Happy New Year! It seems like ages since my departure in May and much to be thankful for has happened with Gbarnga Mission (and my personal life).
Let’s get personal first… I’m a grandfather now. Yes, Meghan Grace entered our lives on October 29th so a new chapter begins for me and Kathy (and my son and his wife I guess too!). Then to top it off, my daughter got engaged and has begun plans for a September wedding! 2019 looks to have a lot of excitement in store for us.
Some Gbarnga Mission highlights since May… Principal Sumo and his wife, Amuchain, had their first child six days before Meghan in October also. I was surprised to receive word they had named the baby boy, Jon, in my honor. Our school continues to grow and flourish. We have 82 students in four classes (ABC, K1, K2, and 1st Grade). Our teachers have been trained in a new literacy program called Liberia Reads which has invigorated our teachers and engaged our students with interactive and comprehensive methods of learning to read and write. Although a dramatically different teaching style than Liberians are used to, the initial feedback has been positive. The GLTC Poultry Farm is open for business. Despite a delay in getting our first batch of 250 chicks, they finally arrived in early June and began laying in November. Feed procurement has been difficult but we’re finding alternative resources. We get about 180 eggs a day right now as the flock seems to be maturing at different rates. The second flock of 250 arrived in November and are working their way towards being full-fledged layers around the end of January. Another batch of 250 will be purchased in late-January/early-February bringing the nominal total to 750 birds (some turned out to be roosters!). Eggs are being sold in the market and the demand seems high. As we become a bit more stable and the egg numbers increase, we’ll transition to selling some and using some to improve our student’s nutrition. We’ve had intermittent guests at our Guesthouse (mostly through AirBnB) and they continue to express amazement at how welcoming our “family” in Deanville is. This community definitely has the gift of hospitality. We are blessed with dedicated, hardworking Christian staff members from teachers and cooks to poultry farmers and security guards.
Mechanical problems have persisted with Baby Foton and repair costs have grown exponentially through the years. This truck needs replacement so we don’t continue pouring money into it and driving a potentially unsafe vehicle (If you’ve been reading for while, you’ll understand when I reference the “flaming wheel bearing” incident near 15 Gate in the dark of night). When I discussed this need with Sumo, he said, “If God wants us to have a new truck, we’ll have a new truck.” I sent an appeal to a select group of mission-minded friends (and only two family members) and within 2 weeks over $30,000 of generosity poured in for the new truck. Thank you to all who contributed…you know who you are! As our poultry farm grows, a truck will be crucial for success by transporting feed and saw dust bedding to the farm and delivering eggs to the market. Plans are also underway for the next facility construction project as we look towards the need for more classroom space and a reliable truck is a necessity. If you’d like to support the new truck’s fuel, maintenance, and future repairs, click this link (paypal.me/gbarngamission). Thank you.
Tomorrow I depart for Liberia for a month-long visit, making this my 9th trip. I’ll be accompanied during the first part by Leon Schultz and Donna Buco. Please pray for comfort for Leon as his back continues to be problematic along with safe travels for all of us.
Looking forward to keeping you posted over the next month. Please leave comments on the postings…I like to get mail!
For a brief tour of the GLTC campus and the work of our Mission, check out this video I put together and recently posted on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Np9P-Orh7fs&t=47s