Liberia Everyday: School

Students begin arriving at Great King Academy around 7:30 a.m. The bell rings for morning devotions and announcements at 7:45 am. Ma Annie, principal and 1 st /2 nd grade teacher, leads the students in songs. Sunday School songs, the school song and the national anthem are sung. The uniforms are inspected to be sure everyone is neatly dressed for school. Ma Annie leads the students in the morning devotion and prayer for the day. After the Liberian flag is raised and daily announcements are made, the students are dismissed to their classrooms. Great King has four self contained classrooms. Preschool (known as ABC), Kindergarten, 1 st /2 nd and 3 rd /4 th each have one teacher. 5 th through 8 th grade have subject teachers. We have a math/science teacher, social studies teacher, Language Arts teacher, and Bible/Writing teacher. These teachers move from class to class in 45 minute rotations.

First session is from 8 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. and then recess. The students are free to buy little snacks from visiting vendors for about 5 to 20 cents. Then the second session begins and concludes at 1:30, when the hot lunch is served. The rice was donated from FUEL, however, coal for cooking, oil and vegetables are purchased so 20 cents is charged for a big bowl of rice. Sometimes several children share one bowl.

In Jan, the 5 th through 8 th grade finally got textbooks in the classroom for reading, language arts, and math. Imagine how hard it is to teach without textbooks! The teachers are so excited. They spend most of their time writing handwritten lesson plans since there are no teacher edition books. Now that our teachers have books, they can focus on student assessments.

Most Liberian schools are brick and zinc buildings with big windows to let light in since schools don’t have electricity; the window is the only light in the classroom. The classroom has a black board, the most essential tool of teaching, and an array of desks. Sometimes “chairs” are cinder blocks or benches made from bamboo. In some schools, students bring their own chairs. There are no books in Liberian classrooms. The only books that might be seen belong to the teacher.

Sometimes it seems amazing that Liberian students learn at all.

– Peggy Halvorsen Liberian Coordinator 

Pray for the Kids

We are asking you and the American Team to join us in prayer for the entire program. Pray for all the kids in program to grow in the theme of God. We are also asking you to join us in prayer for continuous support and improvement of the program. Let us pray for each other.

Prayer Points: 
  • Prayer that the children would come to know Jesus as their Lord and Savior and if saved, that their relationship with Him would deepen and grow stronger.
  • Prayer for wisdom for leaders as we discuss how to make the program more effective.
  • Prayer for Joseph as he travels around each month distributing food to the children, for safely and good health.
  • Prayer for the children for their education- that they would work hard and do their best, and grow in knowledge and wisdom.
  • Prayer for medical needs of the children- that those would be addressed in a timely fashion and treated effectively.
 
Kristin LokkesmoeStarfish Kids Coordinatior
Joseph Flomo Startfish Kids, Liberia 

Adventures of the Bible: A word from Mark Halvorsen

"Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you."–Matthew 28: 19, 20
"And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others."–2 Timothy 2:2
 
Halfway through our family's first nine month stay in Liberia, the thing causing my heart to beat faster than anything else is MAKING DISCIPLEMAKERS! Not just making disciples, as good and important as that is, but really aiming to make disciples who make disciples who make disciples, in accordance with the verses above.
 
I feel like there's three primary ways God has opened the door for me to pursue this:
 
The first is leading the weekly adult Sunday school and preaching the weekly sermon at Eternal Love Baptist church. After spending five weeks discussing the significance of our words from James 3 and Proverbs, we're currently discussing Jesus' Sermon on the Mount in Sunday school. As for sermon series, we completed a 12-week journey through 1John, and will take 12 weeks on Ephesians, after wrapping up 2John, 3John and Jude. 
 
The second is "Discipleship Monday" and "Discipleship Saturday," open to anyone who wants to come and be real about what's going on in their life and ministry, as together we dive into God's word, prayer and fellowship. Our four most consistent attenders have been Bob Liberty, an on-fire Pastor of a small church who is perpetually inviting people to visit their fellowship; Johnson Chuluty, a dear brother who aspires to church leadership, but currently serves as more of an assistant to his Pastor; James Kollie, our most consistent attender, who serves as an assistant to his Pastor, with aspirations of more; and 25 year old George Grasco, our youngest regular, who has already graduated from Bible college, and has strong ambitions toward spiritual leadership and evangelism.
 
