will be conducting some brief training with the women and turn the children's training over to them for the summer, which is the ultimate goal. To train the Liberians to manage without us!
Thank you for reading this lengthy letter. It was a bit overdue and there is no way I can adequately cover all the Lord has been doing. It would seem that for the time being, he would have me continue to minister to the children and adults at ELWUO. There are other opportunities he has presented me with. My only desire is to be in the center of His will and doing the most good for the people of Liberia. He reminded me of my own tag line on the presentation video I listened to about 300 times over over the last couple of years....."to equip the next generation of Liberians to lead their own people to Christ".
I invite you to "friend" me on Facebook. I have included my ministry and my personal page links in this prayer letter. I do post live videos and pictures of my day-to-day life in Liberia and they are very well received! I thank you all for that! It is just my joy and privilege to share with you #myLiberianlife and to show you the sweetness of the children and the goodness of God. I have meetings scheduled in Texas and Virginia. Thank you for your prayers and support. I hope to see some of you when I am back in the states.
"Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for (Liberia) is, that they might be saved. For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves to the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth. Romans 10:1-4
Your Servant for Liberia,
Julie Alexander Psalm 68:5-6