How will Pastor Peter's death affect Teamwork Africa?

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This past year was one of many transitions for Teamwork Africa. One important change seems extremely important right now.

In November, Teamwork Africa began to send funds for projects directly to each project director. There were many great reasons for this change. It was very cumbersome to send one transfer of funds. Going to the bank in Liberia can take hours! Once the money arrived, transporting funds to various program directors was also time consuming. Then the reports have to go back up the chain of command once the project or work is completed. This presented by too many opportunities for miscommunication or misunderstandings along to way. We’re now finding by sending the funds directly to each program director, there is no confusion. I am in direct communication with each person and they send me their report.

While we grieve the loss of Pastor Peter, none of the practical, day-to-day ministry procedures will change for Teamwork Africa or New Life Clinic. I will be in touch with Great King Academy about how Peter’s absence will affect the school. However, I have a very close relationship with many of the staff and teachers there, and I am confident the school will continue to run smoothly.

Peter’s role as Teamwork Africa’s visionary will be deeply missed. One of our Liberian board members, David Quinah, told me, “Peter was our brain.” He seemed to have a plan for any problem.

So, although we are never prepared for the loss of a dear friend and ministry partner, God is not taken off guard. Steps were already in place to keep Peter’s vision and love for the Liberian people strong.

Remembering Pastor Peter K. Flomo

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Disclaimer: These details in this bio strive to be as accurate as possible based on how they were orally told and remembered.

Pastor Peter K. Flomo was born July 8, 1968. He was the surviving twin born after his mother was forced to drink poison following the accusation her husband had intentionally tried to harm his hunting partner during a rifle accident. His survival at birth caused people in the village to called him a zoe, someone with supernatural powers.
He was one of 13 children, although only 8 survived to adulthood. He was called Kerkula as a child. His uncle visited the village and saw potential in him. He took young Peter to Gbarnga for school. He was around 12 or 13. However, his uncle lost his job and wasn’t able to look after Peter. Peter was left in Gbarnga with a Christian family that did devotions every day. It was during that time Peter heard about Jesus and one day in 1983 he asked Jesus to be his Savior.
Peter was very quick to learn and soon was a top student, but he was always poor. He wore the same uniform to school for three years and learned to sew and patch the worn spots. After high school, he worked at the school and meet the lovely Oretha Flomo, who was a high school student. After she graduated, they worked hard collecting oil palm to raise enough money to pay the wedding dowry so they could get married.

God blessed their union with five biological children: Morgan, Ni-Gorpue (Baby G), Namo (Magnus), Kumehnkor, and Nyalanor. Their first child was born in 1987, just two years before the beginning of the Liberian civil war that lasted from 1989 to 2003. During this terrifying time, many people fled Liberia to refugee camps. However, Peter and his young family stayed in Liberia, living in the jungle up to six months at a time.

One time, they stopped in a village on their way to Gbarnga. It was getting a bit late in the day and the villagers invited them to stay. They decided they must continue their journey to get to Gbarnga. They had no idea that even as they were leaving, rebel forces were surrounding the village. Shortly after they left, every man, woman and child in that village was killed. Whenever he could, Peter used his way with words as an effective tool. One time, they were trying to get through a Gbarnga check point. The soldiers decided that Peter’s jean trouser indicated that he must be a rebel. They stripped him and beat him. Several days later, his family and companions needed to go for food in Gbargna but everyone was afraid. Peter volunteered to go. As he approached the check point, Peter informed the guards  they already knew who he was since they’d already beat him and stole his clothes. The embarassed guards allowed him to pass and get food for his family.

The war had so many unfathomable dangers. Some of the choices people had to make just to survive are unthinkable. Often, in the chaos, children were left behind. One time, Peter and his family were running through the jungle and they passed a small child left alone, separated from his mother. Peter and Oretha looked at each other and the toddler. Then, Peter scooped him up and carried him along as they hurried on their way. This little boy was the first of many, many children that would come to call Peter and Oretha their pa and ma.

