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!