Thirdly, on a monthly basis I travel 4-5 hours to the village of Gbenequellah to teach Old Testament Survey at the Bible Institute for Church Ministries(BICM). This is a Bible training center specifically designed to better equip Pastors and aspiring spiritual leaders from the Interior, as their access to learning opportunities in the past has often been limited due to the remote location of their village. These 14-18 pastors and up-and-coming leaders are humble and hungry to learn and grow spiritually. They are especially enjoying learning from the "Action Bible," which Sheila and Jesse Cote so graciously provided  five copies of. It's been such a hit, they've made it clear to me they're praying every student will be able to have their own copy.
 
Additionally, other opportunities arise as well to build into people in a discipling manner. I'm slated to address about 50 people from the Interior Church Planting group over two days. And when I get the chance I love reading the Action Bible to interested kids to help them develop a better awareness and understanding of everything that's in God's Word.
 
So keep praying for us as we labor on into the second half of our first year in Liberia! As I begin most of my prayers, "God is good and what He does is good," but also, as Isaiah 55:8,9 tells us, "His ways are not our ways, His thoughts are not our thoughts."
 
God's best to you and yours in 2017,
 
Mark Halvorsen

Come And See

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On my recent trip to Liberia, I noticed a common theme both before and throughout my time on the west coast of Africa.  The point was made by those who do not call Liberia their homeland, that of all the beautiful places in Africa one might choose to visit—Liberia would not be anyone’s top pick.

After two very messy civil wars and the decimation of a generation, the infrastructure of Liberia faces a very long road (a dirty, bumpy, unpaved road at that!) to becoming a desirous country.  

Yet, even given all the facts about one of the top 5 poorest countries in the world, there is much more about Liberia that must be told.  I quote Peter, our Liberian host, who understands something that Google does not understand—the heart of Liberia is strong.  Many times throughout our time with Peter he urgently pleaded with us to come back to America and ask people to “come and see” what God is doing in Liberia.  Come and see not only with your physical eyes, but with your spiritual eyes.

As we study the Word of God, there are several instances where we are urged to come and see.  To simply hear about a person or place robs us of the gift of sight and physicality.  We read in John chapter one about the day Jesus found Philip and told him to follow him.  Philip in turn found Nathaniel and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” (Jn. 1:44-45)

Nathaniel, who had not yet seen Jesus with his own eyes, immediately responded, “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” (vs. 46)

Come and see,” said Phillip.

We know how the story ends once Nathaniel sees Jesus with his own eyes, “Then Nathaniel declared “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.” (vs.49)

Throughout my stay in Liberia, I saw circumstances and situations that broke my heart.  I also saw a people with more fortitude, joy and genuine love for one another and for God than I have ever witnessed with my own eyes.  Can anything good come from Liberia? Yes. A thousand times, YES!

Day after day I began to understand more clearly why Peter continued to emphasize the message, “Come and see.”  We saw dozens of pastors packed into unconditioned rooms, notepad and pen in hand, hanging on every word of teaching at conferences jam-packed with practical truths from the Bible.  Understanding God’s Word and desiring to disciple their own small village churches, the conferences were not a social gathering but rather a necessity for these men and women. Not once did the topic of hungry stomachs surface; nor the fact that some of them had walked for miles in the scorching heat without water to make it to the conference.  There was not one mention of personal sacrifice.

All of this I saw with my own eyes.  

What is it that your Father is prompting in your own life to challenge you to “come and see” that which might take you deeper in your faith? I implore you to take your trust to new levels and plunge into deeper waters.  

 

“Come and see what God has done, how awesome his works in man’s behalf!” (Psalm 66:5)

 

Stay the Course…

Sheila Cote – Teamwork Africa Board Memeber

One Gift for All

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During this wonderful time of the year, it seems our hearts grow as we wrap ourselves in the spirit of Christmas. We discover an extra measure of goodness within ourselves and embrace graciousness in our daily activities. It may be one of the few times of the year we focus on others the most; trying to find meaningful and heartfelt gifts, delivering a surprise plate of Christmas cookies to a neighbor, donating time or goods to a homeless shelter, and of course the list goes on. It’s true, we have plenty to keep us busy and bustling during the holidays, but we also find those moments to stop and soak up the unique wonder of this miraculous season.

As we reflect on this season of giving, our thoughts center on the best gift ever given to mankind: the true reason for the season, the birth of the Christ child. So many years ago in the little town of Bethlehem, Jesus Christ was born into this world to save and redeem us all. He was and still is the Gift given to each person, every nation in this world. In Luke 2:30-32, Simeon praised God after Christ’s birth saying, “I have seen your salvation, which you have prepared for all people. He is a light to reveal God to the nations…” (NLT). In a world which has seemingly become so much smaller in recent decades due to the internet, globalization, and ease of travel, I find it uniquely marvelous that Christ was the first and perfect Gift given to us all over 2000 years ago. He binds us all together in His miraculous and perfect love, spanning generations and centuries of people on this earth.