It was years later, after Peter had cared for many orphan children that his own father told him that before his father was born, his own father—Peter’s grandpa--had died. When Peter’s father was just three months old, his mother died out on the rice farm. Neighbors heard a baby crying and found him still nursing from his deceased mother’s breast. Peter’s father told him that he, Peter, was doing for other children what had been done for him.

After the war, Peter and Oretha settled in Soul Clinic in Paynesville. Peter’s house was full, but there were so many orphaned children. Peter began to organize the children in foster homes. He began fundraising to help the foster families support the additional children they were caring for. This became, ACCF (Abandoned Children Care Foundation). Eventually, ACCF partnered with Baptist Children’s Home. Up to 300 children were supported in this program under Peter’s supervision. Last February we visited one of these homes Peter helped build in the northern Liberia town of ZorZor.

Along with providing homes for orphan children, Peter and Oretha started Eternal Love Baptist Church. Peter had a gift of preaching and a love for evangelism. The church grew with many young people and a dynamic youth choir. Peter and Oretha started the church with life long friends, David Sunday Mulbah, Francis Sumo, Moses Dolo, and Moses Kerkula to name just a few. Peter was mentored by the late Sam Gborpolu, Rev. Amos Flomo and Pastor David Quinah. He had a strong team of men that spoke into his life and another team of young people that he mentored.

As ACCF transition in the hands of other leadership, Peter had a dream of combining the Gospel and good works into one. With the partnership of Mark and Peggy Halvorsen, Teamwork Africa was started in March, 2011. The first crazy dreams of Peter and Mark were recorded by Peggy under the lantern lamp in an old missionary house deep in the Bong County jungle. As impossible as some of those dreams seemed, many of them were fulfilled in the first six months.

Mark and Peggy shared about the vision of the newly formed Teamwork Africa at Bible Center Church, Peggy’s hometown church. The congregation donated enough money to purchase a round trip ticket for Peter to come to America to join Mark and Peggy to share the mission of Teamwork Africa all over western Wisconsin and into Minnesota. By the team Peter left, Teamwork Africa had established connections with individuals and friends that would become long-term partnerships.

Over the next eight years, under Peter’s leadership, Teamwork Africa would oversee the construction of over 100 new wells and 300 well repairs. Thousands of men, women and children gained access to clean water and heard the Gospel preached in their language. For several years, Teamwork Africa supported 15 pastors and 30 church planting pastors, sponsored up to 150+ children in the Starfish Kids program, provided microloans for 30 women, donated eight motorcycles to rural pastors, assisted in opening two rural schools and one school near Monrovia called Great King Academy.

In 2011, Peter began developing a ten acre property he called “New Life Community”. At that time, the area was completely deserted. There was not another building or structure in sight. Peter could only see potential. He spoke with clarity of the school and medical center that would one day be built there. He called his dream “one brick at a time”. Even when he spoke to American partners, he never looked to them to provide for the dream. He looked to the God who “owned the diamonds on a thousand hills’. When critics would suggest Peter’s dreams were too big, unphased he would say, “Shoot for the moon and land among the stars”. He summed up the motto-“Go big or go home. “ To the surprise of those who thought his dreams were impossible, over the next five years a guest house, school, clinic and medical center building were built. In addition, 20 acres of additional swamp land were cultivated by hand for rice production and veggies. Peter was commended for this, and for his employment of women in the work, by the World Food Program. On top of all this, in recent years, two 20-room pigpens were built.

In 2014, Peter made a second trip to the US to continue to build partnerships and promote Teamwork Africa. During July, the Ebola outbreak began to sweep through Liberia. Peter did not have to go back. His visitor visa would have allowed him to stay longer, but he chose to go back and lead his community to fight back against the deadly disease by organizing teams of people to distribute hand washing buckets, education and information. He provided jobs in the swamp to many people who had no economic opportunities.  In Nov. 2014, Peter became extremely ill and thought he might not make it. His concern was for his family and the ministry of Teamwork Africa. Graciously, God spared his life.

Peter and Oretha were able to begin building a new three-story guest house. Only recently into the lowest level,  while still completing the second the third levels for guests.

