I thought I would begin sharing the story about our trip but the question to me became, “Where do you start?” I know I started to share one section but it doesn’t really give an understanding of the background so I thought I’d start a little sooner than that. Please bear with me and I will be sharing some photos along with some of the posts. It was an amazing trip and one that has brought us to the conclusion that we are to return to Liberia as quickly as we can raise our support. Everything that I share has something to do with the trip in one way or another. Thanks so much for taking the time to read what I have to share.
In Christian love,
To Teach A Liberian
I remember so many times from my youth, my desire to be a missionary. As I heard missionary stories, I would wonder what it would be like to be an actual missionary. I’d think of the hard things they had to deal with and decide that I wouldn’t put up with the same things. After all, if it meant something inconvenient then I would rather not do it. Eventually, while reading the story I would wish that it would have been me instead of them. Who wouldn’t be willing to deal with a few inconveniences to be able to have people respect and love you no matter what? As a young person, I really didn’t know the difference and definitely didn’t understand. After all, everyone respects the missionaries…according to the books. At least, if they didn’t start out that way they eventually get to that point! For years, I read missionary stories and desired to be a missionary but then eventually I began following my own path.
September, 1989, I met my husband Mark and we were married by the end of December. It was a whirlwind courtship and a quick marriage. I was not a believer; although, I thought I was. The Lord used many different things within my life to bring me to my knees so that I finally acknowledged Him as Lord and Saviour. He then began the sanctification process and it continues on even now. The Lord blessed us with three boys…all within about three and a half years of each other.
There were several times that we went on deputation because we believed we were to go as missionaries. The Lord ended up closing the doors because He knew there was still a lot to learn before we would be ready. Finally, we went to England! We believed it would be the final place and live our lives there as church-planters or for Mark as a pastor but the Lord had different plans.
About October or so of 2006, Mark was contacted by a Liberian pastor about the possibility of him coming to Liberia to preach in a conference and evangelistic crusade. We discussed it and felt it would be a good experience for him. As Liberia had just finished a fourteen year civil war, we didn’t feel it would be a good idea for me to go along. We wanted the boys to have at least one parent…just in case something happened to Mark.
Paul Escalera, Mark’s dad, thought that it might be a scam and warned Mark about it but we were pretty sure it was legit. Mark was given a name and email address of a national pastor, Pastor Togba, to contact just in case. Mark went ahead and emailed him. He was told by Pastor Togba that if it did turn out to be a scam there would still be ample opportunity to preach and spend time with the Liberian people. With this in mind, we continued preparation for Mark to go. I was pretty envious of Mark because he was finally doing something that I had longed to do for so many years. I eventually turned it over to the Lord and decided I would make the best of the situation by keeping everyone who was interested informed the best I could. This way I would at least be of some use, anyway. It turned out to be a great trip with several people turning to the Lord. We dealt with our own problems at home while Mark was away. When Mark returned I told him that he had better NEVER board a plane to go to Liberia again without me! He had so many exciting things to share and I longed to have been by his side the whole way. I hoped we would be able to go to Liberia within a year’s time. We even went to get our first set of shots.
As the Lord would have it, we returned to the states in May of 2007 then eventually moved to Nevada. We spent the next few years struggling to make it but the Lord used this time to teach us many things we needed to learn. These were things we had been learning in England but hadn’t quite completed the lesson in the right way. I had a difficult time learning to wait on the Lord patiently and depend on Him no matter what happened. The time was heart breaking to me and I had to be brought to a point where the Lord was my best friend first and foremost. How difficult it is to understand and see that my love for the Lord should be such that it seems like I hate everyone in comparison. I am a people pleaser and, as such, I don’t want to upset friends or family. I want the people I love to know that I am loyal to them and I love them but the Lord does not take notice of such things, except to say that that is idolatry. “If you love parents, or children, or sisters or brothers or wife or yourself more than me then you are not worthy to be My disciple.” This is what the Lord was teaching me. It’s so much easier to go and complain to a person that is close to you about how bad things are going and yet never cast your care on the Lord. It’s easier to share your joys with people you know and love then it is to share it with the Lord. Why is this? Simply because they are visible and our love for family and friends is more than our love for the Lord. So many lessons I have had to learn.
During this time, the Lord brought Abagail into our lives. We went through peace and quiet with the boys being teens and pretty sedate and quiet to a little whirlwind that completely shattered any semblance of peace! I began taking naps because the amount of time, effort and ability it took simply to get through a day was enormous! I wondered how I did it when the boys were young but I do remember taking naps then, as well. If that wasn’t enough, eight months later we added Hannah to our family. I had just started going through the days without naps when we brought Hannah home and, once again, the naps became a necessity. With two toddlers in the house, I began to wonder if I had lost my mind. We adopted both girls and finally life began to settle down.
At the beginning of 2010, our oldest son began a time of courtship with a young lady so the year was taken up with the two of them and how things would work out with the them. Mark started planning a trip to Liberia for November but, as the Lord would have it, Mark and Tessa were married right before that time. There had already been a trip planned for myself, Mark Jr and Tessa to go to Alabama for the wedding reception from Tessa’s church.
The trip to Liberia had to be set back to February and it looked like it would only be Mark and Jerry that would be able to go to Liberia. I was pretty disappointed over it and struggled for a time. I desperately wanted to go with Mark but I knew we didn’t have the money for it. I also knew it was a sacrifice for us to be able to send Mark so I was finally able to settle it in my heart that it was better for one of us to go then neither of us. With this, I began doing everything I could possible to make sure that Mark would be able to make it.
Mark started talking about me going along with him and I knew we couldn’t afford it. I also didn’t want to get my hopes up just in case it didn’t happen. We thought of the idea of my mom watching the girls and taking turns with Tessa. When I spoke to my parents about it, they said they would discuss it and get back with me. Later, my dad suggested both of them coming to stay with the girls instead of just my mom to which I really liked the idea. Everything was set for them to come and so we went ahead with our plans. I was a bit reluctant to spend money we didn’t have but Mark felt it was important for me to go and see Liberia. We decided to trust the Lord to bring the money in. Mark bought the ticket and so the countdown began. The Lord provided the money within a couple of months after we paid for the ticket and we were thrilled to see how the Lord was working it all out!
During November to February, I saw the results of several different choices I had made…some were good and some were bad. I had spent way too much time on the computer throughout the year without spending time with the Lord. Sure, I read my Bible and prayed a few minutes in the morning…after all, that’s what a good Christian is supposed to do, right? The days would come and go and see me posting pictures of the family, making up photo books, checking my facebook account to see who responded to anything I posted, responding to emails, telling the girls to leave me alone so I could accomplish the “important” things in life, and generally being very foolish with my time.