Who am I?

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Monrovia, Liberia
I live in Monrovia, Liberia, West Africa with my wife and youngest son. We are recently arrived in Liberia where we are serving as missionaries with Evangelical Church Missions working under the Liberia Evangelical Mission. For most of the last thirty years we have served under ECM in Bolivia, South America. We are the happy parents of four children and the proud grandparents of two grandchildren.

Friday, July 29, 2011

How Do I Love Thee Chicken? Let Me Count The Ways.

This past July 15-27 was a very busy time. We were blessed to have a work team from GracePointe Evangelical Church, Fort Valley, Georgia with us. It was a group of 15 men and women from teenagers to retirement age. They got in a little before midnight so it was after one in the morning before we got them all tucked into bed. But first was the mandatory speech (you can drink Santa Cruz water and flush the toilet paper in the mission house but other places use the trash can).

The first full day was a Saturday so, after a leisurely breakfast (cinnamon rolls and fruit), we headed up the river to Las Cuevas for a picnic and playing in the falls. At lunch one of the fellows said to us - have you noticed that Georgia people eat a lot! I knew we were in trouble but Niki and Molly Canny were up to it and provided great meals the entire time the team was here and no one went hungry.

What's a picnic without a flat tire

On Sunday we took the team to the Linage of God Church where three of the group shared their testimonies about their walk with the Lord and the leader of the group brought the morning message. There was also the obligatory song in English sung by the visitors.

After a really good meal of chicken the group was invited to play futbol (soccer) with a group of young men from the church. Following the men's game was one with the ladies. It was a fun thing to watch and drew some spectators from the neighborhood. Following the game we tried to go to the sand dunes but were rained out. Maybe next time . . .

Monday morning was the first day of work. The team was here to help build a tinglado (shelter) on the district lot. The tinglado will be used for district juntas (gatherings of all the churches together) and will provide the initial place for our new tutoring center. Lunch, a yummy chicken meal, was provided by one of the churches. Even though the group was rained out of two days of work, the project went well and by week's end the floor was poured and the iron rafters ready to be lifted into place. Each day of work was mixed with laughter, bantering and, oh yes, a chicken dinner. (By the time the team left to go home they had been served chicken in 13 different ways in ten days of eating. I was surprised no one was sprouting feathers or laying eggs!)

Time for a nap

One favorite experience that I like to see our visitors go through is the opportunity to taste test chuño, the original Bolivian freeze dried potato. Most visitors find them less than pleasing but as I watched the first member of the group to take a bite her response was, They're kind of good.  As other members tried them they decided that they tasted like boiled peanuts. I have heard chuño called many things by visitors but never boiled peanuts. (That probably explains why I did not like the boiled peanuts that I sampled in the south.)

Love that chicken
 Not only was there work at the lot but each day, Monday through Friday, there was also a kid's club held at the God is Love church, near the work sight. I had told the work team lady who was in charge of preparing crafts for the club that there could be from five to fifty kids. I was not quite prepared for the 120-140 that showed up the first day. This was a blended affair. The work team was in charge of crafts while the district children's ministry coordinator was in charge of lining up teachers and the music. The coordinator had done her job well and the teaching staff was all present and accounted for on time. The first day began only 12 minutes passed the announced starting time. Unbelievable! Each day there was music, a Bible story and crafts and goodies. A success in every way for which I thank God very much.

The Second Sunday we were at the Rivers of Living Water Church in Plan 3000. Again members of the team shared their testimonies and the leader brought the message. Following the service everyone was served- you guessed it- a nice plate of spicy chicken. That evening some of the guys from the team wanted to cook so they prepared a nice meal of steak on the grill, mac and cheese and apple pie. (What!? No chicken?!) It was a great evening of fellowship, not only with the team, but also with the families of our two drivers for the week.

Monday was a final opportunity to shop and then time to pack up and prepare to leave the following morning. Tuesday came early as everyone piled into the bus one last time for the trip back to the airport. And home to Georgia.

We really enjoyed having this team. Their spirit was great, their dedication to the work fantastic but most importantly their commitment and love for the Lord shown through.Thank you GracePointe Church for coming. Y'all come back now, ya' hear.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Get Ready, Get Set, Retreat!

This past week the missionaries of Evangelical Church Missions - Bolivia were all invited to be involved in the annual field retreat of World Gospel Mission. Through the years WGM has graciously invited us to participate in their field retreat. What made it a bit different this year is that we had half the people attending. usually we are just a small enclave in the midst of the WGM team but this year, due to home ministry assignment schedules and other field changes, WGM only had a small group at the event. But it was good. We both love and appreciate our WGM friends and enjoyed the opportunity to fellowship with them for the five days of the retreat.

We had been looking forward to this retreat because the speaker this year was to be a very special treat. However, due to a car accident the scheduled speaker was unable to attend and a last minute fill in had to be found. Pastor Ed Wallen of the Santa Cruz Trinity International Church graciously agreed to come and provide the messages for the retreat. Ed and his wife are friends of ours and very special people besides being a lot of fun to be around. He did a really good job and brought challenging messages each time he spoke.

The retreat was held at a hotel not too far out of Santa Cruz. Los Cedros is on the top of a hill where the wind blows much of the time. The first night it was very cold but not too cold to enjoy 4th of July fireworks and s'mores roasted over a bonfire. The other days warmed up to a more comfortable temperature.

Besides the adult activities there were separate times for the youth and children. Our own Bryan and Molly Canny led the youth as well as the evening service music each night.

What did the Elliott's do? Mostly eat, sleep, relax and play games. Did I mention that by the good will of the retreat person in charge we were put in the deluxe cabin at the hotel. Niki and I not only had a "marriage" bed (everyone else slept in single beds) but we also had a jacuzzi, with hot water, in our bedroom. Talk about having to rough it for a few days!

We did truly enjoy our time and I thank God for the days of relaxation and challenge.

Now we are awaiting the arrival tomorrow of a 15 member work and witness team for Fort Valley, Georgia. I don't suppose that this week we'll be relaxing in a hot jacuzzi. Oh well. We are looking forward to the team's arrival and the activities that we have planned for them. You can read about them in the next post.