This school year Great King Academy, the school Peter built and started, has nearly 400 students enrolled nursery to 10th grade. New Life Clinic treats patients six days a week and delivers 12-15 babies a month. The medical center building is still being completed, with plans to finish the lower level in the near future, with plans to then move the clinic into the larger Medical center space.

 

So much could be said, and so many stories could be told, of Peter’s generosity, humor, vision, and passion for God. He loved Jesus, his Savior, and he loved people, especially those with no voice and no hope. He cared for orphans, widows, lepers, the blind, and anyone marginalized. He valued the life and dignity of every person. He was strongly prolife. He and his wife housed several girls who had been abandoned by their familes due to pregancy. He cared for those with special needs and tried many times to provide access to treatment to those with life threatening conditions. Again, there are so many stories, so many lives touched.

Peter died at the age of 50 on Jan 6, 2019. Much to soon for those who knew and loved him. He suffered a severe and aggressive infection following a tooth extraction. In a first world country, this would have been unthinkable, unimaginable, and certainly unacceptable. But, Peter succumbed to one of the things he fought against: stupid death.

He is survived by his wife, Oretha, and their biological children, Morgan (Roseline), Ni-Gorpue also known as Baby G, Namo (Magnus), Kumehnkor, and Nyalanor. Many young adult foster kids, and those children currently living with Peter and Oretha: Abraham, Annie, Varney, Linda, Lomeni, Donna, Isaac, Victoria, Angel, Ma Nancy, Nyalaka, and Precious. Three grandchildren, one brother, Joseph Flomo, three sisters, Hannah, Ophelia and one other.

He is preceed by his parents and eight brothers and sisters.

He is welcomed into glory by his Savior.

One at a Time

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 One at a time…

As we enter the Christmas season, we are so grateful for family and friends and the many blessings that surround us. This is also the time of year we start thinking about who we can share our blessings with and we want to know our gift matters. So many times we hear about changing the world, but the world seems so broken. This year, instead of thinking BIG, what if we thought small. What if we could make a noticeable, tangible difference to someone?

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Education for one child

Teamwork Africa’s Starfish Scholars program provides education for 85 promising and impoverished students. The average tuition for one year is $150 for each student.

Clean water for one village

Many villages with pumps still lack clean water because the pump isn’t working! $100 or less can repair a pump and allow a village to experience clean water again.

Medical treatment for one person

New Life Clinic treats everyone, but focuses especially on expecting mothers and infants. When resources are available, no one is turned away even if they are unable to pay the modest fee for treatment. Treatment for malaria is $10, the cost of a delivery is $20, and the cost of a mobile medical outreach is $600.

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 This Christmas season we can all make a difference for one child, one village, one person. Together, we can do it one at a time.

 

www.teamworkafrica.org       Teamwork Africa PO Box 3124 Eau Claire, WI 54702      

October Mission Trip: Not done yet

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The first two weeks of October I went to Liberia with Michael. Our family is so grateful for the four months we had together, but Michael’s visitor visa required him to return to Liberia until the adoption is complete. It was really hard to be at our house in Liberia without our whole family. So many things seemed so familiar, and yet so much had changed. I was glad when Michael asked if Anthony could be his roommate in the house. Anthony is a really special boy to our family, and a really great kid. So, the boys settled in and we made arrangements for them while Michael stays there until the adoption is completed.

Meanwhile, I did make a calendar to plan my time in Liberia. When I arrived, I had one event planned. However, in Liberia, making plans isn’t always helpful anyway, and I saw each of my days orchestrated beautifully. At the end of my time in Liberia, I felt like I had fresh wind in my sails and a clearer direction for our course with Teamwork Africa.

First of all, I spent lots of time talking with our Liberian team. Oh, it was so good to see everyone again! We agreed the main focuses of Teamwork Africa right now are: education, medical care, and clean water. The values of sustainability, reproducibility, and partnerships were enthusiastically discussed.

Joseph Flomo and I identified 85 students that qualified as Starfish Scholars. Fifty of them lived near Great King Academy and we registered them. The other 35 students lived too far way, so we visited about ten different schools in Johnsonville and Paynesville to register them. It was so interesting to visit so many other schools and discuss educational goals with the faculty of those schools. It was really exciting!