While we seek to carry this age-old message of Jesus’ love to the nation of Liberia, we recognize we need the help of so many. We rely on the prayers of God’s people and the financial support of those He directs towards Teamwork Africa. We are building a strategy to reach across our nation to create awareness of God’s movement in Liberia. As we do this, it is critical we are all in prayer for people to respond to God’s call for financial and prayerful involvement in this powerful ministry.

During this season of giving, we ask you to prayerfully consider what part God may be asking you to play in this tremendous work. Maybe it’s a year-end gift so the ministry can close out some open projects. Maybe it’s a sacrificial monthly commitment for 2017 based on faith so Teamwork Africa can say ‘yes’ to another dire need. Perhaps this is the year to sponsor a Starfish Kid and see the miracles that unfold in a child’s life because of your response. Whatever the Holy Spirit whispers to you is what we’re asking of you.

We are so humbly honored to be on this journey of love with you all, seeking to continually reveal God’s might, love, and true Gift to the nations.

Humbly serving together,

Rebecca Hoffman – Director of Development

From the desk of the Executive Director

By the time most of you read this, I will either be somewhere over the Atlantic or almost home. This morning, I am sitting in Brussels after an all night flight from Monrovia, Liberia. I am somewhat sleep deprived, but fully aware of the magnitude of this short, intense, physically and emotionally draining trip. Being in prayer, I have begun intentionally contemplating and examining in my heart and mind the results from a very challenging week. Most of my time was spent in the bush (or interior) of Gbong County visiting villages and being part of the team that assessed 200 well projects.

Truly, water is life. Without it, many children are dying and adults are struggling to fight water-borne illnesses as well. What do you say to someone who says "we catch the rain water as it runs off our roof." This particular roof was nothing but rust… need I say more?

Most of our TA friends did not know of my trip, as this came up suddenly. It was urgent for Teamwork Africa to go in and continue accomplishing part of our mission with The Last Well, ensuring that all of Gbong County has access to clean water. These last 7 days with our partners from the Last Well (Todd, Randy, Ryan, and Doc) were truly a blessing. The Lord provided (in the midst of several 'mission field' challenges) the opportunity for me to forge a strong bond with them, as well as strengthen the relationship between our two ministries.

I tell you, we have a tremendous amount of work ahead of us, and it will require our entire team of Teamwork Africa partners ( and to grow our base) striving together in prayer and giving to accomplish this part of our ministry. I had the privilege to sit with and lead a meeting with several of our Liberian team & board members, and one of our well contractors Monday night to discuss the inter-workings of how Teamwork Africa will function going forward, developing a stronger relationship between TA US and TA Liberia.

Truly as it is said in Liberia, WATER IS LIFE!

Something to note is that I will be leading a team back to Liberia November 3rd through the 19th. We will engage, encourage, and train pastors, visit Starfish Kids, meet with our Liberian team, and be a part of the evangelism follow-up in villages where we have TA wells.

Lest I forget, it was great spending a couple nights with Mark & Peggy and their kids. They are adjusting, and they send their greetings!

Please continue to pray and support this truly anointed ministry called Teamwork Africa. Your partnership REALLY does make a difference. To each and every one of our partners who stands with Teamwork Africa in faithful prayer and support; on behalf of our staff and board of directors… "Thank You"!  We praise God for each of you, and are blessed because of you!

Walking in the grip of His grace,

 

Dale McCaulley 
Executive Director
www.teamworkafrica.org 
dale@teamworkafrica.org 
(309) 737 – 3150

Meanwhile, at the office…

The past few months have been both challenging and beautiful. The opportunity to work with one of my most admired organizations had blessed me in ways that only God could have provided.

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 There are many situations where I'm learning things I've never done before, but also an overwhelming amount of situations where I get to use my skills and knowledge to bring Glory to God through this ministry. While growing for any organization can be hard, I believe that The LORD is providing "growing pains" to prepare us for the amazing plans He has for our future. That includes His plans for myself, the staff, Liberia, and YOU! 

Working for a ministry has taught me how to depend on God in a whole new way. When you realize just how much God is moving your life forward, you can't help but acknowledge his ways are so much better than ours. Personally, I think God quite the sense of humor. He seems to provide in the most unexpected ways from the most unexpected sources. What humility that can teach us. This adventure in being the office manager for Teamwork Africa has been thrilling, frightening, and absolutely wonderful. 