In addition to registering the students, I also had the great fun of delivering books to two schools. It is always so much fun to meet the students that are eagerly waiting for us to arrive so they can carry the books to the room prepared to keep them safe. The teachers and students alike are so happy!

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I was also able to do a whirlwind trip to Bong County to visit our two village schools and the Bible school. I was very grateful for an excellent driver and trained mechanic, AB, to make sure we made it there and back! In fact, there was some trouble with the bearings in one wheel. AB let me know when we safely made it back that he was concerned that we could have had a breakdown, but he didn’t tell me. I laughed and figured it wouldn’t have done any good to have both of us worry about it!

Each day in Liberia was full, scheduled just as it needed to be. I left Liberia very, very sad to leave our dear friends and family, but also excited that we are not done yet!

Liberia Bound

I will be heading to Liberia Sept 29 with Michael, who’s been with us this summer on a visitor visa, while we await the completion of his adoption. I will be staying in Liberia for the first two weeks of October. My primary goal is to identify the students who will be this year’s Starfish Kids Scholars, thereby qualifying them to receive a tuition scholarship for first semester. I will also be visiting our two rural schools and identifying our plan to continue supporting their efforts to teach 150-200 students each on a very modest budget.

Michael will be staying in Liberia until the adoption is complete. He is looking forward to seeing his friends in Liberia, but we are all looking forward to the time when we will all be together again.

We appreciate your prayers! The trip will likely be emotional for us. I’m traveling back to Liberia as a visitor and not a resident. I am looking forward to seeing our friends but it will be difficult to leave them again. There is so much need in Liberia and it’s challenging to know how to help. Please pray that God will give me wisdom to know what to do, courage to do it and the strength to carry it out.

Liberia Reads!

in early 2016, Pastor Peter and I heard about an amazing reading program designed for early elementary Liberian classes. It focuses on helping teachers get grounded in the fundamentals of teaching reading from a Liberian perspective. In 2017, Ma Annie, Richard and I observed several classes using the Liberia Reads curriculum and methods. We were so excited by what we saw! They were implementing the critical reading strategies in a systematic way that was working! We saw students engaged and eager to participate in their reading class!

Great King Academy elementary teachers with Liberia Reads! certificates

Great King Academy elementary teachers with Liberia Reads! certificates

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With the help of generous supporters at the Teamwork Africa Celebration in June, we were able to raise the funds to send nine teachers from Great King Academy to the training in July.

The teachers were all so grateful for the opportunity to participate in the intense two and a half week training! They expressed deep satisfaction in knowing the training increased their teaching skills exponentially! One teacher, Jessica, says she’s looking forward to me observing her new skills.

Classes are already underway at Great King Academy, and our teachers are eagerly putting to use the excellent training they received in their training for Liberia Reads!

Teamwork Africa: A Time of Transition

As our second year in Liberia was coming to a close, our Executive Director, Dale McCaulley, announced his plan to resign at the end of May to work with one of our partnering organizations, The Timothy Initiative. We hope that TTI will be a great fit for Dale. As of June 1, I became the TA director again.

This also meant a change of direction for our family. As the U.S. Teamwork Africa director, I would not be able to be based in Liberia. So, our family is transitioning to living in Eau Claire, WI once again. God has been extremely gracious to us! The housing market is crazy! However, we were able to find a great house. We arrived in Eau Claire June 9 and moved into our new home July 27th.  Thanks so much to Dana Yoder of Edina Realty for guiding us through the process!

Peggy Halvorsen, Teamwork Africa Director

Peggy Halvorsen, Teamwork Africa Director

This summer has been extremely busy for us as we found a house, a car and a van. The kids registered for school, and Mark is loving his new job in Sales with One Source Imaging, while also still occasionally filling in at WWIB. 

With the change in staff, Teamwork Africa is also refocusing our efforts in Liberia. We want to be intentional about developing self-sustainability and partnership. 

We are so grateful for our friends and partners who have continued on this journey with us! Together, we know God has more ahead for all of us!