But it's not over. LORD willing, we've many more years to come!

Please be praying for our office in these ways: 

  • That communication would run smoothly and organizational strategy would be well implemented.
  • That new opportunities to be able to spread the Gospel and the Mission of Teamwork Africa.
  • Time management.
  • Program development would flourish and bring fruit. 
  • That our missions teams would be well prepared and soft hearted. 
  • That Jesus would always remain the center of our motivation.

Thank you so much for all of your prayer. It is such a blessing to be so supported by the community of Christ. 


Shadoe Settle
Office Manager

 

Marvel at God’s faithfulness

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As Fall approaches, I find myself filled with gratitude simply from the surroundings and changes happening outside my window. The leaves are bursting in color, the Fall breeze fills my house, we get cozy around campfires and start making plans for a bountiful, family-filled Thanksgiving. During this autumn season, I frequently feel so overwhelmingly grateful to be snug, safe, and warm in my house while watching this beautiful season unfold.

As things slow down for you and your family this season, I encourage you take a quiet moment to consider and remember the great blessings of 2016. Marvel at God’s faithfulness. Celebrate all of the memories you made this year. Take a moment to be truly grateful. The feeling of gratitude is more prevalent in this season than any other time of the year, and we at Teamwork Africa are celebrating God’s goodness and blessing as well.

In June we celebrated five years of partnering in God’s work in Liberia. Through our Starfish kids program, we are currently sponsoring 128 children! Our medical center is built and the roof has been installed; we are so thankful to be near completion of this life-saving project. The Halvorsen family moved to Liberia on September 3 rd . In order to maintain and nurture the growth of the ministry, Teamwork Africa appointed Dale McCaulley as the Executive Director and Shadoe Settle as the Office Manager. The list goes on!

We are so thankful to be working with Teamwork Africa, using our talents in an effort to glorify God to further His kingdom. We want the invitation to be open to you as well. Can we count on you this season to come alongside us as we strive to do God’s work in Liberia? As you pray about and make plans for any tax-deductible year-end giving, please consider Teamwork Africa in those plans. May you and your family be truly blessed this wonderful season!!

 

Rebecca Hoffman
Director of Development 
 

Teamwork Africa brings Days for Girls to Liberia

by: Rebecca Walsh 
Days for Girls, Cumberland WI Chapter Leader

I was jumping out of my seat in excitement waiting for the sermon to end so I could talk with them! It was last October and Peggy and Mark Halvorsen were visiting from Teamwork Africa and I was going to Africa! I just knew it. Certainly God was calling me to help build wells in Liberia. I'm a civil engineer with a drinking water and waste water background, so of course this was His plan! As I sat there, too excited to listen to the sermon that followed the Halvorsen's presentation, a video of Days For Girls started running through my head. The replay in my head was from a video my friend tagged me on a few days before; about girls in impoverished nations that had to drop out of school when they hit puberty because they didn't have a solution for their monthly cycles. As if on continuous loop, these girls' faces ran through my head and I got to wondering if this was the case for Liberia too. No matter, I can go find out when I ask Peggy and Mark about building wells. After the sermon was over, which I'm sure was splendid, I set my well-building-plan into action. 

Still stubbornly set on well building, I nervously walked up to Peggy and introduced myself, I think, I was too darn excited to even remember. I opened my mouth to tote my credentials on drinking water treatment and asked, "What do women do in Liberia for their monthly cycles?"…wait…wha?…this was NOT what I wanted to say!! I had to sneak a peak behind me to see who was standing there and said that crazy thing. But, I was standing there alone. And, on cue, Peggy's response was amazing. Her eyes lit up, and she was curious if I had a solution because they needed one. Surprised, and following God's lead, I switched gears and we started talking about Days for Girls. I knew that God was leading this, all I had to do was jump. 

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What is the problem? Is there really a problem?

Girls around the world in impoverished communities have big challenges around the taboo topic of menstruation. Imagine yourself, if you will, at age 11 1/2 not only being surprised by your cycle, but when you ask someone why your are bleeding they inform you that you are cursed. Now, your goal is to try to stay in school without your curse showing. For a few months you attempt to use items you can find around (mattress stuffing, corn husks, rocks) when you decide finally that you're best bet is to stay home during those days. Reluctantly you join your mother and the other women in a hut in the woods so that your curse does not contaminate the cattle. You are forced to drop out of school because of your absences. Growing restless, now age 12, absent from school, and officially a women, your parents inform you that you are ready to be married. 

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Is there a solution that works?

These stories are very common, but there is a solution.  

1. Education. This MUST be first. Without biblically based reproductive education, handing out pads is useless. Girls and women need to understand not only how their bodies work, but how to use the supplies correctly. Simply handing them out does not solve the problem. Days for Girls, a non-profit organization, has done a remarkable job creating an education solution that is honoring to the women and the cultures that their menstruation kits help. They support the volunteer distributors in creating an education network that works for the women they are distributing to. Because in the end, it is not about us, Americans. It is about these girls and women and being sensitive to their cultures, all while educating biblically.

2. Solution. Days for Girls has a well engineered solution that meets the physical needs of the girls and women that these kits are helping. Paired with the truth of the gospel, we have a lasting solution. The Days for Girls kit includes hand sewn reusable pads, a washcloth, a soap, and bags. It's discreet and meets the low or poor water quality problems found in most nations. The 'pads' don't look like  menstruation products so that the women can hang them in the sun to dry, helping with sanitation. They are beautiful, functional, comfortable, durable and they hide stains with their beautiful bright colors.

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Meeting the need of others above our own creates paradigms we need to challenge:

DfG Kits are not: Disposable. Where would they throw them away at? Impoverished communities don't have a trash service like ours where someone comes to the curb and makes our trash disappear. Disposable sanitary napkins have been found clogging latrines and stuffed in fencing. This is unsanitary, unsightly and propagates the myth that menstruation is filthy.

DfG Kits are not: White. White stains, and most women do not have access to bleach. So, who would want white, blood stained items hanging on the line? No one. So, they would not get sanitized by the sunlight, and could harbor bacteria. 

DfG Kits are not: Distributed without education. Days for Girls has informed us from time to time about the unfortunate, yet well intended distributions that happen without education. When these distributions were reviewed months later, there was negativity surrounding the kits. The kits were not being cared for nor used correctly so they were causing infection. Plus, the resource that was so painstakingly created and shipped and distributed was thrown to the side and the women returned back to their old ways.

3. Empowering Enterprise. Being the sole producer of these kits is not a lasting solution. We need to teach women all over the world how to create the kits and empower them to teach others. We will be, right from the beginning, working on teaching these women how to teach others about their bodies, and how to use the sale of these kits to become an enterprise and provide for their families. DfG uses the Microenterprise solution to empower and create lasting change to the communities they help. 

One Year Later:

It’s been nearly one year since that crazy day when I realized that I needed to abandon my well-building-plan and follow God’s lead. Within that year have created a Days for Girls chapter which has made 150 kits, successfully fundraised and presented to multiple groups in the area. God has been opening doors, and moving in such big ways, I would have NEVER imagined a year ago!! Now, Peggy and I are making final preparations to embark on my first trip to Liberia to distribute our first 150 kits. We have plans to go to a school or two in the area, possibly hosting a women's conference, and even heading to a couple interior villages to distribute. We are praying and know that God will bring us to the areas that he needs us most. It's exciting to look back on this last year to see how much God has done through us because I decided to follow His lead that day I met Peggy. Looking back I know that God used wells to bring me there, but His plan fits me SO much better.

After this distribution, our job is not done. My teams will still  be sewing, collecting and empowering for future distributions. If you would like to learn more or join my team, don't hesitate to contact me! Email:CumberlandWI@DaysforGirls.org for more information on then local level. 

Evangelism & Church Planting for TA Liberia

One of the things I'm most looking forward to as our family heads to Liberia is partnering with my dear brother in Christ, David Quinah. This solid man of God is the Director of Evangelism & Church Planting for TA Liberia. 

In addition to planning evangelistic events in villages where clean water has been provided, David is also working hard on developing four different training centers in the region we're serving where TA pastors will come to learn and grow in their faith, thereby equipping them to better lead and strengthen their churches.
 
The current plan is for me to travel and meet with a group of Pastors on a Friday, and then spend most of the next day at one of the training centers. As for what we'll tackle first, I want to interact with them and find out where they're at and what they're hungry to study and learn about. However, if they ask me, I'd love to begin by developing in them a deeper understanding of the Gospel, as well as the importance of prayer. I look forward to using Ron Tewson's "Outreach: A Blueprint for Effective Personal Evangelism" and E.M. Bounds' "Power Through Prayer."
 
Please keep us in your prayers. I know we freely say that in America, but we've never meant it – or needed it – more than in these coming months.
 
Thanks in advance!
 
Mark Halvorsen
Teamwork Africa Co-Founder